Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Delusions of Adequacy

Cruise 'is Christ' of Scientology

US Editor, THE SUN (UK)
January 23, 2007

TOM Cruise is the new “Christ” of Scientology, according to leaders of the cult-like religion.

The Mission: Impossible star has been told he has been “chosen” to spread the word of his faith throughout the world.

And leader David Miscavige believes that in future, Cruise, 44, will be worshipped like Jesus for his work to raise awareness of the religion.

A source close to the actor, who has risen to one of the church’s top levels, said: “Tom has been told he is Scientology’s Christ-like figure.

“Like Christ, he’s been criticised for his views. But future generations will realise he was right.”

Cruise joined the Church of Scientology in the ’80s. Leader L Ron Hubbard claimed humans bear traces of an ancient alien civilisation.

Taking pot-shots at Scientology is too easy (as evidenced by the last line of the Sun's story) so I'm not even going to go there. I already have an opinion on Mr. Cruise (who does not believe that anyone should ever take psychiatric drugs): he is misguided at best but is probably simply a bleedin' idiot .

But Christ? Here's one reason why Tom Cruise is not like Christ:

The quote: "… Like Christ, [Cruise]’s been criticised for his views…"

I might have to consult my religious history advisor John Cowart on all the details, but I think if you take it back to the original Latin (or Aramaic) you'll discover (and everyone agrees, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Atheists, and Agnostics) Christ was CRUCIFIED for his views.

Tom Cruise: Criticized. Jesus Christ: Crucified.

So until the government tacks Maverick and his need for speed up to a tree and gets all Mel Gibson on his ass he's not the least bit like Christ.

Mr. Miscavige, you sir are an imbecile.

Photo: tomcruiseisnuts.com

Monday, January 22, 2007

Cry for Help versus Request for Help

Recently I had a powerful illustration of the difference.

One of Kelli's coworkers started acting strangely last November. Normally a relatively quiet but extremely kind man with a great sense of humor, Ben (not his real name) began talking a mile-a-minute and being otherwise boisterous and emotional. He was quick to laugh inappropriately and quicker to get inappropriately angry about trivial matters. Everyone noticed this change of behavior and he acknowledged it himself, explaining to a few coworkers (Kelli included) that he was going through a rough patch. He also mentioned he had been buying Xanax off of the internet because his local doctor would not prescribe it for him anymore.

The way the internet thing works is this: you pay for a "doctor's appointment" and you pay full price (plus) for the drugs and they get express mailed to you. Being an online enterprise, it's extremely difficult for the DEA to shut these places down. If you look, you'll find them. You will probably be able to get drugs inappropriately (read: illegally) but you might get drugs which have not been stored appropriately, you might get fake drugs, or you might not get anything and be scammed out of your money completely. And if there's a problem who do you expect to complain to? It would be a little like calling the police to report you were sold poor quality crack cocaine.

Anyway, Ben was getting progressively worse and self-medicating to the point of being dangerous. The managers at work pulled him aside and steered him to their employee assistance program. He continued self-medicating and his behavior deteriorated to the point where he was having problems putting together complete thoughts, was slurring his words, and was having problems with coordination.

January 1st he was arrested for driving under the influence (of Xanax). He told his coworkers the next day that it had happened (and felt picked on by the police).

A few days of erratic behavior at work later he was put on involuntary leave so he could get some more intensive help.

While the whole picture (or at least the whole picture as of now) was not clear until everyone compared notes later, pretty much everyone he worked with knew he was headed off the rails. Given the erratic behavior and wild emotional swings, some coworkers were understandably concerned that he could become violent toward them. More were concerned he was a candidate for suicide. Pretty much everyone guessed it was going to get much worse before it got any better.

Every move he made was a "cry for help."

January 7th, 2007, he was found dead at his home of an apparently unintentional prescription drug overdose. He was 39.

What an incredible waste.

Ben had family and he had friends and he had a longtime (although not live-in) girlfriend and every one of them, to a greater or lesser degree, tried to help him. Kelli had recommended specific counselors and tried her best to let him know that self-medicating was not the answer. For a strictly coworker relationship, she tried her best to help him out.

