Friday, August 29, 2008

On this day in AC/DC History

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Phelps was a sore winner.

Phelps is a sore winner - Watch more free videos

Wow...I didn't know.


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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Here's a blast from the past

The Runaways performing "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" (don't ask me why they spelled it that way). This band was the band that launched Joan Jett and Lita Ford. Also in the band were

Sandy West (deceased)drummer

Micki Steele, later played bass for the Bangles.

Peggy Foster, she has played bass on some of Steve Vai's albums

Cherie Currie later starred films including Foxes with Jodie Foster(remember that 70's blockbuster?), Parasite with Demi Moore, Wavelength with Robert Carradine, This is Spinal Tap, Twilight Zone-The Movie, Rosebud Beach Hotel, Rich Girl and others, as well as numerous guest spots on series television (Matlock and Murder She Wrote among others).I found this to be odd; Currie is currently a chainsaw carving artist and recently opened her own Chainsaw Art Gallery in Chatsworth, California. She won awards in various art competitions.

Jackie Fox

Vicki Blue moved on to tv/film production

Laurie McAllister she joined just before the band disbanded and never actually played on any albums (a could have been?)

"Mama Weer All Crazee Now" was originally recorded by the British Glam rock band Slade on their album Slayed?. It was the band's third number-one single in the United Kingdom, spending three weeks at the top in September 1972. The single fared less well in the USA, where it peaked at #76.

The song has also been covered by The Arrows, Mama's Boys, Ángeles del Infierno, Quiet Riot (who also covered Slade's Cum On Feel the Noize), James Last, and London (Nikki Sixx's pre-Motley Crue band.

There I just thought this was interesting.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey" by Chuck Palahniuk (Published by Doubleday, 2007)

The last book I reviewed by Chuck Palahniuk ("Choke"), I remarked about how I love non-linear story telling and that I appreciate especially the non-linear works of Mr. Palahniuk. This book I think was the perfect non-linear book. At first though I was let down by the time-line structure. Basically the book is a history of the would-be / could-be messianic character of Buster "Rant" Casey, told through anecdotes from various characters who knew Rant or in some cases technical/governmental advisers. It's not until about halfway through the book that you realize the beginning may be the ending, or the ending may be the middle or the end may be, or the middle may not have ever happened, or any combination thereof. At this point in reading, the book became more of a dark humorous novel to something of weird existentialism.

Basically Buster Casey's mom becomes pregnant with him at the age of 13 by what could be a stranger or maybe the man she later marries, Chet Casey. The rumors through the small town of Middletown, run rampant about the family, so anything could be true. As Buster grows up he leads a not so normal childhood. In order to either perpetuate or dispel myths told to little children, Buster creates some strange scenarios. Take for example the tooth fairy myth.

There is a time in Middletown's history when a squirt gun cost $50 and a candy bar could cost $500. This inflationary period is started by Buster Casey. When walking with his grandmother to church, a strange man tells Buster that he is his real father, and proceeds to tell Buster how he can receive untold wealth. Just after he tells him this, Buster's grandmother is bitten by a black widow spider in her church bonnet and dies. After this Buster and a friend gather empty paint cans from the townsfolk for a recycling drive for scouts. In some of these cans are rare coins worth thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars. When a kid loses a tooth in town Buster would give the the kid a coin in which the kid would replace with the one from a parent. This could would be worth thousands and the parents couldn't say anything, because after all they are the ones that started the whole tooth fairy myth, and asking where the coins came from would be to admit to the lie of the tooth fairy, then Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and so on.

One year, on Halloween, Buster earns his nickname of "Rant." Every year the city puts on a Halloween haunted house and party. In the Haunted house the children dip their hands in cold macaroni and olives while blindfolded and told they are touching guts and eyeballs. (Remember those days of childhood?) Well Buster decides to spend some of his new found fortune and makes a rather large purchase from a local slaughterhouse. This Halloween the eyeballs, guts, blood etc. are real. The kids are covered in cows blood and guts at the party which is at the end of the maze that is the haunted house. The cake becomes covered in blood from eager hands, costumes become darkly stained from kids wiping off the sticky mess. Finally someone finds out that it is all real and a grand pukefest begins that covers the blood covered community center with a fresh layer of puke. Buster is then called Rant. Rant being the sound you make when you puke up when all has been puked.

