Harry Potter and Diablo

There was nothing posted yesterday. I guess you have grown used to me making a half-assed excuse why not by now that I am sort of obligated to throw one out. Here it is in a nutshell. My Parent’s-in-law have washed their hands of me since I stood up to them while we were on vacation. Neither myself or my wife have spoken to them since. My brother-in-law has had an open invitation to use our guest bedroom if he ever wanted to escape the parents, mostly due to the fact that they would not sign the necessary paperwork to allow him to take certain college courses -thus making him a grunt, despite the fact that he is very bright and could have done whatever he wanted if he had the education-. I am not sure about all of the exact details regarding why he chose yesterday to walk out on his parents, but he did, and I am not the type of person to turn my back on family.

It really is pretty poor timing for this all to happen. The in-laws have thought that I was the spawn of Satan since the day that I actually lashed out at them last week. I am sure that, in their eyes, it will seem to be a pretty convenient time for their son to go ahead and move out. My take on that is that without my wife to bitch at they focused all of their bitching on their son, who was the only one in their house that had a job at the time. I don’t mean to pretend that I know the thoughts of any of my wife’s family, that is just my best estimation of why it all went down like it did when it did. And, as I said, I am not the kind of person to turn my back on family.

The majority of last night, after I got home from work, was spent with my wife, brother-in-law, and myself discussing what had happened that actually pushed him straight over the edge. That is something that I am not going to post here since 1) I only have one side of the story, and 2) that would be airing a bit too much of the family laundry. I have no problem with talking about my life on this page, even my wife’s when I feel the urge, I do not want to try to speak for people that I don’t know all that well…Even if I have already formed an opinion that will not change unless the second coming of Christ proves that everything I believe is wrong…That seems doubtfull, but still I must have limitations to how many people I offend.

• This morning I read a bit more of the Fourth Harry Potter book. I must say that Rowling has been progressing pretty well with the whole trying to make the book a bit more readable for adults. I am not entirely sure if that was her intention but it certainly should be. The series started out talking about a little eleven year old kid, which was certainly adored by all of the little eleven year old kids of the world, but by the time the fourth book came out those little eleven year old kids would have been what, 16? 17? It is certainly seeming a lot more complex than the other novels thus far. I hope that in this one she just doesn’t fuck the whole thing up by writing a great story and kind of doing the ending in a hurry to get another check (at least that seems to be what she had done with the previous novels; the endings didn’t make sense, stuff was left out or ignored). Of course everyone in the universe has said that the books really start to get interesting in the third/fourth book so I think I will probably be pretty happy with it, maybe this will be the first time that she doesn’t fuck the ending up so badly that you wish you had never read it at all.

• I played a bit more of the DiabloII today. It was not really that I wanted to, more like the draw of an addict. I must say that I was a bit surprised with the outcome of the session. I was playing through the river of flames and into Diablo’s lair (I forget the name) and I really didn’t have any problems along the way. Hephasto the armorer went down without ever using a potion, I was able to take care of multiple blood maggots by using the Jade Tan Do on weapon switch. The only place I reall had a problem was when I cracked the first seal. The Venom-Lord looking guy (infector of souls?) killed me a couple of times before I even got in a swing, hell before I was even able to use a potion. It took a lot of artful reatreat to get my mercenary to pull them and kill them one at a time, but after a half an hour I had managed to get back my body.

I thought I was going to be in for a real rough time after that. I usually only ever have problems with “Lord de Seis” after all. When I cracked the left seals and didn’t even have to drop a potion I began to wonder. Then when I cracked the top seal to release “Lord de Seis” I was able to dispatch him and his group easily. I even killed Diablo himself without much of a problem, though I did have to go back to town once to re-belt on potions. Why was it that one of the little pit-lord/venom-lord scumbags can cause so many problems while the prime evil himself goes down faster than an intern in the White House? Was there an intentional change made to make that particular Boss harder or was it that 62 fire resistance just wasn’t enough to sustain the first blast from the guy and all his minions? Questions that will likely never be answered…

