Thursday, 17 December 2009

Earthquake

I~m really hoping that was why Ophelia kept me up all night chirping. I doubt it...but I can hope. I~d like sleep sometime.

Anyway. Ophelia~s an it now and home from the vet - hence the possible 30 minutes of sleep. No damage from the quake so this morning is almost doable. I couldn~t leave my apartment yesterday so all of my presents are going to be late. Sorry!

And that~s the current (brief) update on my life... Today~s going to be so much fun. (¬_¬)

Monday, 30 November 2009

Ready-to-help teacher Chris is so very much still in bed today

That could make the day interesting.  I'm so tired.  I feel better than I did yesterday morning, but not by much.  This weekend was too short and too busy.  I have a four day weekend coming up, and, well, Sunday will be painful (test that I haven't studied at all for) but Friday and Saturday I intend to sleep until I'm healthy again.

I won nanowrimo!  No, I didn't actually win anything specific, I just managed to write 50,000 words in under 30 days.  My personal goal is still not met, though.  50,000 is a good start, but before the new year there will be a "The End" attatched to that stupid story.  It'll need editing, and no way am I busting my butt to write when I want to be playing with beads this month, but a complete story with "The End" on it would be a nice first and a good launching point for editing and, well, writing another one.

I'm so excited about the projects I'm working on right now!  I wish I could post pictures!  This next one I can though.  Lindsey and I are going to The Romeo's concert next Friday.  We harassed the singer, Daishi, a few years ago, or rather he gawked at us and watched us to see if we could sing the lyrics with him while we were standing at the back of the live house (putz), so we decided to give him a little something this time around, since we plan on standing front and center to get back at him for that :P  It's cute, and so very very Daishi.  Grr (*kitty puch*), hehe.  Okay, you'd probably have to actually hear or see me ramble that one to understand the joke.  He's "badass," complete with quotations, leopard print, bad tatoos, and a whole lot of ineffective "grr."  So he's getting a biker kitty cell phone strap. XD

I'm probably 90% done with Christmas presents, but the last few are going to take quite a bit of time.  The books are harder to follow, because they don't break the steps down.  There's a map of all of the beads for one piece, and you have to follow the blue and red weaving lines into the right beads.  It's actually a lot easier than it looks, unless I'm tired, like I was yesterday.  Then I end up taking it apart two or three times because I made a dumb mistake with the weaving or, like yesterday, switched the colors around. -.-;

Yesterday was definitely one of those days that, once you make it through, you know you can handle just about any bad day that comes your way.  Sick as a dog when I got up, I made it to work, got a huge chunk of my grading done and then got more papers that I need to grade tomorrow, made it home on dark chocolate and water, and then arrived to the smell of cat piss in my apartment.  Granted, I hadn't emptied the litter box in a few days, it was first on my list of things to do today, except it wasn't the litter box.  I have a white softbox that I got from Ikea when I moved here, and I was keeping random odds and ends, socks, washcloths, gloves, my knee brace, stuff like that in there.  My afghan was in it until recently, and when I pulled that out I found all the random stuff underneath.  The cats generally sleep there during the day.  So, I went to empty the litter box and found everything in that box wet..... soaked.... GRR!!!  It took two washes for most of the stuff, and three for some like my favorite flannel and one of my leather gloves (no clue why that was in there).  The cats stayed away from me most of last night, little crap heads.  I have no clue which one did it, but my money'd be on Ophelia just because she's in there most.  Soushi goes for the kennels.

The only thing I can think is that the litter box was too dirty.  So I rearranged my room.  The litter box is on the main floor now, and my clothes are reorganized.  I moved the vaccuume and rice cooker to the other side of the room so the litter box wouldn't be right by my desk.  It's in easier reach for me to empty every day.  I don't go up in the loft every day, and when I'm tired, like I've been lately, it just doesn't get emptied.  Fortunately, the only likely victims of this are a white tanktop that looked kinda yellow coming out of the wash and maybe my glove.  The box came clean, though I'm not sure what to do with it.  Maybe I'll stick their blankets in there.  They need some place to stay warm during the day, cause no way am I leaving the heater on while I'm gone.

Anyway, despite coming home to two hours of disaster cleaning, I still managed to write the 3,000 words I needed and start on Daishi's cat.  Of course, I was up until midnight... which means I'm exhausted today, but hey, I did it.  Today sounds like an edamame for dinner day and finishing the rest of Braveheart.  And I will be in bed before ten!  I hope...  Gah I'm tired.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Killing time at work

And avoiding doing things I should actually be doing, like studying. :P

Gallery link

So, since I've made too many things to clutter up this page, I put all of the pictures under that link.  I even attempted crocheting...





It's... special.  I'm going to try to remake it - hopefully that looks less like a first grader tried to make it.

My favorite beaded thing I've made so far is this ->



It's pretty.  It looks yummy, though I had a little trouble with the dish part and the T-pin.  I can never keep them straight when I bend the loop.  I bought the right pliers for it, but there's no way to keep the pin from bending underneath the beads.

I went to a bead store yesterday with Lindsey to get beads for the rest of my Christmas presents.  IT WAS SO FUN!  We're going again on Saturday (to a different one) and getting beads for a grr!cat we're giving to Daishi (singer, we're going to his concert in a few weeks... it's a joke gift) and to pick up the rest of the beads for the last few presents.  I hope people actually like these things.  Most of them are ornaments, really.  I'm making a few non-ornaments that I'm not posting here till after Christmas (sad! They're so cool!!)...

I was also wondering if they sell beads like these in the States. :S  I imagine they do.  For the most part, they're not that fancy.  The beads I got for one of my presents yesterday are Swarovski (spelling?) beads though... they're shiny!!  If they had that cut in something that's not $2 for 30 beads I would have gone with that, but........ Christmas only comes once a year, and I like making things to give to people... and my lunches are cheap :P  I'm actually pretty sure the hedgehog is Swarovski too, but that was a kit.  Lindsey bought it for me to make her at 50% off, and it was still $10.

Hm.. yeah, not much else going on in my life.  My coworker just had me watch the trailer for Avatar (we're working hard today!).  It looks pretty good, aside from the military premise being... well, classically Jackson vs. Native Americans evil.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Flash drives are amazing!

Here I am, at work, listening to Jules Massenet's "Meditation" and ignoring the people drinking loudly in my office.  Noise reducing earphones are also a wonderful piece of technology.  Pity mine broke, but I'm currently borrowing Lindsey's until I break them and have to buy her a new pair or find the money to buy myself a new pair.  Either way, it almost does the trick.

Also with my handy-dandy- 2GB flash drive (that glows green when you plug it in... oOohh!), I can also use the writing software I've been working with and bring my story, my notes, and all the pictures I have associated with said story, and the music playlist I'm currently listening to, in one program.  *cheesy commercial-style grin*

Enough of that.  I'm at work early today to get some grading done.  Apparently, "You'll do that one year, realize it's too much work, and never give homework again."  .... Cause the students will learn at all when they don't know why they got the good/bad grade they did on a speach test.  Yes... I can see you're dedicated to your job. *eyeroll*  I have two classes worth stacked up from yesterday, and I have one more class doing speaches today that I'll have to grade on Friday.  The only frustrating part about it is that in their grammar classes they're taught that it's okay to say things like "I felt cool there" (not necessarily wrong, just weird) and "There was cool" (wrong!) instead of "It was cool there."  I'm not docking huge points for grammar mistakes, but I still feel bad marking up their papers when I know they worked really hard on them, some of 'em anyway.

I finished "Wolves of the Calla," yesterday.  Thank you Aunt Tracy!!! ^__^  I took my time reading it, only on the trains and a little at work when I couldn't handle being in the office and the people there, so it lasted quite a bit longer than the other books.  Haha.  I'll write up a review another day.  I have quite a bit to say about that book. 

For now, since I do have that useless test *sigh* coming up the first Sunday in December, I'm taking a break from English books and reading one of the Japanese novels I got partly through then got bored with last year.  Despite the fact that I know the plot sucks, it's actually good motivation for me to look up words and kanji that I don't know.  The same goes with games, but those go by too quickly for me to bother with a dictionary.  I'm circling words in pencil that I can't read (there's an obnoxious amount of them having to do with militaries and war...) and I'll look them up later.  This time I probably actually will.  If I'm interested in something and have a good reason, like not being able to read what I want to read (grr!), then I'll actually study.  Not having to use past the Japanese I already know on any given day, it's kinda hard to give a rip about grammar and words that are so old native Japanese speakers can't pass the test.  I doubt the words I'm looking up from my book now will be on the exam, but whatever, at least I'll be able to read them, and I guarentee they'll come up again in that book, another, or in a game considering the books/games I like.

