Tuesday

[amy] Misc.

NaNoWriMo didn’t work for me. I was doing too many other things. Instead of thinking about it in terms of National Novel Writing Month, I’ll just call it National Novel Writing Whenever Amy Feels Like It Or Has The Time And Or Inclination- NaNoWriWhAmFLItOrHaThTAnOrIn, for short. It’ll get done one of two ways: (1) When I’m guilted into it by someone, (2) During a 10-day peyote/tequila binge.

What was I doing all the time that I could have been writing and creating something unique from the fertile cropland of my gigantic brain? Watching loads of movies/TV shows, I’m afraid. And they are:

Gilmore Girls: Season 1
Love it. Smart dialogue, mildly obscure literary and classic movie references that I don’t quite get, small town living that reminds me of where I live. The show also begs the question: What would I be doing if I had a 10-year-old daughter in my life right now? For some reason the word slave keeps popping up in my head, wanting to be the answer.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Not only is the movie dark and moody and wonderful, the special features disk kicks ass. Don’t you hate “special features” that only offer trailers for your annoyance enjoyment. That’s such a cop-out. These special features, on the other hand, are truly special. I felt special watching them. Like, more special than usual.

Welcome to the Dollhouse
I’m going to kill the person that suggested the movie to me. Stupid. But maybe that’s because I didn’t have such a hard time in junior high; I can’t relate or something. Whatever, complete waste of 87 minutes.

The Chronicles of Riddick
The only thing I liked about this movie was Vin Diesel. And only his voice, at that. Where the first movie was SciFi in a comfortably acceptable way, this movie was over the top SciFi complete with Judi Dench as an Air Elemental (which the former Magic: The Gathering player inside me reluctantly found mildly somewhat interesting), Vin as a Furian (which is the worst obvious name for a race ever- “Furians, these are the Angrians. Meet the Maddikins but don’t talk to the PissedOffians, they’re not very friendly…”) and Kyra played by an actress who looked far too old to be 17-years-old. Interestingly enough, if you’re an Angel fan, the actress played Kyra is the one who played Gwen Raiden (red leather pants, electro-shock powers) in Season 4.

In bookish news, I’m moderating this month’s discussion over at BookBlog. I’ve chosen Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror because it’s that time of the year.

The cleaning and knitting has continued, with knitting coming out the clear victor. I vacuumed this past Sunday and that’s about all I can handle for a while. Although, the tub has been begging to be cleaned for a while now but I keep telling it, “You get cleaned every day- every time I wash my glorious body!” But he goes, “Yeah, but you’re filthy.” And I’m like, “Am not!” But he goes, “Are too.” And I should probably stop talking to my bathtub but the microwave and I had a huge fight (you don’t even want to know what he did to my Thanksgiving leftovers) and we’re not on speaking/button pressing terms anymore.

Monday

[shopping] Marijuana

Now available through Amazon. Shit, man, they really do sell everything.

[thanksgiving] The Aftermath

Thanksgiving: the one time of year when excess is expected. This year we all brought a side dish or two, to help ease the workload on my mother. I brought brussels sprouts (which, in hindsight, wasn’t such a good idea since it smells like feet and after you’ve had a shitload to eat, the stench is suddenly vomit inducing) and roasted carrots & parsnips. Also, my Korean relatives came down from Burlington and they brought a friend (exchange student from Korea), so there were 10 of us total.

Here’s everything we had on the table at my mother’s place on Thursday:

Turkey
Mashed potatoes
Mashed butternut squash
Stuffing (regular)
Stuffing (cornbread)
Brussels Sprouts
Roasted carrots & parsnips
Brushetta
Cornbread
Focaccia
Korean sushi rolls
Jap Chae
Pumpkin pie

The best part was watching the exchange student’s eyes bug out when my mother hefted the turkey out of the oven. It was like a 20lb mascot of gluttony. But I think my mother likes this holiday because it represents prosperity and after her stories about her brother back in Korea shooting small birds out of trees with a slingshot, roasting it over a fire and only giving her a stupid little wing from one, she probably likes getting a huge bird and sharing it with everyone.

Friday, I did some Christmas shopping online. Route 12A, where all the stores are, is going to be backed up until February and I refuse to wait in lines in traffic and/or in lines in stores. I’m not going anywhere near 12A until all the Christmas and post-Christmas shopping has cleared out. Later in the day, my sister and I went up to Northeast Fiber Arts where I dropped too much money. It was all for supplies to make Christmas presents but it still hurts.

The rest of the weekend was a pleasurable (yet mildly lonely) experience consisting mainly of knitting, cleaning and reading comic books, all with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on repeat in my DVD player.

