Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hot enough for ya?

If you glimpsed the temperatures in the Northwest corner of the US you may have seen that we broke 100 degrees several days in a row. It was hot and a good majority of us do not have air conditioning. So we all went to the movies (those with a few bucks), the mall, and the library. Every place that offered a spot to sit in the air conditioning was packed and not until they closed their doors did we head home to face our homes from Hades. I have been unable to get a good night of sleep because of the heat. It was suffocating and no amount of fans could cool off my apartment. I am letting you know this for a reason. I am building toward a point.... really!

It was unbelievably hot and miserable this entire week. I spent a lot of my evening lounging around in boxer shorts. It was too hot! Of course when the heat started really putting out the waves aroud mid morning, I would shower (in an attempt to wash the sheen of sweat off) and head to a place away from my apartment. A place with air conditioning. I was doing all I could do to stay cool. Except for walking around town with my shirt off. I get it.... it is not against the law for men to be topless. So walking around shirtless is not illegal. No man will go to jail or even receive a ticket for taking off their shirt. But does that make this ok?

I am thinking no. I am not standing on a soapbox saying that the fact that women can't do this makes it unfair. I am not saying that topless women should flood the streets and overturn an unjust rule. Sure, there are quite a few women I would love to watch run around topless when ever they wished. I think that topless women can be an awesome thing. Of course the drawback is that you would have the problem of the not so attractive people flopping out the goods. The reality is that 3/4 of the women I saw today should stay clothed. Even this is not the reason I am against males going shirtless. I am not irritated by the inequality of the sexes when it comes to toplessness. If you think about it the whole tabooo-ness of topless women is what drives sales of some adult magazines and gets tips at the topless bars. The balancing of the topless scales would eliminate thousands if not millions of revenue for people. We wouldn't want that to happen. A stripper has to eat too!

So what is the reason? I mentioned the 3/4 of non-appealing ladies when I nixed the topless ladies idea. Well men have the same issue but if you ask me the scales are tipped more substantially against men. I am not even talking about my own sexual tastes here. I can admit their are some dudes that look specifically designed to keep their shirt off. I would like to add that I do not see myself in this subset. It's the people who are in the 7/8ths of the male population, the ones that should remain clothed in public places, that insist on walking around sans shirt. So right here I am making a stand against topless men and here is my rallying cry: I do not want to see you half naked on the city streets.

My feeling is that if a person is near a beach, lake, river, pool, in a park soaking in rays, or in and around their home they are more then welcome to be shirtless. In fact I say this about both sexes, attractive or unattractive, old or young, toothpick or beached whale. Go shirtless, if you want, in the places I have described. I am talking about the context of the toplessness; it is an important detail. Leaving the context out of your shirtlessness is like deciding you don't really need an engine in your car. So please America, put your shirts back on. Nobody wants to see your beer belly, your fur-like covering of hair, your weird tan lines, the innie or outie belly button, or your deformed nipple. Put your shirt back on before you wait for the bus. Put your shirt back on before you go to the grocery store. Put your shirt back on when you ride the Max trains. Put your shirt back on when you are 80 years old and sitting outside your nursing home. Put your shirt back on anytime you leave the safe zones I have described.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thoughts on "Who killed the electric car?"

I just got done watching Who Killed the Electric Car?

I enjoyed watching this little documentary and found out a lot about a car I do not remember hearing about. They basically decide everybody involved on all sides are at fault for not having the electric car "widely" available today. The car companies for fighting so hard to have it fail while at the same time paying lip service to the lack of interest on a car they completely fail to properly market. The oil companies because we all know people making billions don't want to make less money and that all oil execs are basically vampires. Then the government and their evil plot to keep us from anything not oil related. Then the consumer who failed to realize the car was perfect for them. I liked the movie but I had some issues with it.

