Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Write Like... & Up the Down Staircase.

This cool link was brought to my attention.
I Write Like

It analyzes you writing, and tells you who you most write like. I was wondering if it was more of a random generator. A lot of people on the board I found the link on got Stephen King. And so did I, the first time.

I whipped up a two paragraph random piece of fiction. Not really thinking about it, just something quick. When I got Stephen King, I thought "OK yeah." I mean, I love Stephen, but we all can't write like him! Then I thought about putting up a non-fiction piece. I put up one of my blog posts about being Catholic, and guess who it said I write like? Dan Brown.

Tell me that's not funny! LOL!

I'm sure there is little science to this. It probably picks out random words and uses that as some type of algorithm I suppose. But it is all in fun.

Yesterday I watched a movie from 1967 entitled "Up the Down Staircase" starring Sandy Dennis.

A young white teacher has her first assignment in a tough urban high school. Not a new storyline as "The Blackboard Jungle" tackled it first. Nor was it the final one as "Dangerous Minds" came decades after. However, this is one of the better ones I've seen.

Ms. Barrett is an inexperienced teacher who teaches English to a group of rowdy high school students. As it is set in the late 60s, we see a lot of racial tension. With that in the background, she has to deal with kids who are abused, neglected, have self-esteem issues, sexual identity crisis, basically, she is dealing with the reality of being a teacher.

There is that one student that gets under her skin. The more she reaches, the more he resists. There is the student that shows appreciation for her, thus changing her outlook.

Those of us who like to read, will like the fact that Ms. Barrett is an English teacher and talks about Emily Dickinson and Charles Dickens. The class reads "A Tale of Two Cities", and discusses it, though not in depth in this movie.

I'm usually iffy on the movies from the late 60s/early 70s, but this one is very good.

4 out of 5 stars.

On a side note, I felt sad when I saw Florence Stanley in this movie. Those of you may remember Ms. Stanley from the hit TV show "Fish" starring Abe Vigoda.

I met Florence in the strangest of places. We had a class together. It was at the 96th Street Y in Manhattan. We were in a writing class, along with several other people. She was the most senior person in the class. No one else recognized her, but I sure did. It was the early 90s, and she was living in NYC at the time.

We struck up a friendship. She was a lovely woman, and very down to earth. I am not sure if anyone ever recognized her, and I never gave her secret away. We lost her 7 years ago, I think about her every now and again. I was sad but also happy to see here in the movie. Haven't seen anything by her in a while.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I had an affinity to this movie. I got a chance to see the New York City scene being filmed. I like Angelina but I could take her or leave her, but I'm glad I didn't leave her this time.

Salt is one big adriniline ride from the first scene. By the end of the film, we still aren't sure if Agent Salt is an American spy or an enemy spy. There are just enough twists in this film to keep you guessing until the end and beyond. Angelina was a powerhouse, kick-ass woman who beat the crap out of every man that came across her path.

I recommend this film. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

My Photos

This is the Church scene where the coffin is bought in.


Funeral procession scene.


Inception is layer upon layer of downright interesting. I haven't been this involved in a movie since "Shutter Island". DeCaprio is brilliant in this movie as well as the rest of the cast. The special effects were neat, but the story outweighed all of it. One really has to pay attention, no, don't get up to use the bathroom HOLD IT!. If you do, you will miss something important.
This movie revolves around the nature of dreams. A lot of detail was paid to timing and how dreams work. I would love to give more info about this movie, however, I don't want to give anything away. This is a must see. Especially for those of us who like intricate stories.
I rate this 4.5 out of 5.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Beautiful Beautiful Bronx

I am currently reading Bronx Accent: A Literary and Pictorial History of the Borough by Lloyd Ultan, Barbara Unger. While reading this, I became interested in other books (novels) that take place in The Bronx. There are quite a few, but these seem very interesting.

The Buddha Book by Abraham Rodriguez Jr.

American Book Award winner Rodriguez revisits the bleak streets of the South Bronx in this novel of guilt and redemption. Jose, who has murdered his ex-girlfriend in a fit of rage, and Dinky, the son of a drug kingpin, are the creators of an underground comic called The Buddha Book. As the chaos around them escalates, this comic becomes the vehicle for a catharsis, which culminates in an apocalyptic reckoning on the streets of the Bronx.

