The Girl with the Dragon TattooI came to this one later than everyone else, so all the hype might have swayed me a bit. I liked the story. They mystery was interesting and engaging. I really like the character Lisbeth Salander (said girl with tattoo). There is a total ‘Mary Sue’ moment that happens with our 2 main characters that totally yanked me out of the book and felt completely unbelievable. I had a hard time recovering after that, but I did finish it. I might or might not read the two sequels. We’ll see. I’ve read worse, but I’ve read better

I am a fan of China Mieville.  Perdido Street Station is such an unusual fantasy novel.  Mieville almost seems more interested in the architecture and details of a city than the actual story itself, not that the stories aren’t very good.

The City & The City is a mystery novel set in 2 non-descript European cities.  Where the book takes an odd twist is that the 2 cities are literally right on top of each other.  Citizens from both cities walk and live in the same streets, but are taught to ignore the inhabitants of the other city.  To acknowledge them results in a “Breach” and the citizens are taken about by a group of people known as the Breach.

The novel starts with the body of a 20-something woman being found in the city of Beszel.  Our protagonist Inspector Tyador Borlu is tasked with finding the murderer.  His search reveals that while the body was found in Beszel, the murder might have actually been committed in the second city, Ul Qoma.

What follows is attempts by Borlu and his Ul Qoma counterpart to unravel a mystery that may also unravel the very fragile fabric that is keeping their two cities functional.

It can be a lot to wrap your head around, but I found it to be a very satisfying read.  Very much like Kafka at times.  I also found myself wandering around Seattle after reading this and wondering what in the city do I “unsee” in an attempt to avoid things.  Are there people or details that I overlook?   Very interesting.

Cut Your Losses

Posted: May 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

So, this will be a bit of a sidebar from the last two posts I’ve made, but it’s been on my mind for a while.

Sometimes you run into situations in your life, and everything within you wants to hold onto them.  I’ve had this happen to me over the course of the last few years, and I’m writing this to maybe help you become unstuck.

I’m a pretty good judge of character.  I’m also pretty careful who I let in to the “inner circle” as it were.  Not that I’m all that special, but I’ve been pretty hurt in the past, and I just want people around me I can trust.  I don’t have a lot of close friends, but the ones I do have I am fiercely loyal to and I would do just about anything for them.  Anything to the point of being life-threatening.

I recently had a really good friend.  One of the ones that I let in.  Through a series of circumstances, this person was advised by people that maybe we should not be friends anymore.  My friend listened.  I had a good talk with this friend and said that I would always be there.  My friend said “nothing would change” and that we were “still friends.”  Having no reason to doubt this, I hunkered down to endure this assault on our friendship confident in my friend’s ability to be loyal.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I don’t do drama, and I certainly don’t do peer pressure, but apparently these are things that my friend is influenced by.  Even though I have to see this person on a fairly regular basis, I was suddenly invisible.  To say the very least, I found it pretty hurtful.

My reaction was to wait it out, attempt to salvage the friendship, and be resolute and strong in maintaining the friendship.  If my friend was temporarily swayed by outside forces, then I would not be.  I made attempts to repair a friendship that was damaged from without, all the while being completely puzzled that someone could turn off their “friend” switch.  Although I kept hearing the right words, the actions were painting a completely different story.

I stayed in this mode for 2 1/2 years.  Every time I knew I would run into this person, I would inwardly cringe.  Sometimes the communication was good, most times it was if I wasn’t even there.  I continued to be hurt, confused and angry.  When there was communication, it was all about them.  I would ask about family, mutual friends, etc.  I stopped volunteering information about myself unless I was asked.  In 2 years, I was never asked how I was or anything about my family.

Based on this, I finally decided to cut my losses.  It went against everything I know in the 40+ years I have been on this planet.  I have never intentionally turned my back on a friend.  I have never been able to suddenly stop caring, but I knew if I didn’t that I would find myself sucked down with the increasing negative emotions that I felt.  It was like I was in a boat that capsized at sea and the wreckage was pulling me under water.

So, I did it.  I’d love to tell you it was easy, but it was not.  I get along with just about everyone I meet, and to suddenly decide that I couldn’t care about someone was extremely difficult.

I had to train myself.  Every time I found myself thinking about this person, I would stop and tell myself that I didn’t want to go there.  Every time I found myself in a situation where I would see this person, I would have to decide that I didn’t care how the communication went.  If I was talked to, I would respond in a better manner than I was spoken to.  I’d love to tell you I always take the high road, but that’s not completely true.  I had to completely close the door on this friendship.

It took quite a while, but after a few months, and against my very nature, I was able to begin to not care about this situation.  Even more so, I was able to feel the pressure of this immense weight being lifted off.  I found myself in a much better mood.  My hurt was gone as was the confusion and anger.

Now I see this person, and I expect nothing from them.  If they interact with me (which is seldom), I feel no anxiety or pressure.  They were a friend, but they are now an acquaintance.  In many ways this saddens me, but it is what I had to do.

Maybe this can help you, too.  Maybe there is a situation in your life that you are clinging to in the hope that it will be revived.  I can tell you I am a champion of the slightest glimmer of hope, but there comes a time when you have to move on.  If you think there is a chance, fight with everything you have, but if it’s too late, and deep down you know it, then cut your losses and move on.

Movies – Ponyo

Posted: April 11, 2010 in Movies

Ponyo (Two-Disc Edition)

I recently watched Ponyo on DVD with my daughter.  We are both pretty big fans of Miyazaki’s work.  We wanted to see this when it was in the theaters last summer, but it never seemed to work out, so we were pretty excited about seeing it on DVD.

Within 5 minutes, we were both sucked into the movie by the combination of amazing hand-drawn animation and adorable characters.  The music by Joe Hisaishi is always a highlight in these films and this film has bright, happy music to go along with it.

This film is probably best suited for younger viewers and fits in nicely for fans of My Neighbor Totoro or Kiki’s Delivery Service.   Very safe content, not too much scary imagery, and delightful characters.

We happen to like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle more, but that is because the plots tend to be more mature and more fully fleshed out.  Where Ponyo seems to fall down is at the very end, when it seems like they ran out of time to finish the story, and it just sort of ends abruptly.  The overall film is well-made and recommended despite this sort of slapped-on ending, and I know we will be watching it again pretty soon.

Other films I am watching right now:  Sherlock Holmes, The Prestige, Fringe Season 1

My taste in things is eclectic, normal, strange and all over the map.  So, I will like some horror films as well as animated films, foreign films, schlocky romance pics.  My tasted seems to be all over the place.  You have been warned!

…and so it begins….

Posted: April 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

Yes, my fine friends, I’ve fallen prey to a vicious internet viral disease and decided to create a blog. This little corner of the internet will be comprised of random stuff that is of interest to me. As such, it may have little or no interest to you. It may in fact bore you to tears or cause you fits of rage. If that is the case, you are welcome to leave this little corner of the internet and find any number of interesting blogs about orange kittens or nuclear waste or little known bands that start with the letter “G” (all of which are fine blogs, I am sure).

You are also welcome to stay. I look forward to your opinions on things (even if *gasp* I don’t agree with you). I can’t promise it will be the most exciting journey, but I might surprise you. I also don’t promise a new post every day (or every week, month, millenia, etc.). I’m old enough to know better than to make such a bold promise.

To sway you further, I offer a bit of bio information about myself. I grew up in a pretty small town (no traffic lights in the entire county). I’m an IT Manager for a software company (and, no, I will not fix your computer). I have been married to a wonderful woman for a very long time (they discovered fire at our reception). I have two smart and quirky children (sorry for the quirky part, kids). I live in the Pacific Northwest, and while I am not waterproof, I can be weatherproofed. I am a self-professed geek (I’m also professed that by just about everyone who knows me).

Things that I am geeky about that may or may not make it into this blog: Books, Movies, Music, Theater, Disney, Animation, History, Boardgames, Comics and any host of things that I’m just not thinking about at this particular moment. Hence the shrapnel part of the blog name.

So, come along for the ride. Tell me what you think. Offer suggestions, advice, criticism, barbed comments, witty comments, etc. Type at you soon.