Michael Connelly

August 6th, 2005

Michael Connelly, author of the Harry Bosch series will be on tour in the Northeast in late 2005 for a quick promotion of his new (non-Bosch) novel.

A Word From Michael Connelly:
Lincoln Lawyer - Michael Connelly"The Lincoln Lawyer is a book that I had an idea for about five or six years ago," Connelly said, "but it was going to be one that needed a lot of research, so I didn't do it for a while. I met a lawyer in Los Angeles who basically used his car as an office. L.A. is so spread out, and the traffic is so bad, and there are 39 courthouses in L.A. County where proceedings take place. He found he was always in his car, moving from courthouse to courthouse, so he kind of outfitted his car with a fax machine, and computer and printers," Connelly continued. "He works in his Lincoln Town Car as he moves from courthouse to courthouse. He used clients who were having trouble paying him as his drivers and so forth. That was the thumbnail I got about five years ago, and it took me until now to spend some time with some lawyers and in court so I could write it."

Visit MichaelConnelly.com for tour dates and locations. The Lincoln Lawyer hits shelves October 3, 2005. Pre-order a copy.

Suggestion to Blockbuster.com

August 5th, 2005

I was playing with my Blockbuster.com queue early this morning and a feeling came over me as I stared blankly at my 188 movies long list. One thing that is nice about the site is that they allow you to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement. Despite the wonderful suggestion I made before that is still ignored, I felt compelled to submit another idea. Here is what I wrote:

How about a button that will randomize your list. You spend an entire day going through lists and lists provided on blockbuster.com adding movie after movie. They are simply now in the order in which you browsed to them. You could sit there and spend just as long if not longer pretending that there is a specific order in which you would like to view them though we all understand how arbitrary that is. If there was a way to simply randomize the list it may save a lot of time and even spice up one's queue.
Think about it.

Let it be no secret that having such a list is daunting. Those nearly 200 movies are my Everest. Getting through them will take time, that is certain. The randomization feature would allow for more surprise in what movie would come next. Ok, ok, ok. I could just never look at my queue and I would have no idea in what order my movies will come to me, but this would be more fun.

New movies come out that you were anxious to see in the theater, though missed for whatever reason(s). You may prioritize them ahead of other movies in your queue, but the prioritization causes conflict for me. The beauty of the service is that you have access to so many movies. I am able to see movies I otherwise never would; the price is right. If I actually went in and played favorites with the movies I queued, some movies may well be taken right off the list. They will be bumped closer and closer to the vanishing point as new movies are added. Or you could let me hit a button and roll the dice. I think it is obvious which way I prefer.

Oh, and if you are curious, my other suggestion to them was to, through an admin interface, create links that I may add to the end of my movie reviews which allow you to queue the movie directly. I would push more for this original suggestion if I were forced to choose, but I think they are both valid and worth Blockbuster's time and consideration.

August 3rd, 2005

Pure love is a willingness to give without a thought of receiving anything in return.

Aug. 3, 2005. My day.

August 3rd, 2005

In the song "Ride Wit Me" from Nelly's Country Grammar Album the lyrics read as

"I'm gettin pages out of New Jersey, from Courtney B.
Tellin me about a party up in NYC
And can I make it? Damn right, I be on the next flight
Payin cash; first class - sittin next to Vanna White." - OHHLA.com

Are we impressed by rappers because they make so much money? Or is there more? I can honestly say that I have never showed the slightest bias towards one rapper over the other due to the liquidity of his assets. Sure Nelly is paying cash...that's great. Is he better than Kanye West because maybe Kanye uses plastic? Maybe even using frequent flyer miles would have actually been the hot move for the last minute flight to the big apple. "You know Nelly really has sound investment strategies, yet finds a way to keep money in his pocket. It is really quite remarkable." Nope, never had that conversation.

On my way into work this morning I saw a man, maybe 55-60 years old, driving a VW Bug. It was a silvery color and otherwise ordinary save...the flame decals. They were placed on either side of the VW logo on the front of the car. Think that helps him sleep at night? Sure I drive a girls car, but these killer flames make it look cool.

