Olympics Wrap-Up

2-14-booksHello folks — how is everyone post-Olympics?
I pretty much watched all the prime-time coverage — cursing NBC for dragging out all the most-anticipated team USA performances until 11:15 PM. Listen NBC, don’t you understand that 11PM-Midnight is my sacred nightly reading time??  How dare you infringe!  However now that everything is available for download the next day, if coverage goes too late for the Rio Games in 2016 I will just watch my favorite events the next day on-demand.  Technology is useful sometimes.

Favorite Moment: Hmmm, there are so many, but I really enjoyed Euna Kim’s performance of her short figure skating program.  No one expected her be so awesome after recent pproblems, but she was — she was athletic and lovely all at once.  Beautiful performance.  And lovely dress and everything.  Some of the figure skaters wore these teeny, tiny little outfits that just looked like bathing suits with a flutter on the bum, but Euna Kim (and Gracie Gold) really kept things classy.

I also have to mention it was so cool that the Russian figure skating pairs couple won gold because that guy –Maxim Trankov – lived in and under the ice rink he was training at for three years! That poor bastard!  And last night I watched some of the Nancy Kerrigan/Tony Harding special and Harding is going on and on about how hard she had it training in a mall ice rink, etc.  Um, was she living AT the ice rink? She should go have a little chat with Maxim about making the best of your crappy situation and still kicking ass.

Least Favorite Moment:  The evil reporter that kept pressing Bode Miller in his post-run interview UNTIL HE WEPT.  Christ, woman! Have a heart!  And what’s up with with the reporters in general constantly asking the athlete’s about any and all relatives of theirs that have died recently?  What does that have to do with their sport??  “Were you thinking of your dead father/mother/brother/sister/child while doing that losing/winning run of your sport??” How about some congratulations for being among the best in the world and competing at the Olympics and go ahead leave the loss of loved ones off the table? I mean, way to be tacky. Ew.

BOOKS: On-wards with Frankenstein
2-14-frankensteinSo I am still only 64% through Frankenstein.  It’s not a super-fast read, clearly.  I have already mentioned how Viktor Frankenstein does not actually explain how he reanimates life, which was sort of annoying.  But later on, his “monster” — his super-articulate monster, finds him and explains to him how horrible his life has been since he was created a year ago.  A year ago in which he learned perfect French from eavesdropping on a French family off and on during the day.  I think he also taught himself to read as well.  So he woke up a blank slate, and within a year could speak the fluent French of an intellectual, even though he had only had ONE conversation with with a blind man once for 5 minutes before he was found and beaten on and chased away.

Um, I took a semester of French in college and can speak 3 other languages and I can barely say  “What time is it?” in French.  If the Frankenstein monster spoke the French of a 5 year old, OK, totally possible. But 5, 6, 7 chapters full of highly articulate first person narrative?  Not even close to believable.  Oh well.

Monster-narratives aside, there are also some beautiful, but exceedingly looooong descriptions of the Swiss Alps.  I mean, I’m down for a page or two of description, but there are literally chapters where nothing happens but Viktor Frankenstin hiking through the Alps. It’s amazing, and awesome, and I get it.  But too much.  I’m going to finish this book though. It won’t take me as long as when I suffered through Vanity Fair though.  I’ll give you the wrap-up when I finish!

And with that — time for a coffee,

Maddy

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January Wrap-Up

…So Dear Readers, when I say “follow up shortly” — sometimes that means in 3 weeks.  Just FYI.  o.O

I hope you’ve all been well and have been avoiding this horrible flu that is going around the country.  Speaking of the flu, and of following up shortly, I give you…

The Teenage Girls in Starbucks

Excuses, excuses...

Excuses, excuses…

So while waiting for my daughter to get out of an after-school class, I was whiling away an hour reading in Starbucks with my Caramel Flan Latte keeping me company while I attempted to enlighten myself with some Confucious.  At first I was just minding my own business and reading, but the incessant chatter and strangely nasal, lispy, almost valley-girl-like tones of my female, teenage neighbors finally broke down my concentration.  I started eavesdropping — I mean, if I’m going to be disturbed by them, they should at least afford me some sort of amusement, right?