First off I took issue with them finding fault with the consumers of America. I find it hard to believe that people who knew nothing about the existence of the car can be at fault for not buying it. Supposedly it was marketed in California and Arizona but I am not aware of anyone who had one. From what I could tell from the story the car companies made it nearly impossible to get from the electric car waiting list into one of the cars. Which means that if I knew about it I would have run into the issue of being a poor college student. Oh yeah and the small issue of not in the market for a new car. In fact, I still have never owned a new car because they are freaking expensive. So I would have had to wait until the became used cars before it was an economically viable option for me. They never became used cars because the companies leased them and did not sell them to people. When the lease ran out people had to turn them in and most did not have the option to get an extension on the lease. Actually from what I could tel no one was allowed to extend the lease.

Second issue was the description of the car as sexy. The focus of this documentary was GM's ev-1. It had the weird rear wheel that was half covered thing like the first Insight did. The rest of the design was better looking then the Insight was (is?) but I would not attach the word sexy to it. Then there was a lot of talk about the car being fast but they did not really give me an understandable measure of what that meant. They did not use the standard measure of 0 to 60 in whatever seconds so I had to take their word for it. It is one thing to assume that I am interested in electric cars and there by have an issue with the oil companies. I don't like paying for gas and my car has broken down enough to seriously burn the idea of ever enjoying driving a car again. So that is a belief I can allow them to assume. I can not allow them to assume I will believe that a car was "fast" without any real data to back that up. It is a line too far out there for me.

Next down the list is getting 60 to 120 miles per charge. They are right, most of my driving would comfortably fit between these estimates. I don't go near 120 miles in one day on a normal day. However, what do I do if I want to visit my dad's? His house is almost 200 miles away. What would happen to me in that situation? Assuming we had built a recharging station, how long would a recharge take? And yes the answer does matter. Say that somehow I got the car when I was in college... when these things first came out. I would not make it from Flagstaff to Phoenix.... ever. My first job after college was probably 60 miles round trip.... was I expected to recharge at work? I can imagine that going over well. Basically that leaves me with a couple options for making a trip of 200 miles I rent a gas fueled car, I ride the bus (shudder), I take the train (which seems kinda nice), or I sit at a refueling station that might exist for an unspecified amount of time while I recharge. I guess I could own two cars.... how about that for the ol' pocketbook. A car for distance trips and my "getting around town" electric car. So no matter what they say the limited range is an issue. Maybe not the insurmountable obstacle that some people think it is but definitely an issue.

Then we get into the big business issues. This is a weird country where making money is desired unless it is too much money. Yes Big Oil is bending us over the gasoline table and they will continue to do so as long as they can. We are capitalists; deal with it. The thing that isn't fair is when the government fails to help parties interested in competing with the monopoly. Make no mistake that Big Oil is a monopoly; there might be a handful of companies but they definitely work together to keep their profits rising. The actions of the federal government to stop the California Zero Emission policy was wrong. We have had to force auto makers to change how cars were made for every advancement. Seat belts, air bags, miles per gallon and emissions standards. So California was doing what needed to be done. Of course when push came to shove they buckled but you try not giving in when the US government, Big Oil and major car companies are breathing down your neck. Especially when 2 of the 3 help you get elected to office.

The car companies. What can be said besides "OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS ARE STUPID!!!!" I think the last few years have shown how this is only one story where they shot themselves in the foot. The American car companies are doing their best to kill themselves from what I can tell. Good job guys! Of course this movie pointed out that the foreign companies followed GM's lead in destroying their electric vehicles as well. Even though they have more hybrid options they aren't doing as much as they can. The funny thing is if the big 3 had started working on better fuel economy as they were scrapping the electric vehicle they might have been doing better. The cars I have looked at in the past that were American car companies hybrids have been barely better then the regular cars. How about upping the fuel economy in a completely gas run car? Who does that hurt? I guess the oil companies.... but not completely as we would still be buying gas. It's not like they don't keep screwing us over all the time anyway whose to say they couldn't do so even with better fuel economy. What if gas prices stayed at 4 or 5 bucks per gallon but I was getting 50 to 60 miles to the gallon? I would be happier and I would know that even though the cost to fill up was more I could go twice as far per tank. Add value to the product. Instead the bigwigs at GM decided let's put our money into a car that is lucky to get 8 miles to the gallon... Go Hummers! Here is a good example of the consumer being retarded. The Hummer is such a retarded status symbol!

