Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Bubby

He was the best cat ever. He was born December 4, 1995. His mom was my friend's cat, and she was tiny and skinny. She was an inside cat and one day she snuck out and came home pregnant. We never knew who Bubby's father was. My friend's family named him Bubba when he was a kitten, and when I got him at about eight weeks, I decided to keep the name. I could never have known how he would grow into his name! He was a people cat, and completely different from any other cat I've ever come across. He was the farthest thing in the world from independent, preferring to be where everyone else was than by himself. He would've rather sat on your lap than anything, and would jump on someone's lap to cuddle within ten minutes of meeting them. He used to follow me to bed in the winter, and cuddle under my arm like a teddy bear to sleep. He was the sweetest, most lovable cat you could ever meet.

He lived for thirteen happy and healthy years before he got really sick over this past weekend. He spent one night in the hospital on oxygen and iv medications to help with his breathing and to try and fix the blood clot that was blocking circulation to his right front leg, and he was doing better when we brought him home on Sunday, even if he still hadn't regained the use of that one leg. Unfortunately, he took a turn for the worse around three am Sunday night/Monday morning when his breathing again got very erratic and shallow and he threw another blood clot which blocked circulation to both of his back legs. We did all that we could for him, and just tried to keep him comfortable, but by five o'clock in the morning, he was clearly suffering and in pain, so we had to bring him back to the animal hospital to have him put down.

Our house now feels very empty and lonely. I miss him like crazy, and it really hurts to know that we'll never see him again. While it was really sudden, and that makes it so much more difficult for us to lose him, it's comforting to know that it was better for him that way. At least he was only really sick for two days. I think that he knew how loved he was and how hard we tried to do everything we could for him, even if he couldn't understand what was happening. He made a lot of people very happy for a long time, and he will always be missed. We love you Bubby!

Crank 2 trailer

First things first; here's the video:

So, some advance warning, there's a lot of profanity, nudity and violence in this trailer. If this is any indication of what the movie will be like, it looks pretty sick. I adore Crank for all it's ridiculousness and fast-paced action, and this looks like a lot more of the same. This time Chev Chelios has some kind of electric heart that he needs to keep going by electrocuting himself. I love that the trailer has Linkin Park's Given Up as the soundtrack, and hope to see more of the same in the movie. Plus, Chester Bennington of LP is making another appearance in this installment of Crank - you can see him on this trailer, too.
My favorite line in this trailer = "Is Doc Miles gonna have to choke a bitch?"
Fantastic. I'm so psyched for this movie to come out in April.

Edit: P.S. - this is my first embedded video post. I'm pretty proud of myself for making it happen. Go me!

Edit: 1/9/09 - I just noticed that this video is no longer working, apparently due to copyright issues with Lionsgate. Bummer. I'm trying to find a new one and will replace this video asap.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

In the Name of the King

Just wow. I feel like there are no words for this atrocity. Please, please, do not waste even a second of your life on this movie.

Most people who know me are aware of my unreasonable and potentially unhealthy obsession with Jason Statham. I acknowledge that he is not the greatest actor ever, but you have to admit that he is good - he just doesn't always pick the best movies. Anyway, I don't like him because of his acting, I like him because he's eye candy. Anyway, I will generally watch anything he's in repeatedly, regardless of the quality of the film. I think that The Bank Job, Crank and Transporter 2 are all good movies, and I will be the first one to say that Transporter 3 was not a good movie, but I'll gladly watch it again and again and again anyway. I also hope that Santa is bringing me Death Race on DVD for Christmas tomorrow, and if he doesn't, I intend to buy it this weekend, and will watch it over and over as well, regardless of quality. I mean, look at him.

All of that said, tonight I have discovered a Jason Statham movie that even I can't seem to watch all the way through. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (yes, that's right, folks, it's based on a video game), is potentially the worst thing I've ever seen. I made this decision about 10 minutes into the film, which is so not like me, but really? Jason Statham and the fact that I just now finished wrapping Christmas presents are the only things that have allowed me to keep this garbage on for the past 45 minutes. O.M.G. I could watch Jason Statham fight on screen all day long, but fighting with a ridiculous looking sword just isn't doing it. At all. At least in acknowledging that T3 was not a very good film, I can point to what was wrong with it (it tried to be too serious, instead of just giving in to the ridiculousness of the whole action movie thing, the way that the previous two Transporter movies did). Here, this Dungeon Siege thing, I guess it can only be blamed on writing and directing. This is a decent cast - Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, the guy from Scream, Jason Statham (obviously) - but I can't understand how none of them walked off the set while they were shooting this. Did no one realize how awful this whole thing was going to turn out? Ray Liotta, you did Goodfellas. And then you did this? I have to think that every single member of this cast knew better. No. Just no.

Wow. I'll say it again: please don't waste your time, even I couldn't waste any more of mine.

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Linkin Park live CD out today!

OMG. I was equally excited about this CD/DVD set coming out this week and about the Twilight movie coming out last week. In fact, by last Wednesday, I think I was more excited about this. The original release date was tomorrow, the 25th, but it got bumped to today at the last minute, so obviously I needed to have it today. It's so, so good.

In my car, the first few tracks sounded like they had a little static, but I think that's completely attributable to my car, because I'm listening to it on the computer right now, and it sounds fantastic. OK, just to hit on a few highlights without covering the entire CD - the drum solo on Bleed It Out, Jay Z comes in for Numb/Encore and Jigga What/Faint, the piano version of Pushing Me Away, Chester's voice sounds amazing on The Little Things Give You Away, Given Up completely rocks, really I could go on and on and on. I'm so into this CD.

I haven't watched the DVD yet, because I haven't been home yet, but I saw a review earlier today that said it was also amazing. On the CD, right before Shadow of the Day, Mike is talking about shutting off the lights or something, but I don't know what it's all about. I'm sure the DVD kicks just as much ass as the CD does, though. I love this band. Buy the CD.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Twilight movie

The film adaptation of Twilight came out on Friday. I saw it twice on Friday night. I'm going to see it for a third time today. These multiple trips to the movies are not because I love the movie, though, but the opposite - I'm not sure. I enjoyed it, I can say that. And I liked it more the second time than the first. I think that's attributable to the fact that I stopped analyzing and comparing it to the book the second time, and just watched it for what it is. It's not bad, per se, but the special effects, as expected, were a little on the cheesy side, and some if the acting was just not up to par. I think for fans of the book, it was a decent adaptation and a descent movie. I'm still trying to figure out whether people who haven't read the book would even really understand the movie. I think they would, but some of it might not be so clear without knowing all of the drama going on in Bella's head. The movie skimmed over some of the build-up in Bella and Edward's relationship, which is the best thing about the book, IMO.