The character that I am now playing is a Paladin at level 27. Unfortunately I don’t have any gear that I can twink to him until he gets to level 45. I am not going to spend a lot of time trying to level him in act 5, I do hate doing the same board repeatedly, so I assume I will be about level 30 by the time I get to nightmare. With a bit of luck (of which I have none, unless you count the bad kind) I might find a Goldskin or Vipermagi armor along the way. That or I will still be wearing the same cracked quilted armor I have gotten by on so far…As far as you know…

Howard Stern held to different standards of decency than senators; Harry Potter

Skipped yesterday’s post, blah blah, no one noticed, blah blah, no reason why, blah blah.

The truth is that I spent a bit of time first emailing a couple of people that I had not in some time, second, I was getting prepared for this years Vegas Vacation by playing a bit of video poker on Pogo.com. I suppose neither of those things should be more important than what I am doing here, but wait, I am doing this site for my own enjoyment, so if I would enjoy doing something else more..Doesn’t that mean that I was obligated to not write anything here? I would have enjoyed it far less than the video poker, that would have made it seem like, well, work to do a post yesterday. That was never my intention.

• One quick thing from the news that is just irritating me. So the vice president says Fuck Off on the Senate floor, albeit after the session had ended, isn’t that wrong on at least some level?

I have defended Howard Stern, even though I do not like him and never listen to his show, on at least a couple of occasions. Here are the ones that I could quickly find; Exhibit A, Exhibit B I am sure that I defended him on at least one other occasion, but as I do not maintain my archives as well as I should I just can’t seem to find it. I have always defended Howard Stern’s freedom of speech based on the fact that no one actually Had to listen to what he was saying. If you don’t like what any person is saying on the radio you can certainly change the station or turn it off completely (which pretty much summarizes how I tolerate Rush Limbaugh). The only people who don’t seem to understand that logic are the stuffy, by-the-book people that we throw into congress (which means old, white men for the most part, that is why Limbaugh can get away with calling Black people cancer, his peers seem to all agree). Those are the only people that seem to find Howard Stern so offensive that they listen to it long enough to figure out why they are offended by it, then take action by getting the FCC involved.

Howard Stern’s show never uses the “F-word”, or it is at least bleeped if they do, and he is catering to a voluntary audience. No one that is listening to the Howard Stern Show actually HAS to be listening to it, while in the case of Cheney saying, “Fuck Off” on the Senate floor, everyone that was there heard it whether they wanted to or not. These are the same people that are trying to get Howard Stern taken off the air for using such offensive words as Vagina, Penis, Clitoris and Orgasm. If Stern were ever to drop the F-Word on a radio show he would simply be gone, there would be no explaining, he would just be gone.

I assume that there must be a pretty harsh consequence for using such a word on the floor of the Senate then, right?

Pressed whether he condones the use of such language in the Senate, Frist pointed out that the chamber was not in session at the time, “so I am not going to condone, I am not going to overly criticize the language that people in the — the language that people use to express themselves.”

Well if that isn’t proof that democracy seems to be far more lenient on those in power I don’t know what is. Not even a, “Hey, by the way, try not to curse on the Senate floor”. No, no, just a defense that he was basically angry. Lots of people get angry, lots of people don’t tell other people to “fuck off” in the face of a lot of media and other witnesses. How far would that anger have had to escalate before they thought he did something wrong? Yes, he ripped the heart out of a child and ate it in front of the reporters, but he was in a bad mood so he shan’t be punished.

I say again, Hell in a hand-basket.

• I am likely about the last person in the entire world to get into the Harry Potter craze. I think that I am doing it more out of curiosity than actual desire, but I am still enjoying the experience. Today, for instance, I read about the last two-thirds of the second book in the morning, then watched the dvd starting at about noon. This is the only time I have watched a movie within ten years or so of having read the book, so I was able to see a lot of the changes that were made when the book went from print to the big screen. I am not sure whether or not that is a good thing.

