Friday, December 31, 2010

Goal Work 2010: An Ass Kicking In Review

2010 was supposed to be different. It was supposed to be MY year. It was supposed to not suck as much as it did. Things were supposed to happen. You know, good things. Great things, even. I was a wide eyed optimist last January who set five bold goals for herself and was spouting the philosophy "aim big or go home." And then the Powers That Be decided to punch me in the gut and then kick me while I was down.

So no, I didn't experience the rousing success for which I'd been hoping. This means that tomorrow, when I post my new list of goals for the year, you'll probably see a much different kind of list. 2011 is going to be an ego building year for Team Me because this year, the Fates handed our asses to us (much like the Patriots did to the Buffalo Bills last week).

So here we go...this is now the part when I look at each individual goal and tell you where I ended up with it. And I'm going to tell you right now, it's not going to look as bad as the first two paragraphs probably make it out to be. It's definitely not going to be that bad. It's just my two big writing goals I set didn't work out the way I'd hoped and well, as this blog as discussed before, and surely will discuss again, as goes my writing goes my mood. The goals I set are listed below in italics. My analysis of them follows.

1. Finish Second Nature. Specifically, my goal is to finish the book by the end of October. I’ve decided to work NaNoWriMo style, which means I’ve set myself a specific number of words to hit by the end of October. This goal is 200,000 words, based on the fact that Effigy is approximately 195,000 words and the first draft of Second Nature was longer than that story was (this goal can fluctuate as needed, of course). This gives me 304 days in which to work. The word count goal is 658 words a day. Of course, if there is any movement on Effigy, all bets are off.

And boy, did I not complete this goal. Not only did I not finish this manuscript, I didn't even hit the 200,000 word mark. I came close though. I finished at a little over 190,000 words which is still a helluva lot of words to write in the ten months I allotted myself but I am, overall, very disappointed with myself for not having done better.

2. Read 100 books. Other people have done it and now I want to do it too. I finished up with about sixty five books last year. I would have done better but I had that whole Jane Austen thing going on in April and May. I will not have that Jane Austen millstone around my neck this year so I am optimistic. But, once again, should there be any movement on Effigy, all bets are off.

All right. This one I actually accomplished. I was in doubt for a while but then The Store gave me the bestest holiday bonus ever: the gift of no payroll. Not having to go to work was a huge help. The 100th title was Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects. A very worthy 100th book.

3. Participate in NaNoWriMo 2010. My first experience with this project was a success and, ultimately, a lot of fun so I fully intend to sign up for a second go. This is a big reason why I intend to finish
Second Nature by the end of October.

Yeah. So technically I did do this one. I did participate in NaNoWriMo. And technically, I was a NaNoWriMo winner for the second straight year. Go me. However, the project did not turn out as well as I had hoped it might and once again, I was left feeling rather disappointed with my performance. This year was supposed to be so different. Sigh.

4. Try yoga. It seems like it’ll be a good thing to try out. I was hoping to have a Nintendo Wii and a Wii Fit to help me with this goal but as that has not happened yet, I suspect I’ll be going out to get myself a nice video because I do not want to go to an actual yoga class.

Fine, I accomplished this goal too. If you've read this blog for any length of time, you probably recall the early battles I had with my Wii Fit. But I did start doing yoga and actually kind of like it. When we were traveling to Las Vegas in June, I was doing yoga in the airport while we waited for our flights. This prompted Joe to call me a health nut. This, by the way, I am most certainly not. I'm a brownie addict who just happens to strike a yoga pose every now and again.

5. De-clutter. I don’t really know what to write here. There’s clutter in the house and I want to change that. I’ll go through the closets and get rid of the clothing we haven’t worn in years. I’ll clean out the basement of the boxes we put in there almost ten years ago when we moved into this house. I’ll track down the dining room table. I know I had one once. It was nice.

Well, see, here's the thing...I did kind of de-clutter the house. I didn't finish de-cluttering the house but I did get some done. I even managed to find that dining room table. Of course now the cats are pretty much living on it but at least it's not under a pile of junk any more, right?

And there you have it. My almost total lack of success on display for the world to see. The positive thing I am taking away from this experiment...I'm definitely going to do better next year. It would be almost impossible not to...

Have a happy and safe New Year's. Don't do anything I wouldn't do...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 2010 Book Report

Taken By Midnight
- Lara Adrian- The last (so far) book in the vampire series. This one irritated me. I mean, I don’t read these books expecting anything too deep or whatever, they are what they are but this book was particularly irritating because NOTHING HAPPENED. She set all this storyline up at the beginning with the MC’s mysterious medical condition. Never resolved. Maybe in the next book? I don’t know. She spent too much time setting up for the next novel and not enough time actually finishing the story she started out to write. But that’s just my humble opinion.

Wicked Appetite- Janet Evanovich- This is, I guess, the first in a new series which features Diesel from the Stephanie Plum in between the number novels (and Carl the monkey). It’s told from the POV of cupcake baker Lizzy something-or-other but most of the time, it just felt like I was reading another Stephanie Plum novel. And not an especially good one either. I also wasn’t thrilled by the reappearance of Carl the Monkey, I had to admit that some of his scenes made me laugh. Some.

Dark Places
- Gillian Flynn- I read a review of this novel on another blog and then found it at my local library so I picked it up and I am glad I did because I really ended up liking this book. The story is very well written and gripping. For the first two thirds of the novel I couldn’t put it down. I suspected what was going on but couldn’t be sure. The resolution came too quickly and wasn’t completely satisfying but still, a great read.

Low Red Moon
- Ivy Devlin- I was wandering around the bookstore when I was drawn in and seduced by the cover of this novel, which is really very pretty. The story behind the cover is not so pretty. It’s kind of bland. And by ‘kind of’, I mean ‘really’. There’s too much tell and not enough show and the big mystery was very transparent. I really wanted to reach into the pages of the book and smack the main character who couldn’t figure out what the hell was happening. Plus, every time the word ‘moon’ was used, the font was suddenly smaller and red for no apparent reason than to annoy me. If you’re interested in reading a young adult paranormal wolf themed romance, you should skip this one and read Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls novels. Those are some gorgeous smartly written novels.

- Becca Fitzgerald- The sequel to Hush, Hush and while there's a lot about this book that makes me roll my eyes, I think I liked this one more than the first. Maybe that's not saying much. It ends on a cliffhanger so I’ll be looking for the third installment to be coming out soon. Don't judge. It's what I do.

Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories
- Zack Whedon (with Eric Canete, Farel Dalrymple, Jim Rugg, Joelle Jones and Scott Hepburn)- Dr. Horrible backstory!! The only downside to this graphic novel is that it’s not long enough.

The Shepherd's Tale
- Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon and Chris Samnee- A graphic novel which fills in the backstory of Shepherd Book from Whedon’s kick ass series Firefly. Ever wondered how it is a shepherd knew so much about crime and knee caps? Well, this book is for you. Again, the only downside to this graphic novel is that it’s not long enough and doesn’t answer all questions you might have and might actually raise a few more. A very riveting read. Really.

Sharp Objects
- Gillian Flynn- All right. I am ready to name Gillian Flynn my latest favorite author. This book was awesome. I absolutely love the way this woman writes. She writes dark stories but the way she writes them is oh so beautiful. And yes, I did figure out the mystery very early on but it didn't even matter.

Dark Lover
- J.R. Ward- The first novel in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Once I got past the stupid spellings of the vampires’ names, it wasn’t a bad read. I’ll likely read the rest because, well, because that’s what I do.

Lover Eternal
- J.R. Ward- The second in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I didn’t care for this book very much. I really don’t like the way the vampires call women ‘females’ and then their goddess shows up and she’s all like, “Come here, female” like it’s a mark of how important she is that she doesn’t use a human’s name. Some of the other dialogue irritates me too and I pretty much hate the word ‘saunter’ so I really hate it when I read it in print, any print, but I find it particularly annoying here. Vampire warriors should not saunter. Just saying. Plus, the whole thing with Mary and Rhage and the beast within Rhage goes to, I think, a very creepy and uncomfortable place. I do not judge. People should do what makes them happy, I guess, but yeah, creepy and uncomfortable.

Lover Awakened
- J.R. Ward- Don’t judge me. I’ve read a lot of books this year and if I want to just slack off at the end (AFTER having reached the intended goal), then that’s my prerogative. Anyway, this is the third in the brotherhood vampire series. I am proud to report that no one sauntered. The story in this novel wasn’t bad. I enjoyed it much more than Mary and Rhage’s story. There was actually one line here that made me laugh out loud. I always appreciate a story that can make me laugh. You know, with it and not at it.

And there you have it...all the books I read in December. I was shooting for eight titles and ended up with just a few more. Let's see where that puts me on the Year To Date Tally...

December Books: 11

Year To Date Total: 103

Books Remaining: -3

WOO HOO!! I did it!! I read one hundred books in one freaking year!! I'm so damn tired, I don't think I'm going to read anything else until next year. And then I'm only going to read vampire romance novels. All right, I'm probably not serious about that last part. Probably...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Vader and the Overpowering Thirst

Vader is obsessed with water.

I don't know why exactly this is, although I suspect it has something to do with the antibiotics she's been taking. We finished the last dose just the other day so I'm waiting to see if something changes with her, if she suddenly (or even gradually) becomes more interested in eating (I haven't seen her eat anything since the beginning of the month) and less interested in flooding the entire house.

Because when I say she's obsessed with water, I mean she's obsessed with water.

Her new favorite hobby is the dumping out of water dishes. Hers and the dogs so multiple times a day, I have to go and mop up the kitchen floor where the dogs' dishes are and mop off my dining room table when the cats' dish is. Thank goodness for my microfiber tablecloth, the kind where the spills just bead right up so nicely. And thank goodness my brother and sister-in-law took pity on me this Christmas and purchased for me a second microfiber tablecloth.

Vader has also taken to napping in my bathroom sink and just yesterday decided to join me (twice) when I was in the shower. She climbed in right at the start of the shower, walked around a bit and then climbed back out. Then, just before I was finished, she decided to rejoin me. And spent most of the afternoon just sitting there.

This is weird, right?

But gets weirder.

The doors on our bathrooms don't close right and the pets have figured out that if they apply the right amount of force to a closed door, there's a good chance they can get inside. The dogs do it because well, because they're mommy obsessed dogs who seem to think there's some secret back door escape hatch in that room through which I might go and leave them behind. There isn't.

Fat Cat does it because she's annoying. Fat Cat wants attention and food (sometimes in that order) and seems to understand that if she meows at you long enough, she'll get you to give her something to shut her up. Vader, on the other hand, never really started doing it until she started these antibiotics. Maybe this is her way of getting payback or something. Maybe the antibiotics have caused such an overwhelming craving for water that she can't help herself. Or maybe she really has syphilis (which I'm sure is different in cats than it is in people...) and has reached the insanity portion of her disease.

Whatever the reason, she's into breaking down the bathroom doors now. Yesterday, after she shower thing, she tried to get into the toilet. Joe reports that she did the same thing to him this morning. She just pushed her way into the bathroom and then forced her way between Joe's legs in order to get to the toilet.

Strangest. Cat. Ever.

So right now we're in holding pattern. Me, armed with mega rolls of paper towels and Joe, sitting on the couch, reading a magazine and carefully ignoring the insanity surrounding him while indulging in daydreams of him being anywhere but here.

And Vader? Vader is trying to mount an assault on the turtle tank.

I think we're gonna need a bigger boat.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

You Better Not, In A Pear Tree

My Holiday Videofest continues. Today's selection comes courtesy of my sister B who introduced me to the amazing acapella group Straight No Chaser (albums are available for purchase on Amazon) . The first video is their beyond awesome rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Seriously, you must watch this. Whoever came up with this arrangement is an honest to goodness genius.

The second video is also Straight No Chaser. It's called The Christmas Can-Can.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hallelujah Chorus Redux

I'll be posting the answers (and winner) to the most exciting holiday quote quiz in the Mount Washington Valley tomorrow, work permitting. But a friend brought this video to my attention today and, after watching it, I was overcome with a strong desire to share it with you. It's really very clever and funny.

The second video I am choosing to share was brought to my attention by Joe. It's a Flash Mob Hallelujah chorus production in the food court of a mall. I wish I could've been there.

Bonus points to anyone who tells me why it's tradition to stand during the performance of this particular song (Jacob, I know you know and therefore, I am afraid you are ineligible for bonus points this particular time...)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Quote Quiz

I think the title says it all. You know the game and you know the rules. I'm going to post some of my favorite quotes from some of my favorite Christmas movies and television specials and holiday themed episodes. Your task, should you chose to accept it, is to identify the speaker and the show/movie. If you're an overachiever interested in bonus points, feel free to include additional information (such as the situation in which the quote was uttered) that might tickle my fancy. I'll announce the winner (provided there is one) in a couple of days and the winner will win a fabulous prize. Well, all right, so that's not true. The winner will receive bragging rights and the knowledge that he or she, much like myself, probably watches entirely too much television.

A couple of things to know before you begin...the first: there are a couple of repeat answers because there were a couple of quotes that were just too good to leave out and second...Actually, I don't know what the second thing is (I was distracted by an episode of Veronica understand, I'm sure).

Have fun...and good luck.

1. Uh oh. Sounds like someone needs to sing a Christmas carol.

2. -You have to look at what a gift says to the other person, not to you. Remember two years ago, I got my mom that perfume?
-Okay, to me that said, "Hey Mom, you work hard, you deserve something fancy". Now to my mother, it said, "Hey Mom, here's some smelly sex juice, the kind I use to lure boys with", and resulted in me being sent to Bible camp all summer.

3. One kid thinks that Santa Claus gets into the house at Thanksgiving and hides in the laundry hamper until Christmas Eve.

4. Nothing brings people together like a Christmas lung fungus.

5. I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It's not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.

6. Whoever heard of a skinny santa?

7. -What are you doing for Christmas?
-Being Jewish.

8. What's she cooking? A canary?

9. I must stop this thing! Why, for fifty three years I've put up with it now. I must stop Christmas from coming...but how?

10. How can you give Kris Kringle a parking ticket on Christmas Eve? What's next, rabies shots for the Easter bunny?

11. -Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. Everyone has a lot of fun.
-You mean they get in fights?
-No, no- they have fun!
-Fights are fun. I like fights.

12. No man is a failure who has friends.

13. Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.

14. Who the hell is the guy and why do I care if he has a merry Christmas?

15. The line waiting to see Santa Claus stretched all the way back to Terre Haute. And I was at the end of it.

16. I'd like to be a dentist.

17. All right, who keeps telling people I want snow globes for Christmas?

18. In some ways, you're far superior to my cocker spaniel.

19. I need you. Friends don't let friends photocopy their butts at company Christmas parties.

20. You know, I didn't even realize it was December. Maybe when we get home, we should decorate the rubble.

21. We're going to have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny f&@king Kaye!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Spirit

I don't know if you've seen this or not, but it's been around for a while. The following video is something Joe says he wants to do to our house. I don't think he will because it involves the putting up of Christmas lights and well, we're pretty lazy when it comes to that sort of thing. The music is from the Trans Siberian Orchestra, just in case you're curious and/or interested.


Here's another one...I guess it's all the rage now....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Saga Continues

Well, the good news is that Vader hasn't yet killed me in my sleep. The bad news is that she decided to extract her revenge by shitting all over my bath mat. Twice. The good news is that the Gator Girl found it before I did and decided to help with the clean up.

Wait. That's not good news. That's gross news.

Human kids don't eat cat shit, do they?

Joe and I spent the rest of the weekend trying to devise new ways to get the Super Antibiotic into the cat. Joe Googled it even and found a site that described the need to wait until both you and the cat were relaxed (by the way, I'm pretty sure Vader hasn't been relaxed in a good seven years) and then hold the cat a certain way and apply pressure to a certain jaw joint and then put the syringe further back into the cat's mouth as to avoid the taste buds (or whatever) that act as a border guard for bitter tasting things. Cats, did you know, have this sort of defense mechanism where if they come into contact with something bitter (such as the super antibiotic), they produce foam and spit and saliva to keep the bitterness from going anywhere.

Oh, so now you tell me.

But no matter what we tried, the foaming continued.

So Monday I called Dr. Kirk again and explained the badness that was going on. The foaming and the misery. By Monday, Vader had stopped eating because of the failed attempt to medicate her food and had taken up refuge under the day bed in my office. She was, in a woefully lacking word, unhappy, and was there any other antibiotic we could try?

Then I spent a while on the phone, listening to Dr. Kirk talking to himself as he discussed our options. It sounded like this: No, no, nope. That's not strong enough. That's not going to work. Nope, nope, nope.

Then, finally:

"Well, we could try this," he said. "But here's the thing-"

I really love it when there are things. Really.

"They don't make this pill-"

I have to pill the cat? But how will I do that without crushing it into a fine powder and putting it into food? Isn't there a nice liquid form we could use?

"In a small enough size for kitty cats," Dr. Kirk continued. "So here's what you'll have to do..."

What I have to do involves taking the capsule and opening it, dividing the yellow powder inside into two equal parts and then putting half back into the half of capsule and trying to work out a way to get that into the cat.

"Oh," I said. "That's all? Got any bombs I can diffuse while I'm at it?"

But, as I think this blog has recently proved, I am insane and I will do for my pets what needs to be done, dragging Joe (sometimes kicking and screaming) along for the ride. This morning I dragged him out of bed at 6:30. Then I dragged Vader out from underneath the daybed. We did her eye treatment (more on that in a minute) and then set her on the dining room table and set to work puzzling out just how the hell we were going to get her new antibiotic into her.

We tried food first. No dice as Vader is still in the mindset that I am trying to poison her. Joe then came up with the brilliant idea to dissolve the powder into water and then use the syringe to get the liquid into her. This idea worked. There was a little drool (this time yellow, just for something different) but it worked.

And there was much rejoicing.

That is until we noticed the facial swelling. Yep, that's right. I said facial swelling. There's a pouch under Vader's left eye that's just growing bigger by the day. It's making it hard for her to open her eye. You know, harder than the yellow sludge was already making things. So finally, as Dr. Kirk's office was already closed for the night, I Googled it.

The under eye pouch is a potential sign that Vader is having an allergic reaction to the eye ointment. It's an ointment that the vast majority of cats have no troubles tolerating but, as this blog as proved, Vader is far from an ordinary cat.

Looks like I'll be making yet another call to Dr. Kirk in the morning. He'll be so pleased.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Cat Has What?? (Part Four)

Poor Vader.

She really is going to kill us all in our sleep and you know what? I don't even blame her. That poor cat is so damn miserable and it seems that no matter how much I try to make her life better, I just manage to piss her off more.

You'll remember the last visit to the vet, the one where the vet just spat out every scary sounding disease (lung worms, brain fungus, cancer...) like she had some kind of strange form of Tourette's or something. I left that visit quite upset but resigned to stick to our current treatment plan until such time as things necessitated a change.

That time was Monday when Vader had such a violent and lengthy sneezing fit that Joe honestly thought Vader might kick it right then and there on our dining room table (it's not like we use it when we eat...or any other time really). She didn't. But the sneezing fit was combined with the appearance of so much goop coming out of her eyes that she could barely see out of them. This required me to try and hold her down with one hand (Joe refuses to have anything to do with the cats'- well, anything and is particularly traumatized by cat snot) and wipe out her eyes with the other hand. Vader did not appreciate this and me trying to explain that I was just trying to help her see did nothing for my case.

So I called the vet. But this time I called the dogs' vet. Yes, my cats and dogs have separate vets. I went through three veterinary hospitals with Big before settling with the one I chose. The first two couldn't figure out what was going on with my dog. Dr. Kirk did. So he got the dogs and I got the pleasure of driving an hour and fifteen minutes for the pleasure of his company.

Believe me, it's worth it.

I never bothered with the cats though because I thought it was important that I have an animal at a vet clinic that offers emergency services in my actual area because if you're a client, they'll often agree to look at whatever animal you need looked at, even if that animal isn't a regular patient. That's how my cats ended up where they are (were?) now. This hospital was the second for the cats because the first couldn't figure out what was going on with Vader. The second hospital experienced some success but after the lung worm and brain fungus visit, I decided that I would subject my poor long suffering Vader to the very long car ride and bring her to Dr. Kirk because obviously, we needed a new opinion.

He looked at Vader yesterday. He weighed her. She's down to eight pounds now which does not make me happy. If you shaved her down, there wouldn't be anything left. Things got better for Vader when Dr. Kirk stuck a swab in her eye to get a sample of the green gunk sealing her eye shut.

"Can you say (insert some difficult tongue twisting medical jargon here)?" he said then.

"Not even a little," I said in response.

He took the swab and left the room to look at it under the microscope. Meanwhile, Vader was trying to burrow her way to safety through the wall. She was unsuccessful. When Dr. Kirk came back, he had a theory.

And that theory was that my cat has (wait for it...) chlamydia.

"Wait, I'm sorry, what?" I asked. "She's got what?"

It's different than it is in people. Which is nice to hear because, again, like when the second vet passed down a (false) diagnosis of herpes (so glad, by the way, that I now have a blog with contains both buzz words 'herpes' and 'chlamydia') my first (vocalized) thought was "my god, I should hope so. It's not like she's spends her nights down at the docks picking up sailors!"

Because she doesn't. At least, not that I know of.

So the new hilarious diagnosis came with two prescriptions, neither of which were carried in the office. So I took Vader and went to Large Mart to get them filled. One is some kind of twice a day super antibiotic. The other is an eye ointment which we're supposed to squeeze into each eye every twelve hours. Repeat until symptoms (which will likely relapse, Dr. Kirk says) go away.

Great. So I left town with a plan and a good feeling.

Then came this morning. Joe and I tried to give Vader her antibiotic. It's not the first time she's had an antibiotic and the other times went remotely well. She wasn't happy by any means (probably hasn't been happy since the day we brought home that first damn dog) but we managed to get it into her.

The super antibiotic didn't go over so well. No, the super antibiotic caused her to foam at the mouth. And I don't mean figuratively or anything, I mean full fledged foaming that would've scared the bejeezus out of Cujo. The foaming led to lots and lots of drool and saliva and long fat tracks of slime just pouring out of Vader's mouth.

I am dead serious. And if you thought Joe was traumatized by cat snot, you should have seen him this morning.

Vader scratched me across the neck hard enough to draw blood and then drooled and spat and whatever else all over the dining room table. My brother and sister-in-law bought me some tablecloths a while back and one of them was a spill resistant cloth because my sister-in-law often seems to spill whatever when she's visiting. I think they got it as kind of a joke but you know what? I have to tell them how much I LOVE that tablecloth because it makes clean up a breeze! If you're reading this, Alison, where did that tablecloth come from? Do you remember? Because I need more.

Anyway, once I finished trying to mop up Vader's face, she bit me and then ran away and took refuge in the furthest, darkest corner of the daybed in my office. I decided to call Dr. Kirk and ask if we could try mixing the antibiotic in with some canned food because maybe that would go over better.

Fast forward to this evening when we tried to do (with the vet's blessing) just that.

Yeah, that didn't go over better. It was pretty much a repeat performance of this morning only Joe was covering in a lot less cat slime this time around (something he vastly preferred).

But we did manage to get the ointment into her eyes, so that's something anyway, right?

So right now, poor Vader is sitting on the dining room table, glaring at me out of her one working eye. This may be my very last blog if she does somehow manage to smother me with a pillow while I'm sleeping tonight. If this ends up being the case, then please, on my headstone, make sure it reads "she really did try to make things better."

And yet, seems to have somehow ended up making things worse.

And thus ends another day in paradise...

Hope you all have a more successful weekend than my week has been (is that even close to proper grammar?).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

November 2010 Book Report

This is a couple of days late, I know. I'm sure you all having been waiting anxiously computer side to find out just what books I managed to read last month. I'll be honest with you...I didn't read a whole hell of a lot in November. I had all these good intentions (isn't the world founded on good intentions?) to do otherwise but it just didn't work out. Blame NaNoWriMo. Blame the two biggest shopping weekends of the entire year. Blame me because I was just too damn tired to do anything more.

Anyway, here's what I did manage to accomplish:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix- J.K. Rowling- My fave book, I think, in the entire series. I read the British edition and I have to allow myself a moment of immaturity when I read the line said by one of the Wesley twins. It’s the scene where the gang’s talking about the stress of OWLs and George (I think) says, “We managed to keep our peckers up somehow.” I had to go get the American edition and see how this was translated because I didn’t remember reading that line. It was translated as “we managed to keep our spirits up somehow.” Jolly good fun.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince- J.K.. Rowling- The start of the Great Snape Debate. Is he good, is he evil? I absolutely hate the part where Harry and Malfoy fight because of what Harry does to Malfoy (sectrsemptra) because it’s scary. I love the Christmas scene where Harry says he’s Dumbledore’s man through and through. That’s the scene I missed seeing in the movie.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- J.K. Rowling- I read somewhere where someone thought this book should be called “Harry Potter and the Overlong Camping Trip.” It’s not my favorite book of the series (See “Order of the Phoenix”) but it’s a great end to a fantastic story…even if Harry gave his children stupid names.

Shades of Midnight- Lara Adrian- The next in her sexy vampire series. I don’t know why I keep reading them except that they’re a quick easy read and as I am scrambling to accomplish at least one of the goals I set back in January, I happen to be in need of quick easy reads. Don’t judge. At least not until next month when I start my Sweet Valley High retrospective…

And well, that's all she read, folks. Let's check and see where this total lack of progress sticks me as we enter the final month of 2010...

November Books: 4

Year To Date Total: 92

Books Remaining: 8

8 books. 8 damn books. All right. I can do eight books. Probably. I've done it before (maybe not in December) and I can do it again. I mean, it's not like I'm going to be spending December baking Christmas cookies (funny typo alert: I first typed 'bookies' instead of 'cookies'...made me laugh) or anything.

If you need me for anything (besides the baking of any sort of holiday anything), I'll be on the couch with my nose in a book.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So You Want To Write A Novel

Saw this on another blog today and decided I needed to post it here. This made me laugh very, very hard. I hope you enjoy it...

Victory Is Mine

Victory is mine, victory is mine! Great day in the morning, people. Victory is mine. I drink from the keg of glory.

Of course, the keg of glory looks an awful lot like a nalgene filled with room temperature water because I forgot about its existence about two hours ago. But that's hardly important right now. What is important is that I have persevered over self doubt and holiday weekends and doggy diarrhea in order to become an official winner of NaNoWriMo 2010. Look, I even have the graphic to prove it:

Now, someone go out and bring me the finest muffins and bagels in all the land (particularly muffins loaded with chocolate chips). Just leave them on the kitchen counter will you- because I'm going to first celebrate with a nap.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bottom of the Ninth

So we're in the homestretch of this whole 2010 NaNoWriMo experience. And boy, am I glad. Last year at this time, I was blogging about how happy I was. I was blogging about how much I've come to love my story. I was blogging about how I'd already managed to not only hit the 50,000 mark but also surpass the 50,000 word mark by a good 2,000 words.

Not so much this year though.

It would be easy to blame the holiday weekend and I just might do that because it was busy and I did have to work the entire weekend but here's the thing, it was the same deal last year and last year was the year I had my now infamous freak out when the management team decided to make me stay late one day. They did not make me stay late this year, however, I ended up doing that anyway.

The thing was, I was just so damn tired. I know I was tired last year too but I still managed my word counts every day. Maybe the problem is that I Hate My Story. Because I do, you know, hate my story.

It was so good in my head. In my head, it was going to be the best damn thing I'd ever written (which, considering my present writing related circumstances, may not be saying a whole lot). But on paper? But on paper, it kind of sucks. I don't like it in the least bit and I don't know what to do about it. I know the point of NaNoWriMo is to just write 50,000 of a bad first draft in thirty days but this is a really terrible first draft and I am honestly looking forward to December just so I don't have to work on it anymore.

That's the spirit!

So anyway, yeah, I am 6,800 words behind right now. I have to write 6,800 words just to reach the 50,000 word mark and I am damned determined to reach that goal. Why, I don't know exactly, especially when I hate this book so much but I'd like to go out a winner, if at all possible. Fortunately in the case of NaNoWriMo, quantity trumps quality. I can worry about quality later.

Unfortunately, I am not the only roadblock standing in the way of me and my 6800 words. There's also the Gator Girl. Her stomach's really unhappy. This has made all of us really unhappy because instead of writing words, I've been spending my time scrubbing various bodily- uh- substances (they're not really fluids) out of the rug. And then there's Vader the Cat. If you remember, Vader is having a hard time (check out my September 30th blog if you need or want reminding) and it's getting harder. This morning she had a hard time all over Joe's bathroom. And Big, determined not to be left out, spent last night throwing up in my kitchen. At least he threw up over an easily cleanable surface.

I love my pets. I do, I really do (even when I've gone through a dozen rolls of paper towels in five hours). Joe, however, currently may not be as fond of them.

But he is still fond of me (or at least he was before Vader did unspeakably gross things to his bathroom) and he understands that I have this insane need to reach the 50,000 word mark before midnight on November 30th and that I am determined not to sleep until I have done as much. I also hope he understands that he's on his own for dinner until that happens.

And for all of you NaNoWriMo winners out there, I applaud your success and I am in no way completely green with jealousy. Until next time...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

For Which I Am Thankful...

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and since I doubt very much I shall have the opportunity to blog tomorrow, I am going to write this entry today. It is a list of some of the things for which I am thankful. Thus the clever title. This list isn’t in any particular order, nor is it likely to be all encompassing. It is what it is.

I am thankful for my friends, all my friends (Omar! Leah! Everyone in puppy class!) but the following five get a very special mention: Mike and Heidi and Heather and Jacob and Alison. They’re the people who most often act as my sounding boards and read everything I write (particularly Mike who gets the honor of reading every draft of everything, for example twenty drafts of a particular synopsis and then the query letter to accompany it.). They’re the people who never (outwardly) flinch when I ask a completely out of left field bizzaro question such as “Do you know any interesting ways to torture people?” or “Do you think I should kill a kid” (Important note: I only torture and/or kill fictional characters. And only when the story calls for it. I swear.). I think Mike was the proud recipient of a throat slitting question once and still considers (as far as I know anyway) me his friend. Anyway, I am thankful beyond measure for this support group. Thanks for having the confidence in me I am often times lacking.

I am thankful for my family, the big bunch of specially packaged almonds we all are. I am thankful for my parents for raising me right, for instilling in me independence along with a good solid work ethic and a good sense of morals (I only kill fictional people after all). I am thankful to them for giving me a marathon length stubborn streak and not naming me Prudence or November or Persephone. I am thankful for my siblings, all three of them, even though I spent a lot of time in my youth wishing to be an only child. My foils, my antagonists, my partners in crime, thank you for being my friends and companions on this journey we know as life.

I am thankful for my niece, Jupiter, and for the once in a lifetime experience she gave to me when she joined our family. I am thankful for my godchildren and every moment I get to spend with them. If the children are our future, you three make me think it’ll be very bright indeed.

I am thankful for Joe, my significant other. Even though we more often than not bicker like the couple from On Golden Pond. Probably because of it even. I am thankful that he has accepted all the idiosyncrasies that come along with me and my writer-being (how’s that for some damn fine writing?). He never (outwardly) groans or gets irritated when I turn the bedroom lights on at two or three in the morning because I have some exciting thought I need to get down on paper. He never (outwardly) groans or gets irritated when I don’t go to bed until four or five in the morning (thus causing a billion decibels worth of noise when the dogs either come into the room with me or get up to greet me) because I’ve been up writing all night. He never (outwardly) groans over my obsession with medieval weaponry. He didn’t even get (overly) upset when I (accidentally) put that hole in the wall with my authentic Braveheart broad sword and killed that one shifty looking lamp with my quarterstaff. He didn’t get (overly) annoyed when I was rendered incapable of having a trans-atlantic phone call with him when I discovered my most precious writing notebook missing in my Yekaterinburg hotel room. He puts up with my quirks, my (occasional) bouts of bitchiness, my ever growing piles of books, my television obsession, my Dr. Horrible obsession, my Jacoby Ellsbury obsession and countless other obsessions…and even loves me in spite of it all. Thanks, sweetie. You’re the best.

I am thankful for my puppies. Although they are often times huge pains in my ass, they’re the best damn puppies around. Sure, the Gator Girl is simultaneously the most brilliant and dumbest dog I’ve ever known with both an energy and anxiety level that far outstrips the rest of us put together. Sure, Big’s obsession with marking trees and his refusal to have a bowel movement unless I’m the one walking him, is annoying. Really annoying. But they’re still my babies and I love them to pieces.

I am thankful for my job even though the bullshit to sanity ratio is way out of whack. I am thankful to still have a job, no matter how maddening it may be. I am thankful for the insanity that lives in that place if for no other reason than it gives me the ability to write some damn funny (or so you’ve told me, my faithful few readers, for whom I am also thankful) blogs. Plus, I am thankful that it’s a retail experience that requires me to work no nights and very few weekends and spend my time there often thinking about writing.

I am thankful for Sharpie Fine Point Pens. Especially the purple ones. I am also thankful for Joss Whedon. I am thankful that Harry Potter asked to be in Gryffindor and that the Twilight saga is only four books long. I am thankful for macaroni and cheese and chocolate cake. I am thankful that How I Met Your Mother coined the phrase “Slapsgiving”.

And I am thankful I will have the opportunity to spend the holiday with my family as well as Joe’s family and that we don’t have to rush home because I have to work at some ungodly hour come Black Friday. No, this year instead I’m working the late shift (9am, that is…which is late on Black Friday.)

I wish I could write more but I have to go out and brave the madness that will be the grocery store so I can get the much needed items assigned to me to bring for tomorrow’s dinner. Hope they’re not out of rolls…

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reading Is Sexy

The latest thing floating around Facebook...

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Instructions: Copy this into your Facebook notes or your own blog. Or both. Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt. Tag other book nerds on Facebook. Tag me as well so I can see your responses!

(My personal note: I am going to write a little something about some of the titles. This is not part of the rules or whatever, just something I feel like doing. Anyway, let the games begin...)

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen- God, how I hate this book. I am normally a fast reader but this novel (hell, this novelist) slowed me down to a pace so slow that a glacier past me along the way. I do love the movie adaptations though. Colin Firth can be my Mr. Darcy any time.

2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien-
Another series that took me a long time to get through. I was determined to read them one day because I thought it strange that I was a fantasy writing English teacher who had never read them. I finally had to bring them to Russia with me where I would be surrounded with nothing to do and very little English. Again, I loved the movie adaptations.

3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte-
I was supposed to have read this book in high school and, well, didn't. I read it for real a couple of years ago and was surprised to find that I enjoyed it.

Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling- Well, if you've followed any of my book reviews, you'll know that I've read this series. Repeatedly.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6. The Bible

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte- Back in the tenth grade, I was supposed to have written a paper on the symbolism of the weather in this book. Instead I wrote a paper on how the weather wasn't symbolic at all, that it takes places on the moors of Northern England so of course the weather sucked. I received a C+. Didn't love this book, not even when I read it again a couple of years ago. This surprised me because I'm such a sucker for a tragic love story.

8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman-
Most of this series bored the living daylights out of me. And the movie sucked too. Not enough Daniel Craig.

10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
- I actually liked this book.

11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott- I love the movie version starring Winona Ryder. Joe groans whenever I go to watch it.

12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14. Complete Works of Shakespeare-
I haven't read them all. By the by, shouldn't #98 be included in this?

15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier-
Have you seen the movie? It kind of kicks ass!

16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk

18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger- I didn't like this book really. There was one part toward the end where the imagery was cool that I enjoyed but mostly, I was kind of bored.

19. The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger- Haven't read the book. I watched the movie version though and was thoroughly bored by it.

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell- I read this one back in my college years when I was sick with mono. Walked around speaking with a southern accent for a while afterward. Just because I could.

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
- I really love this book and have long harbored a crush on Nick. I taught this book back when I was teaching. I just read in Entertainment Weekly that Baz Lurhmann (the director of Moulin Rouge!) is in the process of making his own version of this book. Color me excited.

23 Bleak House- Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy- Haven't read it but everytime I think of this book, I always think of that Charlie Brown episode where he's supposed to read this book on his holiday vacation and wheels it around with him everywhere he goes.

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited- Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy- I read this one in college during a modern fiction class whose focus was suicide in fiction. We also read Madame Bovary and The Sorrows of Young Werther. I'm pretty sure there was another novel in there somewhere too but, for the life of me, I can't remember what it is.

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens-
Yep. Read this one too. Didn't like it though.

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis- this not a part of the Chronicles of Narnia? Because I kind of thought it was. Doesn't really matter though, I suppose, because either way I haven't read it. It's just that if it is a part of the Chronicles of Narnia, this isn't really a list of 100 books, is it?

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
- I can't even believe the number of times I've read this book. Because it's a lot.

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown- First of all, I can't believe someone put this book on a list alongside writers like Dickens and Austen (yes, even though I don't particularly care for either of those writers). Second of all, I can't believe I wasted an entire weekend reading this book. Because it sucks.

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
- I did love this book. It was kind of horrifying. But the character, Jack, helped to shape my view on how I write my male leads.

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan- This book is frakking gorgeous and I loved it. I also enjoyed the film version very much.

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
- Another two months of my life I'll never get back. I can't even say I enjoyed the film version because I didn't, even if Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet were in it.

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
- Read this one. Liked this one. I always think of that episode of Cheers where Frasier was reading this book to the guys at the bar and how, when they start to get bored, there's suddenly a helicopter and a gun fight going on. Too funny.

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck- I never read this book in high school but picked it up a couple years back when I was on my 'read classic novels' kick. It surprised me that this book was read in high school.

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov- I've never read it, but I have referenced it in my own writing. Correctly, I hope...

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold- Brilliant and moving and incredibly sad.

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
- The movie was better. Again, why is this book on this list??

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
- Please sir, I don't want any more.

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A
Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Inferno - Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt- The book was far better than the movie.

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert- See above.

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White- Are there really people who haven't read this book? If you're one of them, please, let me know!

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (in French)

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
- Of course I've read this. It's my favorite Shakespeare play and I loved to teach this at school. The kids called me a geek because I was so into it. My question is: Shouldn't this be included in the complete works of Shakespeare?

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo- Not only have I read this in English, but I've also read it in French. And I have the musical memorized. Shouldn't I get bonus points for that?

Well, there it is. I've read more than six, so take that, BBC. I'm breaking the rules slightly in that I am not tagging anyone. But, if you're so inclined, post this on your own blogs or Facebook pages.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Lesson Learned

I've learned a very valuable lesson this week: I should not be allowed to be responsible for anything come November.

I say this because I have developed a kind of tunnel vision where I see only my NaNoWriMo project (and Harry Potter) and nothing else. This tunnel vision has led me to do things like- oh, I don't know- forget to go to work. I got up all right, on time and all that. I fed the pets and then took a couple of minutes just to scribble down some ideas all quick like in my handy dandy notebook. The couple of minutes turned into just a wee but longer than that.


I also forgot to pay the electric bill. I found that one out when all of a sudden I was typing in the dark. Just kidding. With my current rampant obliviousness, I wouldn't have noticed if I was suddenly typing in the dark. I probably would have noticed when the laptop died though.


The electric bill did bring my attention to my need to pay other bills, most notably the mortgage. I'm almost sure I wrote out the checks correctly and put them in their proper envelopes. Guess I'll know the answer to that soon enough.

I went to the grocery store on Friday just to pick up some essentials (like Joe's lunch) and came home with nothing but an exciting new plot twist. I didn't realize what I had done until I got a call from Joe saying, "Uh...where's my lunch?" Today I tried the grocery store again and this time made it all the way through with at least a handful of items that were on my list (forgotten at home, of course) but when I got to the register to pay, I discovered that the card I had brought with me to cover my purchase was my driver's license. So I was forced to break my 'no running in public' rule and run out to my car to retrieve an actual legitimate form of payment.

I came home and told Joe that I shouldn't be in charge of anything in November, especially not a November where there's a Harry Potter film released. His response?

"But you're in charge of everything."

Fear that.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Midnight Memoires (A Harry Potter Review)

Travel back in time with me, if you will, back to November in the year 2002 when the world was eagerly waiting with breathless anticipation the arrival of the first very Harry Potter movie. It was a Thursday night, the night before the premiere, our tickets for a Friday night show had already been purchased and I was already bouncing with excitement.

Then, at 8 o'clock, the phone rang.

It was my sister, B. She was calling to tell me that a theater down her way was doing a midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

"So we can see it at midnight?" I asked. "As in four hours from now?"

She confirmed this was so. I said then, "I'll be there in an hour."

And thus, a tradition was born.

I found out last night that B hadn't really anticipated me wanting to drive down to watch the movie at midnight for which we already had tickets (purchased a good two weeks in advance) for another day (Silly B.). Joe didn't really get it either. "What about the tickets you've already bought?" he asked. "What are you going to do with them?"

"Uh," I said as though the answer were perfectly obvious. "Go again? Duh."

And so we did.

When the first movie opened, we were able to walk right into the uncrowded theater at 10pm and purchase tickets for a show two hours later. We went to Denny's afterward to kill time and walked into the showing about a half hour before it actually started. There was no problem finding good seats because there wasn't that many people there.

What I love about a midnight showing is that you know you're surrounded by die hard fans and they're all just as excited as you are to see what's about to unfold. And when the first Quidditch scene in the first movie came to a close, everyone cheered. There's an awesome kind of energy that comes along with a midnight show that just can't be duplicated.

Until you go to another midnight show.

As the years progressed and other Harry Potter films were released, I was at the midnight opening for all of them. We started having to buy our tickets earlier and earlier (thank goodness they started selling them online. Saved me a two hour trip) and starting having to show up at the theater earlier and earlier in order to get a decent seat. My group thought I was insane to insist that we arrive at the theater two hours early for the premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix but they came to see the brilliance of my mania.

B managed to hold me off until 9:30pm the night Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince opened but when we got to the theater that night, the line was already out the door and wrapping around the building. B looked at me and said, "I am not waiting in that line." Fortunately, my ticket buying mania paid off and we were allowed to bypass the line, go directly to go and claim our seats in a theater that was already half full. At 9:30pm.

I think it was then that B realized just how damn early I'd want to get there for the next one. To her credit, she still came along.

The next one, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One), was last night. My friend, Kim, arrived first at 7pm and got in line. About ten minutes later, the line was out the door. B was working and so she and I didn't get there until 8:45 when the line was starting to work its way around the side of the building. It was summer when Half Blood Prince opened but last night was a cold New England November night and once again B looked at me and said, "I am not waiting in that line."

But thanks to Kim, and Kim's professor who ended class early, we didn't have to wait. Outside anyway. We went inside and squeezed into the space Kim had managed to snatch away from the total Mean Girls who cut line in front of her before our arrival. Seriously, I thought Kim and the Mean Girls were going to get into a fist fight at one point. We had the last laugh though when we were allowed to get into our theater just before 10pm and the Mean Girls were forced to wait and watch us go.

Oh snap. That's right, girls. Karma's a bitch and she does not approve of line cutters.

So now we arrive at the part where I actually review the latest Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movie. If you know me at all, you know that it's going to be a rave. You just know that I'm going to love it because I have loved them all. I think I may be the only person on the face of the earth who loved Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the fight at the ministry is so flipping awesome. I could just watch it over and over again. And frequently do).

I watched the majority of this movie with my hands over my mouth as I watched, very intensely, Harry, Ron and Hermione battle their way through everything. It's not like I didn't know where the story was headed and that the three of them would be all right because, you know, I've read the book so many times that I'd have to be barefoot in order to count them all. But the action was so damn good. And the quiet parts (and there are a lot in this book) were so damn good.

And plus, did I mention that it's funny? I have to go watch the movie a second time (Saturday afternoon) just so I can hear all the parts I missed the first time because I was laughing so hard.

Now let's talk about what gets cut and/or changed. I'm not going to go into any great detail on this part because I know there are people out there who have not yet seen the film and I don't want to ruin anything for them. So, I'll just say that yes, some changes have been made. Some things have been cut out. I'd like to go on record as saying that I have no problems with any of the cuts, except for maybe one. Well, make that two. I'll tell you about them later if you're interested. The screenwriter, Steve Kloves, makes changes that are smart (especially one involving Hedwig). There's a scene involving Hermione, right at the beginning, that breaks my heart but I absolutely loved its inclusion.

You also have to be careful not to miss the animated section where Hermione reads the tale of the three brothers because it's so damn beautiful. Seriously, kudos to the animators.

These three kids have come a long way from the first movie. They're really great actors, all of them. They've learned to really know how to turn a phrase and make it funny or devastating, whatever the situation calls for. Those quiet moments I mentioned earlier? The reason they work so well is because Daniel Radcliff and Emma Watson say so much without having to say a single damn word. They were adorable in the first movie and I think they're bloody fantastic now.

The casting of these movies has not missed a single beat. Bill Nighy (Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest) joins the cast as Rufus Scrimgeour and although his appearance in the film is tragically short (I've always been sad that he never showed up in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince), he nails it. Rhys Ifans (the freaky roommate from Notting Hill) is great as Luna Lovegood's father, Xenophilius. And I know that he's been playing this role for a few movies now, but Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort? Genius.

My only complaints about this film is that (1) it's too damn short (Yeah, I know it's a two and a half hour movie but I would have loved it to have been twice that long) and (2) I have to wait until July to watch the second half. The Battle Of Hogwarts is going to be bloody brilliant.

Do you think it's too early to get in line?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Halfway Point

We're a couple of days past the Halfway point in the NaNoWriMo experience. I was supposed to be at 25,000 words by Monday. And I wasn't. Blame the holiday weekend. I do.

I spent most of the day yesterday trying to get caught up and I came damn close to it but still fell a little short. I did manage to cross the 25,000 word mark (finally) and whittled down the number of days it would take for me to finish. I will now finish on December 3rd. I think that's progress, right?

I actually went back and looked at the blogs I was writing last November to see if I was doing this poorly last year. And there was a good stretch of time when I was behind. Of course, last year the NaNoWriMo people didn't have a status chart that would tell you the average numbers of words you were writing and on what day you could expect to finish. I was loving this chart back at the beginning of the month when it said I'd finish on November 25th. Now that it's bumped me back into December, I'm loving it a little less.

However, I still think I can pull it off. Of course, I have Harry Potter weekend coming up, followed by Black Friday weekend so there's plenty of time for me to screw this up.

I know. That's the spirit, isn't it?

In the good news category: a plot is starting to take shape. It always amazes me (I say 'always' like this isn't just the second time I've attempted this) that a person can write so many words without having a definite direction in which to head. But it's starting to come together now. There is still some doubt as to whether I am actually smart enough to write this book but I guess we'll have that answer by the end of the month. I'm just kind of fumbling along and waiting to see where I end up.

And just as the plot is starting to come together, so are the characters. I've started a list in my handy dandy notebook (NAME THAT REFERENCE!) of sentences that could work as openings to character development. Some of them are starting to gain some depth. Woo Hoo. Go me.

I also have written into the story a Belgian Malinois. Last year, my main character ended up with a German Shepherd and so this year, when I decided to write in a dog, I had to go with the Malinois. Seemed only fair. Joe says this means that next year, I'll have to write in a Miniature Schnauzer. Which I will. Unless I have managed to talk him into letting me have my third dog by then. This means I will likely be writing about a Miniature Schnauzer or living on my own with three dogs.

Anyway, I have 2,361 words to go tonight in order to get caught up. I have absolutely no idea what those words might be. I am encouraged by the fact that yesterday, I came up with over 4,000 words and when I started the day, I had no idea what they were going to be either.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Scenes From The Rest of the Weekend

So, it's Tuesday and I have been rewarded with a day off which I have been spending doing laundry and dishes and trying to get caught up on my NaNoWriMo project (at my current rate of production, I shall be finished with my project on December 6th.) But first, I really wanted to share with you the rest of the holiday weekend's highlights...

Engaging the Customer...Always My First Mistake...

Me: Are you finding everything all right?

Her: I'm disappointed in you today.

Me: I'm sorry but have we ever met?

Her: Your sale isn't very good.

Me: I kind of feel like pointing out that it's not actually my sale.

Her: This sale isn't even worth getting out of my car for.

Me: Well, thanks for getting out of your car to let me know that this sale isn't worth getting out of your car for.

Her: I mean, nothing's on sale.

Me: Actually, everything's on sale. That's why we call it the 'everything's on sale' sale.

Her: There are some big buys in this mall this weekend but not here.

Me: I'm sorry?

Her: I'm a local so I'll be back-

Me: Won't that be nice.

Her: So you let me know when you're ready to move some product.

Me: I can think of a place to put some right now.

Her: Excuse me?

Me: Enjoy your day.

Working With The AssMan...Always My Second Mistake...

Joe came into The Store on Sunday as it was a bonus discount day for employees and I wanted him to look around and see if there was anything he wanted. If you're wondering how insane the AssMan is, well, let's just say that you probably won't wonder that after read this next segment.

Her: (coming out to the stockroom where I am feverishly working to finish up and get the frak out of there) You'd better get out there. Your husband is talking to another woman.

Me: So?

Her: So he's talking to another woman! You have to get out there and stop it.

Me: Why? He can talk to another woman if he wants.

Her: Oh, so you want someone else to deal with him.

Me: What? No. We just have one of those healthy relationships where we can talk to other people without fear of retribution. I don't care if he talks to another woman. He can talk to whoever the hell he wants to.

Her: (shaking her head) You'd better get out there.

(the other woman, by the way, was one of his co-workers and all three of us had a good laugh at the AssMan's expense.)

Seriously, AssMan. Whatever is Wrong With You is No Little Thing...

This next bit is from Monday which, technically, isn't a part of the weekend, I know, but I always think of Mondays after a holiday weekend as part of the weekend as we're out straight trying to recover from the deluge of customers. We seriously had a ton of people in the store and it looked it. The AssMan helped out by doing the least amount of work possible while, in the process, feeling the need to steal my one and only empty bin (a big bucket on wheels into which I put product...a vital piece of equipment for stock people this time of year) when I was busy elsewhere.

Her: I need sleep pants.

Me: (pointing) I have a box of them over there.

The AssMan then proceeds to dig through the boxes right next to me, bringing my productivity to a screeching halt.

Me: What are you doing? What do you want?

Her: I'm looking for men's sleep pants.

Me: In a box labeled 'Women's Outwear'?

Her: Well, what box are they in?

Me: Personally, I'd try the box labeled 'Men's Sleep Pants.'

Her: (laughing) Oh. Am I annoying you today?

Me: It's adorable how you think it's just today. And yes, you are annoying me.

The AssMan went out of her way to suck up to me for the rest of the day. So I guess it wasn't all bad. And I don't have to go back to The Store until tomorrow. And THEN, THEN, I have two days off in a row so that I can happily attend the midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Honestly, I think if I didn't have to work on Wednesday, I'd be sitting in the theater right now.

Anyway, I've got to get back to the housework and NaNoWriMo. If I want to get caught up, I need to write 3,652 words. They, unfortunately, will not write themselves. But it would be sweet if they did.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Celebrating My Bro

Today is my brother's birthday.

Growing up can't have been easy for him. He was the youngest of four and the only boy trapped in a house full of girls who were always trying to do things like put him a sewing machine bag and carry him around. There are some other stories I could tell that I think my brother might prefer I keep to myself and so I shall. But here are some I think are okay to share...

I think, first and foremost, I have to tell you about the two minute game even if it does make me look like a not nice person. Sigh.

Growing up, we had a finished basement that doubled as our playroom. We had a toy box which one day I think we pretty nearly emptied. This delighted my mother so she told me, B and Jake that we had to clean up our mess. So we sat around the room, looking at the mess and then an idea that shall forever live in infamy was born: The Two Minute Game.

Here's how you play...

Each person has two minutes to put away as many toys as he or she can. Whoever puts away the most toys, wins.

Jake got to go first. He played hard, ran hard and zipped around that room gathering toys to be returned to the toy box. And he won because he managed to put all those damn toys away before his time was up. It was the best day ever. Jake was the undisputed champion of the two minute game. Right up until the point where he learned to tell time and realized that perhaps, just maybe, his sisters were scamming him.

And thus was the end of the two minute game.

But I think we've moved on from that. He still hangs out with me and sometimes, I think, it's because he might actually want to.

We still play games. Only these are more the Milton Bradley variety. Jake is now the undisputed champion of Dirty Word Scrabble. He's also one of a very small number of people who are willing to play either Scene It or Reel Clues with me.

We worked together at The Store before The Store and had a grand ole time mocking the management (even if I was technically one of them) and every now and then, we reminisce about Chuck, freakishly tall Andrew and poor skittish Cameron and wonder where they are in life. Chuck, I'm guessing, is in a Cracker Barrel somewhere. No idea on the other two.

We've done some traveling together too. One of the good things about Jake is that he's always willing to pose for the funny pictures (like the one of our sword fight in the Outer Banks toy shop) no one else is. We met Kenny in Orlando and discovered that Kenny is an endless source of entertainment. We even went north of the border to Montreal We went to Bar Harbor and froze off our asses on the top of Cadillac Mountain one morning in order to see the sunrise.

Jake bought me my first real sword and was thoughtful enough to make sure it was small enough to enable me to swing it around (Joe, by the way, appreciates this to no end). He responds to every random sports question I send his way and never outwardly laughs when I express my desire to be a defensive football playing tackling person. He also tells me the proper names for these positions, over and over again too. When I ask writing questions, he is always full of helpful and hilarious suggestions. Many a scene has been finished with Jake's help.

He brought me to Fenway for the first (and second) time and took me to stalk Jacoby Ellsbury this summer. When we watch the Pats play, he's the one who makes me feel less alone when I'm screaming at the television. And when the Red Sox won the world series in 2004, it was incredibly special to have someone call me on the phone the moment the game ended, that late at night, who knew exactly how I was feel at that moment.

We share a sense of humor which is fantastic because it guarantees that at least one person out in the world will understand what the hell it is I'm talking about. This is invaluable. In addition to understanding my references, he also makes references of his own and it thrills me to no end when they involve the collective works of Joss Whedon and Amy Sherman-Palladino. Plus, we both find Monty Python and the Holy Grail to be very funny. Unlike either of our significant others.

Now I'm going to be a little mushy for a moment because I really feel lucky to have a brother with whom I can share all these things. A lot of people don't have that type of relationship with a sibling and, for them, I feel sorry because it really is a very awesome thing. As evidenced by all of the above.

So Happy Birthday to the undisputed champion of both the Two Minute game and Dirty Word Scrabble. I wish you many more.

Happy Birthday, Jake!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

In Which Melissa and Ruthie Battle a Spider

The scene:

The Store, before it opens for another day of early holiday shopping.

The Characters:

Melissa (the sarcastic and pain in the ass stock monkey)

Ruthie (the angry but definitely less sarcastic stock associate)

AssMan2 (the second assistant manager, otherwise known as the one the associates can stand to be around)

The Spider (a big giant creepy tan devil creature of which both Melissa and Ruthie have a paralyzing and embarrassing mild and completely rational fear)

And So Our Story Begins

Ruthie: Can we put any more of these ugly ass really well designed tan shirts out on the sales floor?

Melissa: Yes, I believe we can.

Ruthie takes a stack of the ugly ass really well designed shirts out to the sales floor and look at the table upon which they are supposed to go. After Melissa rearranges things a little (something, by the way management loves), Ruthie places the stack with the others. Melissa fluffs up the stack a little so that management won't notice there's an extra set of ugly ass really well designed shirts here that wasn't there earlier.

Ruthie: This place gets more and more ridiculous with each passing day. Just when you think it can't get any stupider around here it goes and does just that. Did I tell you...

Ruthie continues on with her anti Store rant. Melissa lets her. It's nothing Melissa hasn't heard before or said herself before but still, Melissa feels it's better to let Ruthie get it all out. But the rant isn't the important part of the story. This next part is.

Melissa: AHHHH!

Enter The Spider crawling on top of the newly placed stack of ugly ass really well designed shirts. Melissa jumps away from the ugly ass really well designed shirt table. Ruthie stops her rant.

Ruthie: What are you-

Ruthie sees The Spider and screams. She then runs away from the table and hides behind Melissa.

Melissa: What the hell are you hiding behind me for?

Ruthie: (still shrieking) Where did that come from? It was on the shirts, wasn't it? The shirts I brought out here!

Melissa: I think so.

Melissa and Ruthie watched The Spider. The Spider watches Melissa and Ruthie. They swear to god that The Spider was watching them. Spiders do that, you know? They have all those creepy little eyes for a reason, you know. So they can stalk you and kill you in your sleep.

Ruthie: What are we going to do?

Melissa: I was thinking about running away and hiding until our shifts are over.

Ruthie: I could get behind that plan. Let's go.

But neither of them moves out of fear that The Spider will attack.
Melissa: Okay, we just can't leave it there...Can we?

Ruthie: I think we can.

Melissa: Isn't this a job for AssMan2?

Ruthie: I'll go get her.

But again, Ruthie doesn't move. She stays hidden behind Melissa. Melissa looks at the spider and is suddenly determined to not let that thing get the best of her. All right, so maybe it was more the unwillingness to open herself up to the shame of needing to be rescued by the AssMan2 driving her actions at this point, but still, she chose to take action.

Melissa moves cautiously around the back of the ugly ass really well designed shirt tableto retireve one of the Store's many folding boards (boards which exist to help associates achieve the perfect fold. For the record, Melissa would like it noted that she never uses these boards for their intended purpose.)

Ruthie: What are you doing?

Melissa: I'm going to knock it on the floor and squish it.

Ruthie: What do I do?

Melissa: You go over there (points) and distract it so it doesn't see me coming.

Ruthie: I'm not doing that!

Melissa creeps back around to the side of the table. She swears that The Spider is following her every step. Creepy little bastard. She stretches out her arm and tries to brush The Spider off the pile of ugly ass really well designed shirts. The Spider disappears from the top of the stack but does not appear to be on the floor. Melissa jumps back. Ruthie screams again.

Ruthie: Where'd it go? Where'd it go? Oh my god, where'd it go?

The Spider has now taken up residence on the front of the stack of ugly ass really well designed shirts. Melissa checks the entrance to the stock room, certain that AssMan2 will appear at any time as both she and Ruthie have been doing a rather alarming amount of screaming, but the doorway is empty. Melissa steels herself for a second try. And fails again. Ruthie screams some more.

Ruthie: I'm getting AssMan2! You watch The Spider.

Ruthie exits, leaving Melissa alone with The Spider who is probably really pissed off with her by now. After a moment of intense stand off, Ruthie returns with AssMan2 in tow.

Ruthie: You should see this thing. It's huge! And it's creepy and we want you to kill it! Right away!

AssMan2 crouches down in front of the table in order to get a better look at The Spider. This causes Ruthie to shriek some more and run in the opposite direction. Melissa doesn't move but does use her folding board as a defensive shield.

AssMan2: Wow. Would you look at him?

Melissa: Yeah, we've kind of looked already. Could we get to the squishing him part already?

AssMan2: Oh, we don't want to squish him.

Ruthie: (from behind a fixture of winter coats) Yes we do! We really, really do.

AssMan2 knocks The Spider to the floor and then walks away. Ruthie shrieks and Melissa stares at The Spider who has decided that it's time to make a break for it.

Ruthie: What are you doing?!?!?

AssMan2: I'm getting a-

But before AssMan2 can explain what she is getting, Ruthie comes flying out from behind her protective rack of coats and stomps on The Spider before it can get any further away.

Ruthie: Where is it? Where is it?

Melissa: I'd check the bottom of your shoe if I were you.

Ruthie does and scrapes the spider guts off her shoe and onto the concrete floor. AssMan2 then cleans up the spider guts with a paper towel while telling Melissa and Ruthie about the big spiders she once encountered on a hike in Hawaii. Melissa crosses off 'hiking in Hawaii' from her list of Things To Do Someday.

AssMan2: Well, all right then, ladies. Are we ready to open?

Melissa: More like go home.

Ruthie: Yeah, I'm worn out.

And thus the day was saved and made safe for all the early holiday shoppers. Ruthie and Melissa returned to the stockroom where they were afraid to touch anything and shrieked any time anything caught the corner of their eye.

AssMan2: This day's going to be insufferable.

End Scene

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Plot Happens.

This year, for NaNoWriMo, I am writing a young adult urban fantasy because the Twilight books just piss me off so much. Well, the fourth book pissed me off so much that it made my bemusement with the other three books crumble into hatred. But whatever. That's not really the point.

Why can't I ever stay on topic?

So the basic premise for my novel (called Solstice) is that sixteen year old Gwendolyn Chase fights demons on the streets of Boston until the day, her mother sends her away to a program for troubled teens located out in the middle of nowhere, Vermont. Or New Hampshire. I haven't quite decided yet. She gets sent somewhere in the middle of nowhere New England anyway.

I have some semblance of an idea for a plot that revolves around the kicking of demon ass and the stopping of a massive evil plan but not a whole lot more to go along with it. It's more a "hey, wouldn't it be cool if..." mentality. I'm trying to not worry too much about this because last November, I started with the intention of writing a romance and didn't have a whole lot to go on. I wrote the scene where the two main characters meet and let it happen from there. I really liked where that one went and how that project turned out so there's no reason (yet) to think the plot won't happen to this one.

Except that I am less happy with this new project.

But I am pushing through. Seems the thing to do because it's only just beginning and who the hell knows what's going to happen over the course of the month. Word count doesn't seem to be an issue at all as I have, just this afternoon, crossed the 10,000 word mark. I think that puts me four days ahead. So I have plenty of time to contemplate plot.

A friend of mine suggested to me that plot is overrated. Develop character, he said.

And trust me, I am all about well developed character. I love a well developed character with layers and flaws and all that good stuff. I'm trying to write a kick ass heroine with just those things but so far she's just been sullen and sarcastic. And while that can be fun for a while, I'm going to need something more. She doesn't have a lot of depth to her yet. But that too will come, right?

But as important as character is, I think plot is vital too. Especially when one is writing a book about a teenage demon fighter. In a premise like that, it seems to me that there ought to be some demon fighting. And demon fighting, while certainly character building, seems more like plot to me.

So let's recap. I have no real plot. I have no real character with any real depth to her. And yet, I somehow have over 10,000 words.

I am either a genius or an idiot. I'm afraid it's the latter but let's just say it's the former.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Quiz You've All Been Waiting For...

Here it is, kids. The Firefly/Serenity quotes quiz. I am embarrassingly excited to be doing this. It was a great excuse to watch the entire series over again. It was a great excuse to watch the movie over again. This adventure also led to what may be the greatest quote really also ever. Joe, in the midst of one episode said, "You don't f*&k with Captain Tightpants."

I was so very proud.

You all know the Quote Quiz rules by now but as this is a very specific quiz, there are some minor addendums (is that not a word? My word processor is saying that 'addendums' is not a word. What's the plural of 'addendum'? Anyone?). You don't have to name the show because they all come from the same show. Some of the quotes will have come from the movie, however, so you will have to discern that. Name the episode in which the quote appears as well as the speaker of the quote. For extra points, you can tell a little bit about the situation. And, yes, some of these quotes will be painfully obvious but they were just too good to leave out.

If you win (Alison, care to try for a three-peat?), you can name the next Quote Quiz subject (as long as it involves Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Ready to play? Great...let's begin.

1. I could kill you with my brain.

2. If wishes were horses, we'd all be eating steak.

3. They tell you never hit a man with a closed fist but it is, on occasion, hilarious.

4. I can be terse. Once in flight school I was laconic.

5. The hell with this! I'm gonna live!

6. Every well bred petty crook knows the small concealable weapons always go to the far left of the place setting.

7. Jayne, we're robbing the place. Not occupying it.

8. I'll be in my bunk.

9. I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you.

10. I'm sorry if she tipped anyone off about your cunningly concealed herd of cattle.

11. River, honey, he's putting the hair away now.

12. He looked bigger when I couldn't see him.

13. Mine is an evil laugh!

14. Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle.

15. You can't stop the signal.

I could, of course, do this all day long but it's November and I have a NaNoWriMo project awaiting my attention. And some of you, most of you, probably have jobs and families and the like awaiting your attention. So have fun, get your answers in and I'll post all the results in a couple of days.

Oh, and one last thing: