Words, Weights, Whatever

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Random of the Day

points of departure


Friday, June 25, 2004


As can be noted by the lack of entries, work on any of my novels has halted. Reasons vary but all based on procrastination (especially the HDTV and digital cable entering our lives.)

This blog, fortunately, continually reminds me to write. The reviews are some of the first fruits. The solitary nature of my current position at work and the emotions invoked (read bored) provide nice prodding as well. Finally, I miss the fruition of my ideas: will my protagonist allow the gods to return to the world? What really happened after the boy was swallowed up by dragon? And what were those voices the immigrant heard shortly after landing in the human colony of an alien world.

Ah, so many stories...

In reverse of my fitness goals years ago, I've been focusing more on my eating habits than working out. I've resumed many of my original habits: metamucil, a gallon of water a day, eating only half the meal and bringing the rest home, more wise (and tasty) food choices, etc. From this simple effor alone, I've lost enough in the past couple of weeks for the once-tight collars of my workshirts to fit comfortably. Same with the waistbands of my new slacks.

Now it's back to truly shaping my physique. While I've been good in keeping my cardio up, my efforts been minimal (one step class a week.) Definitely not enough to lose significant amount (between 10-15 pounds) of body fat. Scheduling up to three more slots a week.

Resuming weights to increase my chest, broaden my shoulders and back, and round out my arse. Start with a basic plan: squats for legs; assisted pullouts for back; pushups for chest; and lifts for shoulders. May hit the tri's, bi's, and calves if I have the time. Schedule at least twice a week for total body and work up to four for more specialization.

Hmmm. Time for supplements again?

R. and I have been on a spending spree this past few months. The HDTV and digital cable. More DVDs. More books. More role-playing games (me) costing a couple of hundred. Over 5k worth of original anime cells (R.) I thinks it's time we actually start enjoying all these purchases while slowing down the cash flow. I'll push for us to sit down for a bit and schedule the month of July with stuff--

Ack! I just remembered. Four days of Comicon! Well, there went the funds....


Added several new links to Blogs I Read. Let me know what you think. I'll be adding the Bio links to them later.

Review: Elf Child by David M. Pierce

Little late...

Russ is one of the last elf child, a human gifted with the ability to change his shape. For decades he has used his abilities for one-night stands but feels a growing dissatisfaction with this arrangement. Then at a bar, he meets Eric....

The cover of David Pierce's novel is eye-catching. And, as a science-fiction/fantasy fan with a (hidden) romantic heart, the premise intriguing. HOwever, there's only so far one can go with the wrapping. The meat of any tale--whether it's in a book, a comic book/graphic novel, television show, or movie--is the story; unfortunately, Elf Child fell short.

Interesting characters or plot carry stories for me. While I'd prefer both on the same page, I'm willing to continue a book if I have a least one present. Elf Child book contained neither. The major characters are passive, two-dimensional, and interchangeable. I easily predicted (unfortunately) many of their actions. And some didn't make sense: if someone I loved was severely hurt, I would not be crying alone and bemoaning how terrible life especially if I have power as Russ and his mother truly did possess.

There were several subplots in addition to the main one. The introduction of a parallel line set in the past at first through me. Worse, I found it a distraction, not an asset to the main plot. While they all weaved together in the end, they were quite predictable. And is fag-bashing a standard in all gay romances or something?

Some of the brights spots of the story were details of Russ' paranormal abilities, the genealogy research, and the setting (I visit San Diego frequently). But I had to struggle to keep interested long enough to finish the book. Overall, I give Elf Child one and a half stars out of five.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Domesticity isn't pretty...or cheap

First was the replacement of the house AC and heater. Electrical work on the kitchen lights and stove. For a bit of fun, we bought a 50" HDTV and upgraded to digital cable.

Now our old refridgerator has been leaking water onto the kitchen floor. The unsealed wooden floor. R. immediately panicked and demanded a new one (refridgerator, not floor). We tried placing containers to catch the water but the unseen leak now goes underneath our attempts. Our best solution is some rags but they're only temporary.

So last night we drove out to Sears and priced a few new units. Found a nice one for around $1600. Whew! We celebrated our decision over dinner while internally I thought about our home equity loan.

Sigh. Sometimes it doesn't pay to grow up. Or the costs are higher than one's pay.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Link of the Day

Bulked-Up Boy Teaches Docs About Muscle Protein

I can bet the fitness industry is definitely going to go bonkers for more myostatin surpressants!

Book review

Touched by the Gods by Lawrence Watt-Evans

Before severing their contact with the human race, the gods "touched" one child to be their Champion. That child born is Malledd, son of a blacksmith. But his homeland, the Domdur empire, has been at peace for so long that everyone, including Malledd, doubt his divine status.

