Wednesday, April 30, 2008

American Idol 2008 - Top 5 Performances

First off, I'm a huge Neil Diamond fan so having him mentor and having the contestants sing two songs each from his catalog was something I was looking forward to. Most, however, fell into the trap of doing the most popular tunes, the signature tunes if you will. And without truly making them their own, they paled when compared to Neil's versions.

Tops for me were David Cook and Syesha. Both gave solid performances that I could listen to over and over again.

I liked Jason's first number, but his second left me a little cold. Wrong choice of song. Perhaps "Desiree" or "Shilo" might have been better for him.

Brooke never should have done "I'm A Believer". I have four versions of that on my iPod (one by Neil, one by the Monkees, one by Smashmouth and one by Tin Huey). Her's just wasn't one I enjoyed. Her second song was much better. Again, for me, that whole Carly Simon/Carole King route is her way to go - behind the piano. Her voice does so much better when it is her and the 88's.

David A. totally stunk, for me, on two signature Neil Diamond tunes. In fact, it felt like he couldn't get the tune. He wanted to change it up but didn't do it enough and thus he sounded off to me. Sure he can hit the notes but the rhythm was all wrong. I'd send him packing based on those performances, but I am sure his fanbase will keep him safe.

Who is going? Hard to say. Might be Jason if his fans don't save him. Could be David A. if his fans think he's safe and don't vote for him like they should. Could be Syesha because she's been in the bottom so long. Could be Brooke because she's flirted with the bottom too often too. The only safe one for sure is David Cook, he could be the one to win this season.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pale Kings and Princes

Jumping back to 1987 to fill-in on the 14th novel in Robert B. Parker's Spenser series, Pale Kings and Princes starts out with our private detective being hired by a newspaper who wants him to investigate the apparent murder of one of their reporters. The report was undercover in a small town, trying to find out about a connection between local business and cocaine. The local police seem to imply that the reporter was murdered by a jealous husband who believed the reporter was having an affair with his wife.

The book very much has that late 80's feel to it, with the drug business and the infidelity intrigue that was prominent in late 80's television dramas. Parker, however, writes his novels in such a way where they aren't truly dated. The clothes and make of cars is about all that can nail the period down. I felt the events could happen just as easily today as they might have twenty years ago.

As I've mentioned before, I had to skip this book at the library because someone else had it out. The nice thing was going back didn't feel that jarring or out of order. While Susan and Hawk continue to support Spenser in his case, it didn't matter that I had read two other books past this one in the series before getting to this one. I liked that.

The book also had a few twists and turns in the story to keep me guessing where it would end up. The ending did not feel rushed at all, nor did the book feel like it dragged in many parts. It was a good read. I'd recommend it.

500 Things My RPG Character Can No Longer Do

My buddy Ben Bellot forwarded this list via email to me. Not sure where he got it from, but I found it funny enough to share with the folks reading the blog:

500 Things My RPG Character Can No Longer Do

1. Cannot base characters off the Who's drummer Keith Moon.
2. A one man band is not an appropriate bard instrument.
3. There is no Gnomish god of heavy artillery.
4. My 7th Sea character Boudreaux is not 'Southern' Montaigne.
5. Not allowed to blow all my skill points on 1pt professional skills.
6. Synchronized panicking is not a proper battle plan.
7. Not allowed to use psychic powers to do the dishes.
8. How to serve Dragons is not a cookbook.
9. My monk's lips must be in sync.
10. Just because my character and I can speak German, doesn't mean the GM can.
11. Not allowed to berserk for the hell of it, especially during royal masquerades.
12. Must learn at least one offensive or defensive spell if I'm the sorcerer.
13. Must not murder canon NPCs in their sleep, no matter how cliche they are.
14. Ogres are not kosher.
15. Plan B is not automatically twice as much gunpowder as Plan A.
16. I will not beat Tomb of Horrors in less than 10 minutes from memory.
17. Collateral Damage Man is not an appropriate name for a super hero.
18. When surrendering I am to hand the sword over HILT first.
19. Drow are not good eating.
20. Polka is not appropriate marching music.
21. No longer allowed to recreate the Death Star Trench Run out of genre.
22. There is no such thing as a Gnomish Pygmy War Rhino.
23. Any character who has a sensitivity training center named after him will be taken away.
24. Even if the rules allow it, I am not allowed to summon 50,000 Blue Whales.
25. The green elf does not need food badly.
26. Valley speak has no place in a fantasy setting. Especially if you're the paladin.
27. I am not to shoot every corpse in the head to make sure they aren't a zombie in Twilight 2000.
28. The Goddess' of Marriage chosen weapon is not the whip.
29. I cannot have any gun that requires me to continue the damage code on back.
30. I am not to kill off all the vampires in the LARP, even if they are terminally stupid.
31. The backup trap handler is not whoever has the most HP at the time.
32. I cannot buy any animal in groups of 100 or over.
33. There is no such skill as 'improvised cooking'
34. I am not allowed to base any Droid off any character played by Joe Pesci.
35. I am not allowed to convince the entire party to play R2 units.
36. I am not allowed to convince the entire party to sit on the same side of the table.
37. They do not make black market illegal cyberweapons for rodents.
38. When investigating evil cultists not allowed to just torch the decrepit mansion from the outside.
39. Gnomes do not have the racial ability 'can lick their eyebrows'
40. Gnomes do not have the racial ability to hold their breath for 10 minutes.
41. Gnomes do not have the racial ability 'impromptu kickstand'
42. Having a big nose adds nothing to my seduction check.
43. No longer allowed to set nazi propaganda music to a snappy disco beat.
44. Not allowed to spend all 100 character points on 100 1pt skills.
45. My character names are not allowed to be double entendres.
46. Sliver rhymes with silver because the computer frelling says so.
47. They do not make Nair in wookie sizes.
48. The elf is restricted to decaf for the rest of the adventure.
49. Not allowed to blow up the Death Star before that snotty farm kid gets his shot.
50. Not allowed to use thermodynamic science to asphyxiate the orcs' cave instead of exploring it first.
51. No longer allowed to use the time machine for booty calls.
52. My bard does not know how to play Inna Godda Davida on marachas.
53. Not allowed to start a drow character weighing more than a quarter ton.
54. Cannot pimp out other party members.
55. Before facing the dragon, not allowed to glaze the elf.
56. No matter how well I roll, a squirrel cannot carry a horse and rider at full sprint.
57. In the middle of a black op I cannot ask a guard to validate parking.
58. Expended ammunition is not a business expense.
59. Not allowed to pose the Netrunner in embarrassing positions when he's on a run.
60. Not allowed to short sheet the bedroll of impotent deities.
61. Can only taunt the ranger about his lack of swimming after my USCG E8 saves him.
62. I am not allowed to do anything I saw Han Solo do once.
63. No, I cannot buy 10,000 marbles even if I say please.
64. My paladin's battle cry is not "Good for the Good God"
65. There is no Summon Bimbo spell.
66. Not allowed to start a character that speaks every language except ones the party speaks.
67. There is no Kung Fu manuever "McGuire Swings For Bleachers"
68. Bring him back intact includes redundant organs.
69. There is more to wizardry than magic missile. Even if I can do 200 damage automatic with no save.
70. Not allowed to cook up nerve gas in the sink even if the target number is 5.
71. There is no 'annoy' setting on a phasor
72. Not allowed to start a character who is over 100 years old unless he's an elf or dwarf. Humans are right out.
73. Not allowed to name my cudgel Ceremonial Whoopass Stick.
74. My thief's battle cry is not "Run And Live"
75. Nor is it "You take care of the orcs, I take care of the traps"
76. I am not allowed any artistic license while translating.
77. I did not get my super powers from James T. Kirk.
78. Not allowed to commission a pistol that costs more than a sedan.
79. I am not liquid metal.
80. When accepting a challenge for a duel, I must allow the other guy time to find a pistol.
81. A picture of my ex-wife is not an acceptable backup weapon.
82. Victory laps after killing the dragon with my 1d2 bow is considered in poor taste.
83. My gnome does not like big butts and he cannot lie.
84. Not allowed to talk my fellow inquisitors into buying a 220lb pull crossbow.
85. Not allowed to talk my fellow inquisitors into buying an industrial strength flamethrower.
86. Not allowed to make a superhero with a 99% chance of dodging even after the -10 penalty for a successful called shot.
87. There is no such thing as a dwarven katana.
88. My bard does not get a bonus to perform if she is obviously not wearing anything under her tabard.
89. The elf's name is not Legolam.
90. My swashbuckling fop cannot take the flaw Dark Secret: Not Gay
91. A wet towel does not constitute an improvised weapon.
92. The name of the weapon shop is not "Bloodbath and Beyond"
93. I am to remind my DM that he must never, ever give my paladin a dire boar for a mount again.
94. I cannot base my ancient kung fu master on neither Gene Simmons or Bluto Blutarski.
95. I must not put the Thunder God on the spot again.
96. No making up polearms.
97. My one wish cannot be 'I wish everything on this piece of paper was true'
98. There is no such thing as Speed Polka.
99. Not allowed to see if Jedi can parry a shotgun blast with their lightsaber.
100. When any character from a d20 sourcebook is allowed, that doesn't include System Lords.
101. I am not allowed to pave ANYTHING.
102. I am not authorized to start any civil engineering project on the taxpayer's dime.
103. There is no such thing as a Club 3 of Cup Checks
104. Nor is there a 1 Longsword, 5 against party members.
105. I am not allowed to polymorph anyone into Abe Vigoda.
106. I do not have weapon proficiency in cat.
107. There is no such game as Wereshark the Buffet.
108. No, I do not get XP for every single crewman on that Star Destroyer.
109. Not allowed to kill a vampire with any part from a DC-10 larger than my car.
110. Not allowed to serenade the party even if my character has an internal tape deck.
111. I did not pick the garrote skill last week from my grandmother.
112. If the gun can't fit through the x-ray machine, it doesn't go on the plane.
113. My Droid is not allowed to paraphrase any Jack Nicholson soliloquy.
114. The Demilich only falls for getting stuffed in the bag of holding once.
115. My musical instrument does not double as a personal flotation device.
116. Not allowed to take a coffee break during the final super villain showdown.
117. I am restricted to memorizing Floating Disc only once per day.
118. I will pick a more traditional paladin weapon instead of a sledgehammer.
119. My character's names cannot be anagrams of playboy playmates.
120. Not allowed to kill another party member with a boomerang again.
121. I am not a contractor for Dragon Cave Cleaning Services Inc.
122. The paladin's alignment is not Lawful Anal.
123. Not allowed to forget to mention traps when the powergamer has point.
124. I cannot insert the words "Kill Phil, Sorry Phil" into any list of instructions.
125. Lingerie can only snap coincidentally so many times per day.
126. Dwarves do not count as burrowing animals.
127. Not allowed to download AOL 6.0 on the Arasaka mainframe.
128. Polka Gnomes exist only in my mind.
129. Not allowed to name my ship The Antidisestablishmentarianism.
130. I am not authorized to form the head.
131. Not allowed to bet how many times the lich bounces.
132. There is no such feat called "Death Blossom"
133. My acrobat cannot balance on the warlord's head for more than one round.
134. The King's Guards official name is not "The Royal Order of the Red Shirt"
135. I cannot demand payment in electrum, backrubs or bubblewrap.
136. I cannot start the 7th Sea campaign with 3 confirmed Drachen kills.
