Video of the Day 12/28/10 - Japanese Game Show Edition

These Japanese game shows never fail to amuse me...


Book Review: Under the Dome

Under the Dome
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Fiction, science fiction, mystery
Number of Pages: 1,074
Where I Got It: Library

First line: "From two thousand feet up, where Claudette Sanders was taking a flying lesson, the town of Chester's Mill gleamed in the morning light like something freshly made and just set down."

It's a typical day in Chester's Mill, Maine until suddenly and without warning an invisible force field surrounds the town, effectively sealing it off from the rest of the world.  The race is on - not only to free Chester's Mill from The Dome and rescue its inhabitants from deteriorating environmental and ecological conditions, but to also stop religious fanatic Big Jim Rennie who likes the idea of an isolated community all for his domination a little too much.  As Rennie continues to exert his power, Iraq veteran Dale "Barbie" Barbara and his allies start on a nonstop thrill ride to figure out the riddle of The Dome.

There are two things that will immediately scare you about this book.  One is the fact that it comes in at a whopping 1,000-plus pages.  The second is the lengthy list of characters, including Dogs of Note, that King maps out before the story begins. It's a lot to take in all at once and even made me think twice about picking this one up.

Wow am I glad that I did.

This book is genius.  This is my first try with anything by Stephen King (I know, a book-a-holic like myself never having read Stephen King is pretty blasphemous) and I am kicking myself over and over and over for not having tried something of his before.

Here's the thing. I'm not a fan of science fiction and I'm not a horror fan - both genres I immediately associate with Stephen King. This book though suspended all of that for me.  It was so well-crafted and developed so perfectly that I was engaged the entire time.  For all 1,074 pages. In fact, I was so into this book and the "will they/won't they get out of this Dome" concept that I found myself breathless and not able to read fast enough to get to the next part.

You guys. I cried.

I can't rave about this book enough. It took me on a literal thrill ride - I found myself holding my breath at some points - and I haven't felt this strongly about a book in a long time.  

Go. Read. This. Now.

Overall Rating: What do you think?

Coming Up Next: Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Portia Nathan is an admissions officer at Princeton University who scours the country looking for the absolute best of the best, and those that are even better than the best, and lives a pretty standard domestic life. But a life-altering decision from her past sneaks up on her and just as thousands of students wait to hear about their own admission, so too must Portia make the decision to make an admission of her own.

And now a movie review...
Role Models - Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott are sentenced to community service at the Sturdy Wings mentoring program and are paired up with two kids who couldn't be more different. McLovin from Superbad is in this and is hysterical as a teenager who is obsessed with a fantasy world where everyone role plays characters from medieval times. Paul Rudd is one of my favorite actors and his one-liners are always hilarious. Overall this was a pretty good and funny movie and I recommend it. One thumb up, one thumb sideways.


Video of the Day 12/12/10 - Super Cute Edition

Shoutout to Phil for this super cute video I found on his Google Reader thing.


Whatever Happened To...

Ace of Base?

I've discovered 90s radio on iTunes which means two things: I have a LOT more material for "Whatever Happened To..." and it is making the work day go by so much faster. And which recurring gem of an artist keeps popping up? The one and only Ace of Base.  Although I am only familiar with "The Sign" as well as "Don't Turn Around" and "All That She Wants", Ace of Base had a lot of hits which they are still cranking out.

First, did you know they're from Sweden and three of the four members of the group are siblings? Fun facts. Second, the three songs I mentioned above all come from the same album making it the first debut album to produce three number 1 singles on the Billboard Top 40 chart. Sounds like Ace of Base was a lot more legit than I give them credit for.

The name Ace of Base comes from the fact that they rehearsed in the basement of a car repair shop and apparently considered themselves to be "masters of their studio" - thus aces of the basement and ere go Ace of Base.  The more I learn, the more amazing they become.

Their first, and arguably their most popular, album Happy Signs came out in 1993 and was followed by The Bridge in 1995 and Flowers in 1998.  A greatest hits CD came in 1999 and the group's fourth album Da Capo came out in 2002. The group took a hiatus for a few years starting in 2003 but came together for a reunion concert four years later, but slowly things started to fall apart.

It was revealed that one of the female leads hadn't been part of the group for a while (scandal) and nobody wanted to sign the group now that there were only three members.  An album they put together in 2009 never got released, but they kept insisting that new music is coming out.  Also, one of the guys is a judge on Sweden's version of American Idol.

Well lo and behold, the new and improved Ace of Base, complete with two new lady members, released a single called "All for You" in September. Magic.

So have no fear LTD and Ace of Base fans, it looks like the quartet, albeit a brand spanking new version, is still going strong. I know I can rest a lot easier now.


And Now... Sports

It's amazing. Until very recently, I used to be "sports girl". I could talk pretty intelligently about how different teams were doing, especially college teams, and who players to watch were. I watched a lot of ESPN and Lately? Don't care. And I'm 100 percent fine with that.

Last night though I was definitely interested in the story of LeBron's great return to Cleveland... the city he so unceremoniously broke up with on national television out of nowhere over the summer. A week before this game, there were already reports coming out of extra security and police being called in for this one game. I knew it was going to be nuts. And I knew I had to tune in.

I know this has all been covered back when "The Choice" or "The Decision" or whatever the hour long special ESPN made about whether or not King James would be going to Miami was called came out. Was this the right move? And I give a resounding no to that. LeBron is very good at basketball, but this still does not warrant an all-out lovefest about yourself before you crush the hopes and dreams of millions of your fellow Ohioans... Ohians... Ohians?

The problem does not lie in the fact that he chose to leave the Cavs for what is just now starting to look like greener pastures. He was a free agent. He saw the chance for a championship and better pieces all around him and he took it. Let's not pretend that this is the first time in the history of sports that someone has done this to a team they were on. Chris Bosh just did it too. How about when Garnett left Minnesota for Boston? Fill in any other names you can think of. I also guarantee that he won't be the last.

For the fans last night, this was now their chance to say back to LeBron "Oh yeah? Well screw you too" because let's face it - that's pretty much what he said to them when he chose to air that TV special. LBJ went to work, dropping 38 on the Cavs in the rout, but did that stop the fans from voicing their concerns at any point during the night? Nope. I just don't think that for the fans it was about who would win or lose this game. I, for one, did not think Cleveland would get the win. This was about them telling him this is where you grew up, where you played high school ball, where you played professionally and where you were absolutely worshipped. And that's the thanks we get? You did us wrong man and now you're going to hear about it - over and over and over again. Because they will never stop booing and waving signs and coming up with ways to antagonize him on the court at every chance they get.

Let's say he had gone the traditional route of a press release and press conference announcing his move. Sure the fans would still have been worked up about him leaving but that's a lot less of a blow than that TV show.

I still can't really speak as an expert in this area though considering I've never had anything like this happen to me. So I thought, what if it did happen to me? How would I feel? So then I remembered about that time Kobe straight out said he wanted to be traded and that's pretty much as close as you can get to the LeBron debacle.

I remember thinking to myself "What? No. Kobe... leaving? He couldn't. He wouldn't! He IS Laker basketball. Would he? Is this real?" I kind of felt like this - like I was very out of touch with reality. The idea was absolutely just too big for me to even fathom. Life without Kobe? Impossible. I told people there was no way it was happening, but there was still always a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach yelling "But what if he does?"

What would LA do? Ha probably riot. How would fans react when he came back with Random Team X to face the Lake Show? Boo? Cheer? Riot again? I honestly do not have an answer to these questions. I still cannot imagine Kobe playing in any other uniform except the purple and gold.

But it happened to Cleveland.

I do know one actual diehard Cleveland fan and so one day I hope to ask him all about his thoughts and feelings on this whole situation and ultimately answer the one question on everyone's mind: is it the fact that he left? Or the fact that he did so in such an egotistical way? I really think it's the second one. And I hope Cleveland fans keep on booing LBJ every time he comes through Quicken Loans Arena. Make those signs, get as loud as you can, know that LeBron will always respond by dropping 40 on you, but never stop showing him that he's no longer boys with Ohio.

