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Tuesday, end of June

It isn’t that there is nothing going on worth talking about.

It isn’t that I don’t have a new adventure to tell you all about.

So, why is today’s post an RT and a bid for cooking advice?

Well, why not?

First off, the cooking thing. I am trying… sometimes I am trying hard and sometimes I am just thinking about trying… to relearn to cook. This is one of those annoying skills that takes practice. Anyway, any feedback you want to toss my direction via the Kay Learns To Cook blog, would be greatly appreciated.

Now, on to Ruby Tuesday!!

The following are shots of a rather unassuming staircase in a local used bookstore.




I like these shots because I like the red and black contrast….



… and also because I have always felt that stairs are such great symbols of transition.



In the case of this store, they are the transition from the mainstream to the older, more disorganized used, buried treasure part of the store.

Any guesses as which part I like better?

Merlin

Merlin



As beginnings go, this one was sort of …. blink and you’ll miss it coupled with cheesy voice over and a tall pointy eared youth walking through a forest.

Merlin!

I suppose it is hard to make a new show based on a story that has been done and redone and then redone again (and again) but in today’s climate of “We miss Buffy” and “Harry Potter made a lot of money….” It isn’t really all that surprising.

Ok, fine. Open mind and all that.

Yikes.

Actually the show isn’t half bad. Anthony Stewart Head is Uthur, the roles of who is who in the court are a bit jumbled, but overall it is a fantasy show with enough familiar touches and enough changes to make it interesting.

Like.. Guinevere is the Lady Morgana’s maid… and she is all sweet on Merlin. This can’t end well.

I will note that Merlin has remarkable teeth… in fact most of the pretty people in this show are well, remarkably pretty which is slightly disconcerting… but the fact that there aren’t any blonds I find refreshing.

By the way, Arthur is cute and also a bully with a sense of justice, Merlin is telekinetic and a bit of a prat, and the music is cliché but perfectly fun. There is also a bit of teenage angst, but thankfully it never gets further than “I want to be special… wait, I am, now I am slightly tortured…” and I can live with that.

I would rather not live with the English accent half the cast have or the creepy badly CGI dragon mentor… but lets not be too picky.

So, despite a lackluster beginning, I will tune in again because we all could use a bit more magic and nifty medieval props in our lives.

Or maybe that’s just me.

(One last note: when someone gives you a old highly illegal book of magic and tells you to keep it hidden, it seems in poor judgment to set it on your bedside table and then walk away from it leaving your door ajar…. Again, maybe that’s just me.)

One Pick Up Line To Rule Them All

I get hit on and flirted with on a semi regular basis. Before you think I am being arrogant… let me point out that the majority of my “being hit on” adventures take place while riding public transportation and the context is different from being in a night club or singles bar.

For starters, I am usually alone, I am usually one of the only females between the age of 20 and 40, I am usually dressed for work (which means anything from corporate cog skirt and such to “I don’t want to be a corporate cog” jeans and tank top), and I have a pretty basic routine. Meaning, I think that most of these instances of attention are due more to means and opportunity than actual attraction.

In other words I am not usually flattered to be receiving this attention.

I have put together a quick list of some of the best (worst) pick up lines… I did leave out the instances of actual touching and the case of simple leering because I am going more for humor with this post and less for “Lets give my grandmother a heart attack!”

So, as promised, my personal Top Ten of Horrible Pick Up Lines Received While on Public Transportation.



While reading Botany of Desire: (and telling, when asked, that it was about ‘the co evolution of plants and people”)
I bet you could help me evolve some desire.


While reading The God Delusion:
It’s so sad such a pretty girl is going to go to hell… but you know, if you want, I could bring you to my church and we could save you. (Said while looking at my chest and, I kid you not, licking his lips.)


While reading Bonk (Science of Sex)
If you ever want to do your own sort of sex research, I would volunteer.


While reading Not Without My Daughter
You must be such a caring compassionate person, would you like to go out for coffee and talk about Islam?


Off of a note that was passed up from the back of the bus:
“You are very pretty. I like your Chest. Would you like to be friends? Please check yes or no” (There were little labeled boxes.)


Wow, you somehow manage to make that ugly dress look really good.


Hey, where are you getting off? Cuz, if you need help getting off, well… I could help you out.


While reading a large hardback novel (dust jacket removed) with my hair up in a bun:

Mmm, I like the librarian look on you, but I bet you can get freaky when you want to.


While reading The Mommy Myth
So, you got kids? (I said no) That’s a shame… it looks like you have great hips for birthing.


While reading a romance novel:
I’ve always thought that girls who can read make the best lovers.
(Which elicited my deadpan response of “Yes and idiots make the best future blog posts.”)



There you have it… I would love to hear any of your all time worst Public Transportation Pick Up Lines, and in the mean time, remember there’s nothing wrong with a nod, a smile, and a classic line like “Good morning, how are you?”

Novel vs Movie: My Sister's Keeper

The movie review is Here

The book review is here.


Many times it is difficult to compare movies to the books they were based on. The readers of the original story feel a fierce sense of obligation to promote the reading, while those who entered the scene at the movie stage feel just as obligated to tout the energy the acting, the special effects…..

I have always felt that in many cases comparing books to movies is like comparing fresh apples to apple pie. They are both apple in taste, but one has gone through remarkable transformation and is something altogether different. And sometimes, despite you love for apple pie… you crave an apple pure. They are different things and should be treated as such.

This is an argument I usually reserve for when the movie holds its own and despite “never” being as good as the book, it is still a good use of your time.

That is not the case here.

Not only does the book do a better job of telling the core story, a better job of creating characters that you care about, a better job of character development, a better job of pacing and telling a whole complete story…. But the movie does all that badly.

Examples;

The book is written as series of journal type entries from all the major players involved. We get Ana’s side of things (mostly, she is our main protagonist) but we also get the perspective of the father, the mother, the brother, the lawyer… And this works as a novel. Partly because of the change in font/style/point in time, partly because this narrative technique is tailor made to give us piece after piece of a large puzzle that once complete offers us the whole picture. The movie attempted this sort of thing but fell hopelessly flat. The audience constantly wonders, ‘who are they talking to?’ and the diction is off for it being a journal… in the movie, Ana’s voice over says at one point “that’s my sister…” which is not how one write a journal but rather how one explains a photo.

Also, the point of view of Kate (the sick sister) is held off in the book until the end giving it well deserved weight. In the movie her voice is heard early on and seems to be there to do nothing more than make the audience weepy.

Something novels do extremely well is to show the passage of time. This concept is much harder for movies to do well.. and My Sister’s Keeper is a prime example of this. The actors age oddly and the because of the augmented pacing the time line is sometimes difficult to follow.

In essence, the filmmakers miss much of the beauty and poignancy of the story that was found in the novel. Having the audience actually laugh at improper times is a sign failure.

The whole thing is especially disappointing because there was potential for something really good and deep and meaningful… and at times we almost get it. There are a few moments of symbolism that are well done, but for the movie-goer’s eyes they lack context and thus are totally lost.

Perhaps, however, the real crime here is (as always in an adaptation) the issue of the Unforgivable Change. Little changes are expected, big changes are not appreciated, but again usually accepted… but the Unforgivable Change is truly unquestionably horrific. And no, I am not talking about the ending…. That change can be argued for and against all day and the answer will eventually come down to Hollywood, audiences, and marketing. I am talking about the kidney.

Kate is sick… she has been sick forever and her latest bit of sickness needs a kidney. From here sister. That’s the same scenario in both book and movie. Here’s the difference: in the book, the kidney is not a guarantee of wellness, in fact it is highly likely that even with the kidney, Kate will die. In the movie… not so much. The kidney is the saving grace for Kate making Ana’s fight to not be forced to donate it a bit harder to sympathize with. The idea of the kidney being a guarantee verse a last ditch effort to simply add a bit more time… changes the story in a remarkable and unforgivable way. Especially when you add in the “twist’ and the new ending.

Conclusion: Watch the preview then read the book. Despite its length, it is a shockingly fast read and will give you an actual story that not only makes sense but is worth your time.

My Sister's Keeper (the Movie)

Movie Review for My Sisters Keeper

The book review is here.


Anyone who has seen the preview for this movie knows what they are getting themselves into. You know going into it that there is a sick sister and a not sick sister… and that the not sick sister doesn’t want to be an organ 7-11 anymore. Also, you get the sense from the preview that the movie will teach you about life, love and family sacrifice.

All that is true… but it isn’t enough to make a movie compelling. For that, you would need a few things that this movie sadly lacks. Like cohesion and proper pacing.

I talked to a dozen fellow opening night viewers at my local movie theater and the overwhelming response was “good story, but not set up quite right.” Translation: the story is inherently powerful… sick kid…. Family drama… quality of life… how we deal with death… But the execution of this story left something to be desired. (To be fair this view was shared by those movie goers who had both read the book and who didn’t know it was based on a book.)

The movie had a framing device that was weak, a shifting narration that did little more than make the transitions awkward, and a sever lack of character development.

But ignoring the cinematography, the direction, the acting (which was superb), you are left still with a story that is haunting and tear jerking, and thus it is easy to forget all about everything else.

In other words, because the subject matter is inherently provocative, we don’t need a well made movie in order to leave the theater thinking “wow, how sad.”

In short, a disappointing execution of a very powerful story. Making an audience feel sad, is easy. Sadness is one of the easiest emotions to illicit from any audience no matter age, race, or financial strata. Show a child in peril, show a child in tears, show a mother weeping over a grave…. And Boom! Instant compassion on the side of the viewer.

The makers of My Sister’s Keeper knew this… and they seemed to delight in pouring lemon juice onto the open wounds. It is a shortcut to “good” by being “moving.”

And it was unnecessary.

Conclusion: Watch the preview, read a “spoiler”, and save yourself the ten bucks. You won’t be missing anything.

Life Lesson At The Movies

Last night I went to see a movie all by myself.

It was my first adventure of this sort… obviously I have seen many movies and I have seen many movies by myself but normally I am alone in my living room eating microwave popcorn or ice cream (sometimes together… yum!) with my feet on the coffee table and no shame at all in yelling encouragement at the screen. I tend to be quieter when watching movies with another person… I learned my lesson when an ex boyfriend threatened to gag me during a movie once, and not in the fun kinky way… he was brandishing a pair of socks and had a deranged glint in his eye.

Wow, off topic. Blame the mocha.

Anyway, I have never gone to see a movie at the theater by myself before…. Not for any reason of oddity or fear but simply because I really really like talking about the movies I have seen after the fact. I like the idea of shared context, the ability to reference the plot or the dialoged, the availability of inside jokes and shared memories. You get that when you watch a movie with someone… you don’t get that when you watch alone. Plus spending 10 bucks on something seems like something to you should be sharing. Because I am cheap and unless it is shoes or clothes, I tend to not want to spend money on myself. (this even goes for food… I am much more likely to skip meals or eat crackers when alone and only shop when I know I will be sharing the meal with someone else.) Again, I guess I am cheap… maybe slightly deranged in my own way. Whatever.

So why the change in routine? What was the amazing movie that made me change my spots and venture to a theater I had never been to before in order to join the ranks of people who go see movies alone?

My Sister’s Keeper.

Which, wasn’t that good of a movie and really was something I would normally mock softly and then ignore…. This is the sort of movie that may get added to the Netflix queue, but it would be way down there at the bottom next to all those other movies I will probably never actually watch.

But see I had read the book and written a review on it and I wanted to see how it compared and write a review of the movie. And I sort of wanted to do that when the movie was new and not six months down the road. It opened yesterday, so off I went.

The review will be in two parts I think… review of the movie as it stands alone and then a review regarding the changes etc… and that should go up later today or tomorrow depending on how quickly I get through the revision work I need to be doing for my “Links” book. Yeah, I’m not procrastinating on that at all, not at all.

But first I must say that going to see a movie by oneself was, at least for me, a combination of ‘hey look at me all independent and free” and “damn this would be easier if I wasn’t alone.”

Here’s why:

I got lost getting to the theater and had no one to blame. (Except Google maps which apparently hates Santa Cruz and kept trying to tell me to head into the ocean either because it has a sadistic sense of humor or because it hates me…. Maybe both.)

I couldn’t find the box office. Not totally my fault since the entrance for the lobby is where all the signs are pointing to and the box office is slightly hidden… but still, I felt pretty dumb walking in and having to ask.

I couldn’t find the stadium. My ticket stub said “Stadium 1” and to my chagrin there were only 2 stadiums… but they weren’t labeled in a manner that someone who isn’t legally allowed to drive can make out without walking right up to the stupid sign, squinting, and staring for a full five seconds. I had a 50/50 shot at getting it right… but I got it wrong and this brings me to the next point…

The stupid stupid staff who took obvious delight in asking me if I was all right, if I needed any help, if I was okay, if I was there alone…. All in the sing song voice you usually reserve for a six year old who has wondered into the maternity section of Macy’s and is blinking in obvious confusion at the nursing bras.

Since I had counted on getting lost, I was freakishly early and thus got to stand in front of the doors all by myself for what felt like forever listening to the vapid discourse of the four tweeners who were right behind me. Sadly I had no one with whom to share a look of mild amusement bordering on chagrin and had to consol myself with trying bravely to balance my ….

HUGE “medium” popcorn and HUGE ‘medium” soda. Whoever decided that “medium” now means “able to feed a small army” or ravenous 14 year old boy needs a lesson in size. (I bet it was a guy.) These things were bad enough to consider ingesting… but the whole having to carry them (along with my purse of course) through an incredibly dark room and try to find a seat without spilling or killing myself… well that would have been funny except that I was pretty darn sure I was in fact going to fall and seriously do damage to something vital, like my pride. I think it was my fear of the staff having to come scrape me off the floor that kept me on my feet and steady while getting down the totally unlit stairs and into a seat.

After all that, well, the movie was a breeze.

My point? As with sex, hiking, and really a whole lot of things in life, sure you can do it alone… in fact sometimes you want to, but the experience is much easier, safer, and can be a lot more fun if shared with another person.

Crazy Crazy Music Fun

It’s Friday (at last). Let’s celebrate with a bit of crazy!

Ever wonder what would happen if you mixed Fundamentalist web page designers with Powerpoint and Crack?

You might get something likethis or this

(found via this delightful ranty blog)


And if that isn’t your cup of crazy tea, check out these little gems…

The Facebook Movie (I kid you not) which will be Written by Aaron Sorkin and Directed by David Fincher Well, that sounds… ominous right? Here is a list of possible ways to make it better

Not to be outdone, The MySpace Musical

What… that isn’t enough for you? Well how about this…

In light of the popularity of High School Musical… a group of capitalistic Christians have decided to cash in on the action, presenting
Sunday School Musical!

Wow.

And last but not least a video from Stacy that puts the Hip Hop world exactly where it deserves to be… in the Spotlight of Mockery.




Happy Friday y’all! Have a great weekend!

My Sister's Keeper (The Novel)

Book Review for My Sister’s Keeper


I saw the preview for the movie and thought “Oh no way would I put myself through what looks like an emotional roller coaster.” Then I saw that it was based on a book and suddenly, I wanted to read it.

Because I’m weird like that.

So, I read the book knowing about as much as you do after watching the preview… there is a family with a sick daughter and another daughter (younger) who doesn’t want to be the organ/blood/tissue/whatever donor for her sister. She gets a lawyer and sues for the right to not have to. Everyone supposedly learns about love and family and sacrifice.



The book, thank goodness is a bit more than that.

Jodi Picoult weaves the story together with multiple narrators, the suing sister Ana is our main character but we also get the perspective of her parents, her lawyer, her brother, and her court appointed liaison. (We don’t get the sick sister’s point of view until the end… a choice that is beautiful executed and almost not noticeable.)

Along the way we learn about not just Ana, but about her whole family… how everyone is affected by the sickness of Kate.

The book is amazingly well written, careful and poetic while being totally believable and charming even as it treads on very shaky emotional ground. This is a story that could lend itself very easily to a caricature of heroes and villains but it manages to make everyone more human than epic.

Such is the case of the mother, Sarah, who is very human… very flawed… and even though you want to understand her, even though Picoult gives you all you need to see why she makes the choices she makes… she is never anywhere as sympathetic as Ana. Her obsession, her coldness, her fear is, again, understandable but we never really warm up to her.

I will say that maybe having Sarah as a character who we can’t wholly get behind helps keep the story focused on Ana… but I would also point out that had Picoult made her more likable, the drama at the end would have been better.

This separation that is there though makes the book fraught with tension and also supremely realistic.

From a reader’s standpoint, it is an easy read as far as words and chapters are concerned but it is a difficult read as you watch a family at the edge of implosion.


And then the ending comes along, knocks you on your rear end, and leaves you torn.

I highly recommend the book…. With a poetic prose that is clear and yet strangely cryptic, this book will hold you in thrall all the way through.







If you are interested: My take on the movie is Here and a discussion on how they compare is here.

Looking Out, Looking In

Good Morning campers, train riders, cubicle sitters, and well, everyone else!


I have a few treats in store for you in the coming days…

“Kay’s Top 10 list of Horrible Pick Up Lines Received on Public Transportation, “

“The Adventure of Trying To Help… and Regretting It,”

and some fun updates regarding the book.



But this morning I felt inclined to do a photo entry… since it has been a while and my friends over at Ruby Tuesday and Windows have been so very patient.



Without further ado, a few pretty window photos.


This one was taken at a local used bookstore. What a cool skylight eh?



Here we have a combo shot of my amazing couch cover, my amazing living room window and my AMAZING Self-Hung Curtains! (First ever time of hanging curtains… and because of how the window is set up I had to pound/screw straight up. (Wow, that sounded unintentionally dirty…..)




Ahem, moving on.



This shot was taken while lying on my back in the stairwell of my old apartment and looking straight up.

I like to think of it as my “here’s a different perspective” shot.

And lastly this shot is of a building on my street. I had to take it in a hurry so as to avoid the reputation of “creepy woman taking photos of someone else’s house.” I don’t know why, I just like the shapes of the windows. This, by the way, is an apartment building –I think-. One thing you can say about Santa Cruz architecture… it is diverse.




I hope you are all having a good day out there in the wide wide blog world….

Catch you tomorrow!

Suffering for my art.

So, a few months ago I received an email from an intern at a “full-service media and public relations agency focusing on bridging the gap between faith and culture.”

Wait, it gets better.

See, I have been trying to create a portfolio of sorts of reviewed books (over here on this blog) and I had reviewed a few titles produced by a Christian publishing house. My reviews were (I think) fair but certainly not glowing. In fact, there was a fair bit of mockery going on because the books I had reviewed for them (The Great Eight The Noticer Higher Hope) had all been written,…well.. poorly. So I wasn’t surprised that I had made it onto the radar of this gap bridging agency… but I was surprised as why they were writing to me.

They said in the letter that they were contacting me because they had “been referred to [my] blog as a popular internet opinion site” Popular? Well… umm okay. Not really but I am trying to remedy that, so… so far so … good?

What was it they wanted? They wanted to send me a (free) copy of a book called “Surrender All” written by Joni Lamb who, they hastened to inform me, is co-founder and vice president of Daystar Television Network, the fastest growing Christian network in the world. They were asking me to read it and write “a 300-word, honest review.”

Hmmm,

Reading on: In her début book (which came out in 2008) “she shares the message of discovering the amazing journey God intended and fashioned for each of us. Through simply offering control to the One who created us, we can learn the peace that comes through trusting God.”

The tag line for the book, by the way, is “The Path of Surrender Always Leads To Contentment”

Of course I did what any self respecting author/blogger/person in the year 2009 would do. I forwarded the email request to about a dozen people with a healthy dose of “Lol”s.

And then I wrote back telling the intern that I am always interested in more reviewing work as I would someday really like to do it in a more full time capacity. I also mentioned that my readers might not be the desired demographic, but if they wanted to send me a copy of the book, I would indeed provide a 300 word honest review.

I heard nothing for months… I figured that they had actually bothered to read my blog (or even my reviews of the other Christian books) and had decided to pretend they didn’t know me.

And then yesterday it arrived.




That... is a whole lot of hair going on there.

Not to be snarky off the bat, but holy mother of pasta induced hunger pains… that is a freaky ass photo to use when touting the idea of surrender.

Or maybe that’s just me.

I flipped through the book… it has chapter titles like “Surrender your kids” and "Surrender your health,” and I started to get a faintly nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I won’t have time to start it this week, (lets be honest, I don’t want to be seen reading this book on the train) and so I won’t be able to do the review for a bit.

But coming soon to a blog near you… my 300 word honest review…

Stay Tuned!

Why My Head Hurts

Despite the fact that we turned our keys in a week prior to our move-out day… despite the fact that we gave plenty of notice…

Our former apartment complex has decided to charge us rent for part of May… a part of May when we were both happily off paying rent in other apartments.

Because, well, they suck.

Also, despite our monthly water bill being around the 35 buck mark consistently for a year and a half… our final month of water costs (including a big chunk of time when, as stated above, we weren’t there) somehow ended up being over $70.

Because, well they suck too.

/grumble

In other news, I am looking at less than two weeks, 22 pages of “notes” from the publisher, the very real possibility of having to rename/reorganize/rewrite a bunch of my short story collection.

In other words, this week is going to be pretty darn hectic. Who needs sleep when you can live on stress and soda right?

Thank goodness for delivery Chinese food.

Extra! Extra! (Blogs!)

Obviously, you know about this blog… and I would like to thank you for dropping by and reading it however often you do.

Just in case you need even more Kay-ness in your life though, let me assure you, there are other options.

First off I have been writing a Review blog over at Perhaps Reviewed. I try to review at least one thing a week… a book, a movie, a TV show… and you can read all about them over there. Some recent reviews include “Surfacing” by Margaret Atwood and the TV show “The Listener” (a Canadian show that just got picked up by NBC). Also, last week I reviewed the Academy winning movie “Departures” and this week I will be reviewing “My Sister’s Keeper” (the novel) in preparation for the movie which opens next week. So check it out and enjoy!

Secondly, as referenced in a past that dropped last week, I want to relearn how to cook as well as organize my recipes in such a way that I can find them again. Writing things on little 3 by 5 cards simply doesn’t work for me… but being able to sort them on the computer by labels such as “Short list” –few ingredients- and “Oven” will be helpful I hope and thus keep me actually cooking. And so I have started a small “Kay learns to cook” blog where I will be documenting my forays into the kitchen. Along the way I will probably tell you about the fun misadventures of cooking… everything from learning how to use knifes to what happens when I use pancake mix instead of flour while making cookies.

Plus, each recipe comes with helpful tips like “Time to prepare this meal: The first 8 songs off of Sheryl Crow’s Best of Album.” Because that is the sort of information vital to happy cooking in my opinion.

So, there you go… feel free to check ‘em out…

Racist Yahoo, Wedded Bliss

I know that I have mocked Yahoo news in the past… because, well, it is so easy to do so.

But today’s bit of “Yahoo is on crack” comes to us not from the news or the main page… but from the racist Yahoo Games division.

Yes, occasionally I play Yahoo games on my way home from work… I like the puzzle games and I am not ashamed.

Today I randomly clicked on the “Wedding Planner" game because, well, I was bored and slightly curious.



Wow, first off… way to go on the graphics yes? Yikes... These two look horribly freaked out. Maybe because when they decided to take the plunge they had no idea they were going to go spinning uncontrollably through the sky on what looks vaguely like a hang glide accident waiting to happen.

The game is simple bordering on the inane. You pick a couple with a budget and then you “shop” for items essential to the wedding (groom hair, flower arch, honeymoon car, etc” and in the end if you spent less than the budget… you win!



Lame right?

Ok, sure… but no one is pretending that Yahoo is the destination for the highly intellectual thrill seeker.

But racist? Yeah… I knew that would catch your interest.

The couples are



Well, cool, look, we have an interracial couple… so far so good.

But then you look closer.

The couple with the biggest budget:



Business people, white, good upstanding citizens. Fine

The middle class couple:



Cute, white, again.. nothing all that special.

And then:

The interracial couple:



Notice the name of Mr. Bing (Bling?)… notice the word “Gheto”… notice the idea that they have been together for 10 years but only now are going to tie the knot…

Racist?

Maybe… or maybe just really rally bad idea.

What do you think?

I would also like to point out that spending 2500 bucks on a wedding is kind of insane… even though I know of people who have spent substantially more. Heck, even 1000 bucks seems excessive to me.

In the spirit of weddings though, The Maifan-San and I get to see our friend N and A this weekend… N and A got married, one year ago this weekend, in a small ceremony on a boat in Lake Tahoe.

It was simple, it was fun, it was low key.

I don’t know how they would feel about photos, so I won't post any of them here.
But here is one of my favorite photos of The Maifan-San and I ever. It was taken at the buffet reception…



See that sunburn.. yikes!

Anyway, Happy anniversary to N and A… and to Big T and Bug… oh and my editor and her dashing fellow… and even Leah and Joe! Wow… June is quite the month for marital bliss eh?

Where the Wild Bride Meatballs Play Basketball.

The horse might be dead, but beating it makes me feel better.

Why, why WHY are they remaking things instead of making new things?

It is bad enough when you revisit a franchise… Transformers, GI Joe, Buffy, the Smurfs (for crying out loud)!… but the onslaught of horrible remake movies is just getting worse.

Example?

A new Teen Wolf movie…

Because that is just what we needed.



Details here, if you must.

And if that wasn’t enough, guess what other movie is getting a remakeover?



Details

--le sigh--

Ok, so recently I asked the movie studio gods to at least make films from books (not 80s pop culture) if they lacked the ability to create new films.

Be careful what you wish for.

Book:



Movie:



Book:



Movie:



I loved the books.. and who knows, maybe they will be cute movies… but while watching the previews, I might have thrown up a bit… on the inside…


Want to see a really really good movie? Click Here!

We Aren't In Kansas, Thank Goodness!

Every now and then I need to remind myself that even though CA has its fair share of problems… it could be worse. And no, you don’t even have to go to Iran for worse… you can go to Kansas.

Uber-conservative Sam Brownback is looking more and more likely to be the next governor of Kansas -- As a reminder... Brownback equates reproductive rights with slavery, says rape and incest survivors shouldn't have access to abortion, has opposed contraception access for low-income women, supported the global gag rule, and has backed a whole host of abortion restrictions. So yeah, he'd be bad news for the women of Kansas.

What year is it again?

Oh… and just in case that name (Sam Brownback) seems vaguely familiar… he was a Republican Presidential hopeful back in 2007. Yikes.


I don’t hate Republicans.

I just wish they would stop doing things that I hate



(Thanks to Feministing.com)

"Sign here..." Part Four

Welcome to the ongoing saga of trying to make an informed decision.

Part One:I talked about why I picked this petition.

Part Two: I went over the petition plea.

Part Three: I took a closer look at the one source that was given, the Huffington Post article and the State Parks website.

And now for Part Four

I got another petition email. Apparently they keep track of who has clicked through and who hasn’t.

Hi Kaylia,
It seems crazy to me that I could drive up to my favorite state park this summer, only to see the gates barred.
Parks like Castle Rock State Park , Natural Bridges State Beach , Emerald Bay State Park and Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve could be shuttered soon.
In this economic climate, I was hoping to take advantage of our state parks to get away from it all... without breaking the bank.
But unless we stop Gov. Schwarzenegger from closing 220 state parks and beaches by slashing the state parks and beaches budget to zero, this is what you can expect.
Can you imagine shutting down Castle Rock State Park , with its trails that go among redwoods and over peaks in the Santa Cruz Mountains ?
Take action today to make sure Californians can keep enjoying our priceless state parks:

Not only do these parks provide affordable relaxation, they help our economy through tourism. In fact, for every dollar we invest in our state parks, they bring back $2.35 in tourism.
Of course the state is having some budget issues, and we need to cut back. But to cut the parks budget to zero? We would save nearly $70 million over the next year with massive parks closings. But we could lose more than $300 million in revenue.
Tell Gov. Schwarzenegger to stop Castle Rock State Park, Natural Bridges State Beach, Emerald Bay State Park and Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve from closing -- as well as the 216 others that are at risk:

Thanks,
Dan Jacobson
Environment California Legislative Director
http://www.environmentcalifornia.org
P.S. Please forward this message on. The more people who take action, the better our chances are at keeping parks -- like Castle Rock State Park , Natural Bridges State Beach , Emerald Bay State Park , and Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve -- open this summer.



Here’s the thing… I have been trying to figure out what programs were saved while the parks programs are being shut down/ And no one can tell me which ones.

Here’s there other thing… some, many, of the parks are going to close. The State Parks website is now listing them. Yes, they say this is a “Draft’ and they could always be allowed to stay open, but as far as the website is concerned, the 220 parks are indeed going to close.

Which is sad and frustrating.

But again… what is staying open? Is there anything? Was I being hopelessly naïve by believing that the giving up of our parks was going to in some way be balanced by the getting of something else?

The minutes, by the way, of the meeting that took place last Friday are still being prepared.

There is another meeting scheduled for this Friday... and again the agenda says "Agenda items will include a discussion of the proposed state budget, as well as discussion of possible actions to be taken by the Commission in response to the budget proposals.”

And so... here we are, knowing very little more than we did before.

I am getting pretty frustrated. Another letter to the Governor's office... another letter to Mike Villines.

And I get this as a response: (from the Press Office of The Governor)

Thank you for writing to me about funding for our state parks system. Your input is important to me during these challenging times.

California's natural beauty is renowned throughout the world, and I have made it my priority to protect our environment so future generations of Californians can continue to experience and enjoy what we have all come to love. Our state parks provide a fantastic introduction to the California experience and help bring our residents and visitors closer to our landscapes.

Unfortunately, the state cannot continue to bear the costs of supporting every program. Believe me when I say that these cuts have been the hardest decisions of my career as Governor, but we are in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Our revenues for the coming year are at least 27 percent below where they were projected to be just two short years ago. We now face a shortfall that has grown to $24.3 billion, and the people of California have made their voice clear: they want the state to live within its means and solve its problems through spending cuts and not tax increases.

To help manage our budget shortfall, I have proposed eliminating General Fund support for the Department of Parks and Recreation. I understand that these cuts will impact not only the lives of our park employees but the millions of park visitors who visit these national treasurers every year. In spite of these General Fund cuts, though, I will work to keep as many parks open as possible with funding from user fees. It may require raising entry and camping fees, expanding partnerships with local government and non-profit groups, and seeking additional creative ways to support our system in the future.

As I work with my partners in the Legislature to find solutions to these problems, know I will keep your thoughts in mind. Working together, I believe we can weather this storm and start the slow but steady march back toward prosperity.

Sincerely,

Arnold Schwarzenegger




So, AGAIN, No one can clearly tell me what programs are being saved at the expense of the parks... in fact if you read this letter carefully... it never actually says that other programs ARE being saved, just that because the voters chose to live within their means and not raise taxes, programs (such as the parks) have to be cut.

Well, that puts a slightly different spin on things now doesn’t it.

This would have been the perfect time for the Press Office to say "Well, you don't get parks but you get to keep your firemen... " or "Fewer parks mean keeping emergency clinics open" and then I would have been trumpeting them for all the world to hear.

But they didn't.

Departures

Movie Review for Departures



I had no idea what to expect when arriving at the theater... I had been invited as part of local indi film group and had the vague notion that it might be a foreign film. Other than that, I went in ignorant.

And left enlightened and moved.

The film (Japanese with English subtitles) is about a young man who learns the true value of life and death while he struggles to hold on to what is dear and let go of the past that haunts him. He has given up his dreams of being a master at the cello and moved back to his village with his wife. Desperate for a job he answers a want ad that says something vague about “Departures” but it isn’t a travel agency job… instead it is preparing the bodies of the dead for cremation.

Along the way, the audience watches as he struggles to tell his wife about his “shameful” job, while dealing with his own feelings of bitterness toward a father who abandoned him as a child. The movie is set is some of Japan’s most beautiful countryside and with haunting cello performances and stirring cinematography, the entire journey flows seamlessly.

It is little wonder that the movie won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. I highly anticipate showing it to friends and family… and owning the soundtrack as soon as I can find it.

It is still playing in limited places and for limited times… I highly recommend that you seek it out and prepare yourself for a wonderful story that weaves together romance, humor, and solemn beauty to tell a story that touches us all.


Target Women

So… taking a break from the political side of life for a bit.

It is supposed to be summer… and yet the sun is safely hidden behind a sky full of clouds and the temperature is pretty much “March” not “June”.

Need something to smile about? (Even if it is that wry sort of bitter smile that translates into “what the HELL??”

Here you go!

Sarah Haskins is now my personal hero.











Good Idea Done Wrong... Or Just Bad All Around?

I was sick today and wasn’t able to attend Pride. Which is bad all around. First off, it isn’t fun being sick when the weather is gorgeous and there is so much to do. Secondly, missing Pride for the second year in a row is downright embarrassing. I just know they were having a great time while I was trying to muster up the energy to go buy groceries… see that was the worst part. Being too sick to go to Pride, but not quite sick enough to justify ignoring my chores.

Well, anyway. I was there in spirit.

But in honor of Pride, here is a blog post inspirited by a recent article dealing with the promotion of that all powerful Gay Agenda.

As part of an anti bullying program, Alameda county schools will be working with a curriculum next year that aims to teach tolerance regarding the LGBT community starting in kindergarten and going through the 5th grade..

The curriculum additions are extensive, (again starting in kindergarten with a book… and going through 5th grade with a book/video). Along the way students are exposed to and educated on different family structures and vocabulary. They are even taught the proper use of words from that vocabulary. This includes teaching the definition of the world “Transgender” as well as theuse of the word “gay” being taught as a signifier of sexual preference not as something bad as in “That was so gay.”

And as you might imagine, some teachers and parents are in an uproar.

Is this just proof that the NOM was right and with the passage of gay marriage, schools are forced to teach the gay agenda? No. first of all because gay marriage didn’t pass…

But most importantly… teaching about gay people just makes sense. Gay people are here, my friends. They are here, and they are here to stay. They are part of our communities and workforces and schools and politics, and military, and every other aspect of our lives. To turn a blind eye or to purposely leave the entire gay community out of the picture would just be insane. Part of what schools do for our youth is prepare them for the world, give them the tools they need and the education to process the world around them in order to become decent members of society. Being aware that gay people exist and are just as normal as the not-gays, is essential to that.

But lets look at what they are doing… and whether or not they are doing it the right way.

Let’s break it down in Pros and Cons for this type of curriculum.

Pros: This is a curriculum that will start at the ground level teaching tolerance and helping students understand their world. The hope is that it will also lead to less bullying.

Cons: Teachers have to teach something that goes against traditional values even if they hold those values themselves. According to the article, “The additional curriculum is intolerant of the traditional values.” Which… as a statement is so completely insane I can’t believe they actually said it.

Also, parents aren’t given the option of opting out because it is part of the bullying curriculum. If it were part of the regular curriculum then parents have the right to opt out based on the following criteria.

Under [current] regulations, parents must be notified and given an opportunity to opt-out, if the evaluation addresses topics such as:
• Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student's parent;
• sex behavior or attitudes;
• religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student's parent, etc.


This is the crux of the outcry and what is sparking the threat of lawsuits because clearly teaching about families with two daddies is going to fall under those criteria.

But these additions are part of the anit-bullying cirriculum… and there seems to be some strong disagreement about the legality of forcing this sort of thing on the students.

So a few questions worth thinking about:
Should it be part of the bullying curriculum?
Should it be part of the curriculum at all?
Should parents be able to opt out?
Should teachers be able to opt out?

The article also says that race and ethnicity are both bigger motivators for bullying and therefore that is what the Anti-bullying curriculum should be focusing on. (I couldn’t find anything to substantiate or repudiate this claim.)

I only have my opinions here… the legal jargon seems to be undergoing a few definition changes.

But, I do balk at the idea of the curriculum being snuck in.

However, I am very glad to see them doing something, my gut reaction is that this is a good thing… I am just not sure if it is a good thing being done all wrong.

And because it seems so painfully obvious, I have to point out the parallels with teaching evolution.

Lastly, I contacted the three members of the Alameda Board of Education who voted in favor of the additional curriculum thanking them and trying to get a bit more information… but none of them have responded. (I contacted them on Wed. June 10th)

I am sure that we will be hearing more about this idea as time goes on… Should be interesting to watch.



Read the article yourself here.

Surfacing

This title comes to me courtesy of The 501 Book.




Book Review of Surfacing by Margaret Atwood




Many people will recognize Margaret Atwood as the author of The Handmaid’s Tale. This book is quite different, in fact, except for the author being one and the same, there is nothing else that ties these two together.

Surfacing is the story of a woman’s search of self as she searches for signs of her father on her family’s island home. Is he dead? Has he simply faded away in the untamed wilderness? She must know... but it isn’t just him she is looking for, it is a way to connect to him and to herself. She returns to the remote island she grew up on accompanied by two friends who are strangers and her lover and Atwood does a beautiful job of showcasing the difference between the “city” and the “country”, the ‘civilized’ versus the ‘uncivilized. The distance between the two is closer than you might expect, and when she at last taps into the wild, the reader cannot help but be lost in the woods as well.

This book is not for the faint of heart… this is not a book that can travel to the beach in a summer bag next to the sunscreen and the bottles of water. This is a book that cries out to be read in near silence, preferably near a serene lake. Not to say that you could read it anywhere… just that it begs for the completeness of your attention.

The characters are sometimes difficult to connect to, but the beauty of the description and the stillness of the action cannot be glossed over. Like a deep long dip in silent black water after the harshness of a day spent in direct sunlight, this novel will pull you under its spell and leave you transfixed, hypnotized by the desire of the heroine and craving your own wild pats… an animalistic desire for the uncivilized that lurks under the surface in each and every one of us.





The Listener

Dear Kay,

Have you heard or watched the new show “The Listener”? I was wondering what you thought about it.

-Blog Reader Who Prefers Not to Have Her Name Used




Dear Blog Reader Who Prefers Not to Have Her Name Used

I am going to call you BRWPNHHNU, no wait… even that is too long… how about Trixie? Trixie it is.

Dear Trixie,
No, I have never heard of this show, but a quick search turned it up. In order to answer your question about what I think of it, I will have to watch it. Here I go!




Since the Castle treatment was so popular, here is the same sort of thing for The Listener. (blow by blow recap of the first scene, general recap following, and snarky review along the way.)


The Listener



We open on a young man standing on what at first looks like a roof during sunrise. His voice over asks us if we ever wonder what people are thinking… he doesn’t (apparently he tells us… and then our young man (OYM until they give him a name) gets a bit cryptic because that is what every show needs… a long slow buildup to pique your interest and make you salivate for the treat. OYM, by the way, is not saliva worthy in my book. Seems OYM is a telepath who can turn off (or mute) his ability by making a fist… sort of a physical technique to mirror brain activity that hopefully won’t ever be any more symbolic than that. (I don’t want anyone thinking that the way to shut up someone else is with a fist, thank you very much) and who also refers to his gift as God giving him “free cable.” Who wouldn’t want free cable?

His intro is complete with sidewalk swagger set to piano music but with horrible lighting in which he scans the people who walk by; the semi flirty thoughts of a woman and the fashion misgivings of a man. The man, at least, is totally valid in his fashion misgivings and I crack a smile. Then OYM proves that he is a good guy who uses his powers for good by giving an old man in a diner the extra buck he was just realizing he needed. Intro complete its time for the exposition as OYM sits down at a table and strikes up conversation with his friend (Cute Friend) in which we learn that he was with a girl named Olivia last night, he is habitually late to things, he is a first year paramedic, and the lighting crew really want us to notice he has pretty eyes. Also, he might have girl trouble but doesn’t want to talk about it with Cute Friend and they head off because now they are both late and we get more voice over (because voice overs teasing of framing devices that never actually show up are such good ways to shorthand actual storytelling….). He doesn’t want to be a freak he tells us (who? Who cares.) even as he gently touches the old guy from a minute ago and tells him to have a nice day. The old guy has a look like, “Hey… where you going cutie?”

In Cute Friend’s car with adorable mirror hanger doo-dad of course, the boys discuss their mutual lack of plans for the night while OYM texts someone and describes his fights with Olivia as two people with “unique points of view.” Cute Friend is not convinced as his thoughts betray him. And then OYM has a seizure of sorts while getting flashes of a car accident with someone trapped inside. Cute Friend pulls over (there is no traffic in this part of New York [CORRECTION: Toronto] it seems) and does that whole snapping of fingers and such while naming OYM who will now be Toby. Toby assures Oz (Cute Friend) that he is okay, it isn’t a brain amorism or a migraine. (If they are such good friends, how is it that he has never seizured up like this before?) Cute Oz is about to pull away when he notices a block away the same car accident Toby had just Sam Winchester-ed about*.

The boys jump from the car and run over to help. Despite Oz being the first to notice and run over, it is Toby who breaks the window and frees the girl while Oz stands back and says helpful things like “The car’s on fire” and “Be careful Toby.” He gets the girl and carries her heroine style away from the car with Oz saying ‘I thought it was gonna blow” and Toby responding “It’s not a movie, it doesn’t happen that way.” and then of course it does. BOOM! The boys share a look and the blond in Toby’s arms faints and credits roll.



And that ends my play by play portion except to say that the credits are horribly lame with nothing more than bright lights and a very intense scowling Toby staring off into the distance. I am guessing that they spent the budget on exploding cars.


Throughout the rest of the episode we learn that they are both Emergency Medical Service people, and that Toby likes to use his “free cable” for more than the occasional charity buck. He uses it to solve crimes… to set right what once went wrong… to kiss up with the boss, to stroke the ego of Oz, to waylay the aggravations of an ex girlfriend … We also learn that Olivia is a pretty doctor with a stick up her ass, She doesn’t seem to like Cute Oz while I find myself liking him more and more (his background pantomime of the adventure involving the car was perfect) and I wish he had been in more of the episode.



Oh and the lighting never gets better.

The police detective by the way is hot in one of those “I’m a model pretending to be something else” sort of way who doesn’t ever really do any detective work and in the end all but throws up her hands in a “I don’t know what just happened, but there is happy-ending-music playing, so it’s all good.” ort of way and exits stage right.

There is also a scientist professor mentor for Toby, named Ray who knows Toby’s secret. See, Toby’s powers are increasing and that freaks him out a bit.

We get the obligatory “I have to do something, I might be the only one who can help” and the “No one can know about you.” (from Ray.) and Toby is off to be the hero, to rescue the kidnapped son of the car accident mom.

What I didn’t like about the show:

It makes the same classic reading mind mistake most shows do. It implies that people only have one thought at a time and it is super concentrated. Toby looks at a woman for 5 seconds and she only thinks one sentence? Right,. Ok. Also, Toby seems to be able to visualize what the person is thinking… living in their flashback. So, then shouldn’t the show be called something besides “The Listener” since he is doing more than listening? His gift seems to have no real set parameters and thus it makes it hard to buy the whole “my gift is evolving” plot device.

Also, the lightening really sucks.

Another thing, no one ever brings up the idea that reading people’s thoughts is a bit of a huge violation of personal space. (Is this a FOX show?**) Also, the plot devices kind of overworked the plot… when car accident mom ditches the hospital it is Dr. Olivia who confronts Toby saying that the patient is in a bad way, with a concussion. (But this was the day before… and she can’t be the only person who has ever left the hospital AMA with just a concussion right?) If Dr. Olivia is so concerned why doesn’t she go to the patient’s house to check up on her, why give Toby (an EMS worker who wasn’t even on the case) the patient’s address. Why why why? Oh right. Because the script says so. I am so sick of TV’s depiction of doctor’s without morals. Gah!

And then Toby breaks into car accident mom’s apartment!!!!!!! I mean holy crap on a two foot stick! Yeah, he can justify his bump key because he is a EMS, but still!

The time sequence seems a bit rough around the edges, a lot of coincidences and even some huge time lapses.

We never see any actual calls the boys make being all EMS-y… too much time being all detective/hero.

They change narrative devices at 19 minutes, suddenly showing us things in real time that are happening to other characters. Which… seems… like cheating. And also disrupts the flow (such as it was) of the show.

Having the poor adorable little boy with his huge eyes calling his mommy “I miss you mommy” was a bit excessive. And the way in which the bad guy is dealt with was all sorts of lame.

Mostly though, the problem is with the acting of Toby… who… can’t act. Widening your blue eyes under big bushy brows does not you an actor make. And the way he talks, bleh, all low tone and intense feeling that feels overly phoned in.



What I liked: (much shorter list)

The cop who might be too pretty for realness but who kinda didn’t take anything from Mr. Intensity (Toby). Also, she wears totally inappropriate clothes but with the figure she strikes, no one seems to mind. Is that sexist? Nope… It’s true.



Vigilante mom buys a gun and has no idea how to hold it, this was unintentionally funny and totally sad.

The hints at creepy back-story involving a “gifted” mother and repressed memories for Toby.



I give this show a C- and will probably not watch it again.

*Supernatural dig there, ignore me.
**No, it is a Canadian show that has been picked up by NBC. -sigh-

"Sign Here..." Part Three

This is Part 3 of my “Sign Here…” Petition Journey.

It will probably make a lot more sense if you have read Part One and
Part Two


Part Three: The Article.

So the petition came with one link listed as source. That link led me to a Huffington Post blog article titled Schwarzenegger Would Close 220 State Parks To Cut Deficit.


A few things bothered me while reading the article.

The first is that it is unequivocally biased. Count the number of people on each side of the issue that are represented. Count the number of quotes.

The stat of “$2.35 return for every dollar [spent]” (from the petition) is credited here to the State Parks Foundation with no mention of how they calculated it.

What I found very interesting also was this bit: “California spends roughly $400 million a year running 279 state parks and beaches, with roughly a third of the money coming from the state general fund. The rest comes from user fees, which account for slightly more than a quarter of the revenue; bond funds; gasoline taxes; federal money; and other sources.”

Doesn’t that mean that should the state stop paying for parks across the board, only one third (the part from the state general fund) would be taken away…leaving the parks with still two thirds coming from user fees?

Also, is this where the petition got the data for their bolded line of “In fact, 100% of parks funding only makes up 0.88% of the budget shortfall.” ? Because, ummm I don’t see that.

Food for thought.

But the real clincher is this is that we have hundreds of programs in this state, programs to feed, clothe, medically care for, provide safety services and emergency services for the residents. Everything from the DMV to the cops on the beat to food safety commissions get money from the state.

The question really then is of priorities. Someone somewhere said “look we have to save money… instead of cutting money to program XYZ, let’s cut it from the parks.”

Who was that someone? From the article: “Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines said the state cannot afford to subsidize state parks when lawmakers are being asked to make severe cuts in even more vital areas. "Parks are just not going to be a priority over public safety and education, as much as we hate to see them close," Villines said.”

Which begs the questions… what are Programs XYZ, and do we agree with this method of prioritization?

I sent emails asking that first question to both the staff of the Governor and to the staff of Mike Villines. That was a week ago. So far, no response.

Back to the article. The only link provided is to the website of the State Parks themselves. So I dutifully clicked through. I looked all over the State Parks Website for anything regarding budget cuts and could find nothing, even in the press releases.

I did find that there will be a meeting (teleconference) on June 12th (today) with the following as part of its agenda:

1. Update on the state budget proposal currently being considered by the legislature. Possible impacts of the proposed budget will be addressed by Director Ruth Coleman and Department of Parks and Recreation staff, as well as California State Parks partner organizations.
2. Commission discussion of the budget proposals and possible impacts. Determination of the Commission’s role in addressing consequences of the proposed budget, identification of strategies and possible actions to be taken by the Commission.


Minutes of these meetings are made public after the fact, I have sent an email requesting them… and so the saga continues….

Snooping into the #90 aka Evolution of an Urban Legend

Sometimes the chance to work out our skeptical muscles plop right out of the sky and into the inbox.

I received an email last night that held all the trappings of a silly urban legend scare scam.
Here it is.


-----Inline Message Follows-----

I dialed '0', to check this out, asked the operator, who confirmed
that this was correct so please pass it on . . . (l also checked out Snopes.com.
This is true, and also applies to cell phones!)

PASS ON TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW

I received a telephone call last evening from an individual identifying
himself as an AT&T Service Technician (could also be Telus) who was
conducting a test on the telephone lines. He stated that to complete the
test I should touch nine(9), zero(0), the pound sign (#), and then hang up.
Luckily, I was suspicious and refused.

Upon contacting the telephone company, I was informed that by pushing 90#,
you give the requesting individual full access to your telephone line,
which enables them to place long distance calls billed to your home phone
number.

I was further informed that this scam has been originating from many local
jails/prisons DO NOT press 90# for ANYONE.

The GTE Security Department requested that I share this information with
EVERYONE I KNOW.

After checking with Verizon they also said it was true, so do
not dial 90# for anyone !!!!!

PLEASE HIT THAT FORWARD BUTTON AND PASS THIS ON TO EVERYONE YOU
KNOW!!!


--


Well, I thought, it sounds rather silly. Why would that work? How would that even work? But it says right there that they contacted the operator, Verizon, etc. Could it be true? Should I call the operator myself?

Heck, it even says “(l also checked out Snopes.com. This is true, and also applies to cell phones!) “

Hmmm… well that is easy to check up on, so I also looked it up on snopes.com... (here is the direct link to the article) and found out what many of you will already know.

This is another urban legend based on a teeny tiny bit of past fact.

The scam does not affect residential or cell phone customers. It only applies to large institutions that still use telephone private branch exchanges (PBXs) rather than the Centrex lines to handle calls. As in self run switchboard places that use 9 to dial out and have internal monitoring devices... so the scam is to get an operator to dial the 9 (while still on the call) so that the person on the other line could use the company’s phone system to dial long distance.

But most places a) don't use this system anymore and b) have operators who aren't going to do anything like this.

And I guarantee you that no one is going to call your house or cell phone to actually try it because it wouldn't work. If they do... they are just messing with you, it is a crank call.

So, harmless fear mongering email.

The twist is the (l also checked out Snopes.com. This is true, and also applies to cell phones!) part.

Could this be social evolution in process? The more believable the urban legend, the more likely it is to get continued.. over the years it must adapt to stay “alive” even if that adaptation is the incorporation of dealing with our knee jerk reaction of disbelief. It isn’t enough to say “I know someone who said…” or “My cousin’s hairdresser is married to a lawyer who totally checked this out…”

We have involved to the “Snopes says it” phase.

Fascinating!!

An 8 Meme

Del (who writes a lovely blog over at My Relish and who comments here as Superrelish) has tagged me in a meme.

And unlike that other time I was tagged, I am actually going to do this one in a somewhat timely manner.

(Ahhh Dawn, I haven’t forgotten you, I just get too involved when doing your meme…)

So, here goes.

To do list (i.e. “the rules”):
1. Mention the person who tagged me. (Check!)
2. Complete the list of 8’s. (Doing that now)
3. Tag 8 bloggers & tell them I tagged them. (this will be hard, but I’ll give it a go)



Eight things I am looking forward to:

1.Re-Learning How to Cook
2.Seeing Matthew when he gets back from the field
3.Attending 4 book club meetings in the span of 8 days.
4.Getting paid tomorrow
5.Being published later this year.
6.Seeing my Grandma in July (crosses fingers)
7.Going on another international trip with Matthew in the fall
8.Paying off my credit card debt



Eight things I did on Monday

1. Slept in an extra hour (thanks to the ride from Matthew)
2. Got a pleasant surprise in the mail
3. Received a compliment that made me blush
4. Finished reading “Loving Frank”
5. Started reading “Animal Vegetable, Mineral
6. Spent an hour trying to watch the “Tonight Show with Conan”
7. Ate breakfast and lunch
8. Bought shampoo, conditioner, and birth control



Eight things I wish I could do:

1.Knit
2.Cook
3.Process information faster
4.Get by with only 4 hours of sleep
5.Find a way to connect with certain people
6.Write book reviews or blogs for a living
7.Speak flawless Italian
8.Adequately show my gratitude to those who have blessed my life.



Eight shows I watch:

1. LOST
2. House
3. The Office
4. 30 Rock
5. Damages
6. Rescue Me
7. Random things on Hulu that spark my interest
8. Doll House



Eight favorite fruits:

1. Apples
2. Grapes
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Honeydew
6. Pineapple
7. Mango
8. Watermelon



Eight places I’d like to travel:

1. Chicago
2. New York City
3. England ( London and beyond)
4. Ireland
5. Scotland
6. Italy
7. Australia
8. Greece



Eight places I’ve lived:

1.Crescent City
2.San Jose
3.Sacramento
4.Garberville
5.Citrus Heights
6.Sunnyvale
7.Fortuna
8.Santa Cruz



People I’ve tagged:
Actually I am not going to tag anyone because I don’t many people who do meme things.. so EVERYONE consider yourself tagged… just let me know if you did it :)

Ok Del … there you go…

/whew

Cooking: I want to do that!

Last weekend I attended a BBQ.

It was one of those laid back sort of events… the menu was decided upon last minute and we had no real start time. Basically it was four people coming together to cook and share the evening. There was classical music, inside jokes, Matthew standing proud and manly over the flames (singing a bit of the hair off his knuckles in the process), and in the end some very fine food.

I doubt anyone there could tell that the evening was a mini turning point for me.

You see I used to cook. I also used to be married, didn’t have a job outside the home, and no real hobbies except being the happy housewife.

Things change.

After I joined the ranks of self sufficient and single women, I found that I lacked the desire to cook for myself. It was a sort of self empowerment thing (and yes, the irony of not sustaining myself physically to somehow do it emotionally is not lost on me). I didn’t have to cook for my husband… in fact I was free for the first time in my life to set my own schedule, plan my own evenings, eat what I wanted when I wanted…. I thrilled at all this independence and I decided I wasn’t going to cook.

To be honest, a bit of this was practical… I had practically no money and for a while no real cooking supplies. Part of my artistic nature reveled in being the opposite of the “good wife” all single girl self sufficient eating Saltines for dinner… occasionally splurging on jam for my toast… but see I had never been the classic “starving” college student and I didn’t know about things like Raman, cans of tuna, rice and beans, or seasonings. All I knew how to cook were the thing my ex husband had liked to eat… and since both he and my father had both been pretty comfortable in the kitchen, I had never really bothered to learn more than what I needed to know.

I also didn’t eat much. Thanks the miracle of on-site cafeterias at work and a semi regular cycle of first and second dates, I didn’t really need to prepare food for myself. So I didn’t. When I was hungry, I made toast. I ate granola bars. I drank milk and beer and ordered pizza (making it last for four or five dinners). Occasionally I made microwave popcorn and would eat an entire bag in one sitting calling it breakfast or dinner as the time of day dictated.

I lived in a studio apartment for seven months without owning a set of silverware and didn’t notice.

How I got from there to here is a story for another day, suffice it to say that there were several dinners and conversation, and even a few romantic overtures that have led me to where I was sitting last Sunday evening watching helplessly while my friends moved around the kitchen, cooking, chopping, talking in code, and generally amused by my befuddlement.

And that evening of confusion and embarrassment has led me in turn to today, right now, this blog post.

I want to become more comfortable in the kitchen.
I want to eat healthier.
I want to be able to cook for myself.
I would like to be able to cook for others too, but primarily for myself… it is a (new) self empowerment thing.

And as I travel down this somewhat frightening road I am sure I will have a few adventures and a few set backs. But I am loath to simply fade into the background and continue to have a troubled relationship with my kitchen.

Here I go!

"Sign Here..." Part Two

The following is Part Two of my “Adventures in Researching Before Signing A Petition.” To read why I am bothering, why I picked this petition,… in other words Part One, you can CLICK HERE.

Adventures in Researching Before Signing
Part Two


The petition about the parks arrived in my email box between Netflix alerting me to shipment of Twilight (NOT the new movie, the “older” one with Gene Hackman) and an email notification of a Facebook comment. Needless to say I read the other emails first.

When I did open the email this is what I found:

Hi Kaylia,

Times are tough, and the state is faced with some horrible financial scenarios. Among the programs in jeopardy is state parks. Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed cutting the parks budget to zero, which could result in up to 220 state parks being closed.

E-mail Gov. Schwarzenegger telling him to protect California's state parks.(This last line was a link)



First off, let me assure you the emphasis (bold) was not added, that is how it came. Also the slight grammatical error was there as well.

I know that in advertising, as well as many forms of persuasive prose, it is good to start off this way… claim of reason “Times are tough” (well, duh) followed by a Scandalous Proclamation “Among the programs in jeopardy is state parks.” Then the scary bit of “This will surely make you upset bolded statement.” And then the link with which you can Act Now!!!

If you were to click on that link, by the way, you get directed to a rather common petition site where there is a preprinted letter that you can edit and then a place for you to tput your information.

But what if you didn’t take the easy link option? What if you kept reading? Well then, you would see this:


Of course, we understand that some parks might need their hours and services cut, and others may need to be closed for the time being, as we weather this financial storm. But our parks are an important refuge for people, especially when times are tight. And they are a critical part of our economy -- for every dollar we spend on state parks they bring $2.35 back to our economy in tourism.1

Parks spending is such a small part of the overall problem. In fact, 100% of parks funding only makes up 0.88% of the budget shortfall. And these parks, from Montana Del Oro to Topanga State Park , mean a lot to people around the state. I know they mean a lot to me.

Join me in e-mailing Gov. Schwarzenegger, telling him to set aside enough funding to keep our state parks open as an important haven for Californians in these troubled times, by clicking on the link below:

http://www.environmentcalifornia.org/action/preservation/save-our-state-parks?id4=ES

Thanks,

Dan Jacobson
Environment California Legislative Director
http://www.environmentcalifornia.org

Source:
1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/29/schwarzenegger-would-clos_n_208941.html


Again, I didn’t bold anything. It came like that.

And again we have almost the same scenatio in terms of persuasion at work. The link is even the same, it is just spelled out this time… I am not really sure why.

What I find very interesting is that there is a source listed for the first statistic regarding money… but no source listed for the second one. This sets off a few alarm bells in my head but at this point I am still willing to give these people the benefit of a doubt. After all, parks are pretty nifty things.

I am very curious about that second stat, but let’s start with the first, yes? If you look at the link than clicking it won’t be a total shock. It takes you to the Huffington Post.

Yep, The Huffington Post… known in most circles as rather unbalanced. But, ok, sure… let’s give the article a read shall we?

/Kaylia reads, her brow crinkles, a mutter of indignation passes through her lips, and she rolls her eyes at one point./

Stay Tuned as the Adventure Continues…. (later this week)

Summer Knight



Book Review for Summer Knight, Book 4 in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher.

I don’t often read fluff books because fluff books tend to be overly simplistic, badly written, and the equivalent to candy for your brain: sweet, sugary, and forgettable.

This book looked like fluff, but I read it anyway because, well it was assigned for the book club and because several people told me that they had enjoyed it. One of these people is a highly intellectual literary snob such as myself, and honestly it was her recommendation that made me consider if perhaps my initial judgment of “fluff” was misplaced.

It wasn’t, the book is indeed a fluff book (at least upon initial inspection)… but fluff in the fun, enjoyable ride, piece of banana cream pie sort of way. This was enjoyable fluff!

The story takes place in Chicago and is basically a detective novel. It’s just in this case the hard boiled detective has been replaced by a snarky wizard. Yes, I did say snarky. Oh, and wizard. We join Dresden as he attempts to solve a murder, keep peace between the warring faerie nations, and avoid getting killed by a group of (pardon the pun) blood thirsty vampires.

It is an adventure story full of intrigue, fights with trolls (in a Wal-Mart no less) and magic staircases that lead up and over Lake Michigan into the Faerie Battleground, and even a faerie godmother. What the book does extremely well is twofold. There is the constant juxtaposition of the Supernatural (wizards, spells, power shields, circles of power) with the natural (needing to pay rent, wishing the magic staircase was an escalator, having to find a robe, dealing with car trouble).

There is also the brilliant writing style that is conversational and pitch perfect. We see the events through the eyes of Dresden who is brilliantly self aware of both the dangers of his life and the bizarre bits that really just have to be laughed at. When he is attacked by a “plant monster” he acknowledges that he feels silly referring to it as a “plant monster” and yet should he call it by its proper name, well why bother? It is, essentially, a Plant Monster that is trying to kill him.

That could be it… a fun to read fluffy adventure with some magic and D&D shout outs and a well written narrative that inspires interest in reading more of the series.

But…. Nope. Butcher also manages to take a tentative step over into deep symbolism, writing at times with a mature sense of literary bravado. The story is about the two warring Faerie nations (Winter and Summer) but through that, the story is about balance. The balance of the seasons, the balance of power, the balance of the Natural and Supernatural, the balance of our past actions with our future hopes all are dealt with by Butcher with subtle sensitivity and an eye for the moral lesson even if it isn’t beat into the head of the reader.

Which, is why this book is not as fluffy as it pretends to be. In Summer Knight, Butcher has done what few others have managed, he has told a complex story about great and epic ideas through the medium of simple lives and simple goals while telling a simple fantasy story through epic characters and scenarios.

The execution of all those ideas is truly worth reading.


Thankfully you can enjoy this book without having read any of the other books in the series (which I found very helpful as I had not read any of the other books in the series. Feel free to start off with this one… and if you are wondering how the Dresden Files in book form compare to the Dresden Files the TV show, all I can tell you is that I haven’t seen the show yet but I was told that the producers took it “in a whole other direction.” Whatever that means.