Now keep in mind this history of Rant is told through the folks that were there. The book has many more such incidences until Rant finally graduates (or bribes his way out of high school) and moves to the city. This is the point where not only do you start to fully realize the non-linear aspect of the story but also a story of a futuristic distopian society in which there is a class war between those that live/work during the day (daytimers) and those that live/work during the night (nighttimers).
The nighttimers are the lower of the class system and the daytimers look down their noses to nighttimers.

Rant invades the nighttimer society not only throwing it in turmoil but also throwing daytimer society into turmoil along with it. Rant takes up with Party Crashers. These are nighttimers that in order to have fun they crash cars into each other, then milk the event by pretending to get out and argue with each other.

The pasttime of party crashing was started by the government when the government was trying to find ways to make traffic move more smoothly. The first thing the government found was the the biggest slowdown in heavy traffic was not the crash but the rubberneck effect of the passersby. They found this by having agents intentionally crash into each other and then record the results. Finding the rubberneck effect was the slowdown they then created DRVR Graphic Traffic Radio. A Radio station that not only told of wrecks but took calls from paramedics, police and rescue personnel and report on the injuries and describing them in full gory detail.

Well Graphic Traffic soon became a reporting station for the thrill seeking Party Crashers. The Party Crashers have rules, you can only crash into other Party Crashers, and to alert that you are Party Crashing you had to decorate your car to that night's theme. Honeymoon nights are when you decorate your car with shaving cream / tin cans etc. and write Just Married on your car, all passengers are dressed as brides, grooms or other members of a bridal party. Other themed nights are Christmas, Thanksgiving and so on.

Here also is where the weirdness begins. Rant, throughout his childhood, has always sought out being bitten by spiders, snakes, rabbits, coyotes, dogs and any other wild critter. Rant then becomes a carrier/spreader of rabies. Rant starts to infect all nighttimers and party crashers with rabies. Soon nighttimers infected with rabies begin infecting daytimers by maybe licking apples to be sold in a store etc.

After starting a major rabies epidemic Rant crashes his car off a cliff, but his body is never found.

This brings us to the beginning of the book and starts a section of the book where the story goes off in an extremely surprising science fiction/existentialistic view that will treat you with a great read. There are rumors that Chuck Palahniuk is writing a sequel to this book and with the cliffhanger/twisting ending I don't doubt this at all.

I'm not going to give too much up about the end of the book other than be ready for time travelling, creating immortals and gods and a never ending rabies epidemic that threatens the world. I think that I've only covered about 30% of this immense volume of work with my summary. So be prepared for fun.

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Friday, August 22, 2008're watching the Olympics?

Just like people watch NASCAR to see the wrecks.
This is why I watch the Olympics

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posted by Gil T. @ 1:23 PM Comments: 0

How many houses do you own? I can easily count, my answer is 0

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Spider-Man: The Darkest Hours" by Jim Butcher (Published 2006 by Pocket Star)

Yes this is a BOOK review and not a COMIC BOOK review. I have usually stayed away from novelizations of comic books. I'm not really sure why but I think it's probably because I'm a HUGE fan of comic books especially Spider-Man comics. How does that keep me away from the novels? Well, because mainly I believe strongly that the best part of the story-telling in comic books is the artwork along with the written lines of dialogue. Sure the occasional "Thwipp", "Snikt" and "Whack" make for good otomotopeiaic words and look cool when printed in the cool font on the page, but comic books actually have great dialogue and big words. As a side note I knew an English Professor that would "force" his students to read comic books because of the structure and word use.

That all being said, I've just never thought that reading a novel of a comic book hero would have that same oomph. Enter Jim Butcher. I've been reading (and reviewing) Jim Butcher's series of novels, "The Dresden Files," and his adventures of the Wizard Harry Dresden are great books. Harry Dresden is everyman, except he has powers, and instead of going off and getting rich, he chooses to help people with his powers. With great power comes great responsibility.....hmmm....I know that's Spider-Man's credo but that is also what Harry Dresden lives by. So, when I saw that Jim Butcher had authored a Spider-Man novel I thought that it was a sign that I must read it. I'm a Jim Butcher Fan, I'm a Spider-Man fan (btw, I was a Spider-Man fan loooooong before those movies came out) and Jim Butcher knows how to present a hero as a human with a normal life as well as kicking evil villain butt.

I was not let down with this book. The great writing style of Jim Butcher and the life of Peter Parker/Spider-Man turned out to be a very entertaining and exciting read.

In "The Darkest Hours" one of Spider-Man's worst enemies comes back to haunt him, except it's actually that enemy's family that seeks revenge. A few years ago J. Michael Straczynski, the man that brought the epic space opera "Babylon 5", wrote for a stretch of Spider-Man comics and created a villian named Morlun that fed on superhumans that had animal know like SPIDER-Man. Morlun was invincible and nearly killed Spider-Man, but of course Spider-Man came out the victor. Morlun was a what has been deemed an "Ancient." Now three more "Ancients" appear on the scene and seek revenge for Morlun's death.

Spider-Man is warned by Black-Cat, aka Felicia Hardy, which Spider-Man converted her from criminal to "good-guy" and had a love interest in. Black-Cat warns Spidey that the Rhino is rampaging in New York only to get Spidey's attention, so someone can trap the web-slinger. Those someones are the Ancients, and they want to drain Spidey's life force to keep themselves alive and extract revenge.

Spidey seeks out Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme, but the good ole Doc can't least not outright...because that would throw off the balance of good and evil. So without helping his major domo slips Spidey some rocks that may or may not help. He also offers the advice that Spidey needs to learn not to work alone.

In order for the Ancients not to harm his wife or millions of other innocents, Spider-Man agrees to meet them with one final battle. Spidey has a few tricks up his red and blue sleeve and with a major battle that can't be missed this book creates all the excitement of any comic book.

Give it a may find it pretty fun. If your first response is that's not my type of book, then you are the first person that should give this book a read. You'll thank me when you do.

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So What do Olympians eat anyway?

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"I Am America...and So Can You" by Stephen Colbert (Grand Central Publishing 2007)

In the world of political and current events humor nothing has ever been better than the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. That show launched the career of Steve Carell and has featured other alum such Lewis Black, David & Amy Sedaris and lots more. But most importantly the spin-off "The Colbert Report" starring Stephen Colbert. In a style that "emulates" Bill O'Reilly, Stephen Colbert makes politics fun again.

On the "Report" Colbert proceeds to prove to America he is right. But in a way that pokes fun and at the same time giving the audience something to think about. This book takes that spin and creates a gyroscope of huge fun that if you're not careful you may end up laughing out loud and maybe realize you are laughing at yourself.

Colbert has strong feelings and opinions on many topics and expresses them throughout this book. I should warn you just when the opinion starts to make a little sense Colbert rips with the absurdity and leaves you with your sides aching with laughter. Some of the topics covered in the book are; Homosexuality, Religion, Immigration, The Family, Old People, Sports and more.

An example of some of the absurdity would be when talking about family Colbert has this to say:
"Besides, it doesn't matter how my parents raised me, because I loved my parents. It's in the Bible: 'Honor thy Mother and thy Father,' right after the part about stoning gays. Sure, they could be a little 'strict', but I often think back fondly on the memories I haven't repressed. The truth is, I wouldn't be the man I am today if it wasn't for the way my parents raised me. And I love the man I am today -- which means I love the way my parents raised me. You can't spell parentry without 'try'."

Of course he also says:
"You can't spell emotional abuse without bus, that's why I don't take public transportation"

You gotta first realize that this is all in fun and the point is to hit you with absurdities until milk comes out your nose, or whatever you are drinking. If you are not drinking milk and it comes out your nose while reading this book, may want to see a doctor. But coming from a man that claims "baby carrots are making me gay," just prepare for anything.

Trust me you'll get a great laugh out of this book. Of all the people in the world that think they have it right, Stephen Colbert joins them in a farcical manner and allows us to laugh at ourselves.

The video below is not great in video quality but funny. Stephen Colbert reading from his book.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

The Gingerbread Girl by Stephen King (published 2007/2008)

Being a Stephen King fan, I'm always jumping to be among the first to read his latest works, and in some cases like this to listen. "The Gingerbread Girl" is a short story by Stephen King that was originally published in the July issue of Esquire magazine on June 15 of 2007. It will be included as the second entry in King's 2008 short-fiction collection "Just After Sunset." I missed the story when it came out in the magazine, but that doesn't mean I have to wait (or you either) until the release of the collection this November (2008). That's because, as King has done in the past, the story is released as an audiobook. So I jumped and got the audiobook and let me tell you it was worth it. Mare Winningham is the voice talent for the audiobook and she delivers the story with a punch.

