Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday "Not So" Random 10ish: The "I just got back from my trip" edition.

So, the whole randomness thing has intrigued me this week. While I was driving the 14 hours down to Alabama, and the time there, and the 3 day "trip" home, I spent a lot of time listening to my MP3 player on random. Sometimes, it sort of felt funny, that, in strange ways, the random songs seemed appropriate to the time. So, I am going to take you on a trip of my trip, using appropriate songs as a guide. All these songs are songs that I have on my computer.

1. Stone by Adam Again (Perfecta)

"I'm dying to get some sleep baby, seems crazy, to me maybe... I'd like to turn to stone."

Well, my original plan was to Sunday during the day after work, pack up, nap a little while watching football, then hit the road at 9PM. That would have put me into Alabama on Monday afternoon, chance for a nap at the hotel, then over to Dave & Dawn's. Of course, that plan failed. I struggled to sleep Sunday, for multiple reasons (including a nephew who wanted to hang with Uncle Bob.) Struggling for sleep is a very frustrating experience, one I have too often. Yet, I finally slept and ended up leaving early in the AM on Monday.

2. Free Fallin' By Tom Petty
"Gonna free fall out into nothin'. Gonna leave this world for a while..."

The beginning of a long trip is always fun. I was armed with my Wawa Diet Ice Tea and ready to begin. Free Fallin' is definitely a great road song, hell, even Tom Cruise liked it."

3. Smug by Steve Taylor

"Practice that smug. Post it like a man. One part Master Limbaugh. Two parts Madame Streisand...:

When music wasn't keeping me focused on the trip down, I would scan the radio waves for some Talk Radio. Being moderate politically, I enjoy listening to both sides, so, whatever I found, was interesting. It was also full of vitriol, harsh judgmental attitudes, and misconstruing the beliefs of people that don't agree with. I was amused by the Southern local versions, one in particular who was upset about a segment on Fox news about "wedgie proof underwear." He was worried that the "protection" of kids from bullying was causing a country of wussies who can't stand up for themselves, and said that why we have so many people who are "light in the loafers, and limp in the wrists." His words people!

4. Cell Phone's Dead by Beck (The Information)

Now fix the beat Now break the rest Make a kick drum sound Like an S.O.S. Get a tow-truck Cause it's after dark And the dance floor's full But everybody's double-parked!

As you get closer to Huntsville theirs this 60 mile segment of Highway 73, that is long, dark, and draining. It's the middle of nowhere, and you get no cell Phone Coverage. By this point in the trip, I was tired and frustrated. I wanted to call my brother, let him know I was near, but couldn't. I was running out of gas, and hadn't seen a gas station for a while, and was worried about what would happen if I just ran out of gas. Eventfully, I filled up, got a caffeinated drink, and found my way to Hunstville, and eventually, Dave and Dawn's House.

5. Grace Is The Smell of Rain by Daniel Amos (Motorcycle)

These low of lows, dregs of the earth,
malcontents when the last are first
come to trouble the water

So, I arrived at Dave and Dawn's Camelot. Kissed Eli and Lucy, and tried to stay awake as I caught up with my family. Yet, it was tough, and eventually I headed out to find a hotel. I had an idea where I wanted to stay, but didn't pre-book, because I wasn't sure of the layout of the city. Eventually, the two hotels I had planned on were both full. Again, tired and frustrated, I walked to my truck, and was splashed in the face with a huge drop of rain. This was the only rain I saw in Hunstville, and it was very brief, but, it actually invigorated me, and gave me enough energy to hunt down a room, and crash. I didn't have any trouble sleeping that night.

6. Can't Take My Eyes Off of You by Daniel Amos (Songs From the Heart)

"You're Just too Good to Be True, Can't Take My Eyes Off of You."

It's a DA two-fer. The first thing you will notice about Eli is his eyes. I feel like me and Eli bonded in the way only an uncle and a 4 month old nephew can. To ensure our bond he made sure to mark me with his industrial drool. He is an engaging and wonderful child, who I could just look at all day.

7. That's Just How She Cries by Buddy and Julie Miller

"she is talking but she speaks in code like a broken heart replies cause that's just how she cries"

A Beautiful song, for a beautiful girl. Lucy was both wary and fascinated with me. We had many conversations, mostly consisting of "What's That?" And, "Mommy, Daddy, Eli, Melmo." By the second day I was there, she trusted me enough, to share some of her (partially eaten) food, and place crumbs as my had. As long as I knew my place, she was eager to impress me. Her development in just the past few months has been amazing. She is truly her own, little person.

