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Showing posts from February, 2005

Lost: Best Show on TV?

At the end of Lost last week, Sugar Daddy proclaimed, "This is the best TV show ever!" I countered with, "No, Buffy was." That concept was immediately pooh-poohed.

I thought about it later and realized we had completely neglected some classic shows. I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family, M.A.S.H....there have been so many shows that could be considered "The Best Ever". In Sugar Daddy's defense, he's too young to remember a lot of those shows. Heck, even I'm too young to have seen them anywhere but in syndication.

When I mentioned the other shows to Sugar Daddy, he stuck to his original statement. I conceded that Lost is the best show on TV right now (until Deadwood starts). I would have argued for Arrested Development but they blew it with the incredibly lame Martin Short guest spot.

What is the Best Ever? Man, I can't decide...I'll have to think long and hard about that one.

Book Review - The Kalahari Typing School For Men

I finished this fourth book in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith last night. The stories take place in Botswana and paint a beautiful, vivid picture of the country. I can easily picture the dust, the bush country and the town, which we would think of as small but is a metropolis in Botswana. I really would like to visit there someday (after that big Lotto win). As were the previous books, this one was a joy to read. I definitely give all of them so far a big thumbs up.

Hmmm, maybe I need to devise a book rating scale to apply to my reviews...nah, too much work.

Boffo House Concert with Hugo Duarte and Geoffrey Rutledge

I had the neatest experience last night. I went to a House Concert at John and Jeanne Combos' to see Hugo Duarte and Geoffrey Rutledge.

A House Concert is different than a regular concert where the performers just play their tunes. In this type of event, the performers introduce each song by telling something about what inspired it or where they were when they wrote it or first performed it, etc. It's an intimate, personal situation that gives you a wonderful insight into the music.

I've seen Hugo several times in Key West but had no idea what a great storyteller he is. Some of his tales were laugh out loud funny and some were extremely poignant. They were also educational - I never knew what a Square Grouper was.

I wasn't familiar with Geoffrey's music but it was awesome. He's got a voice that's soooooo smooth and his song lyrics are quite clever. Aunt Lucy and Double Wide were crowd favorites.

The interplay between the two made it clear they like and respect …

Book Review - Who Let The Blogs Out? A Hyperconnected Peek at the World of Weblogs

I found this book while scanning the new non-fiction section at the library. The deciding factor on checking it out was that the forward was written by Wil Wheaton. That's right, Ensign Crusher is a blogger and damn proud of it. Author Biz Stone weaves the history of blogs, his path to publishing that he traces to blogging and an inside peak into the cast of characters in the blog world into a fascinating book. He also gives tips on generating traffic to your blog, etiquette and making money through blogging (mental note-look into that!).

Stone mentions several cool blogs that I now check daily (including his) and it really revved up my interest in this technological phenomenon. I dug this book a lot - so much so that I may buy a copy for my personal library.

Book Review - The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror

I'm so happy I found Christopher Moore. I picked up his book Fluke: Or, I know Why the Winged Whale Sings in one of my Border's binges last year and absolutely fell in love with his style. His characters are quirky and his plots fanciful. I'd put him somewhere between Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiassen.

The Stupidest Angel is a surreal tale built around the apparent accidental death of Santa, a town Christmas party, zombies and the incompetent Archangel Raziel. The characters include a former Xena-type actress who's gone off her rocker (and her drugs), a pot growing and smoking lawman and a talking, Rayban-wearing bat. There are also some pretty funny conversations by the dead and graphic violence (funny, graphic violence).

If you like offbeat material, Moore's your guy.

Book Review - Dead Witch Walking

I love stories about vampires and creatures of the night. Not necessarily the type that will keep me awake all night worrying about the sounds I hear outside my window but more of the clever, funny yet still scary stuff. If you've read Laurel Hamilton, then you know what I mean.