I think that not only is Stephen King the "Master of Horror" but he's also pretty high in royalty in the "What if..." scenario. His books can be pure horror like vampires in "'Salem's Lot" to werewolves in "Cycle of the Werewolf." But some of his stories also take the ordinary everyday situations and ask "What if...(it went in this direction)?" I think "Cujo" is a prime example of that. An average dog gets rabies...but what if he trapped a family in their car. Well, this story is one of those what ifs. What if you wanted a peek at your neighbor's and found a dead body?

After her baby's sudden death, Emily starts running. Soon, she runs away from her husband, to the airport, down to the Florida Gulf and out to the loneliest stretch of Vermillion Key, where her father has a conch shack he has kept there for years. Emily keeps up her running. She always runs everywhere, running on the beach and on the roads, and she sees virtually no one anywhere. This is doing her all kinds of good, until one day she makes the mistake of looking into the driveway of a man named Jim Pickering. Pickering also enjoys the privacy of Vermillion Key, but the young women he brings to his home (referred to as his neices) are never seen leaving. And when Emily finds herself in the den of a madman, she will do anything she must to escape.

The story is relatively short but full of tension, from the moment Emily looks into that driveway to the chase. I won't give too much away, but this is one book that gets the blood pressure up.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

"I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson (published by Fawcett Gold Medal, 1954)

I'm one of those people that sits through the credits at the movie theater. I don't need to know best grip or stuff like that, mostly I look at the writing credits and the music credits. After seeing the 2007 movie "I am Legend" starring Will Smith, I saw that the movie was "based on the novel by Richard Matheson." Many times the term "based on" is used very loosely, for example, look at the movie "Lawnmower Man" it was "based on" the story by Stephen King. It had so little to do with the Stephen King story that Stephen King wanted his name off the film, in fact it had NOTHING to do with the story.

That all being said, I thought the movie was very well done and wanted to read the book. Well let me tell you I was a bit let down in the fact that it was merely based on the novel. The character portrayed by Smith was named Robert Neville, as in the book. He was the last living human (sort of) and strange creatures were created by a disease. Those are the only similarities. Okay the basic survival storyline is similar also. But the zombies in the movie are actually vampires in the book.

As I was reading this book I was thinking, I've seen this movie, but not the Will Smith version. After awhile it dawned on me, I had seen the movie. The lead was played by Vincent Price. Yes the 1964 movie "The Last Man on Earth" was based on the novel. However in this case it was based less loosely. After some research I found that the 1971 Charleton Heston film, "Omega Man," was also based on the novel. Out of all three of the movies "The Last Man on Earth" was the one closest to the the book.

The 2007 version had zombies instead of vampires, the 1971 version went to a weird military protest view and had more than one man left on earth. But hey, that's Hollywood.

Okay here's what the actual book has, which, by the way, is a very good sci-fi/horror read while at the same time having something to say about humanity. "I Am Legend," the novel, follows the life of Robert Neville who is the last man alive on Earth after a disease has turned everyone else into vampires. The disease is a by-product of war. Neville spends his days restringing fresh garlic and hanging mirrors and crosses to keep the vampires at bay. His nights are spent drinking alone in his home turned fortress as the vampires bang on his door. One vampire in particular is a friend (back when he was human) and constantly taunts Neville to come out. Also during the days Neville drives through town finding supplies and killing the vampires, the sleep during the day after all.

After hitting his low point with the drinking Neville decides to try and find a cure for the disease. He soon learns the nature of the bacteria causing the vampirism that claimed humanity, including his wife and daughter. During his research he notices a stray dog, after feeding the dog and eventually gaining the dogs trust a little, Neville finally has a companion. Eventually the dog contracts the disease and Neville must work harder to find a cure.

Eventually Neville sees a woman (during daylight hours) and after some time he gains her trust, although he never fully trusts her. The drama then unfolds as the woman becomes more and more mysterious while at the same time fishing for information from him.

Without becoming too much of a spoiler, I will warn you that this book does not have the happy ending of the movies, but a very interesting view on the philosophies of humanity.

