Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Movie Review--Valkyrie

I thought this movie was done very well. This was a tough project, I'm sure. Obviously subjects such as: Nazi Germany, Hitler's regime, concentration camps, etc. are very touchy, but I feel that Valkyrie was done tastefully. Brian Singer directed this film, so if I'm in any position to thumb rate it, I'll personally give Singer two thumbs up, and hooray to the writers for tackling such a difficult topic.

I'm glad to see that at least part of the movie was shot in Germany. Though a newbie fan of filming locations, I still believe that a certain amount of authenticity is derived from accurate locations (disclaimer: a good chunk of it was filmed it California too--surprise, surprise).

I'll admit that I haven't done any research into the subjct matter--a coup of Nazi officials and other insiders led by a Colonel von Stauffenberg (played by Tom Cruise in the movie) formed in an attempt to assassinate Hitler and overthrow Nazi Germany. I'm sure the moviemakers took some liberties with this project, as is often the case with "historical" films. Still, I don't believe that the writing was by any means over the top. I thought the acting was spot-on, and the pacing was perfect. Never before have I seen a movie that kept my attention so well as Valkyrie.

I'm big into action/thriller. Still, I can admit that many of the movies I've seen before (including a certain unnamed trilogy also starring Tom Cruise that I'm sure most of you are aware of) consist of decent acting, but HORRIBLY contrived writing. Contrary to that type of movie, Valkyrie was believable.

There was a romance aspect, but it wasn't overdone. I hate romance movies, so I'm quite sensitive to anything that even borders syrup or mush. I found neither here.

As I said earlier, the plot moved at the perfect pace. I wasn't bored at all. In fact, I found myself focusing completely on the movie--no checking the time on my glow-in-the-dark watch, no time spent worrying about things on my To Do List, just pure, unadulterated movie-watching. And that's going some for me--my mind likes to wander around and ramble.

Moving on: I wasn't confused. I appreciate that you don't have to be a scholar of WWII or German history to understand this film (unlike some other WWII movies I've seen).

Your blood will boil a little during this movie, though not as much as it will during Changeling. The focus of Valkyrie was progress, rather than sheer anger. This movie, I feel, gives a message of hope.

That being said, there wasn't a "happy" ending, I'm afraid. It was bittersweet to know that these men (because the movie was based on real people and their real actions) put together a really gutsy plan and sacrified all because their loyalties were to humanity, not to a political party.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008

After spending much of Christmas day rushing around to get things ready for my grandma's party in the evening, my family and I arrived at her house a few minutes early so I could put the finishing touches on my cheesy potato soup*. It was good to see my cousin DPC, recently returning from skydiving in Atlanta (he actually showed us a video of his jump--very cool). Shortly thereafter, my cousin DRC and her husband, CRC showed up. DRC complimented me on my outfit (this was the first year I'd ever really dressed up for Christmas--guess I was feeling festive).

Later, my cousin, DAC and her fiance, JSW arrived. They came from McAllen, Texas for the holidays. This was the first time I'd met JSW. I'm sure he was in shock after meeting DAC's family on her mom's side (the family is huge--her mother has several sisters, who in turn have children and grandchildren), and then being thrust into celebrations with our side of the family. Somehow he seemed a little intimidated by meeting all the new people. I can't say that I blame him. It was very nice to meet my future cousin-in-law--I just hope the family didn't make him nervous with our little tics and eccentricities that make us all so lovable.

After supper, we did our gift exchange. Typically, the grandkids (the three DC's and I) play elves and hand out the gifts. This year, DPC held off, and CRC decided to take his place. This always makes for a confusing mess of people stumbling over each other in my grandma's cramped garage, but this year, I contributed to the madness by worrying that my precious shawl might fall off and get trampled in the process. We also had some confusion about the gifts. JSW has the same first name as my dad, so no one was ever totally sure that both men were receiving the correct gifts. On a stage, this evening would probably have been best classified as a farce. Unfortunately, this was real life, not theatre.

There were 13 in attendance at this year's Christmas party. For several years, we have prolonged the unwrapping ceremony by taking turns opening one gift at a time. To make matters worse, DPC, my dad, and I all tend to "pass" occasionally, if we see that others have more gifts than we do. This way, we won't be sitting in boredom, round after round, waiting for the thing to end. Instead, we will be sitting in boredom for one round at a time, and anticipating what our next gift will be. It's actually pretty fun.

We didn't do the all-out wrapping paper fight this year, but my uncle, LEC did make several "baskets" with his wadded up paper in the trash can. JSW apparently received the correct gifts, and everyone seemed holly-jolly. So much so that I didn't even realize that the festivities lasted an entire FOUR HOURS!

All in all, it was an enjoyable Christmas. I didn't really get the post-Christmas letdown that I've had in years gone by. Instead, I've been enjoying my gifts (and leftovers) and trying to make the best of winter.

*Cheesy Potato Soup Recipe (sorta)

I generally start boiling an unmeasured amount of water while peeling and cubing and unmeasured number of potatoes (Basically, just however many I need to make a good-looking amount). For a large batch, I add 2-3 vegetable bouillon cubes; for a small batch I just add one. Then I boil the potatoes in the broth until tender. At this point, I turn the heat down and add condensed cream of celery soup (2 cans for a large batch; 1 for the small), and Velveeta cheese (entire loaf for large batch; half loaf for small). I melt these together and voila! Soup's on!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

True Colours Thursday--Green!

Here are two green photos. Sorry I couldn't post more, but this is a busy day. I experimented with my new tripod when taking these ornament shots.

This is a green bell ornament.

This is a beaded angel that my grandmother made.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Bookish Meme

I learned of this meme from BJ and decided to give it a go. So, without further ado, I give you, the book meme...

Name a book you have read more than once.
To Kill a Mockingbird

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?
The Grapes of Wrath

How do you choose a book? (by cover design and summary? recommendations? reviews? etc.)
Generally, I like to try for novels that have hit the MLA's top 100 novels of the 20th century, or other books written by authors who've made the list (mainly Steinbeck and Faulkner)

Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?
Interesting question... I write nonfiction, and I love David Sedaris' work, but I generally read those MLA top 100 novels...

What's more important in a novel, beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
Wow that's a toughie... I wouldn't say the plot of The Grapes of Wrath is exactly gripping, yet the writing isn't the most beautiful, either. I'd say I like how the book makes me feel and what types of social commentary the author is making in writing it. But I digress. I'm on The Maltese Falcon right now, so I'd go with plot, I guess.

Most loved/memorable character (character/book)?
I'd say Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye. When I was a GA I taught this book to a group of very bright freshman, and I really enjoyed it.

Which book(s) can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
Don't have a nightstand, but the books that are nearest my bed are The Maltese Falcon (Dashiell Hammett), The Unvanquished (William Faulkner), The Hamlet (William Faulkner), and The Apple Tree (BJ Roan).

What was the last book you've read, and when was it?
Sanctuary by William Faulkner. I finished it about a week ago.

Have you ever given up on a book halfway in?
Yes. I tried to read The Catcher in the Rye in high school on my own time, and I just couldn't get into it. However, in college, I loved it. A similar thing happened to me with The Sound and the Fury.

P.S. I received a comment saying that I should tag people to do this meme. I completely forgot about doing that. Since BJ left it open to anyone who would like to participate, I'll do the same. Just let me know if you do because I'd love to read everyone else's posts for this meme!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sunday Scribblings, Pay It Forward and Sixth Photo Meme

I'm a little "late," as it were, returning these tags I've agreed to participate in. How appropriate that the Sunday Scribblings prompt for this week is late. I'll take it!

Part I: Pay It Forward

Below are photos of my Pay It Forward gift from BJ. I actually received it on Monday, but hadn't gotten around to taking photos of it until today. Sorry for the delay! Somehow I got wrapped up in Monochrome Monday and True Colours Thursday and didn't get this posted earlier. Plus, Mom needs me to help her with her own blog stuff. Well, enough excuses from me ;)

This is the box that my lovely gift came in.