137. I do not have a scorching case of lycanthropy.
138. If the mere thought of it costs the others sanity, I'm forbidden from doing it.
139. My bard is required to take levels in the perform skill and cannot 'just play by ear'
140. The Dutch language does not exist in the Forgotten Realms.
141. My maid does not know kung fu.
142. Not allowed to give a 4 year old a sugar rush just to jack up the CR later.
143. Not allowed to by a holy symbol for every god just in case one of them is right.
144. There is no such thing as pleather armor.
145. I cannot go back in time to cut in line at the Declaration of Independence so everybody now is asked for their Terrence E. Woczinski when signing documents.
146. Not allowed to play an Australian in any game set before 1600.
147. Hobbits are not allowed to have Norse ancestry.
148. There is no Gnomish Deathgrip, and even if there was, it wouldn't involve tongs.
149. Looting the unguarded baggage train is not considered a glorious victory.
150. Not allowed to create recreational drugs in suppository format.
151. Halflings do not have a racial proficiency with the flamethrower.
152. When the guy is at -9 HP is not the best time for my cleric to convert him.
153. I will not propose to every noblewoman at the royal ball until I crit my charisma check.
154. I am not allowed to rub the monk's head for luck.
155. I am not allowed to rub any part of the elf chick for any reason.
156. When one person forgets to buy rations eating the half-elf is not our first option.
157. Any capital scale weapon is not 'my little friend'.
158. I will not declare myself a god just so I can grant myself spells.
159. Airlocks do not double as trash disposals.
160. I will not load any gatling weapon with nothing but paint rounds.
161. I will not nail every single female party member except for the elf chick played by that creepy guy.
162. What ever monster we just killed is not to be tonight's dinner.
163. Not allowed to try and make a dire version of any dog of the toy breeds.
164. I am not to tattle to the halfling assassin's mom about his career choice.
165. I am forbidden from replacing anything with folger's crystals to see if they notice.
166. Not allowed to bribe the enemy commander into withdrawing with a stolen Elvis LP collection.
167. I was not recruited by Star League for any reason.
168. I was also not recruited by 12 dwarves and a wizard to rob a dragon.
169. I am neither the pagan god nor goddess of fertility.
170. I cannot name my character Xagyg or any anagram thereof.
171. My character's dying words are not allowed to be "Hastur, Hastur, Hastur"
172. At no point can I justify spending force points on a seduction check.
173. I am not allowed to recreate Veers' March of the AT-ATs on Zhentil Keep.
174. There is no use of Shatner's spoken word album that doesn't require a humanity check.
175. I am not directly descended from either Huey Lewis or any member of the News.
176. I cannot make called shots to the plectrum, anvil, stirrup, hammer or Isle of Langerhans.
177. Stinking cloud is a privilege, not a right.
178. There are no profanities in Celestial.
179. Chummer means he is my friend, not that sharks find him tasty.
180. I have neither the touch nor the power.
181. I cannot quote Shakespeare in Crinos.
182. No figuring out the plot and killing the actual villain five minutes into the adventure.
183. There are no rules for cooking corn dogs in any d20 supplement.
184. A starting character has no need for 100gp worth of hemp rope.
185. My bard does not need roadies for a dungeon crawl.
186. No cutting line to be a god.
187. I cannot gain more than three drama die per session for making the GM pee.
188. I cannot play a elf with a scottish accent, nor a cajun dwarf.
189. Tourretes is not a flaw, it is a reason to kill the character at creation.
190. Duel wielding small animals is strictly forbidden.
191. My character is not related in anyway to Boba Fett. This goes double for Star Wars characters.
192. If the gun is best fired using the artillery skill, my character is not allowed to have it.
193. Not allowed to kill vampires with seismic charges.
194. When the other guy picks swords for the choice of weapons, that does not leave me pistols.
195. I cannot use a silent feat enabled power word stun and blame it on the dog.
196. I cannot name a character anything that I can't say politely in another country.
197. My epic level character cannot take on the minor goblin menace to his country just to stay sharp.
198. Not allowed to steal my own soul.
199. My third wish cannot be 'I wish you wouldn't grant this wish'
200. I cannot name my character cliche canon characters from other systems.
201. My thief is prohibited from speaking solely in Cant.
202. Character descriptions cannot contain two of the following words: Slavic, Tonedeaf, Karaoke, Musician.
203. My superhero's strength is not classified as snazzy, neato or bodacious.
204. I am not too sexy for the elf, too sexy for the elf, so sexy myself.
205. My 3rd ed. Red Wizard is not allowed to start a business named Thay Co.
206. I cannot forge a 1 sword of Brad's Min/Maxed Paladin/Monk Slaying.
207. The following weapons are not legal choices in a duel: Steamroller, Nerve Gas, Landmine, Midget.
208. I cannot whine about the crappy selection of magical bec de corbins.
209. My Paladin's heraldry is not a smiley face.
210. My Antipaladin's heraldry is not Mr. Yuk.
211. If at any point if my dwarf takes on the mannerisms of Macho Man Randy Savage, he dies.
212. If the party always starts the adventure in a tavern, I cannot opt to start in a brothel.
213. I am not the patron saint of common sense.
214. There is no prestige class Drizzt Slayer.
215. They do not make heavy weapons in pump action.
216. There is an upper limit to the number of Bozo boostergangers I can get in a Volkswagon.
217. If the weapon is capable of staking vampires hiding behind engine blocks, I can't have it.
218. No matter my alignment, organizing halfling pit fights is a violation.
219. In formal introductions to royalty, I must not introduce my companions as just "The Other Guys".
220. I am not the master of the low blow or the gang up.
221. If I get that Yugo up to 120mph again, that's gonna get some paradox.
222. Druids are not against my religion.
223. I cannot convince the Solo he has a cortex bomb when he really doesn't.
224. I cannot insinuate elf chicks are all easy, even though you never hear about a half gnome do you?
225. I am forbidden from monologuing.
226. Troll bubblegum...bad idea.
227. My last wish cannot be "I wish we were playing another game."
228. I cannot use my time machine to hire Hitler a hooker in 1920, thus avoiding WW2.
229. Not allowed to spontaneously check if the elf can take a punch.
230. There is no such thing as monofilament tooth floss.
231. I am not allowed to do anything that would make a Sith Lord cry.
232. It is not possible to recreate any scene from Dr. Who in Crinos.
233. If I am the medtech it is generally assumed I am going to have skill in medicine.
234. My character does not get d34 HP a level.
235. My Samedi is required to have dots in obfuscate. Plural, as in more than one, two more than none.
236. My character has no need for 24,000 cartons of cigarettes, especially in his neighbor's garage.
237. Not allowed to use more than 3 words per game that the GM has to look up the definition.
238. My bard cannot play or has ever heard of the theremin, didgeridoo or glass armonica.
239. My rockerboy cannot play or has ever heard of the theremin, didgeridoo or glass armonica.
240. Any character with more than three skills specializing in chainsaw is vetoed.
241. Cannot use the jedi mind trick to get out of a speeding ticket.
242. Not allowed to give quicklings Mountain Dew.
243. Cannot cast haste on the king during a long winded speech to get him to hurry the hell up.
244. Not allowed to taunt the rest of the party in 8 different languages because they forgot to take any.
245. Not allowed to attend any opera whose name the GM confuses with a strip joint.
246. I cannot keep selling that creepy guy's always naked elf chick to nomads every chance I get.
247. If the king rewards me with a forest, I am to assume he intends for me to keep it a forest.
248. There is no Halfling god of groin shots.
249. If a black op requires me to impersonate an employee, I cannot bill the target for overtime.
250. Superfluous Man is not a viable superhero concept.
251. I am not the Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy of Gundam Wing Z.
252. I can not order the Druid to transform and roll out.
253. If the other party members forget to take any food prep skills, not allowed to let them starve to death.
254. I cannot blow 5 paradox in: A police line up, the candy aisle of Krogers, the Miss America Pageant.
255. I cannot create a superhero that can palm the moon.
256. The following cleric domains do not exist: Wet T-Shirts, Atheism, Keggers
257. I cannot wish nobody else gets wishes.
258. There is no such thing as Skyclad Armor 5
259. My Highlander's name cannot be McHammer.
260. Gnomes do not have a racial bonus in bobsled.
261. The Barbarian's name does not translate into "Screams like little sissy girl" in my language.
262. When the GM forces the plot, I cannot make choo-choo noises.
263. Not allowed to attempt to kill the Hutt by pouring salt on him.
264. I cannot use the time machine to go to Ancient Greece where all the women were leather clad, oiled down with big bosoms.
265. It assumed my mechwarrior knows at least what one of the buttons in his cockpit does.
266. At the end of a black-ops, I cannot crank call C-SWAT on the target's phone.
267. I cannot yell "FREEBIRD" every time the bard makes a perform roll.
268. Mr. Welch is not allowed to speak in 3rd person.
269. My character cannot hear the soundtrack.
270. I cannot derail the adventure for a two hour in character discussion on the qualities of rope.
271. Tracheotomies are best left to characters with skills in medicine.
272. No skill allows specializing in defenestration.
273. No matter how smart I make my animal companion, he still can't take the tax accountant skill.
274. I cannot commune with the Gods during peak hours.
275. I must remember at dinner time Rock is not a dwarven delicacy.
276. I must remember at dinner time Log is not an elven delicacy.
277. My half-ogre cannot surprise the halflings with spontaneous games of dodgeball.
278. Anything the DM has to ponder the full impact of for more than a minute is forbidden.
279. I cannot base any elf off of any British Prime Minister.
280. Thermonuclear hand grenades do not exist in any genre except Paranoia.
281. I cannot get emotionally attached to any generic nondescript unnamed NPC.
282. Even if laughter is the best medicine, it still doesn't restore any of my HP.
283. I have been assured with total certainty Ralph is not a Japanese name.
284. When the CO asks for volunteers, I can't help others make a decision.
285. I am not from Margaritaville, and even if I was, that doesn't excuse the hawaiian shirt and lawn chair during the dress inspection.
286. No character of mine can start with 400 previous convictions for any misdemeanor.
287. When asked for advice before a fight "Don't wet yourself in public" is not what they were looking for.
288. I cannot name my character after another PC already in this game.
289. My character does not have the flaw Addiction: Helium.
290. I cannot figure that the dungeon we're in is the Pac-Man maze and point it out to the rest of the party.
291. I cannot form a huddle to discuss strategy before facing the final monster in the dungeon.
292. I cannot take all the monsters I've killed to the taxidermist after the adventure.
293. Clowns shoes have no place in a dungeon crawl.
294. My dwarf is not claustrophobic, likewise, my elf is not agoraphobic.
295. When my enemy blinks does not give me an attack of opportunity.
296. I cannot make called shots with a crew served weapon.
297. I cannot hand out artillery flares to the bad guys on New Years and tell them they are roman candles.
298. Sprechen Sie Bang-Bang? is not real German.
299. I do not get any XP for anyone I kill by stampeding sheep.
300. I cannot give the rebel operatives the codenames Luke, Han, Chewie or Yoda.
301. "Well Hung" is not a physical, social or mental trait.
302. A gimp suit does not count as leather armor.
303. I cannot gradually describe my character more and more until it's obvious I'm describing Burt Reynolds.
304. My life long nemesis is not allowed to be the unsuspecting cleric sitting across the table from me.
305. Anything my character does that ends up as errata I am retroactively prohibited from doing.
306. Chaotic Evil dieties do not have hymnals.
307. Even if he can use them from the start, my barbarian can't specialize in fencing weapons.
308. A Mao suit is not proper garb for my shugenja.
309. I cannot cast invisibility on random household items like car keys, tea sets and bear traps.
310. I cannot spend all my points on just followers.
311. Even if the rules allow it, I cannot start the game as pope.
312. I am not the son, father, husband, exroommate, former professor or retired garbageman of the villain.
313. My British Superspy does not get a reroll on his seduction check if his shirt gets ripped off.
314. Under 'Religion' I cannot put 'Xenu'.
315. My gnome cannot save point on the ride skill simply by asking for piggyback rides everywhere.
316. My character is not allowed to commit suicide five minutes into the campaign.
317. My battlecry is not 'Now young Skywalker you will die'.
318. Vampiric cows are not the fast food innovation of the future.
319. My character does not have the flaw: Dark Secret- I'm Kilroy.
320. The Sultan does not want a treasure bath.
321. The monk's official title is Brother of the Lotus Path. Not the Slap Happy Jappy.
322. My bard knows more songs than just "I Saw Your Mommy"
323. I cannot start the game with a highly contagious deadly disease.
324. I cannot start the game pregnant.
325. Even if he was a paragon of humanity in his alternate dimension, Good Hitler is not an appropriate superhero concept.
326. Cannot accumulate 200 points of flaws for Hackmaster.
327. I am not allowed to decide which one of us is the Chosen One.
328. I cannot keep my phaser on disintegrate just because it's the coolest setting.
329. Not allowed to spoil the plot by simply removing the hinges on the door.
330. The Halfling Paladin does not represent the Lollipop Guild.
331. I cannot invoke Consecrate Weapon on a Man of War
332. I cannot spend character points to buy imaginary friends.
333. I cannot fistinate anybody, whatever the hell that means.
334. Pinball is not a specialization for wizards.
335. When installing cyberware, can't install the Clapper as a built in feature.
336. Cannot start a Cthuhlu character with a pre-existing hatred of books, altars and cutlery.
337. Even if the rules allow it, I cannot control 20,000 pigeons and use them as flying piranha.
338. Any character named El Robotico Jiraffe de Fuego is begging to be vetoed.
339. Can't avoid going on an epic quest with the excuse "Can't find a sitter"
340. I cannot start the game married to another PC without their consent.
341. Not allowed to declare myself a free agent and take offer from other adventuring parties.
342. After the first adventure I cannot write a tell all book about the party.
343. I must remember royalty do not share the same love of parody as my bard.
344. No matter how much I make my IQ roll by, I can't make the other guy's head explode.
345. I don't have weapon proficiency in elf, either.
346. I most certainly don't have weapon proficiency in a Phased-plasma rifle in the forty watt range.
347. If I'm not the decker, I can't do anything I saw in Tron once.
348. The rest of the party appreciates it if I don't start the game in Cyberpsychosis.
349. Power Word: Beer Me is not a real spell.
350. I am not allowed to buzz ANYTHING.
351. I cannot take skill Profession: Ecdysiast
352. When I choose my wizard's familar, Belgians are not a legal choice.
353. I cannot pick a Destroid that makes the Veritech pilots feel inadequate.
354. Tricking the party into killing each other off and then turning in their corpses for the bounty is frowned upon.
355. My monk's battlecry is not "Round 1: Fight!"
356. No matter how well I roll, the Quack skill is not a substitute for the Doctor skill.
357. I cannot disassemble a car in under 5 minutes.
358. Even if the rules allow it, I cannot make a character that gets double XP per game for showing up.
359. Killing quicklings with marbles only works once.
360. I must remind the GM that my Blessed can Raise Dead before he runs another murder mystery again.
361. It is not feasible for my Archer to recreate Hudson's Last Stand.
362. It is very unlikely my half-ogre and the half-elf, half-dragon, tiefling and aasimar have the same dad.
363. When challenged to a showdown, I'm meant to face him at 10 paces with pistols, not 10 blocks with a Sharpe's Big .50.
364. I am to avoid killing, upstaging or seducing historical characters.
365. Not allowed to setup the main villain with the mad scientist's sister.
366. Female minotaurs do not have udders. This issue is closed.
367. No using excessive firepower to force the plot along.
368. My teleporter cannot stop the alien invasion with just the law of displacement, laws of motion, and a huge freakin' asteroid.
369. Not supposed to stop the soon to be cyberpsycho by disassembling him earlier in the adventure.
370. What happens in Sigil does not always stay in Sigil.
371. No thinking up new, creative and fun uses for cursed items.
372. Cannot start the game blitzed, especially if I was stone sober at the last game break.
373. It is bad form for the queen to see my nipples.
374. I am not to combine the advantage Fearless and the disadvantage Curious in the same character again.
375. Killing the building does not add to my body count.
376. The barbarian must remember that 'human shield' is a figure of speech.
377. My character is required to have a minimum wisdom of 10, that way I have no excuses.
378. I can cannot give my character the moniker "Tim the Barbarian". Especially since he's the bard.
379. I am to stop asking the elf to put a good word in for me with Santa.
380. I cannot use the ventriloquism skill to convice the fighter his new sword is a magical talking one.
381. Min/Max for combat=good. Min/Max for accounting=bad.
382. I can't bet the power gamer he can't solo the module.
383. It is not ok to use 10,000 rounds to kill two sentries.
384. The titles "Viking" and "Obstretrician" are mutually exclusive.
385. All characters will use the bathroom before the dungeon crawl.
386. The following words are not legal for the command spell: Prognosticate, theorize, notarize.
387. I cannot give magic items super easy commands words like 'is' or 'the' and activate when you say them.
388. Pursue means chase after, not just make called shots to the knees.
389. My samurai is not required to commit seppuku if he fails to hit the monster.
390. My character's background must be more indepth than a montage of Queen lyrics.
391. A starting paladin has no conceivable use for industrial lubricant.
392. I am forbidden to see when halflings or gnomes bounce higher.
393. If I can fit my head down the gun's barrel, I can assume it doesn't have the non-lethal option.
394. If the light spell expires, no lighting the dwarf.
395. I cannot have any weapon that requires me to crank start it first.
396. I will refrain from using wildly inaccurate high explosive weapons in close quarters.
397. I will not tell new players that 1st level characters do not have a scent as a defense mechanism.
398. No matter what popular media says, harpoons are not proper ninja weapons.
399. When I have to pick a starting dementia, Stockholm Syndrome is not appropriate.
400. Check the door means to listen at it, not put several rounds through it.
401. When a virgin sacrifice is demanded I will not look knowingly at the paladin, netrunner or Hermetic.
402. No matter how many people I need to feed, I will not use MDC weapons to fish.
403. My rigger does not get a bonus if his log in code is up, down, up, down, left, right, left, right, A, B, A, B, Start.
404. No subcontracting dungeon crawls.
405. I will not name my character for the power gaming campaign Generic Cleave Path Fighter #7.
406. The first rule of Finnegan school is not "Do not talk about Finnegan school"
407. I will not blow all my starting funds on hookers and booze.
408. If I have to sacrifice my fifth dot in resources to afford it, I can't have that gun.
409. I will not cast darkness at the magic missile.
410. If the NPC is on the cover of the rulebook, I can't kill him.
411. It is bad form to shoot a god while he's monologuing.
412. I will not try to skip to the main boss dressed like a singing telegram.
413. The chaotic neutral alignment is forever closed to me.
414. If my stats are STR10 DEX10 CON8 INT16 WIS17 CHA15 I'd better not be the half-orc barbarian.
415. My archmage will not join a party running Keep on the Borderlands as a ringer.
416. I will not substitute accuracy with enthusiasm.
417. The solution to all my problems is not Crinos.
418. Steel toe boots do not add to my AC.
419. Spankings generally will not change evil alignments.
420. "For the King" is an example of a good battle cry. "Smoke the Mother" is not.
421. I will not convince the GM's noob GF to play a psychotic combat monster.
422. My marital status does not affect in anyway my fear checks.
423. Even if the rules allow it, I cannot play a duck.
424. I cannot liven up the adventure with snappy musical numbers. Even if they did it on the TV show.
425. Chainsaws and butter churns filled with bees do not use the same weapon skill.
426. Thirty minutes after a massive battle against Cathayans I am not bloodthirsty again.
427. I cannot do anything I saw Jackie Chan do once. Even if I am in Home Depot at the moment.
428. I will never create a plan that first hinges on the invention of velcro.
429. If the character isn't deaf, his only language cannot be AMSLAN.
430. Spray paint is not a substitute for proper camouflage.
431. We will not implement any battle plan that includes the underlined words "And hope they miss a lot"
432. Cannot put anything featuring Calvin on my starfighter.
433. I will not find a peaceful solution to the adventure just to piss off the power gamer.
434. Never again will I convince a player to keep a character nicknamed "Stumpy McLunger"
435. No bribing the DM's new GF with chocolate so he'll go easy on us.
436. Even if my cleric has the domains of Wealth and Healing doesn't give me the right to start an HMO.
437. From now on my Highlander will refrain from dancing the Can-Can.
438. The ability to afflict everyone in 150' with herpes is not an acceptable super power.
439. I will not start the game as a toddler just to rack up massive stat bonuses as I age.
440. I am forbidden from trying to merge the best features of automatic weapons and manual transmissions.
441. There is an upper limit on the number of people a bullet will go through.
442. When told to be subtle, playing a foul mouthed chain smoking squirrel is not a good choice.
443. Zombies are not infectious in D&D. So I should stop shooting PCs in the head if they are bitten.
444. Whether it's fair or not, my thief will not insist we take turns checking for traps.
445. I will not admonish my fellow paladin with 'a little less lawful, a little more good'
446. Ninjas are not ablative.
447. If the NPC is critical to the plot later, I cannot crit him 4 times in one round.
448. I will not attempt to unionize the brutes.
449. I will not switch to an entirely new class every single time I level.
450. When told to distract the villainess, they didn't mean with a surprise marriage proposal.
451. I cannot start the campaign conjoined to another character.
452. Not allowed to convince the entire party to base the group only off Gary Oldman characters.
453. I will not redefine the term 'trapdoor'.
454. No staking a vampire with anything larger than his chest cavity.
455. Styrofoam is not an appropriate component for golems.
456. I cannot put my familiar up for stud.
457. I did not invent the wet tabard contest.
458. "When I'm in the mood" is not a valid trigger for a contingency spell.
459. The vampire clan with vissitude is not pronounced 'Karl'
460. I'd better have a real good excuse for being a necromancer if I'm lawful good.
461. Tasha's Uncontrollably Hideous Sister is not a real spell.
462. 1st Watch is not for accordion practice.
463. Even if it is hip to be square, I still can't play a Modron.
464. 2nd Watch is not for starting up pick up rugby games with wandering monsters.
465. After a successful black ops, I will not leave paint bombs under all the boardroom's seat cushions.
466. 3rd Watch is not clothing optional.
467. There is no 'accidentally' slipping a Smite Evil into a pillow fight.
468. If the party wakes to find a chariot upside down in a fountain, I'd better not be the prime, usual or only suspect.
469. If I wake up to find black cloaked figures in my room, I will not immediately point them to the halflings' room.
470. Sarcasm is wasted on Imperial Stormtroopers.
471. I am not fluent in any dialect of gibberish.
472. When my cleric is told to "Buff the Elf", I know exactly what it means and may not miscontrue it in any way.
473. No matter the CR of the monster, no naked pookie dances upon victory.
474. Black and Decker does not make prosthetics.
475. Can't trick the rest of the party into babysitting my kids.
476. The alignment of 2 years olds is not automatically Neutral Evil.
477. I cannot spay the Vargyr.
478. Castillians do not always end their sentences with the word 'Ariba!"
479. As a matter of fact, Dwarven Battlegarb in no way resembles Angus Young's stage costume.
480. I will not address Fauner Posen with 'Jawohl mein Liebenaffe'
481. I am forbidden from doing anything that ends with a snarf, rimshot or spit take.
482. No uploading porn to my CO's HUD.
483. No downloading porn from my CO's HUD.
484. If the word 'Mullet' appears anywhere on my samurai's character sheet, he's vetoed.
485. My Mossad agent's battlecry is not "Torah, Torah, Torah"
486. No how tough the encounter was, I will keep the congratulatory ass slapping to a minimum.
487. Halfing mating rituals do not include beer can crushing, power belching, or Lynyrd Skynyrd trivia.
488. If I have to pull out of the dungeon because I'm low on HP, no filing Workman's Comp.
489. No making up any strange hobbies just to get out of taking watch.
490. Quoting Bob Dobbs while charging into battle is unusual. Quoting Bob Newhart is right out. Quoting Bob Dillan is just silly.
491. If my Faith is 4 and your Faith is 2, that doesn't mean Jesus loves me twice as much.
492. Beer Boy is not an acceptable hireling for the dungeon crawl.
493. I will not base any Media character off Milo Bloom.
494. I will not use a time machine to invade Germany on September 2, 1939 by surprise, securing Dutch domination of Europe.
495. No supplying my own canned applause.
496. While Bardic music can increase skill rolls, bad jazz adds nothing to seduction rolls.
497. If somebody in the party has a Wisdom or Intelligence lower than 8, I am forbidden from talking to them.
498. A firefight is not the best time to tell the party my Medtech has a fear of blood.
499. No inventing the minefield.
500. My superhero will not spend points to fly just because he's too lazy to walk.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Countdown Rundown

