Monday, June 29, 2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Okay, it's been almost 9 months since I did my last book review, so without further ado . . . . . (The books are in descending order, starting with the most recently read)

A Thousand Splendid Suns: Khaled Hosseini's second novel after Kite Runner, which was equally amazing. As with its predecessor, A Thousand Splendid Suns takes place in war-ridden Afghanistan. Hosseini manages to concoct another astounding chronicle of the lives of two women whose journey's intersect in the most unusual way. It is an unbelievable adventure that tugs at your heart strings and keeps you engrossed, holding on to hope well after its characters have conceded. I must prepare you, this book is fraught with sorrow, unbelievable strife, and seemingly endless depression. However, this saga is like a flower than manages to blossom in the desert. If you don't go out and read this, I will personally stab you repeatedly with a rusted blade covered in excrement.

The Host: This is more of sci-fi romance, but a great book nonetheless. Created with adults in mind and not pubescent female teens, it was written by Stephenie Meyer, who brought us the Twilight saga. It is about non-violent, parasitic life forms that invade earth and begin taking over human bodies through an insertion process. Interestingly, they subdue their hosts' consciousness, but continue normal human activities with the exception of the Seekers, whose sole purpose is to use their host's memories to seek out all humans. There is a small resistance of survivors who become at risk when one of their own, Melanie, becomes sequestered by the enemy. This amazing story is told through the eyes of one of the alien's named the Wanderer, who fails to completely subdue Melanie's consciousness. She becomes overwhelmed by this human's strong mind and ends up yearning for the same love interest as her host. A great story of betrayal, unlikely friendships, and even more unlikely love during a time where humanity is at stake. Sounds weird at first, but an excellent book. And the alien sex is really hot! Just kidding.

Lone Survivor: Phenomenal story, concise, nail biting, raw storytelling at its best. This book is the recount of Operation Red Wing, a Navy Seal mission intended on assassinating the alleged mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. As the title suggests, the story is told by the lone Navy Seal who lived to tell this riveting tale about fighting Al-Qaeda from behind enemy lines. A must read for civilians and soldiers alike.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: I was vehemently disappointed with this novel. It had received such great reviews and encomium that I decided to read it despite its intimidating size. The story is about a boy who, for all intents and purposes, was born mute, and lives with his parent's on a farm in Wisconsin who breed and train dogs. The boy's father is mysteriously murdered and he must try to prove it was at the hand of his uncle who always has some hidden agenda. I thought the idea behind Edgar's story was very clever and original, although its execution was slow to develop and ultimately anticlimactic. Although a good story teller, the author was overly descriptive to the point where it disrupted the flow of the book and made it difficult to press on a times. The book was okay, but not one I particularly endorse (although Oprah does).

Kite Runner: In Khaled Hosseini's debut novel Kite Runner, we follow the lives of two boys in Afghanistan who are best friends separated only by the positions their father's hold. Something happens in the boys' lives that sets them upon separate paths in life. It is an amazing tale of friendships, loyalty, facing one's fears, redemption, and many other themes, during a time of turmoil and uncertainty in the Middle East. This was an amazing book, an easy read, and I highly recommend it.

Twilight Series: Okay, so my sister practically made me read the first Twilight book, which I didn't give a great review here. However, after deciding to read the subsequent books in the series, I take back everything negative I said about the author. As a matter of fact, I owe Stephenie Meyer an apology. The story was brilliant! I do stand by my opinion about the first book that it was slow and so forth, but certainly necessary for creating the back story for the ones that follow. In my professional opinion, the books became progressively better and more absorbing with each chapter. This was a compelling series about vampires and werewolves and the way Myers intertwines the elements of this saga is truly genius. Another warning though, unless you can handle staying up into the wee hours of the morning, frantically turning pages, having to discover what happens next . . . . I suggest you stay as far away from these books as humanly possible. I'd hate for you to lose any sleep.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ode to the King . . . .

Albeit sad, his passing seemed a little less shocking than the effect you would initially expect to elicit from a tragedy of this magnitude. In retrospect, I think it had so much to do with Michael Jackson's transformations and latest media woes.

Everyone was grossly aware of how significantly his appearance changed over the years and although he may have lost many fans with his celebrity antics and later during his legal trials, (allegations from which he never fully recovered) those of us that were such fans of his former self, seemed to acknowledge these faults but still stay loyal to the King of pop.

Regardless of how you felt about Michael, he leaves behind a legacy that changed music, dancing, and in many ways, the world forever. He revolutionized the music video, popularized MTV, brought people from around the world together, spoke out against racism both publicly and through his music, supported more charities than any other pop artist, and could dance like the dickens. Man could he dance. His musical accolades are astounding and he probably remains the most recognizable person on the entire planet. People in 3rd world countries devoid of televisions even know who he is, and that's pretty remarkable.

So many of us grew up imitating Michael and his timeless moves. We dressed like him, danced like him, and played his songs and videos until we were satisfied. In recognition of his departure, I went out with a friend last night for dinner and a movie, and everywhere we went I did the moonwalk or a conspicuous MJ leg kick. The cars that let us cross the street gave appreciative nods, some people laughed, and others gave a hoot or a holler. The hostess at the restaurant didn't find my moves very amusing, so I threw in a crotch grab and a few pelvic thrusts for good measure. No, I really didn't . . . . but I should have.

As should be respectful and customary when reflecting upon the lives of those we lose, perhaps we can remember him for his greatness and not his idiosyncrasies or shortcomings. Perhaps we can remember the time how Michael thrilled us, encouraged us to look in the mirror, told us to beat it, scream, or heal the world. It seems that he spent his whole life giving, but we were never quite able to give anything back. We are a society that is pitiably infatuated with the celebrity phenomenon and we show our fickle adoration by smothering the lives of those we idolize. Stardom carries a hefty price, and it seems that being the King requires even a greater one. Michael Jackson was a brilliant entertainer, but before that, he was a person. A person like any other, with fears, dreams, passions, and thoughts. He possessed an infectious smile, a huge heart, and the uncanny ability to make you want to groove. And that, my friends, is worth a crotch grab any day of the week. Hee-hee . . . Schamone!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Super Troopers

Enough of the philosophical, self reflective, transcendentalist, rhetorical, girly-man shit . . . let's get our hands dirty people. It's time for the Dumbass of the Week Award.

Last month a 72 year old woman was pulled over for a traffic violation in Texas. The video footage from the trooper's dashcam was recently released, and it shows the majority of what went down.

I was listening to the radio last night, where I discovered this tantalizing tale, and was amused by the banter between 3 radio personalities, two men and one woman. They argued extensively about whether the police officer's actions were justified, or whether he used excessive force in subduing the woman. The female in the group thought that excessive force was used and much of her argument was, "What if that had been your grandmother?"

Brown's professional assessment? [cue drumroll] I see no problem with how the officer acted, old woman or not. He followed protocol, was provoked, and reacted accordingly. The woman, regardless of her age, was a lucid, cognizant, seemingly mature adult, who possessed the full capacity to understand the possible ramifications of her actions. She vehemently denied to sign the speeding ticket, (an action which can result in your arrest) and when the cop said that he was going to arrest her, she dared him.

The officer instructed the woman to exit the vehicle and then stood between her and inches from on-coming traffic. She continued to use profanity while insisting that she was going to get back into her car, and had to be shoved back away from the dangerous stretch of highway twice, to deny her escape and secure both of their safety. The police officer went to apply handcuffs on the woman and she blatantly resisted arrest. At that point, the non compliant citizen was warned that she was going to be tasered, and believe it or not, she dared the constable to do that as well. After 4 additional warnings about being subdued by electricity for resisting arrest, the woman attempted to flee around to the other side of her vehicle, and was ultimately administered a shock of electricity which sent her to the ground.

What followed, were the woman's hilarious bellows of dramatized agony as she ate a foot long sub of "I told you this was going to happen dumbass." Personally, I think too many hot-headed cops jump the gun in similar situations, allowing their egos to preside over logic and problem solving skills. They tend to over react to profanity and use excessive force when unnecessary.

However, in this case, the woman could have avoided the entire escalation of events by simply signing the ticket. By doing so, you are not admitting fault, but waiving immediate arrest and confirming that you will either appear in court to fight the ticket, or pay your fine. She dared the cop, used profanity, put lives in danger by acting belligerent near passing vehicles, resisted arrest, and even attempted to flee. If that's not asking for it, I don't know what is.

I've included the clip for your scrutiny and entertainment. You tell me. If you were the judge presiding over this case, in who's favor would you rule?

People should know by now, Don't mess with Texas!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Zodiac

It's infinitely amazing to me how our souls are like prisms that filter the light of the world and project powerful tapestries of colors that do more than just describe who we are through a revelation of intricate hues. Our colors, indicative of our true identities, also harness unfathomable quantities of potential energy that can propel planets or even ignite entire galaxies into existence.

My father used to always say that every person you meet potentially carries various nuggets of knowledge and/or experience from which you can draw to dramatically improve your life. Sort of like if you were a jigsaw puzzle, and as time passed you continued to add pieces to your puzzle. You would also collect pieces that maybe wouldn't fit your current puzzle's configuration, but might be the right pieces for people whom you come across in life, (arguably by design) and who could conversely possess pieces to which would fit yours.

Personally, one of the most fascinating things I find in life are the unique experiences we share with other people. These interactions can be as short as an exchange on a train, or a manifestation of an eternal bond. In either case, these experiences imprint an indelible mark in our memories that serve a multitude of possibilities, the greatest two of which is learning and providing. Whether we learn about ourselves, other people, a song, a book, or the meaning of a word, with every encounter with another person lies the possibility of discovery, or contribution.

Being as gregarious as I am, I've always enjoyed meeting new people. However, in my youth, too much emphasis was placed on embracing these experiences and not enough was placed on cultivating existing ones. With the passing of time and the expansion of family, I have a greater appreciation for the things that truly matter in life and am trying to put more effort into developing current relationships. However, I've never quite lost the fascination with meeting new people and discovering what they might have to offer. I truly believe that the people we meet represent an important facet of our lives and although they may not always provide necessary puzzle pieces, it doesn't mean they can't influence the colors of your puzzle, or even change the very image your canvas portrays.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Painted Black

More poetic dribble . . . .


A glance, a tilt, no softer wish.
I watch you paint it black,
I yearn to be that mystic fish,
Swimming -in your sea of black.

No idle stares nor summer cloth,
Deserve your heart’s attack.
Like sultry flames that seduce the moth,
You stare at mine, I stare right back.

A thousand skies of wasted hue,
Where rainbows never lack.
Your beauty ignites the phoenix new,
Our worlds collide, we fade to black

Lips of velvet kiss the door,
Where once there laid a crack.
Desire melts us to midnight’s floor,
Where I watch you paint me black.

by Brown

Monday, June 1, 2009

I Lost a World Today

Thought I'd share a poem I wrote a few days ago. . . for those of you still reading this dribble anyway. . . .

I Lost A World Today

I lost a world just today,
Has anybody seen?
It shone before -but no more,
No longer bright and sheen.

Upon its lips one winter kiss,
And one from shifting sands.
Upon its heart an Atlas weight,
Too bearing for my hands.

I lost a world just today,
Or perhaps I didn’t know.
Dreams do not belong to men,
Nor warmth for falling snow.

by Brown