Wednesday, April 1, 2009


This is our new puppy, Zooey. She's a miniature dappled Dachshund and she's freaking adorable! This picture was taken her first night at home, and she is so tiny! That little stuffed sheep was bigger than her.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Divorce Agreement

This was forwarded to me, and I had to post's fantastic!

Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al:

We have stuck together since the late 1950's, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has run its course. Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.

Here is a model separation agreement: Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU. Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell (You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them).

We'll keep the capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have your beloved homeless, homeboys, hippies and illegal aliens. We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's and rednecks. We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood.

You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us. You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values.. .You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U.N.. but we will no longer be paying the bill.

We'll keep the SUVs, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find. You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors. We'll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right. We'll keep The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the National Anthem. I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute Imagine, I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, Kum Ba Ya or We Are the World. We'll practice trickle down economics and you can give trickle up poverty your best shot. Since it often so offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag.

Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you ANWAR which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.

John J. Wall
Law Student and an American

P.S. Also, please take Barbara Streisand & Jane Fonda with you

Saturday, January 31, 2009

January Books Read

(#1) Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
Detective? Check. Murder? Check. Sexy love interest? Check. This series was something I never would have picked up, had I not received it as a gift. Imagine my surprise when I finished it in one sitting! It has the same elements of all the favorite mystery reads and crime-solving TV shows, but takes place twenty years in the future, adding an entirely new element.
Final Say: An awesome surprise. Luckily for me, an entire shelf and a half of "In Death" books follow.

(#2) Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

Don't write this off because it's about Africa. This is simply a story about a young music-loving boy caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. His painfully simple and honest stories about his part in one of the world's worst crimes against humanity is powerful, but it's his recovery and clear-headedness about the situation that is inspiring.
Final Say: It's no wonder that this book spent months on the bestseller lists. This is a book every household should own and read.

(#3) Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
The second book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. The series has found unbelievable success since the premiere of the TV show "True Blood," and as all those Twilighters who aren't quite ready to come off the supernatural kick scramble for a new read. Living Dead in Dallas was a satisfying sequel to the amazing original.
Final Say: Many of the customers to whom I hand-sold "Dead Until Dark" (the first in the series) have come back for the series boxed set. What can I say that beats that?

(#4) Cocktails for Three by Madeleina Wickham.
Finally, a girly book. Sophie Kinsella is one of my favorite authors, and the fact that she also writes as Madeleine Wickham is like double the fun. Cocktails for Three is my second Madeleine Wickham book, and nearly as delightful as Kinsella's others. The story is about three co-workers who meet once a month in a London pub to drink cocktails and gossip. In a month's time, secrets are revealed about each woman that threatens to tear apart their bond and friendship.

Final Say: A good, lighthearted and entertaining read. But don't let this be your first Wickham/Kinsella read. "Can You Keep a Secret?" (by Kinsella), and "The Gatecrasher" (published by Wickham when she was 21) are far superior.

(#5) Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs
A series I always come back to, Reichs books are dramatic, accurate, and highly entertaining. In this installment, Dr. Temperance Brennan comes across mysterious hand bones while at a picnic at the home of her daughter's new boyfriend. If you are already unsure of your daughter's new bedmate, I can't imagine finding bones on his property will put your mind at ease. . .

Final Say: As always, a sure-thing from Reichs. This series gets better and better. If you are new to the series, pick up "Monday Mourning" or "Cross Bones," which are my favorites.
(#6) No Way to Treat a First Lady by Christopher Buckley.
One of this best, though not as good as "Boomsday." Things go awry when the president is found dead in his bed of an apparent whack on the head. The main suspect is, of course, his wife: the tolerated first lady. Buckley's political satires are hilarious, and this one's thinly-veiled spoof of the death of a Clinton-like president is no exception.
Final Say: I've reviewed his books before, and continue to hand-sell these at Barnes and Noble. Pick up "Boomsday" first, though this would be my second pick.

(#7) Facing the Lion: Growing up Maasai on the African Savanna by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton

This is a book I stumbled across while shelving one day. It's a very simple, $7 children's book, but contains quite a punch. Everyone knows the Maasai: if not by name, by their trademark red clothing and ear gauges. This simple memoir was written by the youngest son of a respected Maasai family. Thanks to Kenyan law that required every family to send at least one of their children to school, Joseph recieved an education. The book discusses his desire to learn and grow as a person, while keeping his Maasai roots and traditions. He is now a teacher at an elite Washington D.C. school, and takes students and parents to Kenya once a year. The book includes quite a few lighthearted stories of his childhood and the meshing of western and tradition Maasai cultures.
Final Say: An easy and worth-while read.

(#8) The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
I am not going to say much about this book, because it (along with the movie of the same name) deserves a post of its own.

Final Say: Whenever I talk about my favorite books, "Dr. Zhivago" and "Atonement", I always mention the fact that the endings are absolutely haunting. They are unbelievably powerful, and can't help but to stay with me. This book (and again, the film) are the same way. I may have put the book down and left the movie theater, but I sure haven't stopped thinking about it.

(#9) The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

When a book is recommended to me multiple times, I figure I have to read it. It didn't occur to me until half way through reading this book that I got ice water for the author when she did a signing at my Walnut Creek store a few years ago. Then I felt bummed that I didn't read the book then. But better late than never, I guess, because this was a highly addictive read reminiscent of "Ella Enchanted," one of my childhood favorites. I even kept reading through a certain beheading....:(

Final Say: Well, I loved it enough to rush out and buy every other book she's written. And I shared it in our morning meeting. Twice.

(#10) Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
Oh my gosh. Chelsea Handler (author of one of my other recommends: "My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands") is the only author who can make me literally laugh out loud. This is the perfect book for someone with a busy life, which is why I strategically kept it for the first week of school (it brightened my life up a little bit, that's for sure.) Her newest book is another collection of tales from her hilariously entertaining life.
Final Say: If this isn't the type of book you can bring yourself to buy, at least grab it off the shelf at BN, find yourself a chair, and turn to page 173 (Chapter 9 titled "Re-Gift") and read. And don't worry, it's totally clean.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Back to School Blues

I post this on the eve of my first day back to school. Tomorrow at 4 p.m. I will be sitting in room 101 of the art building starting the art history class I frantically registered for as recently as Monday. I was filling out the second part of Berkeley's transfer application when one of the questions made me realize I had 56 transferable units - four less than the required 60 transferable units.
This prompted some language I cannot repeat here...and some frantic class searching. My ideal situation would be a 5-unit language class, but the only language class available was Chinese ( at a military base in Vallejo (
Scratch that.
I spent three hours searching for classes I wanted to take (French 4...cultural anthropology...), classes I wouldn't mind taking (piano...United States government...), and classes I only looked at because I was desperate (History of Women in the United States....Philosophy from Plato to Rand...). Everything was full or waitlisted. Everything. Bummer.
This was supposed to be an easy last semester: my two required classes (Chemistry and Math), and one fun one (Russian 3) two days a week. I have now added two more classes and two more days a week to that lineup (Art History and...ah crap, what's the other one?....Physical Geography....). The bad part is that five classes makes everything harder. The good part is that it puts me at 61 transferable units which means I won't get a surprising letter from Berkeley rejecting me for not following the transfer directions:) Now I just hope that Berkeley looks at these two totally random classes as an indication of my love of learning since they have absolutely nothing to do with either of my majors. Bleh.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

December Books Read

Grace by Richard Paul Evans
Religious fiction is not my genre. In this case, however, a friend lent it to me and upon opening it up and seeing that it is based loosely on Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Match Girl" (first book I ever cried in by the way), I decided to give it a go. Also, it was too close to Christmas for me to spend money on myself and I was sad and bookless.
The story is about a boy growing up in Salt Lake City in the 1960s. New in town and friendless except for the company of his younger brother, he is shocked to find a girl climb out of the dumpster behind the diner he works at. Grace tells him that she has run away from her abusive step-father, and sympathy and love for the girl spurs the boy to hide her in his backyard clubhouse. The story is well-written, if not a wee bit sappy. I finished it in about two days, and my sister, upon finding it in my car, finished it in about three hours (all while sitting in my parked car).

Final Say: Recommended if this is your style or genre, but that may be because part of every purchase of this book goes to a fund to help abused children.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In high anticipation of this movie, I picked up The Curious Case of Benjamin Button to help tide me over. Originally a short story published in a men's magazine, Benjamin Button is a quick but delightful read. My favorite part of the book was simply the language: so reminiscent of an earlier decade that it adds an element of charm to the story that I don't even remember from Gatsby (one of my favorites).
Final Say: A worthy, albeit short read.

As a side note, this movie is absolutely fantastic. I knew about two pages into the book that the film would be drastically different, and in fact the only similarities are his name and the fact that his father owns a button factory. I bawled through the entire movie, but it has such valuable lessons on life that I will be rushing back to experience it again (Marley and Me on the other hand....:/). Brad Pitt, not one of my favorites, does an excellent job as does Cate Blanchett, though that is only to be expected.

The Queen's Fool by Phillipa Gregory
Picking up a book by Phillipa Gregory is like going on a journey; her stories are so incredibly detailed, amazing, and enthralling, it's easy to forget that they are all based on real people, places, and events. My latest Gregory read, The Queen's Fool, tells the story of Hanna, a young Jewish girl who escapes the Inquisition in Spain and finds ephemeral peace in England. After a chance encounter with a certain Robert Dudley, Hanna finds herself at the Court of Queen Mary as the Holy Fool (Hanna is plagued by both visions of the future and false friends who wish to profit from her "gift"). Hanna continues to live in fear of the Inquisition and religious persecution as she lives on the daily front lines of England's religious revolution. I can always expect her books to be amazing, and The Queen's Fool is no exception.