Anyway the movie was interesting and entertaining and thought provoking; even if it seemed to side step some of the issues and show them as not being worth discussing. I would have liked more technical facts and less wealthy people telling me how ultimately orgasmic their experience with the ev-1 was. I got the point very quickly that people who had the car loved the car. I did not need to have them beat that into my head.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: A Rambling Review

I would be remiss if I failed to review the biggest movie of the summer. Especially considering I saw it this last weekend. You know..... my drunken all nighter weekend. ;)

Let it be said that I was ready for this movie. As ready as almost any Potter dork could be. I rewatched all 5 of the previous movies. I went out and purchased the 6th book and reread it. Then when that was done I reread the 7th book. Just for good measure. When the movie came out I was totally ready to see it and it was excruciating not to see it on opening day. It was excruciating even knowing that I only had 40 dollars to my name. I had long ago decided to wait until I could see it with my dad and nephew Ricky. So I made myself wait..... Was the movie worth it?

Yes, the movie was worth it. It was not completelty like the book though. Before you pull out your soap box and lecture me about the difficultes of literally translating a 652 page book into a 2 and a half hour movie just hear me out. The begining of the book has the real world British Prime Minister getting a visit from the Minister of Magic. This did not happen in the movie and although I can see easily why this was cut (the British Prime Minister does not help the plot nor does he reappear later) I was still bummed that it didn't happen. I like the book beginning with how the return of an evil wizard has affected the non-magic world. You do see that the magical war is affecting the muggles (what magicals call non-magicals) in the movie but that part of the book was rather amusing. Of course it would probably have been too difficult to pull off because she writes it through the mind of the muggle Prime Minister. So they probably made a good cut to keep the movie flowing. They deviated from the story a little bit in other ways as well and I have decided to discuss a few of them.

Warning! Between the two bolded small paragraphs is an italicized section where I discuss points of the movie. I certainly will be discussing the ending in this area. If you have managed to go this long and are (somehow) unaware of the ending of the book/movie 6 please avoid this section. If you are in the other camp and have read the book and want to watch the movie with out my take on the ending then do not read this section either. After the next bold paragraph will be the review minus the overly revealing plot points.

Harry is distraught at the end of book/movie 5. His godfather is dead and Harry had a small role in bringing Sirius to the ministry where he would eventually be killed. His dreams of a family life and someone who could be like a father to him are over and so we join him at the beginning of book 6 hiding out in his room at the Dursleys. The room is a mess and you get the feeling he has not been out of it often that summer. Dumbledore has warned Harry he would be by to pick him up and escort him to the Burrow (the Weasley's domicile). For whatever reason Harry has taken no precaution to be in any state of readiness for this visit. He has not let his Uncle know and he hasn't packed. It seems we are supposed to realize that the broken promise of a life with Sirius has kind of made him doubt the adults around him. In the movie we find Harry sitting in a coffee shop in the London underground. He is reading the Daily Prophet (with the usually moving pictures) and ends up setting a meeting with a pretty cute waitress. Instead of going on a date that evening Dumbledore arrives and whisks him away to get Slughorn. If you ask me this was a better take on Harry Potter's personality. As far as I am concerned he must feel he has nothing left to lose. A prophecy saying it is he or Voldemort dying as an end to this feud and he death of Sirius would definitey prompt him to start taking risks. So here he is wandering the world that he can't do magic in and reading a magical newspaper. He is acting like someone who has faced and lived through Voldemort's attacks 5 times (at the age of 1, 11, 12, 14, and 15). He went from hero to villain to the chosen one. His life in the magical world has been difficult, challenging, fun and heartbreaking. Even then when he gets back to muggleville he waits feverishly for summer to end and school to resume. It only seems natural that he would be taking a few risks and finding ways to make it a passable summer; one in which he can tempoarily forget the loss of another person.