Tuesday

[books] Shitty Book Comprehensive #4

TARGET: Hip Knits! : 65 Easy Designs from Hot Designers

BY: Better Homes and Gardens

PREMISE: * Well-known designers, such as Lily Chin, put their personal spin on today's knitted fashions and accessories. * Easy projects that yield designer results, even for beginners. * "How to knit" primer includes special secrets that bring success even for beginners. * All projects include patterns, step-by-step instructions, and supplies lists.

SURVEY SAYS:

"simply ugly sack sweaters" - Megan Henry

"the patterns are ugly" - Brittany

"anything but 'hip.'" - Heidi M.

"I would not call most of them 'hip'" - Peony

"I guess I should have known, as it was compiled by Better Homes and Gardens, which has a very staid idea of hip, it seems." - Pippi

SCORE: Zero skeins on yarn. This is actually the worst reviews for a knitting book I've seen at Amazon.

Monday

[books] BookBlog

The discussion for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime has begun over at BookBlog. I haven't finished the book yet, but I think I'll be able to tonight. And then I can talk more about it tomorrow. Because, right now, I don't really know what's going on. Other than the fact that Christopher is, like, wicked smart. In maths.

UPDATE

I wasn't able to finish it last night but I'm sure I'll be able to tonight. See, I'm doing this thing... Heh, it's kind of stupid really... I'm trying to get to work at 6:00 am in the morning. That way I can leave by 3:00 pm (which is when I like to leave) and get to the gym before that bitch who is always stealing my elliptical machine. Anyway, this whole I'm-getting-up-early-because-I'm-insane thing is making me crash by 10:00 pm. And last night there was 2 loads of dishes to do (by hand), laundry to put away, sheets to change, mirrors to windex, a stove to clean and 4 episodes of Gilmore Girls to watch in DVD. In completely unrelated news, this speed I'm taking is allowing me to get so much shit done.

Thursday

[laundry] Coolest way to fold your shirt. Ever.

Click me for video.

[Via Fark where one of the comments was "Oh, Orientals... is there anything they don't know?"]

[books] NBA Winners Announced

Here are the winners of the National Book Award, announced last night. I don't recognize any of the titles. At the time of posting, there are only two reviews of Lily Tuck's The News from Paraguay; one calling it a "powerful historical novel" and the other calling it a "compelling historical novel."

As for the youth lit category winner, Godless by Pete Hautman, here's what one review says (I have to copy the whole thing because it's so unbelievable):

"Jason is a smart 15-year-old, an agnostic-leaning-toward-atheism, who resists following in the footsteps of his devoutly Catholic father. Getting clocked under the water tower by the nasty and unpredictable Henry leads Jason and his friend Shin to combine their talents to posit a new religion. "Chutengodianism" sanctifies water, the source of all life, as manifested by the Ten-Legged God, aka that same million-gallon water tower. Creating the creed on the fly, Jason soon gathers a handful of acolytes, including his former nemesis. Their midnight pilgrimage to the top of the tower for worship transmutes into an impromptu baptism when Henry hacksaws through the padlock. Their swim rouses sexy thoughts about Magda, stripped to her panties and bra, balanced soon after by panic when it seems they might be trapped. Regaining the top of the tank, Henry slips and sustains severe injuries crashing onto a catwalk below. Fortunately for him, the authorities have already arrived. The Church is busted and the faithful face new trials and temptations."

Can you please tell me everything that happens in the story? Please? I have to admit, it does sound intriguing, non? And apparently Hautman's other book, Sweetblood, is about "a vampire-obsessed 16-year-old diabetic's steep slide downward as she is intellectually seduced by a middle-aged cybervamp via the Internet." Dude! This guy's books sound crazy!

Wednesday

[cooking] Bookslut reviews

Jessa at Bookslut reviews some Thanksgiving cooking magazines. I agree with most of what she has to say about Gourmet but I think she was a tad harsh on Everyday Food. I don't think they expect you to be a complete idiot in the kitchen. I made the Southwestern Skillet on Saturday (the only alteration I made was adding jalapeƱos and onions) and it was perfect. I was even kind of worried about the homemade biscuits on top, but they came out perfect. And Sunday I made the shredded brussels sprouts with bacon, sprinkled with cider vinegar and it was delicious. The recipes look good and they're easy & fast. The magazine also has a special section on how to make four meals from one bag of groceries! How can you not like this magazine?

Tuesday

[books] It's Just a Plant

Ha ha haha haa. Read this, click on the picture to move the story along...

"What's that, Mommy?" asked Jackie. "Are you and Daddy smoking a cigarette?"

