Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat

Well, my mom and I got conscripted for trick-or-treat duty at the bank. It was pretty fun, except that I totally do not know how to relate to children. Trying to appear cool, I said horrendous things such as:

"Whoa! It's Superman. I've always wanted to meet you!" (the kid hid behind his mom at this).

"Nice hair" (to a girl dressed in black with black and white witch hair).

"Oh man, we don't want to make this guy mad. We better give him what he wants" (to a kid dressed as the Incredible Hulk).

One parent was trying to get a kiss on the cheek for a trick-or-treat gift. I declined and tried to offer a bag of Fritos. Fortunately, my mom knows the person. You just never know what you'll run into in these small towns.

Oh yes, and the highlight of the evening was when Eeyore showed up and took not one, not two, but THREE bags of chips. I thought maybe she was choosing one, but when I saw her stuff all three into her plastic pumpkin, my mom and I both started saying, "Only one--let's save some for the other kids." It didn't work. She just walked off. And this Eeyore incident happened while we were being ambushed by a large group of kids.

They weren't all bad, though. I was pleased when, not knowing what to give to the kids, I offered a ninja a bag of Barbecue Lays, he said, "awesome!" Then, when he was walking back to the car with his dad, I overheard, again, "See what they gave me? Awesome!" Rock on, Sunshine, ya done good for once.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My First Attempt at Meme-ing

Sunday Scribblings

#135 - Scandalous
Have you got some juicy gossip? What about a bit of scandal? Have you caused a commotion in your life? Would you like to? In this week full of politics and financial woe, let's add a bit of spice and fun, shall we?


I have been a vegetarian since conception. In other words, my parents quit eating meat before I was born. Apparently one of my uncle's girlfriends once fed me a ham cube, but I couldn't help that. I mean, I was just a toddler--I didn't know any better.

Then, when I was six years old, my school held a pizza party. I can't remember the occasion. Anyway, I didn't want the veggie pizza because I was a picky child who hated green peppers and tomatoes. I took a slice of what I thought was cheese pizza. Near the crust, I found something round, red, and mostly eaten protruding from under the cheese. A pepperoni! How dare they hide meat in my pizza!

Fast forward 16 years. I was a senior in college, sitting at Taco Bell with a friend. She had ordered a chicken chalupa--something that always sounded strangely alluring to me. When a chunk of chicken dropped from her chalupa, the devil on my left shoulder told me to eat it:

"Come on, you know you want to."

The angel on my right shoulder put up a decent fight:

"You can't eat that. You don't know what will happen. You might get sick."

The bickering continued:

"Normal people eat meat. Even most vegetarians started out life as carnivores."

"You aren't "normal people."

Finally the devil half stuffed the chicken piece in the angel's mouth to hush her, and I tried it. It tasted like, well, chicken. The soy stuff, anyway. I felt that I had experienced a rite of passage. At 22 years of age I had finally tasted chicken. And I liked it.

I still haven't told my parents though.

More Sunday Scribblings

Movie Review--Max Payne

Let me start off by saying I have only seen three movies (that I can think of) that were based on video games: Tomb Raider, Silent Hill, and just recently, Max Payne. Tomb Raider, in my opinion, was nothing like the game, and it was pretty forgettable. Silent Hill was pretty decent and had some elements of the game in it. Max Payne, on the other hand, actually tried to explain some of the background of the game (things that you discover as you play said game). As always, I apologize for being elusive, but, you know, someone might want to run out and see it.

Anyway, some things I found a little unrealistic: Max's wife's murder has been a cold case for how long now? Was it three years? Why is it that all of a sudden another murder is linked to it years later? The persons behind the murders seem to come out of the woodwork at just the right times. Are we to assume that they've been quietly doing their own thing, evading the cops for so long?

Side note: You just have to ignore the fact that Marky Mark of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch plays Payne. Otherwise, you won't take the movie seriously at all.

Really, it was a pretty decent movie, if you like that sort of thing (and I tend to). I thought some of the fight scenes were a little overdone (as they totally are in the video game). And, as a purist, I always hate it when movies leave scenes out. There is some crazy navigating around on the tops of buildings that is in the game, but is underplayed in the movie. There are also several plot changes that, unfortunately, I can't really disclose. Plus, the ending was different. One thing the moviemakers hit head-on was the setting scenery. I know this sounds weird, but many of the scenes looked like they came out of the video game. And I mean this as a compliment. The cinematography was just really cool. Yeah, everybody wears black, and nobody seems to know how to turn on a light (but what can you expect--it's Max Payne).

All in all, it's a pretty good movie. I saw it on a Tuesday night discount ($5.50 for the show + free popcorn), and I completely felt it was worth it. Let's put it this way, though I had to go to the bathroom about halfway through the show, I sat in agony until the end of the movie. I didn't want to miss anything. If you like noir stuff, action movies, and movies based on video games/graphic novels, then I definitely recommend Max Payne.

But the Jason Bourne series still ranks #1 in action films, in my book.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Soon (perhaps tomorrow), I plan to do a movie review of Max Payne along with a brief account of what I did yesterday. Too sleepy to think about it tonight :)

Thanks for the Idea, B.J.!

Thanks to B.J. who told me the other day that she was having soup for supper. This inspired me to make some soup of my own! I also baked a loaf of bread. I haven't done this in a long time, so I kind of forgot how to bake bread. Fortunately, I had the old breadmaker, complete with its handy-dandy guide to help me along the way! I tweaked a recipe than I had been using--it worked out pretty well anyway. I made a loaf with half bread flour and half whole wheat flour. I also substituted honey for the sugar, and I put a half cup of oats in it.

As far as the soup went, I tried to do a low-sodium vegetable soup. I started out with some water (I don't tend to measure when I make soup). I then added one large potato, cubed. I cooked this for a while, and then I added one can of dark red kidney beans, one can of corn, and one can of peas. Side note: being a vegetarian, I have soy meat substitutes, most of which need to be refrigerated or frozen. Anyhow, I dumped some frozen Tender Rounds (these are a veggie's equivalent of meatballs) into the mix to thaw out and gather some of the soup's flavor. I did mess up by not adding seasoning earlier to let it all cook together, but eh, it was good anyway. After the Tender Rounds had cooked, I added a half can of tomato paste and shook in a hearty amount of Montreal steak seasoning. Voila!

Now I'm curious to know what kind of soup Calista Blu had.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

All Apologies

I'm sorry I haven't written anything thus far this week. I haven't been terribly inspired to write anything. So now, I have to force myself to write about something so I don't forget how to do this.

One bit of news: apparently my thesis is NOT yet at the library. I don't understand this, because my copies have come back from the bindery, but when I do a search on Booth browser, it says my thesis is still at the bindery. Odd.

I helped celebrate my uncle's birthday on Saturday. Wait, maybe there is something blogworthy about eating a birthday dinner in my grandma's garage. Her Contour makes a great backdrop for all the birthday photos.

My birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks (yes!) Looking forward to the garage dinner. Then, my cousin's birthday will be the 22nd of November. He's due to come up from Texas for the occasion. He and his sister both live and teach in the Rio Grande Valley. I applied for a job there as well, but then I received a letter saying they had filled the position. Oh well, I guess I can say that I won't have to pay for expensive airfare to come to my own birthday this year.

How's that for a post? I didn't think I had anything to say, but it didn't stop me.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Movie Review--Juno

Okay, so I promised a review of Juno as well. Here it goes.

I'd never heard of Juno until it was released for sale on DVD at Wal-Mart. Obviously I was intrigued by the cartoonish drawings and the largely preganant girl on the cover. Plus, like several people, I am intrigued when something takes the country by storm. It just takes a little longer for the storm to get to me.

The clincher was when I received a copy of Writer's Digest a few months ago. This particular issue sported a picture of Diablo Cody (author of Juno) on the cover. Of course, I had to read the interview. Cody has lived an interesting life. Then, like the sell-out that I sometimes am, I had to go out of rent her movie.

Initially, I had my doubts about Juno. Teen pregnancy movies (well, any kind of pregnancy movies, or comedy, or drama, or romance), typically aren't my style. I go for action movies and the occasional "thriller," but even at that I'm pretty choosy. My favorite part of Juno was the intro, if that tells you anything. The rest of the movie was cute in parts, sad in parts--you know, your typical comedic manipulation. But all in all, it wasn't as bad as I expected.

Having never read the book, I don't know if I should attribute this compliment to Cody or the director, but somebody did a great job of capturing the attitudes and dialogue of a sassy, unconventional 16-year-old.

I know I don't have much to say about the film, but really, what can I say? It's about teen pregnancy--but the cover art of the box will tell you that. If I say much more, it will give away too much of the plot. If you like the idea of seeing what a sassy 16-year-old will do about an unwanted pregnancy, and if you like the concept of awkward teenagers trying to figure out love, and, oh yeah, if you like pop culture references in your teenage coming-of-age comedy/drama movies, then watch Juno. If not, then just read an IMDb synopsis.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Movie Review--No Country For Old Men

I rented No Country for Old Men on Wednesday, I believe it was, because I was completely unable to get my paws on a copy of Scarface. I was not disappointed. This movie is not for those unaccustomed to blood or opposed to graphic violence, blood guts and gore, etc. My gosh, Javier Bardem! WHOA! What a great actor! I know makeup made him up to look creepy, but my gosh. Unlike most "horror" movies that become tacky in a handful of years, I think No Country is going to be fresh for a while.

It takes place in border cities of Texas. At one point, El Paso is mentioned, though it seems that the story takes place in some other, smaller Texas towns. The year is 1980.

I don't want to give much away, because I seriously do recommend this movie, but I will say that Javier Bardem's character (Anton Chigurh) is defined by Bardem himself as an incarnation of violence (I paraphrased this, but you get the point).

Josh Brolin also does a remarkable job as Llewellyn Moss, a retired Vietnam vet, turned hunter who gets messed up in a murderous crime spree in the Texas desert.

That's all I'll say. Go rent this movie--tell me what you think.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Anchovies, Reasor Park, and No Scarface

I did something yesterday that I haven't done in a very long time. Too long, actually. I went on a drive. Sarah invited me up to see where she will be doing her practicum or student teaching or whatever. You'll have to forgive me for getting the two confused--I wasn't in the teacher certification program.

Anyway, we drove around Mattoon some, and then I remembered that I wanted to stop at Buffalo Wild Wings to pick up some hot sauce. It's one of those things I've always wanted to do, but never did--until yesterday.

So, Sarah and I waited an eternity for someone to emerge from the back to get down a jar of Parmesan Garlic and a jar of Wild sauce. As soon as I'd paid for my goods, the lady disappeared, just as mysteriously as she'd appeared not five minutes prior. As Sarah and I were walking out the door, I had the crazy idea to read the ingredients label. I really shouldn't do this, because, to my knowledge, I have no food allergies. And as far as the vegetarian thing goes, if I am not aware of animal products or by-products, it's fair game; once I learn of said products, my stomach gets queasy.

Yep. You guessed it. Wild sauce has anchovies in it.

Anchovies are not a major player in the Wild game--they're second from the last on the list of ingredients. They are the second to last important ingredients in the sauce. I considered returning the bottle, but then I remembered how long I had to wait just to get the stuff. Then I thought, I'll just eat it and not think about it. I mean, after all, I ate Cheez-Whiz and Worcestershire sauce with anchovies for years unawares.

Coming back to Charleston, Sarah and I decided to check out Reasor Park. I've tried to find Reasor Park before, only to get derailed by the Lafferty Nature Study Center. Anyway, this time, since Sarah and I had been discussing the park via IM earlier that day, we thought we knew where we were going, so it shouldn't be a big deal. It looked like a good-sized park, anyhow.

We took off down University Drive (don't even get me started about the name of that street), and started looking for Lover's Lane. That is seriously the name of the road on the map that takes you to Reasor Park. I never saw any "Lover's Lane," but Sarah saw a sign that read "Reasor Park."

I missed it.

I had to turn around in the church school's parking lot (I think it is Calvary Baptist or Calvary Christian Academy or something like that) and head back to so-called "Lover's Lane" (I never did see a street sign for it. This should have been my first clue. Hey, don't get me wrong, it was a pretty drive, but that's all it was--a drive. I got to the end of it and started recognizing Reynolds Drive (I got lost there looking for Reasor Park on yet ANOTHER occasion).

Then we got the bright idea to check out VFW Park. I'm not even going to comment on that one.

In Mattoon and Charleston both, I looked Family Video for Scarface. I thought I found it at Charleston, but someone had stuck the movie Predator behind the Scarface box. Mattoon didn't even have it. I wanted to watch Scarface because I saw an interview with Michelle Pfeiffer on TV. Isn't publicity great?

When I came back home, I checked Visual Effects--no Scarface. I then checked Casey's. I settled for No Country for Old Men and Juno. Those movies sure were a change of pace from one another. Movie reviews of these coming soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Patti's Birthday

Hey hey hey! Well, my cousin Patti's 39th birthday was last Wednesday, but we finally got around to celebrating it today! I think that my grandma (Patti's guardian), wanted to celebrate on a Tuesday so we could do the night buffet at Pizza Hut. By the way, if you're wondering why Patti has a guardian at 39, it is because she has Down's syndrome.

We had a lot of fun. After Pizza Hut, we went back to my grandma's house and gave her her gifts. I got her this totally awesome 3-D sticker kit thing from Hobby Lobby. I dern near bought myself one while I was at it. I may just have to add it to a wishlist for my birthday (which, by the way, is next month!)

My grandma is on a special diet where she basically can't eat anything. She didn't let it stop her from eating pizza, though. However, she did bypass the pop tonight. And I noticed there was no cake or ice cream. Just as well--I'm not crazy about cake or ice cream anyway. Sometimes on my own birthday I request pie instead of cake.

Standin' on the Corner Park (Winslow, Arizona)

It was probably a silly stop, but when I found out that Winslow, Arizona was between the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest, I knew I had to go there. I've been a fan of the Eagles for, oh, I'd say about 15 years now, and one of my favorite Eagles songs is "Take It Easy." This song has a line, "Well, I was standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see. It's a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford slowing down to take a look at me." Believe it or not, the town of Winslow has actually dedicated a corner of a commercial block to be "the corner" from the song. And, yeah, I had to go there.

Mom and I wasted a good 15 minutes trying to find the derned corner. But it was cool to drive some more of historic 66--especially through a town. We met up with a road closure, which really threw us off, but we continued to search. Eventually, we found our way back out of town, without spotting the corner. Mom got back on the interstate, got off at Mike's Pike (where we had some delicious Pizza Hut pizza and an order of Quepapas the night before) and took me to Wal-Mart, because, after all, I was nearing the end of my memory stick.

I had to wait for an eternity at the photo area of the Winslow Wal-Mart, because it was not only still before 8:00, but also there was another customer who had been waiting longer than I, so he got waited on first. I bought my memory stick and asked the woman in photo where this "Standin' on the Corner Park" was. She gave me some directions which sounded nothing like the directions that Mom had printed from the Internet. So we headed back onto Route 66 and tried it again. I'm not exactly sure how Mom found it, because she was neither following the Internet directions nor those of the photo lab expert. Still, though, we did find the corner, and this is a picture of me with the statue they have erected to resemble whichever Eagle it was that met up with the mystery woman at that location.

As far as the waits? They turned out to be in our favor, because the gift shop (yes, of course there is a gift shop on the famous corner) didn't open until 8:00. In fact, Mom and I meandered into it before it was really supposed to be open. Thus, we had to wait a few minutes before I could buy anything. I'm not sure why this is, but the woman working the cash register claimed she couldn't make a sale until 8:00 when the store officially opened. I was kind of in a hurry to get to the Petrified Forest, because I knew we'd be taking some pictures and visiting (yes, another) gift shop, and then we would have about four hours of driving to get back to Scottsdale. It was to be a full day.

About those gift shops, I'm fully aware that they are tourist traps that steal your money, but dang it, I like to have a souvenir for a visual aid to help me remember the places I've been. Call it a memento.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Verde Canyon

This is a magnificent view of the Verde River as seen from the Verde Canyon Railroad. This train ride was awesome! Mom and I rode first-class in the Wickenburg car. We each had a complimentary glass of sparkling cider, table and chairs, climate-controlled car with restrooms, nice decorations, and large viewing windows. This photo was actually taken through one of the windows. I have over 200 pictures of the Verde Canyon, and I could have taken thousands more. The landscapes out there are simply marvelous, and I mean that in the truest sense of the word. I was amazed.

When we got to a depot, Mom and I stepped out onto the open-air viewing car, which offered views even more spectacular than those from inside the car. We had to be careful not to stick our hands outside of the car, though, because the train passed very close to many of the jagged rocks. Since the train ride back simply went in reverse, we were able to see the other side of the canyon on the return trip. It was cool to see some of the old cliff dwellings and the ruins of the retired mining industry. Plus, I was able to nab some of the free snacks they offered on the way back.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Random Thought About Food...

If you like jalapenos, then try the quepapas from Pizza Hut. They rock! I first tried them in Winslow, Arizona, naively thinking they were a Southwestern specialty. When I got back to Illinois, I learned that they were offered here, too. But who cares? Now I know that I don't have to go all the way out to Winslow to get them. I just had some this afternoon, a few minutes ago.

It's getting to be the time of year for soup, as well. I made a potato, broccoli, and cheese soup a few days ago. It was pretty good, except for the broccoli. I'm just not a fan of green vegetables. I try to force myself to eat them, though, because they are good for you.

Related to soup, I've also been wanting to bake bread for quite some time, but never seem to actually do it. Does anyone know why this is? Somehow I'm too lazy to measure out flour, honey, salt, milk, yeast, oats, gluten, and water and then press a couple buttons on my breadmaker. And really, though the bread takes a while to bake, it's not like I've had to go to work for two weeks. You'd think I'd be able to find the time...

Painted Desert

This is the Painted Desert. Such a beauty. When Mom and I left Winslow (which is another story in itself), we headed east on I-40, which is basically old Route 66. It was cool to see some of the old billboards--just as I imagined it would be. We drove through a little of Holbrook (side note: it was also cool to drive through almost all the towns named in the Arizona section of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath), and then we got off the interstate and entered the Petrified Forest from a highway. It was pretty cool to go that way, even though it felt like backtracking, because taking the scenic drive from south to north saved the Painted Desert for last. Unfortunately, during our trip, it was very windy in the north half of Arizona, so it was difficult to get pictures. I think this one turned out pretty well, despite my hair blowing in my face and my camera running out of memory.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

More Pics Forthcoming...

Well, I plan on writing more little blurbs to go along with a select few of my other trip pictures. When you learn that I took over 800 pictures, you'll understand why I'm only choosing a "select few." Not sure when these may pop up, so stay tuned!


These are the beautiful Red Rocks of Sedona. Actually, we are just south of Sedona in this picture. Mom pulled off the road so I could take a picture. McCain picked a great place to live. Heck, I might consider retiring here! Also in Sedona, Mom and I visited a vegetarian coffee shop called D'Lish. It was pretty cool. I call is a coffee shop because I'm not really sure what it was. It was awesome though. I got a quinoa bar and a clementine drink. If it hadn't been so late when we got there, we would have ordered a meal and sat outside. This was the night of the crazy AZ-89A mountain roads. I kept seeing signs that read "Watch for Rocks" and "Watch for Ice." I'm sure it was beautiful in the daytime (when this rock picture was taken), but after the sun went down, it was kind of scary--two lane twisty roads with the possibility of ice!

Friday, October 17, 2008


Hey everyone--I suggest a cool link: . It is a cool place with trivia games of all sorts. I have five pulled up as we speak. Happy Friday, all! Peace.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Blog

Hello all,

I am seriously considering starting a new blog. I intend to keep this one as well (this one will still be my random thoughts and wacky, silly, funny things that happen to me, etc.), but the new one would be dedicated to my writing. What do you think? I might put short stories and/or book chapters in the new one.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


My Master's thesis came in last week. It should be available for checkout through Booth Library. Anybody who is interested should check it out--literally. The book is a collection of personal essays about driving. Most of them are trips that I took, but there is one about getting a renewed driver's license. A word of warning: I've already noticed one spacing error in the manuscript. I'm not happy about it, but what can I do? It's already bound now. Anyway, the book is called "Driven to Distraction."

In other news, now that I'm done with school, I plan to update this more often. I know I took a long hiatus (I'd prefer to call it a "sabbatical") from writing in here, but I'd like to get back in the habit of blogging on a regular basis.