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Archive for June, 2008

Once a month I back up everything I can on my computer.

This is actually quite a bit since I have 3 cds alone filled with pictures.  Pictures from an old program called Palace and pictures from my blog / journal (53 folders of pics from the blog alone) .  I also save my paint programs in a zip because they are so easy to put on another computer when this one decides to go asta la bye bye.

Of course I also back up the trilogy I wrote, my blog/journal that i copy and paste to Word and who knows what else.   All this takes about 2 hours to do.

Most of that time I am huffing and puffing and bored and the occasional curse word slips through my lips…

So how come when I’m done… I feel so much better?! 

This is the third computer I’ve had.  I know they don’t last much more than 4-5 yrs before I get the shock of a blue screen or worse.  Then I panic because I don’t know a tech anymore.  And I panic because my computer is my link to any life at all.   I also panic because I know that sooner or later I have to deal with wires again.  Not only am I not a tech… but I’m lucky if I put a plug in the wall correctly, let alone the mass of wires going from the tower to the surge protector to the monitor etc…. It’s a test of my stupidity! 

Then there’s the other panic.  This one occurs when we first turn on a new computer, and things I don’t even want show up on the Windows bar.  And no matter how much you pay for the computer services, you will NOT find someone to talk you through getting them OFF the bar, or how to delete all the crap they put on that you don’t want!  Ya know I’d be more than willing to pay an extra 100.00 just to have it formatted they way I want it! Which is without all the junk they put on it and all the stuff they put on the start up bar that you don’t need starting up when you boot up!

Since I am on a roll here… tell me why I can’t buy a new computer with only an 80 or 125 G hard drive??  Why do they have to be so HUGE??  And why if you even ask for a smaller hard drive to they say it won’t be any cheaper when it costs a lot to add to a hard drive??    I’ve been “on line” for 11 yrs now.  I have folder and folders and folders and folders of pictures.  I have 3 paint programs.  I have Word 2000.  I have Roxio Media and Print Shop 21 and out of the 125 G hard drive on this machine, I haven’t even used 20 gigs!!  Hello?   Tell me again why I need a 300 gig hard drive!   Oh I know the Game folks need it, don’t get me wrong… but they sure don’t want to bring the price of a new computer down when you want LESS than they are offering.

Ok.. I’m sorry.. I got off on this subject and I didn’t mean to..  hard to believe when I started this I felt fairly good about backing up all my…. stuff.

It’s pretty sad that an “object” can come to mean so much to me.  I don’t own a cell phone or an Ipod, and I doubt I ever will.  But somehow I managed to ask enough questions to learn just enough to make me feel like I need a computer. 

I don’t want to jinx myself and say this one has not been a lemon, so I won’t say it.  I just hope it lasts a few more years before i have to get a new one ..  I really, really, REALLY do NOT want Vista.… and I don’t care how much anyone else likes it!  I like XP!

Ok… I’ll get off the soap box now!

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When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris


Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (June 3, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0316143472

Amazon Product Description
“David Sedaris‘s ability to transform the mortification of everyday life into wildly entertaining art,” (The Christian Science Monitor) is elevated to wilder and more entertaining heights than ever in this remarkable new book.
Trying to make coffee when the water is shut off, David considers using the water in a vase of flowers and his chain of associations takes him from the French countryside to a hilariously uncomfortable memory of buying drugs in a mobile home in rural North Carolina. In essay after essay, Sedaris proceeds from bizarre conundrums of daily life-having a lozenge fall from your mouth into the lap of a fellow passenger on a plane or armoring the windows with LP covers to protect the house from neurotic songbirds-to the most deeply resonant human truths. Culminating in a brilliant account of his venture to Tokyo in order to quit smoking, David Sedaris‘s sixth essay collection is a new masterpiece of comic writing from “a writer worth treasuring” (Seattle Times).

Life, as seen through the eyes of David Sedaris…  If we all saw life in such a way,  depression might be a cured disease.

Book quote about wearing glasses:  High school taught me a valuable lesson about wearing glasses:  don’t wear them. Contacts have always seemed like too much work, so instead I just squint, figuring that if something is more than 6 feet away I’ll deal with it when I get there.

His view on the spiders that his sisters were afraid of:  Come bedtime I’d knock on my sisters door and predict that the spider (that dad let loose) was now crawling on the top of the house, where he’d take a short breather before heading down the chimney.  “I read in the encyclopedia that this particular breed is known for its tracking ability, and that once it’s pegged its victims, almost nothing will stop it.  Anyway, good night.”   

