Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A great article, and a short update.

Great article by the Wall Street Journal.

Finally, people are writing fairly on the whole story. A good quote:

"It remains to be seen what Mr. Zelaya's next move will be. It's not surprising that chavistas throughout the region are claiming that he was victim of a military coup. They want to hide the fact that the military was acting on a court order to defend the rule of law and the constitution, and that the Congress asserted itself for that purpose, too."

In other updates: The courts here have finally issued arrest orders for Zelaya, should he ever return to Honduras.

He has been saying all day that he plans to return on Thursday. The new government has said that he is free to return, but that he will be arrested and then taken to trial. I think I heard that there are now 12 arrest warrants out for him. Youch.

Really, the most important thing that article points out is that the new government is acting ENTIRELY inside the law. Unlike Zelaya did. This is NOT a military coup. The military is NOT in power here. The military acted on JUDICIAL orders. The article makes a very interesting point on how Zelaya was given a choice between exile and trial. I hadn't heard that. That is very, very interesting.

"Besides opposition from the Congress, the Supreme Court, the electoral tribunal and the attorney general, the president had also become persona non grata with the Catholic Church and numerous evangelical church leaders."

Honduras is a very, very conservative country. We are not a radical people. We do not like change being forced on us. I think that Zelaya lost a huge amount of people on his side once the Church started condemning his illegal actions. The Church, for better or for worse, is very important to a great deal of people here. When Zelaya started hurling insults their way, that made many, many people unhappy. Disgusted, even. Particularly when Zelaya has always claimed to be a very religious man himself.

Finally, I really like how that article points out the 'friends' that Zelaya has been keeping these last few months. Again, the US in particular really needs to look at his relationship with Chavez and other radical Presidents.

I think I'm starting to see a shift here. While the large majority of international opinion is swayed towards Zelaya, the tide is, maybe, starting to turn. I'm seeing more reports done from inside Honduras (CNN Spanish has been particularly great at reporting both sides of the question), the support for the new government here is overwhelming, and things are staying calm. So, staying hopeful. We'll see on Thursday.


Here's another great article from last Friday:


It's a good to read because it's important to remember that all of last week the press (the few that were reporting on the situation) was largely condemning Zelaya. And now he's being made to look a martyr.

The lies of Manuel Zelaya

Zelaya: Only the people's voice can make democratic changes!

Me: it was NOT the people's voice. NO ONE WANTED THE SURVEY.

Zelaya: I never thought that increasing the people's minimum salary it would become a mess with the elite!

Me: That raise caused more trouble than anything else. You never asked your Minister of Finance anything. You just did it. Not even asking Congress to vote on it--Congress, whom the people elected. You acted completely unilaterally, not even considering the consequences. And all it did was raise the costs of food, clothing, EVERYTHING. People could not PAY the insane increase. What happened? Thousands losts their jobs. But you didn'tmention that little fact, did you?

Zelaya: I have fought for freedom of the press!

Me: Sir. You've spent four years railing against the newspapers for reporting your actions fairly. And you say you haven't done anything against them? BECAUSE YOU CAN'T. You shameless, shameless liar.

Zelaya: it has been three years of attacks and not telling what is really going in the country!

Me: They HAVE been reporting the truth. You just don't like it because they criticized your actions. You HATED that we had freedom of the press. You HATED it.

Zelaya: when I came to power 6 of 10 people lived in poverty. We decreased that by 10%

Me: Oh. Come. ON. LIAR. Have you SEEN your people? Have you ever walked down one of the poor neighborhoods? Have you heard the people crying out for help against the floods destroying their fields and food during the past three weeks when you were busy throwing money into your little survey?

Zelaya: our countries have a lot of inequalities between the rich and poor...

Me: Very true, sir. But you are a millionaire entrepenour with land holdings all over the country. Your family members are driving around in luxury cars, going to the best schools, taking trips around the world. Your son's wedding cost more than a poor person will see in a lifetime. You spent millions taking your entire family to visit US President Bush a few years ago. You recently spent millions sending a team of lawyers to the US to attempt to sue a man who sent some very serious accusations of corruption your way. What happened to that, by the way? The millions just went nowhere?

Listen. What this comes down to is that Zelaya keeps saying that people have the right to an opinion on economics, health, government, etc.

Very, very true. NO ONE is denying that. No one. The problem here is that Zelaya initiated a survey that was qualified by ILLEGAL by all sectors of the government because he decided to bypass every check against him, every constitutional law, and decided to do this completely on his own. Hiring his own OUTSIDE firm to hold this vote. STOP LYING TO PEOPLE. Congress was NOT denying the people's right to anything. They even said that they would ask the question on the fourth urn, but they would ask it when the new government was in place after the November elections. But you fail to mention that, don't you? You fail to mention the fact that you wanted to do this while YOU were still in power.

I am so angry right now. This man is telling lie upon lie upon lie, forgetting the fact that the SUPREME COURT, elected by the CONGRESS, who in turn was elected BY THE PEOPLE, told him that he could not hold this vote. And he said "I WILL STILL DO IT".

Really, sir, stop lying. Stop lying to the world.

Oh, god he's still at it.

ZELAYA: The armed forces have kept the country in a state of fear and paralysis for three days. They have fired shots against the people. There were 160 people beaten. There is a general strike decreed by the workers. The teachers are on strike. There is military everywhere. The airport is closed down.

1. No one is in a state of fear and paralysis. People are incredibly calm. Going to work. Trying to go to work, anyway, because your supporters are the ones causing chaos and fear.
2. No one was shot yesterday. There were 60 wounded. The crowd turned violent first, harrassing the policemen and turning wild.
3. There is no general strike. None at all. My brother went to work today, and he took a cab (Zelaya just said cab workers are on strike), and things are normal.
4. The airport is NOT closed down.

ZELAYA: Yes, there are a lot of people protesting me right now, but they are not counting the poor people in the rest of the country. They can't come and support me, because they don't have access to media.

Me: Ooh, right. And when there are massive protests against one of your government's decrees, with MILLIONS of people marching in the streets...I guess the poor people didn't hear about that, huh? You're claiming that the poor people don't know about these marches? That they don't know that there are protests in your favor? Don't be a liar, sir. Our people hear things when they want to.

ZELAYA: I had decided not to do the survey. I said I wouldn't do it. But my supporters came to the Presidential palace and asked me to do it. So I said we would do it.

Me[yelling at the TV by now]: BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT. YOU DID NO SUCH THING. You kept saying, every single day, every single hour, every time you got a chance that there was no WAY you would back down. STOP LYING.

ZELAYA: I was just asking if the people wanted to have a fourth urn at the elections. I didn't say anything else about the changes.

Me: Yes, sir. Yes. The survey WAS just asking that. But, sir, by not letting the Electoral court hold the vote, by having YOU control the ballots from beginning to end, you were giving us NO guarantee whatsoever that the results would be real or true. None. And not even mentioning the fact that it had been declared ILLEGAL.

ZELAYA: I live in a middle-class house...


Oh, now he's telling the story of his kidnapping. Here I must stop being glib. That was very, very wrong. No one is happy that this is the way it happened. It was wrong, and what it did, what it is doing now, is letting Zelaya look the victim, which does not help the government's cause in the international community. And now the odds will turn farther in his favor. God, this country's leaders are dumb all around.

ZELAYA: I am against dictatorships...

Me: Sir, you're friends with Castro and Chavez. *taps side of head*

ZELAYA: there are brutal actions going on...

Me: by YOUR supporters, sir.

ZELAYA: The Congress can't choose a new President...

Me: They didn't. They used the constitution and set up the man who is supposed to take the place of the President when he is unfit to rule. The President of Congress. That's who is INTERIM President right now.

I hate this. I hate this so much. I hate that the world will only hear this man's words, and that he is making himself look like a helpless, blameless victim. And we, the people who have suffered under his rule for four years, are going to be the ones to pay. By international condemnation, by lumping us all together with the military who were acting under judicial orders to take the President out of the country. Sir, the military did not take you out. It was the courts. And you admitted that. You acknowledged that. Stop it. This makes me so angry. And so sad. I hope the world's leaders are at least shown the other side of the question. That they don't buy this man's constant, shameless lies.

Here's what it comes down to:

The International Community supports him. The UN has issued a resolution to reject the government and to reinstitute Zelaya. Great. They support him.

His own people do not.

Who will prevail?

Let Zelaya return. That would be logical. If the international community wants it, let him return. But I do not think he will return to being President. It's not feasible at this point. I think he will be placed under arrest, as he should have been last week. The big mistake here was taking him out by force. It makes perfect sense that the international community is angry. To the outside, that action alone warrants the UN resolution.

I think the only thing to do at this point is to let him return. Peacefully. No violence. And take him to trial here. A fair trial.

Is this too far-fetched a hope? Maybe. But the only other option, it seems to me, is a full-out violent action to depose the current government (like it or not there IS a new government in place. Not a dictatorship. A new President. Congress, and it seems, the people, have accepted this). Does the international community really wants this?

CNN Spanish is finally talking to a representative of our government. I think he should get his butt over to New York and make a stand there. He is being very logical.

Another hope is that countries still have their ambassadors here in place. They can SEE what is going on in the country. So maybe they will let the truth be known outside the country.

That's a picture of the peaceful march in favor of the new government that took place today in the center of town. The crowd was truly enormous. And it was peaceful.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Yet another one. This is long and hopefully clears things up.

I want to clear things up, because I am getting a lot of outside traffic. First, for those who don't know me, I'm not a political expert. I am just a regular citizen, who is watching this and trying to give you both views on the situation. So, to clear some things up:

1) I do not think that using the military to fly Zelaya out of the country was the way to go. Congress should've started impeachment hearings long before this. But I do not think that they, or any one of us, really thought that Zelaya would go through with the vote after the Supreme Court issued the order. And so I think they saw it as too late to do anything but take him bodily out. Again, it was a really bad solution, particularly seeing how the international community is responding, but I have to try to understand their rationality or I will go insane.

2) Zelaya was left in Costa Rica to do as he would. That is very bizarre. I don't get the rationality behind that, to be honest. A simple arrest would've worked, but again, if he had been left here it could've unleashed a chain of truly violent protests. So again, I can see the rationale. Doing it in the middle of the night at gunpoint though? Very bad.

3) My problem with the international condemnation of the coup is not that I agree with the way it was done. My problem is that it is painting Zelaya to be blameless and is spurring his irrational ideas of returning at the head of an army helped along by Hugo Chavez. Do you see what I mean by that? By interviewing ONLY Zelaya and his supporters, by hearing only his people at the UN and the OAS, they are making it seem like the population WANTS him back.

4) This. We do not. Not me, or anyone I know. Last night, his supporters were calling for worker's unions to go on a massive strike. To block roads. To do whatever was necessary. What happened today? A few people at the Communications Offices. A big crowd in front of the Presidential Palace. Big, but not nearly as big as we have seen before, protesting against Zelaya. Then they started burning tires, throwing stones, breaking windows and setting billboards on fire. My cousin works very near to the place where this happened, and he saw the protesters breaking windows in nearby Chili's and Burger King restaurants. And Zelaya's supporters call this "peaceful"? Wrong. They dispersed, but god, it's these people who get shown on TV and it's making us look like savages. And it is making it look like the crowds wanting Zelaya back are HUGE.

5) Now, about this protest. I have to be honest about this, too. You know how I know it was happening? Because CNN Spanish was showing it. No local news channels were showing images. CNN SPanish finally had a reporter on the ground, and she was very emphatic saying that the crowds were NOT in the thousands, and that the police had NOT provoked them. And then the CNN signal cut off. That was bad. If the new government wants to look fair, they really cannot keep cutting off the flow of information. That is pretty bad. But Tegucigalpa is a tiny city, so the news spread fast. the crowds DID disperse pretty quickly.

6) After that, it was fairly quiet. We still have a 9pm-6am curfew. But through this all we're hearing CNN interviewing Zelaya and Hugo Chavez saying how he'll do anything to get Zelaya back into power. Do you know how terrifying that is to hear? When people here are trying to get back to their normal lives, when Congress is doing everything legally (after the coup and the "resignation" of course)? It's not RIGHT, dammit, that Zelaya keeps saying he'll come back at the head of an army or whatever, and we're sitting here just...waiting for this to go down peacefully. Information is so very confusing, is my point. But I'm speaking from my heart, and I am being as rational as I can.

7) And now we have Mexico and Guatemala taking out their ambassadors. That is making us look so bad.

8) The people who Micheletti is naming as his ministers are, honestly, truly, people who are NOT likely to participate in an illegal taking of power. In this country, it is very easy to distinguish the liars from the honest, and Micheletti is drawing some of the very few honest people to his side. That is encouraging.

9) So, what do I think should happen?

The international courts, the press, the UN, the OAS NEEDS to investigate it thoroughly. Read our constitution. They can say better than I whether Micheletti's actions are legal, and what Zelaya's actions were. I confess I am not an expert, but again, if the supreme court and the congress declared the vote illegal--these being people who know the constitution in and out--then weren't Zelaya's actions completely illegal and he was unfit to rule? We need to take a careful, long look at the legal situation here. We can't just have people saying "ZELAYA SHOULD COME BACK IMMEDIATELY". That would be a disaster. Can you see that? Things can't just go back the way they were on Thursday or Friday.

All I'm asking for is for people to think things out. My hope is that the OAS and the UN have enough clear-headed people to see things through and to not condone any rash actions. Particularly not to listen to Hugo Chavez. Though, as I'm being told, the president of the OAS is a leftist extremist who loves Hugo Chavez. Great. Just great. I just want this to end peacefully. And while that might be a very dim, stupid hope, it's still there.

So, a couple more things:

- Zelaya's supporters are STILL calling out for massive strikes and road blocking. What will that accomplish except more confrontations and possible death? Nothing at all.
- I hope the international press sees the whole picture. They are starting to, if watching CNN Spanish now is any indication. We need dialogue, not one-sided rants and ravings. And Zelaya really needs to answer questions. Tell us, once and for all, what you wanted to change about the Constitution. Do you guys know that he NEVER said that? He never once said what he wanted to change about the Constitution. Everyone assumed it was a return to power. He denied it, vaguely, but he never said what he wanted to change about it. Can you see why people were suspicious?
-a few local reporters have been beaten and harassed by Zelaya's supporters. Are these a peaceful bunch or what? He was spending millions on his campaign, millions on promotion. The people's millions. Did you know his government had yet to submit its budget to Congress? No one knew what they were spending money on, or how. Certainly not in helping the country.
-There are some other huge problems happening in the country. There are floods, communities STILL suffering from the effects of the earthquake. Maybe NOW, with this transition people can get the attention and help they need.

People here are rational. They are calm. No one wants a fight. Only a handful of people want radical actions.

We need things to stay calm. We need people to go back to work. We need to get the government to focus on the people and not a farcical vote as it had been doing these last months.

And we need to keep elections in place in November.

We need the international community to see the entire picture. That's what I'm trying to do.

So...welcome, new readers. This is kind of weird. I usually just rant and rave and post stupid pictures. But I'm glad I'm giving people a new perspective.

Local news is reporting than in San Pedro Sula a mob attacked reporters and beat up a couple of them quite badly. THESE are Zelaya's supporters. Peaceful, indeed.

Another update.

Newflash to International Media:

A handful of Zelaya supporters yelling in front of the Presidential palace does NOT equal a "MOB". At most a hundred people does not mean "THOUSANDS". So please calm the fuck down and stop making us look like a bunch of savages.

I just went out to the supermarket. We live right by the Southern limit of the city. Everything is very, very calm. The cab driver says that while there are fewer people around--doubtless because people are getting freaked out by all these crazy reports coming from THE OUTSIDE--people are going back to work and not freaking out.

Zelaya has supporters, yes, but either they're not coming out or they were far, far fewer than Zelaya imagined or claimed.

The crowd (seriously, it was 200 people at most and they are ONLY protesting in that one place in this one city) has dispersed. I hate that they're making this look like a giant mob crowding around.

I love how both CNN channels are focusing only on Michael Jackson and Billy Mays. Good job, CNN. Good fucking job.

New day, new update.

So, here's how things are today:

1) freakin' CALM. Everyone's going back to work. There are no huge protests or strikes or manifestations like Zelaya's supporters claimed there would be. There's a group of about 20 people in front of the Presidential house. NOTHING. Seriously, I think it's becoming very clear that Zelaya didn't have nearly as many supporters as he thought he did. Remember, this man had 30% approval and was coercing people and worker's unions to support the survey on Sunday.
2) Despite the fact that most people disapprove of using the 'kidnap and dump him in another country' method, I've heard nothing but people saying they're happy Zelaya is gone. He was destroying our country.
3) What is worrisome is that all the international news stations (we finally have CNN back, which is a good sign) are just reporting INTERNATIONAL views on the situation. I've yet to see more than one reporter reporting from INSIDE Honduras. So of course, with Zelaya in Nicaragua, his UN and OAS ambassadors still in place and his people calling out from other countries, of course everyone is making him out to be a martyr. He's not. Really, people have to remember that this man had rejected the orders of Congress and the SUPREME COURT to stop his survey and had ignored them. The man was outside the law. Again, the coup was bad, but probably the only way out. This man was NOT blameless. Stop making him look like a martyr and a hero.
4) Of course, with all this support he's getting outside, the guy just seems to be more determined to return. By force. How else is he going to return to a post that has already been passed on UNANIMOUSLY by a Congress (including people from his OWN party who supported him) and a people who do not want him back? Really. There needs to be a DIPLOMATIC solution to this, or nothing at all. But with Hugo Chavez ranting and goading him on, what are the chances of that?
5) We need more international press here, to look at both sides of the question. Instead, the few people here are flocking to the few pockets were 20 or 30 people are gathering to show support for Zelaya. And of course, these are his loudest, craziest supporters. Of course, on TV, it's going to look bad for us. Like we want him back. I am almost 100% sure that the people here don't want him back. If only because his return would definitely sink us into a deeper hole.
6) Again, fucking Hugo Chavez. He keeps ranting and raving about returning Zelaya to power BY WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY. Do you know how terrifying that is to hear? Stupid, stupid man.
7) The UN and the OAS are in session now, discussing the situation here. Again, all they're hearing is from Zelaya's people. To say that what they're hearing is skewed is an understatement. Now, I can only hope that these people are smarter. That the people from Embassies here let their governments know that the situation here IS calm, and only tense because of what we're hearing from outside.

So, that's where we are now. There are a lot of rumors flying about, but it seems at least that we are getting information from inside. People went back to work today. I hope it stays calm and that the International community hears all sides and keeps Zelaya from doing anything rash. That's the best we can hope for, really. That he gets good, sane advice and doesn't listen to these guerilla fucks thinking that violence is the way to go.

I think though, like my mom says, the great thing is that the International community IS hearing from us. I'm doing it right now. Once upon a time Zelaya's supporters could've easily controlled the story from the get-go. But with communications the way they are today, people aren't buying the lies like they used to. Really. The internet rules. I hope that enough real stories from inside Honduras are picked up so that people get the true story. There's two sides to this question, and people shouldn't just hear from one.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


So, we have a new President. The shit isn't over yet, though. But really I can't even think about this stuff anymore and I need to relax. hopefully things will be calm tomorrow, though I doubt they will. But we'll see. Send your good thoughts and prayers that those calling for military action (fuck you, Hugo Chavez) will see some sense and just stop.

So, I found a pretty good article talking about this ridiculous trend going on in Latin America of people megalomaniacs wanting to stay in power forever. Read it, it's a pretty good description of what's going on here and how it came to happen:


Another good article summing things up nicely:


Important things from there:
1) Mel Zelaya has 30% approval rating. That doesn't exactly say "support of the people", does it?
2) What the FUCK does Hugo Chavez have to do with our country? NOTHING. Yet he's calling for troops and violent action. Great.
3) Our President is a millionaire businessman. Always has been. Man of the people, my ass.

Ugh. The lies the international press is buying. It's disgusting.

Goodnight, guys. I'm done for the day.

Update 2

This is like a comedy of errors. Would be funnier if it weren't, you know, scary.

Our Congress, about an hour ago, read a letter of resignation from the President. Or so they claimed. Interesting, because five minutes before that the President had been giving a press conference from Costa Rica saying he would never resign.

So, Spanish CNN hears this and calls the President, who denies that he ever signed a letter.

Five minutes later the CNN signal is cut off.


Now it's coming out that the letter is dated June 25th. For some reason.

They're about to sign in the President of Congress as our next President. Because the President resigned and all.

Zelaya's supporters are saying they'll go on strike on Monday. Massive strikes, because he has the workers and lower class on his side.

Listen, I was against Zelaya's actions, but the response is ridiculous. Ousting him like this, faking a resignation, making a mess of things, is not the way to go. The international community is condemning the actions. So, what's likely to happen? Zelaya gets the Presidency back, returns as a hero. Or the Military stays in power and becomes heroes, setting us back 20 years ago. Or the president of congress stays in power, and people go insane.

However it ends it won't end today and it won't end simply. Christ. It's so fucking surreal I can't even tell you.

They're about to sign in Micheletti. And we have no one reporting on this here. One channel, is showing the Secretary of the Presidency calling for action and strikes and saying how all of this is a crime. CNN has been cut off. Eesh.

If this were a rational country here is what would happen, or what would've happened:

1) legal deposition of the President
2) President resigns, knowing that to do otherwise would create chaos and possible civil war.

But of course it won't happen.

The Supreme Court is approving of the actions of this morning.

Ugh. I'm gonna keep updating as things happen.

I need a drink, and I need to bake something.

And yeaaah...this is gonna make them give me a visa even FASTER! whee.

Well, this has gone from scary to terrifying.

Oh, God.

We had a coup.

Woke up this morning to the sound of jets flying overhead, and I freaked out. Woke up and my mom told me "They've taken the President away!". The power was out. Radio stations were dead except for the Catholic radio. No one was saying anything. The only way we knew what was happening was that my brother's girlfriend lives about two houses down from the President and she said they were woken up at 5am by sounds of shooting and chaos as they took him away.

So we heard nothing for two hours, and finally the power's coming back. While the cable works and we have internet, none of the news channels are working, or any of the local channels. I've finally found a report and images on a Colombian channel that is doing a story on it. Pretty freaky to see soldiers everywhere.

The worst thing is no one is saying anything. Congress is in session. The next step would be to sign in the President of Congress as President until the November elections. But...no one knows if that's going to happen. The military could easily seize power again. Or some other people could be working to set up their own government. And there's no way the President's supporters will stay quiet. Wrong or right, the President should've been deposed through Congress and not kidnapped and sent away to Costa Rica. It makes us look insane and there's no way anyone can condone that action. So even if things settle down there's no way it's going to stay like that, you know?

Blergh. And now we have that asshat waste of fucking life Hugo fucking Chavez saying that if they sign in the Pres of Congress "we're going to depose him!". Fucking asshat turd. Making everything worse.

So, it's a mess. No one knows what's going on. We're just sitting here and waiting to see what Congress does. So we're all at home, safe and waiting. The President's in Costa Rica looking pathetic. Congress is in session.

I have a massive headache forming behind my right eye. Eesh.

I'll keep updating.

Friday, June 26, 2009

An Update

So...nothing blew up last night, but Congress is in permanent session trying to figure out what to do.

Here's what's going on:

-There's a massive group of people standing in front of the Congressional building. As long as it doesn't turn ugly, nothing's going to come out of it I think.
- The President's already distributing the ballot boxes all over the country.
-I don't think there's anything--short of impeaching the President which would be a very bad thing--that Congress can do at this point. It looks like the vote is going to happen, and that could definitely turn ugly.
-The Organization of American States (OEA) is meeting to 'talk about' the problem in Honduras. Of course, our ambassador to the OEA is completely in the President's pocket. And he's speaking for us. So, fuck him.

Who knows what's going to happen. I'll keep updatting.

This is Scary: Part 2

FINALLY someone's reporting this.

They put it better than I could. Power-hungry bastard.

Congress is in permanent session as we speak, trying to figure out what to do. The biggest rumor going around is that they're going to impeach the President.

It'll be a very long day, and a pretty scary Friday.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Well, this is scary.

You probably haven't heard, but the political situation in Honduras is getting ugly.

Here's a very short summary:

Our President, whose term expires this year, and who has done absolutely nothing for the country in four years, wants to stay in power. He's been hanging out with Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales and has taken to calling himself a revolutionary. But just saying it don't make it so.

So he announced last year that he wanted to install a fourth ballot (we have three--for President, Vice President and Congressmen) at the November elections, to have people vote on whether or not we want to convene a Constitutional Assembly to change the constitution. That he hasn't said a peep about in four years. That has no problems at all. He keeps claiming that the government needs to change, and I agree--we need to get him out of it. It makes absolutely no sense. But alright, so hold the vote. But to add the fourth ballot, he wants to conduct a vote this Sunday to ask if people want to have the ballot.

His own party, which elected a presidential candidate on last November's primary, has said that they agree to conduct a vote, but only AFTER this November's election. There is no money to hold a survey now. There are bigger problems. There are elections to be held. It is in no way feasible to conduct a vote right now.

But our President doesn't want to listen. He insists on doing the vote this Sunday. Insists. For months. Even after our Congress passed a bill prohibiting the vote. It is ILLEGAL. UNCONSTITUTIONAL. NO ONE WANTS IT. After the Electoral Assembly has said that they will not conduct a vote. The President's response to that? Well, I'll hire my own independent firm. Which is of course, COMPLETELY illegal as he will be using government money for it. Instead of, oh I don't know, helping combat the new wave of violence, or helping flood victims, or helping failing hospitals or our education. Our SUPREME COURT forbid the vote. By decree. What does our President do?

He ignores it. Completely. He insists and insists and insists on holding this illegal vote, claiming that the "people" want it. Oh, and just last month he forced every single government employee to get 100 signatures supporting the vote this Sunday. FORCED. Or they would be fired. It's beyond mind-blowing that he thinks he can get away with this. And he has said that if anyone tries to stop the vote, he has the Armed Forces behind him and they will help secure the voting areas.

Last night things turned very ugly. The Chief of our Armed Forces said he wouldn't support an illegal vote. So the President fired him. In support, the commanders of our Air Force and our Navy also resigned. The President said "OK then! *I'm* gonna be boss here!"

And this morning the Congress and the Supreme Court decided that the firing was illegal and that the Chief of the Army will be restored to his post.

And all hell seems to be breaking loose. As I write this the President is on his way to the Armed Forces Headquarters (about 10 minutes from my house) to pick up the materials to conduct the vote on Sunday. Ballots and such. An airplane from Venezuela has landed at the airport for some completely unknown reason.

There is overwhelming refusal to administer the vote. It's completely, absolutely illegal. But they insist. And yet the President's ministers keep insisting that this is the "people's will" and "the people want it" and "the people are supporting us!".

Yeah, the people you no doubt paid to be up with you.

Christ. All this because this one man--this ONE STUPID, STUPID MAN who has done nothing in four years to merit his staying in power--has decided to go mule-stubborn and fuck up this entire country.

It's...fuck, it's scary. Things are going to get ugly. This guy things he can get away with EVERYTHING and not listen to all the powers that are supposed to keep him in check.

I don't know what's going to happen. It makes me so angry, and so scared, and I feel so fucking helpless. So I hope that at least by making people aware of this through this tiny blog, people will realize what's going on here.

My brother was sent home from work. I called my mom, who's way over on the other side of town, and she said she was leaving work at 3. I'm worried that things will get ugly and she'll take forever to come home. Shit. I can't believe this is happening here. It's really unfuckingbelievable.

So, send your good thoughts and prayers. I think we might need them. I'll keep you updated as things develop.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Book #38: 'Me Talk Pretty One Day' by David Sedaris

This is a short review, because there's only a handful of things you need to know about Me Talk Pretty One Day.

Read this book. Immediately.

But don't read it in public. Not unless you like trying to smother your laughter into and then you do that weird puffing thing where you sound like you're choking and then you go all read and people stare at you like you're that psycho who talks to himself on the bus. Take a handkerchief or have some kind of dry cloth handy, because if you're like me the laughter will make you start crying and then you'll look like even more of a complete psycho.

That's it, really. This book is basically a collection of real-life stories about Sedaris' family, childhood, "artistic" life and his time in France. Sedaris has this amazing talent for being self-deprecating and half-insane, and every single one of the chapters is flat-out hilarious. Anything involving his family is absolutely brilliant. His sister is Amy Sedaris, for crying out loud. That entire family was born demented.

Really, people, this is the funniest book I have ever read. Hands down. The story about the turd made me literally howl with laughter. It made my stomach hurt. It's also a pretty quick, easy read. The only bad thing is that it's over too soon.

I can't recommend it enough. I need to get some more of Sedaris' stuff like, yesterday. This guy is a genius.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A largely pointless but revealing list of nothingness

If someone chronicled my morning so far you'd be able to get a pretty good picture of what it's like to be Fig. It was full of little quirks, manias and weirdnesses that would probably drive any other person insane, and the more I think about it the more I'm sure that I wouldn't survive the apocalypse.

A trip down Figgy Lane:

1) I needed to wake up at 5:30am today to go get some bloodwork done. Any normal person would've gone to bed early the night before. I didn't. Well, I did try. But I have this...this, thing where, if one night I go to bed at a certain time, the next night I will be unable to go to sleep until that time. No matter how tired I am, if I went to bed at 2am the night before there is no way I'm going to sleep before 2am the next day.
2) Even after reading and finishing a book, my eyes tired and my body exhausted, it took me a good half hour to go to sleep.
3) I still got up at 5:30, 10 seconds before the alarm sounded, with just 3 hours of sleep in me.
4) I took a shower at 5:35 because I can't stand going outside without taking a shower. Had horrible flashbacks upon remembering that I used to do this EVERY day back when I was working at the school, and was amazed that I survived it.
5) It took all my willpower to not drink my daily cup of coffee before going out, because you have to get blood drawn before you eat anything. And I just can't function without that first cup of coffee. It's usually the only one I have in the day (so stop it with the caffeine addiction jokes), but it helps me wake up. I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON.
6) Got to my godmother's house. She's Chinese, a microbiologist and has been one of my mom's best friends since high school. She always does our bloodwork, as she works in a lab and can get us a big discount. Anyway, she has this huge house that's always full of relatives and people cooking. One of her brother lives there, and he has six dogs. He sells puppies. He has a german shepherd, a pug (ha so cute), a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a beagle, a basset hound and a gorgeous boxer. They all greeted us with deafening noise the second we rang the bell. They were adorable and all ran straight at me, wanting me to pet them. For some reason, I've always been a magnet for dogs. And very little kids. Maybe I smell like cookies?
7) I hate doctors. I hate hospitals. I hate anything to do with medicine. Ironic (or perhaps just logical) because my mom is a doctor. She and my godmother spend hours trading disgusting medical stories. So you can see why I'd be freaked at my mom and my godmother being together, surrounded by needles and other scary medical
8) HATE NEEDLES. No, not hate. I am fucking terrified of needles. This is how bad it is: last time I took my dog to the vet the doctor put some drops in her eyes and I almost FAINTED. My vision went all red and I lost my breath and had to sit down.
9) My grandmother went first. I couldn't watch. Had to go into the other room. Then my godmother called me up and I went up to the table, keeping my eyes firmly away from the scary medical equipment, knowing that if I even glanced at it I'd freak the hell out.
10) as she was getting everything ready I went cold, and had to look at the dogs outside, and had to take deep breaths. I KNOW it's not going to hurt, and I KNOW it'll be over quickly but oh god I can't stand it. It was over quick and thank God. Didn't look at the blood at all. Hell no.
11) Came back home. I was going to eat, but was too sleepy. A miracle, really, because my stomach is DEMANDING breakfast minutes after I wake up, but this time I needed sleep more.
12) I changed and went back to bed. Took me another full hour to get to sleep. I am a horrible sleeper, just picky as hell. If anything, even the slightest noise distracts me, it completely takes me out of the zone. I have to twist and turn and get comfortable and it all has to be completely quiet and dark and it's horrible. I was frankly amazed that I got to sleep at all, what with the birds outside and the LIGHT and oh god I've never been able to take a nap in my life.
13) Woke up two hours later. I really feel like I have to take a shower, even though I did this morning, but my brain's insisting that it didn't count and I need to tell it to shut up.
14) all through this I felt very thankful and guilty that I actually could go back home to sleep. The guilt kept me awake. I wish I could just be a complete lazy bum without the guilt and the vague nagging feeling that I really should be doing something to take advantage of the beautiful day but I can't. Morals suck.
15) I wrote this gigantic entry for no reason at all other than I really like to analyze everything AND talk about myself.

So, there. I'm now trying to work up the energy to go down to the store and get some butter so I can make some cookies to sell tomorrow. The guilt and the laziness are raging a battle within me.

Oh, the bloodwork was just a checkup to see if any of my numbers have changed from way back when I had work done in January. My doctor told me I needed to lower some thingies, particularly because of my lame family history, so I've been cutting back on some things and eating more of others and hopefully it worked. I'm very healthy, but what with the bad genes I need to make sure I stay that way. I probably shouldn't eat all that pie.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Book #37: 'Dragonfly in Amber' by Diana Gabaldon

Warning: May contain some slight spoilers for book 1.

Book 2 of the 'Outlander' holds up surprisingly well to it's predecessor. Having established her characters and her setting (Claire Randall travels back in time to 18th century Scotland, falls in love with Jamie The Perfect Highlander), Gabaldon rushes ahead with a book that's bigger, better and all around just as entertaining as the first one.

As we know from the end of the first book, Claire decides to stick around with Jamie the Most Dashing Man in History instead of going back to her own time. But this second book starts with Claire back in the 20th century, around 1965. We learn that she returned after three years with Jamie, as war broke out in Scotland. So the book is largely told in flashback style, as Claire tells her daughter Brianna and her an historian friend, Roger Wakefield, about her time travel and how she came back to her own time. They find out early on that Jamie didn't die at the battle of Culloden (where Charles Stuart attempted to regain the Scottish throne in 1745), and so they decide to look for him and find out what really happened after he sent Claire back through the stones. So we jump between Claire's telling of what happened between the last book and her return, and Claire, Brianna and Roger doing some investigations.

The parts in the 18th century are definitely the most exciting in the whole book. Claire tells Jamie about the upcoming Rising, and together they decide to try and find a way to stop the destruction of the Scottish clans. They travel to France and are (conveniently enough) put to work in the service of Prince Charles Stuart, the young man who is the heir to the Scottish throne. They find themselves as part of the French court, getting to meet Louis XIV and going to fancy parties as they spy and plot their way to stopping the rebellion. As with the first book, the best part of all this is that the amount of research Gabaldon has done creates this incredibly detailed world for the characters, and with Claire and Jamie actually being part of an historical event, well, it's just that much more exciting.

Claire and Jamie are just as perfect as ever, of course. They are seriously entertaining characters, and while the sex scenes are still all-around ridiculous, their relationship is really well done and we get to really like the both of them. And, knowing that their time together is limited, it becomes pretty tragic eventually, as they're unable to stop the rebellion and find themselves going to war. This is definitely the highlight of the book. By putting her characters right in the middle of everything, we get a seriously badass account of the battles and sieges, and it's perfectly done.

Unfortunately, the parts where she breaks away from Jamie and Claire are pretty damn boring. We're introduced to Brianna, Jamie and Claire's daughter. I don't quite know what it is about Brianna, but I almost immediately disliked her. She just really doesn't fit into the story and sticks out like a sore thumb. She's whiny and impulsive, which I guess we're supposed to find charming, but she has none of the likeability of the other characters. Which is really too bad, because she quickly becomes a main character, but everything involving her is just lackluster and boring. She instantly falls in love with Roger (because in Gabaldon's world, people either want to rape you or become your soulmate), who's an OK character when he's not being profoundly bland, and we have to read through some of their adventures in...going to the library and falling in love. Snore.

But thankfully, there's enough meat in Claire and Jamie's story to keep the book entertaining. The villain from the first book returns, adding more drama. As usual there's always someone wanting to kill either Jamie or Claire. There are, I think, about 3 more scenes of rape or near-rape. Plenty of killing and chases, a lot of intrigue and a lot of nasty, detailed medical scenes. And, again, the fact that they're being part of history adds another level of excitement to the book, even if their efforts to change things seem pretty weak to me. Call me cold-blooded, but I think I'd just go up and shoot the damned Prince instead of trying to reduce his funding. But people in time-travel stories never just go for it. I guess time-travel makes you a morally upstanding wuss.

I definitely recommend getting this one along with the first book. It nicely completes the story, and the historical aspects of it make it an even better book than the first. I'm fascinated by everything related to France in the 18th century, so this one was just perfect for me. It also sets up the third book rather nicely, so you'll probably want to get that one as well. It's just too bad that Brianna and Roger don't hold up to Jamie and Claire, but who could? They're the most perfect couple in history, after all.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book #36: 'Outlander' by Diana Gabaldon

Let's get right into it:

It's 1945. Claire Randall and her husband Frank are taking a second honeymoon in Scotland, attempting to reconnect after the War. One day, Claire goes exploring a nearby stone circle, funky stuff happens and suddenly she finds herself stuck in 18th Century Scotland. Awesomeness ensues.

Claire takes up with a group of Highlanders who take her along with them to their castle, suspecting she's some kind of English spy. So Claire has to adapt to this bizarre situation while trying to find a way to return to her own time and her husband. She meets the dashing Jamie Fraser, an outlaw whom she is later forced to marry and eventually falls madly in love with. Then she doesn't want to go back, so much.

Then a lot of stuff happens. A lot. This is a 900 page whopper, and thankfully Gabaldon is a skillful enough writer to know how to keep things going, so that you never quite want the book to end. Gabaldon has obviously done an exhaustive amount of research into 18th Century Scotland, and it's this that makes this book so damn entrancing. It's incredibly detailed, on everything from Scottish history and folk traditions to herbal medicine and 18th century swordfighting techniques. And it's all wrapped around a fast-paced plot with a huge cast of well-drawn characters. And lots of sex.

See, this is in essence a historical romance. Claire and Jamie are the absolutely most perfect couple in the universe. Their love is dictated by the stars, souls entwined, MFEO and all that happy stuff that could get nauseating pretty easily if Gabaldon wasn't so hilarious about it. Claire is a great character; she's funny and stubborn, kept from being completely perfect by the fact that she just doesn't think stuff through sometimes. She keeps just...not listening to anyone and getting in trouble, but that's OK because Jamie's always there to save her. Don't get me wrong, she's not a helpless little flower. In fact, she's pretty damn strong and brave, but she's just kind of stupid sometimes, and has a big mouth. If only she'd just listen to Jamie. Perfect, perfect Jamie. The guy is the most perfectly heroic (yet flawed! sort of!) leading man I have ever read about. He's a ridiculously handsome Highlander, for crying out loud. He's heroic, smart, romantic, hilarious and (of course) a sex machine. He just constantly wants to get freaky with Claire. Because she's so perfect and what not. I know it sounds ridiculous, and it is, but their relationship is strangely compelling, and Gabaldon loves the characters too much to make them sappy and annoying. But oh, god, the sex scenes. They are just too much. Here, let me quote:

"Aye, beg me for mercy, Sassenach [that's what he calls Claire]. Ye shallna have it, though; not yet"...

"Aye Sassenach," he muttered, answering my movements rather than my words. "Ride ye I will!"

Hee. Hee hee hee. Oh man, it's just priceless. I really can't emphasize enough how perfect it all is. And it just doesn't stop! Every time they have sex it's all galaxies exploding and astronomical levels of pleasure and it's just perfect.

That, along with the constant battles and rescues, the graphic violence scenes, the wolves, the evil british soldiers, the witch trials, the most perverted villain ever (who, amazingly enough looks exactly like Frank Randall!) and the historical detail make this one of the most fun things I have ever read. I don't see how you couldn't enjoy the hell out of it.

There are some problems, of course. Or rather, some minor annoyances. The first is that, by focusing almost entirely on Claire and Jamie (and by telling the story from Claire's point of view), Gabaldon has to have everything happen to the two of them. And I mean everything. Anything bad that could happen to you in the 18th century happens to them. They get shot, stabbed, trampled, beat up, burnt, flogged, nailed, poisoned, almost hung, almost burnt, almost raped, raped, butt raped, attacked by wolves, bludgeoned, get hit with axes...

And this is only the first book of the series! Not that it's not entertaining, but it's just kind of ridiculous the amount of times that these two almost get killed or shot or almost raped or raped or kidnapped and then rescued. While you're reading, it's pretty fun, but once you're done and you think back at everything that's happened you realize that it's kind of over-the-top. Good thing it's so much fun.

The second thing is that, well, Gabaldon seems to be obsessed with rape. There are no fewer than 3 attempts at rape in this book, plus stories of people who were raped, or almost raped, or characters who want to rape someone else. It's kind of bizarre. I'm sure it was a common problem in the 18th century, but it's kind of amazing that everyone who comes up to Claire seems to want to rape her. And sometimes the sex with Jamie goes weirdly into this submission/domination place that's just uncomfortable to read. It's, of course, pretty horrible to read, and an effective part of the story, but I wish it wasn't mentioned so damn much. Don't even get me started of the sincerely messed-up scenes with Jamie and Captain Randall. Those are beyond weird.

But aside from that, this is a pretty solid book, and a great start to the series. It makes you want to pick up the next book immediately. It's very emotional, violent and beautifully detailed. Think Rob Roy with a lot more sex and a red-headed Liam Neeson. I don't doubt that she's watched Rob Roy obsessively.

I like when you can tell that a writer enjoyed the hell out of writing a book, and Gabaldon obviously did with this one. It's addictive, really, and I had to stop after book #3 to write this thing without tainting my memories of it too much. So far, the story's holding up pretty well, though I hear the next books aren't as good. We'll see. I promise that my reviews, at least, will be much shorter. I just had a lot to say about this one.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Today is a day for lists.

Ten actors whose very existence makes me unreasonably happy:

1) Queen Latifah
2) Kate Winslet
3) Gary Oldman
4) John Malkovich
5) Julie Andrews
6) Liam Neeson
7) Emma Thompson
8) Alan Rickman
9) Geoffrey Rush
10) Allison Janney

Honorable Mentions:
-Tom Hanks (obviously)

Ten actors whose very existence makes me unreasonably angry:

1) Martin Lawrence
2) Katherine Heigl
3) Lindsay Lohan
4) Eliza Dushku
5) Ashton Kutcher
6) Patrick Dempsey
7) Kate Hudson
8) Megan Fox
9) Jamie Foxx
10) Adam Sandler (99% of the time)

Dishonorable Mentions:
Jessica Alba, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez and all those other faux-tinos.

That is all.


Just...how disgusting is it that Jamie Foxx has an Oscar but Gary Oldman or Liam Neeson don't? So. Freakin'. Wrong.


Gah, I am way behind on my reviews. Way, way behind. I'm about 6 books behind. But here's my excuse: I'm sick as a dog and have barely been able to get out of bed. I've spent the day reading another Outlander book and playing Zelda. That's how I roll.

Anyway, I'll try to write the Outlander review tomorrow. Then I have to do Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager and High Fidelity, which I should finish tonight.

Still no word on the visa thing. Cripes. At this rate I'm gonna be married in September. Which I sort of always wanted, specially because Texas finally gets some sane weather around that time. So you know, maybe it's for the best. That's what I'll keep telling myself to keep from going crazy.

And as an extra: a million hugs to my dear Jeremy, who's going through a rough patch right now. There's nothing I can do except to tell you I'm here, and hang in there. And send virtual hugs.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Figgy's Airing of the Grievances: TWOP's Jacob Part 2

How much I hate TWOP's Jacob: Part II.

So, remember when a while ago when I posted an angry rant against that most ridiculous of Television Without Pity's recappers?

Here's a refresher:


This is part 2.


The other day I decided to take a trip to TWOP to check out the recaps on American Idol. It makes me sad, but after years of being a huge fan, I've largely come to dislike TWOP recently. It started slowly, sometime after the site was bought out by Bravo and the big changes started coming around. Any loyal reader will know what I'm talking about. The changes are enormous, and pretty horrible. They're now covering every single show on television. All of them. Sitcoms. I remember when TWOP had the strict policy of not covering sitcoms--why would you?

They added movie recaps. Ridiculous and stupid photo galleries. useless video content. Their most talented writers deserted. Everything that was good about TWOP-- the community, the writing, the simplicity of it (it's a site for TV recaps and discussions! That's IT!) is gone.

But they kept Jacob.

Oy vey. The guy's just been getting worse. I think his mind has finally becoming unhinged.

How do I know?

The recap for the American Idol finale.

Now, I didn't watch this season's AI. I'm glad I didn't. But as a pop-culture freak, I had to know who won, and apparently the finale was full of craziness and I thought maybe I'd see what TWOP had to say about.

Big. Mistake.

I just wanted to read the ending. I don't even know why. So what's the logical thing to do? Jump to the end of the recap, right? Oh, no, dear readers. Not with Jacob.

I jumped to the last page and this is what I see as a first paragraph:

I just know that something brings us here. To the TV, to the hearth, together, in future ways and in normal ways. It wouldn't matter what they were fighting for, because it has to be something we all love equally, and that's music. It's dreams.


I went cold. I couldn't even finish reading that paragraph. Or the next three. In fact, there is not a SINGLE mention of American Idol or the finale (which, remember, is what THIS RECAP IS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT) in the last THREE PAGES of the recap. Not one! It's just...Jacob's Last Will And Testament. Or something horrible like that. It's the ridiculous, painful ramblings of someone who seems to believe that this is the Jacob Hour. And it is just unbelievably fucking laughable.

He rambles on for three and a half pages about how he got the job at TWOP (oh how we all rue the day). Then it just gets progressively more nonsensical, descending into a veritable word vomit that belongs to a pretentious freshman at a writing seminar. You can hear the groans and see the eye rolls of his classmates as he keeps rambling on, sure that he's the Next Huge Thing And Oh My GOD I am So Good At Writing. Everyone wants to kill him.

I wanted to be dropped into a world that cared, really cared, and didn't mind talking about it, or telling me how it works

I will GLADLY drop you. Hard.

Thank you for telling me this show, and what it means: how much it says about our country, every year, and why it's worth fighting for, and yelling for, and crying for. How important it is, how we must keep fighting just to know it, ourselves and our country.


It's American Idol, you gigantic freak. It's not a UN Peace Resolution. Get some perspective.

Thank you for reminding me that's all that's really required. Only connect. Just say it. The worst thing you're thinking, say it. Tell somebody. It's what fixes us as people, and it's what fixes us as a country.

Believe me, this wouldn't make any more sense if I told you the context. I have no idea what he's going on about. Apparently American Idol is the answer to every evil in the world. All I know is that it's some of the most laughably bad writing I have ever read in my life. And I know Stephenie Meyers.

And thank you for fighting with me, and showing me the areas of my own blindness, which I'm still learning. This show has affected my politics, and more importantly my religion, more than any one thing. I don't want to talk about that, because it's super weird, but you know, I think, what I mean by that. It's more important to reach across the static and pull something back. You are your territory.

Jeebus. They pay you for this? Really? I mean, listen guy, the internet is full of people who think they're fantastic writers, and some of them are, but most of them are just crap. But they don't get paid for it, or post it in one of the most popular websites on the internet. They have the decency to keep their literary monstrosities in their poorly designed LJ pages with little dancing gif bananas, and nobody ever looks at them. They don't vomit it forth for bewildered American Idol fans to read through. But you do. And you should be ashamed.

And the cherry on top of this Fail Sundae:

Thanks for assuming I have a point. This job, like any transformative experience, has been learning in public. You've been beyond patient, beyond kind.


Does anyone? Alright, I'm sure Jacob has a lot of fans, but I know that a lot of people are tired of his schtick. And really, do fans of these shows and TWOP have any other choice but to wade through his recaps? They're not patting your head and letting you keep your job, Jacob--they have no other choice. From what I hear, he beats down every dissenter in the forums, arbitrarily striking down anyone who dares say anything against him. So, no, Jacob. Only a very impressionable twit would think you have a point.

And I'm just wondering why. Why does he do that? Just because you have a huge audience and a tall podium doesn't mean you can do anything you want with it. You have a job. That you get paid for. Just fucking do it and keep your personal crap away from it.

And...why does this make me so angry? It really shouldn't. But the thing is that I loved TWOP, and it honestly hurts to see where it's gone. And Jacob is everything that is wrong about TWOP and the internet in general*. It's just bad, and I'm sick of it. And I am against talentless hacks infecting the world with their crap. I take it personally. I shouldn't, because eventually things get so bad that you want to destroy the world. But I can't help it. And if I have to fight these people one at a time, then Jacob is a good place to start.

I'm coming for you next, Stephenie Meyers. Ask Dan Brown. Dude cried for three days straight. He's such a wuss.

One last question: was he fired? or did he quit? Or what? Because otherwise there's no reason to hijack a recap for your own wanking purposes. That's just rude.

*This massive generalization courtesy of the Jacob School of Writing.

In case you're wondering, this is the recap I'm quoting:


See how far along you can get. I managed two paragraphs. The really GOOD stuff starts on page 17.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Book #35: "The House of Spirits" by Isabel Allende

Here's the thought that kept popping into my head as I read The House of Spirits:

I used to love this book.

I must have read it at least 15 times during my teenage years, when I was going through my hardcore romantic phase. My moody teen period, if you will. It was everything I wanted in a book; romantic, dramatic, fun to read, and the characters were always saying beautifully poetic things to each other. It was perfect.

Not so much anymore. Not at all. And that makes me kind of sad.

House of Spirits is the first novel by Isabel Allende, a Chilean writer who quickly became the best known female novelist in Latin America. It's a book heavily (and I mean heavily) influenced by the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, set in a world that's half fantasy-half real. It's essentially the story of three women from different generations and their relationship with the patriarch of the family, Esteban Trueba. The history of Chile (though the country is never specifically named) plays along in the background.

Esteban is an angry man. He's always angry. He yells, he fights, he alianates everyone around him. He's built his fortune from the ground up, but is never happy; mostly because his family is a bunch of weirdos. I really can't blame him for being so angry. Clara, his wife, is a clairvoyant who spends her time living in her little bubble of a world where she talks to spirits and makes things move with her mind. They have three children: twin boys and a girl. One of the boys is crazy and takes after his mother, the other one is an intellectual weirdo. The daughter, Blanca, falls in love with a poor boy who works for her father. When she's about 5. She spends her life pining after the boy, living in her own little bubble of a world and fighting with he father. She and her lover have a daughter, Alba, who thankfully doesn't live in a bubble. She and Esteban are the only truly interesting characters in the book.

So the book is about this bizarre family and the bizarre things they do. Every now and then the real world intrudes and shakes things up a bit before everyone goes back to their assigned places. It's only when the real world comes in to their lives that the book turns interesting. When earthquakes, pests or wars come in at least we're spared from the perfection of Clara or the utter boredom of Blanca's life. The book is fun when it's written from the point of view of Esteban, who is the only character who is fully fleshed out and three dimensional. Alba's story is definitely interesting, but unfortunately it comes too late in the book to save it. The rest of the book is a collection of too-quirky, too-cutesy stories that get badly repetitive and just make the characters annoying.

It's a disappointment, really. Allende is a good writer, with a good rhythm to her prose (I can only imagine that this doesn't translate too well into English) and some great insight into Latin American culture. She's imaginative, but I can't help but feel that I've read it all before. There are some things that are shamelessly ripped right out of One Hundred Years of Solitude, and some of the characters she loves so much are just plain annoying. I can see how I was charmed by it when I first read it, but havinig epanded by literary world since then, I have to admit that this book lost its luster for me. It bored me easily, the characters and situations were irritating, and I came close to giving up on it a few times. There are some nice things about it, but for the most part it's just sort of unremarkable.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Book #34: "Walking the Bible" by Bruce Feiler

I can think of a lot to say about this book. The problem is that I don't know if I can articulate any of it well enough to be readable, let alone understandable. This is a book so rich and layered that to try and condense it all into a review is just impossible to me. In fact, it's been so damn hard to review for me that I've put off writing this for about four weeks. So excuse me if I don't do the book justice. You should just read it yourself.

Bruce Feiler is an American journalist who took up a massive journey through the Middle East with the intention of following the first five books of the Bible. In a trip that took him through Turkey, Israel, the Sinai desert, Egypt, back again through the desert through Jordan and ended up in Israel, Feiler followed the footsteps of the patriarchs of the Bible. With the assistance of an Israeli archaeologist and guide, he drew from years of research and the Bible itself to visit the sites where the patriarchs might lived or passed through. It's an astounding journey, full of fascinating stories and rich in history, religion and politics. Everywhere he goes Feiler meets people from all faiths and nationalities, and to each he asks the question "What does the Bible mean to you?". They all have answers, and it's truly inspiring to read how all of these locations mean something to the people who live there.

Feiler starts out as somewhat of a skeptic; he believes in God but knows that the Bible is flawed, but he's not looking to either confirm or deny what's written in it. What he wants to do is explore these locations, and, by being in them, perhaps experience something of what the patriarchs and the people in Israel went through on their journey. He tries to keep himself detached, but he can't help but feel moved as he journeys through the desert or be inspired when he stands atop of Mount Sinai. It's truly a life-changing journey, and it makes for an emotional read.

It's also a very long, slow read, but in this case it's not a bad thing. I found myself reading only a chapter at a time, then putting it down and mulling over what I had just read. Every new location leads to a detailed description of the history of the place, how it fits into the Bible, the people who live in it, and what the author learned while he was there. To put it simply, it's just interesting to read. It doesn't matter whether you've ever read the Bible or whether you believe in God or not, this book will let you understand the history of these countries, and what shaped them into what they are today. Feiler is a great storyteller, and this is really a wonderful book, very accessible and not at all preachy or sunk in theology. It's so varied and layered that I think anyone could find something interesting about it, and I definitely learned a lot.

And it left me with a pretty strong desire to visit these places one day. Though I don't think I'd like to ride on a camel.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The sky is falling! the sky is falling!

Raise your hand if you had the weirdest, most exhausting weekend of your life

*feebly waves hand*

Everything started out just spiffy Saturday morning. I slept til 11, it was sunny and wonderful and life felt good.

I think something was just making sure that I was in a good mood before kicking me in the crotch.

I gave the dogs a bath. I was feelin' good. And then it starts to rain.

Now, it's June, and this is Honduras, which means the rainy season (or as we know it here: "winter") has started. And holy crap, did it start off with a bang. I think something like 2 feet of water poured out of the sky in the space of two hours--a truly ungodly amount of rain and wind that pounded the city and nearly brought down the mountain on our house.

See, my backyard runs straight into the mountain behind us. Our back wall is a 30-foot cliff with a 90 degree incline that usually keeps the house full of white dust that gets everywhere and piles up if not cleaned every couple of days. And of course when it rains, we get a lot of mud and water and other debris falling from the mountain. Usually the canal we have running from the back of the house, down the side and out into the street handles the amount of water pretty well, but every time it rains a fair amount of mud gets deposited into the bottom of the canal. You'd think that a conscientious houseowner would clean the canal after every rain, thereby ensuring that it wouldn't overflow and dump all the water into the back yard.

So of course, my family being the least conscientious houseowners in the universe, that canal hasn't been cleaned in about 5 years. I think the last time someone bothered to clean they gave up after removing a few inches of sand. It was a disaster waiting to happen. And it happened last night.

There were waterfalls, people. Three gorgeous (but terrifying) falls of water coming down the mountain and falling straight into the canal--which, choked as it was with the accumulated mud of 5 years, decided to throw its hands up in the air and dump five billion gallons of water into the back yard. Holy god. I have never seen that much mud.

So the night passed with unceasing rain as my mom and I had to deflood the back rooms (we have an attachment with a guest room and a laundry room outside), trying to move the dogs into the only clean part of the laundry room, and digging up some of the sand out of the canal so the water could flow more easily. In the rain. In the cold, cold rain. At one point the downpour was so furious that the canal that ran down the side of the house OVERFLOODED and poured the water into the front yard, which was already soaked with water as it couldn't escape down the two tiny drainage holes dug into the front wall of the house. So I had to go out there and wash a ton of water down into the garage, creating a mini-waterfall that I'm sure would've been fun to watch if it hadn't been so scary.

Meanwhile, the sheer amount of water that fell on the house caused about 15 leaks to appear in the ceiling--a ceiling that withstood a hurricane not ten years ago. New leaks everywhere; a giant puddle growing in the ceiling of my room. When we had finally cleared up the water from the canal I (exhausted and wet through) had to get up on a small ladder and hammer a nail through the ceiling, pull it out again and create a little hole for the water to come out of the roof instead of pooling inside it and killing the lamp. It worked, but my room is full of pails of water.

The rain finally stopped at around midnight, but not before the power went out for about an hour. There is nothing freakier than hearing waterfalls pouring down not thirty feet away from your window, in complete darkness. Finally the power came back, the rain stopped and we went to sleep, completely exhausted.

This morning, the yard was a disaster. The grass was covered in an inch of whitish mud and the front yard had sprouted a small lake. The garage was choked with dead leaves and more mud. There was mud everywhere. EVERYWHERE. While thanking the powers that be that none of it had come into the house, we set to work on a massive cleanup job. My two brothers, my sister, my mom and I armed ourselves with shovels, sticks, buckets and whatever else we could find and removed a ridiculous amount of mud out of the yards and into the garage. We had the groundskeeper from my grandfather's country house (country house makes it sound way fancier than it is, believe me) help us dig out the FOOT of mud from the mountain side of the canal. There was literally a FOOT of mud in there. We all helped carry buckets of sand, and if you have never carried a bucket full of sand down the entire length of a house, down the stairs, through the garage and out into the street, then you have no idea when I tell you that it was one of the most exhausting things I've ever had to do. I consider myself relatively strong for my size and height (and *ahem* laziness) but I had to call it quits about two hours in. My legs were shaking and I couldn't really close my hands.

Oh, and I also fell most painfully on my (thankfully well-cushioned) ass. It was pretty hilarious, actually. My brother had opened the garage door to take some of the sand out, and my dog Oreo saw this as a prime opportunity to SET HIMSELF FREE and run out of the house. He tried, but I rushed over to stop him and close the door. It was then that my foot hit a slick patch of mud and I flipped over, landing on my left thigh and getting mud all down my left side. As I fell the little garden shovel I was holding in my hand FLIPPED out of my hand, flew six fit into the air, did a couple of turns and fell about two inches in front of Oreo's face.

I think that finally persuaded him to abort his escape plans. Luckily, I was laughing too hard and nobody saw me, so the only hurt thing was my dignity and my left thigh. And my left boob. And my left forearm, which looks like it was scratched by an angry squirrel.

So anyway, my brothers finished removing all the earth, then had to pack it into heavy canvas bags, throw it into a borrowed pick-up truck and had dump it into a landfill that's about 10 minutes away from my house. I took a shower and made everyone lunch, and the work was finally done at about 3pm. It was insane.

So, after two Advils and a lot of downtime, I can finally move enough to type this entry and make some well-deserved brownies for everybody. I am still very achy, and I can only imagine that tomorrow my body's going to feel like it was trampled by a herd of rabid little black-and-white terriers.

I took some photos of the amount of earth that we had to move, but those will have to wait til tomorrow.

I have to say, though, that as crazy and scary as last night was, I'm of course thankful that our house didn't get flooded and we only suffered from a lot of mud getting dumped in our yard. And that it feels pretty good to have done all that physical labor. It was actually pretty fun to be digging and cleaning, and despite all the aches it feels good to know that I CAN get off my ass and do some work when I have to. Ooh, yeah, look at me, I'm totally butch now *flexes*.

So that was my weekend. Envy me, people who sat around drinking and having FUN. I'm gonna go eat me some brownies.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

When Godtopus closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.


Let it never be said that life doesn't have a sense of humor. It waits until you're as down as you can be and then goes BAM! PSYCH! and throws something good at you. Really makes me want to beat it up.

So, in case you don't already know (I wonder how many non-Pajibans read this, maybe like 2 people) I got a gig doing the Eloquent Eloquence column on my favorite website, Pajiba every week. For the uninitiated, it's basically a countdown to the best comments of the week. I have to read through something like 15 posts a day, pick the best comments, write a short intro and wait to be slaughtered by what can be the meanest bunch of commenters on the internet. I know because I've done it. The slaughtering, I mean. Done it a lot.

Anyway, it's a sweet gig and I'm psyched. At least it was this first week. I think I'll wait until I have to sort through one of those 300+ comment threads that nearly broke Prisco, who had the job before I did. But hey, I have absolutely nothing to do all day, and I already spend most of it reading Pajiba comments ANYWAY, so it's sweet that I'm getting something out of it.

So I'm very excited. The first column goes up sometime today, so be sure to check it out!

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Sunday (but actually Monday or maybe Tuesday) Hot Post:

on my 5 Freebies. Because, let's face it, I love looking at these dudes and so will you. Because I have impeccable taste.

Not a whole lot of commentary with this, just a long and beautiful spam of photographs of one of the most perfect human beings on the planet (and one you've probably never heard about):

Reynaldo Gianecchini.

I've gone on about him before, but in a few words he's a brazilian soap opera star slash model slash theather actor slash minor god. I think I might go to Brazil. I'm sure my fiance won't mind.

So, enjoy!

**Oh, and in case you don't notice as you scroll down he'll be wearing progressively fewer clothes. Because that is how I roll.***

this smile makes rainbows happen

woo! wet shirt!