Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Books I've Read So Far This Year

Hello, faithful readers. I was perusing an old post of mine that mentioned books I had read in the year 2011. Well, since I know you're all just dying to know, here's a post with the books that I've read so far in 2012:

The Girl Who Played with Fire
Under the Dome
Mile 81 (short story)
The Deadline
Ender's Game
The Road
Pandora's Star - * currently reading

I read the first two books of Stieg Larsson's Millenium Series through our local library's e-book collection. I had reserved the third, but when it became available to me, I decided I wasn't really in the mood to find out what kind of pickled fish Lisbeth Salander or Mikael Blomkvist would have on their sandwiches or which convenience store Lisbeth would frequent to pick up her Billy's Pan Pizza. So I didn't check it out. Really, it's not that bad, but there are lots of occurrences of  this minutiae; not to mention the descriptions of all of the (now out-dated) APPLE computers that various characters use. Oh, did I mention that Blomkvist sits naked in bed with his APPLE computer (I can't remember if he actually does this, but it sounds like something he'd do)? That he smokes while accessing a folder on his APPLE computer? Or that Lisbeth hacks into everything with an APPLE computer? APPLE APPLE APPLE.

Stieg, baby. We get it. They use cool computers.

Anyway, I really don't have any hate for these books. Just some things I noticed. I do really want to finish the series so I again reserved the final book. I'll check it out this time, promise!

Bossypants was quite good. I love Tina Fey.

I then went on a Stephen King tear, reading two of his more recent novels and then a short story. I liked 11/22/63 better than Under the Dome. Under the Dome was pretty darn good throughout until the end. After I finished I felt pretty blah towards the book overall. Mile 81 is a little slice of horror where nothing but bad happens. Depressing? Of course. But well-done.

The Deadline was a "novel" (a very loose categorization) I read for my project management class that I took last semester. I count it only because it wasn't a textbook and I actually read the whole thing. That said, it was not very good as a novel. Don't read it unless you're a budding project manager (which I am not).

I read Ender's Game on a recommendation from a friend. It struck me as just okay. I'm sure that will incite rage in a lot of folks, but, to me, it was just okay. I wouldn't read it again.

Now, The Road, that was an awesome book. I loved it. As I was reading it, I kept drawing comparisons between it and one of my favorite video games, Fallout 3. Well, it turns out that the developers of Fallout 3 were inspired by the book and made it "required reading" while working on the game. Very cool.

Finally, I've been working on Pandora's Star for over a month. It's a ginormous epic space book that I picked up on another friend's recommendation. It's very interesting but it also has a LOT of extraneous details and descriptions. I can appreciate that, especially when you're talking about space travel and different planets and galaxies and all of the different lifeforms and environments that one would encounter within the book's universe. But it can be tough to slog through. I've been neglecting the book for a while so I need to put in some solid reading sessions.

And, before you ask, yes! I'm planning on finishing The Lord of the Rings! I promise! Shoot, I probably only have a hundred pages or so left! It's just criminal to not finish it. So I will. Don't worry.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Tecmo Time: Follow-up


 I Finished up my current season in Tecmo Super Bowl. The "version" of the game that I'm playing has been updated but you can tell how long it's been since I last played since all of the rosters are reflective of the 2010 season. Anyway, I played through the season with the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos. These teams actually played each other twice in the season--once in the regular season and again in the AFC Championship. I briefly agonized over which team to play with, even flipping a bottle cap (too lazy to find a coin) to see which team I would use. Then I just decided to let ol' Tecmo decide for me. I let them play each other. Crazily enough (well, not that crazy, since Tom Brady was really just Steve Grogan in disguise and Kyle Orton is nonother than the hallowed John Elway), the Broncos won both times.

 Now, anyone who is familiar with Tecmo Super Bowl knows that playoff games often become much much more difficult than regular season ones. (I think we can all relate to the experiences had by a player named Arnold in this article.) Something that I have encountered, and maybe you have too, is that it seems that even the regular season games toward the end of the season tend to get more difficult. Receivers who were once wide-open are now blanketed, forcing your not-so-nimble quarterback to shamble down the sideline for a few precious yards. Holes that were once a mile wide are now mere inches and your once unstoppable running back is now stuffed after two or three yards.

 So, I was a wee bit nervous about going into the playoffs with my two teams. Denver won a hard-fought game against Seattle in a wild card match-up while New England got a bye. Oddly enough, the Denver v. Seattle game was the only really difficult game of the playoffs. Denver then beat up Houston, err, Tennessee in the Divisional round and New England handily defeated Buffalo. This set up the previously mentioned AFC Championship. Denver won and would play Philadelphia, led by Michael Vick (Randall Cunningham). I gave the birds quite a drubbing and basked in the Tecmo glory.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tecmo Time: The Game that Shall Live Forever

Faithful readers, I met with a dear friend of mine this weekend. That friend is Tecmo Super Bowl. I previously regaled you with a brief remembrance of joyful childhood holidays at my grandparents house playing this game; sitting in the basement conjuring whatever black magic spell was needed to keep the wheezy Nintendo running and pumping this 8-bit wonder through the equally-taxed television. Those are days rich with dreams and untapped potential. If you could take a perennial punching bag like the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl, you could easily become an astronaut heart surgeon cowboy.

I've had the game on my computer, accessible by an emulator, for a while. I go through spurts of playing and it's been a while since I last took a turn on it.

Well, I fired it up on Sunday and played a few games. Just like putting on an old pair of shoes or riding a bicycle or whatever you want to call it. Good times.

One of my favorite things to do is to start a season with one team and then, about halfway through the season, check to see what teams are languishing in last place; one sickly burp of the life support machine away from not making the playoffs. I'll pick one of those teams and see if I can will them through the rest of the season and on to Tecmo glory. To see that scene with your team, your coach lifted, and your players listed is one of life's grandest achievements.

Speaking of scenes, my cousins and I used to watch the intro to the game and scream out the players being showcased:

"Joe Montana!"

"Barry Sanders!"

"Lawrence Taylor!"

It was awesome. Back when there were no thoughts of brain-addling diseases debilitating our idols and not a drop of cynicism to be found in our minds. And every time I fire up that game, a little bit of that childhood magic comes back. Memories. Sweet sweet memories.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Holy Schnoodles

Yes, holy schnoodles, indeed. Fair and good readers, I am not Gurg. Gurg was something that probably should not have seen the light of day. He has traveled back to his home planet, never to return. I burned his green card and shredded his passport into his breakfast cereal. Bid him a farewell. Not a fond one, just a farewell.

Holy schnoodles, it has (again) been a long time since I've written anything. Here is what's shaking:

  • It is very very very very very very very very hot here in Lincoln. It is also very very very very very very very very very very hot everywhere else.
  • I attempted to hike up a 14,000 foot mountain (a 14er) in Colorado and I failed.
  • Baseball is still here. Good God when will the season end and football begin? For all of my moaning about not wanting our future children to play football, I cannot freaking wait for the season to start. The allure of cooler weather and a wave of CTE-tinged pigskin matches is always something to look forward to. Am I a terrible person for saying this? Yes, I probably am.
  • I am nearing the start of the last semester of my retread-college career. Let's hope that I don't see the need to go back to school again. Ever.
  • And that's about it.