07/05/11

Book Report: The Book of Deacon

I found a site that had a bunch of links to free Kindle books, and since I now have a Kindle, I thought I'd give a few a try. Not expecting Tolkien or anything like that, but just something new to read. One of the ones I picked out was The Book of Deacon by Joseph Lallo. Keep in mind this will be full of spoilers, but I do my best not to give too much out.

It starts off well enough, though the writing is a bit rushed at times. Two nations that have been at war for so long now that they no longer remember why, just that they have to fight. A girl (our plucky main) doesn't like the war and doesn't like the fighting, which makes her an outcast. So, she moves around a lot. Early on, she stumbles onto a sword. Probably a magical one since it actually marks her, but she doesn't wield it or use it. She tries to sell it because she needs money for supplies. Not your standard approach, but hey, it actually makes sense, especially since she's not a fighter and I get the impression she doesn't know how to use a sword.

When she gets to a town that she might could sell it, things start to get a little...skewed. She gets her purse stolen (no surprise, really) but a friendly stranger buys her dinner and pays for her room. He then comes up later to talk with her. And yes, only talk, nothing more. She trusts him almost immediately and ends up showing him the sword. At this point I'm having serious doubts about her survival skills and her intelligence, but keep going to see what happens. During the course of the conversation, she discovers that he's some mutant human that basically has caused him to be born a furry, but hey, talking animal! Let’s get that cliche out of the way right now!

She ends up getting kidnapped, the sword taken from her, the army (the ones that hired the kidnapper) refuse to pay him the amount, so he kills them all and lets her 'escape', and she flees south. All because she found the sword. Apparently, this is a Special Sword, for no reason that we're given. Anyways, as she's fleeing south, she manages to get captured again, this time by the actual army, not an assassin working for them. She is eventually rescued by a rebel group that wants to end the war, and is immediately invited to join said group, which is in awe of her. Why? Because she's the one that found the Sword! Never mind that she can't fight, has basically no skills that will be useful to them, could possibly be a plant by the army, and doesn't even have the sword anymore. Doesn't matter, she found the fucking Sword, ya’ll!

At this point it occurred to me that I'm reading a Mary Sue story. An honest-to-God Mary Sue book that, while self-published, was available from Amazon. You know that feeling that you get when you're watching a movie that has a lot of cheesy pseudo-science and it gets to the point where your brain just says 'fuck it!' and turns itself off to save energy? And afterwards, you enjoy the movie a lot more? Yeah, kinda like that for the rest of the book. I just had to keep reading to find out how many cliches the author could wedge in.

And boy does he wedge them in! Since she has no useful skills and the rebel group could use a healer, she volunteers to learn. Ok, so that makes sense, and hey! she'll be useful now. On the way to her teacher's place, she befriends a baby dragon. Ookay...well, it's more a pet than anything else, so whatever. Her teacher is a grumpy white mage who kinda resents have to teach someone, but because he had agreed to work with the rebels (apparently, the army doesn't like mages of any kind unless they work for the army, which he doesn't want to do), he agrees to teach her. A few months later, they find out that the army is on her trail, so she bravely decides to lead them away from her teacher. Who pronounces her qualified to be a white mage. What...what?? She's a qualified (not master, just all she needs now is practice) mage, ready to go out in the world? After only a few months? Wait, right, Mary Sue, she's awesome and a prodigy so yeah. Shut up, brain.

Anyways, she eventually runs into her furry friend again, who takes her to this hidden village that is safe from the war because once you get into the valley, hardly anyone manages to get back out. Not that they want to because that would mean leaving a repository of learning like none the world has ever seen. All the magic masters start coming by and demanding to teach her, even though they don't know how capable she is yet, and so she embarks on a quest to learn all the magic schools. Which she does, in just a little over a month. *facepalm*

You get the idea. Just about everything she does, she ends up being good at. Really, REALLY good. And just about everyone she meets ends up liking her, usually right away. Oh, and the commander that's after her is related to her. And her dragon friend is intelligent, she just needs to grow up. And her furry friend is one of the Chosen whatevers, but she has to be the one to convince him of it. So, yeah, it just kinda stumbles on a rock about a third of the way through, and basically just rolls down a hill the rest of the way. What's sad is that the storyline has potential. I could see this becoming a good, epic story. But the rushed pace of the writing, the complete Mary Sue-ness of the main character, and the wedging in of as many fantasy cliches as possible just make this a laughable silly story. It was a free Kindle book, so I don't feel cheated. And in all honesty, I don't feel like my time was wasted because it gave me something silly to read on lunch breaks. Still, it didn’t convince me to pay for the rest, even if I am curious about what the sword is. I can make up something for that, and I think I’d enjoy my explanation better.
07/05/11 11:59, by , Categories: dubird.net, Book Reports , Tags: , , , ,
06/30/11

Growing up?

So, we've all been told at least once to 'act our age.' Ok, maybe not all of us, but still, I've gotten that many times. My dad didn't like us watching Saturday morning cartoons by the time I was out of middle school because he thought we were too old for that. (Though, in hindsight, it could be because a lot of what came on sucked and I just didn't have anything for comparison at the time. But I'm sticking with the age thing.)

But just because we've joined the 'adult' world, does that mean we have to grow up? Do we really have to give up our toys, stop watching our favorite shows and playing our favorite games because they're not considered grown-up?

Hell no! Any age that takes away your right to stack things for fun is not an age I want to be.

But for those out there that are saying Yes, then why? Why does reaching a magical age determine we have to stop doing things we enjoy? There are some things we grow out of, yes. Our tastes change as we get older and discover new things and new ways to amuse ourselves. But growing up shouldn't mean abandoning everything you enjoyed when you were younger. I shouldn't have to give up playing video games or watching cartoons because I graduated college and got a real life job.

I'm not saying we should hang on to everything from childhood. Childhood grudges, fear of old bullies and sibling rivalries should be left in the past. That kind of baggage can screw you up in your adult life, so if you need help dealing with them, get it. But if you still enjoy building things with Legos, go for it! If you can actually find a cartoon that comes on Saturday morning that is worth watching, watch it! Don't wait to have kids to rediscover playing and using your imagination. Keep it fresh by playing with something you enjoy, and don’t be afraid to imagine. The future is built on imagination, which we learn and keep active by playing. That's not to say you should spend all your time watching cartoons. Adult world brings adult responsibilities, which suck, but to be able to afford the cool toys, you gotta work for it. But once the job is done and you've got free time, as long as you're not doing anything illegal, do whatever makes you happy.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to build a couch fort. They'll have to pry these Tinker Toys from my cold, dead hands!
06/30/11 11:59, by , Categories: dubird.net , Tags: , ,
06/23/11

Guy's Guide to Girl's Magazines

I'm not really a magazine reader myself, but I do page through Yahoo's Shine when I'm bored at work sometimes. It's a site that pulls various articles from multiple magazines online and puts them all in one place. Some are actually pretty good, and some are just so crazy they make me laugh. And I've noticed that the crazy ones almost always come from the same magazines. It got me thinking about what kind of person actually buys these magazines and I realized that you could tell a lot about a girl by what magazines she subscribes to. So, for all you guys out there, here's some insights into your girl based on a few magazine choices.

1. Martha Stewart Living: Your girl likes crafting things, possibly to the point of doing some kind of crafty things herself. Upside: Should be easy to find out what she likes for gifts. Downside: You will find yourself being dragged into DIY projects. Tip: Get a toolbox. And learn how to use a hot glue gun.

2. Wedding magazines: If your girl is in a profession like baking or designing, wedding magazines are good for inspiration. If they're not for her job, chances are that yes, she is looking to settle down. Upside: She's probably got the whole wedding planned out and all you'll need to do is show up in a tux. Downside: It may cost both arms, a leg, and a kidney. Tip: Make sure you plan a romantic proposal.

3. Glamour or Marie Claire: Your girl puts forth a lot of effort to look good. There are probably weekly salon visits, lots of things on her bathroom counter, and a very large closet. Upside: You will probably be wowed every date night because she'll make a serious effort to be sexy. Downside: Said effort takes a very long time. Tip: Bring a book.

4. In Touch Weekly: Your girl loves celebrities and loves gossiping about them. It's ok if you don't know anything about Brad and Angela, she will tell you all about it. In detail. Upside: When these conversations start, you don't have to contribute much. She'll fill in the blanks. Downside: Most of it will be things you don't want to know. Tip: Learn her favorite celebrity couple. You could care less about them, but knowing a few things about them will at least allow you to look like you're paying attention.

5. Shape: Your girl is either into exercise or wants to lose weight. Either way, she's probably got a gym membership or walks a lot. Upside: She'll be more likely to join in physical activities with you. Downside: You will get the 'Do I look fat in this?' question a lot. Tip: The answer is always 'No, you look hot!'

6. Cooking Light or Southern Living: Not much question there, your girl likes to cook. Upside: You will save money and get to eat new things. Downside: Some of those new things are experiments and they won't taste good. Tip: Learn to cook so you can cook with her.

7. Cosmopolitan Your girl thinks she knows all about sex and guys. She doesn't. She may also randomly accuse you of cheating, which can lead to injury. Yours. Upside: She's more likely to want to try new things in the bedroom. Downside: A lot of those things could land you in the emergency room. Tip: Run.
06/23/11 11:58, by , Categories: dubird.net , Tags: , ,
06/15/11

The Force will be with you....for the low price of $99.95!

Finished Force Unleashed 2 last night, and yeah, I was disappointed in it being as short as it was. I needed more lightening deaths, dammit! Still, it was fun and as always, the little voice of my imagination started jabbering at me.

Actually, let me clarify that. I have an active imagination. Active to the point that when I really enjoy a book or show, it comes up with random 'what if' scenarios for me. As in, what if I personally ended up in that situation or place. It's silly but harmless, and tends to keep me entertained on the commute to work. Anything Star Wars makes me wonder what kind of Jedi I would be. The answer? A really crappy one.

Forget about the fact that, while I'm not fat, I'm not really in good shape and even after I manage to bitch-slap my lungs into working right, I'll never be athletic. Or coordinated. Or graceful. Let's face it, I'm lucky I don't stumble down the hallway more often than I do. But lets just assume that I'm in good enough physical shape to be able to take on the challenge of becoming a Jedi. I'd be the kind of person that would throw myself into learning how to use a lightsaber, too. Not because it's elegant or 'civilized' (really, Obi-wan? You're going to go with that?). No, it's because slicing down my enemies with a sword made of pure light is fucking BAD ASS! I'd be quoting more Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis than a internet meme. But that's not the reason.

I just couldn't resist being a smartass for very long.

Seriously. While playing FU2, I kept talking to the game because they characters would just have weird lines that I simply had to bitch at. Plus Starkiller must be going through a second puberty or something, as much as his voice breaks, which led to even more comments. It's probably a good thing I was the only one in the house. But it's not just mouthing off to the game that I'm playing. Jedi just seem to have a giant stick up their asses all the time, and I just couldn't resist the urge to be a sarcastic bitch for too long. Take some random Star Wars quotes:

Darth Vader: Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral. I want that ship, not excuses.
D: You'll want that ship a lot less if we get hit by a fucking asteroid.

Yoda: You must unlearn what you have learned.
D: What, and waste 6 years of college? I still have student loans to pay off!

Obi-Wan: You can't win, but there are alternatives to fighting.
D: I don't think they'll be up for a rousing game of Uno.

Yeah, I know, not exactly award winning comebacks. But you get my drift. After all, what's the point of being a powerful protector of the galaxy and all if you can't have fun while doing it?
06/15/11 11:57, by , Categories: dubird.net , Tags: , , , , ,
06/01/11

Dinner

FSpoon comes in every night and asks what I want to do for dinner. Sometimes, one of us has a craving or we decided earlier to try this particular restaurant or one of us wants the other to make a special dish. But most of the time, we're both clueless. This conversation then quickly becomes derailed because we're both trying to be considerate and really don't know what we want.

FS: So, what do you want to do for dinner?
ME: I dunno. What sounds good?
FS: I dunno. Had sushi for lunch, so not really up for that.
ME: Ok, but what sounds good?
FS: What sounds good to you?
ME: Nothing, really, but I should eat something.
FS: Yes, you should. So what do you want to eat?
ME: I don't know, I'll eat anything!
FS: So will I, what are you hungry for??
ME: Food!

It only spirals down from there. The thing is, I love steak. But since I moved, there's no longer a Texas Roadhouse near our house, and the other steak places nearby are only so-so, so I don't like saying 'Steak!' every time because I know he likes more variety. I could totally do Roadhouse every night because I fucking love their steaks, but I don't like being selfish, so I don't suggest it too often. So, inevitably, the conversation steers in another direction.

FS: Do you want to go to the store and we'll cook something tonight?

Our kitchen is covered in dirty dishes because it's my turn to load the dishwasher and I've been sick. And lazy. And I don't want to clean the kitchen, cook, and clean it again. But cooking at home saves money, so we really should be responsible adults, right?

ME: We could. What do you want to cook?
FS: I dunno. What sounds good?
ME: I dunno, what do we have in the fridge?
FS: Not much, but we could hit the grocery store.
ME: So, what do you want to get at the store?
FS: I dunno, what sounds good?

At this point, we're just going in circles, like those vultures from Jungle Book. We could (and sometimes do) pull a random recipe out and use that, but most of the time we just go back and forth until one of us names a restaurant. The other will say "Sounds good!" and we go eat. We seem to be making a habit of this inefficiency, caused by each of us trying to be considerate. But we do get eventually get food, and we inevitably enjoy it, despite the thirty minutes of going back and forth. Then we get home.
ME: So, what do you want to watch tonight?
FS: I dunno, what sounds good?


*sigh*
06/01/11 11:55, by , Categories: dubird.net , Tags: , ,