Will this create a rivalry between the Cavs and the Heat? I wouldn't go that far. There has to be some level of excitement basketball-wise in order for that to happen I think. The Cavs aren't that good right now so maybe in time, but for now it's The People vs. LeBron James. And you can bet that the people will not let this go lightly.


Movie Marathon Weekend

So the cable provider I can no longer afford, better known as AT&T UVerse, offered a free preview of all the movie channels and I think some sports channels that I don't currently have.  Somehow though the Laker game tonight was still blacked out on FSW so thanks for that UVerse.

Basically I went through all the channels and DVRed a bunch of movies that I've been wanting to see. Will they still be on my DVR when this preview thing is over? No idea.

So without further ado, here are some reviews of the movies I watched this weekend:

Valentine's Day - This is the movie that has literally every popular celebrity today in it: Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Ashton Kutcher, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts... and that's not even half the cast.  It was teeeeeerrible.  Seriously don't bother with this one. Two thumbs down.

Postgrad - Rory from Gilmore Girls plays a girl who graduates from college and is denied a position at her dream job and so has to move back in with her parents while she tries to find work.  She's a good actress, but it was too much like Gilmore Girls: The Sequel to be honest.  The supporting cast however was pretty fantastic.  Jane Lynch and Michael Keaton are hysterical as her wacky parents and the guy who plays Matt Sarasen on Friday Night Lights is in the role of her best friend slash boy she realizes she (of course) loves. He is smoking hot. The end. One thumb up, one thumb sideways.

Whip It - This was a lot better than I thought it was going to be and I actually pretty highly recommend it.  Ellen Page is turning out to be a really good actress, although do you think she gets annoyed with the fact that she's like 26 but plays 16 year olds in all of her movies?  She is really good in this movie as a girl who lives in the middle of nowhere Texas and is forced to suffer through beauty pageants and a part-time job at the local burger stand... until she discovers an all-girls roller derby league.  The supporting cast was great in this one too with Drew Barrymore and Kristen Wiig from Saturday Night Live as her teammates.  The action was good as was the plotline.  Highly recommended. Two thumbs up.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona - Scarlet Johansson plays a girl who travels to Barcelona for the summer after college with her friend and ends up meeting Javier Bardem's character.  Before you know it, she's caught up in a very different kind of romance with him and his ex-wife who's juuuuust a little bit on the crazy side.  The synopsis of this one is kind of hard to explain as there are a few subplots mixed in.  It was weird though. Penelope Cruz definitely steals the show and her performance is worth picking this one up.  Guys will also like it because of Scarlet Johansson who annoys me to no end, but ladies don't worry. Javier Bardem is plenty of eye candy on his own.  Two thumbs sideways.

I have a few more that I have yet to watch so stay tuned for more reviews:
The Fall
Role Models
The Time Traveler's Wife
Revolutionary Road
Paper Heart
Up in the Air
The Blind Side
X-Men Origins: Wolverine


Video of the Day 11/18/10: Campeones del Mundo Edition

That means World Champions and no I'm not talking about the San Francisco Giants.

Spain revealed their new national team jerseys via a... well... interesting commercial from Adidas.  Check it out:


Can You Blame Him Though?

Before I get into this post I have one request of all four of you that actually still read this: I have not read the last Harry Potter book. I know nothing about what happens. Seriously nothing. I'd like to keep it that way. Thanks.

On Saturday, part one of the final Harry Potter book/movie will hit big screens.  Part two comes out in June or July of next year I believe and then that's that.  The end of a true era when you think about it.  It's been 10 years, seven books, eight movies, and a whoooooole lotta dollars.

But is this it?

Apparently J.K. Rowling, author of the HP books, is now saying she's not ruling out the possibility that she will write more books about the young wizard with the weird scar.

So how does Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter in all of the movies, feel about this?  Well... it sounds like he's kind of pissed.

Seriously though, can you blame him?  This kid has played Harry Potter - and only Harry Potter - for 10 years.  He's said his goodbyes to the character and has prepared himself for the next chapter in his career.  And now he's hearing through the grapevine that Ms. Rowling might not be done with him yet?

He says he wouldn't come back if she started writing more books that they turned into movies and frankly I say good for him.  You know how hard it's going to be for him to play a role where people don't look at him and think "That's Harry Potter"?  He tried doing a live play where he had to come out onstage naked and people lost it because ::gasp:: that's Harry Potter.  He's been hardcore typecast and it isn't going to be easy to break that.

And it's not just him. I'm sure all of these kids want to move on with their lives, especially since they have already gone ahead and wrapped up this chapter.  They've said their goodbyes and I'm sure they just want to enjoy these last few months and then look to other projects.

So I'm with Harry... er Daniel Radcliffe.  Let's all say our goodbyes to Harry Potter next summer and move on with our lives.  This means you too J.K. Rowling.


Book Review: American Wife

American Wife
Author: Curtis Sittenfeld (who is a woman)
Genre: Fiction but apparently based on some real events
Number of Pages: 555
Where I Got It: Own it.

First line: "Have I made terrible mistakes?"

Alice Lindgren is a normal girl who grows up in normal suburbia Wisconsin when a terrible tragedy turns her life upside down.  As she moves past it and begins to establish her adult life, she meets Charlie.  They fall in love, marry and Alice finds herself the doting wife of a man who eventually becomes President of the United States. She discovers that she is married to a man she both loves and fundamentally disagrees with - and that her private beliefs increasingly run against her public persona.  As her husband's presidency enters its second term, Alice must confront contradictions years in the making and face questions nearly impossible to answer.

So it's been said that this book mirrors the life of Laura Bush and it's pretty apparent, especially when "Charlie" finally does become President and Alice is talking about life in the White House.  September 11th, the decision to go to war, and the ensuing criticisms are all discussed in detail so it becomes pretty easy to figure out who the author is really painting a picture of.

This book did make me want to learn more about the life of Laura Bush because if the events in the book really are that similar to her real life, she lived a pretty interesting pre-First Lady life. Will we ever get the real answers for how she felt about the decisions her husband made as President? Probably not.  But if the parallels this book draws between Alice and the real Laura Bush are that similar, then I'm really fascinated by Mrs. Bush's story.

Otherwise, the book was up and down for me.  Some parts were great and really emotional and I got really drawn in to the characters and what Alice went through.  Then some parts made me feel like I was reading straight chick lit and I didn't like that at all. Then I'd be back in Alice's head following right along as she watched Charlie make decisions that affected the whole country that she didn't necessarily agree with and I was sucked in again.

Don't rush out to pick this one up but it's decently interesting and a quick read for a plane ride or something like that.

Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Coming Up Next: Under the Dome by Stephen King
On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener's hand is severed as "the dome" comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when — or if — it will go away.


Live Blog: Dancing with the Stars 200th Episode

Tonight, Dancing with the Stars will air its 200th episode. As the opening number and credits rolled, I said to Chloe "Man lovebug, I should be live blogging this." So I am.

As always with a LTD live blog, the time stamp is not accurate because I DVR like crazy.

Let's go!

9:00 - The opening number with all of the pros from the past 11 season was SICK. Man those dancers can move. Then they go through each season and show the celebrities from that season who are in the audience tonight. This is not sick. Not very well rehearsed, I couldn't tell who half the people were, and nobody was there from season 6. Oops. Of course when they show season 10's contestants, it's Erin Andrews, Jake the Bachelor and Evan Lysacek the figure skater. Shocking. Erin Andrews is owned by ABC, Jake technically is too, and I heard a rumor that tonight they will be previewing "Skating with the Stars" which sounds absolutely terrible but I guess that's why Evan is here.

9:03 - Tonight they are going to do team dances BUT, says Brooke Burke, there's a twist. Each team will have a former champ as their captain. I guess they're more legit, but a pro can teach me a dance any day over the so-called captains.

9:04 - The captains are Kristi Yamaguchi and Apolo Anton Ohno. Um Team Apolo all the way thanks. Apolo, Derek Hough AND Maks on the same team? Yes please.

9:07 - So I guess Team Kristi is first because they are showing their practice. At first I thought they were just recreating the freestyle dance that Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark did, but now apparently they are cha-cha-ing. I am so confused.

9:10 - Ok so yes here goes Team Kristi. Rick Fox is a giant but he moves really well. Bristol Palin wasn't so bad and Kyle and Lacey are really fun to watch. This isn't bad at all.

9:14 - Wow Brooke Burke. Please let them finish speaking before you cut them off. Ugh she is terrible. How do I audition for this job? Team Kristi gets a 24 out of 30.

9:18 - Back from commercial and I'm pretty sure Derek currently has on a fake soul patch like Apolo has. This could be epic.

9:20 - So let me get this straight. Apolo and Kristi are captains, but they don't do the choreography, they don't watch practices and they don't offer any kind of criticism. So what would you say you do?

9:24 - Loved it. Plus all three guys all had fake soul patches on. Chloe gives it 4 paws. Bruno can't stand it. He has to stand up and do the cabbage patch or the butterfly or something.

9:26 - 27 points for Team Apolo. Their captain has just said unbelievable 7 times in 30 seconds. Team high fives! Cuuuuute.

9:28 - So now it's time for round two. And apparently each couple is going to recreate an iconic dance from someone from a past season. AND that person is going to be... wait for it... a guest judge for that dance. It is getting CRAZY around here.

9:29 - First up is Mel B aka Scary Spice. Fun fact: Maks spends Thanksgiving with Mel B and her family sometimes. Buuuuut neither of them were born in America...

9:31 - Kyle and Lacey will be dancing the Maks and Mel B paso. Which means Kyle is playing the part of Maks. This is Kyle. This is Maks. K good luck Kyle.

9:34 - Len says it was his best dance. Mel B was blown away. Bruno calls him an untamed young bull and says "testosterone" (awkward) but then critiques his shoulders. Carrie Ann liked it. Chloe can hardly contain her excitement:

9:37 - 35 out of 40 for Kyle and Lacey for 59 on the night.  Mel B gave him a 10.  I'm not a psychic or anything but I feel like that could be a trend tonight...

9:38 - Our next guest judge is season 3 champ Emmitt Smith.

9:38 - Okay I have to just say that this season of Dancing with the Stars has more light effects, more smoke, more lasers and explosions and set changes and props than ever before.  Every single time someone comes out I feel like I'm watching the ESPYs or the VMAs or some other low budget awards show.

9:40 - So of all the couples to dance Emmitt's tango, it's Kurt Warner and his partner.  This strikes me as hilarious.  A Super Bowl MVP QB vs. a Super Bowl MVP RB? I can't back up that Emmitt Smith was in the Super Bowl, an MVP of the Super Bowl, or even a running back.

9:44 - The judges critique such weird things.  Kurt sticks his next out too much according to Bruno.  Carrie Ann just criticized the tango Emmitt did EIGHT seasons ago.  Awesome.

9:45 - Oh there is so a vibe between Kurt and Emmitt and it's not a good one.

9:46 - Rick Fox is in a completely green suit.  Like completely green.  With green shoes and a green fedora with a green feather in it.  He looks like the Jolly Green Giant.

9:47 - Ooooh so weird.  Emmitt gave Kurt a 10.  Everyone else gave him 8s.  They get 34 out of 40 for 61 on the night.

9:49 - Kelly Osbourne is next.  She's lost like 100 pounds or something.  Seriously her body is insane now. Bristol and Mark are reinterpreting Kelly's Viennese Waltz from season 9.

9:52 - Bristol lets us know that her family and Kelly Osbourne's family are very different.  Insert your own jokes here...

9:55 - Kelly Osbourne just told Bristol she had some big shoes to fill.  Wow.  Listen Kelly, I know you're looking all fabulous these days but let's tone down the arrogance a bit shall we?

9:56 - They just showed Kristi Yamaguchi and Apolo Anton Ohno sitting next to each other in the audience.  Do you think that secretly they can't stand each other because Apolo is the new Winter Olympics darling?  These are the things I think about.

9:59 - OMG Kelly didn't give them a 10!  How PISSED are you if you're Bristol and Mark.  That celeb paddle is like a free 10! They get 33 out of 40 and 57 on the night. Brooke asks how that feels and Mark goes "That feels great!" and Bristol goes "Oooh yeah."

10:01 - My lover and favorite tax evader Helio Castroneves is up next. Rick and Cheryl will dance his quickstep where he wore the bright yellow suit. This is probably why Rick is dressed in a giant green suit.

10:04 - Eliza Dushku with a special guest appearance.  The only thing I've ever seen her in is Bring It On.  Apparently she is dating Rick Fox. With a partner like Cheryl, I'm sure this is not the first time she's just popped up at the studio.

10:06 - He seriously looks like a giant piece of broccoli.  Plus he has a zebra print tie on.  This is the worst costume ever.

10:07 - Oh no you did not Tom Bergeron.  How are you going to make a joke about him looking like the Boston Celtics when he is a Laker? Not cool.

10:08 - They all decide his nickname is the Jolly Green Giant.  Um I made that joke 20 minutes ago. Carrie Ann then yells, yes literally yells, the word giant 3 times.  Then they show Rick and he is totally courtesy laughing.

10:09 - Helio gets us back on the homer train with a 10 for Cheryl and Rick.  They get 9s from everyone else for 37 out of 40 and a total of 61 on the night.  The judges all thought that was their best dance to date and I thought it was awful. Goes to show what I know.

10:13 - Yeah I want to be Carrie Ann now.  First she gets to sit next to Helio and now Gilles?  Not fair. Brandy and Maks are dancing Gilles' foxtrot.

10:14 - Brandy talks about how she's faced a lot of adversity throughout her career.  I can't even make a joke here...

10:15 - HOW are you uncomfortable with getting rub up on Maks? Move over and allow me to show you how it's done.

10:18 - That was a good one.  Chloe loved it too.

10:21 - Woah LEN gave out a 10 but Gilles with the 9? That's quite the twist.  They get a 37 out of 40 for a total of 64 on the night.

10:23 - This is the longest show ever. Here's the gist of what I'm fast forwarding through.  Jennifer and Derek are dancing something Drew Lachey danced.  Jennifer Grey is 50 and cries a lot.  That just took up 2 minutes on my DVR.

10:27 - Yep, she's back.  Carrie Ann is crying.  And I don't know what any of the other judges said because I was looking up my polling place.  I think my apartment complex is a polling place...

10:29 - It's a 10 from Drew and 9s from everyone else.  64 out of 70 total. Ugh Brooke Burke. Blah blah blah.

10:31 - That's all folks! Tomorrow is the 200th results show with Taylor Swift, Rod Stewart and the cast of Mary Poppins which is actually playing up here in Sacramento and I'm thinking about going to check it out.  Thanks for tuning in.  My foot and my cat are asleep.  Livin' the Dream. Out.

A Note to Boys Who Play Sports with Girls

I'm angry so here comes an angry post...

I recently joined a new co-ed soccer league with some people I know from work and some other randoms. We've played one game, we tied, I scored the tying goal.  Everyone on the team is very nice and seem happy to have me.  Then again, when a girl agrees to play on a co-ed team, usually they will be nice to you because they need you more than you need them.

So while I'm pretty happy with my own team, the team I played against was full of the whiniest, bitch ass guys I have ever met.  So pay attention boys who play sports with girls - this one's for you.

First and foremost, at all times you should remember that YOU are a guy and I am a girl.  I might shove you into a wall, I might shimmy-shake past you, and I might really get you fired up.  But remember.  I am a girl and you are a guy.  Control yourself.  Take the shove, take the juke out and man up.  Your precious male ego will live to see another day.  I promise.  Calling a girl half your size a "fat ass" and claiming that she almost broke your clavicle is not only super dramatic, but makes you look like a huge tool.  Sidenote: both of these things actually happened at our game last week.  By the same guy.

I know that there's a major problem with girls who play co-ed anything acting like... well like bitches frankly.  Trust me, the girls on this team last week were just as whiny as the guys, if not worse.  The girls in a co-ed league always think they have something to prove and this is definitely annoying.

