31 January 2008

Plenty

Another food book down! I read Plenty by Alisa Smith and JB MacKinnon today at work. Yes, we are that slow. Aside- I've begun bringing my messenger bag to work stocked with various distractions because i have learned, if nothing else, that a bored Melanie is an easily upset Melanie. Today i had 2 books, the new issue of Seed, a notebook and a Sudoku puzzle book.


and i am still updating my blog while i am here anyway.


Back to the reading. This is the third "local food" book i've read in the last year or so and i do have to say I have enjoyed them less as I've gone along. The best was Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan then Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. This one wasn't a bad read at all, it just had a lot more about the couple's relationship than i really wanted to read right now. it is an easy ready, very accessible, it is just Pollan's book is more scientific and Kingsolver's book more thorough.

So this one gets 4/7.

29 January 2008

A Myriad of Interesting Tidbits

that i discovered while looking at my statcounter pages today.
  1. that you get to my page by googling "watch cloverfield movie online", "example of cynical person" as well as "cynical quotes"
  2. that while various pages will be the most popular on any day, that a post i wrote over two years ago has to be the most popular one i've every written.
  3. that everyone uses google.
  4. that Firefox (the browser i use) is kicking IE's butt, at least on my page.
  5. that January is going to be the biggest month for me in terms of visits and views since August.

what i did for the first 2 hours at work

it is a pinker color than it looks

28 January 2008

Fathers and Sons

Today, after working on it for most of the month, i finished up Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev. I didn't think I was going to like it but the ending really saved it for me. I haven't read any Russian lit since college and even then i only read plays by Chekov. There are seventy pages of introduction in my volume that i skipped and i may actually go back and read it now.

The story centers on two young men in 1860's Russia, both of whom are part of the upper class. There is Bazarov, the older of the two and a doctor by training, and Arkady, who is younger. We follow them as the visit their family homes and those of various friends. Bazarov is the philosopher; while the blurb on the back of the book lists him as "one of the first angry young men" he seems far more nihilistic to me than angry. He seems to care about little, not himself or his family or his friends. Both the men seem almost like teenagers, for most of the book they have the whole attitude of "we are always right about everything, everyone else is just dumb and can't understand us because the others are too old, or are just peasants, or are women. But towards the end both young men fall in love, for good and for ill, and we see, if not exactly a happily ever after, a very satisfying ending.

So i give it a 5, after fully expecting to give it a 3. Books like this are why i so rarely abandon the ones i am not liking. i do recommend it; you just have to give it a chance and overlook everyone calling everyone else by their full names.

Random note: i am of Russian descent (my great grandfather was brought over as a little child by his parents before the revolution) and have a Russian last name. I found half a dozen names which, if i ever have kids and they get my last name, I so want to use.

27 January 2008

New Ratings System

So I have been trying to get some kind of rating system. I've seen ones of out of 5 or out of 10 ranks, but 5 is too few and 10 is too many and has no middle point. So i am working out of 7. Hey, i was born 7/7 so i'll just run with that theme.



  1. Awful. Just awful. if it is a movie i wished i walked out or turned it off. For a book it better be from the library because i am returning it.
  2. Bad. Why did i bother with this?
  3. Not very good for me at least. I'll give this to things i don't like but could at least see that others might appreciate.
  4. OK. I don't feel like i wasted my time with it but i probably wouldn't read or watch it again. If i own it i wouldn't feel bad if i lent it out and someone didn't return it.
  5. Good. Time well spent.
  6. Great. I will probably talk this up to everyone but it doesn't quite fall into the category of "if you don't like it i am going to be annoyed with you" ;)
  7. Stupendous. I love it. I am buying it if i haven't already and will attempt to foist it on others. If it's a DVD it is going into heavy rotation.
Here's an example of a book and movie for each ranking. I had a hard time limiting the higher ones to just one example!

  1. Jeepers Creepers, Trainspotting (the book).
  2. Da Vinci Code, Book and Movie
  3. Natural Born Killers, The Road
  4. Talledega Nights, The Rest Falls Away
  5. X-Men 3, Poison Study
  6. Cloverfield, Lian Hearn's Otori Series
  7. Pan's Labyrinth, Harry Potter series

so maybe going forward things will be a bit more standardized.

26 January 2008

Victorian Vampires

So yesterday i read Colleen Gleason's The Rest Falls Away. I had a good bit of time on my hands yesterday as i was hanging out at BF's waiting for a washer and dryer to be delivered. They were supposed to show up anytime after 8 and finally did about 3:15, ugh!

The book was ok i guess. Continuing a bit from yesterday's post, I don't know that it really belongs in the Romance section. At least, the last romance novel had a lot more sex. The Kushiel series has a lot more sex, and romantic scenes, and that is over in the sci-fi/fantasy section. I would say i didn't mind reading it, i just don't know that part 2 is going to be at the top of my next to buy list. The vampires are decent enough villians of the "i want to take over the world" variety. I personally found the interactions between Max and Victoria far more realistic and believable than those between Victoria and Philip. and weirdly enough, though i am fine to suspend disbelief about the vampires in general, i thought the bit about hypnotizing the victims or other people so they wouldn't remember anything a bit much.

currently: watching SEC basketball

25 January 2008

BTT for 1/24

A hard question!
What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”

I've really been thinking about this one since yesterday. I have kind of two circles: my friends around here aren't really readers, though BF has a goal of reading a non-fic and a fiction book each month (if successful, this will probably be 18 more books than he read last year, not counting graphic novels).

an aside: he schooled me on Fellowship of the Ring last week (he read this one but not the following two). we were out and saw a tee shirt with the line "not all who wander are lost" and he said it was from Fellowship, that Gandalf tells it to Frodo. I swore up and down that it wasn't in any of the books. So i am listening to the book in the car and suddenly there the line is! It was from Gandalf to Frodo, in a longer bit of poetry in a letter.

Anyway. the Question! So my local friends aren't readers, so pretty much anything i suggest, unless a movie has recently come out, is going to be new to them. When speaking to acquaintances, random people at bars or parties or work, i've tended to stop mentioning the reading thing so that I won't be recommended the latest Crichton, Patterson or Koontz. I will suggest to people non-fiction things on topics as I've read plenty of that, particularly on the big topics like politics and environment and science.

For online stuff i think i am still getting too many suggestions from other people to make much influence on anybody else.

However, I'll give it a go. Everybody reads some Stephen King. Everybody has heard of Carrie, The Shining, Christine, Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile. And a couple dozen other ones. But whenever i mention that The Eyes of the Dragon is one of my favorites by King no one knows about it. It is High Fantasy. A wonderful companion piece to the Dark Tower series.

Clerks 2

So BF had me watch Clerks 2 last night. This is an older one, so i am going to be spoilery. I have extremely mixed feelings. I love Kevin Smith's stuff. I even liked Jersey Girl. So i loved seeing Randall and Dante do their thing again. The guys stuff i liked. The random pop culture conversations, sniping, talk about sex, all hilarious.

What i hated was the "romantic" plot. I don't think there was any reason to have Dante cheating on his fiance. Yes, she needed to be there to give the reason for the move to Florida. Yes, i didn't like her nor are we supposed to. I am far closer to the Rosario Dawson character personality wise so i didn't identify with the girlfriend like that. It just really really bugged me that Dante cheated on her. And i know exactly why it bothered me. And i can't talk to BF because he'll overreact. He probably didn't even think it would cause me a second thought.

So, had i watched it when it came out i would have certainly liked it more than i did last night.

In other news, bought The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason due to an excellent review by Chris of the 3rd book in the series coming out in February. So I've seen these for the last year I guess, had them recommended to me by the Amazon bots, had a vague interest in a Victorian Buffy (don't flame me but i never watched that series, the movie was just too awful) and figured i might like it. I looked online and my library doesn't have the book. So i went to Borders and looked in the Horror section. Vampires=horror section right? Nothing. Checked the Sci-fi, which they separate out, still nothing. Walked over to the Literature and Fiction section thinking "hey, maybe this is a bit more high brow than i thought" but still no book. So then i hop on their little store computer and it shows they have it. in the Romance section.

I bought the book. But why are my expectations so changed now?

22 January 2008

More Challenges *sigh*

Does it count as a challenge if i was going to read the books anyway? I mean, if i sign up for the Chunkster Challenge and i finish The Historian, Anna Karenina and a couple more long books before the year is out is it any sort of challenge to me? is it even fair? If i sign up for the Science Book challenge, when i read at least half a dozen science books last year, should i feel any kind of accomplishment? For the science books i do think that i can feel like i've done something mainly due to the fact that you have to do little write ups for a real website.

of course, i am signing up for these now. :)

Yesterday i did a few things:
  • I had 3 glasses of a really good $17 bottle of riesling and slept better than i have in weeks. It was a bottle of C. H. Berres Riesling Estate 2005 Impulse. Sweet, tart and really clean, crisp appley to me. I don't know much about wine but i have found that i mainly enjoy Rieslings and Pinot Noirs (noires?).
  • I watched Barack Obama's speech from 1.20.08 in the church Martin Luther King Jr preached in. BF and I saw this church a few years ago when we first went to Memphis in May.
  • Had cake from work. They gave us cake for MLK's birthday and i kinda felt bad about eating it. It was half chocolate and half vanilla cake, thereby realizing Dr. King's dream that desserts not be judged but the color of their frosting but the contents of their flavorings.

currently: watching Blazing Saddles on AMC. why is this movie so funny? and why is AMC playing it every few days?

19 January 2008

Coverfield

ROCKED ASS! No spoilers here but it is not an easy movie to spoil anyway. I had wondered before when someone would think to take the Blair Witch idea but apply it to an action picture or big budget disaster movie. It works. really really works. i had to keep putting drops in my eyes as my contacts were getting dry because i wasn't blinking. I was that riveted. i am actually considering going again because now that i know where the jumpy screamy parts are i can actually watch properly. supposedly there are supposed to be a couple references to LOST but i didn't notice. Strangely the show we saw was about half full. I really hope the stupid chick flicks that came out yesterday don't win the weekend.

18 January 2008

BTT for 1/17

A not too bad one this week.

How much do reviews (good and bad) affect your choice of reading? If you see a bad review of a book you wanted to read, do you still read it? If you see a good review of a book you’re sure you won’t like, do you change your mind and give the book a try?

It is hard to say. The only place i read book reviews (published ones at least) is Entertainment Weekly, not counting the ones i read online on blogs or zines. If something by an author i really like gets an awful review i will probably read it anyway. And i don't care how great a review a chick lit novel gets, i will never read it. pretty much the same for romance, true crime, or westerns. A positive review of something i hadn't heard of will at least make me take a look at it.

17 January 2008

Two weeks before the show returns,

I finished Lost and Philosophy. Not great, not awful, somewhat insightful. The essays seemed to get better the later into the book i got. I believe i've stated before that i think i may enjoy a book like this that comes out after the show finishes up. We have a little over half the show completed now so there are so many puzzles that we just don't have enough information about. We could end up deep in time-bending, space-warping, spiritual mumbo-jumbo (fine by me) or we could see that it's all just a guy in a mask a la Scooby Doo.

I've still got several books I am working on so maybe I'll be able to post soon about a different book.

16 January 2008

various things

1) Why is reordering your netflix queue so addictive? i mean, my next 3-6 things probably won't change but after that i KNOW i am going to move stuff around before i get there. So why do i bother? because it is fun. why is it fun? i have no freaking clue.


2) I've been reading through the forums on Poppet Planet because of a suggestion from Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. It is all very interesting. It has also made me search for other online depression stuff and i have maybe 6 more websites to rummage through now. whether it's a help or not i don't know yet but i've got something to keep me busy.


3) Finished I, Robot by Isaac Asimov today. Hooray! I found it pretty good. A nice change. It isn't really a single story but a series of stories framed as a reporter working on a story about robotics. I loved the first story, Robbie, about a little girl who loves her robot nanny. The middle section, about Powell and Donovan, troubleshooting extraordinaires, was ok. They seemed to bitch back and forth like an old couple a lot.

One thing i found more interesting are the predictions about life around this time. We did so much better with computers than Asimov predicted. He mentions a talking robot that takes up a whole room that is really just a talking computer. And that there would be 3.3 billion people on Earth as of around 2050. We've past that already of course.

Also, though i haven't seen the movie, i don't know that the movie has anything the same with the book except the title and that it has robots. There is no murder mystery, no detective, no evil robots. so now that is on my netflix as well.

4)New Mythbusters tonight!

5) This is post 150 for me!

6) I'm feeling good today. BF loves me.


14 January 2008

so anyway...

yeah, 24 hours after i post about how i can't read anything i am posting about how i read something. sue me.

I got up this morning and when selecting reading material for work at 5:15 this morning i plucked The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin from my TBR shelf. I've read this a few times when i was a kid and remembered it fondly. So i started and finished it today but it is all of 180 pages. Clever mystery i remembered; i had forgotten the "happy happy joy joy" stuff at the end but it wasn't bad.

Got through a couple more essays in Lost and Philosophy and i am wishing more and more they had waited for this one. I MAY be able to finish it off today as i only have a 4 left. If it had come out after the show ended i think it would have been better. It is in the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series which i think is not as good as Popular Culture and Philosophy series entries. Maybe that is me. Of course, i am coming off reading one of the best volumes in Quentin Tarantino and Philosophy so maybe that is coloring my perceptions.


13 January 2008

Still Stuck

Still going nowhere with reading. no energy, can't concentrate, upset, depressed, so at least i have my reasons. i guess it is more of going nowhere altogether but since the only thing i do is read that is where i've noticed it. Seriously, since last week i've read a few more essays in my philosophy book, maybe 20 more pages of The Historian, started Fathers and Sons for the Russian Reading challenge and read maybe 20 pages. I did get through an Entertainment Weekly but does that even count?

I haven't talked too much on here about my mental state, prefering to use this space as space from what is going on. But now how i feel is carrying over to the one thing i was using to relieve that. The problem with being depressed is that you become hyper-sensitive to everything. I was not previously the kind of person who analyzed myself constantly. I knew how i felt about things, why i felt the way i did and i could articulate it well. but i wasn't hypochondriac the way BF is in the "oh, i had a weird feeling in my arm....maybe i have arthritis?" way he does. Now though it is so different. I eat a piece of candy and i wonder "is your appetite coming back?" or i cry twice in one day and i wonder if things are getting worse. or i have a good 10 hours and i start to think maybe things will get better after all. but they don't get better, so i feel worse.

should i be proud i fooled my mom tonight? she called on Thursday and said i sounded awful. I called them tonight as it is my youngest brother's birthday and she said i sounded so much better. of course, she couldn't see me so that is half the battle right there. I am far worse off today than i was last week but i was able to sound cheerful or normal. I can't manage that at work so i guess it is good i could do it for 10 minutes on the phone to family.

10 January 2008

BTT for 1/10

a multi-parter today!

1)How did you come across your favorite author(s)? Recommended by a friend?
Stumbled across at a bookstore? A book given to you as a gift?
2) Was it love at first sight? Or did the love affair evolve over a long acquaintance?


this is an interesting one. first i have to decide who my favorite authors are. then i have to figure out how long i've been reading them and then try to remember how i picked up the first one. then i have to try to remember what made me like them and/or if i started out liking them. so here goes:

  • Stephen King--I've been reading him since i was a kid. i think i started with Salem's Lot or maybe The Shining and then spread from there. don't have any idea how or why i picked up the first one but i definitely liked him from the beginning.
  • Douglas Adams--again, someone I've read for a while. I know i picked up Hitchhiker's Guide from my father's sci-fi collection. Liked from the start.
  • Neil Gaiman--my brother's fault. Read his Sandman comics (in individual issue form no less) and then found other stuff. Again, i liked him from the first i read.
  • Mercedes Lackey--embarassing. was recommended to read Magic's Promise by a Harry Potter fan fiction group, maybe 4 years ago. I have found that I enjoy these as fun reads but can only take so much at one time.
  • Clive Barker--saw Hellraiser as a kid and thought it was awesome. Started randomly reading his stuff since. Actually i prefer the YA/children's things he's written.
  • J. K. Rowling--My mom got me the first 3 books for Christmas the year before book 4 came out. really really liked them. (see the fan fic comment above?)
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle--Liked from my teens. I know i had to read a few of the stories in English lit and tore through the whole of Sherlock Holmes one summer.
  • George R.R. Martin--hooray for store ads! I saved the title of the first Fire and Ice book in my phone to get from the library when i saw a big display at a bookstore. Really enjoyed it from the first.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien--read The Hobbit as a kid but it took me 2-3 tries to get through LOTR. it is longer, and denser, and more complex. i was also like 12 the first time i tried so i have an excuse.
so those are the ones i can think of right now. a good sampling of what i've liked reading short term and long term.

09 January 2008

Netflix movies

So I watched a couple things last night: the second series disc for Firefly (very nice) and the movie Once. My therapist actually was the one who suggested it to me.

It is weird. I think i liked Once, but i don't know yet. The music is gorgeous, so much so that i've already got the soundtrack on my amazon wishlist. The movie is wistful, so tinged with sadness at the edges that i kept wanting to cry. but i didn't. The filming was pretty even if some of the locations weren't. apparently Ireland is cold and has no central heating; all the characters walked around in their coats indoors. I liked the characters of Guy and Girl and i was immediately rooting for them. I think the only reason i can't say that i liked it is the ending. I didn't want it to end as it did. I won't go into spoilers as it is still relatively new, though if you look on the amazon reviews they do reveal the end. Some of the reviews say it ends hopefully but i don't think so.

So next i am getting Shaolin Soccer and more Firefly.

Random thing 1: i use the library ALOT! of my 69 books read in 07, I borrowed 37 of them from the library and another 8 from friends, etc.

Random thing 2: how do email spammers make my Yahoo mailbox think their new mail is actually from 2002? i keep getting spam that shows up pages back in my inbox.

Random thing 3: Why are we busy at work between 9:30 and 1? we have 10-15 mins between calls when i go to lunch at 9:30 but when i come back at 10 we are swamped.

Random thing 4: The trailer for The Other Boleyn Girl is out. I already see things different from the book.

08 January 2008

Laying Out

Well not exactly. BF had a doctor's appointment today for a procedure that he thought he had to be sedated for. Then last week he found out he didn't have to be out so I didn't need to go with him after all. I had planned on leaving work at 8:30 to take him so i already had the time scheduled off and decided to go ahead and leave early. So i am hanging at Panera for a bit messing around.

Got tickets for the LSU-Vandy basketball game in a few weeks off Stubhub. Woohoo! Don't know how good the game will be but I haven't been to a basketball game yet this season. I'll probably try to get tickets to the home closer against Mississippi State in March and possibly a couple others.

Speaking of LSU, was last night's game not great! if you are not an Ohio State fan at least. Do i want a new tee shirt? or hoodie? Or cap? maybe a car sticker? all my 2003 shirts are kinda raggedy, except for the incredibly bright yellow one i hardly wear. I love my team and school but that yellow is god-awful. i am homesick now, wish i had been watching the game in a dive bar in Baton Rouge or Lafayette. I want some etouffee, i want donuts from Meche's, i want to go to a Mardi Gras parade. Luckily, i will be going to Louisiana after Mardi Gras for my brother's wedding, so at least some of these things i can have in the next couple months.

Maybe I'll get my mom to send me a king cake.




06 January 2008

Restless

I've never had trouble reading. Even when things have been really bad for me i could still read.



I am a little disturbed because right now i just can't. at home or at work i can't focus. since i read A Subtle Knife on 1/1 i haven't been able to concentrate. I thought it was what i was trying to read (Lost and Philosophy and The Historian) but i tried reading a few other things and nothing is interesting. i've still managed to get through about 90 pages of The Historian but it has been really difficult. Everything is just words on the page, not the 'movie in my head' experience i have normally. I know i shouldn't be worried about this, after all it really has just been 5 days, but i am worried. I tried several times this weekend and only read a page or two before i'd put the book down.



I'm understanding the term "restless" more now. not in the fidgety moving around sense. it is more like i am without rest. sleeping doesn't feel like sleep. being awake is just blah. Saturday i sat in bed all day, alternating between watching tv, staring at the wall, laying there half-asleep, trying to read. i don't know what i am supposed to do.

Sports

I really like football. I can't exactly point to one specific reason or event as to why. My parents watched pro-football but they weren't fanatics. I don't even know if they pull for any particular team now that i think about it. My brothers didn't play it in high school; i did go to some games then, like everybody does. I went to LSU, which is a football school, but i only went to 3 games when i was there. *hangs head in shame* We kinda sucked then, between 1994-1998, so i do have an excuse.

But i don't just watch one team. I'll watch any pro game that is on, pretty much any college game too. While i have a better knowledge of the goings-on in pro football (only 32 teams to keep a grasp on) or SEC football (we're down to 12 here) i have a decent grasp of the rest of the college league. I can't name every quarterback for every pro team but i could name 2/3 of them, i can parse out all the pro teams in their respective divisions and how they ended up for the year. i understand offense better than defense but i am learning that more too (3-3-5 is fun to watch!) Living in an AFC town i preferentially watch AFC teams and follow the Titans, Chargers and Steelers the most.

I found college basketball a few years ago. We started going to Vanderbilt games when BF still worked there. My heart was broken when the good priced season tickets sold out before we got any. And now they are 15-0! and have an attractive Australian freshman! While i will watch random college games i do that less than i do for football; pretty much SEC is all i watch. I still don't understand a lot of what is going on but i have progressed much since the first year i went. In a key game, at a critical point (were we down or ahead by a couple, near the end of the game), the other team let the shot clock run out. Everybody starts cheering and i am jumping up and down yelling "turnover on downs, turnover on downs!" I thought BF was going to pass out he was laughing so hard.

Baseball is, well, baseball. Much slower, much more sitting and waiting for something to happen. 3 game home stands can make or ruin a weekend. I can't say i keep up with any baseball except for Vandy. I can't say i have any desire to follow another team either. I enjoy going to the games, the communal experience. Everybody may cheer when Vandy scores a touchdown but at a Vandy baseball game everybody stands up and sings "Sweet Caroline" for no reason at all!

I don't watch soccer, or car racing, or pro basketball, or tennis, or pro baseball, or golf. so i am not a compete sports head.

03 January 2008

BTT for 1/3

Another one I am doing on the right day. Woo Hoo!
Last week we talked about the books you liked best from 2007. So this week, what
with it being a new year, and all, we’re looking forward….
What new books are
you looking forward to most in 2008? Something new being published this year?
Something you got as a gift for the holidays? Anything in particular that you’re
planning to read in 2008 that you’re looking forward to? A classic, or maybe a
best-seller from 2007 that you’re waiting to appear in paperback?


I would say, after a glance over on Amazon, that i am looking forward to a few new releases and plenty of other stuff. Duma's Key by Stephen King is out later this month and i am waiting for a little lull in my reading life to order the his graphic novel The Gunslinger Born. Fire Study by Maria Snyder, a new installment in a solid fantasy series, is out in March. On the non-fiction side Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food sounds great. Unless announced soon, I guess we won't get a new Fire and Ice book this year; i am excited about picking up his new releases Dreamsongs 1 and 2.

for older stuff, i am glad i am finally dipping into some Russian stuff. I want to work on my classics list more. Catch up on some of my series reads. Finish the His Dark Materials works.

On a related tangent, the movie situation is looking good too. Cloverfield! The Orphanage! The Dark Knight! Speed Racer! Prince Caspian! Wanted! More that i am not remembering!

And we get LOST again. smiles all around.

02 January 2008

More Pullman

Completed The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman today at work. read all but the last 50 pages yesterday actually in the 4 hours they made me work. The continuing story of Lyra's adventures. She meets up with a boy named Will, who becomes incredibly important to Lyra's quest.

I would have to say i liked it a bit less than the first in the series. I liked the new character Will quite a bit; he seemed more mature than Lyra. But i really think, although plenty occured, that less happened. It really seemed to be setting up the final book. We did get more interaction with some of the adults from the first book, namely Lee Scoresby and Serafina Pekkala which gives us a lot more info about the wider picture. I did cry at one point but not too terribly.

So this is also my first book for the YA challenge. Off to a good start, a book in 2 days.