"Kind of," said her Mother. "This is called a 'joint.' Also known as a 'spliff,' 'doobie' or 'jimmy.' It's made of marijuana."

"Mar-a-whah?" asked Jackie, who turned to her father only to see him trying not to laugh. "What's that?"

"Marijuana," said her Mom, "It's like a... it's like a plant, man. Just a fucking plant. Gateway drug my ass..."

"What kind of plant?"

Jackie's Father whispered something into her Mother's ear and then crawled under the bed.

"Listen," her Mother said, ushering her toward the bedroom door, "That's like way too deep to get into right now and your father's wicked high. He's kind of freaking out right now. Why don't you skip school tomorrow, we'll smoke a couple fat ones and I'll tell you all about everything."

"Okay," said Jackie.

[stars] Clearly brainwashed

This post about Tom Cruise by Defamer had me giggling uncontrollably.

[games] "Church" interviewed by NYT

In an article entitled Virtual Warriors Have Feelings, Too, Greg Allen from the New York Times interviews the father of Red vs. Blue. I've pasted the entire interview for those of you who don't have a NYT account.

On Nov. 9, after three years of development, months of frenzied fan speculation and $75 million in pre-orders, Microsoft launched Halo 2, the sequel to the top-selling title for the Xbox video game console. And from the moment Halo 2 finally went on sale, gamers have burned countless hours mastering Halo 2's fancy new weapons and exploring its expanded humans-repel-alien-invaders narrative. But for filmmakers like Burnie Burns, who work in the emerging medium of machinima, these features are a mere starting point. Instead of playing Halo as intended, Mr. Burns and a crew of machinima peers exploit the game's software quirks to create their online comedy series, Red vs. Blue, within Halo's virtual world. Since its debut in the spring of 2003, Red vs. Blue has rivaled Halo itself in popularity; fans download new episodes (www.redvsblue.com) at a rate of over 900,000 a week.

GREG ALLEN How did you start making short films inside a video game?

BURNIE BURNS I made a 16-millimeter, then the guys I made it with left for L.A. I stayed [in Austin, Tex.] working for a technology company, and basically, I needed a way to write and produce stuff myself. That's when I had the idea.

Q How do you pronounce machinima? It's one of those words that nobody ever says out loud.

A I've heard it pronounced both mah-SHIH-ni-ma and mah-SHEE-ni-ma.

Q What's the basic machinima process?

A One player in a game is literally a cameraman; you're recording through that character's eyes. It looks like animation, but it's really a lot like live action. You block out a scene and do takes. Then you edit it and dub your own dialogue. Machinima kind of starts when you stop playing. Halo is a virtual world; a character's programmed to talk or shoot when a player enters the room, but what happens right after the player leaves? He's still in there.

Q So you're exploring the inner lives of these faceless, armor-clad warriors?

A Exactly. We imagined our own characters and storyline. Sometimes it intersects with the Halo story, like the episode when Sarge calls [their vehicle] the Warthog, and the others think it looks like a puma. But mostly we just tell our own stories.

Q One of the trademarks of Red vs. Blue is Halo's spare, almost Beckettian landscape. How does Halo 2, which is more elaborate, change things for you? Is it like when they try to revitalize a sitcom by redecorating?

A Yeah, or relocating, like when Laverne & Shirley moved to California. [The Halo 2 developers at Bungie] have their own storyline, but we'll still do the absurdist existential comedy. They've upgraded the world; the lighting's different, the rocks are different. They've rendered the characters in much higher detail. But the main thing for us is the new models; now you can control the aliens like you control the marines. So we can do real-world parallels of wars or cultural differences.

Q It's surprising that Microsoft let Red vs. Blue stay alive. They could've choked it in its crib.

A [Laughs] They still could. But the guys from Bungie contacted us right away - they saw it starting at Episode 1 or 2 - and said they liked it a lot and wanted to make sure we were protected. Everyone's got this need to tell a story, and I think more of these big companies recognize that.

Monday

[games] Halo 3?

According to this article, there's something special happening on February 9th. Something is coming. Halo 3? That's too exciting to even contemplate. So what is it? WHAT?!

[via Slashdot; scroll down for comments]

[science] Uncanny Valley

Here's your science for the day. This is very interesting. Human emotional response to robots increases as the robot is anthropomorphized. At a certain point, though, when the robot becomes too real, humans suddenly become repulsed but it. This is the Uncanny Valley.

[via Candleblog via Boing Boing]

I can kind of understand why some people might want to get a Reborn doll; if they aren't able to have kids of their own, but I imagine they'd end up hating the doll after a while. Get a cat or a dog or something that can love you back.