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Save the liver

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nietzsche in 90 Minutes (Philosophers in 90 Minutes series) by Paul Strathern (Publisher: Ivan R. Dee, 1996)

When I took Philosophy in college I had had an interest in making it my major. But I looked to the future and asked around about why one would do such a thing. The biggest answer I received was: "to make the parents mad." But since I paid for my own education (2 Bachelor degrees and one Associates, fyi), I knew the only person I would tick off was myself. Okay, actually it was Sallieae and me paying for the school and Salliemae wants her money I'm still paying, but that's beside the point.

I did take a philosophy course as a requirement, and loved the idea of sitting around thinking and making profound statements. I chose to go the route of Broadcasting / Theatre / Electronics instead (crazy mix there...but it makes sense now). But I do now have time to enjoy a good read and the title of this book "Nietzsche in 90 Minutes"intrigued me. This book is part of a philosophers in 90 minutes series which provides nice information to supplement my autodiadactism.

I chose Nietzsche as my first because he was so misunderstood. He's been credited with the Nazi final solution. But in reality it was Nietzsche's sister that created the pure race Superman that the Nazis took as their goal. After his death Nietzsche's sister re-wrote some of his diaries creating the "Will to Power" publication Hitler used as propaganda. The book has been rewritten since, to create more of what Nietzsche intended.

Basically this book is a quick reference guide. Beginning with a biography the reader learns what formed the man that formed the "will to power" philosophy and later to claim "God is dead." His major concept is the will to power, which he saw as the basic impulse for all our acts. Christianity he saw as a subtle perversion of this concept—thus Nietzsche’s famous pronouncement, “God is dead.”

The book also contains a section featuring cronologies on Nietzsche's life, Nietzsche's Era and Philosophical dates, along with a section with choice quotes.

This book is a great quick reference, but not the end all on Nietzsche. So for a graduate student, hopefully you are looking at more in-depth texts, but for the curious and those seeking some interesting reference 90 minutes is not too much time to waste on understanding a philosopher.

To wrap things up here are some of my favorite Nietzsche quotes:
Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself.

I cannot believe in a God who wants to be praised all the time.

Without music, life would be a mistake.

What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

"Midnight in Death" by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) (Published by Berkley 2005)

Lt. Eve Dallas must postpone her first Christmas with Roarke to hunt for an escaped serial killer.

In going back and finding the books in the " Death" series by JD Robb that I haven't read yet, I found this little treat. Little in that this book is under 100 pages long. If you haven't read the series yet, this may not be the first in the series but it might be a good introduction for someone to start with. It does have some references to previous books but it is a fast read, you won't want to put it down.

If you've been reading my reviews on the " Death" series of books you already know I really love the writing and the characters created by JD Robb. Robb is actually the alter-ego of Nora Roberts. These books all take place in New York around the year 2058 and provide some great cop/crime/thriller/sci-fi reading material.

In this book Lt. Eve Dallas is just hours off the previous case, see "Holiday in Death," and is called in on a homicide in which the mutilated body of a judge is found in the middle of the ice rink in Rockefeller Center. The reason she's called in is that she's among 5 other names on a note found pinned to the judge. It turns out she's the arresting officer and the one who cracked the case on David Palmer 3 years prior. Palmer has broken out of prison seeking revenge. Palmer claims his murder/tortures are for science and is a bit of a whack job.

Eve now has until midight New Years Eve to find Palmer and bring him down, or risk the life of her closest friend Dr. Mira. In perfect Eve Dallas form she tracks down Palmer and fights the good fight...but will she be in time? With her team of NYPSD detective and officers and a little inside help from her insanely rich and techno-savvy husband Roarke this thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat up until the last page.

Great short read, and trust me you'll get hooked on the series.

I have said in prior reviews that the one thing that makes these books awesome is the characterization. The characters, while set in the future, are very real in all aspects and Robb/Roberts' writing is what makes them jump out of the page. My only complaint is that too much time is wasted in these books with descriptive sex scenes. I'm no prude but I really think we get that Dallas and Roarke are in love and don't need the detailed sex scenes to prove that. But in another aspect it's one other thing that could appeal to some. These books have everything, crime stories, great police work, great characters, humor, sci-fi and action, so I guess a little sex will get that one niche of reader that still isn't sure.

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Do Not Mail : Get Involved

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Walt has warned me

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

"Isaac Asimov's Robot City Book 6: Perihelion" by William F. Wu. (published by Ace Books 1988)

Well sadly I've come to the end of the series of books that is "Robot City." It has been a great endeavor with some ups and downs in both reading of the series and the adventures of "David/Derec" and "Katherine/Ariel." Before I go too much further allow me to recap the idea behind these books.

Isaac Asimov's Robot City is a series of novels written by various authors and loosely connected to Isaac Asimov's Robot Series. It takes place between The Robots of Dawn and Robots and Empire. The novels were written in response to a writing challenge issued by Asimov to write a series involving the Three Laws of Robotics, which brought about a collaboration of several talented authors.

The books in this series are:
1. Odyssey by Michael P. Kube-McDowell (1987)
2. Suspicion by Mike McQuay (1987)
3. Cyborg by William F. Wu (1987)
4. Prodigy by Arthur Byron Cover (1988)
5. Refuge by Rob Chilson (1988)
6. Perihelion by William F. Wu (1988)

One thing this series introduces is the concept of aliens. In Asimov's universe there were no other intelligent lifeforms other than human and robot. In the later books by Asimov he explained that this could be because the robots were sent ahead of humanity to terraform planets and thus destroying alien life forms. So maybe some aliens could have "survived." In my humble opinion I think Asimov simply wanted to explore humanity through robots and their interaction with humans and just left out the aliens.

This book is the final book in the series and the second in the series by writer William F. Wu. In Perihelion, Derec and Ariel have returned to Robot City from Earth to find Dr. Avery (the creator of Robot City) and find out why he has "infected" Derec with Chemfets, molecule sized robots that are taking over Derec's Body.

Upon arrival the team of Derec, Ariel, Wolruff (the caninoid alien) and Mandlebrot (the hybrid robot created by Derec) find that Robot City has pretty much covered the entire planet and the robots are all finishing up tasks and instructed to reprogram to "migration programming." While trying to solve this puzzle of migration programming and find Dr. Avery the team must avoid Hunter robots that wish to capture them.

As they get closer to Avery, Derec's infection of Chemfets leaves him immobilized. The team is joined by Jeff Leong, the man who was turned into a cyborg in book 3. Jeff is back to help them off the planet thinking they were still stranded as when he last left them. As it turns out Jeff had met Dr. Avery when Dr. Avery sought Jeff's fathers assistance in creating Robot City.

The books climax is one that not only wraps up the entire series and solves all the mysteries, but also leaves space for the series to continue. In fact the last page of the book says, "Robot city continues in book #7." Sadly no book 7 was ever written. Actually that's not quite true...Asimov did the same with this series in another series called "Robots & Aliens." That series is said to continue where this one left off. Guess I'll be looking for that series next.

All in all the experiment was a success and I think all the authors captured the spirit of Asimov's robots. Maybe a standard should be set here.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

"Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" by Mary Roach (pub. W. W. Norton & Company 2003)

I recently read Mary Roach's book, "Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife," and was impressed by the way the author not only could explain the science of death and dying but that she did it with great wit. I mean there were times while reading the book I would catch myself laughing out loud, and have to look around and make sure no one thought I was a bit crazy. But no one did...or at least none that would admit it. Anyway, after that treat of non-fiction, educational but in a fun way, book I had to go back and read her earlier book, I was not let down. This book provided the learn something new but have some laughs along the way fun that I've now come to expect from Mary Roach.

Keep in mind she does look at this in a fun way, but in no way does Mary Roach make fun of the dead or dying. Humor with class and education is the best way to describe what is in this book.

In "Stiff:..." Mary Roach examines the many things that happen after a person ceases being a person. Mostly these people have donated their bodies for research, but in the past it was not always that way. So not only is there a bit of exploring what a cadaver is expected to go through, Mary Roach also gives a bit of a history lesson on the dead.

I think this book is best summed up with a list of the chapters, so here's a list of the chapters.

1. A Head Is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Practicing surgery on the dead
2. Crimes of Anatomy: Body snatching and other sordid tales from the dawn of human dissection
3. Life After Death: On human decay and what can be done about it
4. Dead Man Driving: Human crash test dummies and the ghastly, necessary science of impact tolerance
5. Beyond the Black Box: When the bodies of the passengers must tell the story of a crash
6. The Cadaver Who Joined the Army: The sticky ethics of bullets and bombs
7. Holy Cadaver: The crucifixion experiments
8. How to Know if You're Dead: Beating-heart cadavers, live burial, and the scientific search for the soul
9. Just a Head: Decapitation, reanimation, and the human head transplant
10. Eat Me: Medicinal cannibalism and the case of the human dumplings
11. Out of the Fire, into the Compost Bin: And other new ways to end up
12. Remains of the Author: Will she or won't she?

As you can see lots of interesting subjects and each chapter more informative and entertaining than the previous. Keep in mind this book is not for the squeamish. I will have to say that the book as a huge squirm factor, by that I mean if you , like me, have a hard time listening to very descriptive discussions about body parts and cutting into same and squirm around in your seat when you hear or read such, you'll be squirming throughout this book. However, I found the book very fascinating, informative and yes entertaining so I squirmed but read on.

Seriously you know you're in for some squirming when the book opens up with:

"The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken. I have never before had the occasion to make the comparison, for never before today have I seen a head in a roasting pan. But here are forty of them, one per pan, resting face-up on what looks to be a small pet-food bowl. The heads are for plastic surgeons, two per head, to practice on...."

After this book I've decided I'm still not sure about what to do with my body after I'm done with it. I do support the "harvesting" of my organs but for the rest, i'm thinking seriously about the composting idea. (read chapter 11)

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posted by Gil T. @ 7:33 PM Comments: 0

Monday, August 04, 2008

"Odd Hours" by Dean Koontz (pub. 2008)

Here it is the 4th installment in Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas series. Odd Thomas, yes that's his name (it seems his parents were cruel in many ways), is in all practicality just your average late teens teenager, except that he can see the dead. Odd sees actual ghosts of the recently departed. Usually they appear to him so he can solve the circumstances of their death or so Odd may help them to "move on" and fully depart the living world. Recently Odd helped the King of Rock-n-Roll Elvis Presley to move on. In past books Odd has stopped terrorist-like activities on his home town of Pico Mundo, been lured to help a voodoo priestess attempt to achieve immortality, and saved some "special" children who were in danger from a dark evil at a monastery.

Odd Thomas' only "powers" are those of seeing the recently departed, premonitions of future events, and psychic magnetism. Let me explain these a little further. Seeing the recently departed is just that, seeing, they cannot talk and cannot affect the living material world, unless they have rare poltergeist abilities. The premonitions are often in Odd's dreams and are never explained and are slowly unfolding enigmas. And finally psychic magnetism is a form of Odd just thinking about who he wants to see and by just wandering he ends up meeting them. The magnetism can backfire and lead to those he doesn't want to see. Other than that he's pretty normal.

In this book Odd's psychic magnetism has led him to the small California coastal town of Magic Beach. Something big is about to happen thanks to a premonition coming to Odd in a dream. Odd has found employment with a retired actor who goes by Hutch, and had his heyday in film back when Hollywood films were filled with silver screen icons like Barbara Stanwick, Humphry Bogart, et. al. Odd takes care of Hutch by cooking for him.

Odd Runs into Annamarie, a pregnant woman in Odd's vision, on a pier and is immediately sucked into the action. Odd and Annamare is threatened by 3 thugs; 2 redhead brothers (one with "meth-teeth") and a large thug with a chin beard. When the large thug touches Odd, Odd's vision is passed on to to him and he asks Odd, "Who are you?" At which point odd realizes these guys are not friendly and escapes by jumping off the pier after Annamarie heads to a crowd. He evades them with the help of his dog, Boo, by the way Boo is a ghost dog who only Odd sees.

After Odd escapes he finds his way to Annamarie's home where she presents a strange proposition to Odd which she asks if Odd would die for her. He answers without hesitating in the affirmative and then he and she both get a "feeling" which they must both leave immediately. The three thugs show up at her door and the chase is on. After sending her to a safehouse Odd proceeds to find out what is going on. Soon he is picked up by the local Sheriff in which all is made clear.

Odd must then stop the importing of Nuclear weapons to Magic Beach. The weapons are part of a plan to create a New United States and Odd must fight terrorists and maybe give up his aversion to guns. With the action of a Bruce Willis action film and the teen angst of a Spider-man Comic book, the unlikely hero of Odd Thomas must take on the worlds woes. Also at the same time he has to help the spirit of "The Chairman of the Board" Frank Sinatra, to move on.

Great book, great read, great characters, Dean Koontz has continued with the winning formula that is Odd Thomas.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:10 PM Comments: 0