The books (at least the two that I have read) are children’s books, one wouldn’t expect them to have any major twists in the plot or the target audience just would not be able to follow. The first book was so predictable that I knew the outcome within about the first fifty pages. The second book actually had me tossing around a couple of ideas in my head as to how it would turn out. Neither of which turned out to be accurate. So that was good, I didn’t know the ending in the first chapter -well, I knew Harry was going to defeat whatever it was, I just didn’t know what it was, or who it was-. The movie was pretty faithful to the book, there were a lot of changes that were obviously made due to time constraints, but the plot went about the same. I could sit here and nit-pick about a bunch of stuff that they changed from the book to the movie, but most of it was for the better. Even as simple as the storyline was, it is hard to fit everything into a couple of hours.

My biggest bitch about the book was that there was a diary with the inscription T. M. Riddle on it. About half way through the book it actually spelled out all three names (which it showed on the diary in the movie, but only for a second), and since the last name was riddle, and the name was so weird, I looked at the name for about three minutes until I finally found the anagram. The anagram was revealed later in both the movie and the book. I had taken half of the fun out of reading the rest of the book at that point, but I went ahead anyway, just to finish it. As I said, it is just a brief glimpse in the movie and one would likely not be able to figure it out from that alone.

The movie version did clean up some of Rowling’s sloppy work. The last fifty or so pages of the book I was reading on in WTF mode. Things didn’t fit, things got garbled, there was talk of a rooster…The end of that book just kind of sounded like she was trying to pound it out to meet a deadline so she could get a paycheck. The movie cleaned up a lot of her rough edges, while still leaving major holes in the fabric. I don’t think it will get better in future episodes, but I have been wrong before.

I think there will eventually be two camps on this subject, one that adores the books, the other adoring the films. From what I have seen in the first two books and films, Hollywood makes it seem much more logical than the books. I certainly hope that the next book will prove me wrong, but Rowlings endings just seem to suck. You see it coming, it comes, and you are left to wait for the next book.

All that being said, it is still more enjoyable to read those books than to read this site, you FREAK.

Harry Potter; Personal

Today was a day of mixed blessings. The first of which was that I did not know which of the pipes was distrubuting cold and hot water, so I let each of them run into a bucket for about a minute. Or course the one that was spewing out warm water turned out to be the “cold” water, a fact that I did not know until I went to see what was taking the thing so long, and noticed that the water line marked as ‘C’ was quite hot to the touch. You live, you learn.

The stalemate between my wife and my parents-in-law seems to be over as they were over at the house today. While she (the mother-in-law) was less than friendly, he (the father-in-law) was quite cordial and I did enjoy speaking with him. That is likely in a lot of families though, the public in general would like to villify the father of the bride while the reality is that the mother of the bride has so much control over him/the situation that it is always going to go her way no matter what. That is not a given fact so much as it is an estimation that I have come up with after seeing the reactions of numerous Mothers on the day of the prom, compared to numerous fathers on the day of the prom. After all, whatever happens on PROM night is sealed in a mayonaise jar on the front porch of Funk and Wagnalls so it can’t be disputed or conversed about, right…

• So I read the first Harry Potter book over the weekend. I suppose it would be more true to say that I read the first thirty pages of it while I was on the shitter on Friday and Saturday, then read the other 300 pages today. It was a pretty decent read.

I am not trying to imply that it is a literary masterpiece or anything of the such, just to say that it kept me involved to the point that I read the book (basically cover to cover) today. I have not been so involved with characters as this book makes you since the first John Saul novel that I read. Of course Saul continued to write the same story over and over again just to get a check.

The first two chapters of the “Potter” book, I was joking with my wife about circling the noun and under-lining the verb. Sometime between then and now I actually read damn near 300 pages of that same book.

Was it compelling? No. Did I feel drawn to the book enough to keep reading it? No. It was certainly a book for very young people. There were no complex sentence structures, even the ending had been telegraphed from the start of the book. At the same time the characters were wonderful and you want to read just a bit more to find out what happens to Hagrid, Draco, the Weasley’s and Ms. Granger. The story that this book told might not have been compelling, but the speculation of the next book is.

Bottom line, had I been in my teens, or pre-teens, when this book was released, I would have been all over it. Like a teen-ager to a new Harry Potter book, if you want to use an analogy. Why this thing, “Harry Potter”, is doing so well at the moment we may never know, but if it is getting kids to turn the pages of a book rather than stealing their daddy’s gun, it is certainly a step in the right direction.

Dogs; Terry Brooks

Well the night happened, and the day came, so I guess I must type something here for your/my amusement. I spent a long time, after arriving home from work, typing an email that I may just quote on this page since it is about a subject that just really crushes me. That being said, I am going to discuss my dogs for a couple of minutes, then go off on whatever tangent I will invariably end up writing about.

I have stated previously that my wife and I are the owners of two ‘Vicious Pit-Bulls’, I always say that in jest since the dogs never do anything to show the vicious nature of the Pit Bull. The stereotypical Pit-Bull is a Junk-Yard dog that is trained to attack and kill anything that it sees, our dogs are trained a bit differently. I really believe that if someone were to break into the house while we were away they might use their base animal instinct to attack that person, or failing that, the fact that they both sound like the spawn of Satan when they bark would likely keep your would be intruder well away from our place.

The thing, the important thing is that we have total control over them. I am sure that it sounds a bit silly to say that, since I have previously written about one of them carrying undergarments and shoes out into the yard, but as far as their actions while we are at home, they jump when we say jump. They sleep in the room with us, and they are just cuddly little things for our amusement most of the time. Most of the time.

During a requisite ‘belly rub’ the other night, we noticed that Warlock, the older of the two dogs, had a couple of pretty serious half cut/half abrasion type of things on his hind legs. He was limping a bit also. Thing is that when he didn’t know that we were watching he forgot to limp, so we know that it isn’t anything serious. It was just the two of them playing and she got him, she got him real good that one time, and he has a bit of a boo boo that will take a while to heal.

They ‘play fight’ a lot, and it is very difficult to discern whether the battle is real or playful, unless you look at the happy, wagging little tails, that is. She, Zelda, is not fully grown yet and still has all of the energy of a puppy, Warlock doesn’t have all of that energy, but he is a trooper and hangs in there most of the time. Zelda does use some dirty tactics though, her number one attack is to get him off guard and bite his dick. Not to speak for an animal that has been castrated and has no voice, but, I bet you if he had balls he would be a very unhappy animal a lot of the time right now.

Zelda has yet to be spayed and I am kind of wondering if that may be part of the reason that they seem to fight so viciously when they play. After a round of ‘play fighting’ we can usually find them both laying side-by-side on the floor, sleeping. Zelda certainly owns his ass though. He is probably in the seventy pound range (just judging by having to pick him up to carry him inside from time to time), it could be less or more. Zelda is about three quarters of his weight, but wins every ‘play fight’. She is a bitch. (Literally, she is a bitch by definition, and also she fights dirty so that just adds to the bitch description.)

My wife likes to buy them bones to chew on (I do too, since even as much as the bones cost they still cost less than new furniture) and that is when the real fighting starts. Treats and chew toys are always bought in equal quantites, one for each dog, but the dogs don’t seem to understand that, and will fight over one while there is another one, exactly the same, lying there untouched. Even if we put them into each dog’s mouth they will invariably start fighting over just one of them. I assume this is like the classic argument that children make about how the one glass has more Kool-Aid than the other.

While I was on the phone with my Mother the other night, the dogs got into what I am going to call a real fight. My Mother could hear the growling through the phone, her boyfriend could hear it also, and he was sitting ten or twelve feet from the phone that it was coming through. The dogs were both up on their hind legs (makes them stand about nipple height on a 5’10” man) and they were not pulling the punches. I did jump in to pull them apart, but I tell you that if they were not my dogs I would have run like hell. They looked and sounded like they wouldn’t care who or what they tore apart. It was quite a vicious display.

Knowing that they were both my dogs, I jumped right in there and pulled them apart, but don’t lots of stories about pit-bulls killing their owners start that way? Once I had them both by the collar, and smacked each of them on the snout, they calmed down. I guess if that huge black dog is yours, you know how well it is, or isn’t, trained and you no longer look at it as a huge dog, but the puppy that you raised. Everyone else will be afraid of the dog, because of the negative press, but they really are good dogs.

The one thing that the dogs do viciously attack is…Flies. Yes, the common house fly. Normally we never see them in the house, but the last few weeks they have been here and the dogs can snap them right out of the air and eat them. Also, they do enjoy cockroaches, but the chase them around way too much before they just let them die and leave the body for us to sweep up later. And the cockroaches only come out when it is dark, so that means lost sleep as the dogs sniff around at it for a couple of hours until I finally just get a tissue and throw the damn thing away.

After reading your email, I went to Amazon just to read some of the reviews for the magic kingdom series. The thing that I found interesting is that the first three novels in the series all get a customer rating of 4 or 4.5 stars, while the fourth book, the one that I only got a couple of chapters into, has five star ratings from all the customers. One of the customers said that next to the ‘Xanth’ series this was the best thing going. Why did this one get the best reviews when I thought it sucked so badly? Oh, I guess that you likely don’t go to write a review about it when you hate it then do you. And by the time an author is on his tenth or twelfth novel he probably has a following that would read a retaraunt menu that he had written and find it the best literary work of all time.

On a side note my wife came in as I was typing this and asked what I was writing about, after seeing the subject line she fired off her two cents that Brooks is just unreadable. I told her that your real beef with him was about it being so derivative of LOTR, she said that was funny since she read all of Tolkien’s stuff and never made it through a single one of Brooks, even though we have damn near every one of them on the shelf (in hardcover no less, gotta love those 5-7 dollar prices. Unfortunately that book store went out of business so now I have to shop through amazon just like everyone else.) So I guess that really does just show that everyone has a different opinion about what writing is good and what is bad.

Funny thing about that bookshelf of mine, I always wanted to have a bookshelf in my house, since that is one of the first things that I have always noticed missing when I visit other people’s houses. My bookshelf, though, has turned more into a book graveyard. Out of the probably 100 or so books on it the only ones that find regular use are the thesarus, dictionary and Bible (the bible just for reference when I am bashing it, I want to make sure that I have the quotes right and be able to site the book and verse), other than that we have some classics that get read, sherlock holmes, dracula and the unabridged complete works of Edgar Allan Poe to name a few. So about 8% of my bookshelf is ever touched and the rest of it might as well just be painted on the wall for all the good it does.

Yet, our dvd collection is used constantly, even the ones we don’t particularly care for get watched once in a while. Is that simply because you have to actively read a book while you can passively watch a movie, or do we (people in general) really hold a grudge against an author or a book that we would never hold against an actor or a movie?

Again, I have gone way off topic. I was intending to mention that Brooks had also done some books in the horror genre, I have never read any of them and was searching on Amazon when I found this link. It has nothing to do with his horror writing, but it does just go to prove that he readily admits that Tolkien was his main influence in the Shannara series. (I hope that link works).

Terry Brooks admits to ripping off Tolkien

With that, I think I am going to quit trying to defend him, and just remember his work with the fresh eyes I had a decade and a half ago. His work was the first that I had read in the fantasy genre and I really found it fascinating, knowing -now- that it was all pretty much ripped off from Tolkien can’t change the impact that it had on me in my early teens. Imagine if I had picked up that Piers Anthony novel and just hated it, I might never have read fantasy again. Instead I picked up Terry Brooks and became a fan of the genre. Knowing that I became a fan of someone who plagiarized (sp) someone elses’s work is a bit disheartening, but knowing that it is also the reason that I will be in line to buy the first edition of the Flux hardback should be enough to prove that his work had a profound effect on me.