22 December 2007

if at first you don't succeed

I'll be trying again tomorrow morning.

My flight's scheduled take-off is for 1130 or 1145 with an ETA of 1330 or 1400. Hopefully, it actually happens this time.

I went to see Sweeney Todd yesterday at around mid-day.

I had my doubts about the singing, but I was most pleasantly surprised. The acting talent involved were more than equal to their singing parts. Also, as commented, Johnny and Alan singing a duet:AWESOME.

The colour scheme is typical Burton--varying gray tones with brilliant splashes of colour where they will make the most impact. What sticks out in my mind most is Sacha Baron Cohen's jewel-tone blue ensemble. As per the usual, Cohen makes a hilarious spectacle of himself.

I do have a complaint or two with where they left certain of the story arcs. Benjamin Barker and his wife Lucy have a daughter, and a ship boy falls in love with her, but we don't really see how that turns out. Without giving away more than necessary, Sweeney mistakes her for a boy and nearly kills her, and that's the last we see of her before the credits roll. I just would have been happier to see some kind of resolution there. Granted, I didn't expect any kind of happy Father-Daughter reunion between Sweeney and Johanna--Sweeney is way too far gone for him to resume any normal sort of lifestyle--but I would have like to see how the young romance between the girl and the ship boy turned out.

It's one of Tim Burton's gorier achievements, I must say. To give you an idea, it's rated R, but there's no excessive cursing or sexuality. The rating is specifically due to the violence.

After the movie, I walked down to my office to pick up my pay checks, and talked with the skeleton crew. I had to clear up my time-sheet with Zina, and we got to talking about movies. I told her that I intended to go see The Golden Compass ... Zina's response: "Oh, you don't want to see that! It's all about atheism!"

Yeah, I don't care. That really doesn't bother me.

I went to see it today. And, apart from the mouth-breathing cud-chewers sitting behind me, it was a fun time.

Also, I wouldn't really classify the movie as being "all about atheism." It really isn't. It's more anti-establishment--of all kinds, which I suppose could include religion, government, and society--than atheistic. The movie is really about the individual's capacity for free choice versus outside control over the individual's thoughts and actions; and the message of Christianity places a decent emphasis on making choices, choosing right from wrong, etc. So, I don't know, maybe I'm being naive, but I don't know what the fuss is all about.

It's an exciting, fun movie--and it uses CGI in a way that actually doesn't make me want to kill the producers (please see Zemeckis).

Turn the page ...

21 December 2007

no luck

At the suggestion of the woman who re-ticketed me yesterday evening, I called Delta this morning to see if anything sooner than Sunday had opened up.


Well, they thought there was something for tomorrow at 0700, but then they realised that it was already overbooked.

So still no.

I really won't be getting out of here until Sunday. ... OK, time to go shower, dress, and T myself to the movies for the day.

Johnny Depp, Alan Rickman, and Daniel Craig will make life less crappy.

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20 December 2007

angry, stuck, alone

Maybe I'll feel more like talking about it tomorrow, but I doubt it.

Suffice to say, my flight was cancelled. So I'm in Boston until Sunday at least. Frankly, I'm debating cancelling the ticket entirely and staying here for the holidays. I'm really angry right now, and I doubt I'd make good company.

So I'm not going to work tomorrow.

I'm going to the movies.

And I'm going to see The Golden Compass and Sweeney Todd, and that's how it's going to be.

Turn the page ...

a Christmas meme

Everyone else is doing it.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I will say wrapping paper, though I've been known to use gift bags in a pinch. Really, if I have the time and opportunity, I will wrap every present. College and life in an apartment turned me lazy for several reasons--one, "I can't find the paper;" two, "I'm all out of scotch tape;" three, "hey, look, here's this bag I've been keeping around for no particular reason." And so it goes.

2. Real tree or artificial? Real. I understand the aggravation of prickly trees, having had a few in the past, but that's why you don't choose the prickly kind and go for a Blue Douglas or something with the short and blunt needles.

3. When do you put up the tree? It was very touch and go with my parents. Sometimes it's right after Thanksgiving. Sometimes it's the weekend before Christmas.

4. When do you take the tree down? Whenever it starts to look peaky. Mid- to late-January?

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, and all the available flavours, too.

6. Favourite gift received as a child? My parents like to tell me that I was most excited about the 3-foot high Big Bird when I was three years old. In recent years, my Mac and my first iPod.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? My parents have a wee one that my father picked up in Germany during Weihnachten. It was made by wood craftsmen there, features dowel-people and trees with leaves made from wood shavings. It's actually very interesting. Maybe I'll take a picture when I visit.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My mom. Because the things she wants are very general, but she's very fussy about the specifics of these general items.

9. Easiest person to buy for? My friends, generally. They appreciate the notion of "wish lists."

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I don't know. There have been things I wasn't wild about, but nothing noteworthy. It's corny, but it's the thought that counts.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? I'm not one to judge. I'm HORRIBLE about casual correspondence, period.

12. Favourite Christmas Movie? Like my friend Nicole, I love Home Alone. I also love the second Home Alone, Lost in New York (mostly due to Tim Curry -- "We love you!"). Lately, I've had the urge to watch The Santa Clause, and today we were talking about it at our staff meeting (because I work with a bunch of parents, holy crap). OOH! Other favourite Christmas movie? The Ref:

Mary Chasseur: Maybe they'll catch him, and then let him go in the spirit of Christmas ...
Connie Chasseur: That is not the spirit of Christmas --The spirit of Christmas is either you're good -- or you're punished and you burn in hell.
Who would catch a criminal, and then let him go free?
Mary Chasseur: Republicans?

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? December, usually. This year, I will be shopping this weekend.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don't think so, and that sounds pretty gauche to me.

15. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Of the non-baked-good variety? Lasagna. And clam dip. Mmmmmm. Clam dip. And mashed 'taters, if they're around. I heart mashed 'taters (as the inches on my waist can attest).

16. Clear lights or coloured on the tree? Coloured. Blinking or not, it's all good. If they're blinking, though, I might stare at the tree for a long long time. Because I am easily-distracted by shinies.

17. Favourite Christmas song? "Greensleeves," which, honestly, if you read the lyrics, hasn't got much to do with Christmas. I also have a slew of records that I like to keep in rotation at my parents' house. Elvis, The Nutcracker, Rainbow Brite Christmas, Cabbage Patch Christmas, Sinatra, and the list goes on. Mostly, I become addicted to The Nutcracker, though. ... And not just any rendition of The Nutcracker, either. It has to be this version:

18. Stay home or travel for Christmas? Traveling to my parents' home.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen; Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all? Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer ... etc. So, yes.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? We have both. It looks dumb.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? One the night before. The rest in the morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? People. Everywhere.

Yay for wasting time.

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19 December 2007

saved by the UK

I love Hot Chip. Or maybe I just love Hot Chip's "Over & Over" ... YES.

I've loved this song since, oh, last Fall. And I still love it. I can hear it every day and it makes me happy. Kind of like The Automatic's "Monster."

Both songs make me think of Torchwood, which is maybe a good portion of the happiness--and, right now especially, the antici- ... -pation (who loves Rocky Horror? oh, right--I do). The new Torchwood season begins next month, and the Doctor Who Christmas special is right around the corner.

Hey, we all need things to look forward to. Me, I look forward to new David Tennant and John Barrowman fixes from the BBC during Hollywood's woeful dry spell. (PAY THE WRITERS NOW, PLEASE. KTHXBYE.)

What else is on my mind this morning? Politics.

Television and politics--well, it works for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Mostly, I'm just a little irritated by a web site that I was invited to look at. They're polling the public for the 2008 Presidential race, but they've excluded Ron Paul from the polls, and make a big [highly animated] point of letting everyone know this up front. It's not that I even like Ron Paul. I'm not going to be voting for him, because I think he's an idiot. At this point, I'm so disgusted with all of them, I might do a write-in (that won't be counted, because individual votes don't really count for beans in the US Presidential race, if we're really being honest about it).

But I think the owner of the site is a bigger idiot for excluding Paul. If you're really interested in clean poll results, you won't exclude any candidate, no matter how much you dislike him or his followers. If you're not interested in clean poll results, why take the time to create a web site devoted just to the poll? Isn't it a waste of time and energy for something that doesn't really matter to you?

OK. End irritable ramble.

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18 December 2007

more feelings of life reflecting literature

FORD: You’re a load of useless, bloody loonies!!

CAPTAIN: Ah, yes, that was it, that was the reason it was. Ha. Pass me the loofah, will you?

This is the kind of clarity that feels like clarity now (when I've had a few), and tomorrow will read like nonsense.

Most people who live in the United States of America don't know how very hard it is to leave. And I think this is because they don't even consider the possibility of life beyond the ocean. The world is flat. It starts in Los Angeles and ends in New York (or what have you). You might go to Hawaii or [gasp] Europe for vacation, but the concept of moving there permanently is far beyond the realm of imagination for 99% of the people who "make it" here.

I think Douglas Adams was referring to the States when he writes of the spaceship heading for a new planet because the old one is "doomed." All the "important" people need to go ahead to set up life for the ones "left behind," but the reality of the matter is that the "important" people are the most useless and idiotic of the originals. They're not being sent to colonize the new planet for future travelers. They're shot there with no hope of return or rescue.

That's the United States. Your ancestors felt like bloody geniuses for "making it" here, so important and free, and so you might vicariously feel that pride because you don't know any better. But you're trapped in the most back-ass-ward nation in the "free" world (where we preach separation of church and state but politicians still feel the need to mention G-d every chance they get), and nobody wants you back either. So you're stuck here, and it's fine if you don't realise it. But it's really depressing for those of us who wish for nothing more for Christmas than to be welcomed into the European Union. To escape ...

Dear Santa, ...

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would-be presents

I kind of wish that I'd thought of doing nuigurumi gifts for Christmas.

Before last night. Because that's when I finally thought of it. You know, eight days before Christmas.

I fail.

I should have thought of it when Andrea mentioned drawing pictures for people for Christmas. But I'm a feather-brain, apparently.

And then I was looking at chibi-Strife last night, and thought, Ooh, I could make ... But it's more than a little late for that idea.

So far, I fail in general at Christmas shopping this year. I keep hearing about money influencing shoppers this season; but, for me, it has more to do with being a fuss-pot and hating everything I see. Or loving something for myself, but not being able to imagine the same level of elation in my would-be recipients.

John and Rodney already received their Lush presents. I gave Michelle her Tealuxe set at the same time I gave the boys their bath stuff.

As for the parents, so far, Dad has a Red Sox ornament, and they're both getting a couple boxes of jewel-toned ornaments (not particularly for either of them, so I'll probably just label it, "Parents" or some more inventive title that strikes me later). I visited three department stores in search of decent pajamas for Mum, but no luck. Is there any wonder that people have forsaken foot-shopping for Amazon?

Oh, and on the subject of wrapping ... I'm not wrapping anything until I get to Durham, just on the off-chance that airport security decides to tear open my suitcase. Because the last thing I need is to have them freak out, rip open carefully-wrapped presents, and then discover that mess upon reaching Durham. Honestly, I'm already worried enough about transporting glass ornaments without the added stress of: "Will they or won't they feel the need to unwrap?"

Flying out of here in little more than two days, and I still haven't packed. Excellent.

Turn the page ...

17 December 2007

in response to: another American psycho

Names changed to protect the innocent decent (because nobody's really innocent, if we're being honest, but I consider my readership to be a decent sort).

The last entry was cross-posted to Book of the Black Rabbit.

This comment from a reader followed:

If done at all it should be done well.
Get in; save lots; get out.
Write the book afterwards (unless you get published first).

To which I replied:

Which makes me think of a few choice lines of Metric's "Handshakes":

Buy this car to drive to work,
Drive to work to pay for this car ...
Say you wanna get in,
And you're gonna get out;
But you won't,
'Cause it's a trap.

I think I might fear all manner of [traditionally reasonable] commitment.

Turn the page ...

another American psycho

There are certain aspects of job hunting that make me [better] appreciate Bret Easton Ellis's vision of the American business world.

Let's take business cards for example, because I've been receiving a lot of them lately (and [VERY] briefly have considered investing in my own). If people allow themselves, they will go insane over the layout and presentation of business cards; but, when it comes down to it, most business cards are basically the same.

I think the best representation of this was seen the film version of American Psycho. You can't truly appreciate the insanity of the description of business cards in the novel (well, you can, if you're thinking the way Ellis is thinking), but when you hear the painstaking detail in the film, and then see the after-product--two or three business cards that basically look the same--and the overwhelming surge of furious envy that Bateman exudes upon being [somehow, and frankly, invisibly] outdone by one of his "friends," you begin to understand the unspoken and absurd competition.

Yes, nihilism is gripping me. And I begin to ask myself, Should I really be trying to enter this world, when I clearly hold it in so much disdain? Granted, I'm not trying to find work in Manhattan--but it's all so much the same, isn't it?

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14 December 2007

end of a line

For early clarification, Whitey is a cat, not a derogatory reference to anyone or anything.

My father writes:

Whitey’s been awfully sick. He can hardly stand, and his head is wobbling rhythmically back and forth like he has lost his equilibrium. It may be a cold or flu, or it may worse. All I know is, Wednesday night he didn’t struggle when I picked him up to bring him into the garage. Last night and this morning, he is still a little wobbly, but he is back to being touchy. That might be a good sign.

It worries me, though, because this description reminds me of what happened to Rocky right before she died. And that, too, was around the yuletide. I don't know how well I can deal with going home to that situation again.

And Whitey is the end of a line of cats that began with the initial adoption of a calico kitten in 1987 or 1988. Puff had Moppet (f), Rascal (m), Rocky (f), and Yellow Stone (f). And, much to our surprise, after being fixed, Moppet had Smoky (m) and Whitey (m).

Puff died and Moppet and Rascal vanished in Pennsylvania. When we moved to NC, Yellow Stone and Smoky vanished (maybe lost, maybe taken). They were all outdoor cats, so it wasn't impossible that they'd decided to move on, or that somebody else had decided they wanted to keep them.

That left Rocky and Whitey.

Rocky died while I was visiting my folks, on winter break from BU. And now Whitey is our little old man.

I don't know. I always thought of Whitey and Smoky as the young ones, but ... he's pretty old now. Sixteen or seventeen, I think. I feel bad for my parents though. I only hear or read about his condition; they have to watch him slowly fall apart.

It's a day for spiked hot chocolate.

Turn the page ...

12 December 2007


I didn't think much of the casting decision before, but I'm starting to get the choice of Heath Ledger in the role of the Joker for the next Batman.

Mostly due to this picture:

Yeah, I'll give it to him. He's scary just sitting there.

My only current dissatisfaction comes from the fact that the so-called trailer for The Dark Knight is nothing more than special-effects tearing up the CGI logo with a voice-over of Christian Bale, Michael Caine, and--very briefly--Heath Ledger.

I guess I was really hoping for something beyond a teaser trailer. Oh, well. Soon enough, right?

I still haven't seen The Golden Compass, but I was calculating what I want to spend on remaining Christmas presents (and postage), and decided to hold off on going to the cinema until I go home. And then I have a list ... which is another good reason to not tell my parents what I want; because, then, they can just take me to see movies, and that can be my Christmas present.

Actually, even my movie list isn't much of a list. The Golden Compass, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and maybe I Am Legend (but maybe not on that one ... we'll see).

Turn the page ...

11 December 2007

die in a fire

This morning's--because it's early, and you never know, the day is long--"Die In A Fire" recipient is ... [drum beat here]


We'll call him Ukot.

Ukot can ...


What's the story?

I board the train this morning, pay my fare, and sit down. And, as the T starts moving, I start getting bumped in the back of the head. OK, whatever, somebody needs to catch their balance and this will be over soon.

No. The bumping continues past Chestnut Hill Avenue.

Finally, I turn around to find a bag propped against my seat-back, attached to the back of a college kid who is talking to a friend. And, as though sensing the on-coming confrontation, ugly poorly-bearded kid turns his head and looks at me.

Me: Do you mind?
Ukot: Huh?
Me: You're hitting me with your bag, [asshat.]
Ukot: Well, you sat there.
Me: Yeah. It's a seat, [shithead.]
Ukot: There's a million other seats--

And then I turned around and ignored him; because, really, if he wasn't polite enough to move his bag after the initial complaint, arguing isn't likely to convince him. ... Notably, however, these kids did go away after I turned around. So maybe one of them has sense enough not to argue with me this time of the morning, this time of the month.

[Also, "a million other seats"? ... OK, you must be from BC, with math like that... and maybe you should go sit in one of these million seats, since you obviously can't support the weight of your own bag this morning, fuckwit.]

(WARNING: This entry contains expletives and ill-wishing.)

Turn the page ...

10 December 2007

unknown territory

Of suiting, hair, and the job search.

JCrew.com ... I really like their suiting. It's hard trying to dress the part for interviews. I felt very odd in the H&M dressing room, kind of like a kid playing dress up. The fact that the trousers I was trying on were two inches too long did not help. I could hem them, I know, but I'd rather spend the money on clothing that fits me to begin with.

More on the Dellaria hair-cuts: ... I like when they blow-dry my hair straight, but I never have the patience to do that for myself. Result being that today I feel far more raggedy than I felt on Saturday and Sunday when the 'do was still fresh and un-messed-with.

I'm also feeling that I'm being pulled in many different directions. I know that there's nothing that says I have to accept any job that I don't want. What I want is to leave, but I feel like politics are thwarting me at every turn. It's nothing less than the United States deserves, I know. We make it a living hell for outsiders to legally enter our country; so why should anyone else make it easy for us?

I just don't know ... In spite of the spike of happiness about the agency interviews, I still feel very frustrated about all of it.

Turn the page ...

09 December 2007

life at random

I had visitors this weekend. Several of them, over the course of the weekend, actually.

John and Rodney arrived late on Friday (or early on Saturday, depending on your point of view).

Saturday was mostly a day of crazy Newbury Street yuletide shopping.

Presents from Lush for the boys, a tea kit from Tealuxe for Michelle, address books from Trident for my grandmothers. I also bought a blazer and a blouse at H&M (I didn't even know there was an H&M on Newbury Street until yesterday).

We also had lunch with Karen at the Boston Beer Works and went for haircuts at Dellaria--amazingly well-priced haircuts, too. It's made my head feel strangely light, but it's a good sensation.

And Saturday never really ended. We didn't come home until 4 o'clock on Sunday morning ... a morning that ended in a session of strip-Mario Kart in which several boys were undressed down to their tighty-whities (none of which were actually white, as fate would have it).

I know. Wish you were here, right?

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07 December 2007


"The more things change, the more they remain... insane."

- Michael Fry and T. Lewis,
Over the Hedge

I began thinking about the prompt from a personal standpoint (a now-and-then, this December versus last December), but then I quickly moved beyond to the world at large.

I'm far more discontent with my life this December than I felt last December, or at least it seems that way to me now. Last December, I was happy just to have a full-time job with benefits and health insurance. Now, I'm bored with the job, and cannot see it going anywhere.

Last December, I would've said that I didn't feel experienced enough in the workforce to attempt anything better than what I do. This December, I've posted my resume on Monster.co.uk, and I'm feeling confident that my experience, education, and skills can attract something more suitable than my current position. Within the span of a few days, I've already been called by two local recruiters and emailed by two more. I'm hoping to set up meetings for next week and get the ball rolling on my career change.

And on one hand, I feel that this is a healthy development, and that things need to change in order for me to grow as a person, personally and professionally; on the other hand, I feel as though I have been ignoring other activities and other people because I've been consumed with finding new work.

But the world ... how has the state of the world changed since last December? Well, here in the States, we're twelve months closer to a new president; that's something to be [cautiously] grateful for ("the devil you know," etc.).

Last year, there was Iraq (and the year before that, and the year before that, ...); this year, there's still Iraq, but now Iran might also soon be on the menu. YAY.

It's a very bleak world outlook, I know, but--believe it or not--I always hope for the best. I just expect the worst. Call it Weltschmerz.

Turn the page ...

05 December 2007

synchronized blinking

Okay, so last year (or a few years back, I don't know), there was the "Wizards In Winter" light display being broadcast forever and ever on YouTube.

Well, there's another show that I hadn't seen before.

I love how the cars stop and sit in front of the house for a few seconds. I can just imagine when the drivers must be thinking--

I used to love the rainbow lights on houses when I was younger, but as I've gotten older, I've grown boring ... [ahem] I mean, classy ... and now I prefer the white lights -- especially when it comes to my own family's house.

However, I still love having the rainbow lights on the tree (and lots of them, blinking forever and ever). So I'm not that stodgy, I swear.

... Also, I love icicles.

And that sounds like a completely separate topic, but I don't mean the frozen kind (though they're pretty enough to look at, albeit eye-pokingly dangerous). I'm talking about the tinsel kind of icicles; for those not familiar with it, it's basically free-floating, stringy tinsel that you can hang all over the tree. It makes a big mess, and a lot of it usually ends up on the floor around the tree, but it looks amazing when night has fallen and the Christmas lights are on. It just makes the whole tree sparkle.

Turn the page ...


I just noticed that I got a "Best of..." from Holidailies for my 3. December entry. Thanks, guys!

Another [real] entry later ...

Turn the page ...

holding on

Yesterday's [thus far, by me] unanswered Holidaily prompt was: What childhood activity do you miss? and What childhood activities have you refused to give up?

In reference to the holiday season, I think I miss seeing the Christmas tree every day. When I was living with my parents, of course, we would generally pick up a tree at some point at the beginning of December, decorate it, and then leave it up until well after New Year.

Smelling the pine throughout the house, turning on the blinking lights when the sun went down (and it was always down between 1600 and 1700 by the beginning of December), staring at ornaments forever and ever, and having the time to do just that. I miss those things this time of year.

The one thing that I haven't given up is watching all the television specials. Rankin & Bass, as much as I make fun of their productions, is a staple of the holiday season. I can't go through Christmas without watching Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 'Twas The Night Before Christmas, and my favourite, the black-sheep stepchild of Rankin & Bass, The Life and Adventures Of Santa Claus (still unavailable on DVD--you bastards).

I found a dissected clip of it on YouTube, so I will share it the edification of the readership:

... But let's not forget A Charlie Brown Christmas, the A Garfield Christmas Special, or How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It's a lot of television to go through, so we should not be surprised that the Family Channel makes a month out of airing these classics.

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03 December 2007

snow, for what ails you

If you don't know about my location history, here's a short rundown. From birth until the summer of 2000, I lived in Pennsylvania. From my Senior year of high school through graduation from Boston University, North Carolina was my official state of residence (though I wouldn't call it home). Now, in my mid-twenties, Boston is home.

It's snowing here today, so maybe it's fitting that today's Holidaily prompt is asking for a snow story. But my snow story is set in my first home, my home of the first seventeen years of my life ...

Back in the 90's, I was a kid; and, during one particularly nasty snow storm, I had a fever.

I was maybe twelve or thirteen at the time and school was canceled for inclement weather. My parents did their usual thing--they knocked on my door when they heard the announcement on the radio, told me to go back to sleep, left for work, and I woke up again a few hours later.

On this day, however, I was sweating bullets. My bed was too warm, my room was too warm, the house was too warm, and every freaking thing I put on was sweaty and gross within ten or fifteen minutes.

And, as I stood in the living room, sweating with fever in a pair of summer shorts and a tank top, I looked out the picture-window at the front lawn. The snow was coming down in giant fat flakes, there were already several inches of the stuff on the ground, and I had a brilliant plan: I would go outside, just as I was, and be comfortable.

And so I did. I put on a pair of my father's sneakers to act as snow-shoes (more weight distributed over a wider surface--I could be a clever kid), a T-shirt for better coverage (because I didn't want my neighbors freaking out too much), and a pair of gloves. And I went out into the snow to make a snow man.

Weirder still, my plan worked (and no sarcasm here at all). Even with the temperature where it was (below freezing), I was perfectly comfortable in shorts and T-shirt for about half an hour. After that point, I started to feel the chill and went back indoors.

And voila! No more fever. I felt better, I wasn't sweating anymore, and my temperature was back to normal.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the magic of snow.

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02 December 2007


Ha, I think my parents have just been won over to the idea of my going abroad ... again.

In my Junior year at Boston University, I spent the Spring semester in Auckland, New Zealand. Getting my parents to the point where they were relatively okay with my being half-way around the world was a battle of tooth-and-nail.

Fast forward from 2004 and my return to the States. Ever since graduating from University in 2005, I have had a longing to go out of the country again. And, on a briefly political aside, I kind of feel deeply uncomfortable with the direction the United States is going, and honestly believe that I would better off in Europe or Australasia.

One of my best friends, Rodney was recently accepted into Rutgers' study-abroad programme, and he is going to be in France in the new year. His boyfriend John (also one of my best friends) and I want to expatriate to Germany so that we can practise and better our German language skills, live a European lifestyle, and be close enough to France to visit with Rodney.

My parents have been opposed to this idea since I told them of it. They don't believe in my ability to find work, to be able to afford life in Europe, or to succeed professionally outside of the United States (not that I'm succeeding professionally here; but, conveniently for them, they've been blocking out that little fact). In reality, I think they're still experiencing empty-nest syndrome, and miss being able to see me regularly.

However, I think I may have changed their minds with the use of VOIP.

Yesterday, I talked to them on Skype for about half an hour in the morning and another half-hour in the evening. They were both very excited by being able to see and hear me from hundreds of miles away (you know, without paying anything for the service). And I've begun to believe that what actually bothers them about the idea of my going abroad is that they wouldn't see me (again, it isn't like they see me very often now, but there you go).

What is Skype? Well, if you happen to be out of the VOIP-loop, rather than attempting my own scrambled definition, I will direct you to their official site: Skype.com. It's fun. Go there.

(And, more on that subject, the headset and web camera are off my Yuletide wish-list. A few friends had made various suggestions recently, and I decided to follow through on my own. I went with the over-the-ear, behind-the-head Logitech headset. I also picked up the only web camera that was specified for Mac [on its packaging]. There are others that might work with Mac, but they don't say so, so they're not going to get my business.)

And then my parents were talking about getting me luggage for Christmas, winter clothes for Deutschland, and helping me pay for storage and shipping on possessions that I want to send to them. My mother also said that when John and I decided when we're leaving, we should tell her, and she'll look for cheap air-fare on Interval International (the time-share company that she and my father use). So that's exciting.

They're supposedly picking up a Christmas tree today, which also makes me happy.

They still won't tell me what they want for Christmas, but that's always been their way.

On another Skype-note, I love that the thought-bubble lists what I'm listening to on iTunes. Craziness.

Happy December! (And, again, though it's nothing for which anyone can do anything, I'm also wishing for snow this month.)

Turn the page ...

01 December 2007

l'heure verte

So after disembarking from the New Jersey Transit at Long Branch last Wednesday, my friends were waiting for me on the ramp to the parking lot. As we piled into John's car, Rodney announced that they had a present for me--and handed me a box of sugar cubes.

And because they had been talking about seeing it at a restaurant a few days earlier, I knew what was coming.


Well ... sort of. The brand name is Absente, Absinthe Refined.

The difference between this and brands that come from, for example, Alandia, is that it contains no Grand Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and little to no Thujone. They've replaced the Grand Wormwood with Southern Wormwood (Artemisia abrotanum), an innocuous cousin. Also, it's not distilled; it's the "macerate & mix" kind. In short, it isn't really absinthe, which is not surprising because absinthe is still mostly illegal in the United States.

The result is that Absente is mostly harmless--or as harmless as any other 110 proof liqueur (our personal result was that we stayed up and laughed until 4:30 on Thursday morning).

There were no "Green Fairies," but the ritual is still fun--even though, as it turns out, we didn't do it quite right.

If you look around on many absinthe sites (and there are a lot), there are several recommendations for the absinthe ritual. The claim is that purists will only accept absinthe straight or in the "traditional French ritual"--slowly dripping ice-cold water on a sugar cube that has been placed on a special slotted absinthe spoon over 1-3 ounces of absinthe. The desired visual effect is a "louche," when the absinthe turns from emerald green to a light milky jade opacity. This will apparently only happen when there is anise present, so if you don't like anise (it's the flavour of black licorice), then you might want to avoid absinthe altogether.

I actually haven't had absinthe in this way since the Czech Stromu brand that I bought while I was living in Auckland, and there was absolutely no "louche," no matter what I did (low, very low anise content). It took me right until the end of my time in New Zealand to finish off that bottle. It's not that it was bad, but it isn't something I would drink all the time.

The ritual that we performed on this Thanksgiving Eve was somewhat different. We poured about two ounces into a glass, set the absinthe itself on fire, and then put it out by pouring the cold water over the sugar cube on the absinthe spoon.

This was not, strictly speaking, the traditional "Bohemian ritual." Actually, before I go on, it should be noted that the "Bohemian ritual" is more of a modern contrivance than it is "tradition." Actual French Bohemians at the turn of the last century were more likely to drink it in the aforementioned "traditional French" way. But I digress. On to the "Bohemian ritual" ...

I quote Absinth24.Net (and correct their spelling where that needed to happen) in their instructions regarding the absinthe fire ritual:

As absinthe usually contains more than 60% alcohol, you should be careful with the Bohemian ritual, as the absinthe in the glass shouldn't begin to burn. [oops.]

a) Pour absinthe over the sugar cube or dip the sugar cube in the absinthe.

b) Light the sugar up and wait until it's fully caramelized.

c) Mix the sugar with the absinthe.

d) Add ice cold water, and you are ready to enjoy the absinthe!

We have a plan to break this out next weekend after more sugar cubes have been acquired, as I opted to leave them behind at Casa Manna.

Actually, I also have a plan to make an order from Alandia at some point, but shhhh, we're not suppose to import the stuff to this country. And, yes, I recognize the idiocy of announcing illicit dealings in a public forum, but I'm telling myself that nobody [official] is reading this ... I'm not sure how Alandia gets around the absinthe ban; but according to their FAQ, if your absinthe gets seized by U.S. customs en route to your address, they'll refund your money.

Turn the page ...

13 November 2007

panic attack, right now

I kind of feel overwhelmed and that life is running away without me.

I'm going to NC for Christmas and New Year. Apparently.

I'm supposed to be going to NJ for Thanksgiving, but I still haven't bought train tickets (because I've been waiting for there to be enough money in my checking account, but there never is).

I don't know how I'm going to afford to pay the oil bill and December rent, much less Christmas presents. And now I begin to doubt my financial ability to go to Europe with John and Rodney in the coming year.

And I can't talk to my parents, because they're not going to be supportive. They're just going to tell me to stay here, and "I told you so." And then they'll try to talk me into putting money down on a flat I can't afford.

I feel quite absolutely sick. Money is only half the issue.

I'm going to stop editing this entry now.

Turn the page ...

09 November 2007


On the subject of autism ...

One user wrote in response to today's WonderMark comic: The 'cure autism' movement really strikes a raw nerve with me. It's as offensive as someone trying to 'cure' skin color or homosexuality. I'm sure Eric's heart is in the wrong place, but I'm really afraid of the damage he might be doing by spreading the message that being autistic is wrong and it needs to be cured.

I'm wondering about people's thoughts on this subject--particularly a close friend, if she reads this, because she works with autistic youngsters.

In my reading, there's a growing Autistic Culture, similar to Deaf Culture, that believes autism is not a disorder but a condition and a way of being.


Turn the page ...

NaNoWriMo means:

Alcohol and caffeine.

The afternoon before yesterday I went to TJ's as promised. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat, and Mead ... bitter chocolate ... and chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Had an amusing conversation with the guy at the check-out about the joys of warmed alcohol after I had "informed" him about the fact that they stock mead (and by "informed," his word and not mine, bought a bottle of the stuff, so clearly it must exist somewhere--next to the muscat, port, and sake, specifically). He was quite amazed with the sachets of mulling spice that come conveniently attached the bottle.

I had some of the Cab last night, but noticed that I hadn't finished the glass when I woke up this morning; and, against my experience and better judgment, I swigged what was left (not a lot, thankfully, ugh--wine, it doth a body good, when it's not been sitting around all night).

I wrote a couple decent paragraph prompts on the T this morning, so I'm cutting it short here to go do that instead.

Lay back. Think of Torchwood.

Turn the page ...

06 November 2007

mmm, lecher

[edit: 7. November, 1233 ... Due to what I have inferred as a request, now with a craptastic attempt at translation! Yay! ... Some artistic license taken where words weren't making a whole lot of sense.]

Le pauvre honteux

[The Poor Ashamed One]

Il l'a tirée
De sa poche percée,
L'a mise sous ses yeux ;
Et l'a bien regardée
En disant : " Malheureux ! "

[He drew it
From his open pocket,
Placed it before his eyes;
And regarded it well
While saying: "Unhappy!"]

Il l'a soufflée
De sa bouche humectée ;
Il avait presque peur
D'une horrible pensée
Qui vint le prendre au coeur.

[He puffed into it
With his moistened mouth;
He was almost terrified
At a horrible thought
That stole into his heart.]

Il l'a mouillée
D'une larme gelée
Qui fondit par hasard ;
Sa chambre était trouée
Encor plus qu'un bazar.

[He wet it
With a cold tear
Which melted by chance;
The room was pierced
Again by more than one bazaar.]

Il l'a frottée
Ne l'a pas réchauffée
A peine il la sentait ;
Car, par le froid pincée,
Elle se retirait.

[He rubbed it
Could not warm it
Hardly felt it;
Because, by the cold pinch
It was withdrawn.]

Il l'a pesée
Comme on pèse une idée,
En l'appuyant sur l'air.
Puis il l'a mesurée
Avec du fil de fer.

[He weighed it
As an idea is weighed,
Pressing it on the air.
Then measured it
With a wire of iron.]

Il l'a touchée
De sa lèvre ridée. -
D'un frénétique effroi
Elle s'est écriée :
Adieu, embrasse-moi !

[He touched it
To his wrinkled lips. --
In a frenzy of fear
He exclaimed:
Goodbye, kiss me!]

Il l'a baisée,
Et après l'a croisée
Sur l'horloge du corps,
Qui rendait, mal montée,
De mats et lourds accords.

[He kissed it,
And after crossed it
On the internal clock,
Which returned, badly resurrected,
In checkmates and heavy bargains.]

Il l'a palpée
D'une main décidée
A la faire mourir. -
- Oui, c'est une bouchée
Dont on peut se nourrir.

[He touched it
With a hand determined
To bring it death.--
--Yes, it is a mouthful
With which one can nourish oneself.]

Il l'a pliée,
Il l'a cassée,
Il l'a placée,
Il l'a coupée ;
Il l'a lavée,
Il l'a portée,
Il l'a grillée,
Il l'a mangée.

[He folded it,
Broke it,
Placed it,
And cut it;
He washed it,
Carried it,
Roasted it,
And ate it.]

- Quand il n'était pas grand, on lui avait dit :
- Si tu as faim, mange une de tes mains.

[--When he was not yet grown, one had said to him:
--When you are starving, eat one of your hands.]

Xavier Forneret

Turn the page ...

01 November 2007

welcome to November

There's a particular part of Beacon St. that inspires me to do bad things to people.

Kid carrying shoulder pads and a football helmet? Little voice says: Run and tackle!!

Three construction workers doubled over and smoothing cement on the sidewalk? Little voice says: *SLAP-SLAP-SLAP!* and RUN AWAY! (to the sound of people squishing head-first into cement).

Car pulls in front of me to go into the video store's parking lot. Little voice says: Slam fistful of keys onto boot and RUN!

And these kinds of thoughts tend to occur between The Fireplace and Vinny T's, level of meanness involved depending upon my mood at the time, of course. And, to be clear, I don't actually do any of these things. But I think about it. And smirk.

moon at dawn

a festive Beacon St. residence

you know, my love of Minis aside--that's still fantastic

And today begins NaNoWriMo ... Good luck to everyone participating this year! I will be struggling along with you.

I think I'm adapting the rules to suit my purpose this year, however. Last year, I aimed, as I did the year before, to make it to 50,000; and I succeeded, in a way. I was working on "Part II" of the novel I began in 2005, and I did write 50,000 words. But I also avoided my main character up until the last 5,000 or so ... that's nearly 100 pages without Mauro in attendance. I'm not sure that swings with most ideas about what a plot should be.

This year, my goal is just to FINISH the novel, regardless of word count. I know it's not the given point of NaNoWriMo, but it's what I want to do with my thirty days. So there. "Part III" and the conclusion of this novel by 30. November.

And, if you're curious: My profile--though there's not much of anything there yet.

Turn the page ...

11 October 2007

maybe it was just me

Ready to rip Shaw's a new one.

Didn't Midol used to sit with the other pain-killers? You know, Tylenol, Advil, Excedrin, etc.

Is it just too "icky" to put there anymore?

Were men buying the stuff by accident?

When I'm cranky and in pain, I don't want to go on a scavenger hunt. You'd best stock my pain-killers with the other pills. Because I'm thinking, Pain. Pills for pain. Maybe not sitting right next to Tylenol, but certainly in the Tylenol vicinity. Yes?

Hell, keep it in both places, if you must, but don't get clever and move my pain-killers to the "girl" aisle. I'm not looking for Tampax. I'm looking for PILLS.

Am I completely wrong to expect to find Midol with other pain medication?

... On a non-cranky note, I'm really enjoying the Penderecki I purchased from iTunes. His religious intent doesn't interest me much, but he's created some truly beautiful haunting music. Harmony and cacophony all at once. Penderecki is what I imagine when reading the music descriptions in Rice's Memnoch.

Turn the page ...

27 March 2007

terrible sinking feeling

In which I am too much affected by fan fiction.

My parents, like any two people in a long-term relationship, have had some terrible fights. The ones that I have been present for were some of the most agonising experiences of my life. Seeing two people fight--two people who love one another deeply--makes me feel sick inside. It's that sensation that says something terrible could happen at any moment, but you just don't know what.

My tendency to become immersed in what I'm reading or watching can even make fictional accounts of such things affect me in the same way.

Arkaidy updated her "Across Time" (actually, she's updated it a couple times since my last decent rundown--but I've been sorely neglecting this blog, though I write often enough [about not much of anything sometimes] in my primary LJ).

The beginning of this new chapter sees Ares freed (in, roughly, the present--1999) from the caves where he was imprisoned during the archaeological episode of Xena (set in the 1920s, I think), courtesy Vega's new goddess powers. I think this is my favourite part of the chapter, mainly because of Ares and Strife's reunion.

Ares' reaction (or Kevin Smith's portrayal of that reaction) to Strife's murder always touches me whenever I watch it; because it exhibits the fact that, even though Ares is always giving Strife a hard time, he really does love his nephew. He does value him. And I think that this chapter, following that line of their relationship, illustrates that fact with decent poignancy (but not too much, because this is the GoW, after all).

Another clever tie-in, and still without changing anything canon: "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Hercules." Though, this brings me to my initial feelings of distress.

In that particular episode Hercules, we find the setting in present day (at that time--again, 1999) California and many bad things are happening--and Kevin Sorbo is missing. We don't find out until the end of the episode, but Ares and Strife are the ones wreaking havoc on the world; oh yeah, and Kevin Sorbo really is Hercules.

It's one of my favourite episodes in the series because it blurs the lines of reality and the show that way, and the actors are clearly having a blast lamb-basting the crew and production team with their characterizations (Bruce Campbell as Rob Tapert is just perfect). It is, however, worth mentioning that it's also one of the more infuriating episodes of the season, because it's mainly built on flashbacks to previous episodes.

Anyway, Vega witnesses the terrible things that Strife is doing with Ares and--rightly--gives it to him. So why the dread? Because of the obvious feelings of betrayal about Strife's siding with Ares, and because of Strife's initial callous reaction to those feelings: "That was two thousand years ago! Get over it!"

That got me to wondering about Strife's death experience; obviously, he would know that two thousand years have passed, but has he really felt that passage of time? Through Vega, he's been pulled out of Asphodel--because Callisto killed him in mumblemumble B.C.E.--but would he have sensed all the time he spent there? Was he aware?

For Vega, the two thousand years have passed in relative heart-beat, so the argument doesn't especially apply to her. So then, if Strife didn't feel his death-time and Vega obviously wouldn't have felt it either, the only person for whom this argument works is Ares.

That's not to say that the line is out of place really. It's certainly fitting with Strife's character and past. He clearly loves Vega, but he's been fiercely loyal to Ares--forever, quite literally. Ideally, he would be able to have both of them without one relationship getting in the way of the other. It's just that maybe he's trying to get to that point too quickly.

But the strain passes when Strife realises what he's been doing with Ares, and he and Vega sort of resolve the argument. I still had to sigh some mixture of distress and tentative relief when the chapter ended on that precarious note.

On a less distressed, more delighted note, the scene following "Yes, Virginia" where Vega "wakes up" in the lecture hall, curses, sets the prof straight, and stalks out in a huff--I wish I'd had such a good excuse for the few times I'd actually fallen asleep in lecture. Alas, I think I can only chalk it up to bad sleeping habits. All the same, it was a great moment in the chapter.

Turn the page ...

munchings and crunchings

There's something nostalgic for me about eating snap-peas.

I haven't had them raw in a long time (though I've had them in Chinese food dishes plenty), but I bought some that came in little snack-packs at Shaws. Baby carrots and snap peas, nothing special. But it's reminding me of eating them fresh from the garden when my family lived in Pennsylvania.

I would "help" my parents collect the vegetables--whatever was ripe at the time. And, with snap-peas in particular, it was very easy to just graze. Grab a handful; sit on one of the box-walls; munch; stare back at Rocko, or Muppet, or Stony, or Smoky, or whichever of the cats would come to see what on earth I was doing; attempt to feed snap-pea to cat; fail; eat it myself. And when the handful was gone, I'd go back for more and start the process over again.

What can I say? Bunny.

Too bad I don't like carrots as much as I like snap-peas. They're all right, but snap-peas ... mmm.

Turn the page ...

26 March 2007

foiled again

In regards to my intentions to post a decent entry, but also this:

As Manuela was assuring me a moment ago, if something can go wrong, it probably will.

I went down to the school's Human Resources last Friday after work to try to get my employee ID, but once I got there at around quarter after three, I was told that the only possible person who could administer my ID was in a meeting. This meeting would be running for an indefinite amount of time, so I should just go and call on Monday (today) before dropping in.

All of this, of course, was preceded by a myriad of questions about why I didn't already have an employee ID, and why wasn't I given one at orientation? Why do I need one now? Etc. Not that it was really anyone's business but my own, but I answered all of these questions with frank honesty. I don't have an ID, because I haven't needed one until now; and they didn't give me one at orientation, because they weren't sure of my ID number (which is the exact same number as my student number--a fact that I was well aware of ahead of time, but that they doubted at this orientation); I want one now, because I'd like to join the University's gym, and you need a valid University ID in order to swipe through.

So I called this morning, and--after being put on hold, and then having to leave a call-back, and then being called ten minutes later--was told that any time between nine and four would be convenient. I left my office almost immediately, because I wanted to get this over with, once and for all!

Between 11:45 and 12:00, I was sitting and waiting in the HR waiting area--and then I actually made it into the picture-taking room! But then I was left to sit there alone for another fifteen minutes or so ... and when the woman, all too willing to give me an ID came back, the camera was upside down. Why they can't rotate the image in the application they have, I don't know--but they can't.

And they couldn't fix it either. All they could do was giggle about my upside-down state, and assure me that it's never done that before. After fiddling with the programme and poking the camera a few times, they asked me to call them again at three and see if the problem was fixed. So I'm going to call them after work, and maybe--just maybe--go get my ID.

However, after all this nonsense, I'm nearly convinced that the universe is conspiring against my efforts to get an employee ID. Or maybe it's just a case of its being Monday. Whatever the case, I'm hoping for the best, while having the good (and, yes, pessimistic) sense to expect the worst.


What's been entertaining me lately? Netflix is doing a good job, and fan fiction too. Arkaidy updated a 19th chapter some time last night, and I started reading it this morning, but then I had to go to work--and this ID madness has kept me from taking full advantage of the internet today (and so what am I doing right now, then? oh, yes--public venting, that's right). I'm interested to see how the gods-battery is going to work out. I'll probably just re-read the beginning and then the whole chapter whenever I get home tonight.

Lately with Netflix I've been watching Beauty and the Beast (a show that first aired in 1987, staring Ron Pearlman and Linda Hamilton [Nemesis, nya-ha-ha--no, really]). I only vaguely remembered watching it with my mom when I was younger, but I did recall that we both enjoyed it, so I decided to rent it.

It's a little saccharine, and more than a little melodramatic--leading me to the conclusion that it was best taken in small, hour-long, weekly doses. You know, rather than three hours in one shot. Watching four episodes, one after the other, the dialog becomes repetitive; and Linda Hamilton's behaviour is noticeably wishy-washy. I keep expecting her to do something bad-ass and Terminator-ish, so the softer-side-of-Sears attitude of Catherine just seems fake and annoying.

Even after all of these criticisms, I still enjoy the show. There's something distinctly nostalgic that I get from watching it. I remember sitting on the foot-end of the bed in my parents' bedroom, eating popcorn, and being allowed to stay up late and watch this show. I always thought that Vincent and Catherine should get together--in spite of his being a mutant cat-faced man.

And I still think that 'Vincent' is better looking than Ron Pearlman. ****

I feel like I should say something about The River King as well, since that was the last actual movie that I received from Netflix. I can't think of anything clever at the moment, though; only that it's weird to hear 'Elizabeth Bennet' (Jennifer Ehle) with an American (or maybe it was supposed to be Canadian?--I know that she is actually from one of the Carolinas) accent and to see her with straight blond hair (though, for all I know, that may be her real colour).

It's a hazy, gray film, and the surprises are more like depressing disappointments; but its brooding quality is also what makes it a beautiful piece. ***1/2

Turn the page ...

20 March 2007

come as you are

It's been nearly a month since I've posted in this blog, and I'd like to make a longer entry than this (because I do have plenty to write about). But I'm about to go home (in, oh, ten minutes), so anything of real substance may be put off until this evening. Or perhaps tomorrow morning.

Suffice to say, St. Patrick's Day weekend was good fun (in Boston, how could it not be?).

I have a wretched habit of dropping obsessions and taking up new (or old) ones. I think it has something to do with compulsive tendencies and seasons and weather.

For example: the weather is cold and I'm stuck inside, so my inner home-maker decides to do stereotypical hausfrau things like cooking, cleaning, sewing, etc.

Now the weather is slowly becoming pleasant again, and clothing is changing to suit that, so my ego comes home and says, "Get out and do something! Do some crunches! Summer is going to be here, and you don't want to look the way you do when that happens!"

So my arts and crafts have been ousted from their mental slot by thoughts of exercise and diet. It's rather unfortunate, since I think I enjoy the arts and crafts more than the latter two.

It's also unfortunate that I suffer this mental tunnel-vision that blocks out the other things I enjoy while I'm concentrating too much on things that don't give me much pleasure. That's not to say that I don't find things about exercising and cuisine to enjoy. Certainly I do--I think I'm going to enjoy my new bento box whenever it arrives.

But I miss writing. And sewing. Maybe once I get into a particular habit, I'll be able to do all of these things without getting migraines or being extra-exhausted by the end of the day just from thinking about them.

On that note, I'm going home.

But later: the fanfic reading update! And some thoughts on that and other entertaining things I've seen lately.

P.S. Arkaidy, you are one of the cool kids.

Turn the page ...

26 February 2007

holding out for a ...

I didn't get much done yesterday. I woke up late, re-watched episode one of Heroes (since I hadn't seen it since its first air date).

Then I made a press of coffee and a brie toastie.

And continued to watch Heroes ... I really just watched Heroes all day in my jammies until everyone else got back from the joint degree. By then I was at the latter half of the sixth episode.

Then I went out and sat in the living room in an effort to be social--but I really just felt grimy since I was still in my pajamas and everyone else was nicely dressed from being at the degree and the dinner after.

Somehow I decided that I'd go to the meeting at six, which prompted shower-time and the wearing of actual clothes. But after my shower, I was back in my room watching Heroes again until it was time to leave--because that show has me hooked.

And what did I do after we got back from the meeting? Some jump-ring attaching, the progress of which you can see here:

And more Heroes, of course, until I was completely caught up (it only took me until quarter past midnight to be right up to the point where and I had started watching on Saturday afternoon. So now I've seen all of the first season of Heroes (well, all that's been aired up till now, at least).

I love Mohinder. And Peter. And Isaac. And Hiro (but not romantically--just in the "awwww!so-adorable!" sense). And really, even Sylar is creepylove. The show is just full of ridiculously handsome men.

Then, this morning I finished watching The New Kids, which I had started watching on Saturday night after Mel had dropped me off at home. I'd paused it midway because it was giving me anxiety, and anxiety isn't something you need when you're intending to go to bed some point in the near future.

It's a really stupid movie that only affirms my loathing of small towns. And rednecks. And really, the majority of America. Actually there are a fair few movies out there that have helped this loathing grow--Snake Eater and any of its sequels (scarred, scarred for life, I was), Deliverance, and certain episodes of Highlander, The A-Team, and Renegade (actually, every other episode of Renegade).

What these films and shows teach us is this: "homeland" America is not charming. Andy and Opie are lying to you. Country-folk are retarded, inbred, crazy, and dangerous--and we're all better off avoiding them as much as may be.

I mean, I've heard Pennsyltucky, but this was Floribama. Joe-Bob and Chad-Bob (can we get some more [your name here]-Bob?) and Gideon (of course, "Gid"). And why the hell was James Spader playing a messed up hick? And blond? Why the uber-blond? Bleah.

Short summary: 1985 (that's when it was released, so I'm guessing that's the setting as well), boy and girl lose their parents in a car wreck and move in with their aunt and uncle in Bumfuck, Florida and immediately get harassed by a gang of rednecks (led by James Spader). There are fights, acts of vandalism, shootings, the setting of people on fire, electrocutions, and beheadings.

Where are the parents? It would appear that none of these assholes have parents.

And, in the end, after a super-massacre of the rednecks at the uncle's Santa's Funfair (or whatever the hell that place was called) there's only this little kid left over, and the parting shot is the boy staring creepily after "happy-ending" boy and girl driving off into town. What the hell was that supposed to be? Sequel warning? Like this slop would get a sequel?

What drove me to watch it in the first place? James Spader. And, yes, he's creepy and doesn't disappoint as a crazy villain.

I also received Dare mo shiranai (Nobody Knows) on Saturday, but between Heroes and the freaky hillbilly movie, I never got to it. I'll watch it this evening.


Oh, yeah. It's snowing.

And there was a car accident as I stepped off the T at Babcock. I didn't see it happen, but I heard the resounding *crunch* of the giant white truck smacking the little black sport car sideways. And then watched in amusement as moronic pedestrians still decided to dodge out into traffic during a green light, in spite of the obvious (as demonstrated by said car accident) slick on the road.

Massholes. But I'm not surprised.

Turn the page ...

20 February 2007

weekend in a bottle

John and Rodney came up to Boston from New Jersey for the long weekend; I hadn't seen either of them since ... October (ouch), and it was good to catch up and hang out.

On Friday night, we (Rohnia, Michelle, and Ian) piled into Ian's car and drove to the Atrium mall. Our original intention was to go to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, because it's awesome and Michelle has never been there before, but when we arrived they were very busy. 75-minute-wait busy.

So we went back downstairs to Bertucci's instead--not a bad second choice for food, and no waiting line to speak of.

On Saturday morning I woke up early, as I usually do when company is around--not because the company wakes up early, but really just because I get excited about the possibilities for the day. And it was also sunny, and I don't sleep well in a well-lit room.


I checked my e-mail and found that Arkaidy had updated a fifteenth chapter to her "Across Time" work. So I went there and started reading...

And then did a little dance at my desk, because my blog and I were mentioned in the Author's Note. I'm a motivator! (Well, after telling him about the Author's Note over coffee a little while later, Rodney said that I am, in fact, an "enabler" because he couldn't leave the positive spin on the situation alone.)

Still, I am so happy that--in spite of the pains of life, family, and school--she didn't drop the plot. I really would've sat around forever waiting for a continuation, no matter where that happened to go.

That being said, I really do like where the plot has been going and how it's been narrated. If you put yourself into the main character's shoes, at the beginning of this fifteenth chapter, you're quite certain that she's not crazy, that she really did travel through time. But as the chapter goes along, you start to doubt. And you feel that she starts to doubt herself too.

And right up until the point where Zeus shows up out of nowhere, I was starting to be afraid that it was going to go that way. A silly fear, in retrospect, considering the Interlude of the fourteenth chapter.

"I watched enough cheesy YTV kid's programs to know that a person could be physically in one place and mentally in another."

That particular line made me think of The Odyssey--a show from Canada about a boy in a coma who goes to another reality, and the events in the alternate reality sort of mirror the events of the reality wherein his body is in a coma.

Though, I had also considered the possibility that the main character was bodily in the past, and, when thrown back to the present, fell into a coma that happened to be the same amount of time. Maybe. The time paradox can be so interesting to think about--even when impossibly infuriating.

And the fact that Strife is still godly in the present, but is unaware of it through his amnesia, also helps the case for Vega's being unaware of godliness up to this point. It stands to reason that the gods (in this telling, at least), don't feel anything particular about their godhood--or don't know that they're feeling anything out of the ordinary, at least.

Vega and Strife are both told that they're normal people, and because they don't know to expect anything else, they don't--and have no way of finding out without another god's intervention. Enter Zeus.

... But I do wonder about Strife; his reaction to Vega is complete disbelief in the fifteenth chapter, but I imagine him with that personality type where he'd try to test the limits. Poof something. Then again, if people have been visiting him and lying to his face, it would probably be very easy to dismiss an apparently crazy girl.

Mmm. Can't wait for the next chapter.


Saturday night, we went to India Quality and Cornwall's in Kenmore Square for Michelle's birthday. I'd never been to either one, but they're both pretty fantastic. The food at India Quality is top notch and the staff is very attentive. Cornwall's is pretty low-key; mid scale decor like T's Pub, and a quiet atmosphere like the Dugout (well, when it's not baseball season, at least). I love that they have so many board games available.

Becca, Rodney, and I played Scrabble while the rest of our tables played Chutes and Ladders and Clue. We tried to make it "Adult" Scrabble, but the minute you decide you're going to try to be dirty, the letters aren't going to cooperate with you at all.

Sunday night continued the theme of drinking--but at home. The five of us ordered pizza and played a very long drinking game. Well, the game itself didn't take that long, but we played quite a few rounds. Fun, but very bad for my liver, I feel.

On Monday, we went to First Degree in the band room and then out to lunch with the chapter at Sunset. We also would've gone to Trader Joe's afterward, but the traffic around the market was horrendous, so we just went home instead.

Then, after an afternoon of Stargate and the first episode of Torchwood, the boys gave their farewells and drove back to Highland Park, New Jersey.

I miss them already. Really, I missed them two minutes after they'd gone.

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15 February 2007

I pick things up; I am a collector. And things, well, things--they tend to accumulate.

I should've left earlier than I did yesterday--my own sentiment and Sharon (who generally comes in at the same time I do, and left an hour and a half earlier yesterday afternoon) agrees. Maybe if I had, getting home wouldn't have been such an ordeal.

By 3 o'clock, the trains weren't running between Kenmore and Washington due to electricity problems.

Instead, there were green line shuttle buses carrying sardine-can-squashed passengers from stop to stop in between. I splashed across Comm. Ave. at the last minute--through a foot of sludge--in order to get on one of these shuttles; and, in spite of there being other people behind me who would've liked to get on the bus too, the driver shut the doors and drove away without them.

And when he let us off at Washington to wait for the T to Boston College, the driver parked the bus in front of another slush puddle. Yay.

By the time I got home, my shoes and socks were soaked through and the cuffs of my khakis were filthy and wet. My extremities were basically frozen.

I changed into pajamas right away when I got in the door and spent the rest of the afternoon and into evening thawing.


No. I didn't vacuum.

But I did help Michelle take apart the lego couch and then put it out on the curb for trash-pickers or garbage-men to take away. And then we moved the futon from her room to the living room. So that was something productive for the evening.

--in addition to chibi-Strife's pants.

I didn't work on them during lunch yesterday--I just kept getting distracted by looking out my window at the snow and sleet coming down. So I had to finish sewing the front panels; cut out, pin, and sew the back panels; and then sew the front and back together. actually, I left the upper seams opem to make it easier to fit the waist. I have it safety-pinned on both sides right now, and I basically know what I'm going to do with it.

Getting him into those pants wasn't as difficult as I'd thought it might be. But I didn't over-stuff his legs, so they're pretty squeezable and will fit just about anywhere with careful handling.

I was split between starting his boots or his gloves today, but I think I'm going to go with gloves. After the 12-piece pants, I'm just not ready to deal with the boot/shin-guard-process yet. But then, those gloves are supposed to be kind of patchy too. Maybe I'll just hem the shirt and pant cuffs today.

Blah. I'll decide what I'm doing by lunchtime.

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13 February 2007

part-time cutter

contemplating Dilbert

Scott knows. I'm not sure why he knows--probably from some horrible experience of his own, but one doesn't usually imagine these kinds of awkward situations between two men. Well, not outside the realm of Steve Martin comedy anyway--if that makes sense. It might not. It's early. I don't have coffee yet.

This strip made me giggle a lot. Most days Scott Adams is a ho-hum experience for me, but the theme of yesterday's strip into today's has struck a chord. (Click the little strip for full disclosure.)


It was probably because of that peculiar man in 99, and then reading about Christina's experience with "Paul who wouldn't go away" and the IRA man in Belfast. And, you know, being reminded of every other time some strange person got too much into my personal space or shared too much information in too short a span of time.

It's like that. And when it happens to me or my friends, it's creepy; but having it happen to Dilbert, and to such an absurd extreme, is hilarious.

Schadenfreude? Vielleicht.


the tax refund and a brief lament for yesterday's coffee

I keep checking my ING account for my direct deposit from Federal and Massachusetts.

Federal says it should get there by the 23 February (though, with a tiny-font post-script that "cannot guarantee the actual date"), but Massachusetts isn't making any promises at all.

Oh, well. I'll keep watching. [Edit 1125: It figures that the State refund would get there before Federal. Not that I'm complaining. It's a good refund. It's just kind of odd that the people giving me no sense of waiting time should get my money to me quickest. End edit.]

I want coffee sooooo bad right now. Hopefully it will be better than my sour-milk experience of yesterday. Ugh, that was horrible.


movies movies movies:

Having had some coffee (yes, a great improvement on yesterday's), I'll now write on upcoming entertainment.

First, this. I'm sorry, what?


John Travolta is NOT Edna Turnblad. At all. Ever. The end!

It's not even so much that they're re-making Hairspray that bothers me. That actually doesn't bother me at all. It's the Divine versus John Travolta thing that irks me.

Divine ... (Let that sink in.) ... Travolta? Eh?

Maybe it's not as ridiculous to somebody who's seen the stage production, but that seems really miscast to me. Other arguments are quite welcome.

So why did I hear about this? Because I've been checking the release calendar on IMDb to see how much the movies are going to set me back this summer. So far I have six must-see movies on my list:

*Harry Potter Part V (which is bumping up against the release of Deathly Hallows)
*Live Free or Die Hard (yes, it's probably going to be awful--and I don't see how they can top Bruce Willis and Sam L. Jackson running around NYC mouthing off at one another--but I'm faithful to this franchise, so I'm going to see it)
*Ocean's 13 (I've really enjoyed the last two, in spite of the fact that I went into them feeling dubious; I'll go into this one just as dubious, and hopefully be pleasantly surprised again)
*Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End (Hi. It's Johnny Depp. And Orlando Bloom. And PIRATES. Short of the theatre catching fire, nothing is going to keep me away ... and, in case of fire, I'll be running into the cinema to save the precious reels ... my preciousssss)
*Spiderman 3 (Peter. Parker. The end.)
*Transformers (Hey, it's a remnant of my childhood being made larger than life--I'd probably go see a movie about The Smurfs if they CGI'd it to death)


phone and television technology:

I'll just keep adding things as they come to me rather than creating a whole new entry; that way, people won't have to read any of the extras if they don't want to. Well, not that they have to read the original entry or any of my entries, but there it is.

My phone has now lost the ability to take a charge for more than thirty minutes. If it's not plugged into the wall, it'll die within half an hour. I don't know why. The battery is brand new (since November). My only guess is that the phone is going bad and sucking the power out of the battery at a quicker than normal rate.

It's frustrating. I never know what time it is (yeah, I should just wear a watch; but I never needed [and, so, do not own] a watch when my phone was working).

I think my parents have talked me into sticking with Sprint (it gets us a family rate and, I think, free phone calls between us), but they understand my desire for a new phone and are offering to get me said phone.

They won't tell me what they're considering, so I have no idea what to expect.

My dad is talking about getting a new phone too. Oh, and a new television. They have four televisions, three of them are ridiculously huge and really nice. the fourth is old, but it works. actually, they all work. And that's not including the 19" Sony in "my room" in the Durham house.

He needs an HD television, because "soon anything that isn't HD will be obsolete, and won't be able to receive the cable feed" ... so, what he's basically telling me is that ALL cable companies EVERYWHERE are going to expect ALL their customers to buy a $1000s+ television set.

For some reason, his logic doesn't fly with me. Cable companies and their advertisers want to be able to reach the lowest common denominator in society, because even poor people have television; and whatever little money they can save, you can be sure that big companies will want the chance to take it back through consumer spending--which happens most successfully if and when people are bombarded with advertisements. So I doubt that television is going to become HD-only any time soon; not unless HD becomes more affordable for the masses.

Also, you don't like your current televisions? Would you mind sending one to us? Because we'd LOVE to have a nice television for our living room. Thanks.


chores left unfinished:


And crafting too, but that's hardly a chore, is it? I swear that I'll at least make the effort to not go home and collapse today. I'll do a load of laundry and vacuum the floor by my wardrobe. There. Now I must do it.

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12 February 2007

chibi-Strife and George the orc?

He has hair, facial features, and basic clothes. I could stop now and be perfectly satisfied with him.

No, that's a lie. I really do want to finish his clothes and other accessories. It's just taking so damn long ...

I was watching Lord of the Rings: Return of the King last night, just to watch the part with "George" the orc. No, his real character name is not George but something more fittingly Middle Earth-ish. And his IMDb title is 'Orc Lieutenant 1' ... he's best seen in the extended cut of RotK, but you can find him in the regular release during the scene where the orcs catapult the heads of the Gondor warriors over the wall. He's identifiable by the skull that he wears as a hat.

Yeah. That's Joel Tobeck again. Not that you can really tell it's him under all the orc costume, but it's the thought that counts.

But I fell asleep before that scene, and woke up again when Frodo and Gollum are fighting for the Ring over the fiery chasm and Gollum bites off Frodo's finger. That was a hell of a thing to wake up to.

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06 February 2007

another photo representation of progress

My last blogspot entry, about a week ago, featured the assembly of a muslin prototype plush person. I've been working on the velour version of that prototype, and this entry features the up-to-date progress of chibi-Strife.

Since I'd already photographed the body assembly with the first version, I didn't bother to do so with this one too. Instead, we jump right to the finished body, 31 January:

The head gave me more grief than with the first version, but I think it turned out better. I also stuffed it from a top-side seam this time around, so the lower region of the face is much smoother than with the muslin rendition.

Two additions to the velour version's body base: his ears, hand-sewn to the head during my lunch break on 1 February.

The first article of clothing I created for chibi-Strife was a simple half-circle cloak, cut and sewn on 2 February:

The pattern for the cloak is extremely basic and may be found here. I merely adjusted the measurements for chibi-Strife's proportions.

On Saturday, after a trip to Michael's for Art Wear iron transfer sheets, I worked on designs for his eyes, chose one that I liked, and fused them to chibi-Strife's head. Very carefully.

Sunday night, I sewed a pair of long underwear from remnants of old black jersey material. Really, very much belonging to the "remnants" category--it involved a lot of seam-ripping and removal of very old elastic (which tends to disintegrate and fall apart in its old age).

The waist-band of the pants is kind of ... iffy. They fall down. He has plumber's crack (except that it's cute on chibi-Strife, rather than horrifying and gross).

But it's okay, because yesterday I made him a tunic that sort of compensates for the tendency of the pants to fall down by being over-long.

And today? Yeah, I don't know yet. We'll see. Maybe he'll get a mouth.


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30 January 2007

a gradual process

I've already posted images of this in my LiveJournal, but then today I realized I'd never updated blogger with any of it. So this morning's entry is a backtrack of last week's plush endeavors.

The body fabric is a natural-tone muslin, the eyes and mouth are black thread. This week I'm in the process of making a nicer version of the body out of velour fabric. I cut all the pieces on Sunday night with a few minor differences from the original (thumbs on the hands, a slightly different dart for the front of the head), sewed and stuffed the body yesterday, and today I'll hopefully finish the head.

Well, maybe finish the head. I'm thinking of purchasing some flat-black buttons for the eyes rather than messing around with the satin-stitch again; because it was hard enough to make an even satin-stitch on muslin, never mind piled fabric.

I also still need to make ears (the first prototype didn't have any). And, for this particular plushie, ears will be necessary, since a major part of his defining accessories is wearing funky earrings.

After I'm done with the body, the real tricky part will begin--hair, clothing, accessories. My experience with making doll clothes is so limited, it could be written on the back of a postage stamp in its entirety.

And Strife's clothes are kind of detail-oriented: the boots and gauntlets, fingerless gloves (good thing the new plushie has thumbs), and a nonsensically pieced-together [leather or pleather?] jump-suit with tiny metal rings and belts and such. For a better explanation of what I mean, I include photos:

Yeah, he's a skinny god. I don't care. He's going to make an adorable plushie.

But I get the sinking feeling I'll be hand-sewing Strife into his complicated getup.

Turn the page ...

29 January 2007

pure morning

Oh, this past weekend ... ~_~

And now for a more-detailed account of the weekend's events, adventures in Providence, and terrorists on skis.

Friday afternoon I left work and headed inbound, stopping at Park Street to browse through the Borders at Downtown Crossing (and apparently there's another Borders on Boylston St. now, too?). I was looking for books on doll-making (big surprise, that is) and drawing super-deformed characters (chibi!), since the human dolls I'm interested in making are of the chibi/SD variety. All around, that was a very discouraging stop, since there was really nothing I could use in stock.

Art dolls are ... interesting, but they give me the creeps. I'm not talking about sock creatures or weird animals or patch-work creations--but rather dolls like this. I recognize their art value; I can even understand why some people would want to collect and create them; but I wouldn't deal well with having one in my room. I would have Puppet Master nightmares (except that the nightmares would actually be scary rather than stupidly funny, like those movies).

From Park Street, I went to Harvard Square to visit Tokyo Kid, looking to see if they had any plushies in a discount bin; because, at a cheap enough price, I wouldn't mind buying one just to take it apart. Yes, I should've known better, really. Nothing is ever cheap at that store. Plushies of the type I was interested in were starting at $14. Yeah. No. Not for a UFO-catcher doll. Not when I've seen them on eBay for $6.

They did have how-to guides for drawing manga characters, but they weren't really what I wanted (and $20 besides); so I left without buying anything and continued on to The Coop. They were also a no-go for doll-making books, but they did have a very nice selection of manga-drawing books on the lowest shelf in their Art section. I might've bought one, but when I looked at the neverending line for the cashier, I lost my verve and opted to just go home. It was easy to do, really, since I knew I'd be spending money on Saturday. And since I went to Amazon.com, and ordered this.

And, check, spent money on Saturday. Melissa picked me up at the train station and we drove 'round to The Fabric Place and A.C. Moore. At The Fabric Place (where my head spun around and exploded upon entering--no, not really, but yikes, it's overwhelming) I bought velour in white and light gray, an evergreen suede, and a book on the basics of making soft toys. A.C. Moore had beanie babies for $4 ... yes, ashamed to say it, but I bought two: a skunk and an owl who have joined Jiji on the top of my television set. Oh! and some fat quarters in red, black, purple, and blue with different and interesting patterns.

Really, I wasn't as bad as I'd expected. The grand total could've been much worse.

After that, we went back to Melissa's to pick up Erich so we could all go to lunch. We went to The Texas Roadhouse. It's awesome. Yeah, the music is country-western, and we could all live without that, but the food ... The food is really just to-die-for. I haven't had steak in ... forever; and this was the perfect reunion for me and steak. And I ate alllll my food--and didn't really notice how full I was until it was time to get up and leave. And Mel very graciously spotted me the money for dinner again, so I really must buy her and Erich dinner next time around. I feel like a free-loader! TT_TT

Then we went back to the house for stitching and season two of Doctor Who. The six-minute segue between the end of season one and "The Christmas Invasion" (that I'd never seen before) really helps the Christmas special make more sense (so far as Rose accepting the Doctor's body-change, and how they crash). And holy crap, I love the outtakes so much. It makes me want to dress up as a cyberman and run around the Common, chasing squirrels and pigeons. Mmm. David Tennant.

And I was being productive too! I cut new arms (as I was less than pleased with my first attempt), hand-stitched them, and hand-sewed them into the torso seam, all ready to be stuffed when I got home. That doesn't seem like very much when typed out, but it took me a while to do all that. I think the biggest headache was in figuring out the placement of the arms in seams; because I wanted the seams to be perpendicular, not lined up (I like making life difficult for myself). But after they were pinned into place, it wasn't too bad.

After the Doctor Who outtakes, Mel drove me home--which was super-nice of her. And I, of course, stayed awake to stuff the doll's arms and torso, and attach the head. This was all while half-heartedly watching Icebreaker. I didn't know what the hell was happening in that movie by the time I'd finished crafting and was actually paying attention ... so I started the DVD over again from the beginning. And promptly fell asleep.

I tried to watch it again on Sunday morning. It's a really bad movie, Bruce Campbell and Sean Astin notwithstanding. A concise description of the plot idea would be "Die Hard with skis." If you think that sounds dumb, you don't know the half of it. I swear it was written by somebody (probably a former member of ski patrol) who was working at a ski resort and got bored. I can just see it:

"Oh, what if terrorists showed up?" [for no bloody reason at all] "Hmm. Yes. They need a reason to be here, don't they? ... Uhh, they've lost their nuclear weapons from Russia in a plane crash on the mountain! And the only way to get them back is to take the ski lodge hostage!" [never mind that Russia is small beans anymore, but they can't just sneak up there and get their nuclear stuff back without anybody noticing?] "No! We want this to be like Die Hard! And, instead of a cop, what if a member of the ski patrol had to save the day?" [because, you never know, it could happen] "And we can have terrorists on skis, chasing the hero down the black diamond trail!" [the terrorists know how to ski?] "Yes." [and snowboard?] "Yes!" [and shoot guns at the same time?] "YES!" [how do all the terrorists know how to ski?] "Because they do!" [and, yes, losing me ...]

You know that's how it went. Sean Astin should've known to stay away from terrorist movies after Toy Soldiers. Oh, well. In spite of its being a really dumb movie (actually, maybe because it's a really dumb movie), I did kind of enjoy it. But then I enjoyed Toy Soldiers too, and that's equally absurd.

Oh, yeah. A little after ten o'clock the doorbell rang. It was the USPS carrier. On Sunday. My package from Aranzi Aronzo had arrived--less than a week after ordering it. From Japan. And on a Sunday. The EMS packaging boasts: "fastest International delivery." I think they've earned that boast. I really didn't expect it to arrive that fast.

The book is beautiful and chock full of visual instructions that make it really easy to follow along. And the fact that I can read katakana helps a bit too.

On the invoice somebody wrote a small note in very neat (and somewhat broken) English. But it was just so nice. And personalized. And it definitely made me go: "Awwwwww!"

It might be a generalization of their culture, but it's a good one--and so, hopefully, forgiveable--but ... Japanese people are so damn nice.

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