Oddly I never actually looked at them — they were sitting too close for casual scrutiny — like 2 feet away from me, plus I was still pretending to read.  So I am judging them by their words alone, which really, is as it should be no?  In any case,  they discussed many silly things but the first thing that disturbed me was their discussion of the New Years Eve party some of them went to.  The most nasal and lispy of the bunch (I will call her Lispy for short), was upset that some girl at the party seemed to be judging her for underage drinking at the party.  She was really, really upset by this — which I thought was hilarious.  If you are such a rebel that you’re going to drink illegally, why should you care what your classmates think?  Were you drinking to excess?  Were you maybe embarrassing yourself?  Are you really upset that this other person does not approve of your underage drinking, or did they just make you feel guilty?  The Mom in me says “You go judgey classmate!”  I don’t want my daughter underage drinking either.  In fact, my own judgey inner highschool prude is also on the bandwagon with the judgey classmate, because my friends and I did not drink in highschool either.  I knew plenty of girls that did drink.  I also knew plenty of girls that got sickly drunk, and taken advantage of, and some who earned festive titles like “BJ Queen” and “Partytime.”  In fact, my judgey prude’s high-horse grew to Clydesdale proportions by graduation just from all the cautionary tales I observed in highschool.  But I digress.

So Lispy is still ranting about being upset about being judged and her friends are like “Oh totally, what else are you supposed to do on NYE — come on!”  When Lispy’s cell phone rings and she answers, “Oh God, hold on it’s my Mother.” And it went a little something like this:

Yes.  What?
Mom
Whyyyyy?
Mom
No I don’t want to. Why can’t we do that on Friday?  (it was Tuesday, BTW)
Mom
I really don’t have time for this right now.
Mom
No, I don’t see why it’s a big deal.
Mom
Well then I just don’t care.
Mom
Well you’re overreacting.
Mom
OK, whatever I’ve gotta go, byeee. CLICK

That was a simplification of the conversation obviously, but you get the gist.  So her friends asked what her Mom was saying and Lispy, in her huffiest voice relays that her Mom is insistent she gets a flu shot ASAP, and how she’s a total pain in the ass, etc.  The best part of this entire episode was that one of her friends (in a slightly less annoying voice) tells her in all seriousness, “Ohhh, aaaactually, there are like a bunch of people dying from the flu and stuff right now.  So your Mom actually has a point — you should totally get a flu shot.”  Lispy was stymied and they all left shortly thereafter.  I guess the revelation that your Mom’s not a blithering idiot kind of takes the wind out of your sails.

I sat there after they left quietly praying, “Oh please, please, please don’t let my daughter treat me like Lispy in 10 years!”  Ah, God.

Let’s not reflect on a potentially cruel future  —  let’s talk about happy thing — like books!
So I am currently reading Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley.  Again, how did I escape private school and college without reading a classic like Frankenstein?  I don’t know.  So far so good — this is another vocab builder that makes me glad I have that handy dictionary feature on the Kindle!  I love learning new words — it’s actually retaining them that’s the hard part these days!  For example, I knew a chimera was a mythical Greek monster, but I did not know it also meant “a thing that is hoped or wished for but in fact is illusory or impossible to achieve” — which I found out when I looked it up because I was wondering why the character kept talking about chimeras all the time.

Last night I just came upon the part where the main character finally discovers the secret to reanimating living tissue — which is amusing because the character (who is recounting the story) is like “Oh no, I won’t tell you how I did it because I don’t want your life to be ruined like mine.”  Sneaky way to avoid that description, Ms. Mary Shelley! Hah!
Anyway, I will let you know my review once I’ve finished.

And now, time for a coffee,

Maddy

 

 

Happy New Year 2014

1-8-cheeseIt’s a brand new year!

I have shed my mantle of holiday sloth and come up with a little poem for you all that was  inspired by one of the expensive (and pungent) holiday cheeses I bought for my husband and I to nibble on, as my daughter will now only eat pre-shredded simple cheeses.  :-p

I will follow up soon with a post about some wretched teenage girls I had the misfortune of sitting next to at Starbucks yesterday, and my nail polish updates!

Oh! And for those of you who were curious how my holiday vampire read turned out — it was pretty bad.  You can read my review here but suffice it to say Vampire short stories + romance + Christmas did not = as jolly a time as I thought!

So for your poetry fix, I give you…

Stinky Cheese

O stinky cheese, I love you so,
though noxious fumes about you grow.
How is it you’re so good to eat
yet to the nose you smell of feet?
When upon cracking my fridge door
you call to me, “You should eat more
‘fore ’til I’m gone I will pollute
your kitchen air.  I’m resolute!”
So why should I resist your call —
you cost a fortune, after all.

———————————-

And now, time for a coffee!

Maddy

Hipster Holiday Idea

"Girlfriend in a coma, I know..." you friggin' LOVE this sweater!

“Girlfriend in a coma, I know…” you friggin’ LOVE this sweater!

Who loves The Smiths?

If your answer is “Not I!”, I will silently scream “How is this possible??” at you from my mind, but outwardly give no sign, because I don’t like to shout at people, because I AM NOT THOMAS PAINE.

Anyway!  I digress.  My husband is a huge Morrissey fan so I was sleuthing around the web looking for cool new Morrissey items and I found this sweater.  It is an epic example of Holiday vulgarity and I LOVE IT.  It seems to be currently sold out (website is a little confusing — look at URL), but when they re-stock I am definitely picking one up for Christmas next year (quick honey, unsee this now!).

Nail Update
I will post a shot of my glitter holiday mani on Friday once I’ve done it.  I tried a Sally Hansen blue crackle over periwinkle polish this week and it would have been lovely except that the crackle pulled apart the 2 coats of polish beneath it down to the bare nail in a lot of places.  Here is an image of that nail fail to the right (coming soon).

Book Update
I will finish Common Sense tonight — again, really worth a read historically.  Now it’s time to start up some fun Holiday reads!  What will it be?
Mistletoe Magic?
A Vampire for Christmas?
Angels at the Table?
I guess you will find out next week…

And have a lovely weekend, everyone!

And now, Time for a Coffee,

Maddy

A Day for Giving Thanks…

A Day to Give Thanks...

A Day to Give Thanks…

Whether you live in the United States or not, Thanksgiving Day is a good day to take a moment to give thanks for all the good people and things in your life, and for me that’s good health, great family and friends, a safe and happy home, and of course…. books!

In addition to some current fun I’m having in an alternate-reality, steam-punky, Victorianesque, Vampiric London (God Save the Queen), I am reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine, written in 1776.

How, how was I not forced to read this book in High School History or Civics, not to mention University American History???  Apparently the work was a huge driving force behind the creation of the Declaration of Independence.  It’s not even some super-long tome — it’s a long pamphlet!  If you are a U.S. citizen, and have not read this, go ahead and do so — it’s very enlightening, and will definitely give you more Revolutionary history street cred.

NOT TO MENTION, THOMAS PAINE LOVES SOME ALL CAPS!  It’s pretty amusing actually — I’ve read my fair share of books from the 1700 and 1800’s and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone use all caps.  He may have influenced e-mail and chat room shouters everywhere. Yay?

So give thanks, DONT SHOUT (unless you are fighting tyranny), and have a lovely Thanksgiving Thursday!

(Not) Time for a Coffee (it’s 11PM after all),

Maddy

Health and Beauty Bytes: Minor Job Hunting Depression

Holy CRAP, these jobs suck!!
“Holy CRAP, these jobs suck!!”

Dear Awesome Subscribers and Lovely Random Readers,

I am a week behind!  Had a bit of writers block actually, but as they say, the only way to get through it is to go ahead and pick up the pen (or keyboard really) – and just get to it, so here we go.  File this one under Mental Health Bytes!

Angst = Decent Part-time Job Hunting

So one of the other reasons I did not post last week was that a large chunk of my time was devoted to looking for good part-time jobs online.  This happens to me periodically when my freelance graphic design business has a lull and I think how nice it would be to have a regular paycheck again (and am avoiding doing more marketing, etc.).  However, in the immortal words of Anastasia Steele, “oh my!” – through my extensive research (one extensive week, on East Bay Craigslist), I have re-confirmed that part-time jobs are just terrible!  I mean awful.  And many times absurd.

Here were the two main offenses:

Number One: They pay next to nothing. 

I am in my late 30’s and am trying to confine my working hours to when my child is in elementary school (8:10am – 2pm, or then pay $500/mo. minimum for after school care). Granted, my “next to nothing” may not be your “next to nothing.” However since I graduated college with honors a few years ago (a few + 10) and was making over $22/hr. at my last 3/4 time gig (Office/Project Manager/Designer, pre-bambino), the thought of trudging through an enormous laundry list of office tasks for a sweet $12 an hour ($4 less than my first job right out of college!) –  just sounds demoralizing at best.   These companies who are not required to provide benefits to their part-time employees should really compensate with a few more dollars an hour, just out of common decency.  Of course I am speaking to how things are here in the Bay Area where gas is over $3.50/gallon and a small bag of organic apples is $6.

A wage of $12 an hour, minus tax and the commute cost, would not even buy me 2 bags of friggin’ apples for an hour’s work – that just sucks.

Smeagol knows what's up: "BOOKS! My precioussssss..."
Smeagol knows what’s up:
“BOOKS! My precioussssss…”

Number two: Unreasonable Demands

I see a lot of office jobs that claim to require heavy lifting.  I cannot lift 40lbs. on a regular basis unless most of that 40 is comprised of my child, and even then only barely. So right there – there goes like 40% of the part-time jobs.  Why did the Library Clerk’s job I applied to last winter list that in their criteria?  Obviously I lied, and said I could lift it, because I would love (LOVE!!!) to work at the library (cue Smeagol voice: “Books!  My preciousss!”).  However, after a 2 hour long online application process, I was eventually denied due to “insufficient library experience” – and this was an entry level position. So apparently having managed corporate offices, reading 40+ books a year, and visiting the library every week does not mean you are equal to the task of shelving books and scanning patron’s items in/out.  Not that I’m bitter.

I will also file under “Unreasonable Demands” the plethora of jobs that request only “entry level applicants” or people of a certain age apply – such as the office staff job I saw last week that said the “ideal candidate” would be under 23 years old.  What?  Really?? I just went back to Craigslist to find that job posting so I could link to it here and it appears to have been removed.  I wonder why?  Blatant ageism, perhaps?  I’m not even OLD and I’m offended! Bah humbug!

In summary, the only thing worse than looking at the current (pitiful) available jobs in the East Bay would be to get called for an interview for one of them and be asked “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”* and other equally absurd questions they throw at you these days.  So if you too are keeping an eye out for a good new part-time job, God bless you, and good luck – it’s rough out there!

Quick Book Update

Oh I am liking Last Sacrifice SO much more than the previous Vampire Academy book! I’m at 62%. I will admit I still do a little description skimming, which is a bit naughty, but the dialogue, action, and plot-line are much better — looks like it will be a great end to the VA series.

For those that are missing my nail posts — I will debut my signature Holiday look next week — it involves a polish that  looks *exactly* like vintage glitter to me — one of my all time favs — you shall see!

And now, time for a coffee,

Maddy

* My husband was actually asked that question during an interview. Tragic.

Book Bytes: The Value of Persuasion

"Cassandra, honestly, as a sister, if you're going to draw me disproportionately, could you at least give me some longer lashes or something?"

“Cassandra, honestly, as a sister, if you’re going to draw me disproportionately, could you at least give me some longer lashes or something?”

Have you ever watched a movie or read a book that mentions a famous book you have never read? Did it ever persuade you to read the book?  I read the Gothic classic The Mysteries of Udolpho because it was mentioned in Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.  Similarly I read the sci-fi classic A Wizard of Earthsea because it was mentioned in The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler.

Now did anyone watch The Lake House? There are two awesome things in that movie. One: (I’m sorry in advance…) But somehow, Keanu Reeves rocks, and I mean — rocks, a blazer and turtleneck.  It’s almost magical (Ladies?  Am I right??). I generally loathe turtlenecks, but darn it! Don’t get me started.  Fwew. OK!

And Two: Sandra Bullock’s favorite book in the movie is Persuasion by Jane Austen – which is also my favorite Jane Austen book. In fact, I heard the whole movie is a loose interpretation of the book, which seems to be very loose indeed to me.  I suppose they are both about a happy ending coming after a long wait, but I don’t see the whole crux of the major dilemma in the movie being a life altering decision that the heroine was persuaded to make in her youth, as it is in the book. Thoughts, anyone?

Furthermore, despite a turtlenecked Keanu in the movie saying the premise of Persuasion sounded “terrible” (I think, could not find quote online), the book is actually wonderful. Besides the biting social satire and clever commentary, it contains possibly the quintessential love letter of classic literature, coming after a very long and very emotionally painful separation of lovers. It reads thusly:

 “I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.”
― Jane AustenPersuasion

Persuasion,  by Jane Austen

Persuasion,
by Jane Austen

Who could resist that? Can you imagine getting a note like that from someone whom you were in unrequited love with for years? Wouldn’t you just turn to goo? Like, pleasant, happy goo (not like ectoplasm or anything).

So if you are in need of some biting social satire, awesome dialogue, and just some general “aaaaaaaaaaw!” in your life, I highly recommend Persuasion. It’s free on Kindle and at your local library. Enjoy!

And now… Time for a Coffee…

Maddy