hankrules2011

Book reviews, health, hockey, publishing, music, tech

Archive for November, 2014

Lady Vols Game

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 27, 2014

I’ve been a fan of the Tennessee Lady Vols for over 30 years now, am a UT alum, have been to many of the men’s games, but I’ve never actually been to a Lady Vols game. Until last night. UT came to Chattanooga to play UT Chattanooga, a 3-2 Southern Conference team (small conference). The Lady Vols were undefeated and ranked #4 in the country. Easy win, right? Well, UTC got off to a great start and UT was playing TERRIBLE defense, and normally they’re one of the best defensive teams in women’s basketball. They were scoring layups on us, out rebounding us (normally we’re a dominant rebounding team), out hustling us, and we really looked flat. Our offense was terrible too. UTC jumped out to a big lead and led throughout the first half. I kept waiting for UT to catch up, but they never did. At the half, the Lady Mocs (UTC) led the Lady Vols 37-21. I couldn’t believe it! It was crazy. We’ve been beating teams by 49 points a game this season. And we were totally dominated — by a team that had only one starter over six feet tall. Normally the Lady Vols have a very tall team and we were definitely taller than they were last night. There’s no way we should have been trailing so badly.

Our coach must have said some pretty serious stuff at halftime, because we came out with a much better defensive effort. We played full court defense and got turnovers and some good shots. And even though our offense stilled looked off, we started catching up. Their one time 17 point lead was trimmed to 10 with about 10 minutes left in the game. We kept up the pressure and made some better shots. Finally, with about three or four minutes left, we evened it up at 57. Now I knew we were going to win. Just like we should. Except … our coach called off the full court press and UTC started making layups again. And making good shots. And we just went back to looking bad. With about a minute left, UTC was up 64-63. I thought we’d get the ball on possibly two more possessions and would pull it out. We came down the floor, put up a bad shot, fouled the Lady Mocs player, who promptly made one of two free throws to put them up 65-63. We still had about 18 seconds left, though, to tie or win on a three. Then the unreal happened. We got it down in the post to one of our best players who went in for a layup to tie it and it got blocked. She got the rebound, went up again, and it got blocked AGAIN!!! UTC got the ball back with 2.7 seconds and we fouled. They sunk both free throws to ice the game and won 67-63. It was unreal and I think it was only the second time we’ve ever lost to them. The crowd of mostly Lady Vol fans (we travel well) was stunned. The Lady Mocs fans were going nuts. All I could say was, great effort UTC, lousy effort UT. We shot 37% for the game and I think UTC shot over 50%. We only made a couple of threes; they made six. We just flat out got beat. Chattanooga was the better team last night and now we’ll fall from #4 and we’ll have to regroup because we play #6 Texas next, so we better put on a good showing for them.

The game environment was a little weird. UTC has a nice little arena. We had decent seats and they weren’t overly expensive. But, the guy to our right was a huge neanderthal who slammed into my wife as he walked past her and left a dent in her nose. Nice. I should have pushed him over the seats. Asshole. The women to our left were butch as hell and one had hairier arms than I do and they were pretty histrionic all game long, waving to all of their friends all over the arena. Annoying. The guy behind us screamed all game long. Nearly deafened us. And the disgusting young fat woman in front of me was wearing jeans without a belt and had the worst plumber’s crack I’ve ever seen in my life. To top it off, someone kept farting all throughout the game and the place stunk. Really weird vibes. Can we say redneck? Even though we live in Chattanooga now, and it’s a pretty nice little city, there are still a ton of rednecks around here and they were out in full force last night. Yikes! I’ve lived all over the country and I’ve never encountered anyone quite like the southeastern Tennessee/ north Georgia redneck. And the accents! Sheesh.

Still, even though my team lost, we had a good time and my wife was so impressed with the Lady Mocs that she wants to go back to the arena to see THEM play some more games. Maybe I’ll join her. Heh.

 

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Review of Witches’ Brew

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 24, 2014

Witches' Brew (Magic Kingdom of Landover, #5)Witches’ Brew by Terry Brooks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what to think of this book. This is the fifth book in the series and I loved the first one so much, I’ve wanted to read all of the others. And most have been decent — but not as good as the first one.