Final Say: The Other Boleyn Girl receives all the hype, but check out The Queen's Fool and my other Gregory favorite, The Constant Princess (Katherine of Aragon's story).

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

On page three, I almost set it down. By page twenty I was thinking this was going to take me the rest of the month to finish. And by page sixty I was thinking that this is the best book I've read in a long time. Prodigal Summer tells three not-so-seperate stories of living in a farming valley in Appalachia. I found myself slowing down to really savor each and every sentence because oh so often I would find myself thinking how incredibly beautiful such an emotion or description was said. My diary, in which I write frequently record quotes from all kinds of sources, has become chock-full of Prodigal Summer quotes only because I can only hope to notice and appreciate nature's understated miracles in the way Kingsolver obviously does. I find myself still scratching my head in both wonderment and jealousy at how brilliantly perceptive one person can be.

Final Say: Definitely a book to pick up in one's lifetime, but read it when you have the time to fully enjoy and appreciate it. Would make a great vacation read if all you're doing is lazing around the beach.
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Unusually unpopular mortal falls in love with decades-old vampire in a small town. Don't forget the seperate love-interest who happens to be a shape-shifter and you've got yourself a brow-raising (wow, hyphenate much?) trend. My first thought was "I don't do vampire books," but after enjoying Twilight so much, and ever intrigued by the hundreds of requests I've gotten for this book, I decided to give it a try. Basically, if you liked Twilight, you will like this series of seven books recently adapted into a new HBO show. As for the blatant similarities between Dead Until Dark (published in 2001) and Twilight (published in 2005), I will let you come to your own conclusions. I happened to fall in love with this addictive and charming book. I laughed out loud on multiple occasions and this book (while remaining appropriate) includes the sex that we all kept waiting for in Twilight (just admit it ;)).

Final Say: I hear a lot of people say that they don't like vampire books, and I always nod my head in concurrence. However, like Twilight, Dead Until Dark contains that something extra that goes way beyond the cheap thrill of so many vampire tales. Give it a try.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Wow, 2008 has already come and gone. I'm not a big New Year's fan - I'm the type that drags my heels and balks at the idea of yet another year gone by (you should see me on birthdays!)

This year was the same - in fact, I just downed some sleep aids sometime around six and drifted to sleep, sleeping through the ball dropping and inevitable drunk driving (though earlier in the day I did happen to see the after effects of a car that had managed to wrap itself around a tree).

But as much as I complain about the end of a year, 2008 did have some highlights... (sorry about the lack of pictures, I switched computers and don't have many on this current one :(...)

* I finished one more year of school and applied to universities in November. The best part is that all the schools I applied to were - up until recently - only dream schools.

* I went to some *awesome* concerts this year: The Spice Girls Reunion tour in Las Vegas (one of my favorite places, I went back for my 21st birthday!); Panic at the Disco (a great concert at San Jose State which also featured The Cab, Plain White T's and Dashboard Confessional); and *two* She and Him concerts. They are my favorite band, and I saw one of their shows at Bimbos in San Francisco, and a second show at the House of Blues in L.A. Hopefully, I'll see plenty more because they're awesome live!

* I did some great travelling this year, including a month-long backpacking trip. I stayed in hostels, met a bunch of awesome people (both new friends and friends I've known for almost seven years now who I see every time I am in London), and experienced all kinds of incredible things.

* I voted for John McCain and Sarah Palin!
* I finished the first draft of my book.

2009 is already shaping up to be eventful. In April I will find out if the second half of 2009 will be spent in Berkeley or South Africa. My horse and I will finally make it to another show by March, and hopefully a finished draft of my book by the end of the year. Here's to a happy and prosperous 2009!

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Very Funny Joke to Keep You Entertained While I Slack Off

A group of zoo-goers are surrounding the lion cage when the lion reaches out and grabs a little girl in its teeth. Suddenly, a man dodges through the crowd, punches the lion square in the nose and gets the little girl to safety. Standing nearby is a reporter who loudly declares that that act of heroism was the bravest thing he has ever seen.
"I'm a journalist for the New York Times," he says to the hero, "and tomorrow I am going to put you on the front page of the newspaper! Can I have your name, occupation, and political affiliation please?"
The Hero tells the reporter "My name is John Smith, I'm a proud United States Marine and a Republican."
The next day, the Hero grabs a copy of the New York Times to see if the guy followed through. There he was on the front page with the headline: "Man Suckerpunches African Immigrant and Steals His Lunch."