And I'm off.  I have a few emails to write, then it's down to grading papers.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Amazingly delicious leftovers

So.good!!  A little light.  I could have used a bit more filler.  1/3 of an already tiny steak, 1/3 of a normal sized portion of green beans, and 1/2 a cup of rice.... I like eating smaller meals, but I need to figure out how to eat more smaller meals, because between breakfast and lunch I get really hungry, and then lunch just isn't very satisfying.  Dinner's almost always small, but even when I'm hungry I don't like eating a heavy dinner.  Some pasta, tonight will probably be a lot of bean sprouts over rice, and then fruit or something snackish later on.  I don't like leaving work hungry though, because then I'm tempted to buy junky snacks to hold me over on the 1 1/2 ride home.

In writing news, I have a plot!  Finally... after 14,000 words... I was half paying attention in my meeting today... and half jotting down ideas as they came into my head on the paper for jotting down meeting notes.... :P  And viouala!  (probably spelled that wrong)  This story might actually turn into something, which would be super fun and really random... It's weird how that many words can come out of a ditty about a smell, and then a plot can suddenly spring up from babbling words linked together.  It was getting to the point of babbling, so I'm really glad I have somewhere to go with the babbling now.  I swear I'm working hard at work :P  It just so happens that I only had 4 hours occupied in my 8 of actual, real work today.  Hehe.  And the amazing software I found yesterday can be installed on a flash drive, so I have that on my work laptop now and I can just copy my updates onto my home laptop and presto! (cause I know how to spell presto...)  Magic.  And speaking of, this story is turning into a lot of magic... which could be interesting because I never have my characters use "magic."  I'm excited about it now though, moreso than I was because it might turn into something decent after I edit the crap out of it (in more ways than one) and fix it up.  I even have ideas for a sequel, which is also random and a first!

My word of the week is "random."  It's a good word.

My goodness!

You'd think I never paid any attention to my cats!  Soushi's on my lap (I had to move him so I could sit), and as soon as I stop petting him he reaches up and puts his paw on my shoulder.  I pet his head and go back to what I was doing and he meows at me!  Eesh!  Hehe.

I found the most awesome writing software ever!  Amazing, is what that is!  Buh bye giant notebooks and scattered scraps of paper.  I'm using the trial version right now.  It's so cool to work with!  So far I've started three "books" in the "library," and it keeps even the color scheme separate for each "book"!  And it has a full screen typewriter to block out destractions and stop you from going and editing what you see on the screen.  You can edit in the main screen.  It's all levels of cool.  Only irksome thing is the lack of special characters, like the two dots over vowels and stuff.  But it even lets me type in Japanese.  I love it!

Steak was on sale at the store today, 50% off.  Ehehe.  Granted, the tiny steak that I bought was originally 11.50 so it almost counted as decently priced.  Not too bad for fatty either.  Man are Japanese steaks fatty.  Seriously, fatty meat does not taste better.  I hate chewing on fat.  Ew.  I cut it off and gave it to the cats.  They loved it.  But like I said, there wasn't much to begin with.  And third time in a row I've made something and had it turn out scrumptious!  I cooked the steak in a Japanese sesame seed sauce in my fry pan and put green beans in there with it.  (Less green beans than I'd have on my plate at thanksgiving for 1.75... ouch!)  Then I had just a little bit of rice with some of the cooked sauce sprinkled over it and Korean seaweed.  Oh it was so good!!!!  It was my dinner today and will be my lunch tomorrow and Tuesday, and I'm SO happy about that!  Yay for half-priced steak!  I cut it into three pieces.  I wouldn't have been able to eat it all today anyway. I'm still not feeling 100%.

I'm mostly healthy again though.  Lots of rest and fluids this weekend.  No more coughing or sore throat.  My gums swelled for some reason yesterday, (????) but they were fine when I woke up today.  I'm just gonna take it easy at work and use my anti-bacterial hand stuff lots.  I've been doing that anyway.  Oh!  And I have to remember to take my vitamins in the morning.  I think those have helped too.  And healthy food (mmm yummy steak).  Now all I need is to fall asleep, which could prove interesting.  It's now 11:25, and I'm not at all tired.  My cats are doing judo on my bed now. *sigh*

Friday, 6 November 2009

NaNoWriMo

Instead of studying, like I should be, I've started doing NaNoWriMo.  I thought about it, and registered and whatnot, a few years ago, but November is a really bad time of year to write that much.  I don't know if I'll finish.  I really do need to manage my time better, and energy too, and get cracking on my kanji and grammar.  But so far I'm several hundred words ahead of schedule, good considering I started three days after everyone else.  It's hard though, not to go back and edit or rewrite.  Writing the pictures in my head without worrying about how the words are sounding is hard too, but I've never managed to finish a novel, mostly because I get stuck worrying about how it sounds or how it's flowing or my characters changing mid story, so I go back and loose the story editing.  So, I figure I'll give this method a try and see what comes of it.  It's also kinda fun to shape a story in my head without focusing on hammering out the details right away.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Wizard and Glass

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! I loved this book! I was sad when it was over for the sole reason that there was no more of it left to read. Most of it was about Roland’s past, when he was a kid, which you get a little of earlier in the series and kinda wonder about. I can’t honestly say I wondered too deeply about it, but I was too buys getting into the books when I had the spare time to think about them, so that’s my excuse. Once in a while though while I was reading I’d wonder about him. And now I know more. Yay!

The story starts on Blaine, and big spoiler here (likely not) that Eddie kills Blaine by telling bad “Why did the chicken cross the road?” jokes. I was wondering how King was going to pull of not killing all of his characters, and I really felt like that was why he ended The Waste Lands like he did. But he tied it all together really well, and dang he’s good at doing that, so I might be wrong. Anyway, they’re in a version of Topeka, Kansas, but not our version of it. There are small differences, and the big one being that a plague has wiped out every living thing there. They head off (to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz) down the interstate though a “thinny,” which is something I’d pass on ever coming across. I am curious how they got through one though, since later in the book Roland talks about people getting sucked in forcefully and it seems like they cease existing. Maybe they just passed close to it? I’m still unsure about that, because it was really contradictory.

While they’re in this thinny, at any rate, they stop, and Roland tells the story they’ve been demanding to know. He’s 14, and it follows just after his story to Jake in the first book left off. And it had a female character who was useful to the plot! Imagine that. She was pretty easy to read as a character and not very interesting or unique, but that didn’t make her bad or anything. Just not flashy. Which is fine, because I was way more interested in Cuthbert and Alaine. I found the Spanish in the town they were in, in a Gunslinger world version of Texas, to be a little random, but what would a western be without it’s random Spanish? It clashed with the image I had, but I can forgive it.

The thing I liked best about the story of Roland as a child was that he messed up, often and big time. He was very flawed, but didn’t think he was. Things were going great, and then the shit hit the proverbial fan. He thought he had a grip on the crisis, and he kicked major ass (sorry, this part requires strong language, it was awesome!), but he only had part of the picture, and meanwhile people were dying and the rest of his plan was going horribly wrong. And in the end, he didn’t come out okay. Yeah, obviously he survived, but mentally he was bad off, and in the end, once he was safe at home, being so bad off made him make an even worse mistake. It’s a sad story, but it felt very real. The world isn’t full of happy endings, and while sometimes it’s nice to read a happy ending in a book, I’d rather read good stories with real endings, happy or otherwise.

Time is funky again in this, and I think it’s going to be throughout the rest of the books. I’ve given up on following direction. A character says north, south, east, or west, and my attention is already on the words past that because none of those seem to matter a bit and they definitely don’t stay the same. It’s a neat touch. I like it.

At the end, though they see the building near the beginning too, the group reaches a huge building, and this is where the Wizard of Oz jumps in. Ruby slippers, emerald palace, dude talking into a machine that makes spooky noises. It was twisted (see author’s name) in some ways, and definitely didn’t feel like the Wizard of Oz, but it was really cool. You get to learn a lot more about the magic of the gunslinger’s world, which I’ve been wondering about. It seems like if there’s magic anywhere, it’s only there. The doors are there, the wizard’s rainbow is there, and the man in black can only affect things from that world.