This is the card that accompanied my gift.

This is the gift itself!

And finally, this is the gift and card together. I hope that I'm displaying it correctly. The stand was separate, and as I found no assembly directions, I just tried my best to make it look nice!

Anyway, copied from BJ's blog, these are the rules of Pay It Forward if anyone would like to participate:

"The exchange focuses on doing an act of kindness without expecting anything in return other than that the recipient will, in their turn, pass the kindness along and 'pay it forward' in their own way. This is how it works...

I am going to agree to send something fun, inspiring or uplifting to the first 3 blog owners who post a comment on this entry [please leave your email address if I don't all ready have it].

In turn you will then post about this on your blog, link to me, then send something to the first three people who sign up to play along through your blog.
There are no cost restraints, BUT don't go crazy! The little something you send can be something you made, bought, were given or found.

No biggie, just a gift that will make the person smile.
Maybe something unique from where you live?
And, remember kindness doesn't have to involve money; there are untold ways to help others every single day, everywhere you go - just look around."

Part II: Sixth Photo Meme

I am also late on the Sixth Photo Meme. I really have no excuse for this one, save that I generally categorize my photos so much that it wouldn't be fair for me to choose the 6th photo from say, my Monochrome Monday file or my True Colours Thursday file. However, the thought occurred to me last night that I could just take the 6th photo from my camera's memory stick. So once again, I'm late for this one too!

Once again, this is the sixth photo in my digital camera's memory stick. I know it's an odd picture, but then, I suppose that's the point of this meme. This picture was taken near Holbrook, AZ in October of this year. My mom and I traveled to Arizona for a writing conference, but decided to get out there early and make a miniature vacation of it. We had previously ridden the Verde Canyon Railroad; visited the Out of Africa Wildlife Park; seen the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, and Petrified Forest; and were on our way to Scottsdale, where the conference would be held the next day. This was the gas station we stopped at before heading through a long patch with few gas stations through the Mazatzal Mountains. I was intrigued by the old-fashioned looking painted sign (this is one thing that really attracts me to the Southwest--some areas near old Route 66 don't look as modernized as other parts of the country). However, in this shot, I was actually trying to get a picture of the hills/desert stuff in the background. Unfortunately, there was some traffic on the highway, and Interstate 40 passed overhead as well (though not in focus, you can see the interchange sign showing the Albuquerque ramp to the right and the ramp for Flagstaff ahead). This made for some difficulty while I was trying to get a picture, and this is what I ended up with.

Part III: Another tale of being late...

Regarding the rest of my Sunday Scribblings post, if anyone has had the courage to actually read all of this (I apologize for the long post, but as I'm basically doing three posts in one, it's bound to be a little long), I was also late to my grandma's for lunch today. The power went out at our house last night, so the microwave clock (which I generally rely on for the time) said 0. My watch keeps itself wound a little with use, but since I hadn't worn it for a couple of days, it had lost some time. Long story short, I thought I would be getting to my grandma's house at 12:15, but it was closer to 12:30 when I arrived! Both my grandma and my mom had tried calling me just as I was pulling into Grandma's drive. Then I was humiliated seeing my cousin's car and remembering that she and her brother had also come to lunch. And, being better grandchildren than I, had arrived on time.

Are those enough tales of lateness to satisfy this week's requirement?

P.S. For more Scribblings of late, visit Sunday Scribblings

Iced Inn

I didn't get out much yesterday. I got up at 7:30, took my photos for True Colours Thursday, posted them, picked up some clothes from the laundromat, went to my Granny's to pick up some packages I had delivered to her house, went to the Dollar General for a box of mac and cheese (and some junk food), and was in the rest of the evening. However, I had heard that the weather was supposed to get atrocious later that evening. Didn't look so bad to me when I was out in it.

I had settled down in the recliner, somewhat ensconsced (shameless plug for Word of the Day) in our broken recliner, with a lap cat purring gently beside me, and preparing to read the next few chapters of The Maltese Falcon. The great thing about being mostly unemployed and out of school is that you can take time to do all those things you wanted to do but never had the time for, like read The Maltese Falcon.

Things were just getting interesting. I was familiarizing myself with Sam Spade's character and getting wrapped up in the mystery surrounding Miles Archer's murder when Mom started asking me about her blog. She just joined Blogger this week, and is still getting accustomed to its navigation. Since I've had Blogger for nigh on to three years now, I forget how confusing blogging is to a newbie. Trying to be patient, I explained to her the code for creating links (though I had it written on a pink sticky note in the computer desk for her). I picked up my book again. She then asked me how to upload photos. This is nice--she posted her first True Colours Thursday, herself. And I do remember how difficult it was for me to figure out posting photos back in December of 2005. I actually had to ask RC to give me a hand at the time. I re-read the same sentence I'd been on for 15 minutes. Mom interrupted my reading again to ask about spacing. And then about how to preview the post. I set my book down until she had succesfully posted her photos.

Thinking it was again safe to try to read my book, I tried once again to re-read the same stuff that I'd been reading during each of my interruptions, when my phone rang. It was RC. I decided to answer it, though I was in peak minutes, because it was about 6:30 or so, and I knew she had 30-45 minutes of driving to get back home. If the weather had gotten nasty, she might have actually needed something. When I answered, she said she was annoyed.

This brought back memories of how my grandmother called me while annoyed earlier in the day as well, but that's another story.

So I asked RC what the problem was, and her response was freezing rain. Apparently, RC has a cousin, LH, who lives a few blocks from where RC works. RC had asked LH if she could stay over in case of bad weather. The cousin had agreed. However, when RC called her, LH informed her that she was going to a party with BW. This really cramped RC's style, because she would either have to find a way to kill three hours before LH got home from the party, or else she would have to stay alone with LH's husband, DH. RC didn't want to do either of these things, so she found herself getting a room at a Day's Inn.

This is where she called me.

I commiserated with RC for a while, and then I asked her about the condition of the room. No apparent signs of blood or other human fluids were found in her room. I reminded her to be grateful of that, because I'd had my share of nasty motel rooms, and they weren't at all pleasant.

RC decided to hang up for a while so she wouldn't waste all my minutes, and then went to Steak 'n Shake for supper. I suggested this to her, as her motel was only steps away from the restaurant, and they never close. She later called me back (during my period of free minutes) to tell me about the rest of her misadventures. Apparently, she was so flustered that she sat down at the nearest table, disregarding (actually, not seeing) the sign that asked patrons to wait to be seated by a hostess. Then, after eating, she stepped onto the sidewalk to go back to her room, and slipped on the ice. Fortunately, she didn't fall, but from the sound of things, she had several close calls with the ice that night.

As she was recounting all these details to me, RC said, "I bet you're going to put this down in your Blogspot." 'Now why didn't I not think of that?' (inside joke). Suddenly, I felt like David Sedaris. In a manner of speaking, of course. Not being Sedaris, I can't honestly attest to his feelings, but I do know that his family is afraid to say or do anything for fear that he will write about it in one of his books. Thus, I took this little phrase from RC as a compliment.

So, though she was iced "inn" at a Day's Inn, RC should have had a good night's sleep. Though LH came home from her party at a decent hour, at least in the motel room, RC had her own TV, and nobody was around to tell her to change the channel.

Oh yeah, and I just decided to save Sam Spade for another day.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

True Colours Thursday--Red!

For this week's True Colours Thursday, I am using a Christmas celebration theme.

This amaretto was actually purchased so I could make some chocolate amaretto fudge, but it looks festive posing near the cordial glasses that came with it.

This is the gift bag that RC gave me for Christmas. I like the dog (is this a Shih-Tzu?). Anyway, I thought it was cute.

And this is my gift bag from SC. I thought it was really pretty as well. It was kind of cool to get a head-start on gifts from these girls!