The next change is that the Hagrid storyline is barely there. In the book, Hagrid is bummed that Hermione, Ron and Harry did not sign up for his care of magical creatures class. Of course most of the last few movies have kind of cut a lot of Hagrid's role. I was perfectly fine with them doing this to tell you the truth as I found the note about Aragog's funeral to be ridiculous. I just couldn't see Hagrid wanting his favorite people risking expulsion to bury a dead spider, no matter how deluded he was about Aragog's personality. Once again the movie gets a silly storyline elimination right. Harry does get the confession from Slughorn after Aragog's funeral but it all comes down to a whim caused by the luck potion he drinks.

Then there is Christmas. In the movie there is a fight outside of the Weasleys' home and the destruction of the burrow. This did not happen in the book. I liked it because I needed a little action at this point and this provided it. Plus I love Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange and I figure more of her taunting is definitely ok. Of course their is no answered questions about how this destruction will affect the 7th movie. It is a safe place in all the books (including the 6th book) and it does not fall under attack until the beginning of the 7th book. So one must wonder what happened directly after the fire and how this loss was resolved. It certainly shatters any delusions of a safe haven for Harry.

They cut out the new minister of magic's appearance and his attempt to woo Harry to his side. I liked this part of the story but I can see cutting it. JK Rowling lays the groundwork here and has this battle of wills a few times in the book only to get rid of him early in the 7th book. He was a character that was not necessary to the plot besides drilling the fact in about how loyal Harry is to Dumbledore. Of course her treatment of how Harry handles the task given to him by Dumbledore (getting Slughorn's secret) sends an opposite message. It says he is all talk and little action. Luckily they treated him digging for the secret differently in this movie. He is watching Malfoy but not as obsessively as in the book and no one is yelling at him to stop neglecting his duty to Dumbledore. That part of the book irritated me and I was glad it was eliminated. Instead, Dumbledore reveals the task much later and after the failed attempt Harry can't get a minute with Slughorn until the trip to Hagrid's. You never get the feeling he isn't trying.

Let's skip to the ending. They played this one completely different. During the book's ending Harry arrives with a weakened Dumbledore to find a dark mark above the school. They get to the tower and Harry is under the invisibility cloak and gets a petrification curse to keep him from interfering at all. Everything happens in front of his eyes but there is no way for him to change anything. The curse is lifted only when Dumbledore dies and then he is running after the Death Eaters through a battlefield of the Order, the DA and more Death Eaters. People know they are under attack and he is running past them screaming at Snape. It was an intense scene and I was amazed that they would completely change it. This time I think the movie makes a mistake. First off in the movie Harry is unfettered by a petrification curse and is not under an invisibility cloak. He is hiding below watching when Snape comes up and shows him the universal "be quiet" gesture (the finger to the lips). Harry puts his trust into Snape; something he has never done in any of the previous movies or books and watches him kill Dumbledore. Then there is no battle raging on, the death mark is only cast after Dumbledore is killed, no one is roaming the halls and the handful of Death Eaters are cackling and breaking goblets in the feast room. Harry does not catch up to them until the field outside of Hagrid's hut. If he wasn't frozen in place what was he doing all that time? He was up and watching it happen not stuck watching something happen without being able to move. It seems to me they changed the dynamic here. Harry should have gotten at least one of the Death Eaters in this altered ending. Plus with the lack of a battle going on how did anyone know to come out to see the body? The battle happened outside and it wasn't much of one. I felt like the final betrayal of Snape in the 6th book was poignant but in the 6th movie it seemed lacking. In the book, Dumbledore is not even able to stand when Snape comes in and kills him. It seems much more like Dumbledore is pleading for help. In the movie it seems like Dumbledore is finishing the argument he and Snape had before the night began. Which in fact is what it was but we have no inkling of that until the end of book 7. Dumbledore looked too confident and in control; evena s he recieves te killing curse. It was way more of an Obi-Wan Kenobi sacrificial ending then an old man defeated. I also missed the chaos of battle that Harry runs through to catch up while attempting to kill Snape. That allowed us to know why it took him so long to catch up. He was ducking killing curses and it had taken a moment to realize he was no longer paralyzed. I also felt that this movie needed a battle at the end as the action was lacking a bit. The various supporting characters really needed to be ready for a fight and then have the blow of losing Dumbledore to properly set the stage for the 7th movie's opening feel. It is always best to end at as low of a point as possible. Instead they seem to been caught unaware and that seems silly. I think having most of the order of the Phoenix, the aurors and a few of the DA roaming the halls trying to protect the school and failing is a better way to set up the impossibility of the task set forth in the 7th book. Instead a small group of people sneak in and kill the main dude in charge and then walk brazenly out the front door unmolested. It was insulting!

They also left a lot of the silliness of the Gryffindor quidditch team tryouts out and just left in Cormac and Ron's face off. I was sad to not see the inanity of kids from other houses coming out to try out with the whole school looking on. Of course, once again, I can see why they did that; it wasn't really necessary for the plot.

They cut out the crazy making out of Harry and Ginny and kept it as just a little kiss here and there. They also left out Harry telling her at the end he is too busy to be in a relationship with her and the whole "it's too dangerous" crap. I liked them leaving it out a little better because I saw it as silly.

And finally.... Harry only uses the invisibility cloak once in this movie which was a little weird. Instead he seems to have inherited a great streak of luck to avoid being caught and the ability to go undetected whenever he decides to.

The review will now go back to being ending obscure.....

The movie begins amidst a troubled time for the world; for magic and non-magic citizens alike. The Death Eaters are active and running amuck and people are afraid regardless if they know what is going on. Of course being a kid you still have to go to school and Harry finds himself back at Hogwarts. Probably one of the few kids who has ever continually looked forward to the start of school. We are introduced to a goofy new character almost immediately, a Professor Slughorn. Slughorn has a key role to play in the movie, the unlocking of secrets, and it falls on Harry's shoulders to make it happen. Except that there is more going on then Slughorn. Snape gets promoted to the Defense Against the Dark Arts post much to the displeasure of most of the students and he seems to be up to something. He makes an unbreakable vow to help Draco Malfoy out in completing a dangerous task he has been given by Voldemort. Harry sees Draco up to no good in Knockturn Alley and decides he must be a Death Eater even though no one believes him. Harry is spending time with Dumbledore learning the secrets of Voldemort's past in adition to his classes. There is a lot going on for Harry this year and yet we haven't even touched on the mystery of who the Half Blood Prince is. The only clue is an inscription in Harry's used Potions book that says "Property of the Half Blood Prince". Is this mysterious person good or bad. Is his help really something Harry should follow so blindly?

The movie is an interestingly dark story and holds true to the spirit of the book if not to the exact letter. Harry is dealing with more and more pressures as his world has once again changed. No longer the outcast he became in the 5th movie after the Daily Prophet's lies about him fabricating the return of Voldemort. He is now being touted as the 'chosen one' and the world is eager to have a piece of him. At the same time he is being asked, by Dumbledore, to be more active in his duties and is meeting with him regularly. He is trying to butter up Professor Slughorn while keeping an eye on Draco, questioning Snape's loyalty, not being believed when he shares his fears about Draco and Snape, captaining the quidditch team, handling his course load, playing intermediary between friends and pining for Ginny (Ron's sister). There is a lot on his plate and the movie does a good job of showing that but not beating us over the head with it. There are some differences between the movie and the book and some are good and only one is completely bad but over all I recommend this movie. Go out and see it today.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I should have known my confession of a 5 AM beer would raise concern..... Maybe I am naive. Or maybe I believe that writers have certain privileges. You know like writers can explore the darker side of thoughts and feelings without the suicide hotline being called on to make a house call. I didn't know they made house calls until I wrote that blog. Another thing I think falls under writers' privilege is the ability to exaggerate. For example the whole sentence about the suicide hotline people making a house call. Or the whole drinking all night thing. Let me tell the real story.

I definitely had been up all night but in reality my drinking started at dinner at 10PM. I had a glass of wine with my salmon.

Then I decided to switch to beer but I was watching anime and wanted to wait until the episode was over. When it was over I started another episode, forgetting about the beer, and when that episode was over I remembered the beer.... it was a little after midnight at this point. I drank the beer while watching another couple shows and I decided to have another. The beer I had just drank was the last one of it's kind and I had a decision to make. This time I decided to have a half and half (a beer that is half Harps and half Guinness). I poured the beer so that the guiness hung nicely over the Harps and put the slightly over half full bottles back in the fridge and went back to watching shows online.

When I finished the mixture I relaxed for a while. In fact I forgot all about the beers in the fridge and I was drinking a peach tea. I have the little packets you can buy and pour into a bottle of water. They are less calories then soda (or the previously mentioned alcoholic beverages) and they provide a little variety in my drink choices. I get bored only drinking water so I have bought these hoping they would stem my craving for soda. It works mainly because I have no soda in my house and no available money to waste on soda. Either way by the time I finished that tea it was nearly 4 am. I was almost finished watching this anime series; just two more episodes left. I was hungry and had not eaten in 6 hours so I went to the fridge to reheat the side dish I had eaten with the salmon, black beans and rice. I saw the two open bottles and felt that I should finish them off. So I heated up the rice and beans and poured the mixture and admired the beauty that is a Half and Half. Unfortunately there was still a little left in each bottle.... the glass I was using must not hold 16 ounces.

I went back and watched another episode and then decided to tell about my week. It had been a week from holy Heck and I wanted to get some stress off my back. I find that I tend to write pretty well in the blog window. For some odd reason I can just write and write without really running out of things to say. It is the reason the stories pop up from time to time. I dont usually write as much in my notebooks and I run into a writer's block scenario when I see a large blank Word document. Something about the little blog post box makes me write.

I poured the last little bit of each bottle into the glass and sat down to write that update. I decided to make an issue of the time and the beverage in my hands. It made it fun....

Later that day, after sleeping for a few hours, I was headed to my dad's house. I got a distressed call from my mother.... the blog had worried her. When I got online I had a couple readers email me to see if I was alright. Apparently I had struck the "OH NO!!!" chord with that blog. I reread it before I posted it at 5:30 AM and felt proud. The blog had made me chuckle and I felt better just having confessed my concerns. I decided to post the entry because I really thought it was a good entry. I may have a weird sense of what is good.... but don't worry I have no intentions of doing any harm to myself. I have thought of storming government facilities and unleashing a computer virus that would reroute all the bailout money to the people and away from companies that suck. I have thought about flying to Phoenix and using a chainsaw to cutdown the traffic camera that took my picture and dispose of it in places that might be highly uncomfortable for those responsible for instituting trafic cams. I have even thought about reinventing Robin Hood and his band of malcontents... which would include a few hackers, bank robbers, some bashers, that guy who wrote that program that stole tenths of pennies from all business transactions, maybe a few wizards (according to the Potter movie Harry Potter dropped out of school, he could help), Tyler Durden, and maybe those monsters from Where the Wild Things Are. Of course I won't do any of this stuff; I will merely daydream about it. But I will do is exaggerate my alcohol intake and write blogs where I whine a lot. :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Because I haven't written in a while

Why, at 5 AM, I am sitting here drinking is a question I can't answer. I didn't mean to spend the night and early hours drinking but it happened anyway. I would love to apologize for this violation of adult responsibilities and observance of proper drinking hours. I would love to say that I was sorry or sickened by my actions but at the same time I am trying not to tell lies... like George Washington (minus the fictitional cherry tree). What I am saying is that I do not have any contrite words to partner with my actions. Hold on...

Had to take a quick drink.

Much better.

Anyway it is 5 in the morning and I am finishing my (possibly) last drink. To be fair I started late in the evening and I have been feeling a little stressed. The money situation I find myself in would be better drowned in a constant flow of alcohol but I lack that kind of money. You see the government is not paying unemployment wages because going to school twice a month might mean I am unable to take a job. How twice a month means I am being impossible and hard to deal with is beyond my mental capacity.... Hold on.... Just a quick sip.... Ahhhh.

