Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I have no idea what you're talking about...


....So here's a figgy with a pancake on her head.

(for those who aren't in the know: http://www.carrieisgett.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/pancake-bunny.jpg)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A request for help!

Guys, I need help.

To anyone who reads this, please comment with ideas or suggestions.

See, we're throwing a bachelorette party for a good friend of mine from high school. And we need to figure out what we're gonna do for 3-4 hours that isn't eating, drinking, or possibly watching a stripper.

So, please comment with any suggestions for games, contests or the like. We have 5 prizes to give out and zero ideas. Have you been to a bachelorette party, or at least (if you're a guy) heard of one that was particularly cool? What did you do during it? Everything I'm looking at online looks totally cheesy and embarrassing, and not in a good way.

The party's next Saturday. We're going with a 'Moulin Rouge' theme. Any ideas would be MOST welcome.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A little bit of everything

Good frakking LORD but it was cold last night!

I was wearing THREE pairs of socks, my sweats, a cami and a t-shirt, had a sheet, TWO flannel blankets AND my comforter on top of me and I was STILL freezing. I had to wrap myself up into a cocoon and I finally fell asleep only to wake up 8 hours later sweating because it was so hot in my room. Stupid crazy Honduran weather.

It was like 52F. And I know some of you will just say 'weaaaak' but as I've said before, this house is made for heat and is very, very drafty, and has basically no insulation. No heating, of course, and we're on top of a hill getting all the wind we can. Not to mention that my windows (single panes, lots of drafty holes in them) face the mountain and are completely open to the wind. Wonderful in summer, horrible for the freak days when the weather gets all crazy like this. Anyway, point is, it was really fucking cold. My water was fridge-cold when I woke up this morning, which just never happens.

Anyway, the sun is out, it's windy and 72 degrees, and hopefully the cold front won't be so bad tonight.

Speaking of last night, how AWESOME was Lost? I was really excited, and it was totally worth the wait. It was back on prime form; exciting, mysterious, freaky, confusing as hell and just really well done all around. Two episodes weren't enough--I WANT MORE. I think just the feeling that this is finally going somewhere helps immensely, and no one was even annoying. Sayid is still fabulously hot.



Mmmmmmmmmm.

*Ahem*. Yes! Hurrah for the return of a good drama!

In other TV news, my HBO is FINALLY showing reruns of the first season of Mad Men, in preparation for the second one. I don't get why this stupid station is so far behind, it can't take that long just to add some fucking subtitles to a show, can it? But anyway, it's there, and I'll finally get to see it. Saw the first episode last night and damn, I was hooked. And Zoey from West Wing? So awesome.

Hmm. Oscar Nominations were this morning. I hate that I've only seen ONE of the nominees (Dark Knight). I swear this isn't by choice. Honduran theaters only bring in the shittiest of American block busters, so there's absolutely no chance to watch smaller movies until they come out on DVD, and by the time that happens all the awards are over. And I really get into awards. Bleh. I can't wait to move somewhere with a wider range of movies.

The only movie I really want to watch is 'Slumdog Millionaire', as I love everything that Danny Boyle has ever done and I have such a crush on him. Will have to wait. And I'm pretty damned sick of hearing of Benjamin Button. I haven't seen it, but I hear it's crap, and I just don't like Brad Pitt that much. And I just randomly hate the name 'Benjamin Button'. Bugs me to no end.

Anyway. Have to write two book reviews, make some cookies, work on my friend's (not mine) bachelorette (what? wtf? why does spell check not think bachelorette is a word? fuck you, sexist spell check) party decorations and other small things like that.

Off to nurse my cramps and read. Toodles.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Book #7: 'On Writing' by Stephen King

I really didn't mean to read another Stephen King book for the Cannonball Read. It would be too easy. It would only take me about a week to rack up 10 more books on my list, and I thought that that was just too damn easy. This is supposed to be a challenge, man. No more King books, I said. But I couldn't resist. It was on sale!

This won't be a very long review, as I said everything I needed to say about Stephen King in my review of Everything's Eventual. To recap: Hate him or love him, there is no denying that King has an innate talent for storytelling, and for the most part his books make for deeply entertaining, satisfying reads. I'd been wanting to buy On Writing for a long time now, but I just couldn't be bothered to buy the hardback edition and had only found paperback copies in Spanish, which just wasn't gonna fly. So when I found it at the bookstore I just snatched it up and immediately started reading it.

On Writing is the first book on the craft that I've ever read, and I'm very happy that I did. I've always had an aversion to anyone giving advice on writing, mostly because I don't think you have any right to lecture people on how to write well when you yourself haven't written anything worthwhile in your life. It would be like reading a dieting book written by a man who weighed 300 pounds. But I like Stephen King, I like his writing style, and I was perfectly willing to listen to an author who has not only mastered the art of writing but made millions doing it.

The book is divided in two parts; the first is a short autobiography that outlines King's road to becoming a writer. Though it doesn't have much to do with writing itself, King is great at making even the most mundane stories entertaining, and it's interesting to read about his struggles with becoming a writer. It certainly helps form a clear picture of an author—how he started out, how he works, why he writes what he does. It's self-deprecating and very funny in parts, and it's a great set up for the second half of the book. Here, King talks briefly about the basic tools an amateur needs to become a writer, with sections devoted to such things as vocabulary, grammar and writing dialogue. He provides a lot of helpful examples, but what I liked best is that King is always encouraging, continually pushing his belief that any competent writer can become a good writer if they try hard enough. It’s helpful stuff even if you don't plan to be a professional writer, and I think his advice could be applied to any kind of writing you want to do.

The book is short and straight to the point; King doesn't want to teach you how to write, he wants to teach you how to write better. He doesn't give you a lot of rules, just a lot of helpful tips to try out, all delivered with his particular sense of humor and no-nonsense style. This was a great read, definitely one of my King favorites, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone who wants to become a better writer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why Adam West is the best Batman Ever

Sorry, Christian Bale. You know I adore you, but..

Does YOUR Batman have an assorted line of OCEANIC REPELLENT BAT SPRAYS? FOR BARRACUDAS? That make SHARKS EXPLODE? SHARK REPELLENT BAT SPRAY?

DOES HE?

I don't think so!



TAKE THAT, NOLAN! YEAAAAAAAAAH!

(ps: Bat. Ladder. It has a LABEL. FUCK YEAH!)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Book #6: "The Witch of Portobello" by Paulo Coelho

I'm going to come right out and say this at the very start, so as to leave no doubt in the matter: I hated this book. Hated it. It took all of my willpower to make myself finish it, to keep myself from throwing the book at the corner out of sheer frustration.

I don't know if the Paulo Coelho mania is a phenomenon outside of Honduras. If it isn't, then lucky you. But in recent years here he's become the go-to author immediately named by people who have never read more than two books in their lives when they're asked who their favorite authors are. Go to any local bookstore and you're likely to find not only shelves full of his books, but shelves devoted to books of Paulo Coelho quotes.. I picked up a copy of "The Alchemist" a couple of years ago, and couldn't make it past the first three pages of cheesy, bizarre writing, and I had given up on him until I decided to try another of his books in the spirit of the Cannonball Read. I received 'The Witch of Portobello' as a gift, and it's a good thing I can't remember who gave it to me, as I'd probably use it to hit that person on the head. Repeatedly.

The titular 'witch' is a woman named Sherine Khalil, who later dubs herself "Athena", a rather bold move that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this detestable woman. We hear her story through a series of 'interviews' someone has gathered after she has been found brutally murdered. This is pointed out in the first pages of the book, and we spend the rest of it hearing from people who met Athena and were affected by her in her personal quest for spirituality.

Sherine was born in Rumania but was adopted by a couple of rich Lebanese parents. As she grows older, Sherine, or as she decides to call herself, Athena, becomes a restless, confused woman seeking for answers and for a meaning in her life. She has a series of meaningless relationships before she meets up with her birth mother, a Rumanian gypsy, who lets her in to a world of rituals, dances, and quests to reach the spirit of the "Great Mother". You have no idea how I cringed every time I read those two words.

The plot is flimsy at best, serving only as an excuse for Coelho to expound on the virtues of some bizarre New Age/ Wiccan beliefs that only seem to turn Athena into an insufferable pedant we're supposed to believe is charming and alluring. So we're forced as readers to not only get through painfully long treatises on 'the true meaning of love' and 'reaching for your center' but to get to know a truly annoying and ridiculous main character who speaks in riddles that we're supposed to think are profound and spiritual, but only sound pretentious and ridiculous. Athena is one of the most insufferable characters I've ever read about, and the rest of the characters gravitate around her for reasons I couldn't even come close to understanding. I can only suppose that because every single supporting character is clich├ęd and incredibly boring, they had nothing better to do than to listen to someone as horrible as Athena as she constantly mocks them or belittles them, thinking herself somehow above the rest of the mortals. I never understood what the hell was the big deal about her, or why Coelho seems to adore her completely.

The dialogue is horrible and hokey, and I can only blame part of this on a really bad translation. "Love just is", one character says, and I could only roll my eyes at the page. And there's countless other little quips of wisdom throughout the book, and I'd quote some here but for the fact that I never want to open this book again. Trust me, it's painful.

To cap it all off, the book ends with a pathetic 'twist' that finally made me throw the book across the room. Thankfully I was finished by then.

I honestly can't begin to fathom who the intended audience for this book is. My best guess is rich bores with nothing to do but follow some ridiculous quest into paganism because they're bored with the rest of the world and need to feel closer to the rabble. Or perhaps die-hard fans of Paulo Coelho of the type I've met, who are just pretentious enough to spout off Coelho quotes like they're some sort of wisdom. I don't know. All I do for sure is that it was a torturous read, needlessly long and terribly annoying. It took me almost a whole month to get through it, and I can only look on the experience with disgust.

The only good thing I can gather from it is that at least now I know that I'll never pick up another Paulo Coelho book for as long as I live.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Book #5: "Embers" by Sandor Marai (translated by Carol Brown Janeway )

A short review for a short book.

"Embers", written by Hungarian author Sandor Marai in 1942, was a surprising find. One of the reasons I'm loving the Cannonball Read so much is that I'm getting the chance to read books I would never have given a chance to before. I am determined to read whatever falls into my hands, whether by chance or by recommendation. My dad found "Embers" in a used-books store, and handed it over to me saying "you might like it".
I did. Knowing absolutely nothing about the book, I found myself getting through it in less than a week, both because it's a very short read at 213 pages (in rather large font) and because it's an engrossing, relaxing read that was unlike anything I had ever read before.
"Embers" takes place during two days in the life of an old retired General, who lives in complete seclusion in a vast, largely abandoned mansion in the mountains. The General receives a letter announcing the arrival of a former friend, whom he hasn't seen in 41 years. We slowly discover, as the General prepares the mansion for his friend's arrival (so that it looks exactly as it did the last time they saw each other) that the two men had a remarkably strong friendship during their younger years. The General meditates on the meaning of friendship between men, and while some of the ideas here might feel a little dated to modern audiences, the writing is smooth and the story moving, and we come to understand the two characters perfectly from only a few pages.
On the second day, the friend arrives. During a dinner, the General leads a calm but passionate conversation where we learn how the seemingly unbreakable friendship was broken, and what has happened to each of the men during the 41 years they were separated. It's a powerful, long scene, with some beautifully detailed descriptions that really made me feel like I was in the room, and hearing the General's voice as he spoke. In the course of a single night and one conversation, the friends speak of loyalty, love, the country around them and each other, and it's a truly engrossing, insightful read.
"Embers" is a book entirely about its characters, with little in the way of plot, so I wouldn't recommend it to people who are looking for action-heavy reading. It's certainly something different, relaxing and beautifully written. It's also very, very short, so even if you don't like meditative character studies, it will be over pretty quick. I think it's also the first time I've ever read anything by a Hungarian author, which fits perfectly with the idea of the Cannonball Read: give things a chance, and read something different every time.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

TACKYPALOOZA PART 2!

Two more entries for TACKYPALOOZA:

Just because. Sorry that the photos are so small but...well if they were any bigger they'd just be more horrifying.

COACH JESUS!!!!



Nativity Scene featuring dogs:



KLASSY.

TACKYPALLOOZA!!!!

At Sofia's insistence:

Scourge the internet for the TACKIEST things you can find.

These are my first two submissions (and as Godtopus is my witness, I shall find more):



Because nothing, NOTHING is more tacky to me than someone wearing truly heinous clothes in public and thinking they're the classiest, most enviable things in the universe. It's precious.

And this:



Not only is this a marvel of tackyness and sluthood, but a miracle of gravity as well.

And now, to look around the internet for something I remember being the most horrible piece of home decoration I have EVER seen. ONWARDS!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A belated New Year's Post

Five Things That Made Me Happy in 2008:

1. Ending my job on a high note

And by high note, I mean I didn't lose my mind. I've probably mentioned this before, but until July of last year, I was teaching art at my old high school. 7th-10th grade, with a whopping 259 students under my watch, for 30 hours a week. It was my first real job out of college, and I was literally thrown into it with absolutely no idea of what I was doing back in January 2006. I can't even begin to tell you how much I learned in those two years; about myself, about other people and about, well, growing up. It was a very strange, crazy experience, and by the end of the 2007-2008 school year, I was completely exhausted both mentally and physically. It took...so much out of me. I loved the actual JOB, and most of the kids, but I was in such a toxic work environment, surrounded by incompetent and negligent superiors, who didn't give a damn that I was having to deal with 259 teenagers every week all on my own with absolutely no support, that I almost came to dread every new work day. And I hated that. So by the end of the school year, I had just HAD it. I just wanted it to end. In part I felt horrible because I knew I hadn't been a good teacher those last few weeks, and how unfair that had been to the large majority of kids I taught. I didn't even say proper goodbyes to anyone there, but honestly, I had never felt close to any of my coworkers, let alone my superiors, so it was no great loss.

And I know that I did the best I could. Through the handful of truly horrible kids, through the incompetent principals, through the ungratefulness of my superiors, I did my best. And I'm proud of that. In the time since, I've met a lot of my former students around town (it's a very small place) who have sincerely told me they miss me, and that's the best validation I could hope for. All I got from my bosses was a meager paycheck, not even a goodbye or a thank you. I don't miss the place, but I do miss the students, sometimes terribly, and I miss having fun with teaching. I know that I want to go back to doing it, and I only hope that in the future wherever I end up will have more understanding superiors that don't screw their teachers over at every opportunity.

So I was glad it was over. And I was glad for the experience. And oh boy was I glad that I didn't have to wake up at 5.30 every single day.

2. Spring Break

I went to Texas. And it was wonderful. Of course, if I had known that I wouldn't see my fiance for another 8 months, the whole thing would've been a lot more gloomy. As it was though, it was a perfect trip, even if I did suffer from food poisoning for the first time in my life. And it helped me recover my strengths for what would prove to be the hardest months at work.

How DID I survive those eight months? I haven't the faintest. But let me just say: God bless the internet, chatrooms, and the magnificent wonder that is Skype. That is all.

3. Free Time. Glorious, glorious free time.

I know. I should feel ashamed for being a shameless unemployed lazybag living with her parents while waiting for a visa. But you know what? I don't. I mean, I do feel vaguely guilty about it, but the simple truth is that there's not a whole lot I CAN be doing right now. I can't get a job, because I can't commit to any amount of time with any certainty, and part-time jobs don't really exist in Honduras. So I can't work, I can't travel (as the embassy might call any time), I can't really do much of anything.

But I found things to do. I've always been pretty good at keeping myself entertained, and I was never one to complain about having free time and being able to sleep as late as I wanted to.

The free time has given me a lot of time for myself, and I needed it. I needed a break. And I finally had time to start my garden, and to get back to painting and drawing, which I hadn't done since college. And God, I missed it. I had forgotten how good it felt to sit and create something, to work with my hands, to make something beautiful happen. And for that I am very, very grateful. I realize how incredibly lucky I am that I can basically sit around with no job, and some people might hate me, but there you go. I swear, I wish I could be working at my new job right now, but my hands are tied, so I might as well make the best of it, right?

Of course right.

Oh, and I haven't been a complete leech. I help mom with house things and payments from my savings, and I've made a nice sum of money by selling Christmas cookies and such. Who the hell knew I could cook?

4. Christmas and New Years

They just went by, I know. But they were, hands down, the best holidays I have ever had in my life. Graham came to visit, and this time we had time to really be together, and he had a chance to meet my crazy family, and my family had time to meet (and love him). Honestly, how could they not?

We had an insane Christmas party, where everything was disgustingly perfect and happy, with lots of gifts and food and booze. We took a ridiculously perfect trip to the mountains in Valle de Angeles. We went to the pacific beaches. We spent New Year's Eve together for the third year in a row.

It really was just...great. And so, having him leave again, and having the holidays be over are just that much more depressing than they've been in past years. But there you go, you can't have it all. And I've always been a half-full kind of chick, and I will stop whining RIGHT. NOW.

Ok. Good.

5. Graham.

Always. Always. Even though we're 1400 miles apart and we only saw each other for a total of about...two months this year, our relationship is stronger (and stranger...) than ever, and I cannot wait until we can be together for good. Good lord, those will be some crazyass times.

That's all I have to say about that, before I get so disgustingly cheesy that everyone will just want to puke a rainbow or two.


Ahem.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

-The Dark Knight: Oh, God, yes. It was the only movie I watched in theaters this year. That's saying something. It was glorious in its awesomeness. I want to take this movie and make out with it behind some bleachers. Because, damn.
-Brazilian soap operas: Because yes. Mmhmm.
-Quaker Granola Cereal: oh, such ambrosia. Oh, such perfection.
-Shortbread cookies: because I rocked them out, and they made me sweet, sweet moneys that allowed me to get all my Christmas presents without dipping into my savings.
-Pajiba: Phwoar. Warning: the last time I got so into an online community, I ended up getting engaged to one of its members. So...watch out, is all I'm sayin'.

*****

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION:

-Get hitched.

BOO-YAH!

Monday, January 5, 2009

I don't even know.

109
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Site


BOO-YAH.

This is what watching "Apocalypto" play on one of my cable channels does to me: drives me to such levels of rage and hatred at Mel Gibson that I take it out on harmless internet games that I JUST HAVE TO BEAT.

So, hey!

2009, y'all!

How about it. Oh...yeah, I guess I'm a bit late to the party. But I've been busy what with the Fiance visiting from Texas and me trying to take him through the Tour of Honduras and the Fig Family in 14 Confusing Days! (It's quite exciting, really. You must try it. Beware though, you will be fed until you burst).

But, now I'm back. Still no visa, still no job, still no idea of when I'll be able to get back to doing something again.

It can't be too far off, though. Right?

Right?

Of course right.

Goodnight.