Countdown, the year long weekly mini series from DC Comics, completed this week - running 51 issues total. The idea was that it would serve as a countdown to the Final Crisis mini series which begins next month. How did it do? I'll give you a breakdown of how things in it were for me (spoiler alert!!!!):

The Good:
- It started out with a murder I was interested in - that of the Joker's Daughter.
- I liked the idea of Trickster and the Pied Piper doing the "buddy film" angle. Having them manacled together led to some interesting situations.
- Mary Marvel's quest for power led her to some interesting encounters (with Madame Xanadu, the Riddler and Clayface, Zatanna, Klarion, Eclipso, etc.).
- Jimmy Olsen's tie-in with the New Gods and the eventual Death of the New Gods mini series worked out well (though Jimmy's early plot line dragged a bit less).
- the villain profile pages which ran from issue 37 down through issue 2.
- DeSaad's ambition in Bludhaven and later on with the Piper showed true evil promise, right before he bit the big one.
- Every appearance by Superman Prime jumped up the level of destruction more so than any other villain's appearances.
- the final revelations of where Ray Palmer went to after Identity Crisis made perfect sense.
- the all out war between the Monarch's forces and the Monitors on Earth-51 was played out nicely and made for a good peek in the story.

The Bad:
- Tie-ins to "the Lightning Saga" over in JLA, with Amazons Attack, with the funeral issues over in Teen Titans, with Green Arrow and Black Canary's wedding, etc. were clunky.
- The History of the Multiverse was a nice feature early on BUT it might have been smoother in a single issue.
- Karate Kid didn't live up to his potential as the greatest martial artist of the 30th Century.
- Jimmy's attempt at being a hero as "Mr. Action". No, just no.
- all of the building of Monarch's army in Countdown: Arena could have fit better in the pages of the weekly mini series rather than as four standalone issues.
- the death of the Trickster. I've always been a fan of James Jesse and can't stand the brat that took over the name over in Flash years ago.

The Ugly:
- Some of the art teams just didn't work well with this series.
- the Holly and Harley subplots dragged a lot.
- the introduction of Forerunner just to spin her off into Countdown to Adventure wasted a lot of space.
- the idea that a solo body from Triplicate Girl, Una, would be of use. Ugh.
- wasting time with the Challengers (Donna, Jason, Kyle and Ryan) exploring the microverse and then having their multiverse trek covered in seperate one-shots. I'd rather they did all of the multiverse exploration with the pages of Countdown.
- the attack of Brother Eye on Apokolips did not jive at all with the events in the Death of the New Gods. These two books should have been much more tightly coupled.
- the build up to the "Great Disaster" only to have it destroy one parallel universe over the course of two issues - yawn. The only plus: we got the world of the original OMAC and Kamandi back.

Overall, the good and the bad pretty much balanced each other out. The ugly just showed the lack of editing across the entire line of books - something DC should have done better.

Peter Perfect

We've started to watch Peter Perfect this past week or so.

No, I'm not talking about the number 9 car driver on the Wacky Races, a childhood favorite cartoon of mine from the 60's.

I'm talking about the show on the Style Network that stars Peter Ishkhans, a Beverly Hills stylist who goes around to small businesses and helps them reinvent themselves. And, no, Peter is not gay - he's English. I'm a huge fan of English accents and mannerisms and what not. Peter often wears an ascot. Very British, and very straight forward in his opinions.

So far, we've seen him reinvent a pet grooming business and a struggling candy store. Both were fun episodes, in a mindless reality show sort of way. The show runs Saturday evenings on Style, though we found with the DVR that we could record an earlier broadcast in the day and watch it at our leisure.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


In 1989, Robert B. Parker published his sixteenth Spenser novel entitled "Playmates". From the cover, it is clear that this case involves basketball. Spenser is hired by a local university to investigate the rumors of point-shaving in their basketball program. In typical Spenser fashion, the investigator gets to the bottom of the situation quickly but also finds an unexpected element that makes it a difficult problem to wrap up.

I really enjoyed the characterizations of the basketball coach, the star team player and his girlfriend. Parker has a good talent at making new characters interesting to the readers. By the same token, he again brings back the old reliable supporting cast of Susan, Hawk and the local Boston police detectives. That's a good key to building a solid fictional world, and Parker does it well.

My only nit - it seems, once again, that Parker has to tie-up the loose ends quickly to get to a resolution before the chapters run out. It sort of reminds me of those investigative television shows where the leads are running on different angles for the first forty-five minutes and then, in the final scenes, pull together the right clues to solve the problem. I guess it's the nature of the genre.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Comics of the Week (4/23/08)

Countdown to Final Crisis #1 - ugh. For a final issue of a year long weekly mini series, that was just awful. Basically you've got seven or so characters who've been through this world-hopping ringer and seen worlds die and they're all in a funk. What do they do? Half of them team up to keep an eye on those they think were behind it all. Ugh. (I plan a full overview of Countdown now that it is over later in the weekend - with what I liked and didn't like - check back then for that.)

Justice League of America #20 - a nice single issue by McDuffie and Van Sciver. The story was okay - a smaller moment with just two heroes involved and one villain. It read a lot more like an issue of the Flash though. The art was very nice.

Book of the week - the Death of the New Gods #8. This mini series ended with Darkseid going toe-to-toe with the Source while Superman is helpless to watch. Superman isn't always so helpless, but in the presence of gods he's a little out-classed. I liked this mini well enough. My only complaint is that its final issue came out AFTER the resolution with Darkseid in Countdown last week. Couldn't scheduling have gotten the releases in line? Sloppy. Also, a number of things in this mini didn't jive with Countdown, but I'll blame the later and not Jim Starlin for that (again, see my Countdown overview later in the weekend).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

American Idol 2008 - Top 6 Results

Part of me should be surprised - as two really good performers from Tuesday night hit the bottom 2, while two folks that struggled ended up, surprisingly for both of them, safe. Then again, its par for this season isn't it?

Two weeks ago when Michael Johns got the boot, I said the "pros" (ie. folks who had previously had bigger label albums a few years ago that flopped) would be going out 1-2-3. I thought the public would be outraged by their presence now that facts came to light about their past recording histories. Michael went, followed by Krisy Lee Cook last week.

Had I remembered that theory, I would have said Carly would go this week - and I would have been right. Silly me, though, for judging each week solely on that night's performance.

It is definitely the fan bases that are controlling this season. Folks picked their favorites early on and will ride them through to the end, no matter what. Much like a Presidential election. Popular vote rules here.

And maybe that's why this season is so "meh" to me.

Ah well - as the saying goes shouldn't complain if you don't vote. I don't vote for Idol so I shouldn't complain.

Neil Diamond next week as mentor - which I should enjoy. Love his music!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

American Idol 2008 - Top 6 Performances

Another mentor with a theme week - this time the music of Andrew Lloyd Weber. And this is where we divide the big voices from the rest of the pack - since Broadway show tunes require big voices and the ability to convey the emotion of the words.

Syesha - a very good performance. Clearly animated is the way she needs to go because it shows some personality and emotion. Was it enough to keep her out of the bottom? The singing was, but I don't know if she's connected enough with the fans to keep her afloat.

Jason - not good. He's never seen Cats but knows the song "Memories" - so did he have enough emotion to pull it off? Not for me I'm afraid. But his fan base is solid so he could be fine.

Brooke - this competition is wearing on her and it shows. She started to take ALW's advice but when she lost the lyric and restarted all she could do was focus on the words not to screw up again, and that lost the emotional connection needed to hit it out of the park. Surprisingly, Randy and Simon understood her restart while Paula reamed her for it. Go figure. This could be Brooke's swan-song I'm afraid.