Something like that would be equivalent to signing a death warrant!

It seems that everyone who has read this book mentions the chapter where he sneezes and a lozenge he has in his mouth flies out, bounces off of the back seat in front of him and lands on the lady next to him… the then tries to figure out the choices he has…  I’ll admit that I think that was the best chapter in the book.

This is a good book when you want something lite to read.  Each chapter is a different “essay” and so one chapter does not necessarily  lead to the next,  yet they all (comically) tie into his life.

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Nicole from Word for Teens is posing what I think is a great question.. one that would make a great post!

Her Question is this:

If you could be any character in a novel, who would you be and why – and include somehow acting like that character!
Be creative. Don’t say Bella from Twilight because she’s in love with Edward – say Lessa from Dragonflight because she manages to run a whole Weyr in the face of failure. Take the character into consideration, not who she’s in love with! (And you can still use either of those.

I think this is a great question!  And if you’d like to post on it please use her link above so that you leave a link at her blog!   The reason I think this question is so good is because it’s kinda like: what’s your favorite food?  For surely there is more than one answer! 

At times I think we all wish we were someone else or some place else, and then there are times when you just need to escape life in general.

Even if a person doesn’t read a lot, there are (and have been) so many books made into movies that they’d still have a character that they just can’t forget that they’d probably want to be. 

It makes me wonder: 

How many guys wouldn’t want to be a superhero?? or a sorcerer like Gandalf?  Want to be like Indiana Jones?  Or maybe flying through space as Hans Solo?   Or maybe someone just wants to be “anywhere but where they are”, and a home in the trees like the Swiss Family Robinson, really doesn’t sound too bad !

I’m not sure could even do this.  Most of my  favorite characters from books (and movies) are men .. or dragons.. neither of which would quite be right, if you get what I mean.  So if it sounds interesting to you please do a post on it and link to Nicoles blog by leaving a comment!!

Now… since I mentioned super hero’s… and since the new movie “The Incredible Hulk” is now out in the theaters I thought I would post a few photo’s of Lou Ferrigno, the Original Hulk!

I had the pleasure of working with Lou at an autograph show, way back when I lived in California.  Lou shows up at shows here in New Jersey fairly regular and I always visit with him.  He is one Phenomenal  man!  He looks exactly the same as he did 9 years ago!! (and let me say this:  no one should look this good at 57 yrs old!)

Here’s the autographed book by Lou that I have and some photo’s of him when he played the Hulk with Bill Bixby….

                       

… and since I have this “thing” for beards (and always have).. here’s on of him as Hercules!

… last but not least…  (oh to be this thin again!!)

(broke my heart hanging on to those thighs, but someone had to do it! LOL LOL!)

I found out that Lou does the voice of the new Hulk and has a small part in the new movie…  It’s nice to see that they haven’t forgotten Lou after all these years.

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I don’t know who coined the words, “book porn”, but it seems there’s much of it going around.

Normally, book porn (especially my own) makes me smile.  Makes me want even more!    Normally.

So, when a box arrived (from that place that I wish I had stock in) from Amazon, I got out my trusty little camera and took this photo…

 

…book porn is what happens when you read Carl’s Book Challenge Reviews…

Five out of the six of the above books are here because of book reviews.  (*rolling my eyes* shaking my head*)   Instead of putting the blame on 5 different people for 5 different reviews.. I’ll just blame Carl!!  (Someone started the blame game, Maybe Debi? But whoever.. it works for me!)

The 6th book, “Monkey Business” by Simon Louvish is a used book, there because I enjoyed his book on Laurel and Hardy so much.  Thought I’d test to see if my enjoyment was a fluke, or he really writes well enough to make me enjoy it.

This pile of book porn also upgrades my TBR list to a grand total of 42! 

Not to mention that  two more books  I’ve been waiting for will be released  within the next 2 weeks.

1— The Dragon’s Lair (The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme)   
by Elizabeth Haydon  July 8
 2—
 The Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel   
by Michael Scott   June 24

(*bad amazon wish list! bad! bad!)

Even with the porn it isn’t my best day.  Everything is driving me nuts!   

 I’ve gained 8 lbs since I stopped smoking 19 weeks ago today. (notice I didn’t say “quit”  yet!  I don’t think I’ve beat this yet)  Do you have any idea how hard it is to loose 10 lbs?   “those last 10 lbs”… someone having to loose 100 lbs would have an easier time!  And I’m still more than willing to smoke again in order to do this! 

Lessee.. oh, then there’s this pain on the top of my foot.  A foot doctor stuck it with a needle and wanted me to get some “medicine pads” to put on it… 365.00!! Hello?!! NOT!

Oh.. and it’s mammogram time again… gosh I am so freaking thrilled I can’t begin to tell you!

So……. I’m told this David Sedaris book is funny……… all I can say is:  IT BETTER BE!!     I need a good laugh about now!


Inside every older person is a younger person — wondering what the hell happened.

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Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician by Daniel Wallace (author of Big Fish)

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (July 3, 2007)
ISBN-10: 038552109X

From Publishers Weekly
An inept African-American illusionist is dogged by the deal he struck with the devil in Wallace’s fourth novel, a circus picaresque that barnstorms its way through the 1950s American South. Henry Walker, once the “greatest magician in the world,” has been reduced to a minstrel show–like novelty act in a traveling circus. Henry’s story, told by a succession of narrators—including members of the circus and a private detective—begins during the Depression, when Henry’s family fell on hard times. While down and out, Henry meets and apprentices with the devilish magician Mr. Sebastian. Henry learns the secrets of magic, but his ambition and ability are crimped when his beloved sister, Hannah, disappears. The truths of Henry’s and Mr. Sebastian’s identities and the fate of Hannah are gradually revealed, and what appears to be a Faustian tale of a pact with the devil turns out to be something more tragic. Wallace (Big Fish; The Watermelon King) skillfully unravels the tale, and though the conclusion is both startling and inevitable, and Henry is as beguiling and enigmatic a character as Wallace has created, the milieu of carnies, hucksters, tricksters and wanderers isn’t as sharp as it could be.

I’ve never read any Daniel Wallace books before, although I have seen the movie Big Fish which was made from his book.  I saw this book reviewed by Nymeth, .  Between her review and the fact that I enjoyed the movie, Big Fish, I thought I would send for this book to read.

The book does not disappoint.  It is the life story of Henry Walker (and his family) told by more than one person.

First was young Henry wanting to be a magician. His mother dead, his father poor. 

Then there was the Henry who went to war.  No one who stayed close to Henry died in the war.

Then the Henry that returned from war and once again dabbled in magic.  Can someone be brought back from the dead?

And last but not least the Henry of the time of the writing, which was around 1954. 

I can’t say it was what I expected.  And I don’t want to give away the magical secrets of the book, but I will say Mr Wallace has many things to write about, and many ways to write them. 

 It’s doubtful you would find this book a total disappointment.  If you ever read Big Fish or saw the movie, you already know that Mr Wallace knows how to tell a story.   (also the author of Watermellon King)

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Justice Hall by Laurie R King

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (January 16, 2004)
ISBN-10: 000711138X

Amazon.com
A lost heir, murder most foul, and the unexpected return of two old friends start Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes–spouses and intellectual equals–on an investigation that takes them from the trenches of World War I France to the heights of English society. In this sixth entry in Laurie King’s award-winning series, fans will find the Baker Street sleuth mellowed by age and marriage yet still in possession of his deductive abilities and acerbic wit, and, in Mary Russell, a surprisingly apt companion for the legendary detective.
Justice Hall brings back two colorful characters from earlier in the series: Bedouins Ali and Mahmoud Hazr (now known as Alistair and Marsh), who last appeared in O Jerusalem. At their request, Holmes and Russell take up the trail of the doomed heir to Justice Hall, who has been executed for cowardice in the bloody trenches of France. As the detectives strive to make sense of his death and to locate another heir to the family title, an attempt is made on the life of the man who’s soon to be welcomed as the new duke. Holmes and Russell soon realize something sinister is afoot, and that they must untangle a web of deceit to discover which of the many suspects is taking steps to shorten the line of inheritance. Once again, King’s satisfying tale stays true to the spirit of Conan Doyle’s original stories while extending them into new terrain.

This is my 6th Mary Russell book and my 7th Laurie R King book.

Before Carl’s RIP challenge last year when I sent for a used copy of  Laurie R King’s “The Moor” for read for the challenge no one could have told me that I’d enjoy reading Sherlock Holmes or more to the point Sherlock Holmes wife, Mary Russell!… but ohh, how I’ve enjoyed this group of books!  There are 2 more in the series which I don’t have at the moment but I assure you I will have them eventually!

I was quite surprised that Ali and Mahmoud Hazr, from the other book O Jerusalem were reintroduced  for this book.   Of course they were no longer the men they thought they knew but instead were proper Englishmen of some prominence.  Quite a contrast from when Mary and Sherlock had first met them.

This was yet another gripping story told by Laurie R King.   A little less of the more playful exchanges between  Mary and Holmes that I’ve enjoyed in the other books, but a gripping story to keep you glued to the book none the less.

I could do no less than to say that this whole series of books has been enjoyable and I’d recommend them to anyone who does, or may, enjoy Sherlock Holmes type mysteries.  

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Laurel and Hardy

Stan and Ollie by Simon Louvish

Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (June 23, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0312325983

From Publishers Weekly
Louvish has written a biography of Laurel and Hardy that brims with affection and still preserves an honest, unbiased view of their creativity and personal traumas. He presents a fully rounded, well-paced portrait of their contrasting backgrounds (Laurel was born in England; Hardy in Georgia), early separate careers and eventual union in a Hal Roach production, 45 Minutes from Hollywood, in 1926. Roach claimed to have discovered them before reluctantly conceding partial credit to Leo McCarey, who directed many of the duo’s best movies. After appearances in five undistinguished pictures, their careers soared with such classics as Duck Soup (not to be confused with the Marx Brothers version) and The Second Hundred Years. The two saw themselves as working actors who happened to hit on an incredible streak of good luck. However, their off-camera lives were anything but lucky, and Louvish, in his chapter “Multiple Whoopee or Wives and Woes,” poignantly chronicles each man’s domestic catastrophes, with particularly painful emphasis on Hardy’s marriage to his alcoholic second wife, Myrtle Lee. Laurel, after four disastrous unions, finally found happiness with Russian opera singer Ida Kitaeva Raphael. Thanks to Louvish’s erudite yet accessible style, in-depth studies of Laurel and Hardy films are even more absorbing to read than their marital conflicts. A touching example of Louvish’s deep feeling for his subjects occurs when he describes Hardy’s huge 150-pound weight loss, in which he concludes, “it probably never occurred to Oliver Hardy that his fans actually considered him beautiful.” It’s clear the author does, and this tender admiration invites the reader to share his view.

I know it’s hard to believe but the comedy team of Laurel and Hardy was actually (mostly) before (even) My Time!  (this small fact makes me smile.  It’s hard to grasp anything being older than I am… and a blessing besides!)

I had found this book at bargain price and having enjoyed Laurel and Hardy as a kid I thought I’d send for the book.. after all, sometimes I read biographies, how different can this be?

Once here the book sat for some time.  Partly because I was doing Carl’s Fantasy Challenge, but that was an excuse, as I had read way more than needed for the challenge.  I have to be in the mood to read something like this.

I picked it up and flipped the pages, looking to the back to see how long the book was.. oh gawd 544 pages!?  Do I want to attempt this now?? (I didn’t think so) With a big sigh I thought, let me read a few pages, just to see what it’s going to be like.  Yeah well.. that was 544 pages ago!  Yeah.. it grabbed me.  I must have been ready without knowing it!

I think I read about 40 pgs and had to set it down to do some work.  I quickly found that each time I came back into my room I was heading to sit on the bed and read some more!   That was my second surprise!.. I mean, it’s not really a cliff hanger or anything!  I just couldn’t leave it for long!

The book begins by alternating chapters between the birth and upbringing of each of these very talented men. 

In 1890, Arthur Stanley Jefferson (Stan Laurel) was born in Ulverston England , and in 1892 Norvell ( Babe) Hardy (Ollie) was born in Harlem Georgia. 

With travel nothing like it is today what were the chances these two men would ever meet?

Simon Louvish (author) did a very good job describing both England of the 1890’s and down trodden, klu klux klanish, Georgia of the same period.

This was also the time of the beginning of motion pictures, or more correctly silent pictures, most of which may have been only one reel long ( 20 minutes)! 

I think this book was written really well.  It gave you just enough of how things were that you could follow easily. Actually, it has the benefits of more than one author.. how is that? you ask… well, quite often the author quotes paragraphs from other authors who have written about  Laurel or Hardy or both or the era in which this is all taking place.  So you get more information than maybe one author could find… not a bad deal.

I want to share bits of information from thebook, and even some quotes.  I hope this doesn’t get toooooooooooooooooo long… but no promises!

FYI:    Did you know that Stan Laurel worked with and roomed with Charlie Chaplin, before Chaplin or he ever came to America? (cool huh?)