Leaving the office to run an errand I had to wait at the exit from our parking lot for a break in traffic. While I idled in anticipation of my turn to join the free flow of cars I had the pleasure of watching a grown man in khakis and a button up shirt (tie included) jump rope in the shade on the sidewalk. I instantly recognized him as a building-mate from one of the businesses upstairs. I have never talked to this man; I know nothing about him. Except that he jumps rope at lunch.

I met my mother for lunch today at Chili's. We had a lovely time, it is always nice to have lunch with momdukes and see how things are. It doesn't hurt that she pays, either! Over my dear mother's shoulder there were two men having lunch together. One of the two was large, bald, hairy...well I guess "burly" would have defined this gentleman well. Bald, goatee, no sleeves, HUGE tattoo on his shoulder, dainty margarita in a cute little martini glass. This man was a walking oxymoron. Maybe he just likes the margaritas, who am I to judge? It seemed, well it seemed a little odd.

Just another day.

Decaffeinate your own tea.

August 2nd, 2005

HOW TO DECAFFEINATE YOUR TEA AT HOME:
Avoid commercially packaged teas labeled "decaffeinated." Many decaffeinated teas use potentially-harmful chemicals to remove caffeine. If you wish to lower the caffeine level of your tea naturally, it is best to do it yourself--without the use of chemicals

Because caffeine is highly water soluble, tea leaves release the majority of their caffeine content in the first 30 seconds of steeping. Therefore, “pre-brewing” tea for 30 seconds and then discarding the water will lower the level of caffeine in your cup by about 80%.

1. Brew your tea for 30 seconds.
2. Pour off the water completely.
3. Start again with the used ‘decaffeinated’ leaves, and brew according to taste.

*For best results, do not exceed 30 seconds of pre-brewing or you may wash away too much of the tea's flavor and healthy components. - Octavia Tea

Internet Access

August 1st, 2005

Whether wireless or not, the issues with distribution of internet access to customers is one that needs to be addressed. Some areas of today's economy still are slow to adopt this idea of free internet access. Airports highlight their status as wi-fi hotspots, which makes perfect sense when you combine the amount of business travelers with the number of pleasure travelers with DVD-ROMs in their laptop computers. I am paying $300 to fly to Baltimore yet I am not allowed on the internet for free? Are you serious?

Some hotels still think that charging $9.99 for 24 hours of access is a good deal. And the 24 hours is noon to noon. Say I sign up at 11pm tonight, I have access until noon tomorrow so the 24 hours of access may be a bit misleading. If I am at a major hotel chain location in the downtown portion of a large eastern city for business, my company is already paying $250 per night, why do I have to give you another 10 so I can check my e-mail? The room was small and unremarkable, give me free internet so at least I may be inclined to stay at your hotel next time I am in town! Alas, no.

The only industry that appears to understand how to use internet access to its advantage is the coffee shop industry. In their windows you see signs boasting free wireless internet within the walls of the location.

If I can bring my laptop with me and surf the internet, I am more likely to sit longer and buy not necessarily just one, but maybe two coffees. Sure, I don't drink coffee, but you get the picture.

Offer the internet for free and I will a) walk in the door and b) buy lots of product while I enjoy this service which you have bestowed upon me free of charge. This business model is one of harmony between retailer and consumer.

Why then would a company, that has generally kept me happy as a regular customer, such as Barnes and Noble not learn from the success of the coffee shops. I was sitting in their cafe of all places! Their network is run by one of the large telecom corporations. If I wanted internet access while I drink my name brand coffee, how much do you think that would run? Go ahead, guess.

$19.99 per month. Oh wait, there's more. There is a minimum obligation of 1 year. So I can now drink my name brand coffee, thanks to the strategic relationship between B&N and the coffee company, while I surf the web. It will just cost me $240. Yes, they did have the option to buy a 2 hour segment for maybe $4, but I only wanted 10 minutes or so.

You use the free internet access to get me to walk in and sit down. The longer I sit in your store, the more likely I am to buy something, in theory.

What gets me most is that B&N lets us pay annually for our Readers' Advantage card so we receive a discount on our purchases. This is done to create loyalty to the store. Because of this card, again in theory, I will not buy books elsewhere. Giving free access to all would be out of the question I imagine? Why not either grant us access based upon our card holder status? Just a suggestion.