But guys you don't have anything to prove.  This isn't your World Cup tryout and I'm sorry if you got rejected from that DI program six years ago.  But just calm down.  Play the game, score a few goals and just go about your day.

Thanks for listening.


Book Review: Shanghai Girls

Shanghai Girls 
Author: Lisa See
Genre: Fiction with some history thrown in
Number of Pages: 336
Where I Got It: Library
First Line: "Our Daughter looks like a South China peasant with those red cheeks," my father complains, pointedly ignoring the soup before him.

In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, and thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree . . . until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides. As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules. 

So remember the last episode of "Friends" when Ross is listening to his answering machine to Rachel arguing with the flight attendant about getting off the plane?  And for a little bit we don't know if she made it off?  Then she announces that she did and he turns around and she's there and everyone cheers?

Now imagine that same scene, except this time we never find out if Rachel got off the plane. Ross is still staring at his answering machine, asking himself if she did and then the show just ends.

That was the ending to this book.

Let me start from the beginning.  This book is A-MA-ZING.  Seriously it just became one of my faves.  Pearl and May are amazing characters and author Lisa See is a pretty brilliant writer.  I was completely engrossed from start to finish and felt so connected to all of the characters. I couldn't get through some of the pages fast enough! 

Which is why I was SO frustrated by the ending.  Literally I was like oh man here we go, Pearl is going to find Joy and something with Z.G. is about to go down.  I turn the page and...


I literally yelled "You have got to be kidding me" in my bed then immediately BBMed the following to James: "The book I just finished has the shittiest cliff hanger ending.  Wtf I am super pissed."

Then I calmed down and I thought about it and realized it was actually a really really good ending.  The book was about May and Pearl - sisters who had been through some of the most difficult episodes anyone could ever go through.  It wasn't about anybody else's relationship in the book.  At the end of the day, May and Pearl had a bond that would get them through anything and that was the message, essentially, of this book.  No matter what they had been through and what fights and jealousies and resentments they may have harbored, at the end of the day they were sisters and that was it.

I can't recommend this book highly enough and I can't wait to read more of Lisa See's novels.  Please do yourself a favor with this one. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Coming Up Next: American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
American Wife is the story of Alice Lindgren, a middle-class woman (and registered Democrat) from a small town in Wisconsin who grows up to become a children’s librarian but then falls in love with an impish young dilettante from a famously rich and political family and eventually finds herself the unlikely First Lady of the United States.  The story is apparently loosely-based on the life of Laura Bush.


Video of the Day 10/27/10 - Humans Are Awesome Edition

Or incredibly stupid.  You decide.  Shoutout to Ashley.


You Should Get That Looked At...

If I'm Charlie Sheen, it's time to find an allergist who can take care of my severe allergic reactions that cause me to be naked and intoxicated in a trashed hotel room.

Charlie Sheen was hospitalized Tuesday morning for what his rep is calling "an adverse allergic reaction to some medication."

This is after:
1. He is found naked and intoxicated in his room at The Plaza.
2. Tables and chairs were thrown around.
3. A chandelier was damaged.
4. He was "emotionally disturbed" when he got to the hospital (according to TMZ).

Like I said, Charlie Sheen needs an allergist ASAP.

Also, while I want to say that this is terrible media relations work on the part of his rep - I mean does anybody believe an allergic reaction caused him to flip out that much? - I have no idea what I would do in this situation.  Actually, after a misdemeanor assault charge, two instances of driving his SUV over a cliff, and now this, I'd probably just quit.


"GleeQ" - The Cover Heard 'Round the World

Gleeks gone wild? If you hadn't heard, GQ's newest issue has a story and pictorial dedicated to the all-time greatest TV show ever, Glee. But hold on to your show tunes, everyone.  We're not in a high school glee club anymore.

The Parents Television Council is up in arms over the sexy display, saying that the cover borders on pedophilia considering the three featured (Quinn, Rachel and Finn) play high school students on the show and GQ is a magazine geared towards grown men. The GQ editor-in-chief responds by saying that in real life, these three are in their mid-20s and are old enough to make their own decisions.

I was kind of surprised at first to see these pictures and I can see how the Parents Television Council would take offense considering how popular the show is with kids these days. But then I think about it and I just don't see that big of an issue with this cover or any of the pictures inside.

This isn't Highlights for Kids or even Teen People or YM (do those still even exist for teenage girls to read like I did?) we're talking about.  This is GQ magazine.  And the PTC contradicts their own case in a way by saying a magazine geared towards grown men shouldn't objectify girls who play high school aged characters.  The magazine is for grown men.  That's the audience and thus the market that you're catering to. Lea Michele (Rachel) and Diana Agron (Quinn) are beautiful and frankly I think it was only a matter of time before we were going to see it.  We kind of already did with the Rolling Stones issue that came out a few months ago.

If your kids are getting a hold of a GQ magazine, it might be time to re-examine yourself as a parent.  And if they see it in the market and ask why their favorite Glee characters are in their underwear on a magazine... Well I'm not a parent so I don't know what you would respond with but I'm sure you'll think of something.

This begs the question of just how young is too young to be watching Glee?  I've had this debate with my friend and her mom before as we watch the show together sometimes and I'm not gonna lie, some of the stuff that's been on the show isn't always suitable for kids younger than high school age.  Sure the singing is fun, but there's also a good amount of adult content that isn't appropriate for elementary or even middle school-aged kids.  I honestly don't think I would let my child watch Glee if they were younger than high school.  How are you supposed to explain to a second grader why Finn is praying to Grilled Cheesus for the chance to touch Rachel's boobs and why this is something so important he wants to pray about it and why he's so glad when his prayers are answered?  I just get it.  A high schooler probably just gets it.  A sixth grader?  Hopefully doesn't.

Yes there's the whole "they're role models now" aspect of it, but their fanbase isn't just screaming preteens.  Do you know how many Wednesday morning IM conversations take place between me and Julie about how hot Finn and Puck are?  Not gonna lie, I wouldn't mind a Finn and Puck shirtless spread in Cosmo or something.  But just them.  I'm good without Artie and Kurt.  They have adult fans too.  They have plenty of guys in their 20s and 30s who think the girls are hot.  You have to meet both markets.

At the end of the day, why is it okay for kids (and I mean younger than high school age) to watch a show that shows high schoolers engaging in bullying and taunting and sex and dealing with very real and heavy life issues, but it's not okay for these same kids to see the same characters in their real life roles promoting themselves and their show?  Am I contradicting myself?  Because I don't see much of a difference.  You can't condone one then lash out at the other.

This has opened my eyes as to just how tough it is to be a parent these days and actually have to explain stuff like this to your kids.  So I give the PTC props for recognizing that we have some impressionable youth out there that will see that magazine cover.  But maybe drawing that line between fantasy and reality isn't the worst thing you can teach your kids how to do either.

The moral of the story:  I still love me some Glee.

KINDLE Review: The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Author: Stieg Larsson

This is officially the second book I've finished on the Kindle.  I promise the novelty will wear off soon, but I love this thing a lot so bear with me.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is the final book in the Millenium trilogy by Stieg Larsson.  This book picks up right where the second one leaves off and concludes with Lisbeth Salander finally getting her life and freedom back.  The book resolves the whole trilogy perfectly and the ending closes the door on the whole saga really well, allowing Lisbeth to finally be at peace with herself and her new life.

Not much of a synopsis I know, but these books are hard to write any plot details about without giving away major spoilers.

The third book is a little less action-packed and we see a lot more plotting, scheming and actual criminal investigation work than we have before.  But Larsson still has a way to keep you fully engaged throughout. The back-and-forth between what the bad guys are trying to do and how the good guys are catching on and figuring out how to stop them is really interesting.  There's high-powered corrupt government officials, the FBI, regular blue-collar cops, and investigative journalists all asking questions, following leads, and putting the pieces together.

