Sunday, January 9, 2011

ROT & RUIN - Jonathan Maberry - Book Review

It was 2008 when I first heard of an author by the name of Jonathan Maberry. He was appearing at a book store in Clinton, NJ and was signing his latest book in his 'pine deep' trilogy called 'Bad Moon Rising' .. the description of the first book (Ghost Road Blues) caught my attention so I bought it and read it (rather fast) before the signing; I was hooked! I must have read all three within 3 weeks. So, 1000 pages in 3 weeks... I don't have a lot of time between work and house stuff to read so this was quite an accomplishment for me.

In case you were wondering the 'pine-deep trilogy' is about a small PA town over-run by zombies (much more to it than that description but you just have to dive in and read it).

I've been a zombie fan since I can remember and like some of us zombie fans we go back to 'Night of the Living Dead' as our source for starting it all.

So, now years later I still look forward to the newest Jonathan Maberry novel. Last year Jonathan signed with Simon & Schuster for a 4 book deal. The first book in the series is a young adult novel called ROT & RUIN. Since there are not many (if none at all) books stores in my area I had trouble finding the book at Target or Walmart. But I never gave up looking so it only took me a matter of hours before I knew that my first NOOK (my wife got me this for Christmas) purchase would be ROT & RUIN.

The book begins some years after 'first-night' where all the dead 'turned' into zombies. The town of Mountainside is fenced in which keep 'the walkers' outside of the town. The fence runs for hundreds of miles and encircles the town. What remains outside of town is known as 'the great Rot & Ruin' ("that stretched from California, all the way to the Atlantic"). This vast expanse of zombie wilderness is guarded and what I gathered from the book is that only bounty hunters are allowed in.

The town-folk would rather go about their normal existence (sans zombies) then venture in the Rot & Ruin. They'd soon enough forget there was a 'first night' then fight zombies (who wouldn't?). The bounter hunters either live in the rot & ruin or go into the rot & ruin on a daily basis to take care of business. Family members sometimes hire the bounty hunters to track down their loved ones and to finally have 'closure'.

An incident that happens about 3/4 the way through sets up the next adventure (book). The book kind of reminded me of 'lord of the rings' in the sense that there was a quest (can't give it away) and a journey. After finishing the book you kind of wanted Benny & his friends to continue on ... which they will (in DUST & DECAY)

Any good book will leave you wanting more* and that's what Jonathan Maberry has done with mostly all his books. I can't think of a recent author who has made me feel like wanting to read the next book like Maberry does. I can only imagine what it was like when JRR Tolkien put out 'fellowship of the ring'. There must have been much anticipation for the next one to come out (4 months later), and the third book (almost a year later).

I have to say I had no idea exactly what the book was about, except zombies, but it turned out to be a wonderfully written book with purpose, adventure, action & a great conclusion (to this book). The main characters are Benny, Nix, and Tom... and a colorful assortment of bounty hunters (mainly Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer). Charlie Pink eye is described as "six-foot, six inch albino with one blue eye and one pink one that was milky and blind" - the Motor City Hammer is described as "he was bulldog ugly and had pistol butts sticking out of every pocket..."

There are many books, movies, video games on zombies but Maberry brings it to a new exciting level. The story flows as if Maberry was there writing it down as it happened (just what makes a great novel). He makes you believe that something like this could happen or that a place like 'the great Rot & Ruin' really exists (I would hope not).

I don't know why but I liked that there was hardly any talk of government involvement and the book didn't go into great detail to explain why things happened. The book was more focused on the adventure , Tom, Benny and his friends. Since it is categorized as young-adult fiction there is just good ole' zombie killing**. I would even read this to my 7 year old .. he'd think it was cool.

So, whether you are a young adult or an old adult (like myself) you will enjoy it just the same. You will not be disappointed.

And for those of you who aren't really into the zombie thing ... You have to pick up this book, there really is nothing to be scared of... just grab your katana and sprinkle on some Cadaverine ... you will make it out alive!

*I recently read Dean Koontz's Frankenstein. While the first book was good, the second one was so-so and I have no interest in even reading the third (or maybe any book by him again).

**Since ROT & RUIN is 'young-adult' fiction the violence is toned down a little. No graphic descriptions of innards being torn out and eaten.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Suck those Leaves!

Once again it's time to rake those nasty leaves. With me, raking leaves has to come in a close second to shoveling snow. Actually any kind of manual labor is not high on my list. You know how I roll - I like to sit back with a big tumbler of JD, some pork rinds, and a good Mary Higgins Clark novel.

But sometimes you do have to get outside and do shit.

So a couple weeks ago my son and I agreed to find something on TV we could both watch. So channel after channel, description after description led us to a infomercial entitled 'Never Rake Again'. Ok, I would like to never rake again. Carter agreed that we should never have to rake again. So here was this nifty device called the WORX Tri-Vac that would not only pick up the leaves but mulch them in to tiny microscopic pieces and also blow them into the neighbors yard. 10 bags of leaves could actually turn into one? I could actually have the fun of vacuuming my entire lawn in a matter of 30 hours?

Remember last year I had come up with the device - 'the leaf diaper' - well, I did not sell too many of these devices. When people found out it was basically a giant piece of plastic and a giant rubber band they demanded their money back (see photo below).

As Carter and I watched the inf0merical we became more and more intrigued. Sue even came in at one point and said, "You never have to rake again?". And then before we knew it Paul DiMeo showed up to promote the product. He was picking up styrofoam cups, cheesecurls, small animals, and even leaves! I figured if Paul DiMeo was saying it was a good product, well it had to be a good product.

I had never ordered from an infomercial before. So after about 20 minutes of the operator trying to sell me other crap I was home free and the WORX Tri-Vac was on it's way. The operator tried to talk me into expedited shipping but I told her the usual 3 months delivery time was fine with me. And then don't you know that it arrived in about 5 days? She must of liked the tone of my voice and cut me a break on the shipping.

So today I used it for the first time. Since all my leaves are in the back of my yard I had to go out and buy another extension cord. So it took about 125 feet of extension cord. Paul DiMeo also lied to me because I do have to rake again! You can't just wander around a 1/2 an acre with this portable shop-vac. I had to actually rake the leaves into piles. Oh I'm sure if you have one tree and you're too lazy to put in 10 minutes of raking then this would be true to the commercial.

The device basically sucks up the leaves and then they go through a blade that mulches them. One advantage for me is that it was great not having to make about 12 - 15 trips to the road. I only had to make 3. And we are talking a large garbage container on wheels (not sure of the gallonage).

The good thing is it came with a 4-year warranty. I see this thing breaking down at some point but probably will only use it a couple times a year.

Here's a photo of me at work. See how easy it is to pick up leaves. You can work in the yard and still have a smoke. Just don't smoke the leaves - they are nasty tasting.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Fine Day to Dig

Once again it's time to start thinking about the garden. Last year I did a small expansion to the garden and planted Hot Banana Peppers, Basil & Oregano in the new section. The problem was I didn't expand the fence with the same fencing and some pesty rabbits got inside the garden.

I was just thinking today that my first garden was in 1994. Sue and I lived in a small bungalow in Harmony, NJ. This was our first place that wasn't an apartment. The house was small, quaint and reminiscent of a trailer home (only square). We were told it was a converted 'chicken shack' but I believe the chicken shack was converted (to a closet off of the kitchen) and the rest of the house was built around it.

You may have heard this story before (forgive me; I'm old). The garden that year was one of the best I could remember. I had about 8 plumb tomato plants and it probably yielded 20 tomatoes each before the summer was over. During that summer we took a trip to Disney World. When we left the tomatoes weren't yet ripe but once we got back (after a week) I had 90 ripe plum tomatoes!

So this would be my 17th year of gardening! Over the years I've come to realize that I can't grow green peppers. Of course it probably took me 15 years to realize this. Either I get 1 or 2 from each plant or an animal eats the plant before they can even grow. 2 summers ago I decided to put up a heavy (er) duty fence than the one I had up (which couldn't really keep a turtle out of). This was after a rabbit (or rabbits) ate all my peppers plants. Or it could of been the groundhog we had that year. I didn't see this horrendous action so I'm not sure what the creature was.

This year I have plans to grow a lot of Jalepenos, tons of Tomatoes, and some Basil & Oregano. I have ideas to create my own salsa. Now I just have to find a canning course.

Digging is not my favorite part of the planting process. This year my ipod made things go a little smoother. Some Dave Matthews, U2 and BB King made things right.

Growing your own garden these days has a good payoff (if you have the yardage). Who doesn't want to be able to pick their own vegetables or herbs right out of their own back yard? And with tomatoes at $3.99 a pound it pays to grow your own. I paid .90 cents for one Jalapeno a couple weeks ago.

If only I had a greenhouse I would grow all year long. But that's where the canning would come in.

So, I'm about halfway done. I had to stop today because of the heat (it's currently 85 degrees). I probably won't finish til' next weekend.

Happy Growing!

Monday, June 22, 2009

a trip to the SANDS bethlehem, pa

Well today was my token 'day off' from work. What is nice is that it's a Monday and in the past Sunday nights were just ominous and as the night wound down I started missing the weekend .. even before I went to bed. Now it's a different kind of feeling with the prospects of having an entire day to do what I want (usually Sue is at work and Carter at school). Monday nights aren't like Sundays since 3 days of doing nothing (but mostly house stuff) is enough and I actually look forward to going back to work.. hey, it's only 4 days of retail torture now...

Ever since I mentioned the new SANDS casino (in Bethlehem, PA) my father has been bugging me (or asking whenever I see him) about going. Last Monday we were supposed to go but nothing was set. I get a call about 6pm and my dad is on the other end, "What happened? We were supposed to go to the casino today"..

So, when I saw my Dad on the weekend I told him we would go. We had planned on heading over there around noon. Well, today I get up around 9:30am ... I get a call from my dad at 10am saying "I'm on my way over". Luckily he doesn't own a cell phone so "on my way over" means he's just leaving the house.

I was in the middle of a bagel and coffee when he called, so I needed to step things up a bit. My dad still drives at 83 but doesn't drive far. He knows where we live but can't see to remember the two turns after getting off of Route 191. So, I meet him down the road in the church parking lot.

My dad followed me to our house and we came inside for awhile so I could finish my coffee and brush my teeth. We headed out about 11pm.

The casino opened about a month ago but Sue and I haven't had a chance to go there. She tells me that her and her friend (Lani) are going sometime soon. The casino is about 15 minutes from our house.

I wasn't thinking but my dad brought a baggie full of change with him to 'play the slots'. I had to use the restroom so when I came out and found my father he looked confused. He says, "Where do you put the money?". For a second I almost forgot myself that the machines no longer accept coins. He probably hadn't been in a casino in about 4 years. But I'm pretty sure they didn't accept coins back then either.

The next problem is that my father has all these 'ones' with him. Well, go figure, the machines will only accept a $5.00 bill and higher. You would think that maybe you could put a one dollar bill in a penny machine.. but no. But the casino is happy to print you out a .04 receipt.

So after about 20 minutes.. maybe 30 minutes my $30.00 I came with is gone. I figure if I only spend $30.. then I only lose $30.

My dad seems to be doing pretty good on the video poker machines. I think he's up to $10.00 now. He notices that I'm just sitting there and tells me he'll give me $5.00. So I start playing the $5 and after about 20 minutes I'm up to $20.00. I'm thinking I should have started to play the video poker in the first place. But after about another 10 minutes I've lost it all again.

The casino isn't too big.. mostly a large room filled with slot machines and restaurants. Free parking (as most casinos have) and no ticket to redeem; just drive in, drive out.

My dad enjoyed the day and it was great taking him there since he worked at Bethlehem Steel (the site of the casino) back in the late 50s (when they produced 23 million tons of steel a year!) and worked there for 15 years.

Check it out:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

VACATION - day 5 - Friday

9:00 am - Carter and I woke up (sue also was up with a terrible migraine)

10:00 am - Had a cup of joe and peanut butter captain crunch.

11:00 am - starting putting the '3rd' coat of paint on the bathroom. A trick that Sue told me for storing paint-brushes overnight (so you don't have to wash them out right away) was to put them in the freezer. Then you thaw them out the next day and they are good to go again.

1:30 pm - finally finished the bathroom. I wasn't too happy when I started taking off the tape since in some areas around the shower it peeled big chunks of paint right off!

2:30 pm - made a visit to work (yes, on my day off) to collect my paycheck and fix a computer problem. I called my boss at 1:45 and he said (I'll be there in 45 minutes). I got to work at 2:30 and he showed up 45 minutes after that.

4:00 pm - leaving work for the bank

5:00 pm - arrive at Michaels. Looking for small b/w photos for the bathroom. Why is it that Michaels only has photos of Paris? They have some weird obsession with the Eiffel Tower. I do get 4 8x10 wood frames - it's a start.

5:30 pm - go to Barnes and Noble to see if they have a book of photos I can incorporate into the bathroom scheme... nothing that jumps out at me. I leave with nothing.

6:00 pm - arrive back home.

7:00 pm - re-arrange the downstairs in anticipation of the concert next saturday. Moved the bookshelf into the guestroom and re-arranged the pictures on the wall. Now I realize I need one more 24x36 frame. It will be back out to bed, bath & beyond tomorrow (their frames are $25.00 - michaels are $50 with a 40% discount.. I swear they up the price so the sale looks more attractive).

8:30 pm - finished up the downstairs.. now it's relaxation time and time to watch a Grey's Anatomy episode (we are only on episode 10 of season 2).

So ends my vacation. I do not go back to work til' Tuesday.

Stay tuned for more exciting blogs in the near future!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


8:30 am - woke up

9:00 am - started painting the walls of the bathroom

10:00 am - had a cup of joe and wheaties (the breakfast of champions)

10:30 am - continued painting

11:30 am - still painting

1:30 pm - finished painting but unfortunately it needs another coat

2:30 pm - made myself a tuna-fish, lettuce sandwich on toast and had a diet coke - watched some news. Can't believe David Carradine died :( - not right.

3:30 pm - started cleaning up the house; the in-laws will be here soon

4:30 pm - Sue left to pick up Carter. Finishing up a couple things on my 'list' Sue left for me this morning. Didn't find the 'list' til 2:00.

5:00 pm - the in-laws arrive

5:30 pm - go out to pick up the pizza

6:00 pm - sit down and eat pizza and have some conversation

6:30 pm - we leave for Carter's kindergarten graduation

7:00 pm - meet the rest of the parent's at the school and video tape the ceremony (see photos)

8:00 pm - get back home

9:00 pm - in-laws leave and I'm wishing I had more cake (not a real 'sweets' person but craving some icing; don't know why)

10:00 pm - start typing this blog

10:20 pm - finished blog (are you happy now, Lani? LOL)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

VACATION - day 3 - Wednesday

8:10 am - woke up; yes I decided to finally get up early and see off Sue and Carter - also get an early start on the painting.

8:30 am - started taping the edge of the wall; where it meets the ceiling.

9:30 am - getting started on painting the ceiling.

10:30 am - painting the ceiling. As you can see in the photo - it is true: I am painting naked. It's good for the soul. Only got one call from a neighbor across the street. Picked up the phone and all I heard was "COVER UP!"

10:31 am - I put my clothes back on.

11:30 am - electrician shows up (finally; thought he'd be here yesterday). Our lighting fixture in the laundry room stopped working. Appears to be the ballast. The electrician told me he would send me a bill.. doesn't sound good but it's fixed.

12:30 pm - putting the finishing touches on the ceiling. Started with a roller but the sand seemed to build up on the roller. Every now and then a huge clump of sand would come off of the roller. I then switched to a brush and that seemed to work much better. The texture paint was our only choice since it appears that someone replaced our lighting fixture and didn't sand down the areas around it.

1:30 pm - head out to pick up my new contact from the eye doctor

2:30 pm - go to Toys 'r us to pick up some b'day gifts for Carter. I don't know who will be more excited to try out the Star Trek transporter; me or Carter.

3:00 pm - since Toys 'r us did not have Spock I am on a quest now or, if you will, a 'search for Spock'.

3:30 pm - my search ends in not finding Spock (went to both Walmart & Target) but I picked up a SULU so Carter will have three figures to play with. Got some other stuff for Carter but it's a secret for now.

3:45 pm - gave my Dad a vist. He's excited that we will be going to the new SANDS casino soon.

4:15 pm - had to leave my Dad's in case I have to pick Carter up.

4:45 pm - pull into the driveway and Sue calls to say she can get Carter.

5:15 pm - put the Chicken in the oven and peel the potatoes. Tried a new marinade of Lemon Juice, Worcester Sauce, Olive Oil & Garlic.

6:15 pm - Chicken is delicious - Sue says it's a nice mild flavor. Can't taste the garlic but probably got lost on the bottom of the pan.

7:00 pm - I may head out to Barnes and Noble. More painting tomorrow but hope to get up early again.