The movie also had a little more action, instead of just introducing the bad vampires 3/4 of the way through, they were a background plot line during the whole beginning of the movie, so that made it a little better and added something to the beginning that was missing from the book. Robert Pattinson as Edward was believable, but not good enough. None of the Cullens were casted perfectly, except maybe Carlisle, who looked great. Edward is supposed to be perfect in every way, they all are, but they weren't attractive enough. None of them were drop-dead gorgeous, and Robert Pattinson, while he looked really good in some scenes, didn't look good at all in others. Kristen Stewart as Bella was pretty good, though. Not quite clumsy enough, and maybe a little too pretty, but otherwise not bad. I was pleasantly surprised by Charlie, Bella's dad. At first I didn't think he looked anything like what I had pictured when I was reading the book, but he played Charlie perfectly. The supporting cast of Bella's high school friends was all wrong. It seemed like they set out to make the cast as racially diverse and politically correct as possible, and that just didn't fit with the book.

The settings and scenes were perfect, though. Forks looked just as I imagined it, very green and lush and overcast. The school was not quite as I imagined, but Bella's house, the Cullen house, La Push beach, Port Angeles, the woods, all of that was very good. The prom scene at the end was better in the movie, set at some pretty location, rather than at the high school. Edward's Volvo wasn't right at all. It didn't look tough enough, I guess. I was picturing a sporty, but cool shiny silver Volvo, but he drove a hatchback. No good. There were certain scenes that I loved though. When Bella goes to meet the Cullens is great; when they first arrive at school the first time Edward drives her is great, and I wish they had expanded out that day at school a little more, I loved that part of the book too; and the Edward/James fight scene at the end is done pretty well.

Overall, though, I liked the movie and I'm looking forward to seeing it for the third time today. Hopefully I'll like it even more after that.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fort Minor

I'm going through yet another new music phase. This one is pretty obsessive. I've always been a pretty big fan of Linkin Park, but only recetly just started really getting back into them. I'm really excited about their new live CD coming out next week, actually. So, maybe two weeks ago, I downloaded the album they put out last year, and while I was screwing around on iTunes, I came across the fact that Mike Shinoda, the rapper for Linkin Park, had done this hip hop side project, Fort Minor, a couple of years ago. I figured out that I knew the song Where'd You Go from the radio, but I had never been all that impressed by that song, so I didn't pay too much attention at first. Then I read some of Mike Shinoda's blog posts on his website and I was totally impressed by him. I guess he's always had a hip hop bend in him, and took the time to pursue it with Fort Minor during a break from Linkin Park. Some of what he had to say in his blog was really interesting to me, and I've always ben impressed by his Linkin Park lyrics, and after reading some of the stories behind some of the Fort Minor songs, I decided I needed to listen to them and not just write off the whole CD as being just like that radio song that I knew.

Wow. I'm really glad I did. Where'd You Go is probably my least favorite song on the album. His lyrics are really intelligent (mostly, there's a few just fun, hip hop anthem type songs, too), and the music is really interesting. I like music that makes me want to pay attention to the lyrics and the music, especially hip hop, because so much rap and hip hop is just about beats and bitches and all that, but Mike is really good. His music, like Linkin Park's, is really interesting and complex, and his rhymes are smart and thoughtful, with meaning. The music is not artificial, keyboard sound effects stuff, it's real music, and it's real good, and I've heard that Mike played most of the instruments on the album too. I'm just so impressed by this guy. So, then the mildly addictive phase that I'm now into is that once I downloaded the Fort Minor CD, I started checking out some of the acts that Mike collaborated with on it, and then some of the acts that they had collaborated with, and now I have this whole sort-of underground hip hop thing going on, and it's all I want to listen to, and I'm craving more and more new stuff.

The funny thing is that a lot of what I'm listening to right now is not new stuff, it's just new to me. I love discovering new music, and I love introducing other people to it, and I think some of my friends are getting a little tired of the hip hop I'm constantly trying to get them to listen to lately. For real though, check it out! The link to Fort Minor's website and MySpace are at the right.

NaNoWriMo Winner!

To follow up on my creativity post below, I finally decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I signed up on October 30, and started plot outlining and character development sketches that night. I started writing for real on November 1, and haven't stopped. I love it. I have had such a good time writing and watching the story unfold as I type. I love writing dialogue, even though I'm not entirely sure that I'm punctuating it correctly, I need to work on that, but December is for such editing and cleaning up.

If you'll recall, the goal and challenge of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I heard that was about 175 pages, or about 6 pages/day. Yeah, I hit 50,000 words on Monday, November 17, just over halfway through the month, and that was around 100 pages. I write in Times, 12 point font, 1.5 spaced, 1 inch margins all around. Go me, I'm a winner! So having achieved that goal, there is still this little issue of the book not being done. At all. There's a lot left to write, I think. So, my new goal is to finish the book by November 30. Not the editing and cleaning up, like I said, that's for December, but just to get the story told. I did manage to get the whole thing nicely outlined and I have an ending, so I know where it's going, which is good. It's reassuring, really, to be writing toward something now, instead of just writing with a vague idea of what's coming.

So what am I writing, you ask? Where did the plot inspiration finally come from? I'm writing chick lit, which is something I never in a million years imagined writing, but it is pretty easy to write that kind of story, I guess because it's just a story, and I'm not really going for some deeper meaning, or anything like that. A good place to start for my first book, I think. So the story is about a young woman, in her late 20s, from the east coast but living in Vegas and working back and forth between Vegas and LA. She's a workaholic, doing event planning for celebrities and really high-end parties, except she hates celebrities and all the publicity crap that comes with them. She thinks they're all full of themselves and have too much money for their own good. She's had a lot of trouble keeping relationships because of her work schedule and the priority that she puts on her career. This is all fine and good until she finds that one casual friendship/relationship has evolved into something serious at the same time as he meets a famous actor who is different from the rest of them, and winds up dating him too. Now she's forced to chose between these two seemingly perfect relationships, with her dream job looming in the background. It's definitely kind of cheesy, and a complete girly book, but it's been really fun to write. There's really no source of inspiration for it, it started from the idea of a girl meeting and then dating her celebrity crush, and sort of evolved from there. The main male character, the actor, is loosely based on my celebrity crush, and that's about all the inspiration I have. Who is it? Not telling.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's going to be a long winter

I was sick this week, just a cold, but sick nonetheless. I had a lot going on at work, so I wound up being there everyday, and not really taking time to rest. But still, by Thursday and Friday, I felt better. Even Saturday morning, I felt fine. We went out to run some errands, and about halfway through the day, I just started crashing. My sinuses got all blocked, I started sneezing, and got all achy. We went to the movies and dinner last night, and I was a miserable mess the whole time. I feel even worse today.

It's not even Halloween yet, and I'm already sick? I feel like this is going to be a crappy winter in terms of me being sick. It's too early for me to already start getting sick. Hopefully this is an isolated thing, and I'll be better tomorrow and stay that way for a while. Today I'm spending the day on the couch with a book and some Thera-Flu. Bummer.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A boon of creativity.

Have you ever heard of NaNoWriMo? Neither had I. It's short for National Novel Writing Month, and it is in November. The deal is, you sign up on the NaNoWriMo website, for free, and by signing up you commit to try your best to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I guess that's about 175 pages, so it's a fairly short novel, but a novel nonetheless. The whole goal is quantity, not quality at all. So you may very well write 50K words of crap, but you've still written a little novel that you can at least work from and refine. So, at the end of the month, you upload what you've written, the automatic word-counter thing counts your words, and if you meet the word count, you get a "winner!" certificate. Everyone who achieves the goal is a winner. If you don't meet the goal by the deadline, then, hey, at least you tried, and maybe you at least came close. It's all about unabashed creativity. I think it's neat.

I would love to do it, but I fear that I would cave under the pressure. Plus, I've been thinking about it for a week now, and I can't seem to come up with plot ideas. The closest I got was today when I realized that I am capable of writing short stories, but not long ones. Then I realized that I could write a number of short stories about the same characters and then tie them together. Isn't that essentially what a novel is? I don't know. You can sign up anytime before November 1, so I guess I still have time. But what about the fact that with writing all the time, when would I have time to read? And really? 175 pages in 30 days is only about 6 pages a day. And I could totally bang that out. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Training again!

Yay! I'm getting my ass back in gear and running again. It's been way too long, but I'm motivating with a few things right now. First, I'm already registered for the CVS 5K on September 21, so I need to at least be able to do as well in that as I did the last time I ran it 2 years ago. Also, my Nesties have an iPod/Nike+ challenge going on, which is a competition to see who can log the most miles between now and Thanksgiving, and I signed up for that today. Right now there's 15 of us registered, and only two people have logged runs so far (I'm not one of them yet). So that makes me feel like I have to do it, because I don't want to be the one with the blank next to my name. It's amazing how motivating it is to look at the list and see my name with an empty space next to it, when other people are ahead of me. So I at least want to keep up in that - some of those girls run a lot, so I'll be psyched if I can finish that challenge around the middle of the pack. Speaking of Thanksgiving, Jim is going to do a 9 week couch-to-5K program, which he should finish just before Thanksgiving, so we're going to do the Barrington Trot Off Your Turkey 5K the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I'm really excited for him to do that, and I so hope that he sticks to it. It will be great to do a 5K together, so I'm really looking forward to it. Normally, my goal for that race would be to better my time from the CVS race, but I want to run it with him, so I'm not really concerned about my time, but still, it is a race, and I need to stay in shape for it. Finally, with our cruise coming up in February, I really want to lose weight for that. But even before that, I'm setting an interim goal weight, and when I reach it, I'm getting a new tattoo. I did it before, so there's no reason I can't do it again. WooHoo!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Objectively considering Twilight

I recently came across this blog bash of the Twilight series, and I think it's worth sharing to show that I accept the ridiculousness of my obsession:

  • Twilight basher blog

  • Funny thing is, as much as I love the series, and fully intend to re-read it because I'm convinced I'll enjoy it even more the second time around, I agree with so much of what this blogger says about the series. I think this post is hysterical for it's truth. The books are not very well written, but they're YA candy, they're not meant to be the new Dracula or even the new Interview with a Vampire (which I didn't really enjoy that much, but I completely acknowledge the rightful place of the series in the world of vampire literature). Either way, I just wanted to acknowledge that I know I'm obsessed and ridiculous about the whole Twilight thing. That is all.

    My new favorite song

    Coldplay's Viva la Vida is my new favorite song. It's everywhere right now, and that mildly drives me nuts, because I'm afraid I'll tire of it too quickly, but I don't listen to the radio in my car, so I should be okay. I've liked the song since it was released, but then I read the lyrics, and now it's my favorite:
    I used to rule the world
    Seas would rise when I gave the word
    Now in the morning I sleep alone
    Sweep the streets I used to own

    I used to roll the dice
    Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes
    Listened as the crowd would sing
    Now the old king is dead, long live the king

    One minute I held the key
    Next the walls were closed on me
    And I discovered that my castles stand
    Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

    I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing
    Roman cavalry choirs are singing
    Be my mirror my sword and shield
    My missionaries in a foreign field
    For some reason I can't explain
    Once you'd go there was never
    Never an honest word
    And that was when I ruled the world

    It was a wicked and wild wind
    Blew down the doors to let me in
    Shattered windows and the sound of drums
    People couldn’t believe what I’d become
    Revolutionaries wait
    For my head on a silver plate
    Just a puppet on a lonely string
    Oh who would ever want to be king

    I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing
    Roman cavalry choirs are singing
    Be my mirror my sword and shield
    My missionaries in a foreign field
    For some reason I can’t explain
    I know Saint Peter won't call my name
    Never an honest word
    But that was when I ruled the world

    Hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing
    Roman cavalry choirs are singing
    Be my mirror my sword and shield
    Missionaries in a foreign field
    For some reason I can’t explain
    I know Saint Peter won't call my name
    Never an honest word
    But that was when I ruled the world

    When I first heard it, and before I actually knew the lyrics, I just enjoyed the song - it has a catchy beat and it's kind of fun. Now that I know the lyrics to it, though, I can't seem to stop listening to it or humming/singing it constantly. I'm not sure what the draw is, but I really like it. Conveniently, the song after it on the CD is Violet Hill, which has a fantastic beat that I can't seem to get enough of either.

    I think part of the reason I like Viva la Vida so much is due to the fact that I just finished reading World Without End by Ken Follet (LONG awaited follow-up to Pillars of the Earth, which is the best book I have ever read. Ever.), which is a kind of medieval saga/historic fiction kind of novel, starring kings, knights, earls, bishops, and the whole chess board cast of characters, and I feel like the song is sort of related. If not entirely in meaning and plot, at least in topic. Maybe it's just that my mind is in that set - medieval chessboards and the like, but something about the song just struck me once I paid attention to the lyrics.

    It's about a king that seems to have yearned for power and is ecstatic to finally achieve it, who then loses power, but seems okay with that. I like the dichotomy of the phyched attitude ("feel the fear in my enemy's eyes . . . people couldn't believe what I'd become") against the "I'm over it" sort of feeling ("never an honest word . . . who would ever want to be king"). I'm a big fan. Big.

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    I'm starving

    Generally when I'm hung over, all I want to do is eat. It's 6:00 pm and I'm starving. All I have had today was a falafel around 1:00, and some ice cream around 4:00. I'm so damn hungry! I'm still waiting for Jimmy to get home from work before I can have dinner. Very sad.

    Too many words.

    I'm currently in the midst of too many books. I always read more than one book at a time, but this is just ridiculous. I feel like I'm never going to finish any of them at this rate. I'm currenty reading:

    1) World Without End
    2) Daughter of York
    3) Dracula
    4) The Last Lecture
    5) Are You There Vodka, It's Me, Chelsea
    6) Dexter In The Dark

    I had started reading the first two before the whole Twilight thing happened to me, so I'm just getting back into those. I started The Last Lecture in between the last two Twilight books, and I should be able to finish that pretty soon. I'm reading Dracula because of the vampire thing, but that's going to take a while though. Oh, and Dexter In The Dark is an audio book, so I don't need to come up with any time to read that, at least. Twilight has messed me all up. It was so worth it, though.

    Tuesday, August 5, 2008

    Twilight is over . . .

    So, the more I read, the more obsessed I became. I DID end up going to get my copy of the fourth book at midnight last Friday, and I finished it on Sunday night. All of my copies of the whole series are currently loaned to people, and I have convinced three people that they actually need to own the whole series themselves. The fourth book neatly ended the series with a little pink bow, but nonetheless left something to be desired. I have a distinct feeling that Stephanie Meyer is planning for some future spin-off books involving some of the other characters, because it sort of felt like the fourth book was written to open those doors. It's very unfortunate if that's the case, because some of the major characters that all Twilight readers adore suffered for it in Breaking Dawn in the process. Edward is the reason most girls and young women get hooked on this series, and he just didn't live up to expectations in the fourth book. I spent a good portion of reading the first three books a little concerned about what would happen to Bella if she got her wish of becoming a vampire and spending eternity with Edward; what would she have to give up in the process? Her family? Her friendship with Jacob? Ever getting married and having children? There were so many consequesces presented throughout the first three books, that you really had to feel for the girl, having to give up so much to be wth the one she loved, but in the end, no, she got everything she wanted, and everyone lived happily ever after. She gave up nothing. She married Edward, she got to have sex with him while she was still human, they had a perfect baby, Bella's the uber-vampire, she has even more great sex with Edward now that she's a vampire, Jacob and his whole pack get along famously with the vampires, and he's happy as a clam, and he's even going to be Bella and Edward's son in law someday, Alice came home, they all get to stay in Forks for a while, Charlie knows about it all and is okay with it, and he's even got a new girlfriend to cook for him and take care of him . . . It really did wind up like a fairy tale, which, I guess, in a way it is. It's a YA fantasy book, so of course it was all going to work out so well in the end, and I really enjoyed the book, and can't complain at all. Oh wait, except for the minor issue of the child's name: Renesmee. Renesmee? It's even spelled phonetically the first time it's presented in the book - like Stephanie Meyer knew just how ridiculous it was, that she should think to tell her readers the correct pronounciation. It's just distracting - your eyes get caught on that name everytime it's written. Such an awful name.

    Oh well. I guess I'll try to lay off the Twilight and get my life back in order. At least until December when the movie is coming out. Then I'll probably re-read the first book, anyway.

    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    "I'm not the most dangerous thing out there."

    Oh. My. God. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. This is only the first in the series. There are four books altogether, the fourth comes out on August 2, so I guess I started reading just in time. My online book club was all abuzz about this series, which is a young adult series that started in 2005, with a book a year since then, for the past few weeks. I heard something about it being a young adult series involving teenage romance and vampires, and I tuned out. For a while. Finally last Sunday, I gave in when I saw the books were on sale at Target. I bought only the first book, and was still doubting it when I read the back:

    About three things I was certain:
    First, Edward was a vampire.
    Second, there was a part of him
    - and I didn't know how dominant that part of him might be -
    that thirsted for my blood.
    And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

    Right? So not something that would make me want to read a book. Either way, on Monday night at 10:00, I got in bed to read the first few chapters before I fell asleep. At 5:00 am, I finally shut off the light to go to sleep, having read all 500 pages in one sitting. Addicted. Obsessed. Here is a link to the description/review of the book, which still won't convince you it's worth reading:

    I have since gone through the rest of this week (until today) fighting myself not to stop off and buy the next two books in the series, on the grounds that I need to get some sleep, and I was afraid I would stay up all night reading again. Today I bought the second book, New Moon, and plan to read most of the night tonight. I have already loaned Twilight to someone, and have someone else waiting to borrow it once I get it back, and I have convinced two other people that they need to buy it immediately. I actually used the words "intoxicating" and "breathtaking" to describe this book. And the kicker of it is, I cannot explain why I am so obsessed with this series. I have viewed most of the websites dedicated to the books (except those that would spoil the ones I haven't read yet), I've watched both trailers for the movie - yes, the movie! - that comes out in December (multiple times), I've considered attending the midnight release party the night the fourth book comes out (and ultimately decided against going, as I might just be one of the oldest people there - how bad is that?) I think I will, however pre-order the fourth book, and stop by the store AT midnight to pick it up - or at the very latest, I'll go first thing in the morning.

    I'm not kidding, these books are totally geared toward teenage girls, and I (and a lot of women I know) am so smitten with them, it's insane. Here's a link to the video of the cast of the movie being introduced at a panel discussion earlier today at Comic-Con (if you don't know what Comic-Con is, good for you. That means you are not a huge nerd):

    Notice the screaming? It's out of control, right? I confess: I watched the video on the edge of my seat with excitement, and am still trying to find a video of the full Q&A panel interview. I am a huge nerd. But at least I acknowledge that something is wrong with me.

    Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    I have a story.

    April is sexual assault awareness month. October is domestic violence awareness month. While I am generally a little put off by "awareness months" and colored ribbon campaigns as a whole, it is generally during the month of April (which has always, as a rule, been a hard month for me, memory-wise), when I am prompted, by whatever source, to tell "my story." Fortunately for me, or maybe unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, this month has been great and I haven't been moved to share what happenned to me, until now, as April draws to a close without a hitch. And, ironically, what moved me to tell this story now is the fact that I haven't been moved to tell it in a long time. For me, that's wonderful news. However, I've grown strong enough to be comfortable talking about it, and if what I have to tell can help even one person, somewhere, gain the strength and confidence to get out of an abusive relationship, then I have achieved an important goal by telling my story. So here I am, and I have a lot to say, so bear with me.

    My sophomore year in high school, I somehow found my self dating @sshole (we'll call him that for purposes of this story - everyone has an @sshole, right?). I was kind of a nerd, I confess, honors classes all around, and a's and b's in those classes. He was captain and star-goalie of the soccer team. Very popular. Not that popularity was an issue for me, I had been dating one of his best friends the year before, and I had plenty of friends of my own. In my high school, the nerds were actually the biggest jocks and party animals in the school, which was a bit odd in and of itself. Things were going well in my little corner of the world. For a few months. Somewhere along the line, though, the relationship got out of my control. I was always a strong, confident girl. I played sports my whole life, I was captain of my softball teams, my figure skating team - hell, I figure skated for 15 years, for God's sake, and that alone takes an @ss-load of strength and confidence, trust me. But alas, somehow, I found myself in this horrendous situation where I was dating this uber-popular guy who suddenly completely controlled every aspect of my life.

    And by every aspect, I mean every aspect. I didn't have a say in the clothes I wore or how I wore my hair or who I hung out with outside of school, or, to some extent, in school, or anything else that matters when you're in high school. And in the beginning, in my head, that was my decision. I liked being around him, and I wanted to do what he wanted to make him happy - whatever it took and whatever the cost. I can't remember now how long it took me to fully grasp what was happening to me, and what I was becoming, but somehow I don't think it took all that long. For a while, I had friends who were dating friends of his, and we would all go out together, but then he became beyond possessive and we couldn't go anywhere, because he didn't want anyone else to so much as look at me.

    He was violent in a number of ways, and for a while that really was never directed at me. He got in fights a lot, in the most random places, he was an extremely aggressive driver and I never liked riding in the car with him because he would get very angry at the other drivers around him, when it was clear that he was the one driving like a maniac. He was like a hand grenade that someone had already pulled the pin on, and you were just waiting for it to explode at any second. It was inevitable that he would explode, you just couldn't really tell when it was coming. At some point, and again, I don't remember the exact turning point, but I feel like it wasn't all that far into our 2-ish year relationship, the violence turned on me. At first he would just yell at me, threaten me, demean me, and generally just cut me down. Severely. At some point I lost whatever self-confidence I may have had, especially when I was around him. Sometimes, if he wasn't around and I was just with friends, or if I was skating, I could come out of my shell, and sort of act like my old self, but I can remember that becoming more and more difficult as the time went on.

    You know the next part, right? After I was broken down enough emotionally, it was only a matter of time before the violence became physical, and from there, obviously, sexual. And so it was for the better part of my high school life that I found myself being abused in every way that I could think of. I was a shell of myself. I forever wore long sleeves and pants, no matter what time of year; turtlenecks became my friends, despite my previous hatred for them (I still don't love them, either), as did concealer. Although, he was a smart abuser, if that's not too much of an oxymoron - he generally wouldn't touch my face, or places that he knew bruises would show. But there were a few times, like when he pushed me up the stairs and I smacked my forehead on the steps in front of me, or when I'd try to argue back or fight back and I'd catch an elbow in the temple (that, of course was my fault for fighting with him). He cheated on me with probably half the girls in school, but would go off on me if he saw me so much as look at a single guy in any of my classes. There were a lot of double standards, which probably goes without saying. But, like any abuser, he'd always apologize, buy flowers, take me somewhere I had been really wanting to go, the usual bullshit. But we'd both know that it was only a matter of time (sometimes day, often hours) before it would happen again.

    It went on and on. I'd threaten to leave, he'd threaten to kill himself if I did - hell, he'd threaten to hunt me down and kill me if I did. So I stayed. My friends all saw what was happening, but didn't know what to do other than to be there for me when I'd let them be. Because outwardly, I tried so damn hard to make it look like everything was my idea, or my fault, and that we had this great relationship. I hid it because I was ashamed of the situation that I had let myself fall into, and terrified of the fact that either I'd never get out of it, or I would die trying. I lost a lot of friends, and seriously alienated my family. Everyone around me recognized that something was terribly wrong, but because I was so brainwashed, I would not let anyone close enough to even try to help me.

    I can remember the Pearl Jam song "Better Man" came out while we were dating. It was my personal, secret theme song. He even joked about that in the car with one of his friends one night, that I sing that song to myself about him - haha, he thought that was a great joke, and I couldn't help but feel terrified that he would actually find out that I really did feel that way about him, and what would happen to me then. All I thought about was how to leave and do it safely and cleanly. I was 17, I couldn't exactly pack up and move. One Friday afternoon, after school and before work, I was sitting in his bedroom in his house, silently watching him play violent video games and scream at the games and at me, and thinking that I couldn't let this happen for much longer. I commented on how much I hated sitting and listening to him scream at the games, and how boring that was for me. He obviously said something mean about me not having a choice in what we were going to do, and I should be happy just to sit there with him, because he was my boyfriend and that's what I was supposed to do. I stood up and said, "Okay I'm leaving."

    I must have looked kind of serious, because he asked me "you mean, like, for now, or for good?" And while when I first stood up, it was for now, because I had to go to work, and I figured I would see him later that night or whatever and the vicious cycle that had become my life would continue. But when he asked me that, I almost felt like a door had just opened in front of me and I could suddenly see some kind of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Like he was offering me an out. I got dizzy. I was in a daze as I pondered what might happen if I actually said it, and the rest of that day and the whole week that follows remains kind of a daze to me. I remember vaguely nodding my head and answering "For good. Yup, for good," and then turning and walking out of his bedroom, down the short hallway to the stairs, descending and opening the front door at the bottom to leave. As I opened the door is when I heard the thunderous footsteps behind me and felt the grip on my upper arm yanking me back in to house. He became desperate. I never, ever could have guessed that this would be the actual result of my actions. He cried. I cried. I just kept saying that I had to go to work, and I was going to be late, and no, I wouldn't be back. He didn't hit me. He yelled a lot, but he didn't hit me. And he was angry, but also desperate, maybe even hurt. But somehow just saying those two words: "for good," I had momentarily gained back years of lost confidence. I yelled back. Then, with a completely empty promise to call him after work, I got in my car and drove away from that house for the last time.

    The whole time I was at work, I watched the door, ready to yell "fire!" the second he walked in. He never did. I didn't call when I got home from work. I slept like a baby that night. In the morning, he called. I took the phone and told him not to ever call my house again, that I was done, and that if I had anything to say to him, I'd call him, and that I would call the police if he tried to come anywhere near me. When I told my parents I had left, they cheered, hugged me and told me how much they loved me. My mom bought me almost an entire new wardrobe that week. When I told my friends, they had the same reaction, except the clothes; they took me out for ice cream instead. I think maybe he realized that he had driven me away himself. Like maybe somewhere deep in there he knew what he was doing was wrong (in more than just the cyclic sense, like maybe he actually knew that he wasn't right in the head). I say this because he pretty much let me go. He didn't chase me; he stopped calling; eventually he stopped driving by to see if I was home and waiting outside school to see who I left with; he never approached me again, except one about 6 months later, when I had him thrown out of a club (it's nice to know the bouncers). It's been almost 12 years since I got out of that relationship, and to this day, I cannot say where the courage came from to just stand up and walk away that day.

    And none of that matters. What he did to me is unforgivable, and everlasting. I still suffer with the remnants of what he did to me. Like I said, normally not a month goes by that I don't have at least one breakdown. My husband might say that sometimes maybe I use my past as an excuse, and to some extent I might. But it's a legitimate excuse. The high that I felt after leaving him was very much temporary. Within a very short period of time I was involved with starting a group for girls in my high school who were either currently in or recently out of abusive dating relationships. That was heartbreaking. There were about 30 of us in one high school, ranging from freshman to seniors. College was very ugly for the first two years. I went away to school to try to start over, to escape. There's no escaping your past until you face it. I was in counselling for about 4 years, on anti-depressants for a long time. I was incapable of having a healthy, committed relationship, because in large part, I no longer understood what that meant. I had to rebuild myself.

    I tell this story because I hope that I can help even one woman get out of a terrifying situation. You are not alone, and you are strong enough to rise above. Seek help, you don't have to do it on your own, and you don't have to feel ashamed. It is not your fault.

    Friday, April 11, 2008

    My new favorite wine

    A few weeks ago (because, yes, it has been that long), I was driving home from work on a sunny, seasonably warm afternoon, and found myself craving a sort of sweet, crisp, sort of fruity, cold white wine. But I craved something different. Something beyond the sauv blancs and pinot grigios I had been consistently enjoying. So I came home, changed my clothes, and googled "sweet fruity white wine." Once I sorted out the Rieslings (which I also decided is not strictly for dessert), I discovered something called Lugana. The brand that I've been buying is Zenato, because that's all I have been able to find among 3 local liquor stores. Wow. It's sort of like a Sauv Blanc, but better. I'm not so good at wine descriptions, so I borrow from Wine Enthusiast:

    "Here is an attractive straw-colored wine, based on the Trebbiano grape, with green fruit and vanilla aromas. On the palate, there are soft, ripe fruits. It is full-bodied, with more character than many Italian whites. The acidity keeps it fresh and refreshing, with a ripe, soft aftertaste."

    Yeah, that about sums it up. I'm contemplating buying by the case. I wish I had a wine fridge or at least a proper rack. I think if I did I would certainly purchase by the case. I'm not kidding, go and buy yourself a bottle. Now. If anyone can point me toward another brand that I might be able to find, I'm more than willing to try, and I'd love to know some (or at least one) restaurant around here that has a lugana. Even if it's only by the bottle. Yummmmmm.

    Friday, March 7, 2008

    Spring Training

    I've always felt that there was something a bit magical about Fenway Park. If you've seen Breakfast at Tiffany's, maybe you understand the idea that there are places in the world where nothing can be wrong; or at least places that can make you feel that way. I've just always found Fenway to be one of those places. When I was a kid, the place seemed so huge, but all my favorite sports stars from TV were right there, up close and personal - I guess baseball parks generally are this kind of place, especially to kids.

    But even today, a few years ago was the first time I had been at Fenway in years - it must have been 2003 or 2004 - before they won the series in '04, anyway. And isn't it interesting how there are certain events around which there will always be a "before" and an "after"? The 2004 series win is one of those times. Anyway, when I finally went back, and Yawkey Way had been all opened up (or closed off, as it were), for pre-game festivities, with Rem-Dog doing the pre-game show right out there, and the smell of sausage and peppers, and everyone wearing their Sox gear - it was like magic to me. I was immediately aglow with happiness, and the $7.50 a beer price tag wasn't even such a bad thing. Ever since that day, I have busted my ass to get tickets for as many games as I possibly could, and to spend as much time in that park as I possibly could, whatever the cost. And everytime I go, I have that same happy, glowing feeling, just by being there. Nothing can be wrong when you're at Fenway.

    I recently discovered a whole new kind of magic, in the form of Red Sox Spring Training in Ft. Myers, Florida. Last weekend, we flew down on Friday morning, went to three games in three days, and flew home on Monday. We didn't get close enough for autographs or meet any players or anything, but just being there was so great. On Friday, as soon as we picked up our car, we went straight to City of Palms Park, because the two trophies were in town and on display for pictures, so we got pictures with the trophies. That was totally unexpected and awesome. Then we were able to go on a tour of the park, which let us walk on the field and sit in the dugout and everything. When we went down there, we had tickets for Friday night and Saturday afternoon games against the Twins at their stadium, so we were just glad to get to see City of Palms at all. But the ticket fairy wa sitting in front of us at Saturday's game, and she sold us her tickets for Sunday's game at home. So we also got to go see the Sox play at home, which was a surprise. City of Palms on game day is just as great as Fenway. And what makes it so neat is that so many of the fans that are there have flown in from all over the country, like they're on a little pilgrimage to Spring Training - for so many of us, a little respite from the long, cold, baseball-free winter.

    Now we're back home in the cold, waiting for the proper season to start in a few more weeks. We get to change the clocks next weekend, so that will at least make the time more enjoyable, with a little more daylight and everything. Anyway, here's some of the pictures from our weekend getaway:

    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    On Chesil Beach (Spoilers)

    This is by Ian McEwan. Before I read it, I heard a few spoilers, but only enough to make me more interested in reading it. Most were about Florence's relationship with her father and were generally feeling of expecting to learn that there was something there that was causing her to feel the way she did about sex, but that nothing ever came out in the book, and that was kind of a let down.

    Let me backtrack. The book is about a young newlywed couple (Florence and Edward) in the 1960s, on their honeymoon. Both are virgins, for different reasons. They've been dating for a few years, and he has essentially been "waiting" for her, believing her to be the sweet, innocent, chaste young girl. She, meanwhile, is completely repulsed by the whole idea of sex and everything that comes with it, and always has been. She is very driven and focused in terms of her career and future in her string quartet, where she is lead violin. She never corrected his misconception of her beliefs or feelings, knowing it was wrong to lead him on all this time, but accepting that one day she would have to sleep with him, no matter what her feelings were, because that was what wives did. There is excruciating detail about their wedding night, through dinner and their brief encounter before it all goes very wrong, alternating with some history of each of their upbringings and family backgrounds. Overall it was a good book, and I love McEwan's writing style. I haven't read Atonement, but I definitely will now that I've read this.

    Now, as for the thing about her father, and the expectation that the reader would find out that there was some sort of history of abuse there. I feel like that possibility was definitely there. Just because McEwan never reveals it, there are some hints around it. Edward points out that her father seems a bit too happy to marry her off, and is extremely accepting of Edward, perhaps overly so. The father is doting and loving toward his other daughter, Florence's younger sister, but hardly so much as looks Florence in the eye. Florence recalls a memory of sailing across the English Channel with her father when she was younger, and laying still in her bed on the boat, listening to the sound of her father undressing, and feeling as though she was ashamed, perhaps because of her lack of sailing ability . . . I don't know, I can see why everyone said that they expected something to come out later about some abusive past with her father, but I feel like that as there, just not expressly said.

    And speaking of behavior and upbringing - there is something to be said about Edward's situation as well. The two of them are so very in love with one another, almost blinded by their love for one another, but his selfishness (?) seems ultimately to overwhelm and ruin the whole relationship. The questions mark is there because I'm not sure whether that's the right word - greed, maybe? Pride. His pride is ultimately what sinks their ship, so to speak. Their relationship is not ruined in the room, but later, on the beach. And it is in large part his pride that follows throughout his life, preventing him from ever looking her up or checking on her career, despite the intense, acknowledged love he continues to feel for her throughout his whole life. And I think that does go back to his upbringing and the problems that the family had with his mother, and again, his pride. It seemed as though she felt the same way about him at the end too, as she looked at the one seat in the theatre when her quartet played in the theatre. Her explanation for never trying to contact him was clear and reasonable, after what he said on the beach, he made himself pretty clear.

    Either way - my criticism of this book was that the ending was so very focused on him, and barely mentioned her. It worked, don't get me wrong - the ending definitely made sense and worked, but I would have liked to know more about her life after the night on the beach. But over all, highly recommended.

    Monday, February 25, 2008

    Vantage Point (spoilers)

    We went to see this last night. It came out on Friday, and we had free passes. We have mixed feelings about it. It tells the story about an assassination attempt, but from a few different points of view. So with each telling of the same story, you learn a little more. The deal is, the US president is in Spain, along with leaders of a whole mess of other countries, for a summit on preventing terrorism worldwide. As soon as the president takes the podium, he is shot twice, and then all hell breaks loose with bombings and everything. The points of view we see are: 1) TV news producer Sigourney Weaver, watching every camera angle and bossing around her reporter and cameramen, as she watches the events unfold while maintaining come composure over her live broadcast; 2) Dennis Quaid as a secret service agent back on his first mission after taking a bullet for the president six months earlier; 3) Forest Whitaker as an American tourist with a video camera, which mysteriously still works after he pulls it out of the rubble after the bombs explode; 4) A Spanish police officer, who seems to have been unwittingly roped into playing a role in the whole attack; 5) the US President, who has worked so hard at this summit, only to be replaced by a double for the event in the face of intelligence indicating that an assassination attempt and terror threat will occur; 6) the mastermind behind the attack, who may or may not be connected to a cell in Morocco, and who flawlessly executes the whole attack remotely from his iPhone; 7) A would be assassin who has also been seemingly unwittingly roped in by the kidnapping of his brother, who will be returned to him in exchange for his use of his special forces skills to kill as many members of the president's entourage as necessary to assist in the kidnapping of the president; 8) Matthew Fox, as the other central secret service agent, who also plays an important role in the attacks, as we realize that all of the inside information that the attackers had came from him.

    Eventually, as you see the last point of view, the whole thing comes together, and the last 1/2 hour or so is like a normal movie, without the rewinding and reshowing of the same events. The movie is fast paced and well-executed, with an original premise and a very strong cast. Dennis Quaid is excellent as the slightly jittery, newly returning secret service agent, and Forest Whitaker is endearing as the stereo-typical lonely tourist witness to history. The mixed feelings come from the level of detail and unresolved plot points that were lost in the action. While the president's advisers urge him to bomb a known terrorist camp in friendly Morocco, where they believe the orchestrators of the attack are harbored, the president refuses, and we never learn whether the attackers are actually related to that camp or not. Quaid saves the day, and the president, while all of the individuals involved in carrying out the attack are killed, leaving no way for everyone else to ever fully understand what went on, or who the attackers were working for or why. We never get anything behind the attack itself, leaving you feeling a bit unsatisfied. The car chase wherein Quaid commandeers a car to tail Fox, who's masquerading as a Spanish police officer and driving a police car, is a bit long and generally unbelievable. The camera angles used make for impossibly narrow near-misses and those ever-popular accidents where our hero (Quaid) gets nailed, but somehow the car spins exactly 360 degrees and he just continues the chase. The extreme close-ups were nauseating, and I felt motion sick when the chase finally ended.

    Overall, though, I'd still recommend it if you enjoy action films. it was really good and definitely keeps your attention and keeps you guessing. Although if you've read this, I guess there's no mystery left in it for you. Just take the action and enjoy it, knowing that the reasons and background will never be explained.

    Thursday, February 21, 2008

    More internet babble

    I have an on-line book club. Anyone who saw my old blog knows about, that seemingless limitless abyss of all things wedding planning. Well, after one gets married and "graduates" from TheKnot - it's founders, in all their wisdom, created The Nest is loaded with chat boards about all number of things, from local discussions (where you will find all of your old Knottie friends reunited again), to budgeting, to cooking, to - you guessed it - books! So that is where many of my recent book recommendations have come from. On top of general chat about books, there is a monthly discussion on one particular book, all voted on and selected democratically months in advance.

    Friends think this is odd. Whenever I say something like, "no I'm waiting to read that until April, when it's the discussion for my book club," the inevitable response is, "you're in a book club?" The discussion then often goes something like this:
    "Yes, well, kind of - it's on-line."
    "But how do you discuss books online?"
    "Well, it's a mesage board, and everyone just posts and responds to each other, it's kind of neat actually. I don't actually have to set time aside for book club discusion, I can just post whenever I have a chance, and that's what everyone else does, so it works out well. Sometimes the discusions are really good and go on for days."
    "Cool, where'd you find out about it? Can anyone join?"
    The comes the slightly weird stage where I have to explain "well, yes, anyone can join, but you'd have to join this whole other on-line thing . . ."
    And maybe it is a bit odd, but I really like having an on-line book club. And these are people I can "talk" to all the time. It's all pretty anonymous, but it's neat that I can ask for opinions on a particular book, and potentially get 100 responses (there's never that many, but you get the point). And none of the books are required reading, so to speak. If the democratic process worked in a way such that you have no inclination whatsoever to read a particular month's book, or you just don't have time, don't read it! Chances are, your imput will not be missed. Now, clearly the point of the book club is discussion, but when there are so many people involved, one missing doesn't generally matter. This can, of course lead to the tragedy of the commons type of problem - where if everyone adopts that train of thinking, there's no discussion. This happenned in December, what with the holidays, no one cared to discuss Catcher in the Rye at any great length. A few people had some discussion, and some asked to postpoe the discussion until they could finish it, but it generally just wasn't up to par. But for the most part, the discussions are generally pretty lively and in-depth. I enjoy having an on-line book club. Perhaps more so that I would enjoy having a real life book club.

    ** Just as an aside, I can picture what real life book club with my friends would look like - only 1/2 of us, if that, would have actually finished the book, for one thing. And there would be alcohol involved, probably lots of it. Maybe even "book themed" drinking games (if there's a will, there's a way). If any discussions of the book ever actually took place, it would be in the form of wise-ass remarks made at one another's expense, making some minor reference to the story. In short, it would amount to yet another reason to get together and get wasted. **

    I have an addiction

    It's name is Seriously, it's a problem. OK, is a silly, silly game site. I mean like, Majong and matching and tetris like games. Silly waste-of-time games like that. You have to sign up with an email address to play the games, but it's all free. Actually, it isn't all free. You can become a "gold member" for whatever amount of money, and then you can play in money tournements and win money prizes and everything, but ultimately, that's just a waste. I just like to play games. But really, this post is taking me forever to write, because I'm typing in between games of Memory Matcher! All the games are set up tournament stule, and you play against other members, from all over the world. If you don't play for money, then the prizes are these little jewels, and when you have enough you unlock more things you can do on the site, like send challenges to other people, or edit your avatar, or make your avatar do things when you win or lose. It's all VERY ridiculous. I don't really care about winning the foolish jewels or about my avatar, but I can not stop playing these foolish games. My favorite games include: majong masquerade, block party, and top ace. They are the only three that I play with any frequency. Memory Matcher, which I'm currently playing, is new. But I often play with such frequency that other parts of my life suffer. I skip cleaning my house to play games. I put off cooking dinner to play games. I skip phone calls to play games. I have missed meals because I was playing games. It's out of control. I'm writing about it here, though, because I want everyone else to become as addicted as I am. Go, play games!

    Saturday, February 9, 2008

    Pillars of the Earth

    According to the author's foreward, this book was a sort of opus for Ken Follett. It was a book that took many years to get written, and then many years to get published. It was well worth every ounce of trouble that went into its making. My experience with this book has a back story.

    It was fall of 1996 and I was in a bookstore in Allentown, PA on a "visiting potential colleges" trip with my dad. In typical daddy's little girl fashion, I told my dad that he should buy me a new book. Without missing a beat, he agreed, on the condition that he got to pick out the book. Always one for an adventure, I agreed, and we set out around the store. I think he knew what he was looking for, but I had no idea. He decided on Pillars, in mass market size. Now if this was not the largest hulk of a book I had ever proposed to read up to that point, I don't know what was. It was 992 pages long. And the cover was completely non-descript. Dad told me that the story followed, mainly, a mason and a priest through their lives struggle to build a beautiful cathedral, that I would learn about cathedral building and about the buildings themselves, that it was a very, very interesting and well-written book, and that he believed that it was one of the best books he had ever read. I agreed to try. And I did try. Honestly, I did. But a book that size is daunting to undertake. And when I ever opened to the first page and saw that it was set in 1123 (yes, that's the year), it was just too much for my 17 year old mind to process. Was I really expected to read a thousand page book about this foolish medieval mason and his family in the forest with no food? Really? I reached somewhere between page 50 and 100, and just gave up. I think my dad was disappointed. I put it on my shelf with all intentions of reading it. Someday. If it was one of the best books my dad had ever read, it had to have some redeeming qualities, and maybe I just wasn't seeing them right then. I pledged to try again. Someday.

    Fast forward to fall of 2007. That's right, nine full years later. Shortly after getting married and having that all planning out of the way, I now read more than ever (I've got to do something with all the time I have on my hands now - it only takes so long to clean the house). I mean three to four books at a time, finishing two to three a week. Voracious, I think, is the word many people would use; "expensive" is a word that comes to my mind. I seemed to forget that libraries existed for a while there, and was buying all my books from good old Borders. I have since learned the error of my ways. But I digress. While wandering through Borders one day, I spied the relic from my past that had become The Pillars of the Earth. Only now it was published in trade size, and had a lovely cover with cathedral design sketches in the background. Plus, the larger size had decreased the page number down to only 973. I recalled my dad's description of this as one of the best books he had ever read, as well as my pledge to try again, and realized that someday had come. I restrained myself from paying something like $26 for the paperback, and figured that my old mass market copy with the plain yellow cover must still be at my parents house (this may have also been when I recalled the existence of libraries and the brilliant money-saving institutions that they are, but I'm not sure). Next time I went to my parents' house, my dad presented me with a book called World Without End. I glanced at the cover, and scanned down to the author: Ken Follett. I said "what's this about", and dad asked that now age-old question: "did you ever finish reading Pillars of the Earth? This is the sequel that came out recently." So I told him how I felt like now I was ready to read Pillars, and I had seen the trade size in the store and it looked a little more manageable, and asked if he had seen my old copy lying around their house, so I could avoid buying it. Obviously he had not. So I tore through the house looking for it, but to no avail. The bright yellow book had eluded me. For a little while I though prehaps someday had not come and I maybe was not meant to read this book after all. But finally, I resolved to read it, and asked for the pretty new edition for Christmas from my husband.

    I started reading it Christmas night, and I have to admit that I still felt a bit daunted by the size. I finished by January 6th. By page 150, I no longer even noticed the size of the book, or even though that it was really all that long. I'm not kidding when I say that this is one of the best books that I have ever read. I could not put it down, and when I did get to the end, I was sad that it was over. The writing is fabulous. The character development is excellent and engaging. It takes a special author to keep a reader that engaged and interested for 973 long pages. It's set in the middle ages, which I, of all people, can understand is just not everyone's cup of tea, but you mostly stop thinking about the time period as you fall into the story. And the story - there are a fairly limited number of characters for such a long book, so you get to know each of the characters and all of their flaws and weaknesses intimately. I've heard people say that it took them about 150-200 pages to get into it, and I guess I can also understand that, but I'm telling you, once you get into it, this book is amazing. Amazing. I may even read it again.

    I have yet to pick up World Without End. I can only hope that it is half as good as Pillars was. It is significantly shorter. My dad wound up loaning his copy to my uncle, and I'm trying to wait for him to get it back so I can borrow it. I may just get it from my trusty library.

    Friday, February 8, 2008

    Opening Remarks

    Ok, here it is, the stereotypical "first post" of a new blog. I don't know where it's going to go, and I'm not sure what it's going to look like, but I hope it's a fun ride. I didn't want the usual "food blog" or "book blog," but I have a feeling this is going to be a little of both, plus some more. There will be spoilers. There will be book spoliers, there will be television spoilers, there will be movie spoilers. So be forewarned, you may read something that gives away the ending of a book or movie you haven't seen, or discusses last night's Lost or Nip/Tuck episode before you've gotten a chance to watch it. Maybe I should have named the blog "There Will Be Spoilers." Maybe I'll sub-title it that, come to think of it.

    On my mind today: chicken thighs. Blech. Who enjoys these things? I tried, that's all I can say. I tried to branch out from the boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I always eat, to make something else, but no. Just no. I made apricot chicken thighs. The recipe was great, but it just didn't taste good made with dark meat. It has a weird texture that I just don't like. Plus they're so fatty. Unnecessarily so. I will make the recipe again, but from now on I'll go back to using white meat. No more will I stray from my boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

    Also on my mind: Lost. Last night's episode was the most messed up one yet, in my opinion. I need to watch it again before I can really get into the details, but for real - why do they have to introduce all these new mysteries and new characters without resolving any of the earlier mysteries? I love the show, but I was so frustrated by last night's episode. I shouldn't have to watch a TV show twice just to get it.

    Finally: I need to say something about the movie I'm currently being made to watch. It's called The King of Kong: A Fistfull of Quarters. It's about the competition to break the world record at Donkey Kong. That's right, a documentary. There are no words. No words. Someone used the word "chumpatized." I have never seen such nerds in my life. Never. I wish I were really drunk to be watching this, then at least it would be so very funny, but instead, I just don't know how to feel about these people. Yikes.