Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Things I learned on Pohnpei

There were many lessons that fell down around me (literally) in Pohnpei, but here are the ones I can remember:

1) Geckos aren't cute. Nor are the little lizards that act like geckos. They are creepy. They look creepy. They sound creepy. They are creepy embodied. And for those who would say "But they eat the bugs," my reply is that I never saw them eat any of the bugs swarming over my bed.

2) Water beds aren't bad for sleeping. They aren't the best if you are a mover like I am, but it wasn't bad. I never woke up with a back ache.

3) Spiders, even when harmless, are fucking terrifying at 5 inches in diameter especially when they are hanging over your bed.

4) The brave can be defeated, or there is a limit to bravery. See, I am not exactly a chicken shit. I know I have vertigo and I live with it, but that seems to be more of a physical/chemical thing than a mental thing (because I'm not afraid of heights). The thing is, I can take a lot and not fuss, but apparently I have a limit.

5) Geckos that fall on you are the devil's spawn.

6) Geckos that poop on you and your books repeatedly are cruel and should be dealt with.

7) Sleeping in a traditional bungalow sounds really cool, especially if you grew up watching Swiss Family Robinson. However, for those with defeated courage, living in a place with falling geckos and gecko poop, spiders too big to keep you sane, and humidity up the wazoo can be too much. I did enjoy my stay, but I don't think I shall repeat it, but then I long for winter.

8) You can forget the feel of air conditioning and then wonder what this marvelous invention is after a week without it in weather where your sunscreen can melt off of you.

9) People who might have sunscreen melt off them should not go on day-long tours and hike to waterfalls where they will sweat out all of their bodies moisture. Sometimes it can be too hot and humid.

10) Nan Madol is amazing and made the falling geckos worth it.

11) The geckos are sane some nights and leave you alone and insane the next and charge at you.

12) Comfort is relative, but luxury is luxury. And today the Sheraton on Guam is luxury. The lack of chirping and crawling and falling sounds makes it all the better.

13) You can miss the internet like it's a friend, even if you don't play World of Warcraft or something similar.

I miss home more than I can say. Sometimes, I miss it enough that I tear up. Two more days!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Juniper Time...or How I Discovered I Wanted to Visit Bend

For 9 in 0'09, I should also report on Juniper Time.

Kate Wilhelm is one of my favorite authors, I should confess that. I don't know why her and not others, but she's been on my list of used book store searches since I read Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. I think it's because she isn't precious. She doesn't apply a Vaseline layer to make things prettier. She isn't exactly brutally honest, but she's honest.

Juniper Time is one of her science fiction novels (before the mystery novels, and after them, I suppose). There is a blight upon the world and a drought so extreme that people have been moved from some states entirely, people are living in ghettos full of crime and violence. There are some who aren't living there, but by parental luck. I expected none of this except the drought. I did not see the violence coming. I did not see how silly our male lead could be. I did not see what our female lead was up to. I was surprised. I'm still trying to decide if I agree with the idea behind the end, living as I do now and not thirty years ago. This is one reason I love older science fiction so much, it's taken from a time I have no direct experience with. Looking at 1984 or Brave New World now, you can still see the eerie truths, but you can smile at the places where the story is dated by its time, which does not demean the story or message.

I would write a synopsis of the book, but I feel that it would be unfair because I can't imagine explaining it. There's a drought. There's international conflict. There's a space station. And somehow, they are all related. Not that the space station is causing the drought.

Oh, but let me just say this: Bend, Oregon. Half of the book (or a little less) takes place in Bend and its environs. When I read "Bend", I thought Wilhelm was crazy or that I was crazy, but the crazy thing is getting a description of Bend from before I knew it. It's like reading about London before it was the heaving mass of a city it is now (except Bend is not anything like London).

So, I read Juniper Time in a whirlwind. I really liked it. I did not love it as I wanted to, but I realize now that it's because I'm not sure that I got enough of the end. It was a story where I wanted more and sort of resented that I didn't get more. Except let me add that no one can push a limit like Wilhelm. I remain shocked that she did what she did to one of her characters, but I love her for the shock.

Possession...or how Byatt needs more editing on occasion

Not that anyone other than Cathy reads this, or pretends to anyway, but I have to write because I have finally finished Possession by A.S. Byatt. I am conflicted as to how I feel about it. My sister asked how many stars I would give it out of five and I was giving it four until I remembered how Byatt cheated. Here are the complaints:

1) She cheated. Balls out cheated. I'll say the same thing of any other writer who does this, but I was surprised when Byatt did. I thought she would have thought better of her audience than to pander to us. See, we spend the majority of the book in the present (or really the 1980s) looking back at things written from the late 1850s. We are in the present, the story is in the present, but we are looking at texts from the past. Ninety-nine percent of the book fits that mold, and then Byatt cheats and gives us bits of the past that we would not know from what we have in the present. And it didn't really add to the book, it provided no great insight. And the final one was the biggest cheat of all, it was pandering.

2) The unnecessary bits. If you read it, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't and decide you are going to read it, take my advice and skip or skim sections you feel you are going to die of boredom in. Yes, I just said skip. Trust me, I skipped, and here's why: I am not a literary scholar. I like a good mystery, but when a book is longer than 500 pages and I have to read the journal of a teenage Breton girl, I will skip and skim. If I am given pages upon pages of a poem that drags on, I am going to skip it. Maybe "Swammerdam" had a brilliance I couldn't see, but then it wasn't really meant for me was it?

3) The Cropper chapter. So unnecessary. I almost stopped reading there. Really, I did, then I felt guilty and skipped him instead.

4) Being made to research like the two main characters. If I wanted to do that, I would be doing that, not reading a novel for enjoyment.

However, I did really like the book. I liked Maud and adored Roland. I liked them and the story much more than the film, which I bugged my sister about trying to remember (plus I decided that Aaron Eckhart [although a decent enough guy and generally good actor] was miscast and not because he played Roland as an American, but because he has a confidence he can't really shed). I did feel involved in it (although I was a cheat because I already knew the kicker), I flipped the pages eagerly at the end for the resolution. It is a novel of great feeling, which I appreciate. But I still say Byatt cheated.

I should also add that mid-book, I stopped. I couldn't take it. I closed the book and thought I'd never return. I think it was in the middle of a letter that told me nothing about nothing. During that pause, I read Pride and Prejudice and was reminded how much I love Austen. We should note here that it was easier to read a book written in the early nineteenth century than a book written in the 1980s. And now, I am with Wuthering Heights. I desperately want to understand why reading about England seems natural to me while in tropical Guam.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

television tragedies

A tragic thing happens every spring, and it's not the heinous allergy season I'm deeply entrenched with right now. And in the grand scheme of things, "tragic" is probably a bit of a stretch, but for those affected, the desperation that will ensue feels tragic...TV renewal season.

The problem comes with being a fan of smart television. Smart television is rarely rewarded. The great victory of the years rests in Friday Night Lights, and I worry that NBC gave us that only to let us down on the other prime shows: Chuck, Southland, Life, and maybe Kings (I haven't decided on it yet). Worry supplemented by the stupid addition of a primetime Jay Leno show. With a primetime talk show (which is dirt cheap for NBC), the dramas much more intended for adults are going to be cut and suffer.

Then, there's Better Off Ted on ABC. Dollhouse and Lie To Me on Fox. And the ever challenged How I Met Your Mother.

All this goodness and the networks still keep something as tired and boring as Heroes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My sister's beloved Adalia

The crazy thing happened yesterday as I started shopping for a new suitcase. It was surprise, even though I knew it was coming...I became a published crochet designer. And I'm super scared. Looking at the photos, there are things I wish I had done and things I wish the magazine had done, but it's all done now and I can't change it except to say that maybe more motifs are called for on the top of the back, and maybe in a stronger fiber.

That said, it's super exciting. Super scary and super exciting. The pattern is easy, and would be easier if not for words. I'm always amazed at how words (and abbreviations) get in the way. It reminds me of that saying (that I first heard in Playing By Heart spoken by Angelina Jolie before people knew who she was [and when Gillian Anderson was the superstar in that movie, next to the superstars of Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands]) that talking about love is like dancing about architecture. Sometimes crochet patterns are written like someone's dancing about architecture. Diagrams make it easier. Symbols make things clear.

Anyway, March 31st will be a weird day all around: the magazine goes on sale in stores, and I celebrate my 31st birthday (likely in Guam). And the only person I really want to see the magazine (or really my name in the magazine) is one of my grandmothers, because without her, I wouldn't be there.

Oh, and my sister gets tons of credit on that top too. Tons of credit, including the name.

On a completely separate note, here are some links to animated short films. Goodness all around. I wish I could show you Imagemakers, because I'm sure you'd love it.

The Periwig Maker

Thursday, March 5, 2009

It's time to admit defeat. Aside from the yarn that is not arriving in time and is therefore going to prevent me from finishing the afghan.

Here's what's left and can't be taken care of easily:

-the afghan
-the comfort scarf
-the House Unity scarf
-the birthday scarf

And although the end of the month is a way off, I have to prioritize for the second half of the month because I won't have all of my supplies. I have to prioritize supplies too. And books. And patterns.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It took a few weeks, but worry has been replaced with excitement. I get to go here:

Photo of Pohnpei by islagirl

and here:

Photo of Guam by zinnie.

I might not like heat, but I do love beauty.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I have discovered the land of worry. It sits alongside the land of caution, and I have tripped from caution to worry. The thing is I'm going to be in Guam for six weeks, which means that I'm going to be living in a hotel room for six weeks. Yes, a hotel room for six weeks. I can handle the idea of a hotel room for six weeks, but all of the reviews on TripAdvisor for the Guam hotels make me worry. And now, I've read one that described a brown tree snake in the bathtub and another coming out of the fire sprinkler. That is what the land of worry looks like.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The To-Do List

These are the leftovers from the holidays and 2008 in general.

For accountability's sake, things still left to do:

1)* scarf for Dad - needs washing and seaming
2) scarf for friend - halfway...minimal progress
3) scarf for friend - planned, not started...no progress
4) bag for Mom - needs a lining...no progress
5) hemp bag - need to restart...no progress
6)* 1st wedding afghan - washed, needs sewing
7)* 2nd wedding afghan - started, maybe 1/8 done
8) Liesl - needs to be blocked...no progress
9) House Unity scarf - ongoing...no progress
11) Twine Bag - languishing...no progress
12)* Ben's Hat - needs wash
13) Lexie's Hat - wash and block...no progress

Things completed:
scarf for other
scarf for other
baby blanket
1st sweater
2nd sweater
Moebius basket
*Birdie's sweater

All items currently sleeping in my queue will not be impacted by this because when I look at them, I can never decide if I want to finish them.

*Updated on 2/17/09.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

First, today the best movie of the year is Milk. Second, I have a new BlackBerry Storm and I love it. Third, I am no longer allowed to start new projects or buy new yarn. A boring series of updates, but that's all I have.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why Neko's awesome...

I've already complained about the lack of a new Neko Case album, and as if in response, this becomes available today:

People Got A Lotta Nerve - Neko Case

P.S. Because Neko's super cool and I posted this to my lame ass blog, $5 will be donated to Best Friends Animal Society. If you read this by some chance, you can do this too.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Something for Cathy

A short post.
If I were to tell the complete truth, I would say that there are three things I'm looking forward to this year: film versions of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Road, and Watchmen. That's it. That's all of the anticipation I have right now (production companies will blame the writers, but I blame the production companies).

Anyway, this company known as 20th Century Fox is threatening one third of my joy. I'm fascinated by this notion that the Warner Bros. Watchmen will hurt Fox. I agree that Warner Bros. was silly and its lawyers lacking in their understanding of the rights Fox held for Watchmen. However, Fox's claim that the Warner Bros. movie will irreparably harm them is complete crap. Yes, they should get money for the movie; yes, they own the rights to it; but for a studio that had done nothing with the rights for a decade and had seemingly decided to ignore that they owned the rights to it, to claim that the film will irreparably harm them even if they get money, is shit.

There are only two tiny bits of potential truth to Fox's claim:

1) Watchmen turns out to be awesome and the masses realize that Warner Bros. is a much better production company and better serves difficult material; and the audience questions why Fox couldn't get it to work. This could damage Fox's reputation, but my understanding is that money rules Hollywood, and if Fox gets money for Warner Bros.' effort, why complain? No one goes to a movie because Warner Bros. or Paramount or Fox is involved, people go because they want to see the movie. And I doubt many movies go to one company over another because they did super on a movie years before.

2) Fox wins their argument, Watchmen isn't released, the movie is never seen, and the fans decide to boycott Fox. Unfortunately, this fury won't do much. A bunch of angry fans won't hurt a company. Because how many people are really going to be angry about the Watchmen case? What percentage of that mob is the movie-going public? The truth is that the fanboys and fangirls of the world are a notable group and they can make an opening day. They line up for movies days before. They are the loyal ones. But, if we're honest, they're only a fraction of the money a movie needs to bring in to be successful. A faction of angry Watchmen fans won't destroy Fox with a boycott, but they could destroy the Wolverine movie. The one thing you don't want to do is piss off the boys who could write about how cool your movie is, because if you blink, those boys could decide that your prequel isn't worth the effort, and your movie release two months after the expected Watchmen release date could just be pathetic.

Although, I'm not completely on Warner Bros.' side, because they're the assholes who postponed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

a summary of things

On the first night of the new year, I feel I can safely say these things:

1) I was most disappointed by of Montreal in 2008. I love them, and I will get beyond this whole disappointment bit, but I like two songs on Skeletal Lamping, while I loved all of Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?.* My hopes were probably just too high. I could end up loving it in two months, you never know.

2) The Stills continued their streak of not living up to Logic Will Break Your Heart. I've only started listening to Logic... again, because before the third album, Logic... did break my heart** because all I had was the very subpar second album. Fortunately, Oceans Will Rise came along, but it's still not what they could be.

3) The new TV shows were generally boring. Right now, I just want new episodes of How I Met Your Mother. If you had told me three years ago that this show would become the highlight of my week, I wouldn't have believed you, but then all of the cast members stepped up to what Neil Patrick Harris was offering, and then the show became perfect. (Especially without Stella.) Although, now Friday Night Lights, Battlestar Galactica, and Lost are coming back, and they are formidable competition.

4) I use Hulu mainly to watch episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I know, I'm a weirdo.

5) Neko Case needs to come out with a new album. I feel I've waited patiently, but since the Pixies sort of got back together, my patience isn't what it was in 2000 and there was no hope.

6) The albums that apparently defined my 2008 were: Sunset Rubdown's Random Spirit Lover (which was a 2007 album, but it is what I wake up to everyday), Kate Nash's Made of Bricks (I didn't find it until 2008), Portishead's Third, and Alaska in Winter's Dance Party in the Balkans.

And this became an unintentional entertainment summary. Otherwise, it was sort of a boring year. I turned 30 in Yorkshire. I became a supervisor for the first time. And I seriously considered buying house only to watch the country's financial stability crumble. Maybe I'll be a homeowner by the end of 2010.

Oh, I was also obsessed with the Twilight books, but then that faded and now I'm all about Y: The Last Man.

*When an title ends in a punctuation mark and the title appears at the end of a sentence, should the sentence get an extra punctuation?
**Pun so not at all intentioned.