Category Archives: movie reviews

Books of 2012

True-Blood

While I didn’t make my goal of reading 50 books in 2012, I did get through a good portion, 36.  By the numbers:

Here is a brief review of some of the winners and losers:

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is part of a series call The Last Survivors.  The series consists of 3 books so far.  Book 4, The Shade of the Moon, is expected September 3rd, 2013.  This was a book on a subject that has interested me for some time, the apocalypse.  This novel is written from a teenage girl’s point of view.  The story starts before an apocalyptic event occurs, and continues, with most of the novel occurring during the worst of things.  A good book from a child ’s view.  Some things are more important to a child than an adult so it was interesting to see things from that perspective.  While I enjoyed the book, especially the day-to-day dealing with the apocalypse stuff, it did drag on a little.  I listened to the unabridged audio of this book.  The reader was very good.  All in all this book is a solid 3-star.

Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith.  This book was one that I won because of my membership in The History Book Club on goodreads.  Great book. I wasn’t really in to the royal family before, but now I have had my interest peaked. This is a great starting book for anyone wanting to know more about the royal family.  This is a history book, so if you think you will be bored reading it and you have no interest in the royal family.  Chances are you will not like this book.  Skip it and read something fun.  I have an interest in the royal family and history so I gave this book 4-star.

The Iliad by Homer.  This is on my list because I want to read more books considered to be classics by many of the ‘must read’ list floating about the Internet.  I listened to this book.  The reader was okay.  Can’t rate this any higher until I have time to read the cliff notes and figure it out more. I caught the general idea, but geez!  It was a good read, but a difficult one.  I gave it 2-star.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.  A very good book about Steve Jobs.  I read this on a kindle.  I found that while Steve was a marketing visionary he was not a very nice person.  If you have ever wanted to know more about Steve Jobs, read this book first.  This is a must read for apple fans!  4-star

Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris.  This is book #4 in the Sookie Stackhouse series.  I started reading this series when I first saw an episode of True Blood.  I liked the series so I started to read the books.  They are a fun read.  You defiantly don’t get much intellectual stimulation from these books, but they are a fun read to add to your line up of biographies and other non-fiction.  This was the first in the series I ‘read’ instead of listening to.  I read it on a kindle.  I enjoyed it more than the others. Great series. I’m looking forward to the next book. 4-star

The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement by David Brooks.  I listened to the unabridged audio of this book.  Pretty good. A lot like Gladwell’s books. He even quotes Gladwell once or twice.  4-star

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris.  This is book #5 in the series.  Back to the audio book for this series again.  I enjoyed this one as much as the last.  4-star

Beowulf by Unknown.  Another attempt to read the classics.  I listened to this book and enjoyed it more than The Iliad, probably because I understood more of what was going on.  3-star for this classic.

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.  I have always wanted to read Kipling.  Such a famous name and associated to many stories we all know, but few of us have read.  This clearly falls into my classics list.   I listened to a good reading of this novel. This is of course a children’s novel and must be read that way.  Even still it is a great story and I liked it.  4-star

The Witches by Roald Dahl.  A fun quick read.  I had read this before when I was much younger and I also remember the 1990 movie of the same name.  Great book, but beware, it may be too scary for some children.  My little girl Samantha, age 4, saw the cover (I didn’t read it to her) and said it was too scary.  I had to hide the book after that for fear I would give her nightmares.  4-star

The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan.  This is book #3 in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.  I listened to the unabridged version of this book and enjoyed it as much if not more than the other books in the series.  It was a fun quick read.  4-star

Zone One by Colson Whitehead.  I listened to this apocalyptic novel unabridged.  While I liked the idea, I didn’t enjoy the execution as much.  I was disappointed that this ended when it did. I also did not like all the switching back and forth from one timeline to another. Would have been better if it just covered the timeline it ended on. 3-star

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez.  While many would agree that this book is a classic, I have to say that I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted to.  I still have the link to the list this book was on:  http://www.divinecaroline.com/49804/102633-30-books-everyone-read-30

I think this got better towards the end. It was a long read. Many characters many generations of the same family. There was a lot to keep track of throughout the story. Some themes and ideas weaved in and out of the story and that was a nice surprise. Great prose. Read out loud it sounds great!  It took me a very long time to read.  I kept interrupting it with other reads that were more fun to read.  3-star

Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris.  The sixth book in this series.  Not as good as the last two.  I again listened to the audio of this book.  3-star

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling.  My second Kipling novel of the year.  While this was enjoyable I think I liked The Jungle Book better.  3-star

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  This one was a recommendation from my wife, who after watching the TED talk wanted to read the book.  She ordered it on Amazon and I couldn’t wait for her to finish her copy and read it on my kindle while she was reading the print copy.  It was an excellent read for everyone, especially those of us that are introverts. 5-star, the highest rating of the year thus far.