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison fit the bill...somewhat. The main character is a bounty hunting witch. Vampires and Pixies and the like live openly among humans (though not comfortably) and magic abounds. However, it was missing some of the elements that Hamilton is so good at: graphic sex and violence (often at the same time) with interesting quirks because of the non-human characters. This was more like a regular mystery novel with a small element of romance that happened to have a witch as the major character. Now that I write that, maybe I'm not being fair - there were magic spells and demons so not quite a regular mystery novel.

It was interesting enough that I'm going to check out the…

Couldn't Resist the Nerd Quiz - Apparently I'm Not Nerdy!

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A New Parrot Head Is Created

I got an email today from my Aunt Mary in Wisconsin. She caught the Buffett special on CTM this weekend, thinks he's cute and went out and bought a compilation. She and her friend are making fruit drinks and discovering the lyrics to Why Don't We Get Drunk are kinda naughty.

I told her to check out Margaritaville and once she sees the online shopping, I think she'll be completely hooked.

How cool is that?

Latest JibJab

Kathy's Book Club Etiquette

After reading my last post, I realized some people may think I was taking a shot at Anna who joined us last night but hadn't read the book. I wasn't, she was a model book club citizen. So, I decided to share my views on the subject of book club etiquette (aren't you feeling fortunate?) to clarify what I mean and feel.

The reason to attend a book club meeting is to discuss the book!

Whew, I feel better now. I'm not saying people can't add value to the discussion if they haven't read the book, but in general, the meeting is more productive if everyone's on the same page, so to speak.

Let me explain further...

Here's what starts the etiquette violations. Someone shows up and says one of the following:
"I started the book but didn't have time to finish it."
"I skimmed it over."
"I ordered it from Amazon (or the library) and haven't gotten it yet."
"I didn't even get it but I'm pretty versed in the subject matter.&q…

Book Review - The Kite Runner

I just got home from my book club discussion of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. (The astute reader may ask, "What happened to Pride and Prejudice?" Well, that's what we're reading in my other book club. I am a nerd.)

I have to preface my remarks on this book with an explanation of Kathy's World. It's a lovely place where people are kind, don't commit acts of violence, aren't physically abusive, don't prey on children and don't judge others on race, gender, religion or sexual preference. I try to mentally preserve Kathy's World as much as possible so, while I do read murder mysteries and the like (it's easier to remind me that they're only fictional stories), I avoid true crime and biographies/memoirs where ugly things occur.

The Kite Runner put a big, black cloud over Kathy's World by violating many of the 'rules' and I didn't like it for that reason. If it hadn't been for book club, I would have stopped readi…

Tea Time

I went to a Tea Party yesterday. Those who know me well are now thinking, "Kathy? Tea Party? There's no beer involved so how is that going to work? How is it even possible!?!" Probably people who know me even slightly are thinking that, too.

Well, it was a Bridal Shower for my friend Dianne so how could I say no? We met at a little tea/antique place. Judging by what was on sale there, their definition of antique is a knick knack that you would find at your Grandma's house that she bought at a Stuckey's on a road trip circa 1970.

While weak in the antique department, they did serve a mean tea (can tea actually be mean? I probably need a better word there...). I tried both the cinnamon and apricot - both pleasant though the cinnamon was pretty strong. Our first course was a scone with strawberry preserves, clotted cream (sounds gross, tastes yummy) and lemon curd (also sounds gross but tastes yummy). They then brought out many platefuls of tiny sandwiches. There was …

Go To Rio Salado Brewing Company!

I met up with some chums at Rio Salado last night for conversation and some great microbrews. We had a great time catching up but I heard a disturbing rumor...that Rio Salado may close. Nothing official, mind you, but it's a scary thought.

If you've been to Rio Salado, then you know it's a great place to kick back, have some of the aforementioned brews and relax. It's a comfortable place - not too fancy and far from a dive. I've spent many evenings there with friends and I would be very sorry to see it go.