Which leads me to the same gripe you've heard before from me about these books: the entirely too large cast of characters. There are 13 "main" characters, most of which are investigators working for completely different police organizations, plus supporting characters everywhere. There are two magazine/newspaper staffs, officers of the Stockholm police force, officers in the Swedish version of the FBI, members of the secret police group that exists within the Swedish version of the FBI. I mean it's at least 20 other names to remember and sometimes they're referred to once, then not mentioned again for another few chapters.

Another issue I had with this book was that the author mixed in random subplots that I felt didn't need to be there.  They took away from the overall storyline and, again, I never understood the purpose of them or what they were supposed to bring to the big picture.

The trilogy as a whole starts out pretty explosively with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the second book holds its own as well but now that I've had time to think about the books, there's definitely a steady decline in plot, character development and overall draw.

I'd still take the time to read these and enjoyed my overall experience.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (too many characters again and the unnecessary subplots)

Coming Up Next: For now, I'm sticking with a regular book but have the following downloaded onto the Kindle for whenever I need it next:
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
World Without End by Ken Follett
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

A LTD Look at the World Series

Okay so it's not the World Series yet, but that title sounds better than "A LTD Look at the NL and AL Divisional Championship Series" or whatever the heck it's really called.

And why don't I know what it's called? Because friends, I have zero interest in following the MLB Playoffs. I've tuned in here and there and have seen some decently exciting plays and finishes. That Phillies pitcher had the complete game and almost had a no-hitter on the very first day of the playoffs which was cool. The Giants have had some nailbiting finishes. Apparently the fighting Evan Longorias were terrible this year. So I know a little about what's been going.

So I'm here to announce that I am officially rooting for the Phillies in the World Series.

Here's why...

I know nothing about the Texas Rangers. I don't recognize that many names on their roster. The Josh Hamilton story does tug at the heartstrings, so maybe that will be my backup choice if they can beat the stupid Yankees.

Which brings me to my next point. The Yankees are stupid. Their fans are annoying, their players are annoying, their players celebrity wives and girlfriends are annoying. They make way too much money for a mediocre baseball team.

And then there's the San Francisco Giants. Listen Sacramento friends, you guys are great. But I cannot root for the Giants as it goes against everything I believe in having grown up going to Dodger games my whole life. Tim Lincecum is a beast, Buster Posey is a beast and also very cute, Brian Wilson's beard is terrible but he is also a beast. But I just can't do it. Would you be rooting for the Dodgers right now if they were in the postseason? Nope. Every single Giants fan that I've posed this question to has stopped, thought about it, and replied with "Ooooh, yeah you are so right."

But don't worry, I'm a great anti-Giants fan. I don't follow them enough to trash talk and I have enough respect for fans of the other teams to not show up at a Giants game decked out in Dodger gear. First, I don't own any Dodger gear. Second, I don't want to get my ass kicked by some girl fan of the Gigantes. So carry on friends, but don't expect me to jump on the bandwagon ever.

So that leaves me with the Phillies. The Phillies fans I know are awesome people, I've never been to Philadelphia but I'm sure it's lovely, and I know a lot of names on their roster so at least I'm able to say "Oh yeah I've heard of that guy."

There you have it. Go Phillies and if they don't win go Texas. And let's hurry all these series up so we can move on to NBA season. Kobe's got a look in his eye that says three-peat.


Things I Think Are Stupid

Whatever happened to the days where you went to a mall or other shopping establishment and the parking spaces in the front were reserved for handicapped or disabled customers. And that was it.

Yesterday I went to Target in Davis and literally 10 spaces in every single aisle were reserved spots. And what were they reserved for? Hybrid cars, electric cars and carpools. This is what I think is stupid.

My San Diego friends will be the first to agree that this is stupid, considering this exact case runs rampant down there. Exhibit A: The Mission Valley Mall. A quick trip to that mall will have you circling the lot for hours because of all the reserved spaces with signs reading "Expectant Mother Parking Only".

Pregnant women, more power to you and all of your raging hormones but this is the stupidest thing I've ever seen. My argument is this: how do you know I'm not pregnant?

Seriously, what's going to happen if I do park there? Is a nurse going to jump out from behind a tree with a pregnancy test and a pee cup and tell me to prove myself? San Diego ladies, somebody try this please and tell me what happens.

So the same holds true for these reserved spots in Davis. Carpools only? What the heck constitutes a carpool? Do people have special passes designating their car as an official carpool vehicle? That is stupid.

Next is the electric and hybrid cars. These signs also claim that those spots are charging stations for the cars. Well guess what people. No outlets anywhere near the spots. Furthermore if electric/hybrid cars are so popular that they demand literally 10 spaces all to themselves, why was there officially one car parked in any of the spots last night when I was there? Just because I choose not to drive a terrible Prius doesn't mean I should get penalized and relegated to the back of the parking lot.

Plus, again, how do you know my car's not energy efficient? Maybe I converted my Jeep to run on vegetable oil with these step-by-step instructions?

In conclusion, I hate parking lots as it is (talk to my brother about this) so this just adds to the rage that is already building inside of me. Get it together parking lots.


New Very Funny Link

One of the students who works in my office shared this with me and it definitely does not disappoint.

This is "Dear Girls Above Me,".

The premise: Two girls move into an apartment upstairs from this guy who is forced to listen to their inane conversations. So how does he deal? He writes letters to them on this blog.

This is fantastic. My favorite line so far is from Oct. 13:

Dear Girls Above Me,
“I watched a special on conjoined twins and all I could think about was karate chopping them to freedom.” You should be a doctor.



Video of the Day 10/15/10 - Steve Nash is the Man Edition

Yes you read that correctly. I have an entire new respect for Steve Nash after the new ad campaign for Fifa '11. In the commercials, Nash wants to become part of EA Sports' Pro Player Challenge, a gaming tournament where soccer stars from around the world play to promote the game. He harasses Landon Donovan about it and I think it's hysterical.


Video of the Day 10/14/10 - Cat in a Box Edition

Shoutout to Sarah, a new fan of Livin' the Dream, who sent this to me earlier in the week and which I am just now watching because yes it's been one of those weeks.

First of all, how giant is this cat?  Secondly, I have personally witnessed how much cats love boxes and let me tell you, I don't get it, but that sure doesn't mean it's any less hysterical to watch.



Book Review: Gilead... Plus Some Movies

Author: Marilynne Robinson
No. of Pages: 245
Where I Got It: Library

First line: I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I'm old, and you said, I don't think you're old.

As soon as I read that first line, I knew I was doomed.  I have no idea why I chose to read this book.  Maybe because it's a Pulitzer Prize winner. Maybe because I didn't read enough reviews before taking it off the shelf at the library. Either way, I messed up big time with this one.  It was awful.

The premise is that a 76-year-old preacher is writing a collection of letters to his son who is 7.  Yes he is 76 and his son is 7.  His wife is like 30 years younger than he is as well.  So he's writing these letters to his son because, well, he's pretty much going to be dead soon.  And that's pretty much it.

I didn't even finish this one.  In fact, I made it to page 40 or something and I just couldn't even keep going.  I had every intention of finishing it. I even went to renew it from the library online but somebody else had placed a hold on it so I wasn't able to.  Yeah good luck with that buddy.  You can have this one.

There was no dialogue, no other characters, it was just this guy talking about where he had grown up and giving anecdotes that were sprinkled with Bible verses.  I couldn't stay focused and had to keep rereading pages over and over.  No bueno.

Go ahead and skip this one.

Rating: 1 of 5 stars (1 star for the pretty cover)

Coming Up Next: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
In 1937, Pearl and May live a fabulous life as "Beautiful Girls" in Shanghai.  Their faces are used to sell everything from soap to cigarettes and their world is full of glamorous parties, clothes, etc.  They live a carefree life until their father loses literally everything he has through gambling.  To recoup his debts, he sells the girls to a man who lives in Los Angeles as wives to his two sons.  They struggle and face many hardships as they adjust to their new way of life.

And now for some movie reviews:
Up: This movie was really cute, but it made me kind of emotional!  This should surprise no one honestly.  But I did find myself tearing up at the end.  The relationship that grows between the grumpy old man and the little boy is so fun to watch develop.  Another Pixar classic! Two thumbs up.