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli.  I’m not a big graphic novel fan but I did enjoy this book.  I probably picked it up because I had just been to Comic-Con in San Diego that month.  It was a fun read. 4-star

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl.  Another Dahl book and movie.  It was okay only.  Definitely for children.  I listened to this book and gave it 3-star.

colin_powell_book_cover

It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell.  My father-in-law shared a Parade article with me that was an excerpt from this book and that had me hooked.  I found the book on audio and loved listening to it.  Excellent leadership book, filled with entertaining stories and great advice. Listening to an unabridged version read by the author was a huge plus! 5-star, the second perfect score for 2012.

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris.  Another Sookie Stackhouse novel that I listened to the audio of.  It is number seven in the series.  This one is slow to begin, but ended so well that it still gets 4-star.

Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner.  This book was another that I won through the History Book Club on goodreads.  I didn’t have high hopes for this book, I thought it would be dry based on its topic and thickness. However, I really like how the book was laid out, covering an era at a time and what was going on in the nation and how the FBI reacted to it. It made the book very easy to follow and a nice read. While I was not very excited about the story, it was not the first book I picked up when I had time to read, it was well written. It did have some fairly excited parts for me like when discussing spies especially. I wish there would have been more discussed about spies as that is very interesting to me. However, I realize that this would have left the book astray of its intended topic.

I learned a lot about the history of the FBI so the book succeeded in its goal. I had no idea that Hoover was such a large part of the agency. For the first 2/3 of the book I felt like I was reading his biography.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the FBI. I now feel I have a better understanding of one of our nations super secret agencies. 3-star

Flight-of-the-Intruder

Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts.  I really enjoyed this first book in the Jake Grafton series and I hope to read more of them.  I listened to this book and thought it was read very well.  I immediately went out and watched the movie version as well. 5-star, 3rd perfect score of the year.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.  I listened to this classic.  It a bunch of stories written as poems. Some of the stories are adult in nature. Its written a very long time ago so you have to concentrate on the language to understand it. It is a good book to listen to. It was a little too old for me to enjoy. I did like some of the naughty bits as they were entertaining especially the language used! It was one of only two books I’ve read that used the word ‘defenestration’. The other was a history book speaking of the Defenestrations of Prague.  2-star

The Bible (New Testament KJV) by Anaymous.  While anyone who knows me knows I’m not very religious, this book definitely falls in the classics category, as the most read book in the world.  So of course I listened to this huge work read by non-other than James Earl Jones, which made it more enjoyable, however it was still very long and hard to get through, so it earns only 2-star.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.  The best of both worlds, this book falls into the classics category but also science fiction.  While I love the idea, I didn’t love the story in this book.  I’m glad that I listened to this book though, otherwise I may not have finished it. 3-star

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan.  After a bit of a dreary story from The Time Machine, it was time for a fun read.  However, I was a little let down by this audio book.  This is the fourth book in the series and the story reads the almost the same as the previous 3.  Every time I finish one I’m not sure if I will read the next book in the series. 3-star

charlottes web

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.  I had already read this book before, but I wanted to read it to my four-year-old Samantha.  While her attention wavered over the 3 weeks that we read the book (a chapter a night every other day, mommy reads on the alternating nights to Samantha) mine did not, I fell in love this wonderful work all over again.  After we finished reading the book we watched the 2006 movie together.  I think I prefer the original 1973 animated movie better, but I had trouble finding that at the library. 5-star

The Athena Project by Brad Thor.  I read this via my kindle and enjoyed the story.  It was a good fun read.  This is supposed to be the first in a series of Athena books, however, it was originally published in 2010 and I can’t find any mention of a second book in the series. 4-star

Surak’s Soul by J.M. Dillard.  Part of the Star Trek: Enterprise series, book #5.  This was a guilty pleasure.  The book had a very simple plot and you have the book figured out about a ¼ into it and there is really now need to read the rest, nonetheless, I did enjoy reading it immensely.  I think I enjoyed reading the book since the television series needed so quickly with only 4 seasons.  I liked the characters in this last television star trek series, so I really enjoyed that their stories can continue in print form, or for this book at least, in pixel form and I read this book on a kindle.  I have already obtained the second book, By The Book, in the series.  I’m skipping the first since it is just a novelization of one of the episodes of the television series.  3-star