But at the edges of the empire, the descendant of a tribe long conquered by the Domdur discovers ancient magics and, in revenge for his ancestors, leads an undead army towards the Domdur capital.

If the introduction of this book sounds a bit cliche, "Touched by the Gods" (Touched) fits the description squarely. Doubting heroes, constant infighting among the Domdur nobility, revenge-bent magician with undead army. etc., fill the 500+ page paperback. The fact that the story entertains well despite these stereotypes illustrates the author's skill.

Time between major scenes were measured in years, giving the story an epic feel. Watt-Evans grounds the scenes with how the changes affect the characters: Malledd and his family; the antagonist suffering old age despite his magics; and the development of minor characters as Malledd's fellow villagers. This brings one of the major problems with Touched, though: there are a lot of characters and I had difficulty trying to figure out how and where they related to the plot. Compounding the problem were another fantasy cliche: the fantasy name.While Malledd wasn't difficult to remember, many others were.

Because the story is over a long period of time, much of the book deals with the various personalities and machinations of the characters before the introduction of the antagonist and, later, on dealing with him. Watt-Evans doesn't stray far from the established conventions: Malledd keeps doubting he's the Champion; his wife wants him to stay at home; personality conflicts prevent the major forces from realizing there's a Champion; misdirection of who is the traitor; etc. I sometimes felt the characters--while not the dreaded "info dumps"--sole purpose were to illustrate a particular character facet, provide background, or point to an obvious plot point.

There were some surprises, some of them nice. I liked the magic system in Touched. I also liked how Malledd finally learned he was the Champion (which involves a wedding.) And the chapters and their scenes move quickly, progressing the simple plot. None feel like filler.

Overall, I give Touched by the Gods three stars out of five for a pleasant read.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

For the history books

Sweet ride for rocket man

Don't want to forget about this historical event.

Random for the Day

A Log In My Eye

Very interesting commentary on the gay marriage issue.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Review: Shrek 2

Next to finding a writer who never suffers writer's block is a movie sequel equal or better than the original. Shrek 2 is one of those sequels.

I had heard much about (thank, G. and C.!) the movie and watched plenty of trailers but nothing prepared me for the real thing. I, R., and the audience immediately bursted out in laughter at the opening scene with (the new character) Prince Charming riding out to save the (formerly single) Princess Fiona. From that hilarious scene the movie segues to Shrek and Fiona's honeymoon. The plot goes into high gear when the newlyweds arrive home and find Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murray) crashed (both literally and figuratively) at Shrek's swamp home.

I had enjoyed the first Shrek movie and had watched it on DVD weeks before seeing the sequel. Thus, it was nice to see the reintroduction of the main characters. But with Shrek 2, Dreamworks moved beyond the all-to-common rehash of the first movie. Wonderful new character are introduced: the already-mentioned Charming and the scene-stealing Puss-n-Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas.) And the story does not waste time summarizing the first movie but assumes you'd already seen it and moves on.

Speaking of the plot: I felt Shrek 2 was tighter and more logical than the first movie. Though at times cliched' (e.g., fight between Shrek and Fiona's father), one could easily the reactions logically playing out. Donkey was less annoying and even became more sympathetic with the introduction of Puss-n-Boots. The line, "...another annoying sidekick animal." was classic. And I was actually surprised by many of the scenes. The results after the raid of the Fairy Godmother's cottage (i.e., sweatshop) was unexpected. Same with "Mungo".

Culture references dominate Shrek 2 even more than the first movie. This is not your parents' cartoons. From Charming's waving of his hair (women, especially, will get a kick out of that one); Fiona's wedding ring (ala LoTR); "Mungo" ('nuff said); to Pinocchio's ...er...underpants (I'd love to see a wardrobe malfunction on that one!) While Disney still takes the brunt of references (e.g., Shrek and a certain red-haired mermaid during the honeymoon), jabs at other movies also also abound. And wait until you see the kingdom of Far, Far, Away!

The biggest change I noted in the movie was music. I remember from interviews on the first movie that the Dreamworks staff did not want to make Shrek a musical. They apparently decided to do otherwise with Shrek 2. And it worked: the lyrics to the Fairy Godmother's song to Fiona were especially hilarious (though you had to listen closely.) The rest supported the movie's action (which were many.)

The animation was top rate, of course. The only major errors I saw were detail errors: I noted several times Fiona did not have her wedding ring in one scene, then have it on in the next one.

Overall, we enjoyed the movie and can't wait for additional goodies that will come with the DVD. Shrek 3 is in the works with Shrek 4 a possibility as well. I give the movie 4 1/2 stars out of 5.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Signing off

Spent the weekend visiting the parental figures in Las Vegas. Got back tonight. Saw Shrek 2. Review to follow.

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