FYI:     in 1921 Laurel and Hardy actually made their first movie together… but it was far from when they would become partners.

Quote from the book:

It must have been a good Christmas for Stan in 1922. He already had another “burlesque” in the can.  When Knights Were Cold was a pastiche of When Knighthood Was in Flower, which starred Marion Davies, and had opened earlier in the year. Stan was Lord Helpus, a Slippery Knight, and Mae was Countess Out, a Classy Eve.  The character’s names:  Earl of Tabasco, a Hot Knight; Duke of Sirloin, a Tough Knight; Rainy Knights, Foggy Knights and Knights of Pity Us.. look eerily forward to our contemporary Monty Python’s Holy Grail exploits, as does the scene, described by Stan in later years, in which the knights advanced on paper-basket horses, much as the horseless Pythons of our day.

Quote:

Producer Thomas Ince moved in and built a studio which was later to become the mighty Metro Goldwyn Mayer.  Roach, having freed himself of former partners, bought nineteen acres to set up the Hal E Roach Studios, in what was soon to be called Culver City.  Roy Seawright’s father was Roach‘s chief architect, but died tragically in a work accident before the studio was completed.  The Buildings were ready in 1920, and Roach began to gather around him the coterie of crew and actors who would become his regular stock company.  Harold Lloyd was still his main star, though he worked with is own autonomous unit, and when Stan joinedLloyd was riding the crest of his wave with his feature masterpiece, Safety Last.  “Snub” Pollard was still going strong and Roach had already launched what would become his most lucrative franchise, the “Our Gang” films in 1922.

Quote:

1925- a vintage year in America.  Cool customer Calvin Coolidge was the new man in the White House.  Ace airman Charles B Lindbergh flew alone across the Atlantic on the same days in May that Stan Laurel was directing his second film for Hal Roach in Hollywood– a Jimmy Finlayson vehicle called Unfriendly Enemies.  Later in the year the Marx Brothers opened the The Cocoanuts on Broadway.  F. Scott Fitzgerald published The Great Gatsby, W.C. Fields was starring in the annual Ziegfeld Follies and then shooting his first feature film, for D. W Griffith, the circus tale, Sally of the Sawdust.  In Tennessee, John Thomas Scopes went on trial for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution in high school.  Knute Rockne was riding high as the football coach for Notre Dame, and Babe Ruth was still the name in baseball.  Around the world, things were pretty confusing as usual, what with Mussolini trying to make the trains run on time in Italy and a recently released jailbird, Adolf Hitler, trying to set up his own political party in Germany.  But back on Wall Street, stocks were up, up, up.

FYI:   Laurel and Hardy made 32 silent movies together.  40 short talkies. and 24 feature films.  Separately, they appeared in 340 films, in total 440 films.

FYI:   During this same period of time some of the stars fighting for contention were:  Buster Keaton..W C Fields..Charlie Chaplin.. Harold Lloyd… the Marx Brothers.. and Mae West

FYI:   Some of the established regulars in Laurel and Hardy movies were:

 Billy Gilbert    Mae Busch

 Edgar Kennedy  Jimmy Finlayson

   and Thelma Todd

Quote:

By 1934, the Hollywood studios had recovered from their worst depression blues, and were producing, on average, about 50 movies each per year.   MGM, in any case, had been least hit by the massive dip in profits that bettered the other major studios in the first years of the decade.  The studio that had “more stars than there are in heaven” had the added asset of the young Irving Thalberg, registering hit after hit.  From Grand Hotel in 1932 he continued to Queen Christina in 1933, and films such as Mutiny on the Bounty and David Copperfield, in 1935, would maintain MGM‘s firm lead.  Hal Roach Studios, nestling in the crook of MGM‘s distribution arm, was in a pretty comfortable, if at times pungent position.

I have to say that I enjoyed this book way more than I thought I would!  Maybe because the author didn’t wind up basically just listing their movies and telling me about each and every one, but described each of their lives leading up to their meeting and then talked about their successes but intermingled it with their life at that time and other people that touched their lives.  This was truly a good book!

I remember seeing their movies on television when I was young.  Now and then one will still pop up, but not often.  There was a lot of silliness in their movies, but you always had to laugh or keep  a smile on your face. 

It’s good to be a comedian…  because nothing but good can happen when you laugh.

Ollie:  Where were you born?

Stan:   I don’t know, I was too young to remember.

Stan Laurel:  June 16, 1890 –  Feb 25, 1965

Oliver Hardy:  January 18, 1892 – August 7, 1957

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