31 December 2008

Bests and Totals

so everyone lists their bests this time of year. I'm following the crowd but hope i've managed to pick some different sorts of things. I am going to pick what was the best of what i read and watched all year, not just what came out this year. Strangely, i ended up with 8 for each category.

Movies
  • Yojimbo
  • Let the Right One In
  • Juno
  • Wall-E
  • The Dark Knight
  • Girl's Rock
  • Son Of Rambow
  • Hard Candy
Books
  • The Lover by Marguerite Duras
  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • Whose Freedom by George Lakoff
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • After Dark by Haruki Murakami
  • His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman
And now my total! i read 102 books this year, 35 were nonfiction and 80 were library books. Not bad if i say so myself!

29 December 2008

Post Christmas

I hope everyone had a great holiday. I actually still have 1 more gifting get together before i'm finished for this year. So far i've gotten

  • Knee Socks.
  • A lovely picture book from my sister-in-law of my niece and nephew. How can two kids be both so adorable and so smart?
  • Paperback copy of A Feast for Crows.
  • 2 Copies of The Dark Knight. One will be swapped for Iron Man i think.
  • tons of candy, a few ornaments, some lottery scratch offs (no winnings)
  • a $25 gift card to JCPenny
  • a $5 card for Logan's Roadhouse
  • an LSU Koozie
  • cash!
In other news, I've joined Postcrossing. It's interesting as you send postcards to other people across the world and then get some back. I got my first one in the mail today. Here's a pic. It traveled all the way from Germany. Thanks Dorj!

23 December 2008

Update

Too much stuff going on. Must speak in telegramese. And bullet points!

  • Finished up Harry Potter 7 on audiobook the other day. Loved it again! 7!
  • Am going home for Christmas!
  • no more shopping. Am super glad to be finished.
  • trying to clean out my email and google reader feeds tonight.
  • watched Wanted-liked it, a 5, and WallE-loved it, a 7.
  • have a wonderful Christmas!
Love to all!

17 December 2008

Essential Green

Yesterday i finished up Van Jones' The Green Collar Economy. It's an overview of a plan to solve both our (the USA'S) economic issues and the environmental issues affecting the planet. It also stresses that the environmental movement really needs to embrace the social justice movement; that together each will be that much stronger. The poor, the marginalized, the undereducated of the US are the ones affected first and affected worst by both sets of problems.

Jones gives plenty of examples of what's wrong. He gives credit to the previous generations of civil rights organizers and environmental protectors and also outlines how just a few little tweaks could have put us in such a better position now. Mostly he outlines different programs and systems that can provide solutions. How improving mass transit will provide jobs building/maintaining rail lines, operating buses and trains, in factories making the parts, and also that better mass transit will help others simply get to work, opening up job opportunities. I especially like the "Hoopties for Hybrids" idea, yeah, because of the name. Because so many poor people have to drive old, inefficient, really polluting cars, the idea is that government can grant special low interest loans for them to trade the old car for a energy efficient model or a hybrid. so, the people save money on gas and repairs while the world has less CO2. yay!

So, my only complaint, which really isn't a complaint, is that because i've been reading up and following a lot of green issues for the last couple years i've heard a lot of the things in the book already! I've seen Van Jones on Colbert and the Daily Show and read his articles in The Nation and on Alternet. So if you feel you're really up on the green scene i might skip this book. If you wonder what the hell Obama's talking about when he says "green economy" you'll find this book really informative. I give it a 6.

The Green for All site.

Other: Great tees, but THIS ONE IS THE BEST!

Also, I finally finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on cd. I had only read this book once, right when it came out. It also came out in the middle of last summer when my entire life was crap so it was a difficult read for me then. I followed it better on audio i think. Loved it. a 7.

12 December 2008

Gifts for those that REALLY need them!

so, what do you buy adults in your life that don't really "need" anything? I always have this issue with my parents especially. So my dad gets a motorcycle/aircraft themed tee shirt or possibly books while my mom gets gift cards and candles/lotion, etc. They aren't normally much help either, as they always say "aw, nothing" when you ask what they want.

So i did find a tee shirt for my dad. While i was thinking about what my mom would want, i came across Oxfam Unwrapped. I've donated to Oxfam before and participated in some of their petitions and letter writing campaigns. They've got gifts from $18 which gives blankets, mosquito nets or water jugs to those in need to $10,000 which builds a house on stilts. Very cool. Check out the goat.

Another site is Changing the Present. It is amazing, with gifts from tons of organizations and prices starting at just a dollar! That gets a child a day's worth of anti-retrovirus meds! have 5? you can give a 80 lb bag of concrete for a playground or two books to a child. Gotta spend $500? That pays the transport costs for hospital equipment in Africa. Pretty cool. You can search by price, by cause or by the gift recipient (like for Dads, Moms, Weddings).

I know Oxfam has a pretty good rating for charities. As Changing the Present is basically an aggregator of lots of charities, you may want to pull up a search site like Charity Navigator to see about the individual organizations if you feel iffy about a place.

Happy giving! I'm actually excited about my mom getting the card saying she's given school uniforms for kids overseas.

11 December 2008

Snow! and BTT for 12/11

Here's the snow we got!!

about 3 inches that stuck on the grass and cars.


on some bushes. The flash really made for some bad pics!

as for BTT

1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?

2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?

So I feel kinda bad saying i wish i could read more. I mean, I'm single, no kids, normal 40 hour a week job. So it isn't so much that i don't have time to read really. I have some stretches where i just don't feel like it or i feel like it but am too tired, etc. So i guess i'd definitely read more if i had more time but i'd also probably exercise more and call my mom more. I know for sure i'd try to read more classics. That's where i get sidetracked now. I keep getting new books or non-fiction from the library so i put off reading Dickens or Fitzgerald or Faulkner or Wolff or Austen. I'd make more progress on that 1K1 list!

10 December 2008

Next Year's Challenges

So i'm wandering through A Novel Challenge and trying to pick a few for next year. I don't want to be too overwhelmed; I think now that i've done the challenge bit for just over a year now i'll do better not to overschedule myself. I seem to do best when i either have an open ended one where whatever i pick will count (YA, Science Book) or when i can pick just a few books to read in a short period (RIP, OUaT) than when i have to pick a bunch of books in advance (What's in a Name, TBR). So here we go!

I may add a few more.

09 December 2008

The Bell Jar

So i've been randomly picking up The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, reading a few pages, then firmly putting in down thinking "i really need to read my library books first!". Today i gave up and took it to work. I'm stunned. I knew it was a book about a young woman's depression. I just didn't figure i'd connect so so much with it. How she describes what she's feeling, especially right before and after her suicide attempt, are almost exactly like i've felt so often. The blankness, numbness, tiredness. The fact that nothing will ever be any better, and you know it. That you fake being fine and are glad that no one can tell you're not fine but weirdly sad that no one notices. And when they do notice they expect you to just fix it. They don't really hospitalize people anymore, right? I mean, my understanding is that sanitariums don't really exist. Thank Darwin I've never gotten shock treatments. I think i'd pass out long before they'd get me all hooked up. It was a bit weird reading about the 50's and how women were supposed to be then. that part i really couldn't relate to but that's more because of who i am, not the fault of this great little book. very much a 7.

I just realized this counts for 1k1 as well as the TBR and 1% challenges. also, here's another recent review from PoMo Golightly.

Currently: watching Dirty Jobs to indulge my crush on Mike Rowe, as well as being weirdly creeped out by Malcolm McDowell doing jewelry commercial voiceovers. Really, shouldn't he be at the Korova milk bar with his drooges?

08 December 2008

Let the Right One In

Want to see a movie about a vampire? Want to see a love story? Want to see an action movie, a dark comedy, a thriller? Want to see character development?

Go see Let the Right One In. It is really, really good.



It is a bit strange to see this movie about preteen vampire love just after seeing a movie about teen vampire love. But really, though Oskar isn't as hot as Edward, Let the Right One In is better than Twilight. It is much quieter in a way, as a movie it is stark blacks/whites as opposed to Twilight's rich wet greens. But because of the stark colors, when the red show up it looks even more...deadly. Eli is scarier than James was. The special effects are solid. I give this movie a hearty 7! Run and see it!

07 December 2008

Living Dead Girl

Yes, it is a Rob Zombie song and sounds like a line of goth dolls. It is a YA (?) novel by Elizabeth Scott. It is really dark, and sad and chilling. And i read it fast and didn't like it much. It is written as a stream-of-consciousness of Alice, a 15 year old who was kidnapped by a stranger when whe was 9. She's raped, starved, beaten, and secluded by Ray, her tormentor. Now that she's not a child Ray wants her help to kidnap another little girl. I guess my biggest beef is the deus-ex-machina ending. I wanted a happy, as possible at least, ending but felt like the author kind of copped out. oh well. a 4. I know others liked it much more so i've linked them below. I wouldn't give this to any younger kids definitely. it's pretty graphic. But it does let me say i've finished the YA challenge! WOO HOO!

other reviews by Becky, Jocelyn, and The Story Siren (love the name!).

Another Recipe

Since i devoted a previous post to all the lovely chocolates you can order, i figured i'd include a recipe for my favorite chocolate chili pepper cookies. One really good thing, you CAN'T overeat these. They are spicy; i usually max out a two cookies and they end up pretty small. This recipe is all over the web, i'm pulling it specifically from Bakingbites.com.

Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cookies
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

12 tbsp butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

Sift together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in vanilla extract and egg. Gradually add flour mixture until dough is uniform in color and no unmixed flour remains. Best way is by hand, messy but fun.

Shape in two 9" long logs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil. Make sure your wrapping is airtight.

Freeze overnight or up to 6 weeks.

When ready to use, preheat your oven to 375F. Slice cookie dough and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cookies should feel a bit firm at the edges. Store in an airtight container when cool.

Makes 4 dozen

06 December 2008

Secret Santa and Other Stuff

Last night i got my package from my secret santa. THANKS Caroline. She sent me: a cool string bookmark, a notebook and notepad (did you know i write stuff constantly?), the book Plenty and a cookbook called Red Chile Bible. Yum! spicy stuff is great and i've seen at least a dozen things i want to try just flipping through it. You are awesome!

I've sent out my package to my recipient as well. Hope you like it.

As I'm mentioning the Christmas Swap exchange, I must mention Dewey's passing and that my heart goes out to her family. You get to know people through this great invention, the internet, sharing in their lives and interests even though you never meet in person. Dewey was a great community builder, forging connections between people through Weekly Geeks, the Read-a-thon, and her blog. Others have written wonderful tributes to her and the whole book blog community is going to really miss her.

Lastly, Xerox is sending postcards to the troops stationed overseas. It's free! Click on over and send a word of thanks to a soldier.

04 December 2008

Want to buy me something?

Or do you need ideas for a chocolate lover? Do you think it's weird that under my "food and recipes" bookmark folder i have a separate subfolder labeled "chocolate"? I love chocolate, especially a nice dark chocolate. I've also become more and more enamored of weird combos, like ginger, hot spices, rosehips and apricots.

Here's a company from Canada called Wild Sweets. They've got some incredible boxed sets of chocolates. also, some really cool cocoa flavors. Pistachio/Chipotle anyone?

Lake Champlain Chocolates is a company in Vermont. Go for the organic truffles. Dark chocolate with coffee and lemon? Milk chocolate with honey and figs? Divine!

Just out of beta testing...Tcho Chocolate is straight, 70% dark chocolate. I sooooo wish i'd gotten to beta test their concoctions. They go with varietals, like "Nutty" or "Citrus".

Scharffen Berger...big chocolate company. I'd love the History of Chocolate basket as it comes with a book and chocolate covered currants. mmmm.

The Chocolate Fetish is practically local! They're in Asheville, NC. check out their Ecstasy truffles. Who doesn't want to eat things called Dragon's Kiss, Velvet Sin, or Ancient Pleasures? I've personally tried several of the truffles and they've all been lovely. One warning, these definitely don't keep very long. The frogs are also great.

so that's it; a sampling of some of the interesting ways to have yummy scrumptious chocolate.

UPDATE: Richard reminded me i've also had bacon/chocolate. While Vosges makes some great stuff, particularly the Red Fire bar and their Creole bar, Mo's Bacon bar is less than cool. It's kinda like eating chocolate jerky. No mixing meat and chocolate. Bacon and maple syrup though, now that's good! I may have to try Magic Mushroom chocolate though! I don't think Richard's been good enough this year to deserve this.