If you are close friends with someone you might be able to grab them by the scruff of their neck and drag them in for a psych eval but maybe not and definitely not if you are just a coworker.

Plus it is an essential ingredient for Ben to have actually wanted to get help. Comparing notes with his workers, friends, and family lead to the discovery that his agenda with regard to treatment was almost exclusively drug-seeking. He wasn't very successful locally so that's where the internet came in.

Ben had rights. He had the right to refuse treatment. If the police had deemed him a danger to himself or others he have been taken for a psych eval and could have been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital for no longer than 72 hours. Ditto a physician.

Friends could not have forced him into treatment.

Family could not have forced him into treatment.

Had he committed a crime (or had he been convicted eventually of the DUI) he could have been ordered by a court to either complete a treatment program or go to jail.

That's it, folks.

The only one who had the power to change things was Ben himself. He might have being "crying for help" with his actions but he never properly requested help and actively denied it in some cases.

Maybe it was pride, maybe he was not thinking clearly enough to know he seriously needed help, maybe… maybe… maybe….

The night he died he had left messages on the answering machine of his girlfriend requesting that she call him back although he knew (or should have known) that she was out of the country. I wish he'd have called a crisis line. I wish he'd have called 911.

I wish he'd have asked for help.


Xanax photo: http://www.opt.pacificu.edu/ce/catalog/11466-PH/WangDrugs.html

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Radio Contest Gone Awry

Here's a happy little news excerpt:

Woman in Water Drinking Contest Dies

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A woman who competed in a radio station's contest to see how much water she could drink without going to the bathroom died of water intoxication, the coroner's office said Saturday.

Jennifer Strange, 28, was found dead Friday in her suburban Rancho Cordova home hours after taking part in the "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest in which KDND 107.9 promised a Nintendo Wii video game system for the winner.

"She said to one of our supervisors that she was on her way home and her head was hurting her real bad," said Laura Rios, one of Strange's co-workers at Radiological Associates of Sacramento. "She was crying and that was the last that anyone had heard from her."

It was not immediately know how much water Strange consumed…

Full Story Here

I'm hoping for the sake of the jocks involved that Ms. Strange died in a bizarre coincidence unrelated to the radio contest but if I were a betting man I'd bet it was directly related to drinking water for a video game system.

People are easily led. People will do a lot of stupid things for fame and fortune. Sorry, that's just the way it is: people… they are not always level headed.

That being said: KDND killed that woman. No silly disclaimer of "don't do this if you can't handle it" is sufficient. KDND is the responsible party. KDND is the business entity which encouraged folks to perform a dangerous activity. KDND jocks probably yucked it up as several folks just couldn’t drink any more. They likely cheered Jennifer Strange on as she kept a-drinkin'.

KDND has a lot of explaining to do but they are not the only ones. We have plenty of, dare I say, absolutely irresponsible morning DJ morons in our little town of Los Anchorage who would have done the very same thing if they'd have thought of it first.

What happened to those halcyon days when being caller number 12 was thrill enough?

We recently had a DJ get a juvenile male to come down to a radio station with some sort of pellet gun and volunteer to get shot in the ass for some hockey tickets. Hockey games are fun, sure, but offering anyone, let alone a minor, compensation for intentionally injuring themselves in public… well, it's wrong.

Maybe I'm a party pooper because I'm not a fan of Jackass-type humor or Fear Factor type challenges.

Maybe I'm a party pooper because I work for the po-po and have to field calls from angry, frightened, or confused citizens who don't listen to the particular radio station and so don't understand that the naked man running across the shopping mall parking lot is not a crazed criminal but really someone who NEEDS to win some concert tickets.

Or maybe I am a party pooper because a 28 year old woman died for a stupid reason and someone in uniform had to go tell her parents that they no longer had a daughter.

Hope the KDND jocks got a good laugh over that too.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I have to go back to work on Saturday!!!

The horror…

Okay, actually I am looking forward to seeing my lovely coworkers – plus all the rest of them, but I'm always a little anxious after coming going back to work after some leave.

This being "The Panic Blog," the reason for the anxiety is… well, it's unknown. That's the thrill of anxiety, it just creeps up on you and goes "boo!"

Kelli's workmates are dealing with an unfortunate employee death (not work related) which I'll probably write about eventually because it's so sad but I'm procrastinating doing it… because it's so sad.

And I'm still a wee bit nervous about the results of the MRI. Did I mention that I should have nothing to worry about?

Hypochondria + Anxiety = Just Want To Sleep All Day

Which is bad… so bad, for so many reasons.

But I'm okay, just venting

Oh and the mummy is 600 years old and comes from the Amazon. Pretty interesting, actually. Check it out here:

Mummies of The Amazon (Evening Standard of London)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I'm hoping (for all sorts of obvious reasons) that the cardiac MRI performed on me today will come back with good news. It's not expected to come back with bad news so I'm not particularly worried on that front but there is a specific reason I want to bid my cardiologist 'goodbye.'

I do not want to have a cardiac MRI ever ever ever again.

It was not an "open" MRI machine.

I am, for the record, an "open" MRI shaped guy. Today they squeezed me into the equivalent of a culvert under a dirt road.

For an hour.

My arms were squeezed so close to my sides that both of my hands quickly "fell asleep" and by the end of the test I was seriously worried about permanent damage because I could no longer move several of my fingers or make a fist with either hand.

Also, there was a bit of dashed hopes in there too.

Because the test is an hour long they offer you a wide selection of music. Seriously wide. I could have chosen "Punk Rock," or "Booty Time," or nearly a hundred other categories.

My first choice was "Stand up Comedy" partly because I didn't feel comfortable enough to choose "Naughty Comedy."

This choice was quickly quashed on the grounds that laughing is discouraged during the test. Okay, no problem. Hmmmm. I don't even know what "Booty Time" is, except that it's in the "Urban" category. I guess folks in big cities listen to lots of rap and R/B. I noticed that they didn't have a "Rural" category but if they did I'd suspect you wouldn't be hearing a lot of songs by black artists. Evidently if you have a black singer in your band you are "Urban." Who knew?

By the way, let me remind you that one of the rockin'est rock bands in Rock History had a black singer: Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. But maybe he doesn't count because he was Irish.

There was not a category titled "Irish Rock," but if'n there was I would have picked it.

I ended up picking "Classic Rock." I like Led Zeppelin as much as the next guy and I haven't listened to most "classic rock" in quite some time so I figured this was as safe a choice as any.

As it turned out, it wouldn’t have mattered. I should have just picked "Booty Time" to see what all the fuss was. After a grand total of two songs the music system went tango-uniform.

Two songs.

"Magic Man" by Heart followed by a blues-rock guitar gravelly low-talking song (not Low Rider but close) whose name or artist or any meaningful lyrics totally escape me.

Then nothing. For an hour as my hands turned progressively into flippers I didn't get to hear any music. No distractions. Just me in my own head.

Not an entirely comforting place to be when my head starts to think of the various things I would need full control of my fingers to continue doing – my job, as only one example.

An hour later they slid me out of the machine and the blood flowed again to my fingers and a minute or so after that I had full digital dexterity. Whew.

Oh yeah and it cost a shit-load of money but I really can't complain about that part of it since my entire hospital stay last month was covered 100% by my insurance (I had met my maximum yearly co-pay due to the earlier belly-button repair surgery).

But I'm not volunteering to do it again soon if I can help it.

Now that I can cross my fingers again I'll do so until my follow-up on the 24th.



MRI unit http://www.strokecenter.org

Heart MRI picture: http://www.brighamandwomens.org/

Friday, January 05, 2007

Bullet Proof Undies Save The Day

Woman's Bra Saves Her From Bullet
Jan 05 3:22 PM US/Eastern

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- One woman discovered on New
Year's Eve that her bra could do more than lift and support when a falling
bullet was halted by the bra strap on her left shoulder. Debbie Bingham, 46,
an Atlanta resident visiting family in St. Petersburg, said her gold bra slowed
the falling bullet during the holiday celebrations.

Her injuries may have been much more severe had it not been for her bra strap, said George Kajtsa, spokesman for the St. Petersburg Police Department.

Bingham says she was outside with her daughter and son, ringing in the New Year and viewing the local fireworks display when she felt a sharp pain in her left shoulder at 11:40 p.m. It was Bingham's daughter, Solanda Bingham, 30, who first noticed the blood seeping through her mother's white shirt.

"We were sitting at the picnic table and listening to music and my mom said, 'Ow,'" the daughter said.

The daughter said she looked over and saw the blood and shouted "My mother's been shot. My mother's been shot."

The bullet was halfway inside of Bingham's bra, and the other half barely breaking the skin, Bingham later told WTSP-TV.

Someone had fired a gun into the air and as the .45-caliber bullet fell back to earth, Bingham was struck. Kajtsa described the wound as a "big scratch with bruising."

Bingham was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg where she was given five stitches. The bullet was lodged into the bra tap was only removed when doctors intervened and cut the bullet from the strap.

St. Petersburg police are still searching for the shooter to determine if Bingham was the target of the gunfire or if she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, Kajtsa said.

Shooting a weapon inside the city limits is a
misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail, Kajtsa

As for Bingham, she said she is just thankful for her
bra. "It was a very cheap bra. It wasn't very expensive, and I'd love to have a
couple more of those bras," she told WTSP.

It Sucks To Get Old

Police say woman stole patients’ IDs

January 4, 2007

Lakeland, South Carolina, Index-Journal staff writer

An arrest has been made in an identity theft case involving a contract nurse at Self Regional Healthcare.
Dianna Johnson, 55, of Savannah, Ga., was arrested by the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office and charged with four counts of financial identity fraud….

Johnson is accused of taking the personal information— name, Social Security number, etc.— of Self Regional patients from their patient information sheets and using it to apply for credit cards. Authorities allege she took the credit cards and spent the maximum amount allowed before disposing of the card. She, of course, did not pay the accompanying bills, they say.

“Many of these patients were very elderly,” said Chief Deputy Mike Frederick. “They were the type of people who weren’t going to be checking their credit reports or applying for a credit card. It was a highly unethical situation.”

Johnson worked for Self as a contract nurse, a type of temporary work in which she would travel around and work at different hospitals for short periods of time….

Frederick said Johnson has been participating in financial fraud for more than 10 years in five states around the Southeast. He indicated the case is likely to be worked in conjunction with the Secret Service because of the long amount of time Johnson’s alleged crimes have gone on.

GCSO investigator Wayne Findley expounded on Secret Service involvement. “Johnson traveled extensively through the southern United States as part of her contract employment,” Findley said. “So we’re coordinating with the U.S. Secret Service now to ensure all these cases get wrapped up.”

Frederick said Johnson’s personal computer is likely to contain a treasure trove of evidence against her.
“She indicated to us that she had a computer which contained a large amount of evidence dating back nearly 10 years,” Frederick said….

Lakeland Index-Journal

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Clash of the Retail Titans

Williams-Sonoma: Target is stealing designs

MINNEAPOLIS -- One of the nation's trendiest home furnishings retailers has accused Target Corp. of systematically copying its designs on a range of products, from Christmas stockings to votive candleholders.

The lawsuit suggests Target hides behind its vendors, insisting they indemnify the corporation from such lawsuits, at the same time it specifies precisely what products look like.

Copyright infringement lawsuits among retailers and designers have become more frequent in recent years, as competition for the shoppers' wallet intensifies and mainstream retailers attempt to up their style quotient. Many of these lawsuits are dismissed or quietly settled.

Williams-Sonoma Inc., which operates Pottery Barn and other chains, claims in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday that a quilted Christmas stocking sold at Target stores contains "every distinctive element of Pottery Barn Christmas stockings," right down to the snowflakes and blue sky.

