Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween with a Flare

Happy Halloween! I know, I'm a bit early, but I've gotta get this out now, because this weekend I'm going to be busy gearing up for nanowrimo(Hooray!). Oh, and I'd also like to say Happy Birthday to Mr. Jim Butcher, who gave me a great surprise today: the early release of Side Jobs! I was dying to get my hands on this anthology of short stories from the Dresden Files. It was set to come out on November 11th, but by chance I checked his web page and found out that it was coming out today. I raced down to Barnes and Noble and literally got the first copy as it was coming off the truck. If you are a fan of the series, and have read Changes, you may be interested to know that there is a hefty little novella called aftermath in there, one that takes place one to two hours after the end of Changes and is from Murphy's POV. Guess what I'll be staying up reading tonight?
Anyway, it's Halloween time, and, among other things, that means carving jack o' lanterns. For me, not just any old scary face will do. I like to try to push myself and carve really cool pumpkins. It's fun for the family, and my wife, ever the good sport, is good enough to help out. Here are the four jack o' lanterns we did this year. The first two were done by my wife, the last two by me:

Pretty cool, huh? Anyway, like I was saying, I went to Barnes and Noble today. I noticed that right near the front they have a table dedicated to their picks for Halloween reading. I wandered over, seeing what was what.
I was appalled.
There were no less than two dozen crappy vampire romances and at least that many dumb zombie books. There were only a couple that I would even consider reading, and yet this was the best they had to offer? Well, in hopes of setting this travesty to rights, I have prepared my picks for Halloween. I hope you enjoy:
  • Salem's Lot by Stephen King. This was just excellent fiction, and though it is somewhat dated, I think that it adds to the feel of the book all the more. The book is basically a re-imagining of Dracula, if he were to come to the U.S. in the 1970's. It is a creepy book, and there are two or three parts in there that make me jump no matter how many times I read it. Five stars for this book. Loved it. Beware, King loves his profanity.
  • I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Not the movie. No, please, not the movie. The book was so good. Robinson Crusoe in a world of vampires. The last man on earth is not alone. This book was so eerie, and the ending was a kick in the gut that you don't see coming. (It also makes way more sense than the stupid movie ending) Read this book. Five stars, again, loved it, beware of some profanity, drinking, dreary feelings etc....
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Graham Smith and Jane Austen. A unique re-working of the original classic that actually allowed me to finish it. It was smartly done and funny, and worth reading if you are a fan of the book. Still, it was a little slow for me, but I attribute that to it having too much Pride and Prejudice and not enough Zombies. Three stars, a fun, quick read. I don't think there's anything too questionable that you have to be aware of.
  • Feed by Mira Grant. The mainstream media was caught off-guard when the zombie apocalypse ravaged the world. But the bloggers knew. Oh yes, they knew, and they were prepared to step up when it fell to them to save the world. This was a fun book, though it is not terribly action oriented. It is 1/3 zombies, 2/3 political thriller, written from the POV of three bloggers who have stepped up into major roles in the new media of the survivors of a post-apocalyptic zombie-ravaged society. Three stars. Profanity and some questionable content.
Those should keep you busy this week if you're looking for something to read. And don't forget, nanowrimo is coming up, and it's a perfect chance to motivate yourself to get some extra work done. I did a whole novel last year; a YA novel called Ragnarok. It needed some cleaning up, but it's nice to get a whole work out in such a short period of time. Try it. Go ahead, take me up on it. I dare you.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

House vs Holmes

A few months ago my wife started recording and watching a new TV show.(New to our home anyway, we don't watch TV much). Anyway, she wanted me to sit down and watch it with her. The name of that show was House. I asked her what it was about.
"A doctor. It's really funny. You'll like it."
Hmm. Medical drama? Like E.R.? Ugh. My first inclination was to pass, but my wife, ever persistent, managed to get me to watch an episode.
I'm glad I did.
Since that time I've been on a marathon, watching the first five seasons. I love the snarky dialogue, the sarcasm, and hey, even the medical mystery stuff is pretty cool. I normally hate medical shows. But this was different. And after a while I realized why.
It wasn't just a medical drama.
It was Sherlock Holmes, re imagined.
You may have drawn the same conclusion, you may not have. But consider the following. First, let's start with House's name. House. Sherlock Holmes last name sounds like "homes". Another word for home is "house".
Next, of course, they are both extremely intelligent and can deduce much from just looking at a person. Both fight deadly villains, be they criminals in the night or diseases that hide in the body. Holmes was an opiate and cocaine user, if not an addict, and House of course loves his yummy yummy Vicodin. Both men are extremely arrogant, yet it is acceptable because they are also extremely competent.
Holmes always referred to Dr. John Watson(initials J.W) as Watson, and House calls Dr. James Wilson(initials also J.W.) by his last name as well. Both prefer to hold others at a distance, though they allow their best friend to come a little bit closer.
Holmes and House both are notoriously lazy when not involved with a case. Both escape through music, Holmes with the violin, House with his piano. Holmes read the agony columns in the paper. House watches his soaps. Both are loath to accept the authority they have over them. Holmes with Inspector Lestrade, House with Dr. Cuddy.
And, in case you're not yet convinced that I have too much time on my hands to have noticed all of these similarities, here's the kicker. Holmes lives at the fabled residence at 221 B Baker Street. And check out this picture of House's apartment as he talks to Wilson:

Anyway, both Holmes and House are great. I've read the Complete Sherlock Holmes, as well as seen the movies, and read short stories by other authors emulating Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work, such as Stephen King. And House, through five seasons so far has held my attention and made me laugh in each episode.
So, here's the question.
Which of the two is the better character?
I'd honestly like to know what you think. I personally believe that House is a much more personable character, that we get inside his head more, and that makes him the character to whom I relate to more. Holmes is great, but it's House's shortcomings that really make him the better character for me. Oh, and his clinic hours. I can't forget those.
So let me know what you think. Let's see how many votes we get for each. Who will win? Holmes? Or has he met his match?