Thursday, December 06, 2007


I finally ordered Heroes a few weeks ago. I’d wanted to get it because I’d heard good things on both Television Without Pity and Pajiba but then when it was actually released, I waited to get it because I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon, and I’d heard the second season wasn’t quite as good. Once I heard that Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars!) was in the second season, though, I had to check the show out.

It was as good as everyone says; a bit corny at first, but that’s probably due to the fact that it’s very much like a comic book. In and of itself, it wasn’t exactly original and followed many of the formulas – the villain that had at one point been friendly with the good guys before turning to the dark side, a conspiracy theory with a sinister organization, etc. Like X-Men (I’m only familiar with the movies; actually I’m only familiar with the movie adaptations of any comic), the powers were a result of genetic mutations and the next step in evolution, and there’s a large slew of superheroes with different powers. When it comes down to it, it’s probably nearly impossible to be creative when it comes to superheroes and superpowers. After so many years and different creations, it’s not easy to come up with a new superpower, especially when series like X-Men or The 4400 have such a large variety of characters, and they all have to have slightly different abilities. The characters in Heroes had most of the usual powers: flight, telekinesis, ability to see the future, telepathy, super-strength, etc. Nothing too original, but it’s not like any of these ideas have been new recently. The Greeks had Icarus and Daedalus for flight (even if one of them failed), Hercules for extra human strength, and Teiresias, the seer, to tell the future as well as the Oracle. I can’t remember the Epic of Gilgamesh that well but I’m sure it, too, had some of those powers, and whatever stories and folklore preceded The Gilgamesh probably also contained those types of characters. I guess those ideas have always fascinated human kind, and the only new powers are a result and a reflection of changing cultures and new scientific discoveries (as an example, the kid in Heroes that can “talk” to machines and the man who was basically a walking nuclear bomb).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Highlights of the Last Two Weeks

I ran in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. It went alright, but I had really wanted to know how long it would take me to run 3.1 miles (or whatever 5 K is) and they didn’t have a official time at the finish run. Since I was expecting an official clock, I didn’t even look at my watch, not that it would have given me a very exact time. Well, either way, at least I can say I did it which is what I was really after. I definitely didn’t care about placing or anything like that since I’m not very fast. Still, I’ve been reading Runner’s World since getting to Iraq so I kind of want to start challenging myself more. I’ve been slacking on my cardio lately but I should be picking it up again now. I’m getting tired of running on the treadmill and would like to run outside, but I am not allowed to use headphones on the base so that makes it less enticing (I couldn’t even use them on the Turkey Trot – I couldn’t even imagine running in a marathon – not that I would - without music, and there’s going to be one in the spring – that’s four hours or five hours of just listening to your feet hit the ground). At least it’s cooled off now so if I wanted to I could run during the day on my own; I don’t like the idea of running alone in the dark out here and the guy I work out with is too fast to be a running partner.

We had a 9-Mil competition about a week ago. Five of us went but only two of us participated in the actual competition. We all shot horribly on the familiarization so when the commander chose our team, the best shooters had hit the paper all of 3 or 4 times out of 30 (that’s pretty much how it went for all the companies). The only other time I’ve shot a 9-Mil, the targets were closer and larger. Plus, I could see where I was hitting and adjust based on that, while with this, we just shot 30 rounds and then checked where they went. The commander, for example, had forgotten that his 9-Mil shoots high and since he had no way to check where he was hitting while firing, he didn't remember until he got his paper off the target. I hit the paper once.

I also got promoted last week. I invited the Battalion Commander at the commander’s recommendation, and the Brigade Commander came as well. I had the XO and another platoon leader/workout partner pin me, though apparently I messed up a bit with that one – I should have included the commander in there somewhere but I just wasn’t thinking. At least he prevented me from making another breach in etiquette with the BC. Also, during my speech, I think I forgot to thank the commander. I guess that’s why Oscar winners always get to talk again at the press conferences for when they forget their spouses/parents/bosses. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a second shot to make up for that oversight.

Other than that, I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping. I used Amazon for most things, and of the things I ordered to have shipped to Iraq, there was only one thing that couldn’t be sent to an APO so I got lucky.* Apparently, a friend of mine is having some problems because everything he tries to order for me won’t ship to an APO (I guess one of the items was too big, but other than that, I have no clue what he’s been trying to buy).

*Or at least I thought I did until about ten minutes ago when I got an email from my mom asking me why she had received a package with certain items in it. At least it's all little stuff so it shouldn't be too big of an issue to find room for it in a package.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Two Books, One Author - Maggie O'Farrell

I haven't read too much in the last few weeks. I started a novel, and for some reason I just can't get into it. I'd been really excited about starting it, too. I'm not sure what's going on. I wanted to finish this book before I started anything else but that plan has already backfired twice; still, it's slowing me down.

The first book that made me decide I could read two books at once was The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. It had been recommended to me from Barnes and Noble, and the story description was enough to pique my interest. The novel was well-written, and O'Farrell played around with the chronology very well, giving hints to an old secret that more or less motivated all the events thereafter while waiting to completely reveal it. Of course, I've read enough where I kind of knew where it was going, though I was slightly wrong about the order of some things. The characters were still pretty interesting, she didn't tie everything up nicely in the end, especially concerning Iris, one of the three main characters. One of the other characters has Alzheimer's so when things are written from her point of view, they are more fragmented than with the other two women. That part was slightly reminiscent of the beginning of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury for me since it, too, jumps around quite a bit. Vanishing Act is much less difficult, however, because while fragmented, it is still seen through a grown woman's eyes rather than a man whose mental abilities are equivalent to those of a young child. The actual plot itself wasn't anything incredibly new but the presentation worked well.

Still, I wasn't sure if I'd actually go run out and read another novel by O'Farrell but as it turned out, I had ordered one - I think when I ordered the first one, Amazon did the whole "other people who ordered that ordered this" thing, and when I clicked on the link, the other novel sounded like it had possibilities as well as good reviews. I don't think I even noticed it was the same author. Anyway, I started that one yesterday and finished it today (I don't know why I can't finish the other book!) After You'd Gone also went back and forth in time a lot like her other novel (and the book I can't finish, for that matter). I actually liked it much more than The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. It was very powerful. The novel begins with Alice's suicide attempt, and then retraces different parts of her life through her perspective, and her family's perspective. Some secrets are revealed in the process as it shows what could cause a strong, temperamental person to despair enough to step in front of traffic.

And now back to that other book. I will finish it eventually; even if A Moveable Feast is looking very tempting right now. Not to mention the 2nd and 3rd seasons of Six Feet Under. I guess that was another issue - I've also watched Heroes and the 1st season of Six Feet Under in the last few weeks instead of reading.