More pointedly, the company says the stocking infringement is part of a "longstanding pattern of copying by Target of (Williams-Sonoma) designs for rugs, linens, tableware, furniture, lamps and other products."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

For Brit Kids, It Ain't Easy Being Cheesey

From the U.K.'s 'The Daily Mail'

TV ban on adverts for cheese, the latest 'junk food'

Last updated at 08:41am on 3rd January 2007

Cheese is to be treated as junk food under new advertising rules for children's television.

Commercials promoting it will be banned during children's TV programmes and those with a large proportion of young viewers.

The rules, which come into force this month, are part of a Government drive to reduce children's exposure to foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

Much to the disgust of its makers, cheese is to be regarded in the same light as crisps, sugary cereals and cheeseburgers.

In fact, under the criteria used by the Food Standards Agency to determine junk foods, such products are actually regarded as healthier than cheese.

The ban follows evidence that TV commercials have an indirect influence on what children eat and are contributing to obesity in the young.

The Food Standards Agency model assesses the fat, sugar and salt content in a 100g or 100ml serving of food or drink.

But the British Cheese Board points out that a typical portion of cheese was 30 to 40g - not the 100g used in the agency's model.

Most cheese would be exempt from the ban if a typical portion had been used in the calculations, according to the board.

It pointed out that cheese was one of the most 'nutritionally complete' foods.

The National Farmers' Union described the decision as ' nannying gone mad'.

'To suggest there is anything inherently harmful about cheese is absurd,' spokesman Anthony Gibson said.

'There is no such thing as a bad food. It is just how much of it you eat, in what balance and how much exercise you take.'

He said the new rules were 'of no use to consumers', adding: 'It may very well put them off eating healthy things.'

Mary Quicke, who runs Quickes Cheese in Devon, producing handmade cheddar, said the rules had left her 'speechless'. ' Frankly, it's bonkers,' she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

She said the FSA's decision to assess cheese using a 100g portion was ridiculous. 'Imagine eating 100 grams of cheese - that's four ounces. You would have to be a pretty dedicated eater of cheese to get around that.'

Other foods banned from advertising during children's TV include: Marmite, Flora Lite, half-fat cheddar, Dairylea triangles, bran flakes, camembert, sugar-coated puffed wheat, instant hot oat cereal, Jaffa cakes, reduced calorie mayonnaise, multi-grain hoop cereal, half-fat creme fraiche, takeaway chicken nuggets, potato waffles, Greek yoghurt (from sheep's milk), ham, sausages, bacon rashers, low-fat spreads, peanuts, cashew nuts, pistachio-nuts, peanut butter, raisins, sultanas, currants, low-fat potato crisps, olive oil, butter, pizza, hamburgers, tomato ketchup, chocolate, brown sauce, cola and lemonade.

Foods which escape the ban include: Plain fromage frais, fish fingers, lasagne ready meals, currant buns, malt loaf, frozen roast potatoes, chicken curry with rice ready meal, frozen oven chips, sliced white bread, cottage cheese, supermarket frozen chicken nuggets, milk, brazil nuts, canned strawberries in syrup, diet cola and chocolate-flavoured milk.

Daily Mail

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ethics Question + Update

Tell me what you think:

Is it appropriate for a news agency to identify an alleged sexual assault victim by their initials?

The reason for the question relates to the following news story.

I'll quote directly from the Anchorage Daily News for the facts since I have absolutely no problem with their reportage on this one:

An Anchorage man killed on New Year's Day was stabbed numerous times in a confrontation with a man he accused of raping his girlfriend’s teenage daughter, according to formal charges filed Tuesday.

Keilan Ebli, 20, of Anchorage was charged with first-degree murder, first- and second-degree sexual assault and tampering with evidence in connection with the death of William Oestreich. Ebli was scheduled to appear in court this afternoon along with a suspect in an unrelated New Year’s Day shooting that left two people dead.