[amy] Back on a Mission

I’m back. Last Thursday was a government holiday and I took Friday off as well, to give myself a four-day weekend. I’ve been playing lots of Halo 2 and it’s freaking amazing. Instead of choosing red or blue as your team color, you can now choose from a kaleidoscope of colors including pink, orange, brown, green, purple and yellow. During play, you can now jump onto moving vehicles and throw people out or shoot them (depending on the vehicle). There are all kinds of personal stats for you to enjoy after gameplay has finished (medals, hit percent, etc…) The new weapons are all right. Duel wielding is the most interesting feature but I still like the two-handed weapons best (sniper rifle, shotgun, grenade launcher). There’s a covenant sword that kills with one stroke but it’s only appropriate for melee fighting. And a few other new ones are okay but seem to overheat a lot.

Other than that, I’ve been knitting. Knitting like crazy. I made a poncho in two days. I started Saturday morning at 8:00 am and finished Sunday night at 5:00 pm. I did take some hours off to cook, eat, go watch a movie and sleep. I think it came out really well except for the hem. I’m not too psyched about the hem… Hem… Hmmm…. But it’s really warm.

The movie I saw was The Incredibles and it was awesome. Completely awesome. Like POWERS but better. The super powers they have are awesome, the CGI is awesome, the story is awesome… I swear, Pixar can’t make a bad movie. Having said that, everyone’s talking about what crap the new teaser trailer for Cars is and I have to agree. But I think this is the last film Pixar has to do with Disney before going their separate ways so maybe they just don’t care anymore.

Tuesday

[misc] Thing to keep you occupied…

…while I go off and play HALO 2!!! Goddamn!! It’s finally the day; THE day! Microsoft is already calling $100 million for today’s sales alone. Oh yeah. This shit is going to rock my world. I’ve been anticipating this game for a year now and… and… I’m sorry. Give me a moment, I’m crying… Go to Bungie to learn more.

Candleblog posts a link to make a Lego version of yourself. It really is Halo 2 how close your Lego image resembles the real you.

This past Friday night (while I was playing Halo, but never again because it’s all Halo 2 all the time from now on), Tara Reid showed off newly implanted boobie but wasn’t even aware of it (yet she wonders why people think she’s a "retard"; see video). Not to be outdone, Paris Hilton shows off… something lower. As Not Safe For Work and nauseating as these images are, this is one of the reason’s I’d like to attend a P. Diddy bash- you never know what’s going to Halo 2!

In less slutterrific and more Vermonterrific news, Fark posts a "sappy" link. Lease a maple tree for $85.00? Pssht, I gots all kinds of Halo 2 around my house, thank you very much.

If you’re a guy, you might want to check out the Cooking to Hook Up quiz. If you’re a guy wanting to cook for me, I’m a combo of Gourmet Girl and Indie Girl. If you’re a guy wanting to cook for me and then suggest we play some Halo 2 and kill each other, I think I love you.

Other than that, I’ve nothing new to report. Today was a good mail day. I got my new Netflix, Gourmet and Amazon order containing many cool things. Of course, I’m not going to watch or read any of it because I'll be finishing up the scarf I've been knitting for a while now. ... Hrruh. ... Huhh.. Ha ha… AHHH HAHAHHAHAHA!!! Not. I’m going to be playing Halo 2.

Smell you jerks later.

Thursday

[books] BBC Books

I haven't been to the BBC's Books Index Page in a while but it has apparently gotten an overhaul. It's awesome now, featuring sections on poetry, writing and other fun things in addtion to books and book club info. I especially liked The Big Read section, where a Top 100 is listed. There were many I had never heard of before and have now added to my Amazon wish list. Most of them seem to be tragi-love stories set around WWII, which sounds so British, don't you think?

"A Town Like Alice tells of a young woman who miraculously survived a Japanese 'death march' in World War II, and of an Australian soldier, also a prisoner of war, who offered to help her--even at the cost of his life...."

"A story of the difficult loves of insular Englishman Charles Ryder, and his peculiarly intense relationship with the wealthy but dysfunctional family that inhabited Brideshead. Taking place in the years after World War II, Brideshead Revisited shows us a part of upper-class English culture that has been disappearing steadily."

Okay, that's just a couple examples, but there are many others I must check out now. Rebecca:arguably the most famous and well-loved gothic novel of the 20th century; The Woman in White: Secrets, mistaken identities, surprise revelations, amnesia, locked rooms and locked asylums, and an unorthodox villain made this mystery thriller an instant success when it first appeared in 1860; Magician: To the forest on the shore of the Kingdom of the Isles, the orphan Pug came to study with the master magician Kulgan. But though his courage won him a place at court and the heart of a lovely Princess, he was ill at ease with the normal ways of wizardry. Yet Pug's strange sort of magic would one day change forever the fates of two worlds. For dark beings from another world had opened a rift in the fabric of spacetime to being again the age-old battle between the forces of Order and Chaos.

There's also a nice link to Gothic Literature.

[voting] Doesn't seem to do any good.

Sorry I didn't write yesterday. After seeing the outcome of the election, I killed myself. But I'm back now, better than ever. Actually, not "better". More like "depressed" and "disappointed" and "mildly angry at the retarded people in the mid-west who can't get their shit together and see that we had one chance to get the bozo out of office and they blew it for all of us; i.e. prepare for a civil war." Yeah that's pretty much how I feel.

On a lighter note, a whole bunch of states voted to ban gay marriage. I mean, is this country great or what? More good new: the republicans now control the House AND Senate. AND, in case you missed it, THERE'S ONE IN THE WHITE HOUSE and he's probably going to have the opportunity to appoint TWO Supreme Court Justices. Hold on a sec while I go kill myself again...

All finished. What bothers me isn't so much that monkey-boy is still the prez, it's his administration that's the problem. Now we can all say bye-bye to any international allies that might have remained, the environment, peace, honesty, etc etc.

Tuesday

[blogs] George Clooney

Defamer posts about A Fly on the Wall's reveal that George Clooney has a politics based blog. More specifically, an anti-Bush blog.

George, George, blogs are no place for politics. I can get that information from MoveOn and AlterNet and Indy Media. I want to know more about the apology to the local Italian people you made due to your frat-boy antics and the "I Have a Small Penis" bumpersticker you put on Brad Pitt's car.

[books] BookPage

New issue of BookPage is up.

Monday

[amy] Candy Lust

Happy [post] Halloween. Did you dress up? My costume consisted solely of a fake moustache. Which fell off after 4 minutes, so that was that. I did get some early trick-or-treaters this year. I should have known that the kids banging on my front door even before it was dark out would be the “greedy little bastards” of the bunch. It was the first group of kids for the evening and I opened the door, holding a bucket of candy, trying to seem interested…

“Oh ho, little… people. Now who are you supposed to- Oh. Hey. Ha ha, all right, come on now- it’s- um… all right. Bye, ha ha.”

The little brats didn’t want to chit chat; they reached into my bucket, started grabbing the candy themselves and putting it into their pillowcases. What the fuck? Serves me right for holding the bucket at thigh level, I guess. But then later I thought about how much easier it would be to let the kids take whatever candy they want, thereby freeing up a hand to hold a drink. In fact, I could just leave the bucket on the stoop and watch a horror movie.

What’s interesting is that this is the first time I’ve ever had to deal with door-to-door candy beggars. I’ve always lived up on a hill no child would ever want to trek up and was really looking forward to the experience. Here are some highlights:

CHILD: Trick or peace.
AMY: Trick or… peace? Ha, well isn’t that nice of you, little… velvet girl.
PARENT: She’s a hippy!
AMY: Whatever. Here’s a Kit Kat, get off my property.

CHILD: Trick or treat!
AMY: Aren’t you a cute little butterfly.
CHILD: I’M NOT A BUTTERFLY!
PARENT: She’s not a butterfly!
AMY: Faerie! I’m sorry, of course you’re a faerie. What was I thinking? Now take your candy and beat it.

CHILD 1: Trishm rrr teeee! [Voice muffled by mask]
AMY: Well! Ha! Look at you… And you’re supposed to be…
CHILD 1: Ahm in ol mah.
AMY: A- a what?
CHILD 1: Ol mah. OL MAH!
AMY: Old man! Okay, old man… Well aren’t you a… old man. Here’s some M&M’s and fuck off.
CHILD 2: [Stepping up to the door]
AMY: I can’t even begin to guess what you are. Here’s your candy, now scram before I get in my car and run all you little shits over.

All in all, it was a pretty good night. I wouldn’t have minded more trick or treaters.

UPDATE

I'm a stingy bitch. I asked someone at work how much candy they hand out and she said, "I usually give each kid three different pieces." Oh. No wonder I was getting all kinds of dirty looks when I handed out one piece each. I would hold the little candy by the corner of the wrapper, drop it into their bucket like I was dropping a turd and I would smile down at them like I was Mother Teresa. My only excuse was that this was my first year giving out candy. Next year I'll give out fist-fulls.

But this explains how the kids had so much freaking candy in their buckets. I would look down and think, "Jesus, kid. There aren't that many house in town..."