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Movie Review: Super 8

This was a great movie. But that has already been said. After all, Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie an 82%, which if you know Rotten Tomatoes is a very good score. It is a Sci-Fi movie, but at the same time there are elements of Thriller and Suspense flick in it. Nothing to scary, but I did jump a few times. Definitely not okay for little kids. Too scary, but your older teens will be okay. It marked as a Sci Fi flick on Rotten Tomatoes, but on IMDB it is marked as a Thriller too. It reminded me of E.T., The Goonies and Flight of the Navigator. Those type of movies in the early 80’s when the kids in movies ran towards adventure and anything scary instead away from it. The movie takes place in 1979, so that helps with the whole early 80’s feeling. But the kids are brave and cool. They are smart and funny. These kids are great actors and that sold the movie for me. This is a fun watch and I highly recommend it.

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Book and Movie Review: Frankenstein

Frankenstein

This year as part of my read 100 books initiative, I finally got the time to read Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein. The book was nothing like what I have heard about Frankenstein before. For example, the monster as he is called throughout the book is not called Frankenstein. That is the name of the doctor that creates the monster. It was an interesting book, but not really fascinating. I think that has more to do with the year in which it was written and less to do with the quality of the writing.

Wanting to do a full circle on this subject I also watched the movie Frankenstein. The movie is very short, only 1 hour and 10 minutes. Even given the shortness of the movie it still seems long as the story drags on and you keep waiting for something to happen. For those who don’t know this movie has almost nothing to do with the book. The only similarities are there is a monster and he does kill someone. That is where the similarities end. I would recommend the book, but I can’t recommend the movie, it was just terrible, even if it is a classic.

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February 2010

Events

February started out with my discovery of ReinaDelCid on youtube. She’s great. Check out this video below:

I started posting every week day to historyonair.com, my podcast website, that is quickly becoming a history blog and not a podcast, because I simply cannot find the time to podcast anymore. I’ll keep trying though. On February 3rd we had a Chinese New Year celebration at the office, I took some video of that.

On Feb. 6 we watched some of the Super Bowl just like the rest of the nation. I’ve had lots of fun in my Social Media classes in February I posted some of the work I did for the class on this blog. History on Air also got a Fan page on Facebook this month. This month I started to use Gowalla instead of Foursquare. Why? I like the icons and badges better on Gowalla.

On February 22nd, my office bought In and Out for all the employees. That was really cool.

Movies

The Social Network 3 out of 5 stars, better than I thought it would be. Worth watching.

The A-Team – 4 out of 5 stars, again, unexpectedly good. Tried to stay true to the old tv show, but not such a great job at that.

Books

Storytelling: Branding in Practice – 4 out of 5 stars. I read this for my social media classes. Lots of case studies. All pretty interesting. Good read.

Creative Composition: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques – 3 out of 5 stars. Pretty good, nice photos not a real beginner book, but still good.

The Story of Classical Music – 5 out of 5 stars. This was an excellent audio book. Lots of examples and lots of information. Even some great history of the composers.

Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment (New Rules Social Media Series) – 3 out of 5 stars. Not as impressive as the other social media books I have read. This book culls together everything else that has already been said and summarizes it. Nothing mind blowing here. Let down.

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think – 3 out of 5 stars. This was close to 4 stars. Lots of case studies, good information. Very interesting. Worth reading.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – 2 out of 5 stars. Another one of the spin off books from the Harry Potter series. This just was not all that interesting. Let down.

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2) – 4 out of 5 stars. Another in the Percy Jackson series. Still interesting. I’m still caught up in this series. Well written and keeps you reading!

ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income – 5 out of 5 stars. Great book. Tons of good information. Perfect for anyone who wants to take their blog to the next level.

Blogging For Dummies – 2 out of 5 stars. Boring. Nothing new and nothing worth saying.

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January 2011

Events

To being the month, I watched parts of the NHL Winter Classic. The next day we left Scottsdale and began the 5 hour drive home. Right after we got home it was back to work and the normal grind. That also meant that we had to do something about our bathtub.

In December, we noticed that there was a hairline fracture beginning. Now that our vacation was over it was time to start looking at our options. We hit all the usual places and began to look at tile and tubs. Late in the month, Samantha, Michelle and I all stayed at my parent’s house in Carlsbad for a week and one day as we waited for the work on our new bathroom to be completed. Each day I or Michelle would drive up to Irvine and watch the workers progress through the project. We had the old tub and shower enclosure removed. When they had that out they put in the new tub and then put tile up the walls. We are really enjoying our new shower and bath.