Oestreich, 45, had gone with his girlfriend to pick up the woman’s daughter from an apartment in the 600 block of east 16th Avenue early Monday morning.

The couple went there in response to a call from the girl that she woke up naked on the floor of Ebli’s bedroom and had been raped by him, according to charging documents. The girl had arrived earlier by cab and was “very intoxicated,” Ebli’s roommate told police.

The mother told police that Oestreich hit Ebli, possibly with a bottle. The men began arguing until downstairs tenants told Ebli to quiet down and persuaded Oestreich to leave.

Soon after Ebli ran down the stairs past the tenants, yelling “I’m going to kill you” and carrying a knife, court records say. When he returned, Ebli told them he had stabbed the man and the tenants then found Oestreich lying on the street bleeding, according to the court records.

Police were called and arrived shortly after 4 a.m. Monday. Oestreich was taken to an Anchorage hospital, where he died during surgery.

Officers found Ebli hiding under a bed, according to the court records. He told police he was intoxicated when the girl arrived and that they had consensual sex but that the girl got upset when she couldn’t find her clothes.

Ebli also told police he was sleeping when Oestreich hit him on the head. The court papers say Ebli had a cut on the back of his head that required medical attention.

Ebli denied any knowledge about the stabbing. Police found several knives in the apartment that tested positive for blood as well as a towel bearing the bloody shape of a knife, according to court documents. Blood also was found in the bedroom and outside the apartment leading to the street.

Ebli was arrested and was being held on $200,000 cash-only bail.

This is pretty sensational by Los Anchorage standards so it's fair that all media outlets have been reporting extensively about the homicide.

One TV news station, which I will not name, during their report on the nightly news tonight mentioned the alleged sexual assault victim's initials no less than 4 times by the reporter and a fifth time by showing a clip of the judge at the suspect's arraignment reading the portion of the bail which mentioned no contact with the victim.

I don't know how old the sexual assault victim is but another station's website (KTVA CBS Channel 11) reported: " According to charging documents in the case, Ebli sexually assaulted, then raped an underage girl as she was passed out drunk in his apartment."

So she's a minor too? What is gained by disclosing the initials of a juvenile sexual assault victim?

Tell me I'm overreacting.

Oh and I have an email in to the folks at the news station. I’m interested to see what they have to say.


Anchorage Daily News Story

KTVA News Story


UPDATE: 1/3/2007

I have my answer.
For the record, the news agency was KTUU Channel 2 Newshour, the reporter was
Rebecca Palsha, and the managing editor is Jason Moore.
I sent Moore (and cc'd Palsha) the following email: 
Is it standard practice to identify the initials of a sexual
assault victim?
During the 6 o'clock news report tonight (12/2/07) regarding the Oestreich homicide
reporter Rebecca Palsha referred to a sexual assault victim by her initials no less
than 4 times in addition to showing a clip of the judge at the arraignment saying the
initials (there was clearly no other reason for this clip to be shown).
While I realize that the initials were available in court documents and were spoken
aloud by the judge at the suspect's arraignment, what is the rationale behind using
the initials over and over during a broadcast? Why on earth would you seek to identify
a sexual assault victim to the public? It would not be difficult for even casual
acquaintances of the family to piece together the identity of the victim by her initials.
I am curious as to the editorial thought process behind this decision.
Thank you in advance for responding,
 Eric Anderson
I received the following response from Jason Moore:
Mr. Anderson,
A manager here did review the Rebecca script and felt as though the initials
gave the victim adequate anonymity. We discussed it this morning and realize
it was probably not the right decision and will make future references to sexual
assault victims in more general terms such as "the victim."
Which is really all I wanted to hear.   
I sent him a quick reply thanking him, mentioning that I
had thought I was watching FOX for a moment, and adding
with relief that I would continue to be a faithful watcher of
the Newshour.

** Another update!! **

This from Steve Mac Donald, Assistant News Director:

Dear Mr. Anderson,

We clearly made a mistake. We never should have used the
victims initials. In past stories of this nature we've either
made up initials or simply referred to the person as
"the victim."
I've spoken to the reporter and the person who checked her
script to make sure this error is never repeated.
It is something that should never have aired and feel
terrible that it did. We've always taken great care in
protecting victims of sexual crimes always siding with more
protection rather than less.
We will do our best to never do this again.
Thank you for writing.


Steve Mac Donald

Ch 2 News

Monday, January 01, 2007

Ricky Gervais Made Me Weep, Stephen King Warms My Heart, Poorly Done Vampire Novels are Crap.

Convalescing recently has given me the opportunity to get through a lot of audiobooks so I have some observations for you:

Want a great example of why audio is sometimes the way to go? Try:

Born to Kvetch by Michael Wex

It's a book about the Yiddish language primarily and it's quite scholarly. Learning about the language requires learning about everyday Jewish life and Jewish customs so it's very educational beyond the linguistics. But beyond even this is the fact that's it's funny as hell. For instance he explains why someone might refer to himself as a schmuck but never as a putz, although at a basic level they are both slang for the same thing. He's not afraid to use equally vulgar English phrases in comparison either. It's not just a naughty book but if you like that kind of thing, it's in there too.

Audio is the only way to learn about a language – you must hear it spoken to understand how it flows.

How about some comedy?

Larry Miller's Spoiled Rotten America is a great book. Miller's observations are mostly standard quality comedy but some little things in here are great. I won't ruin it for you though. He does explain how we can fix The Godfather III though, which is priceless.

Next up is Little Children by Tom Perrotta. This starts out a little like a Lifetime movie but soon turns into something deeper. Not much deeper but it's a good listen. Plus the upcoming movie has a great cast: Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, and a grown up and creepy Jackie "Bad News Bears" Earle Haley.

Now let's talk about a book to avoid:

Undead and Unappreciated by Mary Janice Davidson. We can credit Davidson for some spectacularly bad writing and Nancy Wu for capturing it in her annoying performance. It’s not even Wu's fault. The main character is a newly turned vampire queen named Betsy. Even the completely unnecessary sex scene is poorly done. I'm rating this one: crap on a stick.

Another to take a pass on but for different reasons is Blood Hunt by Ian Rankin.
Sometimes when good writers write under pseudonyms, they should let the secret stay a secret. I only bought this book because Rankin wrote it but this is a sorry knock-off of First Blood. David Morrell is not as good a writer but tells a better story than this. Sorry Ian, the next time I'm up for a good Scottish thriller, I'll pick up a Val McDermid or a Denise Mina book instead.

Next onto historical fiction: The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden is interesting but about 3 hours too long. I'm still interested in seeing the movie with Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin, though. I'd say wait for the movie.

The best fiction I've listened to in some time has got to be Hearts In Atlantis by Stephen King read by William Hurt. Stephen King is a great storyteller and can always draw me in. I'm still listening to this one but I am enjoying every word.

Also good is Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen. Hiaasen is always a good read and this is no exception. If you've never read him before, also check out: Double Whammy, Skin Tight, Lucky You, Sick Puppy, and Tourist Season… among others.

The best surprise I've had in audio is the Ricky Gervais show. Audible.com has it and I gather it's on iTunes too. It's hil-arious. At first I wasn't sure I'd like it because the gist of the show is that Ricky and his friend Steve pick on their producer Karl Pilkington. But Karl's observations are so… well: idiot/genius. I almost never laugh out loud at any comedy under any setting but I was laughing so hard I was in tears. I cannot listen to this in bed because Kelli thinks I'm having a seizure.


I don't make New Years resolutions since they just beg to be ignored and then there is the inevitable feeling of failure. Who needs that?

Hopefully this year will be more active and less medically eventful.

I intend to blog more than I have since the middle of 2006 but if today is any indication I'm not always going to be all that motivated.

Blah. I think I have the January blahs.

That being said I'm grateful for my family and friends. It seems more like Thanksgiving than New Years Day.

Pass the cranberries.

Photo: oldrecipebook.com/turkey-dinner-tips.shtml