If you've never been, then get your butt over there. You'll find great beer and a friendly group of strangers at the bar or you and your homies can grab a table of your own.

Rio Salado Brewing Company is at 1520 W Mineral Rd, Tempe AZ 85283 (near I-10 and Elliot). It's tucked away in a industrial area so I suggest mapping it before you go so you know exactly where to go.

Living in the Sticks

I've been living in the outskirts of Chandler for a year now...and it's still like living in BFE. There are three roads I can take to get to the house: Germann, Queen Creek and Gilbert. At all times in the past year, two of them have been under construction and often all three have been under repair, being repaved, detoured, you name it. So, I don't wash my car very often since I'm driving through dust and gravel all the time (I'm also very lazy) and I'm never sure which way I'm going to get home since their signs consistently lie and have the wrong closure dates on them.

Let's talk library. I lived less than one mile from the main branch of the Scottsdale Public Library. It was a beautiful thing though I used to complain that it didn't open on Sunday until 1 PM. Now, my nearest library is in a High School (albeit a large high school) and it's not even open on Sundays and closes on Thursday and Friday at 5 PM. I also went from two full walls of n…

Book Review - My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist

Some readers may think I like every book I read. Well, this book disproves that theory. Author Mark Leyner's book was described as "Brilliant mutant prose" by the San Francisco Examiner. I think a more accurate description is "Nonsensical drivel."

Here's an excerpt:

"tonight at madison square garden the new york rangers disemboweled the boston bruins' goalie, brought a hibachi onto the ice, roasted his intestines and served them on toast points to the howling hometown fans my cousin my gastroenterologist is himself in the hospital after having been viciously attacked at a hawaiian luau he's got three potentially dangerous ukulele fragments lodged in his brain the doctor says jabbing at an x-ray with his pointer"

That was actually a more coherent section. I forced myself to get through 40 pages and I was done. Save yourself some time and don't bother.

NASCAR 2005 Season Starts with a Johnson Win!

I watched the Bud Shootout on TiVo this morning - what a way to start the season! Jimmie Johnson's team did all the right things and Jimmie drove brilliantly to hold his lead. I think it's an indicator of how the season's going to go...with Jimmie being the guy to beat on his way to his first championship.

I just have one question: are we going to see just ONE race where F'ing JR doesn't criticize his car and/or crew? What a whiner.

On a related sports note: Way to go, Lefty, two wins in a row!

Hakuna Matata and All That Jazz

Steven and I caught the travelling Broadway musical The Lion King last night at Gammage. Neither of us are musical fans and I've never seen the movie (pretty much anti-Disney animations except for The Jungle Book which will never be topped). The costumes were really cool (actually, really, really cool) and a few of the actors stood out. Larry Yando as Scar and Derek Hasenstab as Zazu were great. As to the rest of it, eh, I could take it or leave it.

We had great seats (thanks to SmartPractice) but Steven regretted his aisle choice when he almost got beaned by a bird on a stick. They used the whole theater with cast members coming in via the aisles and actors up in the balcony. I'm happy I went but even happier I went for free and didn't pay the $80 ticket price.

Book Review - The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios

I was browsing the new fiction section at the library and saw a book of short fiction by Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi. I was a little leary when I found they were stories he had written before Pi. The thought crossed my mind that maybe he was just cashing in on his popularity by putting out some old stuff that wasn't that good. I was wrong, though. The stories were very well written and I'm glad I took the chance and checked the book out.

The title story was the most affecting. The first person narrative recounts the tale of a young man dying of AIDS and his friend's (the narrator) efforts to keep him engaged while making up an ongoing story of a fictional family, the Roccamatios. Mixed within the summaries of their made up story's chapters (none of the details are divulged) is how the family, the young man and the friend deal with the illness, hospital stay, drug treatments and the inevitability of his death.

As I was getting to the end of the story, I realiz…

Solo Voices - E.L. Doctorow

A group of us attended a lecture by author E.L. Doctorow last night at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. Doctorow is perhaps best known for penning Ragtime (you may recall the 1981 movie of the same name - Doctorow told us he hated the movie) and Billy Bathgate (made into a movie in 1991). He's won numerous awards, among them the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award.

Doctorow read a short (actually, kinda long) story from his latest book, Sweet Land Sories. The bittersweet tale enititled, Jolene: A Life, was a moving, depressing yet somewhat hopeful account of a young girl's repeated destructive relationships and her attempts to find something better. Doctorow's speaking rhythm while reading somehow gave a depth and aliveness to Jolene.

Doctorow took a couple of questions from the audience. He said doing too much research can ruin your story. He also told us that his only inspiration for the story was seeing a gym employee's name tag that read "Jolene&…

Book Review - London Bridges

Before I begin this review, I just want to state that I am not a nerdy bookworm with no life. I am a nerdy bookworm WITH a life who's just had a lot of time to read lately. Now that we've got that covered...

London Bridges is James Patterson's tenth Alex Cross novel. You'd think by now that I would know better than to start a Patterson book at 9 PM on a school night, but nooo. I had to force myself to spread it out over two nights or I wasn't making it into work before noon (they might frown on that).

The story finds Cross up against two of his previous adversaries, the sociopathic Weasel and Wolf. The Wolf threatens to blow up several major cities around the globe unless he's paid an exorbitant ransom. Per the typical Patterson story, there are plenty of red herrings strewn about and plot surprises as Cross travels across the globe to try to catch the bad guys. Good guys get killed, bad guys get killed (some in ugly ways) and, unlike in some previous Cross stori…
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Doesn't every iPod needs a wardrobe?

I Love My mini!

I got a lot of neat Christmas presents this past year, but my favorite is my iPod mini. It's so beautiful with its sleek lines, metallic pink color and cute accessories. The product specs say it can hold 1,000 songs on its 4GB drive but that's a conservative estimate. I have 991 songs on mine and have used 3.37GB so far (only 165 are Buffett, btw). That equates to 2.5 days of music!

A great use of my mini is when Sugar Daddy and I carpool. I plop in my headphones and don't have to listen to Howard Stern. Sugar Daddy doesn't have to hear me complain about how stupid/disturbed/mean/deviant everyone on Howard Stern is. It's a beautiful thing. (We have a rule - whomever's driving controls the radio, unless I'm driving then the passenger controls the radio. Doesn't seem quite fair, does it?)

It was also great on my last trip. I selected a playlist that was about 2 hours long and listened to it for the entire plane ride. Sweet! Did I mention the iT…

Book Review - Candyfreak

What a fun and interesting read! The full title is Candyfreak - A Journey Through The Chocolate Underbelly of America by Steve Almond The author is a self-avowed candy addict and traces his addiction back to a childhood need for affection. His anecdotes about his childhood candy habits (hording, sorting and classifying candy as well as his Halloween strategy) and bonding with his Father (The Enabler) via candy bars are hilarious, touching and sometimes a bit sad.

The main focus of the book, however, is on the small candy producers who are being pushed out by Hershey, Mars and Nestle. He visited several companies who only sell regionally because of the huge cost of national distribution. Some chains require a candy company to pay $20,000 per store in slotting fees (a charge to place the product in the store) and the firms he visited can't afford it. Even local placement is going by the wayside as Wal-Mart pushes out the little grocery stores across America.

Here's a partial list …

Book Review - How Would You Move Mount Fuji?

I just finished How Would You Move Mount Fuji? - Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle by William Poundstone. It's about Microsoft's (and other companys') interview testing where they throw 'impossible' puzzles at applicants. I checked it out just to see if I could answer the puzzles (I'll give you an example question and its answer later.) I have to confess I couldn't figure them all out.

There's more to the book than just the puzzles, however. Poundstone discusses the pros and cons of hiring based on how someone responds to these tests. Many companies don't even care if the applicants get the right answer, they're more interested in seeing the logic used to get the answer. He also goes into detail on Microsoft's hiring process specifically, and doesn't seem to be all that impressed by it. There's also a section on how to outsmart the puzzles which would be helpful if you were ever put into this situation.

Here's the promised example…

Life's Coincidences

Some folks may remember the MIA/POW metal bracelets from the Vietnam area (I have a friend who still wears his). I found something similar for those killed in Iraq online at www.herobracelets.org and ordered some for Paula, Steven and me. You can order specific names but I was OK with a random selection. I got them in the mail yesterday and decided to look up the soldiers so we would know something about the person we were honoring.

Here's the coincidence: one of the soldiers was Major William R Watkins III from Danville, VA who was KIA on 04/07/03. When I looked up his bio, I saw his nickname "Salty" and it all came back to me. The following is a post that was made to the PHIP Yahoo Group at that time:

Parrot Head friend is MIA in Iraq

Hi,Thought you might like to know that one of your fellow loyal Parrot Heads - also a good friend of mine - is currently missing in Iraq after his plane went down on the night of April 6/7. He is Major William (Bill)"Salty" Watki…

Flip Flopping

This is not about John Kerry...whom I don't believe was a flip flopper but let's not go there.

Anywhooo, I met up with my old pal Lindsey tonight at Flip Flops Island Grill House which is right across from Arizona State University. It's an outdoors beach club looking place that used to be Dos Gringos. Dos Gringos had to move because of liquor license issues. Apparently, they had to sell a certain percentage of food vs. alcohol. There are "we serve food" signs everywhere but, oddly enough, with their $2 Coronas and $2 tacos and location, they didn't make the quota.

It was an interesting demographic. I wasn't quite twice the average age, thank God, but it was close. Lots of college age kids with a couple of 'mature' folks sprinkled in the crowd.

We're thinking about having a club happy hour there so I asked the waitress about it. She said they're considering changing the entire format - name, decor, etc. I guess we need to do our thing so…

Book Review - Reading Lolita in Tehran

My book club met this week to discuss our latest selection, Reading Lolita in Tehran - A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi. The author was a Professor of English Literature at the University of Tehran and her story covers the time from before the overthrow of the Shah, through Khomeini's reign and a short period after his death. She tried to teach on and off during that time and actually spent the last two years hosting a reading group of young women students in her home to discuss the classics. The classics were forbidden reading at the time. She eventually couldn't take living in Iran with the restrictions of the religious fanatics in charge and emigrated to the United States with her family.

We were mixed in our options on the book. The writing style was a bit awkward in places. Nafisi told her story as it related to several literature classics. We felt the assumption was that the reader was already intimately familiar with the books so some of the points made were a bi…

I See Dead People

Last Saturday, I went on a ghost tour of the San Carlos Hotel in Phoenix with my buds Angela, Morgan and Chris. We learned about some of the many ghosts that haunt the place. There's a young woman who fell to her death from the roof - whether she jumped or was pushed is still undetermined. There are also several young boys (I guess I should say former young boys) who loiter near the basement well, giggling and bouncing a ball. Oh, the well is a vortex, too. The scary one is a guy who haunts the former manager's apartment who rattles gates, has a diabolical laugh and traps our tour guide in the elevator. Her husband was so scared of this one that he won't go in that part of the building.

They tell you to bring a camera because people are capturing "orbs" on film. One guy in our group got a picture of an angry face in a whirlwind. It was CREEPY! Morgan took a quick series of 6 shots in the bar (of course we went for post-tour cocktails) and got something …

First Post - How Exciting!

In this era of 'all about me', it seems only natural to think that the whole world will be fascinated by my adventures and opinions. OK, fascinated is a bit much. I'd really be happy for mildly interested and slightly amused.