Archive for September, 2012

Skagboys: A review

September 25, 2012 1 comment

SkagboysSkagboys by Irvine Welsh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a predecessor to Trainspotting, set in mid-80s Edinburgh and other points of interest. The boys are in their early 20s, experiencing heroin, Margaret Thatcher’s regime of unemployment and poverty, and bad attitudes overall.

My take on each character:

Mark Renton: pretty misunderstood, but at the same time cops a nihilistic attitude that keeps him from experiencing true happiness as a regular guy.

Francis Begbie: seemed to have some redeeming qualities that were absent in Trainspotting and Porno. It’s like he hadn’t gone full psycho yet in Skagboys, but that will come in time.

Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson: He’s already into dealing, pimping, stealing, and screwing people over at this point. He doesn’t care who gets hurt the way in his quest for the good life. He’s pretty scummy overall, in this blogger’s opinion.

Danny “Spud” Murphy: Poor guy, nothing goes right for him, not even a chance to sleep with a well known singer (with hilarious results).

Matthew “Matty” Connell: Real dirtbag. I can’t stand the guy at all, he’s a character with no chance of redemption.

Tommy Lawrence: has his ups and downs, but overall isn’t doing too bad compared to the others

I loved this book overall. Welsh returns to his old stomping grounds with glorious results. Some advice: If you read this, pay very close attention to the details in early chapters. You’ll have to revisit them later in surprising ways.

If you hadn’t heard of the book, here’s a short synopsis straight from Irvine Welsh’s site:

Mark Renton has it all: he’s good-looking, young, with a pretty girlfriend and a place at university. But there’s no room for him in the 1980s. Thatcher’s government is destroying working-class communities across Britain, and the post-war certainties of full employment, educational opportunity and a welfare state are gone. When his family starts to fracture, Mark’s life swings out of control and he succumbs to the defeatism which has taken hold in Edinburgh’s grimmer areas. The way out is heroin.

It’s no better for his friends. Spud Murphy is paid off from his job, Tommy Lawrence feels himself being sucked into a life of petty crime and violence – the worlds of the thieving Matty Connell and psychotic Franco Begbie. Only Sick Boy, the supreme manipulator of the opposite sex, seems to ride the current, scamming and hustling his way through it all.

Skagboys charts their journey from likely lads to young men addicted to the heroin which has flooded their disintegrating community. This is the 1980s: a time of drugs, poverty, AIDS, violence, political strife and hatred – but a lot of laughs, and maybe just a little love; a decade which changed Britain for ever. The prequel to the world-renowned Trainspotting, this is an exhilarating and moving book, full of the scabrous humour, salty vernacular and appalling behaviour that has made Irvine Welsh a household name.

I highly suggest reading the Leith trilogy in order, timewise:

  1. Skagboys
  2. Trainspotting
  3. Porno (yes, it’s an actual book)

Updates/ an awesome cake recipe

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Normally I don’t have much issue getting my posts uploaded. However, the last few weeks it’s been tough because the host wasn’t working right. So, I’ve been a bit behind.

Updates: Well, I started running again. I feel like I should start entering some races here and there in a couple months once I get my time back up to speed. Winter’s the nicest time to run down here because it can get a wee bit chilly, but not for long. Plus, it is part of the black belt test at my school, so I need to get my stamina, endurance and speed ready in preparation.

Second update: Back in school again. This time around, I’m taking a cryptography class. It’s pretty interesting, but involves a lot of linear algebra. I haven’t seen that stuff for years, so here I am relearning what I had already unlearned, so to speak.

I haven’t been cooking much lately, although I did make this wonderful chocolate turtle cake recipe from Betty Crocker. I highly recommend it. A couple of recommendations: Go easy on the caramel sauce, and I don’t really think you need the extra chopped turtles in the middle. Here’s why:

See how the caramel sauce pools at the bottom in my version (above photo)? Not cool, compared to the picture on the Betty Crocker website:

The right way to do caramel. Isn’t that pretty?

I’m trying to be a good little warrior, so I made the cake for my nephew’s birthday party and left the remains at my mother’s house. It was hard not thinking about the goodness later with a glass of milk, but it had to be done. I recommend it for holiday gatherings, or any time you feel like having some awesome chocolate cake. It’s not overly sweet, and you can even use sugar free turtles for the topping without anyone really noticing. That is, unless you know folks sensitive to Splenda.

Interesting that a rich chocolate cake and words about fitness make it onto the same post somehow, but that’s how I do things sometimes 😉

I like how the dulce de leche blends well with the frosting and doesn’t overpower the overall flavor of the cake. Plus, using semisweet chocolate chips and a wee teaspoon of coffee really brings out the chocolate flavor without too much sweetness.


September 13, 2012 2 comments

Howdy. How are you folks?

Me, I got the work thing, the school thing, the martial arts thing, and again, the Rock Band thing. Yes, dear readers, I used to be addicted to playing Rock Band. I’d be on the guitar, husband on the drums, and we’d rock out for hours. Then, my guitar controller messed up, so back into storage everything went.

A few weeks ago we went to a birthday party for my nephew, who got together an impromptu jam session. And I was like, hey, I missed playing this here game.

I can still play on the guitar controller, but I have to use the buttons lower on the neck (usually used for solos). But, a replacement is on the way. And then once again, the spousal unit and I can rock out to our favorite tunes (his choice is the Bosstones, I like anything metal/hard rock).  I was a bit bummed out because I didn’t realize until recently that all of the DLC songs I had on our old XBox (final red ring of death killed it for good) were stuck in limbo. But, the good folks at Microsoft made it so you have the ability to get to your DLC through the magic of the cloud (insert Druid chanting here) and add it all to your replacement console. Now I can put on some Janes Addiction and rock out.

It’s fun to play, I recommend it.

Categories: Gaming, Music Tags: , ,
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