David A. - a very good vocal with some emotion but not enough. I don't think he has the life experience to draw from and it shows. He's going through the motions. Still, good enough to survive another week - and you saw his fan base (the young teen girls). He's so safe.

Carly - I am glad she moved from a song from Phantom of the Opera to one from Jesus Christ, Superstar. Her performance worked well. ALW knows how to get the best out of performers. I enjoyed it.

David Cook - ah, he does have musical theatre background and the chops to pull it off nicely. A nice change of pace for him. I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Crimson Joy

Crimson Joy is the fifteenth book in the Spenser series by Robert B. Parker, written in 1988. This time there is a serial killer running around Boston who leaves a red rose as a calling card. The police turn to Spenser to help out on the case, but the case quickly hits home for both Spenser and Susan.

The case once again leads to focus on the relationship between Spenser and Susan, as both their professional lives and personal lives interwine once more. However, for me, I didn't feel the drama and tension as much as I did with A Catskill Eagle. Perhaps it was the nature of the killer and his methods - which I found a bit put off by.

Anyone who is following my reviews notices I had to jump from the 13th book to the 15th book. Turns out, someone had the 14th checked out at the library so I waited about a week while I finished the ones I had. Still no return (not due to early May). So, I jumped ahead. I plan to go back and read that missing one as soon as it shows up, but for now I continue to move forward. Already started the 16th last night.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Comics of the Week (4/16/08) - part 2

Tangent: Superman's Reign #2 continues the 12 part mini series where the Justice League crosses over to the Tangent Earth, only to find their Superman has become a supreme dictator. The tale is unfolding at a good pace, and a short back-up feature is there to fill in the historical pieces for those who missed the earlier Tangent mini's (or forgot them in the past 10 years as I have).

Batman and the Outsiders #6 keeps up the action and espionage. Chuck Dixon writes these charcters well and moves the story at a good clip. I'm glad to have added this title to my monthly pull list.

the Brave and the Bold #12 sports another Perez cover, but once again Jerry Ordway is filling in on the art chores. I'm guessing this was so Perez could go off and do the 3 Legions mini with Geoff Johns this summer. Still, a nice wrap up the 12-part epic that began with this book's new run. But have the heroes screwed up by stopping Megistus? Time will tell!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Comics of the Week (4/16/08) - part 1

Got six books this week, so again I'll split them into groups I can manage.

Countdown to Final Crisis #2 - not even an Adam Kubert cover could save this issue. It was really just a huge, chaotic battle with some characters totally out of character (since when does Superman stay out of a fight?) and the ending of Death of the New Gods spoiled to boot (that final issue comes out next week). And if this ending is what Countdown was leading to, what do we get next issue? Disappointed.

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #13 - this was more a spotlight issue on Superboy/Superman with some nice homages to the Superman films and Smallville television show thrown in. It worked okay for an issue. Given the way the animated comics are going, this will be the only one on my pull-list in another month or so.

Salvation Run #6 - the big throwdown between the Joker and Luthor spotlights this issue. It just goes to show how dangerous the former can be. Not a lot of death and destruction this issue, but that will change with the final issue is the last couple pages of this one are any indication.

American Idol 2008 - Top 7 Results

Well, I almost had the split right - if you swap Jason for David Archuleta (David being the one who would have to pick groups) and then Kristy Lee for Carly. Gotta hand it to Ryan and the powers that be for pulling that "I have too many cooks in the kitchen" bit. That shook the groups up at the last minute.

Bottom three - Syesha, Brooke and Kristy Lee, and Kristy Lee says goodbye. Not too surprised if I think about it. Like Michael Johns last week, Kristy Lee has had an album shot in the past that didn't pan out too well. If this pattern continues, Carly could be the one to go next week - assuming Brooke doesn't step up her game (this is two weeks in a row for Brooke in the bottom).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

American Idol 2008 - Top 7 Performances

Now, I'll be the first to admit: I am not a very big Mariah Carey fan. When she was announced as a mentor for the season, I yawned. Well, this week the top 7 got to sing her songs and I really wasn't all that moved by the performances.

Clearly, the guys fared better. I have the Davids in the top three along with - surprise - Kristy Lee. I have in the bottom half Syesha (good, but she's clearly not a fan favorite having been in the bottom three of the past five weeks), Carly (the bottom twice prior) and, sadly, Brooke.

That will leave Jason tomorrow night - if I have the groups right - to be the one in the middle whom Ryan will make chose. Jason's just so good natured that he'll be stuck to pick one. Yeah, predictable television.

Going home? I'm thinking it could be Syesha going this week.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Taming A Sea-Horse

Published in 1986, Taming A Sea-Horse is the 13th novel in Robert B. Parker's Spenser series. This book follows up on a character introduced in the earlier novel Ceremony - April Kyle, the young hooker who is now twenty years old. April has gone missing, and Spenser makes it his mission to find out why.

He manages to locate April only for her to then disappear again. And in trying to find her again, Spenser gets mixed up in the story of Robert Rambeaux, her current pimp, and with Ginger Bucky, another of the women in Rambeaux's stable. The story really exposes the stepping stones of the world of prostitution, both the good and the not so good. As always, Spenser finds out a lot more of criminal activity going on - but he remains focused on his sole mission, and in doing so is willing to make trade-offs.

A lot of seedy characters are introduced in this novel whom, I am guessing, may turn up down the road again. That seems to be Parker's m.o. - he builds a rich tapestry of a world and goes back to revisit certain areas from time to time.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Comics of the Week (4/9/08)

Countdown to Final Crisis #3 - we're getting down to the wire, so an all-action fight issue certainly is in order. Darkseid wants Jimmy Olsen, and Superman and the other heroes don't plan on letting the villain get his way. Plus, an origin two-page on Amazo.

Titans #1 - I had high expectations for this book. It was the original New Teen Titans line up back again. That's good, right? Well, in the hands of Judd Winick, no. The writing is horrid on this issue. All set up scenes but no resolutions. We see heroes in sudden peril but are not shown how they escape. Very ppor. And while I like Ian Churchill's art, he tends to go too porno on the women. This isn't Image comics of the 90's, people. I am going to drop this book super fast.

Justice Society of America #14 - the "Thy Kingdom Come" arc continues to unfold slowly. Maybe too slw. I appreciate all the character bits, and this a large cast, but let's get on with it.

Book of the week - Booster Gold #8. Yup, Booster and Beetle once again top their week of release with no surprise. This is a fun book. Right now, in an alternate timeline, Booster and the Beetle try to beat the odds and turn things right. I loved the team of "freedom fighters" that Hawkman and Green Arrow assembled. Only in alternate realities do you get line-ups like that. And the last page harkens for great things next issue. No doubt - I love this title and am very glad DC is putting it out. I'm hoping the quality remains this high for many years on this book.

A Catskill Eagle

A Catskill Eagle, the 12th book in the series by Robert B. Parker - written in 1985, opens with Spenser receiving a letter from Susan Silverstone in California. She's in trouble and his buddy Hawk is in jail. That's all it takes for our hero to spring into action, and that leads on a path of breaking the law and causing destruction in hopes to find and rescue Susan.