In this one, Ben Holiday and Willow’s daughter, Mistaya, is growing at an astounding rate. She’s two, but looks 10 and acts 15. In other words, she’s a spoiled little bitch and entirely unlikeable and I didn’t like this about the novel. And it centers around her, for the most part, so we’re inundated with her attitude. So, someone comes to the castle and issues Ben a challenge for the kingdom of Landover. If he can defeat seven monsters, he’ll keep his kingdom. If not, the challenger gets it. Strangely, though, Mistaya is kidnapped almost immediately and used as bait for Ben to follow this stranger’s rules. While traveling with Mistaya in a fruitless effort to find her safety, Questor and Abernathy are sent back to Ben’s home world of Earth, where Abernathy is turned from dog back to human and he is elated. Of course, not all is as it seems. Nightshade, the witch, is behind everything and steals Mistaya to train her to become a witch — and to unwittingly kill her father.

In the last book, I complained that Ben seemed pretty dense, which was odd considering that he had been a high priced, successful attorney in Chicago and was now king of the land. In this book, he’s just as dense and so is Willow. In fact, they spend most of their time together in the book “holding” each other for support — and that gets pretty damn old very quick.

There is magic in this book, of course. And we get to see some of the characters we know and like, such as the Earth Mother and her mud puppy and Strabo, the dragon. And Ben does somehow defeat several monsters through the help of his alter ego, the Paladin. But by the time Ben has figured out what’s going on, the reader figured everything out eons before and is annoyed by his ineptitude and I’ve got to fault Brooks for that. I want to give this three stars, but because it’s a Landover book and I enjoy the series and because it does introduce some new people and elements to the setting, I’ll give it four. Cautiously recommended.

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Insomnia Sucks!

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 24, 2014

I’ve had pretty bad insomnia since at least 2002. I’ve had several sleep doctors during this time and have tried just about every sleep aid available. Nothing helps. Two nights ago, I got no sleep at all. I was up the whole night. Tonight I got two hours. My doctor says I average about three and a half per night. In all candor, I do try and get a nap in around lunchtime, usually for 30-60 minutes, but it doesn’t help all that much. And while I used to be able to nap easily, I now have a hard time falling asleep for that too.

I’m very frustrated. And exhausted. All the time. I have no energy. Little motivation. I just want sleep. My therapist talks to me about my “sleep debt,” but I think she may be on to something. I think it exists and I have it.

Right now, I take a lot of meds to help me fall asleep and they’re usually effective. They just don’t keep me asleep, and that’s the problem. It’s maddening. I take a $1,600 retail med just to get me asleep and it works for a couple of hours. Damn!

I don’t really have much more to say about it. Our late cat, Toby, would get up and keep me company in the office during the early morning hours and that was nice, but he’s been dead for nine months now and our remaining cat, Henry, rarely joins me. I really miss Toby.

I usually drink coffee and listen to music in the den for awhile. Then I go into the office, check things out online and ultimately play Civilization 5 for hours. I’m glad I don’t get bored with it or I’d go nuts. Right now, I’m trying to get my Safari browser working again. It’s on the fritz and I’m using Firefox. But I’ve got so many open tabs on Safari, I really need it to open up and work again. Don’t know what’s wrong with it.

I’m rambling now. I’ve been having bad headaches again lately and that’s frustrating. There can be connections between headaches and insomnia, so my pain management doctor instructed me to make an appointment with my sleep doctor to discuss this. Guess how long it is until I can get in to see my sleep doctor? Two months! And I’m an established patient!!! What if it were an emergency? Crap.

Well, I guess that’s it for now. I’m glad so many of you liked my vacation post with all of the pictures. I wish I could write more posts like that. I guess it’ll have to wait until we have another vacation, eh? Cheers!

Posted in Health | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

States I’ve Visited

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 19, 2014


Create Your Own Visited States Map

I need more mountain and northwestern states. I’ll fill this in eventually. Still, I think I’ve done pretty well….

Blog readers — do your own map and then share your link to it in my comments section. I’d like to see where you’ve been.

This is my 450th blog post. It’s cold and I have a bad headache, but am otherwise in a good mood.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

A Review of The Silent Man

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 17, 2014

The Silent Man (John Wells, #3)The Silent Man by Alex Berenson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another good book in the John Wells series by Alex Berenson. It’s the third book. In the first two, CIA agent John Wells has pretty much saved the world, or at least the US, so it’s hard to imagine the author being able to concoct another plot that would live up to the first two. But he does. The book opens with a Russian scientist at a nuclear facility who is pressured into helping to improbably steal two nuclear bombs for Muslim militants. They intend to detonate the bombs in Washington during the State of the Union address. The story of these militants and their travels with the bombs to North America is very interesting.

Meanwhile, one morning Wells and his fiance, Jennifer Exley, are on their way to work at the CIA when they are attacked by Russian assassins who are killed after killing some CIA agents and severely wounding Exley. In the previous book, Wells had seriously humiliated a powerful arms dealer who has, in turn, contracted with some Russians to get his revenge. Needless to say, after this attack, Wells is ticked. This doesn’t bode well for the arms dealer. Wells flies to Russia to get at and kill the Russians behind the attack and does kill three of them, but has to fly out of the country as he is pursued by the KGB. The arms dealer is so frightened of a pissed off Wells coming for him, that he offers a truce — information in exchange for letting him live. Wells agrees when he hears the information. It’s about the nuclear bomb theft and all hell breaks loose after that. It’s a great race to the finish and the finish is almost anticlimactic, but it’s still satisfying, in my opinion.

However, one of my complaints about the book is Exley’s very minor role. She’s John’s fiance and we barely see or hear anything from her. She’s an afterthought. Additionally, in the first book, a lot was made of Wells and his conversion to Islam, but that’s almost never broached in this book. I found that strange. Still, it was a good book, an exciting read, and the author has this unique knack of taking implausible sounding scenarios and making them seem entirely realistic. The only other thriller author I’ve read who does it that well is Forsyth. That’s high praise, coming from me. I’d read these books in order, if possible, but it’s not necessary — it stands on its own. Good book. Recommended.

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Review of Feet of Clay

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 14, 2014

Feet of Clay (Discworld, #19)Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read most of the Discworld novels now and have loved some and enjoyed most. Feet of Clay is now my favorite. This book has it all! First of all, it’s a City Watch series book, which I love, so that’s good. Then, there are mysteries to be solved. Two old men have been murdered, presumably by golems, and Lord Venitari is being poisoned. Someone has to save the day! And it’s the City Watch, led by Commander Sir Sam Vimes, followed by his loyal group of Captain Carrot, Angua, Detritus, Colon, and Nobbs. Additionally, there’s now a new member of the watch, an alchemist, Cheery Littlebottom. His job is forensics. His role in this book is to bring up questions of minorities and gender identity. Because this dwarf is actually a she — Cheri. It’s pretty funny to watch her progress to wearing lipstick and so on while the male members of the Watch look on, not knowing what to think.

The golems, hard working “things,” are going crazy in this book. We find late in the book that they have banded together to create a golem king, but it turns out to be really crazy, hence the crime sprees. However, other people are banding together to discuss succession should Vetinari so unfortunately cease to exist. The leaders of the community want a yes man in place, someone who will do what they’re told to do because they’re too stupid not to. But they’ve got to have some royal blood somewhere. Enter Corporal Nobby Nobbs. He’s found out he’s an earl, due to odd lineage, and is treated as such by the upper crust, who try to talk him into becoming king. But he’s pretty dense and it doesn’t work out as planned.

Vimes still has to find the poisoner. Could it be the Dragon, a vampire who maintains the history of the royal families of the area? Good question. Vimes will answer it too.

We don’t see Death in this book much, if at all, and he’s my favorite Discworld character, so that’s unfortunate, but there’s so much action and suspense in this novel, that it more than makes up for it. This is Pratchett at his best and I strongly recommend it.

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »