Thursday, November 30, 2006

I won!

It is very exciting to me even though it doesn't mean the story is done or not full of gibberish or any of that. It was one of those many things you participate in hoping it will give you the kick in the pants you need to at least stop saying that you don't have time. I'm hoping I can contintue some of this momentum and yet figure out how to intergrate things like laundry and excercise back into my schedule.

Two Weekends of Reading

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

This book took a bit for me to get going, possibly because I was reading it while commuting, little snippets at a time. And because of NaNoWriMo. But once I got into it, it was excellent. The story takes place in the 1800's in China, and it is a story about women. The women get married and have children, but the story is about them, and about the secret language they used to communicate with each other. My only complaint is that the story - which is being told after the fact by the main character - starts when the main character is three. Her memories are very vivid for something that happened many years ago and that bugged me a bit until I decided she may just think her memories are very clear and really we can just move on. I enjoy historicals but I am very wary, having read so many bad ones. This one is very well done.

Grade: A-

We Thought You Would Be Prettier by Laurie Notaro

Yes, I am an addict. Again - I loved it. Uncontrollable giggling such that I had to exercise caution as to where I read it. Notaro has a great story-telling sense.

Grade: A

Born in Death by JD Robb

I love this series in part for the great mysteries - I was very proud of myself for figuring out part of it. But I also love, the ever expanding group that surrounds Eve, the heroine. And part of what I like out this, much as with Robert B. Parker's Spencer series, is the relationship between Eve and Roarke. This case causes a little snag, and it was great to watch how they worked through that and how they are growing into each other, if that makes sense.

Grade: A

Santa Baby by Jennifer Cruise, Lori Foster and Carly Phillips

I have read stuff by each of the authors before, and I would say that these three stories, two of which have previously been published (the Crusie is new) are typical for each author.

Jennifer Cruise's story about the heroine's search for a toy for her nephew on Christmas Eve was fast-paced and full of strong and vulnerable characters. A great read.

Lori Foster's story about a woman taking action on the crush she's had on her dad's company's number two, who is now her employee since her dad passed away recently is sexy. I found myself irritated by little details - the heroine is wearing a robe so think the hero doesn't realize that she has underwear on, but then he can see her nipples through the fabric. [spoiler]The story was sexy, and of course they end up engaged after a fabulous night in bed. Yes, they had known each other for several years, but I'm wondering if it took them that long to kiss, would they really just go okay, the sex was good let's get married. Maybe.[/spoiler]

Carly Phillips' story about a woman also with a crush on a co-worker. However in this story she accidentally kisses his twin and discovers that may be better. There was just too much mushy - meeting of the souls and seeing inside each other and total understanding as if to make it okay that since it's a short story they are going to have sex the night they meet. Oh and the hero has time to mend serious fences with his brother too. It was a very busy twenty four hours.

Grade: B-

Found Dead

In my latter two years of college I had six roommates. After one of those found dead after two weeks stories, we had a discussion about how long it would take for us to notice if one of us passed away. Since four of the people had shared rooms the determination was that it the time would be pretty quick for them. For the other three it might be a bit longer, possibly even a day or two - assuming of course we passed away in our room rather than in a common area. (Had anyone expired in one of the two bathrooms, I figure there was about two hours before someone would have broken down the door.)

So this story saddens me because this woman, who lived with relatives, was not found for two weeks . And it was not that her relatives were away or somehow failed to notice her absence, they had in fact spent that time trying to find her. I find it also very sad that she died smothered by her own bookcase, while trying to adjust a plug. It is so mundane. My thoughts are with her family.

Reading - School Days

I have recently finished School Days by Robert B. Parker - it is part of the Spenser series, and concerns a school shooting. There were two things that I really want to talk about, but first let me say that the book is excellent. So much so, that I was able to overlook a crucial plot point which is one of the things I will get to. So, Grade: A

Concern:
First, and warning this is a teeny spoiler so if you want to go spoiler Mary, then, skip ahead. Spenser had been hired by the relative of one of the boys, ostensibly to prove his innocence. If you have ever read a Spenser novel before, you know that he just finds what he finds and is often more interested in a greater truth. Anyway, at one point Spenser is questioning various people about possible reasons or motives for the two teens who have confessed to the school shootings. One person mentions that the teen Spenser has been hired to assist had been finding dark things on the internet. It is established that the teen could not have done this at school, since the computers there are heavily restricted as far as what can be accessed. (We are just going to ignore that of course any dedicated teen could likely get around that and move on.) So, Spenser asks the parents if he can look at the teen's computer and finds that he doesn't have one, and his parents don't think he knows how to use one. No. I'm sorry - this child has floopy (my technical term) parents. I would be willing to believe that the teen had been given a computer and had lost or broken it, part of his punishment may have been not getting a new one. But it is not realistic that a middle class teen, with a doting grandmother, attending a high pressure prep school not only never asked for a computer, but was not in some way required to have one for school. No way.
And this thing is, this whole bit is just a set up to help Spenser figure out that the person who told him that the teen had been going to bad places on the internet was lying. Certainly there was something else she could have been lying about. As I said, the book is well written, and aside from that blunder, is a great story which why I gently closed it to yell, "Bullshit," instead of throwing it across the room. I adore Robert B. Parker's Spenser series, but did none of the editorial staff catch this? On to the good (or more of it).



Pondering:

One of the things that got me was a conversation Spenser has with Rita Fiore, a lawyer who recurs throughout the series. In questioning classmates as to what they thought the motivation for the two alleged shooters doing this is, one of the students comments that she's surpised it doesn't happen more often. This leads to Spenser and Rita discussing the various things that are outside your typical prep school teenagers control: what they wear, their schedule, when to talk, how to talk, what activities to particpate in, and so on. All this added to adults telling you this is the easist and best time of your life.

I was so struck by this. I was in a meeting with other adults who work with teens and we were asked to think back to what our experience as a teen was like. The person next to me - who read her list first - had freedom, no responsibilities, hanging out with friends, and having fun on her list. My list included lack of freedom, choices being limited, transportation constraints, lack of control. I am certainly not denying the validity of the other person's list. But for me, I had great friends, but I was really hoping life got better after high school. And in many ways it did. I'm not saying I didn't have fun in high school, or that there is something wrong with people who do, but this mythology that this is the best part of your life I think does everyone - young and old - a disservice. If you are having a crappy time, how depressing to hear that this is the pinnacle. And if you are having a great time, how depressing to hear that it won't ever get better, it's all downhill.

Now certainly I did not get my driver's license until I was in college (my parent's did not even let me take the test until I was in college - after my younger sister had already gotten her license, but my mother will tell you I wasn't motivated) and I had been attending the same school - by the time I graduated - for ten years, I wore a uniform, and my junior year coincided with some serious family issues that made home life suck. But I was not in a position to change these things. Goodness knows my life (as does anyone's) needs constant work and attention, but at least as much as can ever be expected is in my control today. Sure there are days when I want to give that responsibility back, to lend it out temporarily, and sure I still can't wear just anything or do just anything if I want to - for example - keep my job. But I much prefer this. Much prefer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ten Reasons I Love "Veronica Mars"

I honor of an awesome episode last night and because I missed blogging about Thanksgiving - let's just roll it all together here. One of the many things I am thankful for is "Veronica Mars". And since it's list season, here we go:
  • "Real Genius" shoutout. Seriously - my sister, her friend and I were all camp counselors together one summer and we watched that movie obsessivley (not at the camp). And then we spent the rest of out waking hours reciting bits to each other. "It's a penis stretcher." "This, this is ice. This is what happens to water when it gets too cold." So any show that incorporates a "Real Genius" shoutout (on top of the previously done TWoP and Couch Baron shoutouts) gets my love. If it didn't already have it.
  • Veronica will taser you. Which rocks. This show gets compared to "Buffy" a lot and while I get it - high school girl who kicks ass, I think its a very superficial comparison. If they were talking about great shows with intelligent plotlines, I could see it. Buffy had supernatural powers. Veronica is just like the rest of us - except she has a taser.
  • Layers like an onion. The show has layers - which is not to say some shows that are single-layered aren't great too. But layers rock.
  • The show does not assume you are stupid. I can't stand it when a show batters me over the head with something, in the assumption that the trail of breadcrumbs spelling "this is a clue" was not enough for me. (Really it was).
  • This probably ties into layers - but better with multiple viewings. Some shows lose their sheen after a few viewings. Not this one.
  • Great cast. Seriously - they are amazing. And not hard to look at either.
  • Great storylines. Fluffy for "Veronica Mars" is someone stole all my possessions.
  • You'll laugh; You'll cry. The whole gamut.
  • Even when they are predictable, it's not predictable.
  • What else are you doing? (Okay you might be watching "House" - but use a recording device. It's worth it. Come on, you know there are whole nights when television sucks, save one for then.)
  • Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    Season Passes - Update

    I know I keep comparing everything to dating, and I'm going to do it again. We've got some takers on this list. And - yet the networks are the ones making me have to finally break it off. (Although some of them I can apparently still hook up with over the internet.)
    Veronica Mars: To crib from Sara M, when I say this season isn't as completely rocking as the first or even parts of the second that it not to say that the show doesn't totally rock - because it does. But, if we grade on a curve this season so far would be a B comparatively. And part of that is that I, mildly obsessive fan, am catching continuity issues. And if I can catch them, continuing on this road it's only a matter of time before the non-obsessive fans start to notice. (The rabidly obsessive fans have already congregated in a bitterness thread.)
    House: Back from baseball hiatus, and here's the thing. Every year - right around this time - they introduce an arcing storyline and while I love this show, their arcing storylines tend to..suck. This one is no exception. The rest of the show is still excellent.
    The Office: I really enjoyed the opportunity to watch one of the episodes while I was actually in Stamford. (Yes, I am a dork.) This is one of those shows where the comedy circles rather than grabs. But it's worth it.
    How I Met Your Mother: Always worth it. And they do such a great job of lulling you into thinking, TV vet that you are, that you know where it's going, and then they'll tweak it one bit that has you going, Oh! Awesome. Swarley!
    Gilmore Girls: This is totally one of those things where I am hanging on to old times. There are still great moments. But there are more bits that annoy the crap out of me. But I'm still there.
    Battlestar Galactica: The most beautifully crafted show about politics and religion I think I have ever seen.
    Intervention: Addictive. (Yeah, I know - that was bad.)
    Grey's Anatomy: Popcorn.
    The Amazing Race: Enjoy the changes to the format this year. But we have now reached the point where I in some way dislike all of the remaining teams, which is affecting my enjoyment a bit.
    Friday Night Lights: This shows continues with the greatness.
    The Nine: Still intrigued. It's not unfolding at a totally glacial pace, but I am left wondering how much I care. Apparently I'm not the only one, sine they are not ordering any new episodes. And I'm a little sad about that.
    Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: I feel a sense of deja vu when I watch this show. Some episodes a good enough that I get over it, others, not so much.
    Runaway: Deleted. Gone. Cancelled.
    Heroes: A bit like a soap where I only like some of the stories - so I wait through them for the people I care about. And I get it that she's the cheerleader, but her hair gets more beauty queen every freaking episode. Is that part of her powers? But every week they do something that has me gasping.
    Ugly Betty: I finally gave in to the camp, and I'm liking it better. especially since they've juggled up some new plotlines.
    Standoff: Enjoying it.
    Brothers & Sisters: I really think I keep watching this because with Grey's moving I have nothing else to do. Well, okay I could watch "Intervention" but that's on repeats right now. There are great moments, but so much of it is a yawn.
    30 Rock - Every episode is the same. Jack does something. They all try to deal with it. Deleted.
    The Game - Very cute. My second football show - although this is a comedy and is very different from FNL.
    Top Chef - God, this show makes me hungry.
    Day Break - I love Taye Diggs (although I still never watched Kevin Hill). And the show has done some things that intrigue me. Hopefully soon he will better understand howit goes and stop telling people he figured stuff out yesterday.

    Shows That Still Haven't Started:
    Knights of Prosperity
    My Boys

    Over or On Hiatus:
    Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County: Ended.
    Project Runway: The season has ended and I am sad.
    Eureka: On hiatus now.
    Psych
    The 4400

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    Sign of the Crazy

    I am a renter which means my experience with homeowner's association rules are non-existent. My current building has a rule about stuff on the windows that could be considered advertising, but that it about it. But I have heard that many homeowner's associations have rules about lawn length and shutter color and what have you. And fine - since homeownership is generally considered an intentional community there are rules that can be made in that scenario that wouldn't fly elsewhere. And certainly I understand wanting to have rules about signage. But in a certain part of Colorado there have been complaints about a peace sign . Seriously?

    First, I suspect that this is CYA more than anything, apparently there were complaints registered so then the association decided they should take action, yada, yada. I assume it is easier to ask this one house to take the sign down, rather than explain to other people there is nothing remotely offensive about a peace sign. You may not be for peace, but hey, I may not be for Christ but I'm not asking you to take down your creche. And here's the thing - the association board asked the committee in charge of such things to ask for the sign to be removed, and the committee refused. So, the committee was fired.

    These are the complaints listed about the peace sign (from these folks in the community):

    -Some residents have children in Iraq. Peace is a bigger concept than one war. And just as there are all kinds of Christians, there are all kinds of peace-niks. Some are against all war. That doesn't make them anti-military, just anti-war. Some are hoping we can get to place where war is not our default diplomatic solution, but don't think we are there yet. The sign says peace, not "Soldiers deserve to die".

    -Some believe the symbol is Satanic. It's not. Just because someone mistakenly thinks that it is does not make their removal request more valid.

    -Some believe the symbol is anti-Christian. It's not. In fact the Bible is sort of anti-killing people, or so I hear, which would suggest that peace is really a Christian value. Which is not to say that non-Christians aren't for peace.

    -Divisive symbols are not allowed. I recognize that this is a bit of a judgement call, but it saddens me to imagine that a peace sign could ever be considered divisive.

    -Someone else could put a pro-bomb sign up. So the concern is not about this view, but that an alternate view might be more divisive. I think this is flawed and even circular reasoning.

    My thoughts go out to this woman who is potentially facing huge fines for putting up a peace sign on her house.

    Meathead Hats

    I finished two meathead hats this week. I used the pattern suggested Lamb's Pride Bulky in Seafoam and Pine Tree. I had not previously used this yarn, but liked it, it's a nice cozy wool that's not very scratchy. The pattern uses the yarn doubled so that it knits up on fifteens (I used two Denise Circ's - see that's why I needed the second kit) so it goes pretty quickly. For embellishment, I went for fairly simple. Using the contrasting color I added a fingerknit (ie. loose i-cord) bow and a coiled single chain.




    I had bought both colors toying with making a striped hat but ended up going with one color. I made the larger size since I have a big head, and that fit well. I tend to knit really tight, so I had yarn leftover, not a lot, but enough that I'll dig through the stash and possibly make a third with some other yarn added in. It's a great pattern and I have enjoyed seeing what others did with it - embellishment-wise and I can't wait for the book.

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    Reality Show Integrity

    I'm sure I've said before that I have no intention of ever participating in a reality show for a number of reasons. (This may be that they haven't yet come of with the combination of skills and prizes that will entice me - a reading and knitting competition perhaps? Somehow I don't see that making good TV). The follow up to this is I am driven crazy by contestants who seem to be unfamiliar with the workings of the game.

    I watched "Survivor" for a few seasons and the thing that drove me nuts was the people who in their interviews would say, "I can't believe they lied to me. These people are all manipulators and backstabbers." Um hello? The game is "Outwit, Outstay, Outlast". There are no points for being nice or honest or any of that. And while you can argue that some of the bigger backstabbers have lost in the end because more people on the jury thought they were mean than the other person - none of that matters if you don't make it to the end.

    I recognize that a portion of this is just venting on the part of contestants, it would certainly be tiring to be examining everyone's motives and then to be constantly questioned on what I personally think all those motives are. All of this brings me to "The Amazing Race". Key word - race. A race implies that people who are faster - at getting places and at doing things will succeed. Sure there have been contestants who did things like cancel other team members cabs and stuff - and you can choose not to stoop that low. And certainly at the beginning, it may make sense to pool resources. But in almost every round someone is going home. And it's one thing to choose to succeed without being mean. It is another to fail on a point of niceness.

    For those who have missed out on this season of "The Amazing Race" there were three teams who banded together. They shared travel information, they followed each other to tasks, they waited for each other so they could all leave places together. Which was all fine while it lasted. But then it became clear that one team wasn't buying in all the way, they were willing to make use of shared information, but they weren't willing to wait or help anyone else out much. And perhaps during those rest breaks that aren't filmed they clarified that to the other members. Two weeks ago - after being saved from elimination twice - one of the teams (which it seems may have been the glue that held the other two a bit) was eliminated. The two remaining teams were now in the back two positions - so - without major shifting - one was going home. Well - the Chos finished a task and waited for the Alabama moms to finish. And they all got to the airport and got on the same flight. The Chos got a map and got directions, the Alabama moms agreed to follow them. But the Chos proved very nervous about their directions which led them to stop several times. Not once, that we saw, did the Alabama moms offer to go get directions or to start leading. Instead they complained that it was taking to long. So after they both completed the task (with the Chos again waiting) the Alabama moms pulled in front and then complained when the Chos followed them. Which would be fine in normal race circumstances (the complaining) but hey - you followed them out and they didn't try to ditch you.

    Well for the next task the Alabama moms peeled out leaving the Chos in the dust. The Chos then got lost - ended up going to a different task - and then took a wrong turn no the way to the pit stop. The problem is the wrong turn was down a road that had been closed so they were then questioned by the police before being allowed to proceed. So, the Chos came in significantly last and were eliminated. But they are proud, because they raced as friends. Okay, you race however you want to race, but seriously? Ronde and Tiki Barber are freaking twins - but when they're teams play each other does Ronde say you know, I'm going to soften up a bit because he is my brother and I don't want to mess with that? No he does not! It doesn't mean they don't love each other; it means they have jobs. And sure a reality show is not a job - although considering you are taking time off from yours in order to do this you should sort of treat it as such, but whatever. If you are just there to make friends you didn't even need a reality show to begin with.

    Monday, November 20, 2006

    Yay!

    Entertainment Weekly's Popwatch informs me (Yes, just me) that "Veronica Mars" has been picked up for the remainder of the season. Yay! Because this season keeps getting better, even if the promos have been wierd to say the least. (Last week's promo spoiled most of the last five minutes.)

    Another Button

    I read this article in Knitty and just thought that was so cool. As hip as I wish to be, installation art sometimes doesn't make sense to me but this did. Objects knit by the same people all over the world - except they all knit the same thing. Just the scale of it was amazing to me.
    Well, Larissa is now having a giant knitalong as part of a book she's putting together and people are making hats again except this time a little personalization is involved. I'm so excited. A great excuse to go yarn shopping.

    Friday, November 17, 2006

    Knitting Pictures

    I have resolved the computer picture issue. Yay. So, now I can share lots of pictures with you. I posted two more dishcloths for the dishcloth KAL. I finally sent off my square for the Grandmother Purl blanket. I made it with the same Kiwi TLC Cotton Plus as I used for Amazing Lace. The square is Chinese waves, with some accent garter stitch rows.

    Then, as previously referenced, the scarf I made from the yarn my birthday buddy sent me. I haven't finished up the edges yet, I have a border planned with some more Noro.

    And the also previosly refenced Halloween yarn - also known as Manos Del Uruguay Woodland. It started as a vest. I have enough yarn that it is going to get sleeves as soon as I detangle the yarn.

    To Be Anonymous

    I've been thinking a lot about anonymity. And the subtle difference between a pseudonym and a username - or if their really is one. What sparked all this is some back and forth between bloggers. An author, who blogs under her author name but also references her actual name made a comment about her publisher in an interview . Another blogger, who is an agent, but who blogs under an internet name ranted that complaining about your publisher was a recipe for disaster . Several others have responded wondering if the original comment merited the response it got, if this person is really an agent , and if so why her rant offers no suggestions for how she would advise this person to handle this problem, and if she is using anonymity as a cloak to shield her backlash.

    Now I have no pretensions that my little blog is anything like Miss Snark's as far as readership or anything like that. But I can - clearly - see reason people might choose to operate on the internet under a different name than they use professionally. They would primarily be reasons of safety - whether personal or professional - but nonetheless they exist. Bookseller Chick - who I adore - blogs anonymously in part (I have gathered from various entries) because she started the blog as a way to vent about her job which involves run ins with customers.

    And certainly in this day and age, when employers are still working out the rules about blogging, many people don't want current or prospective employers to be able to find them in an easy first pass.

    So, in the end I'm not sure if it matters that Miss Snark - or anyone - uses an alternate name for her blog*. What matters is if you are willing to stand behind what you say - in life, on the net, wherever. This is not to say that you can't ever change your mind. Just that you are willing to take responsibility for your words.

    *I have heard rumors she might also operate an additional blog under her actual name, which would maybe suggest that the Miss Snark side is totally for venting that she doesn't want associated with her real name, in which case, that might change the story a bit.

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    But What if it's a Burrito Sandwich?

    A judge in Massachusetts has ruled that a burrito is not a sandwich. Why does anyone care? Because Panera signed a deal with a shopping center where they opened a store that no other sandwich shops would be able to open up in the same center. (Downtown Silver Spring has both a Panera and a Potbelly, and they seem to be surviving, but I digress.) A Mexican place has plans to move into the center and Panera was arguing that this violated the agreement since a burrito - a tortilla with filling being equivalent to bread with filling - counted as a sandwich. The judge ruled that a burrito, taco and quesadilla are not considered to be the same as sandwiches. A number of food experts apparently testified similarly.
    While I understand what Panera was getting at - a similar portable food - the idea that an equivalent bread product makes for a sandwich would expand the definition to insane proportions. After all pizza crust could be considered an equivalent bread product - and pizza has filling. What about calzones, empanadas and pot pies? And what happens with breaded chicken? Does that become a sandwich equivalent? What about nachos? If a tortilla is really bread, does cutting it in bite size pieces change the concept enough to get around the bread equivalent's presence along side filling? The possibilities are endless.

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Weekend Reading #2

    This batch are all parts of series too, but the first two are the first installments at least.

    Black Ice by Anne Stuart
    This was the one that inspired the bad sex entry. Since the issue was never fully discussed in my opinion, I came to the conclusion that if I could understand and even forgive what Joe did to Eve (which I won't spoil) in the Iris Johansen series, then whatever I was bothered about something the characters had moved on from. There was a cringe-worthy, "I know you're a good guy deep down inside" moment, but other than that the story was really good. I will probably pick up the next one, I'm just not in a hurry.
    Grade: B-

    All American Girl by Meg Cabot
    What? It was good! This story takes place in DC, and unlike so many others didn't have me completely pissed off at the stupid really easy to fix errors. (Cabot gets bonus points for referring to them as metro PD, instead of DCPD the way so many others do.) It's the story of a teenage girl who ditches her art class and ends up saving the President. One of my favorite bits was where she was asked at the press conference what was running through her head when the guy pulled the gun out from underhis coat and she doesn't know what to answer because her first thought had been, oh he's pulling out a gun. Phew.
    Grade: B+

    I Love Everybody and Other Atrocious Lies by Laurie Notaro
    I enjoy funny stuff but I don't tend to find a lot of stuff that gets me laughing out loud. Not even TWoP sometimes. Smiling yes, enjoying, yes, laughing - not often. But I laughed aloud and often witht this book, such that reading it in public was dangerous. These are vignettes from Laurie's life, it is her thrid book - so technically you could argue I have started in the wrong place, but I don't care. I will be getting all the rest (the next is already in my posession). Worth it for the line: a woman who cannot control her tampons should not have children.
    Grade: A

    Does This Mean His Wife Didn't Vote For Him?

    Randy Wooten ran for mayor of Waldenburg, Arkansas. His wife went to City Hall to check the results and they showed he had received no votes. So his wife asked him if he had voted for himself, which he says he did. Apparently some other folks have said they voted for him too. A runoff election is scheduled for the two gentleman who received the most votes: 18 each.
    Since I'm in the midst of gathering results for my relative's election, which went to recount, I find this particularly funny.

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Next to the Talker

    I went to see "Babel" this weekend. I really enjoyed the movie - one of my neighbors, not so much. This theatre seems to skew older, as in my friend and I were doing our best to bring the average age of the audience down. And sure, the movie helped with that too.
    It was at this same theater that we saw "Good Night and Good Luck". Ten minutes into the movie the person next to me said (and not quietly at all), "Look, honey, that's the same guy we saw in 'Syriana'."
    For "Babel", my neighbor made more than her share of oohs, aahs, and oh my gods. Which, while a little irritating due to their number, was acceptable. It was the additional, "Are you kidding me?", "What?", "No way!" and "Oh, don't tell me" that tipped me over the edge. All of these were uttered at a volume that I could hear them perfectly over the loud soundtrack. We reached a point, about halfway into the movie where we could barely change camera angles without it causing some sort of exclamation or utterance. And, of course, due to their short (but frequent, did I mention the frequent?) nature, they were not long enough for me to do any shushing, to do anything more than glance over and hope she was finally done.
    Still, the worst movie talking experience remains "Shrek 2" where I was seated in front of a child who had already been to see the movie. The child ws accompanied by an adult, who it seemed had not seen the movie. But apparently the adult was not at all bothered by the child narrated the plot three scenes ahead of where we actually were on screen. It's a good thing "Shrek 2" doesn't contain any serious plot twists, because I had a future broadcast of everything ahead.
    Perhaps, in addition to the small children seatings that many theaters now offer, there should be a talkers seating. That way all the talkers could be together driving only each other nuts. And sure, I'm a bit of a reformed talker myself, which probably makes me like a reformed smoker, more annoying than others. But still. I can listen to you talk in Starbucks.

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    Bad Sex

    Back in the day, by which I refer here to the eighties or so, it was considered acceptable in romance novels for the hero and heroine's first sexual encounter to be rape. There was usually some very unusual misunderstanding that led to the hero raping the heroine and in some cases there were apologies offered afterwords.
    Well, as readers, and one imagine writers, complained that rape is really not romantic no matter the circumstances, this fell out of favor. But there remains a subtle variation which I shall refer to as a "taking". In a taking the heroine never utters the word no, thereby absolving the hero of being properly accused. She may have told the hero on several occasions that she is not interested in him, or is unwilling to accept the circumstances that would surround their relationship. But then she always kisses the hero, or doesn't struggle much when he kisses her, so it is okay that he ignores her statements.
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting - in fiction or in real life - that contracts and terms or a constant, "is this okay?" is required for consensual sex. But the idea that the hero's behavior is now kosher because he pressed her up against a wall before she could protest and then held her against the wall in such a way that she was unable to struggle bugs the crap out of me.
    I am currently reading a book in which the hero and heroine met while he was undercover. His cover involves a (fictitious) wife. In this short time he has already slept with the wife of one of the other guests. So, the fact the the heroine, while attracted to him, does not want to be in a realtionship with him is quite understandable. And when he decides they need to have sex so that he can find out the truth about her, it's not sweet. (To be fair the book does not protray it as such).
    But, I find myself over-identifying with the heroine's internal struggle here. She is mad at the hero for fucking her (on a number of levels). And she is mad at herself - she never said no. (His internal monologue stated that he knew she would want to struggle so he held her in such a way as to make that impossible - so there is no real misunderstanding here). However, when she mentions to him that she feels raped, he throws back that she didn't say no. Why is that the sole determining factor. Rape is sex had without your consent - not being able to voice your dissent does not make it not rape. And so the heroine has been berating herself for "allowing this" and I'm berating myself becuase I'm still reading. Other than this, the book is written really well. And I keep hoping that there will be a conversation or something that will snap the characters out of this stupid justification. I'll let you know if that happens.

    Thursday, November 09, 2006

    Things People Should Know #11

    So, I was felling a little bad that Michael Steele lost his bid for US Senate. I'm no longer a Marylander so I did not cast a ballot for anyone in the Maryland races (even though I never got notice that I had been taken off the rolls, but I would not do that despite the appeal of voting for voting Congresspeople). And I didn't follow the race much, but was subjected to many of the ads for Maryland (and Virginia too). And Michael Steele's were nice. (If you are curious enough to watch political ads after an election, they are available on YouTube.) But then I heard this*. And really there is no reason that sending people a voter's guide that indicates you are of a different party that you actually are is okay. Especially when the guide is designed to look as if it was created by the county election board. It is also heinous when the people who distribute those misleading guides are homeless people you imported from Philadelphia to do the dirty work. (And I have to ask, are there not enough homeless people in Maryland, or were they already busy?)
    Now, I'm not suggesting that this was Michael Steele's idea - or the idea of any of the other people who's party was incorrectly stated. This guide was put out by a committee and in these crazy days, I get that the candidates probably were given a summary of what it should have looked like and thought that sounded great, yada, yada. But I would hate to think that he - or any of those candidates one - due to voter confusion.

    *Sorry - WaPo again, registration required.

    Signs of Weird

    Stranger than the helium shortage is the news that nuts are valuable enough to fall victim to nut-napping. Yes, there is apparently a black market for almonds and walnuts. Who knew?

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    Knitting Update

    Sorry - no pictures here. Woolwinders had a Halloween sale on purchases of orange or black yarn - variegateds included. So, I picked up a skein of Noro in blacks and greys to go with the yarn I got from my birthday swap buddy. And I got some gorgeous Manos Del Uruguay variegated - Woodland -which has oranges and reds and greens and browns.
    So in the FO pile I have a number of square things - one a ball band, others Chinese waves. One of them will become the Granny Purl square, the others will start life as dishcloths. As soon as I have that sorted, there will be pictures.
    On the needles I have:
    Another square - in the TLC Cotton I used in the Amazing Lace.
    The Diamond something or other scarf from the current Interweave scarf supplement. I keep screwing up the relatively simple pattern and yet I have this mental block about ripping it - so we'll see. That's in an orange cashmere blend. I have misplaced the label so may have to go back to Knit Happens to figure that out. (Just for that reason, no other reasons at all.)
    A basic scarf in Lornas Laces sock yarn. (I don't wear socks but I see no reason to deprive myself of pretty yarn).
    I have knit a made up as I go log cabin-y, modular scarf to show of the gorgeous Noro yarn that I got from my birthday swap buddy. There's a couple places where the edges are a bit wonky, so I have the black yarn as possible use for a border of sorts. I'm still debating.
    A sweater of sorts from the Manos Del Uruguay. I had the brilliant idea to knit a vest and if there was yarn left over try the double knitting technique to make sleeves of whatever length the yarn allowed. The snag is I've never done double knitting before. So it may end up a vest with a matching hat. We shall see.
    Those are the things I am actively working on. I promise I really will have pictures soon. ish.

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    Weekend Reading

    So this weekend, since I was supposed to be writing (cough, cough) I knit and read a lot. So, in order of reading here we go. I apologize because the theme for this weekend appears to have been series.

    Shopaholic and Sister by Sophie Kinsella
    I have read the prior novels and have fallen a bit behind since the next is already out. I enjoyed this a lot, I am finding myself a bit over the cringeworthy moments. I recognize that there is no change in the writing and the character has stayed wonderfully vibrant, but as much as I disliked her husband pointing out the very foible that made her so different in the first place, a tiny part of me agreed. I finished the story happy, and I am planning to pick up the next in the series. But, if Becky was getting on your nerves a bit after the first few, then this will not improve your feelings of her. If you have not read any of the Shopaholic, I would recommend starting with the first one.
    Grade: B


    Valley of Silence by Nora Roberts
    Vampires - in print - kind of freak me out, but this series is pretty low on the ick scale for me. This is the final of the trilogy and the one I had been looking forward to, since it involved the couple who clearly were going to have the most issues admitting their feelings for each other (I'm twisted like that). It did not disappoint. Again, I would recommend starting at the - well, start - for this trilogy. While the world building is fairly well established here some of the events from the first two books are referenced briefly, but it will be better if you get all of it in order. It has something for everyone - good girl talk, good sex, good battles and maybe even a moment or two that might require kleenex.
    Grade: A

    Conspiracy Game by Christine Feehan
    This is the fourth in Feehan's game series - about groups of people - females and soldiers who's innate psychic and extra-normal abilities were enhanced. While it is a series - the arcing storyline as they try to discover who is trying to kill them all off (or in this case kidnap them) is moving slow enough that I think you could start with this or any of the other three. (I actually started with Mind Game and then went back and read Shadow Game.) I started this fairly late Sunday and finished it easily by lunch Monday to give you an idea of how gripping I found it. A friend who I had lent one of them found the extra-normal abilities a bit too much to take, particularly since in most of the books the opening scene is one of them escaping something by jumping and pushing and generally showing off all of their abilities. If that will be bothersome for you, then this is not the right book for you. But I love the series.
    Grade: A

    Monday, November 06, 2006

    Five Reasons Not to Vote

    1. Don't vote if you thinking voting means you get your way. It doesn't. Voting is a process that includes all sorts of other people, some who agree with you totally, some who agree with you partially, some who disagree with you, and some who picked the prettiest names. If your expectation is that by voting the candidate or issue of your choice will succed, you are in for a lot of disappointment. If you are not prepared for the fact that the majority of (voting) people may feel differently than you today - don't vote.

    2. Don't vote if your under-age or otherwise not eligible.

    3. Don't vote if you hate doing research. Alright, I certainly can't prevent you from picking the prettiest names, but if that's all you've got, then why spend the time getting to the polling place at all. If you just like stickers, call me, I'll send you some. Look, you don't have to know enough to write a dissertation or anything, but get an idea. Whether your focus is a key issue or two, or you have a running checklist of pros and cons is up to you, but have a clue. Otherwise, don't.

    4. Don't vote if you hate being wrong. Sometimes you will select people who seem great and they will turn out to make different decisions than you thought they would, or they will turn out to be a crack smoking, spouse cheating, bribe taking idiot. Just like in real life, sometimes your first, second and twentieth impressions of people will be wrong.

    5. Don't vote if you don't care. Seriously if you don't care about roads, rights, education, the environment, taxes or war then there's no reason I can think of that you would care who's elected. So, don't rush.

    Book Banning Again

    Meg Cabot has written a wonderful entry describing her jealousy that one of Susan Juby's books got banned in Texas.

    I even have a whole speech written up in case it ever happens, so I can remember to thank the people who helped get me banned (my publisher; editor; friends; husband; parents who raised me with no idea that the stuff we regularly talked about in my house could get you banned if you put it in a book).

    And then she links to Susan Juby's blog; Susan has her own thanks to offer. Susan also has a link to the ACLU report where you can read why these books were challenged or banned. (My personal favorite was The Emporer's New Clothes which was challenged because the emporer's naked butt is shown in an illustration.)

    Friday, November 03, 2006

    Top Chef - Ep 3 Rant

    Hi! So since my Tivo works overtime on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, it took me until last night to catch up on the "Top Chef" episode. First, my disclaimer. I do not have the experience to be on "Top Chef". At this point, I would be seriously afraid of going on any reality show because I know I can be an obnoxious bitch, and while that is simply a part of who I am, in a scenario where all your outrageous behavior stands a better chance of being aired, I recognize that that is who I could become. I also get that some people go into these competitions deciding exaggerate aspects of their personality - the good ole boy, the bitch, the jerk, the sweetie pie. And there are some people, like Top Chef's Michael who say they are aiming for the middle so no one will perceive them as a threat. (I mean this with love, but, I don't think you are in any danger of being perceived as a threat.)
    I also recognize that to increase the drama, often they save crucial pieces of the challenge to reveal later. And that - had you had that information you might have made a different choice. This week's quickfire challenge was not one of those. The contestants (cheftestants, per TWoP) were told that they were making ice cream that would be judged by the public - out on the street. So while you want to be innovative, you had to pick something that had - to borrow a term - curbside appeal. Something - say - not avocado and bacon ice cream, Marcel.
    Now of course part if the fun of a "street" challenge is the immediacy of the feedback (of course in all of these challenges they get fairly immediate feedback, but usually from more judge-y people which is I'm sure better and worse that kids and their parents.) And the challenge, for lack of a better word, is to learn to accept criticism and yet still stand by your food. And to remember you are on TV. So, you don't get any points for waiting until your interview later to say that the person who thought your ice cream wasn't sweet enough didn't need more sugar because she had a fat ass and four teeth. So, I wasn't sorry to see you go, Emily.

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    Pronunciation of Names

    I am blessed with a first name that has two accepted pronunciations. (There are also multiple ways people attempt to spell it despite its seeming brevity.) I understand that on seeing my name in print one would have no way of knowing if my parents chose my name from the Irish or the Sibetan tradition, or if they favored one pronunciation over another, or if I favor one pronunciation over another. Some people are not even aware that there are two accepted pronunciations. Therefore, it's always a good idea when meeting people to ask them, if the you are pronouncing their name correctly. As one friend of mine said, in the end, if I spell my name Querxwyz and tell you it is pronounced Kara - you need to call me Kara. End of story.
    One of the things that bugged me (until I fanwanked it away) is in "Star Wars" Leia's name is pronounced differently by different characters. Some pronounce it Lee-ah, others, Lay-ah. Sure you can argue that this happens in real life (which in the end was what I did), but really they all got these scripts and decided individually how they thought it should be pronounced and there was a discrepancy that was never resolved.
    I was reminded of this as I watched "The Nine" last night. The episode was entitled "All About Eva". Many of the characters referred to the titular person as Ee-va. But her sister called her Eh-va. And Eh-va makes sense since the character is Hispanic and Eh-va would be the Spanish pronunciation. It could also be Anglicized, or Eva could have given up when everyone at work called her Eva (long e sound) and just not corrected them. And some of the people who were talking about her (lawyers for the case against the robbers, etc) have never met her so they would not have had the opportunity to ask her, and some of the characters only know her from the robbery and maybe in the middle of being held hostage they didn't ask for proper pronunciation. But I found it incredibly annoying and since the episode, as the title implies was focused on her there were a lot of opportunities for me to be annoyed. So, perhaps the continuity peeps need to add that to their checklist.

    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    I'm so far behind

    I've had some travel near and less near - for work and not quite work (aka volunteer stuff) and as a result I am so far behind. I am behind on unpacking, I am behind on laundry, I am behind on cleaning, and I am behind on reading blogs and recaps and other internetty stuff. Which is why I am just now getting around to reading Pamie's great news!

    I found Pamie (because I am always the last to know stuff) through Television Without Pity. I loved the blog, and started reading around the time Why Girls Are Weird was released so read and enjoyed that. So, I have read Why Moms Are Weird. I keep meaning to share my thoughts about it but just haven't been ably to fully capture what i like about it. One review I read said that it sets things up so that you think you know where it's going and then it goes slightly to the left. For me I think Pamie (or Ribon since we are trying to talk professionally about an author here) captures family so well. How they know you and yet don't know you. How they use that information against you sometimes. How we all have those moments where we think our life is secretly some movie - such as thinking that the songs playing in the grocery store are sending a message just for us. It's those great little bits that make the story of Bennie, a recently slimmer woman who goes home to help her mother after her mother has an accident, a great read.

    So, I am excited at the prospect that six steps (six years) from now it might be a sitcom. I think it is a great concept that could grow into a great family sitcom. But, just in case you haven't already, go read the book. If it turns out to be a sitcom - you'll be ready. And if it doesn't, you won't have missed out.

    I'm Going In

    I like writing (hence the blog). I like writing fiction. But I am so bad at finishing my stories. I am a total flibberty gibbit (how does one spell that) - all attentive at the start then gradually fizzling away before abandoning the project for something else. So, I have decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo - figuring even if it ends up like my last exercise plan I am bound to make more progress than before. And - much like my last exercise plan, I'm the only loser if I don't comply. (Or non-loser in the case of exercise).

    Of course if I actually do finish then I would have to decide what to do with the bundle of words. I don't really dream of chucking it all to become a writer, or not any more often than I dream of winning the lottery. But, before I even begin to ponder all of these possibilities I would have to, you know, finish.