Monday, August 22, 2011

The Smurfs (2011)

This is a solid movie. In Smurf village the little blue creatures are preparing for the Blue Moon Festival. The human sorcerer Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and his cat Azrael learn of the secret entrance into the village. As the smurfs are fleeing in terror, a group of six is sucked through a portal that delivers them into New York City. With the help of a recently promoted marketing executive (Neil Patrick Harris) and his pregnant wife Grace (Jayma Mays), they must find a spell that will allow them to return to their village.

Belvedere Castle contains exhibit rooms and an observation deck that provides views across the park and city. It was built in 1865 as an additional feature to Central Park. Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford introduced the smurfs in comic strips in 1958 under the pen name Peyo. The animated television series aired on NBC from 1981 to 1989. Post Cereals has released three different Smurf themed cereals: Smurf Berry Crunch (1983), Smurf Magic Berries (1987 to early 90s) and in 2011 they offered Limited Edition Smurfs Pebbles to coincide with the release of the film.

A Darkness More Than Night

This is an okay book written by Michael Connelly. Harry Bosch is up to his neck in a case that has transfixed all of celebrity-mad Los Angeles: a movie director is charged with murdering an actress during sex and then staging her death to make it look like a suicide. Bosch is both the arresting officer and the star witness in a trial that has brought the Hollywood media pack out in full-throated frenzy. Meanwhile, Terry McCaleb is enjoying an idyllic retirement on Catalina Island when a visit from an old colleague brings his former world rushing back. It’s a murder, the unreadable kind of murder he specialized in solving back in his FBI days.

This is the seventh novel featuring Harry Bosch.

The Devil Colony

I liked this book written by James Rollins. Deep in the Rocky Mountains, a gruesome discovery – hundreds of mummified bodies – stirs international attention and fervent controversy. Despite doubts about the bodies’ origins, the local Native American Heritage Commission lays claim to the prehistoric remains, along with the strange artifacts found in the same cavern: gold plates inscribed with an unfathomable script. During a riot at the dig site, an anthropologist dies horribly, burned to ashes in a fiery explosion in plain view of television cameras. All evidence points to a radical group of Native Americans, including one agitator, a teenage firebrand who escapes with a vital clue to the murder and calls on the one person who might help – her uncle, Painter Crowe, Director of Sigma Force.

This is the seventh novel in the Sigma Force series.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chasing Fire

This is an okay book written by Nora Roberts. Little else is as dangerous as fire jumping. Flying past towering pillars of smoke, parachuting down to the edge of an all-consuming blaze, shoveling and sawing for hours upon hours, days at a time, all to hold the line and push back against the raw power of Mother Nature. But there’s also little else as thrilling – at least to Rowan Tripp. The Missoula smoke jumpers are one of the most exclusive firefighting squads in the nation, and the job is in Rowan’s blood: her father is a legend in the field. Returning to the wilds of Montana for the season feels like coming home – even with reminders of the partner she lost last season still lingering in the air.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (2011)

This is a noteworthy movie. Now that Lord Voldemort (Fiennes) has the Elder Wand and Severus Snape is the new headmaster of Hogwarts, Harry (Radcliffe), Ron, and Hermione seek to find and destroy the remaining four Horcruxes. Aberforth Dumbledore (Ciarán Hinds) helps the trio to secretly enter the school and Harry confronts Snape in front of the entire student body. Harry learns the surprising details of Snape's past and is also forced to confront a disturbing fact about his own mortality.

This eighth and final installment in the series was released nearly ten years after the original film. This latest film set a new record for an opening weekend, is currently the third highest grossing film of all time, and is the ninth film to gross over $1 billion. This is the shortest film in the series with a running time of 130 minutes.

The Closers

This is an okay book written by Michael Connelly. In Los Angeles in 1988, a sixteen-year-old girl disappeared from her home and was later found dead of a gunshot wound to the chest. The death appeared at first to be a suicide – but some of the evidence contradicted that scenario, and detectives came to believe this was in fact a murder. Despite a by-the-book investigation, no one was ever charged. Now Detective Harry Bosch is back with the LAPD with the sole mission of closing unsolved cases, and this girl’s murder is the first he’s given.

This is the eleventh novel featuring detective Harry Bosch.

Foreign Influence

This is an okay book written by Brad Thor. When the daughter of a prominent, politically connected family is kidnapped, Homeland Security operative Scot Harvath takes to the desolate Afghan frontier to spearhead a rescue.

The Brass Verdict

This is an okay book written by Michael Connelly. Just as defense attorney Mickey Haller’s life is going back to normal, a Hollywood lawyer named Jerry Vincent is murdered and Mickey takes on the case of the accused, which could take his career into the big leagues. Haller learns that the killer may be looking for him and Harry Bosch. With danger mounting, Bosch and Haller decide to work together.

This novel includes the second appearance of criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller.

Echo Park

This is an okay book written by Michael Connelly. In 1993, Marie Gesto disappeared after walking out of a supermarket in Hollywood. LAPD detective Harry Bosch caught the case, but the young woman never turned up, dead or alive, and it was an investigation Bosch couldn’t close. Now Bosch works in the Open-Unsolved Unit, where he still keeps the Gesto file on his desk, when he gets a call from the DA. A man accused of two heinous killings is willing to come clean about several others in a deal to avoid the death penalty. One of these is the murder of Marie Gesto.

This is the twelfth novel featuring detective Harry Bosch.

The Camel Club

This is an okay book written by David Baldacci. It exists at the fringes of Washington, D.C., has no power, and consists solely of four eccentric and downtrodden members whom society has forgotten. Their simple goal is to find the truth behind their country’s actions. One man leads this aging, ragtag crew. He has no known past and has taken the name Oliver Stone. Day and night, Stone and his friends study wild conspiracy theories, current events, and the machinations of government, hoping to discover some truth that will hold America’s leaders accountable to its citizens.

This is the first book of the series.

One Summer

I liked this book written by David Baldacci. It's almost Christmas, but there is no joy in the house of terminally ill Jack and his family. With only a short time left to live, he spends his last days preparing to say good-bye to his devoted wife, Lizzie, and their three children. Then, unthinkably, tragedy strikes again: Lizzie is killed in a car accident. Just when all seems lost, Jack beings to recover in a miraculous turn of events. He rises from what should have been his deathbed, determined to bring his fractured family back together.

I’ll Walk Alone

This is an okay book written by Mary Higgins Clark. 32-year-old Alexandra Moreland is a rising star in the architectural world and lives in Manhattan. But when she is plagued by identity theft, her successful life is turned upside down. Someone has gained access to her bank accounts, credit cards, and personal background, and is now impersonating her. Then, with overwhelming circumstantial evidence stacked against her, Alexandra is arrested for the murder of a woman she claims she’s never met. Or has she?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Top 30 best NBA season turnarounds

This list shows the number of additional victories that each NBA won compared to the previous season. The teams are shown with their current city and name, along with the season when they achieved this feat. The 1999-2000 season is an unfair comparison because there was a lockout the previous year that led to only a 50 game season, as compared to the regular 82 games. Eight of the records on this list are due to that change.

1. Boston Celtics (2007-08) 42 wins
2. **Los Angeles Lakers (1999-00) 36 wins
2. San Antonio Spurs (1997-98) 36 wins
4. San Antonio Spurs (1989-90) 35 wins
5. Phoenix Suns (2004-05) 33 wins
6. Boston Celtics (1979-80) 32 wins
7. Milwaukee Bucks (1969-70) 29 wins
8. Miami Heat (2008-09) 28 wins
8. Denver Nuggets (1974-75) 28 wins
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (2009-10) 27 wins
10. Phoenix Suns (1988-89) 27 wins
12. Denver Nuggets (2003-04) 26 wins
12. New Jersey Nets (2001-02) 26 wins
12. **Phoenix Suns (1999-00) 26 wins
15. **Minnesota Wolves (1999-00) 25 wins
15. Chicago Bulls (1995-96) 25 wins
15. New Jersey Nets (1973-74) 25 wins
18. Chicago Bulls (2004-05) 24 wins
18. **Portland Trail Blazers (1999-00) 24 wins
18. Cleveland Cavaliers (1991-92) 24 wins
21. **Indiana Pacers (1999-00) 23 wins
21. **New Orleans Hornets (1999-00) 23 wins
21. **New York Knicks (1999-00) 23 wins
21. Dallas Mavericks (1994-95) 23 wins
21. Golden State Warriors (1988-89) 23 wins
21. Phoenix Suns (1969-70) 23 wins
27. Memphis Grizzles (2003-04) 22 wins
27. **Toronto Raptors (1999-00) 22 wins
27. New Jersey Nets (1969-70) 22 wins
27. Houston Rockets (1968-69) 22 wins

Monday, August 01, 2011

Trader of Secrets

This is an okay book written by Steve Martini. Defense attorney Paul Madriani is on the trail of two NASA scientists who are harboring secrets that a dangerous government will stop at nothing to get. Meanwhile, Madriani’s daughter, Sarah, is kept under armed guard after eluding the dangerous killer known as Liquida. However, Sarah slips past her protectors, ignorant to the fact that Liquida is waiting for her. Now Madriani, Joselyn Cole, and Harry Hinds must locate the scientist and track down Liquida before all is lost.

This is the 12th novel to feature Paul Madriani.