The Kingsbridge Plot by Mann Meyers (Young Adult)

In 1775, young Peter Tonneman returns to New York City from studying medicine in England to find its residents in turmoil-not only because of disagreements with the mother country, but also because someone has been decapitating the local young ladies. As a citizen, the doctor must decide which nation will receive his allegiance; as a coroner, he must assist in the search for the murderer. The plot is enriched by a scheme to assassinate George Washington.

Note: The King's Bridge, erected in 1693 by Frederick Philipse, a local Lord loyal to the British Monarch. The bridge spanned the now-filled-in Spuyten Duyvil Creek, roughly south-parallel with today's 230th Street. The Kingsbridge carried Boston Post Road, connecting southern Westchester County (which became The Bronx) with Marble Hill.

Billy Bathgate by E.L. Doctrow

In the Bronx of the 1930s, 15-year-old Billy Bathgate hooks up with a legendary mobster, Dutch Schultz. Schultz becomes an unlikely surrogate parent to the boy, introducing him to the ways of the world and training Billy to follow in his footsteps. After Billy falls for Schulz's latest girlfriend, he begins to question the actions of the mob he was so eager to join. As he seeks to protect the young woman, he gains strength in following his own heart and makes a courageous passage from boyhood to adulthood.

When The Bronx Burned By John J. Finucane

In his novel, When the Bronx Burned, John Finucane, a retired lieutenant with the New York City Fire Department, tells the fascinating story of the burning of the Charlotte Street area of New York’s South Bronx during the late1960s and 70s; an era when arson-for-profit drove hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. It’s an intriguing story that shows a New York that most people are completely unfamiliar with. The premise allows for a great deal of conflict and action, for the heroes aren't just fighting flames, they are fighting a brutal gang of arsonists, the slumlords that employ them, and the political machine that permits the scheme to take place.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stoner by John Edward Williams

William Stoner grew up and worked on a farm with his parents. He attained the opportunity to attend college, and he took it. This classic tale, told in a classic way, takes us through the life of a less than ordinary man.

This book takes us from the early part of the 20th century through his life. John Williams is masterful in the way he takes us through the years and how we look at an aging man. He doesn't leave out scandal but doesn't over-sensationalize.

William Stoner is the man we stand next to in the supermarket, he is the man we pass in the street. He is the man we never wonder about.

Wikipedia has summed this book up better than I could ever:

Stoner is a 1965 novel by the American writer John Williams.

The central character is an undistinguished English professor (Stoner) who pursues a largely uneventful career at a drab Midwestern university. Neither Stoner's wife, nor his colleagues, nor his students think much of him.

The achievement of the book is in the resonant telling of a small, ordinary life. In a 2007 review of the recently reissued work, Morris Dickstein wrote that Stoner is "a perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving that it takes your breath away."

C.P Snow, writing in The Financial Times in 1973 asked "Why isn't this book famous?"

I had wondered why I never heard of this book, nor this author. Why isn't this book famous? I've read many a classics that had a lot less to offer than this, they were dry and uninteresting. Stoner isn't.

So how did I come to learn of this particular book? One word: Oprah. This was on her website. I can't recall if it was on a book club list or one of the best books of all time or something to that effect. I'm not one to run out and read every Oprah suggestion, but something about the synopsis struck me.

Rating: 4 out of 5

If you want to learn more about the author, you can read about John Edward Williams on Wikipedia.

Support Your Local Library 2010

I have not posted about this yet this year. So in typical fashion, it is July and I will now.


1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.

--Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post. To learn how to sign up without having a blog, click here.

2. There are four levels:

--The Mini – Check out and read 25 library books.

--Just My Size – Check out and read 50 library books.

--Stepping It Up – Check out and read 75 library books.

--Super Size Me – Check out and read 100 library books.

(Aim high. As long as you read 25 by the end of 2010, you are a winner.)

3. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Young Reader – any book as long as it is checked out from the library count. Checked out like with a library card, not purchased at a library sale.

4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

5. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

6. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.

7. When you sign up under Mr. Linky, put the direct link to your post where your library books will be listed. Include the URL to this post so that other viewers can find this fun challenge. If you’d prefer to put your list in the sidebar of your blog, please leave your viewers the link to the sign up page. Again, so viewers can join the challenge too.
* * *

To make it easy for everyone to find the books I read. I will put the list in my sidebar.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Music in Books

Lately I've been reading and purchasing a lot of books about music. I've really got heavily into the blues. I never had been a fan, but I learned to appreciate this form of music with the help of the genres of blues/rock and British blues. British Blues and British Blues like music I've been listening to since I was a kid, in the form of Eric Clapton and his peers. I am also a huge Led Zeppelin fan, so after years of not reading anything about them, I've decided to read some newer stuff.

The First Time We Met the Blues: A Journey of Discovery with Jimmy Page, Brian Jones, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards by David Williams

This book is not easy to find, and when you do find it, it can be pricey. I really don't know why, but I didn't pay too much for it, around $15USD.

What attracted me to this book was Jimmy Page's name. I love Jimmy Page, have loved him for 39 years. David Williams was a childhood friend of Jimmy Page and as a teenager hung out with Mick, Brian and Keith.

The first part of the book was a memoir of sorts about what him and Jimmy did as mates back in their childhood. How they learned to appreciate American blues together. It was charming to hear about Jimmy Page's childhood in England. We only see him as a big rock god, but he started out just like the rest of us. The second part Williams speaks about his time hanging around Brian, Mick and Keith and how he discovered the blues with them as well. Eric Clapton was mentioned in this book as well. The final part of the book talks about how they all went to American Blues concerts when they came thru their town. It was all very interesting, and it is interesting to see how the British Blues scene begain with these 4 white boys.

Blues for Dummies by Cub Koda and Wayne Baker Brooks

I've always found Dummies books very informative, this one was no different, and it even came with a CD filled with different types of Blues tracks. This book takes us through the different genres of Blues, from Dixiland blues to Chicago Blues to Electric Blues and to my favorite British Blues.

I have only read 1/2 this book, but I have already learned a great deal. Gives you a deeper insight into a musical genre that few understand, but benefit from everyday.

Deep Blues by Robert Palmer

Yet another book I haven't read. But to be fair, I did just get most of these within the past few months. Late musician Robert Palmer wrote this book. It goes deep into the blues genre. I think this book will be ann education to say the least.

Led Zeppelin: The Story of a Band and Their Music - 1968-1980 by Keith Shadwick

This is a big book. It is about 320 pages but each page has 2 columns, so it is packed with a lot of information, 12 years worth. I have no finished this one either, this is something you need to take a break from.

Lots of detailed information about the band and how their music came to be what it was. Not too much in the way of personal stuff, also sort of dry, but a real Zep fan will not mind. Anyone who wants to read about the band and their antics will do better to read Hammer of the Gods by Stephen Davis.

Symbology and Led Zeppelin
published by Studio 16

Real hard core fans will love this book. It can be found at This Site.

It might take a while to come if you do order it, because it comes from New Zealand. But well worth the wait.

I've not read this one yet, but it is filled with the symbology that is associated with Led Zeppelin. I became interested in all of the symbology after I dove deep into Jimmy Page's symbol Zoso. Which I had tattooed on my back.

Filled with a lot of mysticism and interesting tidbits (from what I can see).

Stevie Ray Vaughan: Caught in the Crossfire by Joe Nick Patoski and Bill Crawford

I just got this one the other day, so it hasn't been read. But I've been so curious about SRVs life. I read bits and pieces here and there, so I decided to read a biography about the man. Hope it is worth my time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


The bookcase is looking better than it did, but still needs some work. Since I have time now, I will be working on this, this is an ongoing project and the books just keep coming in.


Also will be working on my friends baby blanket. She is due in November, and I found it hard to find time to work on it. It is crocheted, so it isn't that difficult.


And now on to books. I was planning to read "War and Peace" next year, but since I'm home, I think I'll start tackling this soon. I also have "Crime & Punishment" waiting in the wings. I started that one a few yeras ago, but never finished. Luckily both of these are on my Kindle so no heavy books to carry around. Nothing like reading the Russians when there is nothing else to do.

I am way behind on my book reading this year. I had planned 100 but I'm only at 32 books for the year. I'll be lucky if I make it to 75.

Moderated Comments

Sorry to have to do this to my viewrs, but my comments are now on moderation. I am being spammed up the wazoo, so I have to do this now. What a pain in the butt!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Laid Off Today

After 12 years at my job, I was let go. My boss retired and I was a victim of the economic downturn. I'm OK with it for now. I got a good severence, unemployment, Child support and I have no bills. I have no credt cards, I got rid of my car last year, so really all I have are living expenses, and my kids school. My son is in college, but I have the money to pay for this year at least. Next year, he might have to go to a local school, but maybe not. I am confident I will have a job before the years end. If not, I will have to reassess.

I will lower my cable package, but that is about all I can do. My daughter and I still take guitar, but that won't stop just yet. Maybe by September, it is a package deal anyway.

Financially I will be OK for about 9 months to a year, if I watch what I spend.

I am kind of relieved. I started to really hate my job. Not the job itself, just the people. I will miss my friends though. It was time to move on, if I wasn't pushed out the door, I would never have an opportunity to look for something better, and somewhere I will be happy.

For now I will be reading a lot, and watching a lot of stuff. New York Public I come!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Such a Long Time

View from Rooftop Resteraunt
Originally uploaded by kelsokraft

It has been such a long time since I posted here. Life has been busy, but nothing tragic has happened. Still reading and watching movies. Although I have decided to scale back on the TV/Movie watching.

My reading since the last post:


Under the Dome - Stephen King
When The Soul Mends - Cindy Woodsmall
Rumble Fish - S.E. Hinton
The First Time We Met The Blues - David Williams
The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton


Life After Death - Deepak Chopra
Know It All- A.J. Jacobs *
I Am Nujood Age 10 and Divorced - Nujood Ali
Island Beneath the Sea - Isabel Allende *


Beatrice and Virgil - Yann Martel

* Recommend

The Movie List would be too Massive, but I will l put my recommendations. Feel free to read about them on IMDB or Netflix:

The Stoning of Soroya M. (This may be a tough watch for some)

Ong Bak (The original Thai language movie with Tony Jaa)

Monsieur Vincent (Older French language movie about St. Vincent de Paul)

Amazing Grace - Hymns that Changed the World (A documentary about 4 of the most popular Hymns and how they came to be)

It Might Get Loud (I watched this documentary twice, in a matter of weeks. It is rare for me to watch anything twice, and even rarer for me to watch it within weeks of seeing it. Wonder if it has anything to do with Jimmy Page?)

Hachi: A Dogs Tale (have your tissues. Based on a real life story that took place in Japan in the 1920/1930s. Updated and Westernized).

Kick-Ass (I was not prepared to like this movie at all...LOVED IT!)

Interstate 60 (a little unheard of Gary Oldman film, with a cameo by Michael J. Fox. What a great film).

The Pope of Greenwich Village (I was in a Mickey Rourke mood for a while. This was one I hadn't seen, great performances all around).

The Killers (1946) (There are 2 versions of this film, one from '46 and one from '64. I recommend the earlier).

Killer Diller (Most people probably never heard of this one. Autistic young man plays piano for a group of young offenders and their blues band).

The Sinjuku Incident (Jackie Chan movie from 2009, only released in theaters overseas. It is dubbed. What I liked about this film is what happens to Chan's character throught the movie and at the end. First time I've ever seen a Chan movie end this way, and I've seen about 50 Chan movies).

The Karate Kid (Kung Fu Kid) (I will say, I am just a big fan of the original, but I gave this one a chance, mainly because of Jackie Chan. Where it lacked the originality of the original (it was almost a carbon copy), it had cute updates and awsome Kung-Fu moves demonstrated by Smith.

That's all for now. I will promise to keep this up more.