Tuesday, November 16, 2010

what i was supposed to do.

I meant to do a lot of things today.  Mostly, I meant to write, but I didn't.  Haven't.  Yet.

I got distracted by taking the kitten to the vet, running errands, talking with our wonderful landlady Donna (for four hours), and decorating a Christmas tree with Nalgene bottles and tent stakes at Mast.  I was further distracted by eating dinner, and an overwhelming desire to watch every episode of How I Met Your Mother, starting as soon as possible.
Now I'm distracted by the new Divine Comedy album.  I HEART The Divine Comedy, and while Dante is cool, I'm not referring to literature, for once.  I'm talking about the music.

Who wants to go to England?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

fifteen authors who have shaped me in some way.

1.  Shel Silverstein.
     I assume that most would add this man to their list for such things as The Giving Tree, but honestly, he's on my list for the audiobooks of Where The Sidewalk Ends and A Light In The Attic, which I demanded to hear on just about every road trip I went on from the ages of 5 to 13, probably.  The man's voice was like a creepy, buttery lullaby that made you want to stay up and hear more, and then stay awake thinking about it.  So, not too successful as a lullaby.  Brilliant as narration.  Also, seriously, I cannot help but *adore* Runny Babbit.  Don't you?  It grieves me that Silverstein died before its publication.  I would have loved to hear him recite it.

2.  Lois Lowry.
    I know so little [read: nothing] about this author outside the realm of The Giver, but, oh.  The Giver.

3.  CS Lewis.
     I used to sit in the corner of my grandparents' huge walk-in closet, turn off the lights and wait for Narnia to come.  Enough said.

4.  Harper Lee.
     I read To Kill a Mockingbird on a camping trip with my family the summer I turned 14.  Changed my life.  It made me want to (a), play Scout on stage, even though I was already way too old, (b), name something, possibly a daughter, Harper (which is still totally in the mix, as far as I'm concerned), and (c), though I didn't fully realize it at the time, be a writer.

5.  Tim O'Brien.
     I loved reading The Things They Carried in 11th grade.  I vividly remember sitting under the table in English class, devouring it and being thoroughly creeped-out.

6.   Ernest Hemingway.
     I will be honest, the only Hemingway I've actually read is A Farewell to Arms, and I pretty much hated it. Why on earth is he on my list, then?  Because I grew up going to Key West every summer, that's why.  I used to beg my parents to take me to his house, again and again, mostly to see the the six-toed cats.  But as I got older, I appreciated the whole thing a lot more.  I love seeing his pictures all over the wall at Sloppy Joe's.  Regardless of how you feel about him, isn't it incredible to sit where he sat?

7.  JK Rowling.
     I know this one is a given for any human being even remotely interested in literature who was alive (and most likely young) from 1998 until now, but it is irrefutable.  Nothing re-reads quite as delightfully as a Harry Potter book.  Especially on the back deck at my parents' house in the middle of summer, or on the choir tour bus back in high school, or out-loud in a car with someone you love.

8.  Christina Rosetti.
     Poets were supposed to be included in this, and I wish I had more, but the first one to come to mind is always Christina Rosetti, for Goblin Market.

9.  Anne Lamott.
     Bird by Bird is the best college textbook I ever didn't buy for class.  I invested in my own copy post-graduation, because I knew it was special and I missed it (I had borrowed it and, honestly, not done very much of the reading when I was supposed to).

10.  Kelly Link.
     When I first read her short story Monster, it absolutely astounded me.  It's a bizarre, enchanting, ultimately horrifying little tale about a kid getting picked on at summer camp, and, you know, a monster.  I love it.  I can't get over the voice.  She writes the way I want to write.  I don't know how else to explain it.  Also, I read a collection of her short fiction on my honeymoon, and so her voice will always sort of remind me of that, too.

11.  Yann Martel.
     What is it about Life of Pi?  The philosophy is often over my head (as most things are), I don't really agree with Pi's religious convictions, and I still have no stinking clue what happens at the end.  But I love this book terribly, and if I get to thinking about it too much, I always want to re-read it.  It's the way the man writes, that's what.

12.  Dodie Smith.
     "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.  That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining-board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and a tea-cosy.  I can't say that I am really comfortable, and there is a depressing smell of carbolic soap, but this is the only part of the kitchen where there is any daylight left.  And I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring-- I wrote my very best poem while sitting on the hen-house.  Though even that isn't a very good poem.  I have decided my poetry is so bad that I mustn't write any more of it."
     --is my favorite opening paragraph of any book I have ever read.  If you haven't yet had the absolute joy of diving into I Capture the Castle, just know that I cannot recommend it enough.  It is perhaps my true favorite, and has been for a couple of years.  It's so... melodic.  So sweet.  Honest.  Beautifully written.  Romantic (really, how can you not love a boy like Stephen Colly?).  And, in some places, completely hilarious.  I could go on and on.  Also, this woman wrote The 101 Dalmatians, and who doesn't love that?

13.  Sheldon Vanauken.
     I finally finished A Severe Mercy this past winter, and it... was... what?  Are there words to describe this man's story?  I bawled.  I learned.  I grew.  And, hey, the man was friends with Jack himself, and a good portion of the book is their correspondence.  Sharing in the grief of the women they loved.  We had a passage from it read at our wedding.  Sounds macabre, I know, but it was perfect: all about God defining a marriage.  Beautiful stuff.

14.  Laini Taylor.
     On a much, much lighter note, here is another author who writes the way I want to write.  In an effort to seem hip and reviewer-y, I wrote this post about her book Lips Touch, which is way more awesome than it may sound (the book, not my review.  The review is... just a review).

15.  Suzanne Collins.
     Here we go.  Deep breath.  The Hunger Games.  Catching Fire.   Mockingjay.  I do not know how she did it, but Suzanne Collins absolutely broke me (in a good way, kind of) with Katniss's story.  Please, friends.  Please.  Read these books.  I tore through the whole trilogy twice in five weeks, if that's any indication of my feelings.  The story is unforgettable.  And that's all I can say without turning into a total fangirl.

i pretend like i'm not peeing my pants with joy over the new harry potter movie...

But I must be, according to my subconscious.

The other night, I had what I think may very well be the oddest and most hilarious dream of my life, to date.  In short, I was playing poker with my cousin Justin, Todd Packer from The Office, and Lord Voldemort.

You heard that right.  Voldemort.  And my real-life cousin.  And an actor whose name I don't remember.  Though, in the dream, he was the sleazy character he plays on TV, not himself.  Insane.  Especially since I despise that character, do not know how to play poker, and the ONLY one of these people whom I would EVER associate with in real life, is, of course, The Dark Lord.  I mean, Justin.

I don't remember much of the dream, but right before I woke up, I must have said something awesome, because all three of these men reached out to give me a high five.  The very last thing I did before coming to was slap hands with Voldemort, who didn't know how to do it right.  He kept his fingers pointed out, like he was all about Hitler (which I wouldn't doubt, given his history), and I tried to correct him.  He looked down and admitted that his wrists didn't flex back.  He seemed so dejected and sad.  I was about to say something like, "It's okay, buddy.  I know that kid did a number on you," but then I woke up.

I whispered to my husband, "I think I just had a dream that Voldemort gave me a high-five."
Joshua said something like, "That's unsettling," but it was muffled and he was half asleep.  Then I realized how crazy I sounded.  I'm half tempted to look up in the books about those faulty wrist joints, but something tells me I just pulled that from some other unprocessed brainwave.

I must just be really excited about these movies.  And high-fives.  And... poker, I guess.

My total BFF!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

prime numbers.

Here's a funny thing that just happened.

I'm at the library again, big surprise.  In the study cubicle across from me, a fifth grader and his dad are doing some math homework.  The boy just said, "And prime numbers... I forget what a prime number is," and the dad said, "Me too."

I became immediately determined to remember what a prime number was before the dad could look it up.  I rattled off the thoughts in my head.  Prime numbers, prime numbers... one, three... can only be divided by something.  Themselves.  Themselves and one.  And then the dad said, almost as I was thinking it, "Here, a prime number is one that can only be divided by itself."  And one, I thought.  "And one," he added.

I had a little silent celebration on this side of the cubicle, glad they couldn't see me.

This is a big deal for someone who still can't remember how to do long division, and probably never will.  Is it sad?  Me being so proud of myself for remembering the definition of a mathematical term?

Seriously, I'm considering throwing a party.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

it's like they knew: a pondering of poor adaptations.

::I wrote this in July.  
I didn't post it then because I was too embarrassed.  
I'm over that, now.  
Confession number one:  I heart Avatar: The Last Airbender.  
This post is my love-splurge on the cartoon and subsequent "what-the-bluh?" on the film. ::

I must confess, I do love a good story, with great, well-developed characters, humor, heart, and a compelling plot. I must also confess, I hate it when these things are turned into films that miss the point, no matter how fun they are to look at through those abominable 3D glasses.
Two weeks ago [read: five months ago] at Creative Music and Art camp, our only boy (hereafter referred to as "Little Josh") had an adorable habit of waterbending in the hallway at Munday. I loved it. I even joined him, and we had epic battles in the lobby. Here's a picture of us, mid-showdown:

I'm not trying to be dramatic.  I just can't get the photo to go up any higher.
I was just about giddy when I first realized what Little Josh was doing. I asked, "Are you waterbending?" And he said, "Yeah, watch this one!" I practically squealed, "I love that show!" Little Josh said, "Me too! And my brother loves it too!" And then he taught me how to waterbend. My good friend and fellow counselor, Jesse, who has yet to see the cartoon, said, "What about... groundbending?" And I said, "Earthbending, Jesse, get it right." (Jesse, this is your second shout-out on this blog, which proves that you are super-cool.) [Jesse, now that five months have passed, have you gotten around to watching this show? You still need to. If anyone makes fun of you, you can blame it on me.]

Not many people will take me seriously when I tell them to watch Avatar, the cartoon that came before (and has absolutely nothing to do with) that James Cameron thing. But, trust me, if you're anything like me, you'll enjoy it. Then again, I am continuously, hopelessly drawn to things made for kids (two of my three favorite movies are Spirited Away and How to Train Your Dragon, after all), so take me as seriously as you want.
When I first dove into Avatar: The Last Airbender, I didn't want to tell my husband, knowing he would make fun of me for watching a kids' show, even if just a little bit. And, once I confessed, he did. Then he started watching it too. The next day, he requested that I not watch any more without him. Victory! We finished the whole series in about three weeks. We both laughed out loud, time and again, and I cried SUCH happy tears at the finale. The first thing I said when it was over was, "This does NOT need to be made into a movie."
But, alas, it had already happened, and we could not undo it. Thankfully, I had read enough to know how low my expectations needed to be in order to not throw popcorn at the screen. Actually, I suggested that we not even see the film, or just wait for Netflix, but my Joshua, who loved Avatar as much as I did, could not resist. So, for the first time in possibly forever, I went to see a movie on its opening day. Ha! Oh me.
Well, it wasn't SO bad that I wanted to leave, but I was tempted to take a bathroom break, which would have broken my usual hold-it-no-matter-what standard. In fact, the last time I left a movie to use the restroom (and buy a soda, and dawdle the whole way back) was when my best friend in ninth grade dragged me to see Love & Basketball.
I shouldn't go on and on about the misery of Shyamalan's The Last Airbender, because you can read about that anywhere. Or you can experience it yourself for $10 a piece on a Thursday night, like we did. [Or, you know, rent it, or something.] But I can't help it. Leaving the theater, Joshua had steam coming out his ears and kept saying, "I knew it would be bad, but I didn't know it would be THAT bad!"
I, on the other hand, couldn't stop laughing.  
I don't know what I thought was so funny. It definitely wasn't Sokka, whose lovable goofballery had been sacrificed for a more serious, "brooding" type.  Just look at Jackson Rathbone over there, pursing his lips. Who is this guy? Come to think of it, the whole thing seemed like it was trying to be the "serious version." Why?
[Hold on while I digress:]
Also, half the characters' names were pronounced wrong.  Maybe this is what cracked me up.  "Ahng? Soak-a? Ee-ro? [Ah-vatar?]" I wheezed. "What was that all about?" Joshua replied, "Maybe they changed his name to Soak-a because he always ends up getting wet," which made me laugh even more, because such moments were actually funny in the cartoon, but SO awkward and unnatural in the movie.  
Speaking of awkward pronunciations, none of the actors seemed convinced that they were saying the names right. I felt like every time the girl who played Katara said "Ahng" instead of good ol' "Aang," a tiny part of her died. I bet she'd been a fan of the cartoon, too. In fact, I think the only thing the new pronunciations gained was an alienation of the original fan base. Everything about these actors seemed shy, really. Shy and ill-fitting. Not including Dev Patel, of course, who pretty much set the bar way over everyone else's heads [dare I add, even over the head of the production itself?]. He was the only character I believed, though they totally dumbed down that wicked scar. Considering how great the other characters were originally, and should have been in the film, this makes me more sad than happy. The really funny part, I suppose, is that the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that this could have been done right, but wasn't, and we may never know why.  
Oh.  Money.
On the way home, Joshua and I laughed at the fact that the first thing we wanted to do was go back to the cartoon and watch some of it that night, to get the bad taste out of our mouths. So, we did. And then, while perusing the internet for consolation, I found absolutely the best possible thing to make a sour Avatar fan feel better. 
This quote, and its corresponding video.
"Don't worry, folks, this movie isn't a live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, but of the Ember Island Players." 

To quote everyone who commented on this on Youtube, " [o.m.g.] it's like they knew!"
I suppose the effects were decent. Buh.

This is what Little Josh said when I asked him if he was excited about the movie: "Yes! It's going to be awesome!" I asked him why he thought so, and he said, "Because, it'll look real, and everything's better when it's real!" I wonder what he thought of it, in the end?

**Addendum: Little Josh and I also went through earthbending and firebending, that afternoon in Munday Lodge. On of the absolute highlights of my summer at camp was when I asked him, "Oh, can you redirect lightening?" And he said, in 100% seriousness, "No, I haven't learned to do that yet." Seriously. I love kids.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

what makes me hesitate.

As one might gather from the title, I'm feeling a bit o' the block.  And it's no mystery as to why.

I finally know what I want to blog about.

Unfortunately, this will involve exposing my tastes in literature, music, TV and film, once and for all.  I will not be able to go back.  I may also have to come out and own that I'm trying to write a novel, which sounds cool coming from anyone else but sooooo dumb coming from me (to me).

This makes me hesitate because, well, my friends and family read this blog.  I know who you are [for the most part], you nine followers, you.  And you, most likely, will think my tastes juvenile and silly.  It incapacitates me to imagine your judgments.  Not that ANY of you habitually belittle others (as far as I can tell), so I don't know why I would worry.

Which makes me wonder, do all people fear what others will think of them? [Uh, yeah, I'm guessing they do.] If I admit that I've read cough*overtwenty*cough young adult/youth novels this year, will you roll your eyes and think,
Seriously? Why?
Or, worse:
Doesn't she talk about God ever?  <-- I do want to fix that.

I don't know.  There's something about blogging that makes me forget that people I know in real life will read what I post.  Isn't that strange?  It's like, I read strangers' blogs all the time, so naturally I assume it's strangers who are reading my blog.  But this is not so!

This makes me nervous.  Let's say I write something about... cheese wheels.  I get all excited about the post and put a lot of goofiness into it and then forget about it.  A few weeks later, I see a friend in public, and they say, "Your blog is cool/fun/better than sitting around doing nothing," and I realize, mortified, Oh my goodness, this person totally knows about the stupid cheese wheels. Why did I write that?

It's sort of like being on stage in a small space, where (no matter how hard you try to avoid it) you can clearly see every single person in the audience.

Which never bothered me too much, until I'd spot my mom and dad, or an old friend who'd surprised me by showing up, or an intimidating teacher. These moments shook me worse than messing up lines.  Not because of my parents, or the old friend, or the intimidating teacher, but because I was so thrilled or impressed (or horrified*) to see them there.  I've got no problem divulging my soul to the public, but when someone I know is involved-- someone who's used to seeing me in everyday life and expects me to be the person they know-- I get all clammy and embarrassed.

*Please note:  Absolutely none of you horrify me.  It was just an example.

Also, in a complete abberration, why does this kitten smell like he ate a skunk?
e/eee7ke7777777777777777777777758,5r  And WHY can he not resist walking all over the keyboard?

DOES ANYONE ELSE FEEL THIS WAY?  About blogging, not about the cat.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

hard to believe?

It is hard to believe, isn't it?  This girl who never pictured her future self in the arms of another, has been married for a whole year.  To one mighty charming fella, she might add.

(the funny part is, he does this just about every day.)