Oh and the school is taking their sweet time, getting their ducks in a row, when they should be sending some financial aid my way. To add to my constant state of worry I woke up at 7 AM because I recieved a text message from my cellular service letting me know I had a new bill waiting for me. This rude awakening helped me see my crisis a little clearer (holy crap.... I have bills!) and as a result the house of cards that I had taken refuge behind was tipped over. I came face to face with the full spectrum of my money woes. My heart started racing, even as I tried to fall back asleep, and I could not calm down. This was how I greeted the day and the urge to rob a bank has not left me since.

I originally thought that a glass of wine would calm my nerves and send me into dream land. As of yet the fierce "hamster ball" like workings of my mind continue to roll on. Not even when I switched to beer did it stop. My mind is in panic overdive. So I wrote this little note to let you know where my head is at. I also wrote this note to get some of the stress and worry out of my system. And of course I wrote this note because I hadn't written in a while......

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Unlikely Disciple - A Rambling Review

I recently picked up an unlikely book at Barnes and Noble and read a 3rd of it before they closed. It was an unlikely book because it does not fall easily into my usual choices. It was a real story written by a young journalist hopeful. There are no wizards, vampires, zombies or epic sword fights. Instead there is one person's journey into an unknown and bizarre world. The world of the Evangelist college student, a place where few non-Evangelists enter. Anyway I read a third of it before Barnes and Noble announced that the impending closing time had arrived. Fueled by impulse, I walked the book to the counter and bought it. That way I could bring you my rambling review of The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose.

Kevin Roose is still in college, at least he was when this book was published. He was a senior at Brown. At the beginning of the book he is attending Browne as well but had been captivated by Liberty University on an excursion with his employer. His employer, A.J. Jacobs, wrote the book The Year of Living Biblically and had taken Kevin along to Jerry Falwell's church Thomas Road. At Thomas Road he had an awkward conversation with a couple college aged church goers. They were attending Liberty University and by extension attended Thomas Road church every Sunday. Liberty University was started by Reverend Jerry Falwell and Thomas Road is on one end of the campus making for easy access. The school has a strict set of rules built around keeping the students from the evils of secular colleges (you know... all the fun stuff). The more Kevin reflected on his awkward conversation the more he began to be interested in the vast divide between Evangelists and most of American society. Suddenly he felt the urge to experience Liberty first hand and enrolls in the school. He had to pave the way for this move with Brown University, his Quaker parents and a group of family and friends that think he might be making the biggest mistake of his life.

Luckily for us, Kevin eventually got everything set up to go to Liberty for a semester. He decided that he needed to be undercover for the assignment to work and he concocted a story about recently becoming an Evangelist. With the help of a friend, who had been raised in an Evangelist household, he prepped as much as possible for his adventure. It was a good thing he had thought about it ahead of time because almost immediately people asked about his religious beliefs and if he had been saved. Expecting the worst stereotypes to be made flesh, Kevin is surprised at the warm welcome he receives. He actively pursues the lifestyle he is trying to investigate. In doing so, he says yes to prayer groups, bible studies, mentor meetings with a pastor, and even becomes part of the Thomas Road choir. Along the way he makes friends, meets a fun and enticing girl, attends a group for men that encourages them to battle against masturbation, goes to Panama Beach during spring break with a group determined to proselytize to the drunken debaucherous masses and gets the last print interview with Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Of course not all is fun and light at this university. Immediately he runs into homophobic slurs and attitudes. He witnesses a racial divide when a black friend begins dating a white girl. He has a roommate who starts to intensely dislike him; to the point where I began to wonder if he was safe sharing a room with the guy. Worst of all he begins to have severe guilt about lying to all these people he is growing closer to. Not to mention a severely worried family and an intense questioning of his spiritual beliefs. Add all that together and you have a big stress cloud hovering over Kevin.

All of these interesting little twists and turns makes for a good read and Kevin Roose is a great narrator and guide. His introspection and quest for understanding really help you see the complexity of the situation he finds himself in. I definitely recommend this book and can loan it to the next person who asks because I have a copy sitting right next to me.