I would generally direct your attention to the creator of this meme, Blue, but as she's sick this week, True Colours Thursday is temporarily being hosted by BJ. Get well soon, Blue!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Charlie Farley

I suppose this is as good a time as any to recount this story...

I think I was probably 12. It was Christmastime, and we were going through the same routine we always did at the end of the Christmas church service--picking up our brown bag of an apple or orange, bag of popcorn, and assorted candies. I didn't like popcorn at the time, wasn't a big fan of fresh fruit, and hated hard candy. Wasn't I a stinker? Anyway, my mom and I smiled and took our bags and headed home to prepare for other Christmas celebrations. We were driving around the square (about where the gazebo is, BJ), when my mom started spoonerizing words. She had just picked up this annoying habit, and was not as adept at it as she fancied herself.

I reluctantly opened a piece of Farley brand hard candy and popped it into my mouth, when my mother exclaimed with gusto, Well, f*** Charlie!"

The way she said it, Mom appeared to have a severe case of Tourette's syndrome. But that was not the case. In actuality, she thought it would be cute to spoonerize the name "Chuck Farley," which was an inside joke of its own...

Once when I was quite small, we had gone on vacation to Rapid City, South Dakota. Along the way, we passed a camper or RV or something that had the following painted on its side:

The Farley's: Chuck and Betty

So then, my dad started acting like he really knew these people, even though they were just random strangers on the highway. Hey, it gets boring in the Dakotas if you're not careful--have to find something to do to pass the time. Then my uncle's girlfriend, who accompanied us on the trip, started playing along. It was driving my uncle crazy because he couldn't figure out how his girlfriend and his brother happened to know a couple that he didn't.

Years later, whenever somebody would say something about Farley candy, my parents would chime in with some anecdote about Chuck and Betty Farley and their adventures. Even though it was totally fictional.

Fast forward back to my mom and me in the car, going around the courthouse square. Time had stood still while all this was transpiring. My mom slowly realized what she said (and believe me, my mom is not one for profanity). I couldn't believe she'd just said that, either, and we both laughed nonstop for 10 miles. I decided to spit out my Farley candy so I wouldn't choke. Eh, I didn't really want it anyway.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Good Little Girls...

Last night was RC's work Christmas party. And yeah, it was held at a bar. So I'm surprised that CC and BC actually allowed the girls to go. I'm actually kind of surprised that RC invited me to come along, too.

I picked up SC in a discount-store parking lot and took her to the mall behind the bar. RC called to say she was on her way. That was a good sign. A few minutes later, RC pulled into the mall parking lot, and I noticed that her car was winking at me. I asked SC, "is her headlight burnt out?" Suddenly I had flashbacks of my own encounters with burned out bulbs and hoped RC didn't get stopped. I especially didn't want her to get a ticket. We all kind of figured we'd cross that bridge later, as in after the party.

Anyway, so we walked in and sat down in the regular bar part, and when some waitress came by to take our order, RC said, "Oh I'm with the nursing home Christmas party." The girl showed us to the back room.

I figured that the back room would be hopping. Instead, I found it full of middle-aged nursing home/day care employees who just looked like they were tired and really didn't want to be there. RC ran off to say hi to some of her friends, leaving SC and me behind at the entrance to the back room. I felt as though all conversations came to a screetching halt when SC and I walked into the room. I don't know if they all thought we were underage or if they viewed us as outsiders. It was as this moment that I wondered if RC had just made up the part about guests being allowed. Well, it was too late to turn back, so I tried to just follow her. The Christmas party bouncer didn't recognize us, so he called RC back to verify that I was actually allowed there (i.e. to pay for our admission, which I lovingly refer to as a cover charge). Thank you again, RC!

So, being a vegetarian, I had a plateful of chips and nacho cheese dip (rock on). However, RC and SC are carnivores, so they added taco meat to theirs. This will be important later.

We wandered around, trying to find a place to sit. It seemed as though there were always only one or two available seats together, and we really wanted to sit together. We would have gotten to the party earlier (like, perhaps when it started), except that, ironically, RC had to work until 6:00, so we got there about an hour and a half after the party had actually begun. Anyway, there was a lady (I still don't know her name) who said if we pulled up another barstool we could squeeze around the corner of the table she was sitting at. I'm sure she was trying to talk to me, but I have terrible hearing, so the best I could do was avoid eye contact and smile if I accidentally made eye contact with her or any of the other employees.

At some point, a karaoke book magically appeared at our table near me. I started looking at it while the employees were exchanging gifts. Side note: they really were exchanging too--each employee grabbed a gift and formed a large circle. A woman in the middle of the circle began reading a modified version of "The Night Before Christmas." The modifications mainly involved the insertion of the words "left" and "right," indicating the direction that the employees were to pass their gifts. RC wound up with a blanket. Not a bad gift for a chilly December, I'd say.

Finally, I got tired of waiting on karaoke. Not that I didn't enjoy the overwhelming number of AC/DC songs that the DJ was blaring, but I didn't want to be there all night. When I found out that there was going to be karaoke, I wanted to get my name in early so we could perhaps get out of there at a decent hour. I would have to take SC back to her car and then drive another 30+ minutes to get home.

RC and I found some songs we wanted to sing. I started with two, and she picked out three or four. I was kind of surprised because RC had never sung karaoke before, and I've never known sober first-time karaokers to be that enthuastic. I hopped off my barstool to take my songs up to the DJ--same old drill wherever you go, it seems. But RC was firmly planted in her barstool. She was going to chicken out. After an embarrassing amount of begging and pulling, I convinced RC to go up there with me. I thought we were just going to get a rotation started. Nope! The DJ was ready to hear some live music. So I opened up karaoke last night with...

"This thing, called love, well I just can't handle it..."

The crowd was not yet drunk, but they were still cheering me on, and I even lured a few folks onto the dance floor. This was a great start. Then RC followed with...

"Now the world don't move to the beat of just one drum..."

Yep. RC's first attempt at karaoke was the Diff'rent Strokes theme song. That girl's got guts! Then I followed up with, "Casey Jones," which somehow wasn't that much of a hit with the crowd. Darn it. I should have invited Robin who is the only other person I know who likes the Grateful Dead. Then I sat down for a while.

Somehow, I got the idea to start trying songs that I like, but have never karaoked before. I wound up singing "It Never Rains in Southern California" and botched the second verse. I did "Sunshine" by Johnathon Edwards. I am surprised that one turned out as well as it did. "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (which wasn't a new song for me) didn't score many points for me. After ripping through that insanely fast song, I had to go to the bar and down a Mountain Dew. Why don't these people like Dylan?

I took a break from karaoke after that, but RC was still going strong. She pulled out "Jackie Blue," by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, and "Folsom Prison Blues" and "I Walk the Line" by the Man in Black. How she did it, I'll never know. You have to have a better range than a keyboard to hit the high notes in "Jackie Blue" and then turn around and try to sing like Cash. When she pulled out Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World," I was truly shocked. I thought she was going to do the Christmas one. After all, it was a Christmas party. But nope, she surprised me, and she totally rocked the house with it! She also kicked butt with Brewer and Shipley's "One Toke Over the Line," and then finished her night, appropriately, with the Cheers theme song.

My last two songs were both by The Band. I tried my hand at "The Weight" and "Up on Cripple Creek." Most of the people had gone home by that point, and the ones that still lingered (minus R & SC) were too drunk to really care, so we decided it was time to get going. Also, it was about 10:40 at the time, and I still had to drive about 15 minutes across town to leave SC at her car and then take another 30-45 to get home. And for some crazy reason this party was on a Thursday night?!

Anyway, RC called me to let me know that she made it home okay, despite the one headlight (somehow the Wallflowers song has been in my head much of the day... hmm). She got it fixed this morning. Oh yeah, I get pulled over for a burned out license plate bulb, and she drives for like 45 minutes on one headlight and gets away with it. But... she got a little sick from the taco meat. See? Being a vegetarian isn't such as bad thing after all... ;)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

True Colours Thursday--White!

For this week's True Colours Thursday, I chose a Christmas theme (surprise, surprise), but I limited myself to decorations found on our Christmas tree.

It may look a little blurry, but I think that's because this is a 3-D ornament.

This is a glittery snowflake ornament.

And, last but not least, the white plastic horn.

True Colours Thursday is the creation of my friend Blue

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Card from Blue!

I got my Christmas card from Blue on Monday! I was in a crazy fudge-making mode on Monday and Tuesday, so I didn't get my photo uploaded then, but I have a picture of it up today. Thanks, Blue!!!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Monochrome Monday--Old Granary

Visit Aileni for more black and white/sepia shots!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Sunday Scribblings--Tradition

I'm not a big fan of traditions. My family doesn't seem to have very many (well, we did just initiate the mandatory potluck soup supper garage party a few years ago, but that's not particularly sentimental). One Christmas tradition I actually don't mind is watching the 1951 Christmas Carol movie. Actually, I believe the movie is called Scrooge. I'm always impressed by older movies that don't lose their luster with time.

Another Christmastime favorite of mine is It's a Wonderful Life. I think lots of people probably feel as hopeless as George Bailey on Christmas Eve. Especially those who have to cook big meals (refer back to the previous paragraph about the soup potluck). Shopping and holiday "cheer" can get the better of us, and that's probably why I get such a kick out of this overly sentimentalized movie that, according to my nature, I shouldn't even like.

I guess some traditions are okay. But you won't find me fooling around with any Yule log or hanging wreaths or anything like that. Oh, and one last note: a tradition I wish my family would adopt is wrapping my gifts in old newspaper. Since I have this aversion to tearing "pretty paper," and since I'm frugal about such things, I'd prefer to reuse the newspaper and then recycle it, rather than pay money for wrapping paper that just gets tossed in a landfill. But, just as I don't have a problem with other people eating meat, I don't have a problem with others buying and using wrapping paper :)

For more traditional scribblings, click here

Thursday, December 04, 2008

True Colours Thursday--Yellow!

For this week's True Colours Thursday, I picked a cooking theme.

These three yellow ingredients each play an important role in my favorite cheesy potato soup. For several years, I've made this soup for my grandma's Christmas party. I also have to make several batches for myself throughout the fall and winter months.

Mmm... love that processed cheese!

Salty and unhealthy, but it works wonders in flavoring my soup.

I don't know if this one counts as yellow, but it's a Yukon Gold potato--one of the most important ingredients in my favorite soup!

True Colours Thursday is the brain child of friend Blue

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Movie Review--Seven

Okay, ladies and gents, it's the moment you've all been waiting for... I've put it off long enough, and now it's time to review Seven.

I loved Seven. I hated Brad Pitt's character through most of the movie, but I'm okay with that. I was happy with him at the end... kinda. Morgan Freeman's character was probably my favorite (there's a place where his character actually bursts out laughing--one of my favorite parts of the whole movie because for once, he's not being so doggone serious).

The premise: Serial killer flick meets the Seven Deadly Sins. You can tell me what you think. I say it was suspenseful, perfectly paced, and well-written. Like any movie you see, there were parts that seemed contrived (but then, my vice is looking for contrivances in books, movies, TV, etc.).

There are places that may raise your blood pressure. Heck, you might want to scream at some of the characters at times. But that's okay. That's what we want in a movie. As writers, we want our audience to relate to the characters we create, and I think we grow very attached to the characters in Seven. They are well-rounded, not stereotypes (that kind of characterization scores BIG with Sunshine Jones), and we actually care about them, which makes the movie worth watching.

So, if you like movies about serial killers and/or movies about Church doctrine relating to literature of the Middle Ages, definitely give Seven a look.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Lady Chadwick's Soiree

On my other blog, Word of the Day, I started a crazy trend. I should begin by explaining that on Word of the Day I take dictionary.com's word of the day and use it in a sentence or two as a vocabulary-building exercise. One day the word was "soiree," and I came up with a silly sentence, and some of my readers joined in until we had a little story. I thank everyone who played along, either with the Lady Chadwick story or with sentences of their own. I especially give props to Alisa, who came up with the name Lady Chadwick. I decided to take all of November's words (or a form of them) and combine them into one story. I've linked each of the words to its own entry for Word of the Day, so you can read the original post and comments for each word (side note: I invite anyone who wants to join in to post a comment using the daily words--it's really a lot of fun, guys!) Additionally, each Word of the Day post should have a link to dictionary.com's definition, which includes a pronunciation service. I tried to create original sentences for this one, so hopefully I didn't rehash an older sentence by accident. Enjoy!

Lady Chadwick's Soiree
It all started one day when I received an invitation to Lady Chadwick’s soiree. I was addled, thinking this guerdon must have been sent in error. Lady Chadwick is such a powerful aristocrat—everyone knows she is the eminence grise behind her husband, Lord Chadwick.

I envisioned Lady Chadwick ensconced in her resplendent gown. Such a beautiful nabob—it is unfortunate that the one flaw that adulterates her beauty is an aquiline nose. The nose, I’m certain, is the one factor that has kept Lord Chadwick from expressing his amatory affection toward his wife in public.

Having never been to a soiree before, I strolled into the party with a smooth cadence. The Chadwick escutcheon loomed impressively before me. The epicure in me recognized scents of wonderment to the olfactory system wafting from the kitchen into the dining area. What a Lucullan feast!

I took a seat near BJ and Alisa. We were admiring Lady Chadwick’s eminent figure as she leaned on the balustrade, smiling on her beloved guests. Alisa was explaining that according to her sidereal astrology, people like me did not generally appear at such grand parties. I couldn’t understand what she meant.

Suddenly, the merriment abated. Someone noticed that I was wearing a red hoodie and blue jeans. Horripilation formed on my freshly-lotioned arms. “Reprobate!” Lady Chadwick boomed. Reprobate was the mot juste for the occasion, it seemed.

“But I wore the special emollient you sent me, Lady Chadwick,” I protested, intimating that I had done nothing wrong. Though I tried to adduce evidence of my innocence, insisting that my removal was based on footless claims, looking back I realized that my choice of attire was a bit frowzy.
I see now that my affectations toward the upper crust citizens had gotten me nowhere. My presence at the soiree was nothing but an unwanted incursion. I paid my last respects to my high society life with proper obsequies. Wearing my jeans and red hoodie, I picked up what was left of my pride, and became a writer.

Monochrome Monday--Snowy Tree With Fence

I thought a nice snowy tree would be appropriate for the first day of December.

For more B&W/sepia shots, visit Monochrome Maniacs.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Scribblings--Winter

I don't have much to say about winter, except that I don't like it. I enjoy watching It's a Wonderful Life, eating popcorn, and drinking hot cocoa on Christmas Eve, and I enjoy getting together for the famous garage party to open gifts on Christmas Day. That is about the extent of my enjoyment of winter. And unfortunately, there are still just under three months of winter to still look forward to after my two days of enjoyment! I generally spend these months inside as much as possible, baking cookies and crocheting warm things. I prefer the outdoors, but in the wintertime it is just too cold to go outside. Oh yeah, and I hate sledding. So, there you have it--Scrooge's take on wintertime.

For more Wintertime scribbling, go to Sunday Scribblings.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Oh the Joys...

Yesterday was not good.

I was tired most of the morning and all of the afternoon. I dropped a notebook, a pen, a cross-stitch kit, and two forks. This is why I decided not to hold the baby.

After spending two hours at my grandma's doing the backbreaking task of Round One Photo Organizing, I came home to find a rejection letter from a job I applied to earlier this year.

At 6:25, I left home for a coffee house to meet some of my GA buddies that I used to work with during my MA. One of the girls is from Colombia, but she's working on a Ph.D in the States. I hadn't seen her in several months, so it was good to have the chance to get together.

I was actually on time, for once in my life. Maybe I got too smug, I don't know, but just as I was turning onto the road where the coffee shop is located, I saw red and blue lights and knew I was getting pulled over.

Mental check: I'd driven under the speed limit, I stopped at the stop sign, and I signaled. So what's up, Officer?

I pulled into a parallel parking spot and rolled down my window.

"Good evening, my name is Officer, so and so. The reason I'm pulling you over is that your license plate bulb is burned out."

"Oh, I'm sorry about that Officer, but thanks for telling me. I didn't realize."

"May I see your license and proof of insurance?"

I promptly handed him my school ID card. Stupid, stupid me.

"Sorry, that's my ID card--wrong one. Just a moment." I handed him my license and with slightly nervous hands (I was wondering how much this little infraction was going to cost me), and began remembering the rejection letter, the many dropped items, and my general sense of a bad mood. Then I remembered setting off the metal detector at airport security with my pocket full of change. It was actually quite amusing. Of course, traffic was heavy with rubbernecks gawking at me, the poor sucker, pulled over. I could hear them now, "I wonder what she did?" and "I'm so glad I didn't get pulled over." Finally, the cop came back and issued me a written warning. I was very grateful (but it's a little late to post another to prompt #138).

Anyway, I reparked my car (though I could have left it in the parallel spot) and walked back to the coffeehouse, only to see that it was closed. I sat on a park bench and called my friend AG to see if she had anybody's number. She didn't either.

Fortunately, KR showed up and told me that the little party was being moved to her house, so I followed her there, and in 45 minutes, was completely parked in.

The day got better at that point. I was able to catch up with four of the girls I had worked with and taken classes with. I got home a little after midnight and was pooped. I'm glad I didn't hit the truck parked at KR's neighbor's house. I'm also fortunate I didn't hit KR's front porch. Oh yeah, and the way my day was going, I'm sure KR is glad that I didn't ask to hold her baby, IR.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

True Colours Thursday--Blue!

This is a tealight candle holder that one of my friends bought for my birthday a few years ago.

This is a pillow my grandma crocheted for me.

My grandma also crocheted this doily. However, the crochet hooks are mine.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pudding, Cappuccino, and the IBBC (Not Necessarily in that Order)

Two days ago, my friend RC asked me for my vanilla pudding recipe. Of course, I forgot to email it to her until yesterday. It then occurred to me that pudding sounded good, so I made a batch of chocolate. I would have eaten the whole thing, except that her sister, SC, jokingly asked if I'd bring some with me later that evening when I was to go to the IBBC and watch both girls play their instruments for a praise service. I put down my spoon and acquiesced.

Fast forward to about 6:00 PM. I was ecstatic that I had just received my three blog awards from BJ, and was anxious to pass the awards on to Robin and Ray. Then it occurred to me that I needed to also add the awards to my own blog's sidebar. This all takes a ridiculous amount of time on dial-up Internet.


"Come on! Hurry up, Blogger! I've gotta go!"

I really thought I was going to have time to post a little something before 6:45, as I was intending to stop by the gas station at that time for a quick cup of cappuccino to keep me awake. Alas, 6:45 came and went, and the next time I saw the clock, it read 6:54. The IBBC's Praise Night started at 7:00.

I passed on the cappuccino.

Though I only live a few minutes from the IBBC, I really only had a few minutes to get to the IBBC. I felt a rebellious rush of adrenaline as I sped through the residential part of town at a whopping 25 MPH! I was certain I would be late.

Side note: I don't generally go to things like this, but I'd never heard RC play her flute or SC play her fiddle (she corrected me, saying it was a violin--I corrected her, saying what's the difference), and anyway, it was the most exciting nightlife within a 20 mile radius. Well, and plus I kinda wanted to see RC and SC.

At the four-way stop where the IBBC is located, I was horrified to see that the parking lot appeared full. I made a go of it anyway, and parked in an area that I hope was a parking spot and not someone's yard. Running down the sidewalk, I'm surprised I didn't fall and break my neck or something. I threw open the door to the IBBC, and out of breath and slightly disoriented, I tried to take an inconspicuous seat at the back of the church.

Just like on the rare occasions when I go clothes shopping, my presence was not unnoticed.

Several men started coming for me, and, fearing that they perceived me as a heretic, I prepared for the worst. Instead, they each jutted their hands out at me, welcoming me to the IBBC, asking how I was, and a plethora of other questions that swarmed around my head in a frenzy. Still in a stupor, I started to sit down. At just that moment, another man came toward me. I thought I had taken his seat, apologized, and walked into the aisle.

"No, you're okay," he reassured me. Oh, another greeter. I glanced across the aisle to see SC and her violin. I felt safe then. I rushed over to her, hoping to avoid any more well-wishers. I'm terrible with people skills. Eye contact is something I have yet to master. Eventually, RC waddled over from somewhere. I really don't know where she came from.

The service was nice, but completely different from what I'm used to. I'm used to churches where dancing is not only appropriate, but encouraged. I caught myself dancing to even the slowest and somberest of songs, bumping into RC a few times by accident.

I was impressed by both RC's flute playing and SC's fiddling. I was a little alarmed at the number of criers at the church though. As I later told R & SC, I don't react well to crying: I generally either become severely depressed, or start laughing uncontrollably.

'Nuff said on that one.

Afterwards we went to the gas station I had previously skipped that evening and ordered the cappuccino that I was jonesing for all night. The caffeine high fueled a ridiculous evening of foolery and laughter, intensified by the fear we all held of being kicked out of the gas station, and perhaps even permanently banned (and they have the best tasting and least expensive cappuccino around). Fortunately, I used to work with the cashier who was on duty last night, and she knows how silly I can be (the two of us used to do Napolean Dynamite impressions even after they had gone out of style).

The alarming crescendo to the evening was when SC would not get out of RC's car to eat her pudding. Somehow this talk of pudding eating puts the song, "Another Brick in the Wall" into my head. Anyway, I had my car turned on and was twanging like a drunken fool to "Luckenbach, Texas," which I really don't even like, but it's a heck of a song to butcher, and there is SC, sitting is RC's car, refusing to budge. Finally, I was able to get her into my car so she could eat her pudding (that I so graciously saved for her) and then I could get home. Once inside my car, SC gobbled her pudding right down, but RC took her precious time. My dad thinks that perhaps RC didn't like my pudding and was trying to save my feelings. Finally, I told RC to just take the dern stuff home with her because I figured I'd have to go to work today and I was kind of wanting to get to bed.

For once in my life, I slept like a baby when I got home. That RC can really wear a person out!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Three Awards!

I am so honored! BJ has given me these, not one, not two, but THREE awards today!

This just rocks because, with the cold weather we've been having, I have been finding reasons to drink more coffee! Hot tea is soon to follow.

I love butterflies, what can I say?

This award is very special, though.

Crystal of Memoirs of a Mommy designed this third award to honor the heart transplant donor that saved the life of her adorable son Noah. The rules of this award are very specific.
Link back to Memoirs of a Mommy to learn to learn more of this touching story & ask your recipients to do likewise. The photo of this little boy will melt your heart. After you read about Noah, remember to share this award with all those blogs out there that you love.
All the people who make you smile.
All those that make you laugh.
All those that make your day.
All those that leave uplifting comments on your blog.

I wish to pass this award along to Ray and Robin.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Seasonal Meme

I've just been tagged by BJ to complete the following little meme about Christmas. I'm just going to copy and paste the directions I got from BJ, who in turn got them from Blue... etc., etc.

Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends! Okay, here's what you're supposed to do, & try not to be a SCROOGE!!! Just copy and paste into a new form. Change all the answers so that they apply only to you. Then post it!
And, do remember to tell, all you tag, that they are playing too!
Here goes...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I'm a lazy and terrible wrapper. Definitely gift bags. As far as opening, I'm OCD about not tearing paper, so bags generally work better for me to open, though I really have no preference.

2. Real or artificial tree?
Artificial. I think a real one would be nice, but we haven't the space. Plus, our cats want to eat the plastic one, so a real one would be disastrous...

3. When do you put up the tree?
Mom starts fussing the day after Thanksgiving. Generally the tree goes up sometime between the day after Thanksgiving and the first whole week of December.

4. Wreath on your door?
Can't say we've ever done that.

5. Do you like eggnog?
Nope--I'm more of a cider person.

6. Favourite Xmas gift received as a child?
Cold hard cash. I always liked to pool my money and buy something "big" with it. Of course, something "big" usually cost 10, maybe 20 dollars...

7. Easiest person to buy for?
Definitely Mom. She always has a wish list that could reach to Timbuktu!

8. Least easiest?
My grandma. She already has everything.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
I think we have a small one. I don't remember putting it up for a long time though. This probably involves our cats who like to rearrange decorations...

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Oh definitely snail-mail. I'm not an "instant gratification" type of person. Waiting is the best part!

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Probably something that was a "recycled" gift. I don't really remember details...

12. Favourite Christmas Movie?
Definitely It's a Wonderful Life. Okay, I don't care what you say. I know Frank Capra was a propaganda-monger. I know it's a cheesy movie. I know it's not my type. I just like it, okay! ;)

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Oh dang. Christmas IS coming up, isn't it...

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
I don't think I've ever done this. Mainly because I have always feared I'd send the gift back to the person I received it from. I remember the gifts, I get confused as to who sent them.

15. Open presents on Christmas eve or morning?
Actually, we generally have a garage party gift-opening fest at my granny's Christmas night! We really do have to wait for it.

16. Lights on the tree?
I guess... I tend to prefer white or some other single-colored light.

17. Favourite Christmas song?
Silver Bells

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
I stay home, though I'd travel if I could and if I had need to. But wait, I don't like being out in snowy/icy weather.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Oh yeah, baby! Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen, Rudolph (I had to have help from Mom on Dasher and Vixen though)

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Good question. I think it's an angel, but I'm not positive...

21. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas?
Homemade cookies/candy

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?

23. Favourite Tree ornament, theme or colour?
Blue and silver antique ornaments. Love 'em!

24. Favourite for Christmas dinner?
For the past several years I've been bringing my cheesy potato soup to the garage party. We do soup and a cheeseball. It works well. My soup and bread are my favs (that's why I bring 'em!)

25. Brussel Sprouts - love or hate them?

26. Favourite accompaniment to the Christmas Pud?
Something tells me this is probably not something a vegetarian would eat, so I'm going with: n/a

27. Favourite Christmas Carol?
I suppose "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear." I like several though.

28. Your very Favourite Christmas Thing?
Taking turns opening the gifts at the garage party. We get to see what everyone received, taking turns makes the event last, and we sometimes have wrapping paper fights afterwards.

29. A Christmas wish!

30. Tag a Seasonal Six!

I'll tag Ray, Pansy, and Rachel. Anybody else who wants to play along is certainly welcome!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sunday Scribblings--Grateful

Okay, let me preface this post with the following disclaimer: I am grateful for more things than I can put in a post of readable length. I can't really choose just a few things to write about, so, being the rogue scribbler than I am, I'm going to take a different approach, yet again.

Grateful Ramblings from a Junior "Dead-Head"

One of my favorite bands is the Grateful Dead. I'm sure Robin will agree with me on this one. I waited about a year (until I could get my hands on a blacklight) so I could buy a blacklight poster of the Grateful Dead dancing bears. It was wicked cool.

I was also quite Grateful when I saw the The Very Best of Grateful Dead album on discount at a local junk store around the same time.

Even before I started listening to their music, I wanted to meet Jerry Garcia. Who knows why. Who knows how I'd even heard of Jerry Garcia. Unfortunately, I never got to meet him, as he passed away when I was still in grade school.

I remember how excited I was the day I finally memorized all the lyrics to "Truckin'." Unfortunately, I forgot them shortly after. Oh, I can remember bits and pieces, but all in a jumbled mess, not in the actual order of the song.

When I was singing karaoke a year or so ago, I got a lot of applause for my rendition of "Casey Jones," which has long been a favorite of mine.

The first time I heard "Sugar Magnolia," I didn't know who sang it, but I was so excited that I had to literally stop my car in a parking spot (I was just pulling into a shopping mall) with good reception for that particular radio station.

Hooked? Oh yeah.

"U.S. Blues" and "One More Saturday Night" gave me the energy to clean my room one summer, and "Franklin's Tower" rocked me to sleep every night for about six months.

Yeah, not your typical post I realize, but you know, I am Grateful for the Grateful Dead.

I give Stan Ski props for inadvertently inspiring me to include song titles in this post.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

True Colours Thursday--Red!

I'm so glad to see that my photos finally loaded! I initially had four photos, but after spending the better part of a day trying unsuccessfully to load them all, then after failing to load three of them, I tried loading only two. Apparently that's all I'm going to get this time. Maybe when red rolls around the next time I can use the other two.

These are nesting dolls from Russia. My dad spent a good part of the morning performing a low-budget Caesarian on the 2nd doll. Apparently the paint glaze dried in the joint, thus gluing doll #2 together and imprisoning the four other nesting dolls inside. But persistence paid off, and I was able to get this shot. It's not perfect, but it's here.

This is Mom's mug that she bought from Michael's craft store. She thought the mugs were "too cute," and dropped the hat (lid) off one of them. I was terrified that she had broken it, but fortunately it was tough and didn't break. Soon after that incident (which involved a total silencing of all patrons and the subsequent open-mouthed staring), I strongly encouraged her to just pick one so we could get out of there as soon as possible. This was the one she went with!

Blue, I realize that it is now actually Friday for you. I sincerely apologize for my inability to post when I wanted to (which was around 11:00 or noon today). Anyway, I may get an early start on next week by saving a draft early, and maybe even posting on Wednesday night!

True Colours Thursday--Still Not Working

I have been trying all day to post my photos for Blue's True Colours Thursday. Somehow errors keep popping up, and I haven't been able to get them posted. I have four pictures, three of which have a bit of a Christmas/winter theme. I may try again tonight, or I might try again tomorrow. Anyway, I am determined to keep trying. Sorry I can't get the photos to upload yet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Portrait of Words, Perhaps Next Time

I had a submission for this month's Portrait of Words, but I really didn't like it all that much. It was absurd and over the top, and I just think I could probably do better, so I guess I'll have to wait until next month to post. Hopefully I can come up with something blogworthy by then.

But I can at least talk a little about what I've been doing since my last post.

Today I finished crocheting a laprobe for a girl at my church who had to have both her legs amputated. Not knowing how to approach gift-giving to someone in such a sensitive situation, I thought I'd leave the gift at the church anonymously and put her name on the bag.

I've also been reading BJ's book The Apple Tree and I'm enjoying it very much.

Yesterday, I bought a bottle of sparkling cider and was shocked that I didn't get carded for it. The last time I tried to buy some sort of nonalcoholic sparkling juice, I was asked to show my driver's license. I said, "Well, I can show you my license if you'd like, but that's just juice." To make matters even worse, as soon as I set the bottle on the counter, the kid behind the register ran off to get someone who was old enough to ring up alcohol purchases. So there I was, waiting, holding up the line so that someone of age could ring up my sparkling juice. It was embarrassing for all parties involved. However, I'm glad to say I didn't have to deal with any of that foolery yesterday.

Anyway, that's what's been going on in my neck of the woods. And that's the post that is playing placeholder for the absent Portrait of Words this month.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Meme & Award!

My friend, BJ has brought this meme to my attention, and has graciously given me the following award. Though she did not specifically tag anyone to do this, I thought it looked fun and decided to join in.

I will tag a handful of people to play along (bonus: players get to display the accompanying award on their blog). As always, these are just for fun and completely voluntary. Also, anyone that I have not tagged who would like to participate--feel free!

The meme requests one-word responses, but I won't take off points for multiple-word answers (Good luck though; I had a terrible time not doing essay, or at least short answer...)

Tagging: Ray, Aurora, and Robin

1. Where is your cell phone? pocket
2. Where is your significant other? n/a
3. Your hair colour? brownish
4. Your mother? reading
5. Your father? talking
6. Your favourite thing? camera
7. Your dream last night? bizarre
8. Your dream/goal? publishing
9. The room you're in? living
10. Your hobby? blogging
11. Your fear? heights
12. Where do you want to be in six years? traveling
13. Where were you last night? home
14. What you're not? hungry
15. One of your wish list items? books
16. Where you grew up? Illinois
17. The last thing you did? IM
18. What are you wearing? casuals
19. Your TV? big
20. Your pet? cat
21. Your computer? Dell
22. Your mood? mellow
23. Missing someone? sorta...
24. Your car? Mercury
25. Something you're not wearing? hat
26. Favourite store? Michaels
27. Your summer? nice
28. Love someone? yeah
29. Your favourite colour? green
30. Last time you cried? Friday
31. When is the last time you laughed? today

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sunday Scribblings--Stranger

I honestly do think that truth is stranger than fiction, cliche as the saying may be. This is why I typically write creative nonfiction. For example, just now, I completely forgot that I was making soup in the kitchen. BJ informed me that I am not to boil cream soups (thank you, BJ!), so this time, I think I burned the cheese. Drat! The bottom of my soup pan is suspiciously bumpy now.

Anyway, back to "stranger." When I was writing my thesis, I remember saying to my committee, numerous times, "I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to." This was true, as I often find it hard to believe that many of the scrapes I've gotten into were actual events.

Furthermore, I had a gig writing opinions columns for the school's newspaper for a while. I focused many of my columns on the outrageous news stories I'd read during the week. One of them involved experimenting with Mentos and Diet Coke (I tried this at home--it produces a volcano-like carbonation effect). Another was a response to a guy who got pulled over for "drugs," only to find out he had bags of cheese in his car. Really bizarre stuff.

That's about all I've got for tonight. Amazing that I'm out of things to say. What could be stranger?

For more Sunday Scribblings, click here

True Colours Thursday

I love green. It's my favorite color, and even a nickname of mine. I am a bit of an environmentalist, as I love nature and outdoors, and participate in recycling and using environmentally-friendly products.

But that's not what this post is about.

My friend, Blue, has come up with a very cool new meme called, "True Colours Thursday," and I am happy to be able to participate in it. This week's Colour is green, and I am going to post a few pictures of green souvenirs I picked up from my trip to Arizona last month.

This is the back logo of the t-shirt I bought at the Verde Canyon railroad. I considered buying an orange shirt to diversify my predominantly green and brown wardrobe, but I ultimately chose green because, after all, verde is the Spanish word for "green." I bought this cap at the Out of Africa Wildlife Park near Camp Verde, Arizona. There's a bit of a theme going on here. And lastly, this is a Saguaro cactus plush toy that I got from our hotel in Williams, Arizona (near the Grand Canyon). I love the saguaro cactus. I would have posted some pictures of saguaro that I took on the Beeline Highway northeast of Phoenix, but I took them as a passenger in a moving vehicle, so the quality isn't the greatest. That's why this little guy will have to be my saguaro representative.

Readers, if you have any green pictures, post them! This was fun.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tagged by Blue...

Okay, so I have officially been tagged by Blue to do this survey thing. Looks like this will be fun. Thanks, Blue!

Outside my window... Are cardinals and blue jays.
I am thinking... "It's too cold!"
I am thankful for... My friends and family.
From the kitchen... I will be baking some chocolate chip and toffee cookies soon!
I am creating... A mess of my room!
I am going to... Work on crocheting an afghan.
I am wearing... A red hoodie and new blue jeans--all Arizona brand! (my favorite)
I am reading... Sanctuary by William Faulkner.
I am hoping... That my cousin gets over her tummy ache.
I am hearing... My cat snoring.
Around the house... Clutter, but there are new birthday gifts amongst it!
One of my favorite things... Is traveling--need to plan my next trip soon.
A few plans for the weekend... Tentatively, having pizza with my friends (weather and schedules permitting).
Remember... Life is what you make it, so be happy.

I'm going to tag a few of my buddies to play along (if they so desire)

BJ, Ray, Lilly, Alisa, Robin, "Alf Rocks", Roadchick

Monday, November 10, 2008

Photo Safari, Part II

This is actually the picture I wanted to post for Monochrome Monday, but I foolishly didn't label any of the pictures, so I ended up with a different one from the same area. I have another that I rather like, but I might save that for another day.


Well, today was my birthday. I went out to eat with my parents, went to the mall, and then came home and opened gifts. We ran into a local newscaster at the mall. My dad said, "Well, there's a familiar face," and the newscaster got a strange expression on his face as if he were thinking, Should I know this guy? I guess I need to say something, and then he said, "Hey, how's it going?" and playfully patted Dad on the back. It's fun to freak out even local celebrities.

BJ, I apologize for having not yet finished Se7en to write a movie review on it. Lately, I've been so sleepy that I haven't been able to watch movies at night like I generally do before writing reviews. However, that being said, I do intend to finish it (and hopefully soon). I also bought The Good Shepherd today. I don't usually buy movies unless I know for sure that I like them. But I took a chance on this one. Hopefully I will produce a review of it soon, as well. Oh yes, and if I can get Blogger to cooperate, I also plan to post more pictures soon.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Photo Safari/Monochrome Monday

My mom and I went on a little photo safari yesterday in the country. This is one of my pictures. I plan to post more at a later date.

I wanted to go way out in the "boonies" for the photos, but Mom wasn't feeling so adventurous. And, considering we were both freezing our tails off, perhaps staying moderately near civilization was a good thing! This particular picture was taken across the road from a house. We pulled off at a little turnaround area to avoid trespassing.

Check out more Monochrome Monday posts!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sunday Scribblings--Change

Friday, November 07, 2008
#136 - Change
Apologies for the delay everyone! It was an easy prompt this week - you can either go your own way, or take the obvious route - it's "change."

Adding Up

I pick up pennies on the street. I'll admit it. I just can't help myself. If I see small change on the ground, I consider it fair game. The most I've ever made in a day is two dollars, but that doesn't really count, since I just happened upon two $1 bills one day in the English building when I was in college.


I have made as much as 22 cents in change in a day. During a rough patch in my life, I found at least one penny every day for a streak so long that I stopped counting the days. I called them "Pennies from Heaven" and believe that if they were put there for a reason, it was to teach me to be thankful for even the smallest blessings in life.

I kept the pennies in a small plastic container. Eventually, I saved enough pennies that I had received in change and that I found on floors and on the ground that I was able to cash them in at the bank. It came to less than $10. I was still thankful for the pennies, wondering how much of that money I made from change that other people discarded.

Months later, I walked into the laundromat to wash a load of clothes, and I saw a tempting sight: pennies, nickels and dimes all over the floor in front of a washing machine. A young man was loading clothes into a washer near the change. He left while his clothes were washing, and I resisted the temptation to pocket all of the change. I figured that somebody who needed it more than I would see it and pick it up. Or maybe somebody who didn't need it at all would snatch it. Either way, I had learned my lesson and no longer needed to rely on the "Pennies from Heaven" to appreciate what I had.

I don't find pennies very much anymore. Maybe it's because of the economy, or maybe other people got the same idea I did. But I don't think so. I think it's because I don't need my object lesson anymore.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

A Little Jaunt to Barnes and Noble

I went shopping with my mom, aunt, and grandma today. This is pretty incredible, considering I generally don't care for shopping. However, today I was in the mood, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I hadn't noticed until today how long it's been since I've stepped foot into a Barnes and Noble, though. When I walked through the doors and smelled the coffee (wow, I missed a great use of the word "olfactory" here), and saw all the books on shelves and on display tables, memories came rushing back. Hours and dollars spent having a great time in the bookstore. I think I have a different interest every time I visit a bookstore, though. Sometimes I wind up in the cookbooks (vegetarian and desserts), some days it's classic novels (a.k.a. "literature"), on adventurous days, it's the travel section, when I feel like cleaning out old "junk" I check out the books on collectables, and the list goes on forever. Today, I visited literature and bought The Unvanquished by, of course, William Faulkner (definitely my favorite author at the moment). I also bought The Maltese Falcon. I've always heard of it, and it sounded interesting, and since I had a Barnes and Noble gift card burning a hole in my pocket, I decided to go for it. After literature, my next stop was books on writing. Along the way, my mom spotted David Morrell's new book, The Spy Who Came For Christmas in the Christmas display table. Whoa, awesome! I could have had an autographed copy of this book *slaps self in forehead*. Yes, I met the guy who created Rambo at a writer's conference in Scottsdale, Arizona last month. Yes, he was signing books. No, I didn't get one. I mean, I can't say that I'm a Rambo fan (I can't say I'm not either, because I've never seen the movie or read First Blood), but still, I could have gotten an autographed copy of something by the guy who created Rambo. Oh well. But when I got to the writing section, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a book on writing, written by none other than David Morrell himself. This one is going on my Christmas list. On the way out, I thought of the coffee again. If I hadn't been saving my money, I would have bought one for old times' sake. Coffee or no, this day will still make a nice memory for the next time I take a trip to Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sleepy Thursday

It's been kind of rainy today, so I wasn't able to sit outside and read Faulkner. However, I was able to work on a crocheted afghan (YES!). Perhaps I'll get it done in time for winter.

In other news, though I did not make soup today, I did make soup yesterday. This time I made cheesy potato soup (very yummy, I may add). I don't measure very many ingredients when making soup, but I can say that this time I boiled three good-sized Yukon Gold potatoes (cubed) with one vegetable bouillon cube until the potatoes were tender, but not mushy. Then, I added a can of condensed cream of celery soup and a pound of Velveeta. I accidentally boiled the cream soup and Velveeta, which separated the soup a little. For best results, just melt the cream soup and Velveeta. Also, next time I plan to use more potatoes. The broth is good, but I like some substance to my soup!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Movie Review--Changeling

This is one of those movies I foolishly jumped into--I decided I wanted to see it after simply catching the tail-end of a muted trailer for the movie. However, let me say, up front, that unlike Scarface, this movie did not let me down.

Quite the contrary.

Changeling is based on a true story of L.A. crime in 1928. The story sort of ends in 1935, but you'd have to watch the movie to understand why. I'll agree with IMDb that the movie starts out a bit slow, but for a movie like this, it kind of has to. Angelina Jolie does a brilliant job of portraying Christine Collins, a single mom whose son disappears one Saturday while she is at work. Her acting, in my opinion, appeared neither contrived nor reserved. She seemed quite natural in her role. All of the child actors in this film were very believable in their balance between childlike actions and grown-up responsibilities (many of them were forced to react to situations totally inappropriate for anyone, especially young children). Jason Butler Harner (an actor I've never heard of) was freakishly talented at playing a delusional psychopath, and John Malkovich was stunning as Rev. Gustav Briegleb, a minister seeking to bring the truth of the LAPD's corruption to the public.

I highly recommend this movie; however, if you are the type of person who allows films to make you emotional, then come prepared with a box of Kleenex or two. I didn't cry during the movie, but there were a couple of times I came close (interesting side-note: I've only cried at one movie, and yes, John Malkovich was in it... Of Mice and Men). There were also moments in Changeling when I desperately wanted to give certain characters a standing ovation. Yes, the movie will pull at your heartstrings and manipulate you to a certain extent, but remember, this was based on a true story. Had it been a fictional movie, I would have said that never in a million years would this plot be possible. I was shocked and appalled that such crime actually took place in human history. There are some sickening scenes near the end of the movie, so make sure you've finished your popcorn early. You might also find yourself losing faith in humanity after watching Changeling, but trust me, the movie is well worth it.

One other note: I am by no means a historian, but with what little I do know of the late 1920s and early to mid-1930s, I found the costumes and dialogue to be very realistic. If you go see this movie, I think you'll agree with me that, though we don't have much background on most of the characters, you'll become attached to them anyway and feel like you know them by the end of the movie.

No, Changeling is not exactly a feel-good movie, but it's not a total downer either. It's a great mix of genres: drama, mystery/crime, political, horror (arguably), and even a little romance at the end. I absolutely abhor sentimental movies, but this one was excellent. Clint Eastwood directed Changeling, and I was impressed that it was neither overly bloody and violent, nor overly dramatic and sappy. I think the cast and crew did Mrs. Collins' story justice with this one. Go out and see it for yourself--let me know what you think.

Monday, November 03, 2008


I am still digging this awesome November weather. This morning, I sat outside and read some William Faulkner. I finished Light in August, and now I'm on Sanctuary. I also played around with taking some pictures (I'm considering photo memeing) in sepia tones and black and white.

This afternoon, around 3:00, my boss called with a little bit of work for me to do. So from 3:30-4:15 I was editing! As soon as I got home, my cat Peyser jumped up in the chair with me and proceeded to climb up my back! This made for difficult blogging (but he's gotten down, now).

Not much else going on at the present, but I just wanted to note that I had a pleasant day.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Movie Review--Scarface

Okay, I suppose I set myself up for a letdown when I waited literally years to see a movie. I built it up in my mind, expecting it to be something it wasn't. Another serious error I made was renting an older movie. However, I didn't want to own it.

After quite a bit of searching, I finally found Scarface for rent at Family Video for $1 for five nights. The price was definitely right. Somehow, I expected the movie to be about Al Capone in Prohibition-era Chicago, but instead, it was about some Tony Montana in 1980s-era Miami. Not exactly what I was expecting.

The disc I'd rented was pretty badly scratched, so there were places where the movie would kind of "hiccup," and others where it would stop altogether. It was horrible. I wasted most of the extra hour we got from converting back to standard time just trying to find what point I was at in the movie when the disc got stuck. Finally it occurred to me: I don't even like this movie, so why am I worrying so much about it?

In all fairness, I don't have the authority to review this one, since I didn't see all of it. There were simply scenes that would not play. This meant that I often had to skip scenes, meaning I missed pieces of the plot. However, I wasn't impressed with the parts I did see.

The only characters I'll even mention:
Al Pacino: Tony Montana
Michelle Pfeiffer: Elvira Hancock

I hate to say this, but I was bored by the movie. It moved slower than I expected, and it was fairly predictable. I know it is supposed to be a classic, but I can't figure out why. The dialogue didn't seem all that great to me. I can handle profanity in dialogue that is realistic, but littering a script with "The F-word" is a sign of bad writing. I understand that these characters would use a lot of foul language, but it was completely overdone in Scarface, to the point that it lost its effect. It wasn't shocking, it didn't seem realistic, and it just sounded like a group of teenage boys trying to sound tough to impress one another.

Al Pacino's strangely charming demeanor at the beginning of the movie is all that really saved him (in my estimation) in Scarface. I can't figure out what he did to make his character so charming, though. Maybe it was the Cuban accent. I don't know. Maybe it was because his character hadn't gotten so deeply involved in drugs yet. Either way, I got annoyed with Tony Montana about halfway through the movie. He was getting too cocky for me. I wanted Elvira to slap him. All I ever saw her do was anger him by badmouthing him to his face. But then, I hated her character too. It was one of those movies where you just kind of want the main characters to jump out of a window while they're hopped up on cocaine. This scenario would have shortened the movie significantly, saving me a bunch of time. Anyway, Tony's character had far more flaws than good qualities, and by the end of the movie, I felt he got what was coming to him.

Moral of the story? Read a brief IMDb summary before renting a movie, Sunshine. Readers, if you go in knowing kind of what the movie is, perhaps you will like it better than I did. However, I'll just be honest and say I think it is overrated.