8. The Fine Art of Friendship by King's X

"...the fine art of friendship, meaning of love, understanding, growing old..."

I am glad to not only have Dave and Dawn as family, but as friends. I have also discovered that Dawn and I would kick butt on Friends Week on Wheel of Fortune.

9. Am I Winning Somethin' by Michael Knott (Strip Cycle)

"The IRS levied my account You know they only got four bucks out Am I winnin' somethin'"

Well, I played Dawn in Scrabble, and Dave and Dawn in Monopole. Well, I had fun, at least...

10. Speedway by Counting Crows (This Desert Life)

"I’m thinkin’ about leaving tomorrow I’m thinkin’ about being on my own Think I been wasting my time"

Sadly, it's time to leave. So, Dawn likes this song, and it was tough leaving, so I thought I would include this.

11. Lookout Mountain by Drive-By Truckers (The Dirty South)

*Note: While a great song, I didn't include lyrics, because, well, the song is about suicide, and it didn't really apply.

Over the next few days, I was taking some side trips around the area. On Wednesday, I stopped at a few book stores, went to the Tennessee River, and then headed to Lookout Mountain . I didn't get to go up to the top and view the 7 States you can see from the top, but I looked around the visitor center, and some of the historic markers.

12. Elevation by U2 (All That You Can't Leave Behind)

"High, higher than the sun You shoot me from a gun I need you to elevate me here"

On Thursday, I drove the Cherohala Skyway, which takes you a mile high into the air, through the mountains of Tennessee and North Caroline. The views were amazing and the ride fun. The eastern, North Carolina side was a 9% decline, that allowed you to just put the truck in neutral and coast down long sections. It was an excellent experience.

Here's a picture I snapped with my cell phone of Huckleberry Knob. I just liked the name of it. Plus, it was exactly 1 mile in elevation.

13. 72 (This Highway's Mean) By Drive By Truckers (Southern Rock Opera)

"Don't know why they even bother putting this highway on the map Everybody that's ever been on it knows exactly where they're at..."

Well, it wasn't Route 72, but I took Route 129 from Robbinsville, North Carolina to Knoxville, TN. Well, let me tell you, it was easily the trickiest, curviest road I have ever experienced. Hairpin turn, after relentless hairpin turn. Made famous by bikers, the stretch is called The Tail of the Dragon, and you can find videos on You Tube of bikers driving it. By the end of the 30 mile stretch I felt like I was at the end of a boxing match. And it was a draw.

14. Another Song About the Rain by Cracker (Cracker)

"Another song about the rain Coming down it burns through me"

Today, I headed out from the Red Roof Inn in Wytheville, Virgina, on Route 81, homeward bound. About a 8 hour drive awaited me, much of it in the rain. It was a easy ride, with little traffic. I arrived home, and took my dog out for a walk. It's nice to be home.

Honorable Mention

"I Wish I Was A Girl" by Counting Crows (This Desert Life)

While I was at a Pilot Travel Stop, I assisted a middle aged African American man who was looking for condiments for his hot dog. This man seemed like a normal person, except for the fact he was wearing a skirt. He didn't seem like a cross dresser in any way, but, he had on a long denim skirt. It was an odd moment. The weirdest thing, was I felt like I have seen him before... and his skirt.

Monday, November 05, 2007

With a Banjo On My Knee

Well, I'm heading out on Vacation. Will be out until Friday.

I am excited to be seeing my brother, Sister in Law, and little Lucy and Eli soon.

I'm also taking Fatal Revenant with me as reading material. Nothing better than an Epic Fanatsy to take on a road trip.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Friday Random 10 (10/2/07): The Saturday Version

OK, made this on Friday, but never posted it. Not many bells and whistles but some good songs.

1. Your the Only One by King's X (Black Like Sunday)

2. Egg Man by Beastie Boys (Paul's Boutique)

3. The Humid Press of Day by Camper Van Beethoven (Key Lime Pie)

4. Hallelujah by Cracker (Gentleman's Blues)

5. Grave by Bill Mallonee (Fetal Position)

6. All Things in Time by Toad the Wet Sprocket (Coil)

7. You Don't Know How it Feels by Tom Petty (Wildflowers)

8. Raining in Baltimore by Counting Crows (Autumn and Everything After)

9. You Satisfy by The Lost Dogs (Scenic Routes)

10. What Love Is by Taylor Sorenson (The Overflow)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Today was truly a day of horrors!

I had a Doctor's Appointment.... Boo!

I had to meet with my boss, and other work related people... *shivers*

Finally, I stayed at work for the Halloween Party in the unit (even though I wasn't technically working.)

I did dress up my good friend for Halloween!

Do not Anger Darth Jimmy!

Hope everyone else had a scary time!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Book Review: Axis By Robert Charles Wilson

Book Review: Axis by Robert Charles Wilson
Genre: Science Fiction
Bob's Thoughts "The sequel to Spin is another beautiful high concept Science fiction tale."
Grade: B+
New Release
100 Books 100 Posts (#10)

Since I fear doing justice with a synopsis of this book, check out one of these:
Science Fiction Book Review
Robert Charles Wilson Home Page

Axis is the sequel to the 2006 Hugo award winning science fiction novel Spin. What I remember about Spin, is it being a BIG novel. Not in page counts or size, but in feel. It was full of big ideas. Big questions of morality, and science and ethics. Packing such themes in his story, you would expect the characters to become cardboard one dimensional passengers. Yet, despite the bigness of the story, Wilson tempered that bigness with wonderful look at the relationship between three friends, who aren't just along for the ride but are helping to influence events. That is where Spin really succeeded. The people guiding you through the tale, despite their flaws, were people you could understand.

With Axis, Wilson tries the same formula. Yet, while the ideas are still big, their is a briskness to the tale. The main characters aren't huge minds, big players on the scene, but normal people, stuck in a strange event. Here Wilson expands the story, taking it beyond what we understood in the first book, yet, without a "been there done that" feel.

While Axis may not meet the level of the brilliant first book Spin. It definitely keeps giving readers what they are looking for. Compelling characters, and complex, yet comprehensible science fiction events.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Book Review: Deus Irae by Phillip K. Dick and Roger Zelazney

Deus Irae by Phillip K. Dick and Roger Zelazney
Genre: Post Apocalyptic Science Fiction
Bob's Thoughts "A Strange book full of interesting ideas and distracting subplots."
Grade: C
Available in Local Bookstores or Libraries.
100 Books 100 Posts (#9)

This book is like one of them superbands. You know the ones, where key members of different bands form a band together. Sometimes, this works out swimmingly, and other times there are moments of greatest bogged done in a whole lot of mess. Unfortunately, for these two greats of science fiction this book is more firmly in the latter category.

Dick's prose dominates this novel, and in the characters you can see a lot of similarities between Tibor, the protagonist here, and Hoppy, the protagonist in Dick's post Nuclear "Dr. Bloodmoney." Both are surly limbless men who rely heavily on technological "contraptions" to live day to day.

I think the book has a solid foundation. The idea of a new religion springing out of the fallen post apocalyptic society that basis it's self on the idea that god is not benevolent. The idea of a "Deus Irae" or "God of Wrath" being humanized as the designer of the Weapons of Mass Destruction that caused the destruction of the world was intriguing, yet, the have developed subplots of mutants and strange machines seemed like ridiculous ideas, just thrown in to flavor the overall pot, but offering little to give the book substance.

Overall, I found the book fascinating of an "idea" level, but lacking on the execution side.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Book Review: The Genocides by Thomas M. Disch

The Genocides by Thomas M. Disch
Genre: Post Apocalyptic Science Fiction
Bob's Thoughts: "A grim tale of humanity after being decimated by giant trees. Better than it sounds."
Grade: B-
Currently Out of Print
100 Books 100 Posts (#8)

There are hundreds of books dealing about the end of the world as we know it, and there are a multitudes of causes. Alien Lizards, killer plagues, nuclear war, environmental collapse, war, pestilence, God, etc. etc etc. Well, Thomas M. Disch add a new one, really big trees. Yes, of course, plants have been done before. Yet, while Wyndham's classic Triffids were man eating mobile plants, Disch's force of the apocalypse are stationary, albeit alien tree's.

These trees, which spout up much quicker than terrestrial trees, eventually make their way to nearly 600 feet high. Along the way, they destroy all the terrestrial plant life, take up all the usable land, and suck the water dry from the earth. That is bad enough, causing food shortages, leading to the starvation of most of humanity. The few that Survive, live off the tree's themselves.

Yet, while the tree's and their nefarious masters serve as the background evil to the tale, the true tale of the story is the brutal survivors. Dish takes us into a community that does what it needs to survive, keeping their standards intact. This includes the slaughter of outsiders. Disch paints a grim picture of the remaining humanity, full of revenge, insanity, and lust. The book is uneven at times, and full of characters that are disturbing, whether good or bad.

All in all, it's a fascinating tale of moral ambiguity and rationalization in a decimated world, that is worth a look. It is also a different sort of Post Apocalyptic tale, which should please many fans of the genre looking for a different yet not surreal version of the end.