"Peter-fied" Chicken and Veggie Packages

August 1st, 2005

I altered a recipe that Nick gave me on Friday when I asked him what I should make myself for dinner. He had suggested his Chicken and Veggie packages. Where he got this recipe originally, we may never know. In any case, he said to take a chicken breast, some sliced up onion and zucchini, some extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), and season to taste. Take all of your ingredients, wrap them in tin foil (hence the word packages) and throw them in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. For a treat, near the end of your 30 minutes add a cheese of your preference to the packages. What I did was slightly different.

After preheating my oven to 400, I pre-made three little tin foil trays in which I would be able to dump my ingredients in thirds. I chose three as I had purchased a package of three chicken breasts. I took each chicken breast and sliced them into strips, maybe 3/4" thick so they would cook more evenly once in the oven, seasoned them and put each in the tin foil. I only chopped up 1/2 of an onion as I do not as a general rule like onions, but I thought it would flavor my chicken well.

Next I moved to my stovetop where I pulled down a pan and cooked 4 strips of bacon. I bought some beautiful applewood smoked bacon that had been cut nearly 1/4" thick. Once cooked, I forked one piece into each of my packages (and ate the fourth). Now I was left with a mess of bacon fat in my pan. No problem Mr. Charles Shaw cannot handle. I added red wine to my pan and sauteed a handful of mushrooms. I poured my wine/bacon nectar/mushroom mix over my packages and closed them. They went into the oven for 25-30 minutes.

My modifications to Nick's recipe were small. Mushrooms in place of zucchini, red wine instead of EVOO, and I omitted the last minute cheese. I guess you could say I treated myself with bacon instead. I have no complaints about my meal and the way it was prepared.

Simple recipe. Simple dinner. And best of all: Simple clean-up.

Did I mention that I like other extravagent things?

July 31st, 2005

I make one little comment on the blog about having an affinity for signed books and they start popping up. For the record I also like DVDs, I need a new suit, maybe some gift certificates...oh and you can just buy yourself stuff, too, from Amazon, just click on my links ;).

It is truly a family affair, both sisters and the sister-in-law-to-be. Thank you Alison for my package. It is a good thing that you asked if I had gotten it yet though, it was placed by my front door. I NEVER go out my front door. Who knows how long it would have sat there...

I have always wanted to read David Sedaris (author of Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked) so thank you for my signed copy of Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. I am very excited.

July 31st, 2005
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindClementine: This is it, Joel. It's going to be gone soon.
Joel: I know.
Clementine: What do we do?
Joel: Enjoy it.

Happy Endings

July 29th, 2005

Saw this movie last night. It was a "Hey, what's playing at the theater right next to where I am going to be tonight?" situation more than a "Hey, I really want to see Happy Endings." situation. In fact I had not even heard of it, conveniently, until yesterday afternoon when I happened across it on some random blog on the "I want to see these movies:" section.

I was in Royal Oak for something else, so I called Dave and we decided to take in a movie. Happy Endings it was. It was either that or The Year of Yao, the decision was an easy one.

Happy Endings was a series of snapshots into lives of 10 different people; lives that intertwine in different ways. I guess industry standard has been to compare movies like this to Go when you are trying to explain the style involving the stories all coming together over time. The movie is full of many mid-level names, though they all come through with great performances. Lisa Kudrow stars with support from Steve Coogan, Jesse Bradford, Bobby Cannavale, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Ritter, Laura Dern, David Sutcliffe and Tom Arnold. (Bobby Cannavale was AWESOME in The Station Agent, I was glad to get to see him in something else.)

The movie was directed in a very unique (to me at least) style that at times called for splitting the screen to make room for text narration. Don Roos, who both wrote and directed this film, kept me thoroughly entertained.

As I hinted at above, the acting had me impressed. I am not typically a Lisa Kudrow fan, if you live under a rock and are not familiar, she played Phoebe on Friends, but I did not mind her in Wonderland. She came through in Happy Endings, however. I think Maggie Gyllenhaal turned in the top performance, no offense to Kudrow. The story is not the most family friendly, so don't take the kids, but Roos was able to keep me laughing start to finish.

What I am really trying to get at is that the movie was difficult to describe and you probably wouldn't understand what it was about unless you actually see it for yourself. Lucky for you I thought the movie worthy of recommending to you. Check it out.

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