Quick note on that image of the bathroom, before and after.  I created it using a free online tool called Aviary Phoenix.  Next time you need Photoshop tools, but don’t have access to Photoshop try Aviary, it is free.

I challenged myself to read 60 books this year. Last year my goal was 50, I read 54 books. It’s time to improve on that number and hopefully, I can exceed my goal again.

My Starbucks addiction continues. The Barista at our local Starbucks knows my order before I open my mouth and my Gold card came this month as well.

At work, things are getting exciting. On the 11th our executive team announced that we will begin selling the iPhone in February. Very cool and about time!

I started two social media classes this month. These are my last two classes in the certificate program in Social Media at UCI. I’m taking Social Media Measurement and Evaluation and Transmedia Marketing Through Storytelling. I am enjoying both very much.

Lastly, here is my favorite picture of Samantha from this month.

Celebrations

1 – New Years Day
11 – Eric Lesile’s Birthday
13 – Keith Parrish’s Birthday
16 – Philip Higson’s Birthday
17 – Martin Luther King Day
22 – Anniversary of Michelle and my first kiss

Books

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss – 2 stars, I wanted to like this book. I really did, but it was just to stale.

Unsolved Mysteries of History: An Eye-Opening Investigation Into the Most Baffling Events of All Time by Paul Aron – 2 stars, this book could not deliver on its promises. It was not eye-opening. It is a rehash of a bunch of histories mysteries that aren’t even very fascinating. Much better mysteries out there to explore. It wasn’t a total waste of time though. I had not heard of all the events it covered, but can’t say I’m better off for reading it.

My Antonia by Willa Cather – 3 stars, an interesting story of foreign families that come to live on the plains of Nebraska. This was a book from my classics list that I’m trying to work through. This book is not for everyone, but if you enjoy you might like this.

Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire by David DeKok – 3 stars, this book was actually really good for what it was. It was just so much information that it was a little overwhelming. This is the author’s second book on the subject. I thought it was a very good story of the town that has a mine burning under it, for almost 50 years now! The fire still burns too! I have a more detailed post on this on the historyonair website.

Spook Country by William Gibson – 2 stars, a good story, but somehow the presentation just wasn’t there for me. The story didn’t seem to flow. There was a lot of movement between the character’s stories and they didn’t flow.

The Second Short Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella by Stepenie Meyer – 4 stars, Excellent. Very quick, but that didn’t lessen the book. Great to get some more Twilight in.

Star Wars, Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back by George Lucas – 5 stars, this was an audio presentation. Excellent! Had some of the original cast’s voices! Will listen to this again!

Empowered by Josh Bernoff – 4 stars, Read this for a class I’m taking on social media at UCI. Great book. Answered most of the questions that Groundswell, Bernoff’s first book created for me. This book was much better than Groundswell in my opinion. More time spent addressing the hard questions and less telling us what our problems were.

Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity by Avinash Kaushik – 4 stars, A great reference book, filled with insightful tips. Great way to look at the data. Lots of common metrics explained. Author gives lots of direction on what different kinds of websites should be looking at. Even covers how to track social media campaigns.

Movies

Dorian Gray – 0.5 Star, Lowest possible rating for this. It was horrible! Read the book, its better, but not much.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor – 0.5 star, perfect example of taking a franchise one step too many. This was really horrible!

The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising – 2.5 stars, looking back on this one, the movie was pretty boring. Not sure it deserves this rating. I would not recommend it.

How to Train Your Dragon – 4 stars. Funny movie. Great for the family. Although, I think Samantha was a bit too young for it, because it lost her interest fairly early on.

Eat, Pray, Love – 4 stars. I liked this movie a lot. I think I even liked it better than the book.

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November 2010

Events
On November 1st, I tried to buy tickets for Comic Con, since then, I’ve tried once more.  Both times their registration system online failed and let no one order tickets.  I hope they fix this soon and I can buy tickets, I’m looking forward to going.  On the 2nd Michelle and I both voted.  On November, 5th I finally got my barista badge on foursquare.

You get this badge by checking in at 5 different locations.  For those of you who don’t know, I’m completely addicted to Starbucks coffee.  On November 7th our church had a book fair.  Michelle got a lot of great books for Samantha and I got about 5 books for myself.  Almost all of them only 25 cents!  To top off the morning they were also having a pancake breakfast!

On November 12th, I went to a Ducks game at the Honda Center.  I had a great time with my friends Tim and Jean.  The Ducks won too!  It was a great game and a fantastic night.  I can’t wait until Samantha is old enough to join Dad at the games!

On November 14th, Lauren took Samantha, Michelle and I to Disneyland again.  We had a great time as we always do!  Samantha had a slight cold this month.  It didn’t amount to much more than a runny nose for a few days, so we are very thankful that she is feeling better.

Just before Thanksgiving we celebrated my father’s birthday in Carlsbad.  They already had their tree up so the kids, Samantha and Cousin Ryan, helped their grandparents decorate the tree.

I took the week of Thanksgiving off and spent my free days with Samantha.  Playing Mr. Mom was great, exhausting, but great.  We spent Thanksgiving at the Higson’s home.  They were very gracious to invite us to their home and treat us to a wonderful meal and great company.  We had a great day!

A few days after Thanksgiving we traveled north to our friends home in Los Angeles.  The Sullivan’s had a wonderful “Friendsgiving” party.  We ate another wonderful thanksgiving meal and had more wonderful company.  We are very lucky to have such good friends.  That about wraps up November.  Sorry this update was so late, but if you think November was busy for us, just wait until you read about December!

Books
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli 3/5 stars

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium #2) by Stieg Larsson 5/5 stars –  Great book. Sudden ending. Looking forward to reading the last in the series.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving 5/5 stars –   Excellent book!!!

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion 4/5 stars –   Michelle gave me this a long time ago.  Just found it recently and it made a good quick read.

Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims’ First Year in America by Glenn Alan Cheney 2/5 stars – Thanksgiving I would not recommend this book.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey 4/5 stars –   Wish there was a 4.5 category. Great book! Slow to start but really picks up and gets interesting. Amazing descriptions and fantastic characters.

Movies
Oceans – 3 stars.  Okay.  Not as good as I hoped.  Nowhere near the caliber of Planet Earth.

Toy Story 3 – 3.5 stars.  Finally got a chance to watch this.  I thought it was a great ending to the trilogy.

The American – 2 stars.  This could have been a cool spy flick, but it didn’t amount to much in my humble opinion.

The Reader – 4 stars.  This movie grew on me, after I had time to think about it more.  Good story, very interesting.

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October 2010

Events

On October 16, Lauren kindly invited Samantha, Michelle and myself to Disneyland. We had a great time. Grandma Gigi was also able to join us. Samantha had a blast. It was the busiest I have ever seen the park, even the places that are always empty had medium sized groups in them (the museum on main street for example).

On October 23, we switched cars with the Higson family. They took possession of Michelle’s Toyota Camry and we got their Toyota Sienna. It was a great deal for Michelle and I, seeing as we have so much stuff to haul around with us everywhere and Samantha likes the new car much better as well.

We spent October 31, Halloween at my family’s home in Carlsbad. Samantha had a great time. For the first time I think she was really excited about Halloween. I’m not sure if she really understood what was going on, but going with Ryan, her cousin, made it exciting because he was excited. He would run up the driveway of someone’s house, toward the front door and look behind him calling, “Come on Samantha, we gotta get some candy”. It was very fun and cute to watch. Ryan was dressed up as Woody from Toy Story and Samantha was the cutest Panda ever!

Books

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain  – 3/5 stars. I largely compared this to and expected it to be like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. When it wasn’t up to par with that book I got discouraged. I still liked this book, but had a hard time judging it on its own merits. I kept comparing it to Tom Sawyer. Even still I liked the book very much.

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan  – 2/5 stars. This book was pretty dry. And there really didn’t seem like there was any attempt to not make it dry. It was interesting, but very dry. Still I enjoyed its many forays into the history of food.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson  – 4/5 stars. A gripping story. Very exciting. I had watched the movie before reading the book and I have to say I’m really glad I read the book. So much more detail. The movie is a bit gruesome at points; it was easier to read the book I think.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert  – 2/5 stars. I read this because it was so popular; I thought “this must be a good book”. I didn’t really like this book. I really could not relate to the main character. This lady is so depressed; it’s not really a fun book to read at points.

Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History by Margret MacMillan  – 3/5 stars. I think I was very giving with this book. Basically, MacMillan starts out with a thesis that history is abused and misrepresented and after 200 some pages I think she has proven this point. But I don’t know what I have really read or gained from reading this book.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger  – 5/5 stars. It is not often that I give a book 5 stars. This was an amazing story. It is a love story in a sci-fi wrapper. Something for everyone. I watched the movie with Michelle last month I think and I really liked the movie as well. Michelle also enjoyed the movie. This is a really great book. Don’t know anyone who would not like it.

Celebrations

Oct 1 – Grandma Gigi’s Birthday

Oct 3 – Tommy Reilly’s Birthday

Oct 3 – Grandpa Duane and Grandma Lyn’s Wedding Anniversary

Oct 4 – Melissa Sullivan’s Birthday

Oct 13 – Lee Muns’ Birthday

Movies

Babies – 1.5/5 stars. Terrible. Do not watch.

Miss Potter – 1/5 stars. As exciting as Victorian England can be.

Kick-Ass – 1 star. Didn’t even watch it all.

The Hangover – 3 stars. I thought this was pretty funny.

Von Ryan’s Express – 4 stars. Forgot I had already seen this and watch this classic again. No regrets!

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – 4 stars. Very entertaining. Can’t wait to read the book.

On the Town – 2.5 stars. Good, but not as much dancing as I would expect from a movie with Gene Kelley, and the music I thought was sub-par.

The Girl Who Played with Fire – 3 stars. Pretty good. I’m reading the book now, so far book is much better as usual.

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September 2010

Events

Michelle found a Ethan Allen bookshelf for Samantha’s room.  Great addition and much needed as Samantha has a lot of books!

Jason got a A+ in his Using the Web as a Marketing Tool class that he has been taking at UCI Extension.  Only two more classes left to take to earn a certificate in Social Media.

Samantha discovered the “Customer in Training” carts at grocery stores, they are the small carts just the right size for little kids to push around and do their shopping.  She also loves the carts with the race cars on the front.

On September 18th we had Samantha’s 2nd birthday party.  It was a tea party that Michelle’s immediate family and my immediate family attended.  The next day we went out and bought Samantha some new shoes.  Seems it only takes two months for her to go through shoes now.

On the 23rd we celebrated Samantha’s 2nd birthday, this is the official day.  Daddy took the day off work and took Samantha out to the park in the morning.  Then we went to Trader Joe’s where Samantha happily push around a miniature shopping cart and Daddy put in a few groceries.  Afterwards we went home and played until mommy came home.  At which time, we had to go the doctor’s office.  It was Samantha’s 2 year check-up.  And she had to get a flu shot!  The rest of the day we just stayed at home and recouped from the doctor’s visit.

We almost went to Disneyland on the next weekend, but I’m glad we didn’t because temperatures went over 100 degrees!  So instead of Disneyland we went to Tanka Farms, a real working farm.  They grow their own pumpkins.  It was the grand opening of the pumpkin patch, so we got free tickets on the hay wagon ride.  Samantha had a good time and we stayed longer than I thought we would given the heat.  It was fun to see a real farm right in Irvine.  They even had a pumpkin cannon.  On the 26th we spent most of the day with Michelle’s grandmother at a large gathering in Downey, where we saw a lot of the family.

Books

White Fang by Jack London – 3/5 stars.  Not really fair since I had just read The Call of the Wild which is a great novel.  I had expected more of the same from London, but I don’t think that White Fang was nearly as good as The Call of the Wild.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare and the Cliff Notes for the play – 4/5 stars.  I really enjoyed this play.  I’ve read it twice this year and I watched the movie with Mel Gibson as well.  I think reading the play along with the cliff notes is a great way to make sure you get the most out of the play as possible.

The Associate by John Grisham – 4/5 stars.  I really enjoyed this book.  A lot more than I thought I would actually.  I was surprised by how much I liked it and now I look forward to reading more Grisham when I get the chance.

The Sherlock Holmes Theatre – 4/5 stars.  This was an audio book that had a different actor for every character.  It was really fun to listen to.  I think it had four different stories.  Some of them I had already read, some I had not.  I was very entertaining!

Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins – 4/5 stars.  This would have gotten 5 stars, but I didn’t like the ending.  It was a good ending, I just didn’t agree with it.  Did not think it was a nice way to end the series.  But that said, if you have not read this series, DO!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – 3/5 stars.  I was surprised by how closely the most recent movie followed this book.  It is almost exactly the way the book is.  Having said that I was a little let down in the book since there really isn’t much new about it.  But it is still a good read!

Movies

Hot Tub Time Machine – 3 out of 5 stars.  Kinda funny.  Can relate to the 80’s stuff.

Clash of the Titans – 4 out of 5 stars.  Good action movie.  Never saw the original.

Flight of the Phoenix – 2.5/5 stars.  Ok, would not recommend it.

The Book of Eli – 3/5 stars.  Just ok.  I wanted this movie to be good, but it just wasn’t.

The Bounty Hunter – 2 stars.  I think 2 stars for this movie is generous.

Green Zone – 3/5 stars.  Good action flick but I expect a lot out of Matt Damon’s movies ever since seeing the Bourne series.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – 3/5 stars.  Ok action movie.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – 3/5 stars.  Ok, but the book is great!

Iron Man 2 – 2.5/5 stars.  Ok action movie.

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August 2010

Events

We had Michelle’s official birthday dinner at Elephant Bar.

Later that week we went to the Spectrum where they had these really cool playhouse.  They were all custom built.  They had all kinds of different ones.  About a dozen in all.  They had sound systems, lofts, fireplaces, flatscreens, pretty much anything you can think of they had.

Of course we did our usual shopping and errands around Irvine.  Here is some video of Samantha at Trader Joes shopping.  I finished playing Uncharted 2 for the PS3, great game!

My time capsule died on me this month, so I had to buy a new one since it was past its manufacturer’s warranty.  Good news was that I was able to save the hard drive out of the old one so now I have an extra 1TB external drive.

We survived a very hot two weeks without air conditioning and our hunt for a new house is still dependent on us selling the condo we are in now.  No news on that front.

Michelle’s friends Tony and Jen got married at the Skirball Center.  They had a wonderful ceremony and reception.  They even had a photo booth at the reception.  Out scanner is packed so I can’t share those photos just yet.

We went to Disneyland and had a great time.  Samantha got her picture taken with Mickey mouse and Tigger.  She seemed to have a really good time.  All the adults had a blast too.  It was pretty crowded as it was the summer and a weekend.  But at least the weather was pleasant.

Movies

Leatherheads – 3.5 out of 5 stars.  One of Michelle’s picks.  Pretty funny and all around a good story.

Timetravler’s Wife – 4.5 stars.  Another one of Michelle’s choices.  I wanted to watch this but not until I read the book.  We watched it anyway and it was really great.  Can’t wait to read the book, two of my Facebook friends have already commented that the books is really good.

Life or Something Like It – 2 stars.  This was a flop.

Lost City Raiders – 2 stars.  B movie.  Don’t waste your time.

Post Grad – 1.5 stars.  Really bad!

Outlander – 2.5 stars.  Another bad movie.  We’re really on a roll now!

Legion – 0.5 star.  Lower scores not possible!  Terrible!  Didn’t finish this mess.

War of the Worlds – 3 stars.  Finally an acceptable movie.  Not great, definitely not as good as the book.  It doesn’t follow it very closely either.

Valentine’s Day – Didn’t watch all of this.  Went to Samantha’s room and colored with her.  0.5 star.  Total chick flick from what I saw.

Death at a Funeral – 4 stars.  Really funny British comedy.

Bangkok Dangerous – 3 stars.  Meh.  Nothing much hear, semi-ok assassin flick.

Robinson Crusoe – 2 stars.  Not very good.  Nothing like the book.

Celebrations

Michelle’s Birthday 8/2

Barbara Black Maxey’s Birthday 8/30

Books

This months books gets me to 27 books for the year.  Only three more to reach my goal of 30.  I’m hoping to get to 40 now, but we will see as hopefully, we will be moving soon!

War of the Worlds – 3 stars.  I think I had this built up in my head so much that when I actually read it I was disappointed.

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 – 4 stars.  Cool alternative look at the first three books.  I will be reading volume 2 when it comes out.  Anyone know when its coming?

Nano Comes to Clifford Falls: And Other Stories – 3 stars.  A collection of science fiction stories.  Some better than others.

Of Mice and Men – This one is one of the classics that I wanted to read.  I didn’t remember reading this in high school, until I had already finished it.  No loss though as this was a GREAT read! 5 out of 5 stars!

Robinson Crusoe – 2 out of 5 stars.  Disappointed again.  I think I had built this one up in my head again.  I had looked forward to reading this for so long that when I did, I was bummed.  It wasn’t enough for me.

Four Quartets – 5 stars.  Excellent!  Loved it.  Can’t wait to read more of T.S. Elliot’s works.

The Call of the Wild – I had never read any of Jack London’s books.  This is the first one I chose to read, and I was not disappointed.  I loved it! 5 stars!

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July 2010

I thought June’s post was a bit scattered.  So this time, I’ve put made some categories to make it a little more organized.  Events, are the things we did during the month.  Movies is a list of movies and our reviews for them.  Celebrations are the birthdays and other events we celebrated in the month and finally books, is a section where I got over the books that I read during that month.  I hope you enjoy this new format.

Events


We had a great fourth of July party at our house over the holiday. We had both families come to a park near our home where we had hamburgers and hot dogs, went swimming and played lawn ball. It was a great day that was a lot of fun! I was able to play disc golf a few times this month with friends. It is always fun to get out and do something with Tim and Jeremy.

To celebrate our anniversary Michelle, Samantha and I went out to a fun dinner at the Elephant bar. The family and I also went to a pirate magic show at our local library this month too. I don’t think I have ever seen that many kids outside of a school before. There must have been 50 kids and well over 100 adults stuffed into a small room at the corner of the library. I think Samantha had a good time, but its really hard to say. The show started late around 7:30, and went until about 9pm, at which time Samantha was barely awake, but we could not have left any sooner than the end since the only exit was blocked by a huge crown of people.

I had a great lunch with my friend Ron.  We had not seen each other in about two years! Ron is an old podcasting friend of mine. Speaking of social media I also started a class at UCI Extension this month called Using the Web as a Marketing Tool.   I’m looking forward to it. I have already enjoyed the first weeks homework assignment, “Buy something online”.

I bought some new video games for the first time in a long time. Gamestop was having a buy 2 get one free sale so I bought 3 new games: Killzone 2, Resistance 2 and Uncharted 2. I have only played Killzone 2 so far, but I’m enjoying that game a lot. I have also played Uncharted and Resistance, the originals and really like both of them, so I’m looking forward to playing both of those too.

Our little girl Samantha had to get two crowns on her top front teeth, this month as well. I was surprised that it was needed and we even got a second opinion to make sure. Happily my brave little girl went through the procedure without so much as a grimace. Mommy and Daddy are so proud of her!

Michelle’s father is on the board of a credit union and every year the credit union has a meeting at the Park Hyatt (formerly Four Seasons Aviara) near my parent’s house. So her whole family (minus Paul) was down there and Michelle, Samantha and I joined them. It was nice to see my parents and we all got together one of the nights and had a great dinner at BJ’s.

Michelle’s birthday celebrations started early this year.  While we were down in Carlsbad my parents decided to surprise her with a cake.  She has been celebrating her birthday every day since!  That is a lot of candles on that cake!

When we got back from Carlsbad we celebrated even more….but you’ll have to wait until next month for that story.

Movies
Changeling – Good movie. Somewhat disturbing and sad, but al together good movie. This movie was based upon real events often called the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders.

Gamer was just a really really bad movie. Bad acting, terrible story, just skip this one.

The Last King of Scotland was and interesting story, like Changing it was based on true events and is actually based largely on the book written by Giles Foden. I have not read the book and probably won’t based on what I saw in the movie, which as gory, long and suspenseful.

Dark City was a great idea for a movie and wasn’t really bad, but it was not really good. It seemed like more of a B movie to me than anything else. It could have been so much more.

Kill Bill,  I didn’t really care for all the blood and guts in this movie and thought the story was pretty poorly thought out.

Cloverfield was a very different movie. The whole movie is shot from a handy cam. One handy cam. For me this made the movie hard to enjoy, but the more I thought about it this was probably the best way for this movie to be filmed, and its what really made the movie work. I like this movie more as time passes and I have more time to think about it.

The Invention of Lying was a very funny movie the the whole family watched.  Usually I just watch movies on my ipad, but Michelle wanted to watch this one since Jennifer Garner was in it.  I think Michelle enjoyed it as well.

Celebrations
This month we celebrated the following events.
Ty Maxey had his birthday on July 1
Michelle and I celebrated our 7th anniversary on the 12th.

Books
Last year I read 16 books.  I list 14 of them in a previous post.  This year I hope to read at least 30.  With the ones listed below I have reached 20.  Only 10 more books to hit my goal.  I have already read more than last year, so whatever happens I have made an improvement.

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner.  This book was just okay.  I gave it 3 stars.  I think Malcolm Gladwell writes these kind of books better.  I still think that I will read the second book though, Superfreakonomics.

Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care by Alan Greene.  I have read many baby books since (and before) Samantha was born and this one was devoted to how to feed your baby the right kinds of foods.  It was a recommendation from my mother-in-law.  I thought this book was worth reading, and might have been the best baby books with a food focus.  I gave it 3 stars.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.  I wanted to read this book because I never got the chance while I was in school.  It is part of my venture to read the classics.  I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, but it might be more like 4.9.  The only reason it didn’t get a higher rating is because it is written for teens and children, not really for adults.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.  A classic novel.  Dove right into the story.  Was non-stop action and suspense.  I wish I had read more books like this.  It was truly a great novel.

On the Internet.  Below is a list of places you can “follow me” online if you so desire.

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/dahlenw
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jasond.watts (you’ll probably have to search for me, since I have this locked down pretty tight)
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/jason_watts
LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/jasondwatts
Foursquare: http://foursquare.com/user/dahlenw

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