Parker has clearly evolved Spenser to an anti-hero at this point. Sure, he does things in the name of good, but he and Hawk aren't above killing folks who deserve it or causing major property damage. Beneath it all, Spenser has a heart of gold, but he does what it takes to get the job done. Someone in this novel jokingly calls him "Superman", but he is hardly that.

And I'm okay with that.

An action hero sometimes has to do thing on his own compass to get the job done. Look at any of the 80's action films like those in the Diehard or the Lethal Weapon series. These guys are tough as nails and know what lines they'll cross and when they'll cross them. Given this was written in the mid-80's, maybe Parker's evolution of Spenser is a way to mirror the times. Hard to say.

Still, a good book - lots of twists and turns. The ending seemed a little anticlimactic to me, but the rest holds up solidly and we really get more of the complexity of the relationship between Spenser and Susan.

Friday, April 11, 2008

American Idol 2008 - Top 8 Performances/Results

It's been a busy week for me. Lots of stuff going on at work, lots of stuff going on at home. Monday night my son was inducted into the Beta Club, his Junior High version of the Honor Society, and then we had a celebration dinner out. Tuesday night my parents and brother stayed overnight at our house. So, I didn't get to watch the taped American Idol performances until last night - just before the results came on.

Performances: for a week of "inspirational" music (you know, this was Idol Gives Back week - which I have to watch this weekend), I wasn't very inspired by any of the performances. They all sounded tired, overworked and exhausted - no doubt in prep for all the extra things this week. That led to some mediocre performances across the board. I don't know what David Cook was trying to do, but it didn't work. Brooke should have kicked butt on Carole King but didn't. I had marked down on my sheet for the bottom two to be Michael Johns and Kristy Lee Cook.

Results: so, I get a taste of Idol Gives Back and a performance by last year's winner Jordan Sparks. Jordan, it appears, can't sell her CD worth a darn - taking her forever to get to platinum, not a good sign. But, she does get rewarded for downloads. Welcome to the 21st Century. As for the bottom three, I got one right - Michael. Carly certainly expected to be going home - and give her performance she was probably right. Then Ryan messes with their heads and still says Michael is going home. I think everyone was confused and surprised. Must be too much fatigue.

I'm not surprised about Michael going. I found out last week that he's one of three contestants left in the competition with some kind of past failed recording contract already. His was under the name of Michael Lee with a band (their EP is downloadable on iTunes and emusic). Carly has her failed album back in 2001 - again also for download on iTunes. And it turns out Kristy Lee also had a contract/album - again downloadable on iTunes.

I predict that Michael was the first of the three to fall, in a succession, due to fans upset that these are not really "undiscovered talent" as Idol claims them all to be. The fans can see through the smoke and mirrors.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


I hate when I miss an episode of a TV show and then see the next one and am lost. Same thing happens when I have to skip a book in a series. My library did not have The Widening Gyre, the tenth book in the Spenser series - turns out that's one of a few they never got. So, I jumped to the eleventh, Valediction, which Robert B. Parker wrote in 1984. First chapter - I realized I was missing something.

I did consider buying the book I missed, but not for $7.99. That's crazy! I'm saving money here by reading for free, so I'll avoid the loss. Thank the stars for the Internet so I could get a summary somewhere to catch up on the one I missed - most particularly the details of the relationship between Spenser and Susan.

Anyway, book eleven opens with Susan leaving town. This throws Spenser into a funk that not even the attractive art director from the office across the street can fully get him out of. He takes a case to find a dancer that has supposedly been kidnapped by a religious group. Investigating uncovers a lot more than just a church. With the help of his buddy Hawk, Spenser tries to solve the case and solve his life problems at the same time.

And then everything takes another unexpected turn - a near fatal one!

Definitely a good read. Clearly Parker has a grand scheme in mind as the art director has been in the background of the books now for three or four novels. Also, he brings back Paul, the young man Spenser helped out in An Early Autumn. I'm looking forward to the next book which I'll start later today.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Comics of the Week (4/2/08)

All-New Atom #22 - part two of the Atom's battle with his own antibodies. While the art picked up the series a bit, I'm still not sold on this new writer yet. I'll give it another six months.

Countdown to Final Crisis #4 - as the cover suggests, Mary Marvel succumbs to the dark side (and Darkseid) once more. We're winding down into the final month of this year long weekly series, so I hope it goes out with a big bang.

Justice League Unlimited #44 - the focus, again, is on a villain - this time the animated universe's Mirror Master. While an okay story, it wasn't as outstanding as usual.

Comic of the week - Action Comics #863! The end of the six part "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes" arc ends on a powerful note. I loved how this storyline worked out, and the teaser final two pages has me excited for August. Johns writing and George Perez doing the art - I am so there! Can't wait for Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, a five part mini series picking up where this arc ends.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I just finished Robert B. Parker's 1982 novel Ceremony which is the ninth book in the Spenser series. The private detective is back in Boston and is brought into a case through his girlfriend Susan. It seems one of the students at the high school she does counseling at has runaway from home. The father doesn't want April back, but the mother does. So Spenser takes the case.

The case, as it turns out, leads into the dark underbelly of prostitution and other related areas. As Spenser gets deeper into the case, the level of languange and violence esculates. He even has to bring in his old buddy Hawk to help him out on this one. If this one were truly adapted verbatim, as opposed to the TV movie version from Spenser For Hire, it would definitely get a heavy R rating. While this was a sharp contrast to the previous novels in the series, it wasn't a turn-off at all. It all worked well for the context of the story.

Another interesting thing is that the author doesn't wrap it all up neat and nice and happily ever after. This story is about hard choices, both those that April and the other girls make and the ones that Spenser and Susan have to make. And there isn't always the seeing of eye-to-eye on things. And that makes for good character conflict and growth.

Very recommended.

American Idol 2008 - Top 9 Results

Country was the theme of the night, with performances by the Clark Brothers (who won another FOX show - America's Next Band - and they were pretty good) and Dolly Parton (she sang "Jesus and Gravity" from her latest album, which I found surprisingly on

Loved the Ford commercial with the Idols playing street hoops while performing Run DMC's "Tricky".

As for the bottom three, I had one person in there right - Ramiele. The other two were Kristy Lee and Brooke. I think Brooke was put there by the producers to shake her up into better performances, as they did with Jason last week. As for Kristy Lee, she seems to be getting the "villain edit" - having been in the bottom three in almost every week so far and then skating buy.

Ramiele, sadly, went home. But, in truth, her performances have slid a bit since we first saw her audition. Yes, she has a great voice but think all the hoopla that is the Idol machine was too much for her.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

American Idol 2008 - Top 9 Performances

Dolly is in the house! Yes, I've always enjoyed Dolly Parton - her music, her personality, etc. Never been to Dollywood (yet) even though we live only a couple hours away now. I like that she had positive things to say about the performers and was enthusiastic.

As for performances, interesting week. I found that the girls faired the worst - surprising since Dolly wrote songs for herself, a woman, to sing. I think a lot of the girls fell into the trap of singing known songs, thus ripe for comparisons.

Top three for me: David Cook, David Archuleta and Michael Johns

Middle three for me: Brooke White, Carly Smithson and Kristy Lee Cook

Bottom three for me: Jason Castro, Ramiele Maluby and Syesha Mercado (she never should have gone the Whitney comparison route - it will be the end for her in doing that too often).

Going home: I think Syesha, but if last week was any indication I could be totally off base with the bottom three entirely.