I Love You, Man: Paul Rudd is about to get married and, after overhearing his future wife's friends talking about him, sets out to find himself a guy friend.  He meets Sydney (Jason Segel) and they hit it off instantly.  The relationship has its ups and downs throughout the movie, but of course everything is solved at the end.  Although the storyline of this one was pretty predictable, Rudd and Segel are hysterical.  The one-liners and comedic timing are pretty perfect and I found myself laughing out loud a bunch of times.  One thumb up, one thumb sideways. 

Gossip Girl - Season 1: Everyone was talking about this show and I never got into it so I decided to try it out for myself.  I'm pretty pleasantly surprised.  The cast and acting is really good and although the plot line is sometimes too hard to believe, I can definitely overlook that to see what happens on the next episode.  I've worked through them pretty quickly and am halfway through season two which is also really good.  One thumb up, one thumb sideways.

As always, feel free to recommend any movies, TV series, documentaries, etc. that you think I'd like!


Come On Celebs!

I haven't blogged in a while. I have been sick and I have been out of town a lot. But honestly, the reason I haven't written about anything is that there isn't really anything to write about.

I've had little nuggets pop up where I've thought to myself "I should blog about that" but then I think about what I would say and not much material comes to mind. Here are some examples:

1. I hear on the radio on my morning drive yesterday that MTV is going to resurrect the show "Punk'd" but instead of Ashton Kutcher it will be Justin Bieber hosting. When I first heard this I actually, out loud, to myself, said "Terrible." And I stand by that. Then I thought to myself "I have to blog about this." Then when I thought about what I would say, nothing really came to mind, because there's honestly not a whole lot to say about this.

The idea of bringing Punk'd back isn't a bad one at all. There's a whole new slew of celebs that could be pranked that would make for entertaining TV as a lot of the most popular singers, actors, etc. weren't around when Ashton Kutcher was jumping out from behind a doorway to yell "You've been Punk'd!" Justin Bieber as the host though? Meh. He's annoying and I don't get the infatuation with him but that's who's super popular these days. And it could have been worse. So that was pretty much the extent of my thoughts on that. Not blogworthy.

2. Miley Cyrus gets caught at a 21-and-over club and she's... well... not 21. I'm going to go out on a limb here and let everyone know that this is not the first time Miley Cyrus has gone to a club or bar while underage. I guarantee Miley Cyrus has done plenty of "adult" things while being underage. This time, she just got caught. Not blogworthy.

3. Ashley Olsen might be getting engaged. Why are the Olsen twins still relevant? They don't do anything. Not blogworthy.

So celebs I implore you. Do SOMEthing. Help LTD out. I need a celeb scandal!


Video of the Day 9/30/10 - Bringing Sexy Back Edition

I'm sure most of you have already seen this, but anything involving Justin Timberlake automatically makes the blog.


Video of the Day 9/28/10 - Seacrest's Worst Nightmare Edition

For as much as I can't stand Ryan Seacrest, he would never do this.

It's a Spears-tacular

If you hadn't heard, mainly from me (and honestly I don't know how that's possible), tonight was the Britney episode of Glee.  Hence the title of this post.

All Britney songs, redone by the amazing members of the cast of Glee.  Not just any Britney songs though.  Songs from Britney in her prime.  The songs I straight blasted on the radio of the '89 Mitsubishi Montero and danced to at all the high school dances.

But the best part of it all was that Ms. Spears herself would be making cameo appearances on the show.

And you know what? It wasn't half bad.

I honestly didn't know what to expect but of course the gossip columns set the bar pretty high with rumors and even Twitter photos of Britney on set.  I read everything about it and couldn't figure out what the heck kind of role she would play.  Well tonight I got my answer.  She didn't really play any kind of specific role.  She became part of each character's fantasy and made brief appearances just as a way for the kids in the glee club to get that extra push towards whatever they were trying to change in themselves.  At first I was like "That's it?" but after processing a little bit I realized that's kind of all that was needed.  She simply played herself and it worked.

It was an interesting dynamic within the show of the older crowd (mainly the glee club teacher) not seeing her as a role model or icon.  And it's not hard to see how they could think that way.  I mean she did go a little crazy for a good couple years.  Okay a lot crazy.  But the fact of the matter stands that she is a musical icon.  She's the best-selling female artist of the 2000s and in June of this year Forbes Magazine named her as the No. 6 most influential and powerful celebrities in the world.  Britney's legit whether you want to believe it or not.

She's definitely had her struggles but let me tell you, she's turned herself around.  La Lohan could take a  few lessons from Britney in how to take control of your life back. I think this appearance on Glee tonight showed that she's continuing to work on her image and is still a rock star.  People will be talking about this episode for a while, you can guarantee it.

So props to Glee as usual and props to Britney for making a really good career move.  She's on her way back I think.

Oh and p.s. next week's episode is going to be a sobfest.    

KINDLE Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire
Author: Stieg Larrson

This is officially the first book I have finished on my Kindle, which I got earlier this summer as a super early birthday present from my parents.  It could also have doubled as a "Here's a new toy because we think you're kind of depressed" present.  Either way, they are the best.

I love this thing.  It is so handy and convenient, especially since I've been doing a lot of traveling this summer and fall.  I've used it at the pool and fitness center in my complex and, most recently, have taken it to go eat solo lunches by myself to clear my mind during the work day.  My parents got me a little carrying case to go with it and it all fits right in my purse.

Next, the screen isn't like a computer screen at all which was my main hesitance in getting one anyway.  I stare at a computer screen a lot during the day and I didn't want that same feeling when I tried to read a book.  The Kindle isn't a computer screen, but rather it uses e-Ink and it's fantastic.  It literally looks like you're reading a page in a book which I love.  Plus when you're out in the sun, there's no glare so you can keep on reading.  That commercial where the guy's trying to read his iPad by the pool and can't see anything but his own reflection while the girl is reading her Kindle perfectly fine is 100% true.

This is the Kindle I have.
It has wireless built in which means you can access the Kindle store directly from the device itself to buy a new book.  I think the wireless can also do some other fancier things but I haven't learned how to do those yet.

A few drawbacks.  For me personally, buying a new book is so easy that I tend to forget that this is actual money I'm spending and not just a free download.  You link it up to an account you set up on Amazon and with one click, you have a new book in literally 3 seconds and it bills your credit card on file.  Books can range from free (usually super classics) to as high as 15.99 for longer and newer books.  I still think this is a great discount as compared to what you'd pay in stores.  A great idea would be for them to somehow come up with Kindle coupons...

Next drawback is that it doesn't have a light but they have external ones that you can hook up to the device.  Also for some reason you have to hold the on/off switch for a really long time for it to shut completely off otherwise it just goes into this sleep mode and then you don't realize it's in sleep mode so then you go to the gym or pool to use it and the battery is completely dead.  The sleep mode is hysterical though because up comes a picture of some famous dead author or some other random literary image and it's always a new one every time.

But overall, I love the Kindle.  Really love it.  So now here's my review on the book I read.

The Girl Who Played with Fire is the second book in Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy and is just as fast-paced and action-packed like the first.  This time the story focuses more on Lisbeth Salander, a bad ass 4-foot-10 expert computer hacker with a photographic memory.  I really liked the book a lot and even found myself gasping in surprise at a few twists and turns.  The story gets a little graphic at times as it deals with illegal prostitution and the abused victims so heads up on that.  Also there are a looooot of characters and all of their Swedish names tend to be really confusing.  For example, there's a Neidermann and a Neierman. Thanks Mr. Larsson. Overall though it was a great read and I definitely recommend it.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (for too many confusing characters)

Coming Up Next: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
Considering I finished The Girl Who Played with Fire while on my flight to Colorado this weekend, I very conveniently turned on the wireless and downloaded the third and final book and dove right back in.  Is this illegal on a plane? Possibly.  Was it awesome? Definitely.  I'm not putting a synopsis because all the ones that I usually jack from online give too much away.

Book Review: The Given Day

The Given Day
Author: Dennis Lehane
Number of Pages: 720
Where I Got It: Library

First line: On a wet summer night, Danny Coughlin, a Boston police officer, fought a four-round bout against another cop, Johnny Green, at Mechanics Hall just outside Copley Square.

This epic historical novel is set in Boston at the end of World War I and follows several characters throughout some of the most pivotal moments in American history.  From the police strike to the Boston Molasses Disaster, Lehane expertly intertwines the political and social unrest going on in one of the nation's biggest cities at the time with that of the lives of two families - the Coughlins and the Luthers.  We also meet some of the most famous personalities of the time - Babe Ruth, Calvin Coolidge, Mitchell Palmer and more - as the two families fight to make it through the increasingly turbulent times.

By the way, wrote that myself.  Pretty good synopsis.

This book was AMAZING.  I really love Dennis Lehane's mysteries (namely Gone Baby Gone but he also wrote Shutter Island which I haven't read yet) and this book was so different, yet still so so good.

The characters were extraordinary.  At times I will say that there were a few too many people to keep track of, but the main players in the book were so well-developed, I couldn't help but become completely engrossed in each of their stories. I wanted them to succeed, I was sad when they failed, I got angry when wrong was done to them. I nearly cried at some parts because of the emotional connection I made with these characters.

For someone who doesn't really know a lot of history, and a lot of American history at that, this book enlightened me to some otherwise unknown moments that happened during the early days of our country.  I had no idea that gallons and gallons of molasses had once covered the entire city of Boston, creating absolute mayhem and chaos, nor did I know much about the police strike in 1919.  Not only does Lehane do an incredible job of describing these events, but the suspense he creates leading up to the events (especially with the will they/won't they of the police strike) plus the description of the aftermath of these events is tense and action-packed.  I felt my heart racing at times as I read about the rioting in Boston after the announcement of the police strike.

Seriously, do yourself a favor with this one.  Although a daunting 720 pages, the book will fly by.  Very highly recommended and a new favorite.

Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Coming Up Next: Gilead by Marianne Robinson
The narrator, John Ames, is 76, a preacher who has lived almost all of his life in Gilead, Iowa. He is writing a letter to his almost seven-year-old son, the blessing of his second marriage. It is a summing-up, an apologia, a consideration of his life. Robinson takes the story away from being simply the reminiscences of one man and moves it into the realm of a meditation on fathers and children, particularly sons, on faith, and on the imperfectability of man.

Audio Review
Sam's Letters to Jennifer by James Patterson - I didn't even make it through disc two of this audiobook.  Oh my goodness this was seriously terrible.  The premise is that this woman Jennifer's grandmother who she calls Sam writes her a bunch of letters about her life and when Sam goes into a coma, Jennifer finds them and starts reading them.  Cheesy background music, terrible narrators (Anne Heche's voice sounds even more like a 16-year old's than mine does) and a horrible plotline just made this too hard for me to get through.  No bueno.

Hey! You Had Your Turn!

So last night on Dancing with the Stars, Tom Bergeron of course plugged the new upcoming season of The Bachelor and the camera showed the new bachelor and the host, Chris Harrison, whose job is hysterical to me.

The new bachelor is a guy named Brad Womack. Now usually whoever got dumped on The Bachelorette usually becomes the next bachelor so I figured he was from last season of The Bachelorette which I didn't watch because that girl annoyed me to no end. However, after further research - and Tom Bergeron making a joke about him "actually picking someone this time" - I realized who he is.

This guy Brad already was The Bachelor! In 2007 he got down to the last two women and then didn't pick anybody. And now he's back for round two?

I understand that sometimes you want a second chance at things. Trust me, I understand. But buddy, you had your shot. What makes you think that things are going to be so different this next time around?

Apparently he was up against a guy who was on the show last season but I'm not sure if the other guy turned it down or ABC just decided that going with Brad was a better option because clearly it makes for better television. Shoot I'm about to watch just to see if the guy actually goes through with it at the end. But if I was the other guy and Brad was picked over me, I'd be pretty ticked off right now. Poor guy gets dumped on national TV then doesn't even get the chance to try things out for himself on the show.

This stands as yet another reason why I get annoyed with this show and it falls under the general umbrella of the fact that The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have lost a lot of touch with reality. From the exotic locations to the over the top dates themselves, this show is not how normal people meet each other and fall in love. Is the low success rate really a surprise? I feel like the couple gets back to their normal lives and things like going out for pizza isn't enough after they've been flown to Tuscany to make pizza themselves from a real Italian before riding a gondola into the sunset. How can normal life compare to the six weeks they've just experienced?

So this latest stunt falls under the same category for me. Again, this guy had 25-30 women there to win him over and he just walks away. Now he gets the chance to have another 25-30 women - beautiful, successful, pretty perfect women might I add - throwing themselves at him while he's traveling the world? This does not happen in real life. Sometimes you blow your chance and that's that and there's no ABC to ride in on their white horse and rescue it for you.

In a few articles, he's talked about how he's changed so much and how he knows now what he needs to do to really make it work with someone. Well congratulations but why can't you just make that work in your normal life in Texas? Why do you get hooked up like that? I just don't think it's fair.

Like I said before though, this is obviously going to make for great TV so I guess some credit has to be given to ABC for making this decision. But if it falls through again, they're going to have a lot of unhappy customers on their hands.


Video of the Day 9/21/10 - Why I Need a Cat Edition

Submitted by Ashley who is laughing uncontrollably at her desk in Austin, Texas right now. Can you blame her though?


Live-ish Blog: Dancing with the Stars Season 11 Premiere

The wait is over! Not only do we have the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars Season 11, but we also have the return of the live-ish blog here on Livin' the Dream. Dinner has been eaten, a glass of wine has been poured (which could make this even more entertaining) so now it's time to get down to business. As is customary, I DVR the first 30 minutes or so of the show so I can fast forward through commercials so my time stamps will be different.

Let's go!

8:25 - Tom Bergeron says we ain't seen nothing yet and that this is the wildest cast ever. Mrs. Brady and Michael Bolton scream wild and crazy to me, don't they?

8:26 - I am dying to meet the British guy who starts off the show.

8:26 - Music legend Michael Bolton? Wow that's laying it on a little thick, don't you think ABC?

8:27 - This is the absolute best set of introductions ever. Apparently Bristol Palin is a teen activist and yes, he is in fact going to be known as nothing but The Situation. Wow. I'm serious. His name is literally written as "The Situation and Karina" on the graphic.

8:28 - Brooke Burke is still a terrible announcer.

8:29 - Tony and Audrina are starting us off with the cha cha. But Tony just told Audrina that they are going to be the first couple up and she is freaking out. This is either because she's that dumb or because she's a total ringer and she's really good at dancing so they have to come up with something to make her "nervous". I guess we'll find out.

8:31 - Not bad for the very first couple up. She totally just went through the motions of the steps but it's to be expected for the first show I think. It's not going to get her through to the finals but she looked decently confident, just needs to be a little feistier.

8:32 - Bruno just called her a beautiful show pony that needs to be whipped into shape. Nice to see some things never change on this show.

8:33 - Aaaand not only did Carrie Ann just say that Len's butt is very tightly clenched, she just told Audrina that her solo at the start of the dance took "conyos". If you speak Spanish like I do, the word "conyo" is the equivalent of sh*t. So what I think she meant to say was "cojones" which means guts. Check yourself Carrie Ann.

8:34 - Wow a 7 from Len. 19 out of 30 for their total score. Heck yes you will take this Audrina. Last year on the first night, people got 4s. Take your sixes and be on your way.

8:37 - Next up is Kurt Warner and Anna. He has seven kids. Also he dances like the biggest whitest guy ever. This isn't going to be pretty.

8:41 - That wasn't as big of a train wreck as I thought it would be. Bruno thinks he's a natural. I wouldn't go that far. Carrie Ann just called him a legend on the football field. Again laying it on a little thick aren't we?

8:42 - Aaaaand time. Who had 8:42 as the time when all the judges would start screaming over each other?

8:45 - We're back with the scores. Wow 7s from Carrie Ann and Bruno and a 5 from Len. Kurt says "he'll take it". Again, that's a 19 out of 30 so yes Kurt you will take it.

8:46 - Honestly Brooke Burke is just the worst. I will comment on this frequently.

8:47 - Next up is this kid Kyle and Lacey who is blonde now. Not a good look for her. I have no idea who this Kyle kid is but literally he's like 15 and annoying me already. They are doing the cha cha too.

8:49 - Well what the kid lacks in technique, he certainly makes up for in showmanship. We might have an early favorite here. The crowd was going nuts, Carrie Ann is losing it and just said "fantastical".

8:51 - I think Bruno just called him a puffin. Isn't that an Arctic bird? Let's rewind.

8:51 - Still sounds like puffin but the fact that the entire phrase was "You are like an adorable naughty little puffin", I think he's really saying puppy. It is Bruno though so I wouldn't be surprised if he was actually saying puffin.

8:52 - Kyle loses a vote because of the ridiculous secret handshake he and Lacey just did. But they got a 23 out of 30.

8:54 - Next up is former LOS ANGELES LAKER Rick Fox and Cheryl. She's like 5-2 or something and he is a giant so this should be entertaining. It will also get old if they go on and on about how he's soooooo tall. Anyway, let's check out this Viennese waltz.

8:57 - Former Los Angeles Laker Rick Fox and his very white teeth are surprisingly graceful considering he's a giant. Len is all about it. Bruno is yelling again and thinks it's going to be a quarterback-power forward showdown. Carrie Ann is throwing herself all over him. Gross. But they all really like him. I will say he was a pretty decent surprise.

9:00 - They really know how to drag these shows out. One couple and then commercials. Thank goodness for DVR. Meanwhile absolutely none of the new shows on ABC's fall lineup look good.

9:02 - Rick Fox gets a 22 out of 30. This is a very high scoring first night.

9:03 - Next up is Margaret Cho and Louis. She has a LOT of tattoos and says she thought she'd be better than she actually is at ballroom dancing. No offense but I pretty much though you're as bad as you actually are.

9:04 - Apparently she was called the fat ballerina when she was five. Has this really haunted her her whole life? I'm going to say no.

9:06 - So she started out strong, then she turned into a payasa (as my dad would say) which means clown in Spanish. This was so weird. They were dancing the Viennese waltz and then they turned it into a comedy routine. The judges hated it and they get three 5s. I agree though. I get that she's a comic, that's her thing, whatever, but that's going to get old really fast.

9:10 - Time for Brandy and my lover Maks.

9:11 - Apparently Brandy did DWTS because she's been afraid to. Afraid of what? Being on TV? You were Moesha. Dancing in front of large crowds? You sold out concerts all over the country. I don't buy it Brandy. Ringer.

9:13 - Blah blah blah the judges love her and Bruno makes a play on words with her name and drinking. Sounds about right for Bruno. She gets a 23 out of 30 and she is crying. Oh wow, no she is seriously tearing up right now. Check yourself Brandy.

9:15 - And now the moment we've been waiting for: Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas. Mark is so cute but the shaved head is not a good look. Bristol Palin is already having issues doing shimmys and poppin that booty which I knew was going to be a problem for her.

9:16 - Aaaaaand the first dig at her ex Levi. Classy Bristol.

9:18 - Okay so here's the thing. I actually have to hand it to her for being on this show because honestly, she really is just a normal teenager. She isn't a celebrity (not like most of these people really are) but she hasn't grown up on TV or played a professional sport or sung in front of millions of people. She is like 17 and yes she's been on the tabloids and stuff but coming out and ballroom dancing on live TV when you literally have NO experience being any kind of an entertainer takes guts.

9:23 - And she's also not a good interview. Wow the combination of Bristol Palin and Brooke Burke is going to be really painful for me to watch. She gets an 18 out of 23. Sidenote, they cannot stand that Sarah Palin isn't in the audience.

9:24 - Oh good and now it's Florence Henderson's turn. Um when did she become a singer?

9:25 - Did you know Corky and Mark are father and son? Fun fact.

9:26 - Mrs. Brady just dropped an F bomb. That is awesome.

9:27 - I will say that was more tolerable to watch than when Chloris Leachman was on the show because there was SOME semblance of dance steps included. Bruno tells her that sometimes she seemed confused about the sequence of steps. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's because she couldn't remember. I mean come on people, she's 76.

9:32 - Florence gets an 18 out of 30.

9:33 - Man they sure do love to throw that word "legend" around on this show don't they. Next up is music "legend" Michael Bolton and Chelsie. I'm not surprised that he's not good at that. He isn't a dancer; he sits and sings terrible ballads.

9:37 - Yeah he was not good. Which is a bummer bc Chelsea is a really good dancer and I don't want her to get voted off soon. Sometimes I care more about the pros than the celebs. Sidenote, Michael Bolton still tours??? They get a 16 out of 30.

9:39 - Oh it is the man, the myth, the legend indeed - The Situation - whose dance background includes "many nights at the club with your girlfriend". He is so terribly awesome. They only have five days to train him while everyone else had three weeks because he was sequestered away by MTV filming Jersey Shore.

9:44 - Wow that was awful. Plus Len just made a pun involving the word "situation". Tally 1 for the season. I hope he gets voted off just so we don't have to hear that 4 times every week.

9:46 - So blah blah he had no time to rehearse blah blah. Also he has a shooting star shaved in the side of his head.

9:49 - 15 out of 30. Not a good situation. Bahaha I had to go there. I will say that he's a good interview in that he takes that part pretty seriously. And I think he is taking the dancing part seriously too but sadly the fist pump is not a part of many ballroom dances.

9:53 - Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough are up. She got emotional because her friend Patrick Swayze died so I hope she does well.

9:55 - OMG Carrie Ann is crying. That was a good dance though. They got a 24 out of 30 which is the highest score of the night. We might have our new early fave folks...

10:00 - And now. The Hoff.

10:02 - Oooooh. No bueno. Which is sad, again, because his partner Kym is awesome so I don't want her to get voted off right away either.

10:05 - Five across the board for the Hoff. Brooke Burke is SO BAD. Seriously she's the worst. Seriously this exchange just happened:
Brooke: Okay guys that's a 15 out of 30. How do you feel about that?
Hoff: Well 15 less than we wanted. Hahahaha.
Kym: (nervously laughs)
silence. literally nobody speaks.
Brooke: Oh. Okay. So if you want to vote...

And that's all folks! A surprisingly legit premiere show. On paper a lot of these celebs made it look like it would be a rough season to get through, but we have some early dark horses starting to emerge. Rick Fox, Kyle, Brandy and Jennifer Grey so far look like they could get really far in the competition. Audrina looked surprisingly good as well. I'll be anxious to see what the rest of the season brings!


Video of the Day 9/16/10 - Sports! Edition

I don't normally post sports news on Livin' the Dream but this video is too cool to pass up. Shoutout to Ashley for the link. Ever wonder how when teams share a stadium or arena they can so quickly switch from one team to the other? Here's a look at Meadowlands Stadium going from a NY Giants home football game to a NY Jets home football game:

New Meadowlands Stadium Change Over Time-Lapse from Ken Friberg and Daniel Life on Vimeo.


Video of the Day 9/15/10 - Who Doesn't Love Pacman? Edition

Shoutout to Phil's Google Reader thingy for this video...


Let the Countdown Begin

There is officially one more week until the premiere of the second season of Glee.

So it's only fitting that as we count down the seven days until the greatest night of television ever, we look back at the top seven moments from the first season of Glee. These are in no particular order, but just the songs and performances that I think made season one so exceptional.

Trust me, this was not an easy task. Luckily Wikipedia has a list of every single song that was featured on the show so I could look back at what's been done but this made it even harder to choose. So hopefully this list serves as the best of the best for all of you Glee fans who read the blog.

Our first choice is the song that started at all. In the very first episode, Mr. Schuester nearly walks out on his new task as glee club director until the star quarterback takes hold of the group and injects some fresh new ideas into them. And when Mr. Schuester hears what they're capable of, he knows that some legit things can happen.

Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" became the iconic song of the first season of Glee: