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The Jaded Coyote
I know, I know, it's been awhile since I've written anything here.  I suppose like anything else it comes in circles, so to speak.  Well earlier this week I was given an amazing gift, with one of the most wonderful and touching stories I'll probably ever hear.

My Grandmother passed away last November.  She and my Grandfather were married in the 1940's (the exact date escapes me at the moment).  My Grandfather was drafted into the Army during WWII, and served as a cook throughout France and Germany. 

I was over my Grandfather's a few days ago, and I noticed a drawing on a shelf that was obviously of him and my Grandmother at a young age.  So I asked him about it.  He explained that when he was in the Army, he carried a picture of my Grandmother with him from her senior year in high school.  (They were high school sweethearts)  One day a worker (he thinks Yugoslavian) saw the photo, and offered to make a drawing.  He would draw the photo of my Grandmother, then draw my Grandfather next to her.  Consider the resources that were probably available the likeness is stunning.  All this time, my Grandfather kept the drawing.

I was over my Grandfather's again the next day, and he set a box on the table.  Out of the box he pulled out a framed copy drawing of the one he told me about.  Then he handed it to me, and said he'd like me to have it.  I damn near teared up.  So now it hangs on my living room wall, and I know I'm going always be amazed and touched by the story that goes with the drawing.

It's simply incredible.
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Screamers 2: The Hunting -  Yes, yes, I know it's as bad as it sounds.  Remember a low-budget sci-fi movie from about 10 years ago, starring Peter Weller (the Robocop guy) about killer robots that burrowed under the ground on a desolate planet?  Well this is the direct-to-dvd sequel.  For what I was expecting (and it wasn't much, I assure you) it was a good way to kill 90 minutes.  Terrible story, horrible acting, but a decent amount of gore.  Plus it has Lance Henrikson in a small role.

Punisher War Zone - There are NO redeeming qualities to this movie in terms of story, acting, and well pretty much everything else with two exceptions.  Ray Stevenson makes a good Punisher, he has the look, the gravelly voice, and makes you believe he's Frank Castle.  The other is the violence, which is completely over the top like a very R-rated road runner cartoon.  They show a guy get thrown into a glass-grinder, then the machine turned on.  Someone else has his face caved in by the Punisher's fist, and yes they show it.  Or the shotgun blast to another's head, showing the complete annhilation of said head.  It's worth one rental, maybe two if you're feeling particularly pissed off and just want to watch some violence.

Body of Lies - This was okay.  I've seen better from Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe, and Leonardo Dicaprio.  The action scenes were good, the drama was decent, but it just never really grabbed me the way I hoped it would.  Honestly it felt like a mostly standard espionage thriller.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't really standout good either.  It's worth a rental if you've never seen it, but I don't think I'll be catching it again anytime soon.

The Mutant Chronicles - This opens in theaters at the end of April, but on xbox live or time warner on-demand you can actually watch the movie now.  It's low budget with a very stylized look similliar to Sin City (but in color for the most part, although there are lots of washed out grays).  It's set in the future with a WWI-vibe as humans fight mutants on a dying earth.  It's short, very fast-paced, and I surprisingly enjoyed it a lot.  It never tries to bullshit you into thinking it's trying to be anything other than what it set out to be.  A mean, quick, dirty little monster movie that has a good cast.  Watching the trailers I had my doubts, but it definitely has cult classic written all over it.  Thomas Jane should be a bigger action star than he is, it's a shame this probably won't get much of a release or success in the box office.

I also finished Star Wars Fate of the Jedi: Outcast by Aaron Allston.  I also enjoyed this a lot, particularly the Luke/Ben Skywalker interactions.  The Han/Leia subplot felt a little tacked on considering everything else going on, but despite being a fast read I enjoyed more than the last SW series.  Hopefully this series is a turn back to what I enjoyed reading about in the first place, adventure in the Star Wars universe with some danger, rather than the "let's see how badly we can crap on the "big three" it has been the last few years.
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I've started re-reading Stephen R. Donaldson's fourth "Gap" novel, "Order and Chaos" today.  I originally read the series more than 5-6 years ago, and wow....did I miss a lot on the first read-through.  But I absolutely love the series, which is ironic considering I've tried several times to read the Thomas Covenant Chronicles and I just can't get through the first book.  *shrug*

I've seen Watchmen, and it's good.  Not as awesome, awe-spiring, comic movie as people expect.  The changed ending works well enough, I think it'll work better with the aforementioned director's cut that probably has a lot of the character moments needed for the bumpy parts.  Ironically enough there's only one or two small yet pivotal scenes I hope to see, that I think will really make the movie perfect.  Still it's astonishingingly detailed, and it IS worth seeing for Rorshach alone.

Battlestar Galactica is nearly at it's end.  In a way I'll be glad, I'm ready to see the finish.  The show has been interesting, intense, and incredible.  The last episodes, especially with the Galactica's impending destruction, have really harkened back to what I loved early in the series, when it was an intense on-the-run story with the humans constantly hounded non-stop by the Cylons.  They lost that somewhere in building up the mythology, I think, but the impending sense of "the end" has brought that back a little.
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Let's try to start some sort of discussion, shall we?

I absolutely LOVED this book, and I'm not sure there could be a bigger love letter to the "original" trilogy or "classic" characters.  It hit all the right beats, from the way Han and Leia were characterized, to how Luke's growing doubts of himself in a general's position, to the perfect way Stover nailed R2-D2.  Who was nearly my favorite character in the book, and I chuckled out loud a few times when reading from R2's point of view.  It also has quite a few nods and ties to past novels (Stover and otherwise), and bonus points to anyone who can name the scene that was mentioned in The Courtship of Princess Leia that came out years ago.  Of course one of the funniest scenes is around the middle of the book, when something...ironic happens in the cargo hold of the Millenium Falcon.

The book definetely felt like a true adventure.  It also really drove home just what has been missing from Star Wars novels the last few years, which again is the sense of adventure.  I believe Matt mentioned it in an interview, but one of his ideas behind this novel and it's sense of adventure had to do with just how abuse and suffering the characters seem to go through these days.  Death after death in the Solo and Skywalker families, the last several series have been filled with one tragedy after another.  The Legacy of the Force in particular is brutal to everyone.  And that sense of pure adventure, is why I fell in love with Star Wars in the first place.  It's been sorely missed.  Here's hoping the new series will take some notes, and return to this feel.

So what did everyone think?  Anyone have anything against spoiler-filled discussion?
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Geez, this thing is really getting away from me these days.  You know what I miss on the internet though?  A good discussion board.  I've hardly talked about CAINE BLACK KNIFE or LUKE SKYWALKER AND THE SHADOWS OF MINDOR with......well, pretty much anyone.  What does everyone think of Matt Smith being cast as the new Doctor??  What did folks think of the series finale of The Shield???  Is anyone watching the final episodes of Battlestar Galactica?!  What the frak??  *sigh*

Still, things have been busy anyone.  Busy but good.  In fact consider me....cautiously optimistic at the moment.  In two more shifts I'll officially be off my mandatory first-year probation.  Woohoo!!!  I've managed to keep off all the holiday weight I gained last year, and stayed close to what I was before the holiday.  Er...in other words I only gained a couple pounds, which I've shed over the last couple of weeks.  I'm also reading CHOICE OF THE CAT by E.E. Knight, the second book inte "Vampire Earth" series.  It's not bad, sort of like a summer-popcorn movie in book form.  I'm also glad most of the snow we've recently gotten has melted, although it did make for good snow tubing a few days ago.  I also have some funny pictures of the pups (are they still pups?  They're just over a year old now, but I still call 'em pups) playing in the snow.

I should write tonight, but at this point I'm worn out.  I've been hitting the treadmill in the morning and in the evening to doubltime my efforts to hit my target weight.  I'd like to lost another 20lbs over the course of the year.  I know, it wouldn't be a problem if I ate like I should.  But I like my beer and pizza dammit!!!!  Still I'm pretty sure once spring arrives I'll lose it in record time, and hopefully keep it off.

Next on my list of things to do?  Something I haven't done in about five years......travel!!!  I really want to travel somewhere this summer, hopefully I'll be able to.  Anyway enough rambling, to let folks know I'm still online.  Without further adieu.....snow puppies!!!!

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