I like the way our reality bleeds into Roland’s world, and bits from other realities join in and just make a mingled messed up mush. It’s an interesting setting. In some ways, I think it would be fun to write in, but I think the temptation to write with no rules would be really strong, and King definitely has rules he’s set for his world.  If the man in black wants them to give up their quest so badly, why doesn’t he just kill them? If he is Maerlyn, and he made the balls, why doesn't he call the remaining ones to himself and use them?  The balls seemed like they could be an easy out for the writer, and it feels like King is skirting that edge, but so far that's not what they are.

In the next book that I’m reading now, for a while I’ve felt like “Aw, crap, he’s using fairy tales and signs in the clouds now. This is going downhill,” but I realized today while I was reading that he’s tying them in to the world really well. Yes, they initially strike you as cliché and lame, but they’re also striking the characters the same way, and you get the feeling someone’s engineering it all. Roland would say “ka.”
Anyway, I’d vote this one right after The Gunslinger for favorites in this series.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Butter Fingers

It started yesterday morning when I was changing the ball of my piercing to the one that's harder to see for work.  Dropped the good one and lost it somewhere on my floor.  Had to wear an uncomfortable one.  Then when I was doing my beads, I dropped the string lord knows how many times, and one of my knots came undone, spilling all of the beads everywhere.  I finished what I was working on, started another one, and, after redoing it three times, quit for the night.



I nearly forgot my old roommate's birthday!  I still feel bad ><  Only by a day, but gah.  I wish I could send her more, but I made her that charm.  It's pretty fragile though.  Too much weight on a knot that I couldn't thread through anything.

I woke up and did chores today!  My apartment is still furry and needs scrubbing (the cats are pigs with thier food, and it sticks to the floor.  I might put a mat down there...), but I vaccumed the main parts, did laundry, and fed all the animals before breakfast!  Mal seems to be doing okay despite the cold.

I got the clinique cream I ran out of on Friday.  So not looking forward to that bill. -_-  That stuff's stupidly expensive.  The soap's only 30, so I didn't figure on the cream being 70!  That went on credit card...  I was going to ask for the set for Christmas, but without the cream my skin was getting really bad, and you can't really use the astringent part without the cream because it stings on dry skin!  I started using it again Saturday, and my skin is already clearing up, and the scars are healing, so that's happy.  I found North American hair dye too, but only one bottle of the color I wanted, so I'll have to look again, cause I think at this point I need three.  I thought about doing red again, since my hair's already fairly bleached, but there'd be no way to maintain it here, and if the water's hard enough to strip my natural color out, red isn't going to last a day.  So black it is...er... will be... hopefully soon.  Mousy washed out brown is nobody's friend.  And Lindsey gave me a coupon for a salon so maybe in the next paycheck or so (cause that's how months are counted now) I can get the dead ends cut off and stop looking like a scrub.  A cut and color is $44 (plus extra for long hair)... not bad except Japanese dyes are completely flat and not made for European hair. $30 for a hair cut.  Definitely better than the $70 ish I had to pay last time to have the lady give me more split ends (...seriously, she spoke English.  I told her I was cutting my hair to get rid of split ends, and she cut it dry.......!!!).  I don't like going to salons though, not a bit.

On a last note, I love the cooler weather.  One of Soushi's favorite places turns into my lap, and I get lots more cuddles from them. ^w^

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Ow, my brain.

Dacco, Rice, and Kozi... at the same live... on purpose... Oh that will be a night to remember!  Haha!  I've seen Dacco and Rice together, and that makes sense.... Kozi.... I like him.  I like his music.  But on the same stage as Dacco and Rice?!  I can't picture it.  But yay for finally getting to see him!!  I've wanted to see him for years!

I burned my spaghetti.  Fortunately, it was a very small amount of pasta so I only have to suffer through overcooked noodles for one day.  *sigh*  Haven't done that one in a while.  Oops.

I was busy today!



Lindsey bought something for me to play with!  It came out better than I thought.  It looks good on her.  I only had to redo it once. :P


 
 
Wire bows...... I hate them.  But I like this wreath.  It took three hands, literally.  I had to have Lindsey help me get the bow tight enough.



Tree.  I need a pair of round plyers.  I have flat ones, and they work okay, but the loop at the top of the T-pin never comes out right.  Next paycheck maybe.  In the picture it's hard to see, but the tree is mostly clear beads.  There was eye pain.  One day, when I have a decent sized apartment with a table to do these one, I'm getting a magnifying lamp.  ... one day :P



I'm not sure what I think about this one.  Things move around on it too much to stick on anything other than a tree or a wall.

I haven't left my house all day.  But I did my laundry too!  And my lunch is in the fridge for tomorrow.  Now I just need to go to bed.  Monday's are extra suck cause I have to get up and leave an hour earlier than usual (to make it there 20 minutes before I usually do... >_>).  Ah well.  Tuesday's a holiday, and since rentals are half price at Tsutaya, it is offically DBZ and craft day at my place! hehehe.  Oh, maybe I'll make taco salad!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Oops

I spent the whole summer staying away from the craft store, because it's deadly.  The beads by themselves are bad enough, but there are so many other crafts - baskets, they even have how to weave slippers!! - that I've never seen back home, and I want to try them all!!  I love crafts!  I slipped in the other day looking for a drawing pad, which they didn't have.  (And the ones other stores carry all have really bad paper for pencil.)  In my search... I found new bead patterns.  All christmas ones.  So I went back today... and bought them.





In my defense, I got 20% off on most of what I bought.  The one book I wanted (still want!!) with bears wearing disney outfits is gone!  I was horrified, so when I saw other books I wanted I couldn't leave them.  I hope I can find that book again.  It was so cool!!  I have one with some of the disney characters, but the bears were just so pretty and so neat!  I got one of the books with bears dressed up, and it's definitely quite fabulous, but I still want that other one!






Now all I need is limitless time to play and an unending supply of beads. :P  hehe.  I'm excited about the dancing penguins.  But first!  The Christmas ones, since... I bought them with the intention of giving them as Christmas gifts.  I should make those first.





That one is cuter when it's not a picture....

And since this is becoming a picture post, when sending these pictures from my phone to my pc (totally too lazy to get out the mini sd adapter....) I accidentally sent two other pictures...





Behold my messy house.  It's.... not any better today.  That would be Ophelia staring at Mal.  She likes to do that.




That's Mal.  I don't think I introduced him here.  He's my betta fish birthday present from Lindsey.  He's also no longer friends with Boba Fett (statue on the right) since the cats were far too interested in the thing swimming in the tank on their floor, and he's now in the kitchen... which is why there's more on the kitchen floor now.

Friday, 30 October 2009

le sigh

I finished Wizard and Glass today, book four of the Dark Tower series.  I held off reading it all weekend... and all week except on the trains.... It was hard.  I hate finishing good books.  GAH!  It was so good!!!! /flailing.

It's funny how making somebody you don't even know smile makes you feel better.  Today sucked, but the older lady on the train made me happy.  She just smiled at me.  Guess she was happy to be off her feet.  I heard her mention they were hurting as I stood up to give her my seat... well, not her exactly.  There were like 5 gray-haired women who had just come on the train and my stop was next anyway.  I normally ignore everyone on the train as best as I can, and there are priority seats which you have to give up if an older person is there, so I don't think about it too much cause I avoid those, but the guy next to me kept bumping into me and I felt him shift so I looked up.  Glad I did.  It made me happy.

I think I'm going to go into Ikebukuro today and get some of the things I've been holding off on.  I need cream for my face.  I'm breaking out really bad (I blame stress) and I can't use the astringent by itself because my skin starts to dry really bad after a few days.  I also need some sort of cardigan for work.  I decided that over lunch today - I just need to get the things to help take care of me, and if I can't put as much away as I'd like this month... or before I leave... ah well.  Not like it'll matter how much I save in the end, really.  If it's there, I either won't want to spend it, or something big will happen that takes it all like it always does.  If it's not, food's cheaper in Michigan, and I've lived on a fraction of what I'm living on here.  100 dollars will actually cover groceries for a month, if you're careful.  Here, I'm lucky if it lasts a week.  Not saying I'm going to go blow my money away, but I'm really stressing myself out holding off on getting things that I need, and it's bleeding over into everything else, probably costing me more in the long run  - chocolate, pizza, chips, booze, blasting my air conditioner, long showers.  I think making little things a bit more comfortable might help take a bit of the edge off... which would be nice because at this rate I'm going to break my teeth in a month.  I should start chewing gum.  I hate that stuff - it hurts my jaw and it's disgusting to look at /  listen to, but my jaw is locking all by itself as is and the sugar can't be worse than the constant grinding.

I hope the next Dark Tower book is as good as Wizard and Glass.  And I really hope the cats stop wasting half of their food ><

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Watse Lands - Stephen King

The Waste Lands was a far cry better than The Drawing of the Three. And Jake’s back!! I liked him! The Waste Lands follows the drawn three... 2 1/2?? from the doors to what’s left of civilization in Mid-World. I still like Eddie. I don’t like Susannah (Odetta/Detta) at all. She’s a cliché, and she’s unnecessary. Sure she pulls out some helpful moves once in a while, but nothing the other characters couldn’t have done. She’s not a full character, despite being made out of “2” characters. And to add to the cliché, she even has the “Am I pregnant?!” concern going. I’d like to see a female character in Epic Fantasy that isn’t a bad cliché and completely useless. Granted, Roland himself is a cliché, but he’s badass, so it’s okay. And he thinks and has personality and isn’t made of solid fail.

Anyway, the world was interesting. Cyborgs, mutated animals, barbaric humans; I totally want a billy-bumbler!! Smart little buggers, they even kinda talk. (Even the pets have more personality than Susannah. Fail, Steve. Fail.) The village they find and the city are so amazingly different. The people in the village are skittish, all very old, but show a lot of respect for Roland when they recognize him as a gunslinger. That was a cool bit of showing culture that we didn’t get to see yet. The city people were divided into two – Pubes and Grays. The Grays are pretty much in control, they’ve got the computers and their leader actually has a brain. The Pubes seem to have more numbers though, which the Grays are successfully thinning. It’s a pretty brutal scene.

I’m not sure how I feel about the ghost in the machine idea King uses here. For the end, it really felt like King wrote up to there and got to a critical point and when “Uh... yeah... dunno from there.” Of course, the however many years in between when The Waste Lands was released and the next book add to that feeling. “Which riddle is the winner?... Do I want them to win?.... How do I beat the super-brain ghost in the machine that’s hurdling everyone of my main characters toward their death?”

I liked it though, really. I’m glad I bothered with it after the second book. Since it is King, there’s a lot of tension when the characters are in a pinch. Which one is he going to let fall? Which one’s going to get kidnapped? Will they be rescued in time? Will they be rescued at all?? His propensity to kill his characters, or horribly maim them, has absolutely nothing to do with that tension...
I kept waiting for Bilbo’s egg riddle to come up with all the talk of riddling... /random

I wasn’t actually mad at the ending. I think I kind of expected it, because I finished and went “huh..." Since there are books left, and one of the characters’ names comes up in the title, I imagine at least one of the characters survives death-by-possessed-train. I don’t know if it’s a credit or demerit to the book that I was really ambivalent about the ending. I’m reading the next book now. If it weren’t for the necessary/good first half of the last book, I’d recommend reading books one and three and just skip book two... but really, aside from Susannah’s segment (whose I’m perfectly capable of forgetting), book two wasn’t bad. But this was book three, and I could ignore her a lot easier.

Iron Kissed - Patricia Briggs

Werewolves, Vampires, and Fae, OH MY! Iron Kissed is number three in the Mercedes Thompson trilogy, and this time we get to learn about the fae! Moon Called showed us werewolves, Blood Bound was vampires, and this one is all kinds of fae.


In this world the Grey Lords (rulers of the fae) forced the more benign fae to expose themselves to the public, so the world knew about fae before werewolves. They just… didn’t know much about fae. In Iron Kissed the panicking Grey Lords are calling off all bets to go after one of their own, Zee – the mechanic uber-fae that sold Mercy the VW repair shop – who is suspected of murdering a human. Said human was also stealing super-items from the fae, so, while the death the police found wasn’t caused by Zee, he was going to kill him anyway. And this is something I love about these books. They really don’t bother playing nice.

Mercy finally made up her mind about who to be with, which was decently written into the plot. I didn’t like using that as the ending though. She doesn’t get out of her entanglement scott-free, however. She’s managed fairly clean escapes in the last two books. This time, were it not for a sudden transformation of one of the faerie super-items into a healing tank she would have lost limbs. Of course, since it’s not meant to be a dark book, she lives and heals, and even gets over the psychological damage which was pretty nasty.

I felt like the ending was a little clumsy. Things needed to wrap up neatly, but with how the rest of the plot charged through, things just needed to be messier. I get why Briggs used the super-item trick, and it worked for more than just healing Mercy, but it was too sudden of a change from something that causes someone to turn into a figurative puppet to magical healer. As a fan of the book, I’m glad Mercy pulled through, but as a critical reader I would have had less trouble believing it if the damage to her physically had just been survivable on its own. I read through in two or three shots, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting caught up in the story, but that part of the ending really broke the magic. Even though it still took a couple of days for her to be better, it was too much of a god-move. “I wrote myself into a corner I don’t like, but I don’t want to back up and fix it.” That’s what it struck me as anyway.

But I still loved the book. I enjoyed the fae characters and society. I enjoyed how some things just didn’t work with the blending of humans and fae, and the issues between the werewolves and the fae. I haven’t done much into looking at Patricia Briggs past these three, but I’m curious what her other work is like. These were nice for light reading. You don’t have to think hard, the language is easy, and the stories are very captivating. I’m glad I finally got the chance to read them, and I highly recommend them.

It's cold today

I had to turn on my heater, and I'm still wearing socks and a sweatshirt inside.  Outside, a sweatshirt under my jacket was still a bit chilly.

I was going to walk to book off today with Lindsey.  Despite the cold, it's actually kinda nice out.  I just don't really feel up to being around anybody today.  The little contact I've had today just made me want to go back to bed.  And since my nap this afternoon I've had a raging headache.

I got the cats new food.  Soushi's results came in with high liver enzymes too.  I didn't get the vet food though, because it's countering everything I've found in my research.  I got a bunch of cans of Mon Petit.  It's Purina, and I tried to find something on it, but it's apparently an asia market name, so that ended quickly.  None of the recommended brands are sold here.  I'm going to try to give them more of the canned food over the dry food... but any of the decent brands cost a lot.  Mon Petit calls for 1.5 cans per can twice a day... can't afford that.  I'll keep looking.  I hate that everything is so expensive here.  And I hate that I can't trust the stupid vet to give me sound advice.  I do know for a fact though that the wet food is better for them.  It cleared up in a couple of days what the vet's food + medicine couldn't do in a week.  I just hope it's enough to get Ophelia's liver healthy enough to handle anesthesia.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Real life update

I have two more book reviews to do, but that'll probably wait until I'm bored silly on Monday.  Gah, I'm hungry!!  Two more hours till lunch.  I may eat a mikan.  At least I don't have to do the pointless meeting today.  Hurray for small favors!  The 2nd year boys classes are still out with the flu.  And I get off an hour early today because of the sports festival or something cancelling my 3rd years.  More hurray!

I took Ophelia in to the vet last Sunday for blood work before getting her spayed.  They weren't going to test her, but I insisted, cause I'm pushy like that.  Lo, and behold, there's something wrong with her liver.  Her ALT count was twice what it should be.  The vet seemed to think it would be better to wait a few weeks, test her again, then if she's better go ahead with the surgery.  He also wants me feeding her $40/bag vet food, which I can in no way do.  Aside from that, I've been doing research last night and this morning, and I think what may be wrong is the dry food.  The vet said that since her other enzyme count was only 3 above normal, it's unlikely to be hepatitis or any of the other liver diseases.  He said she was probably just eating "too much yummy food" (*smacks forhead*) and her liver was tired. 

I'm smacking my forhead because I'm now having to play judge on my cats' nutrition and guess what may be wrong with her liver because I've been met with nothing but incompetance with anything to do with medicine - human or animal.  I don't give them junk.  I gave Ophelia a bunch of Kibinago when she got back from the vet because she was so upset at being shoved in a laundry bag and dragged out of her kennel and getting blood drawn.  I don't blame her... >_>  I didn't like that vet set-up at all.  (For the record, I have no clue what kibinago is in English, but they look like normal cat treats - whole dried fish.)  I may take the blood test report to the other vet and see what he has to say... I'm torn because I can't afford him.  He wanted $100 for the blood test.  And this other vet was willing to keep her for up to a week after the surgery with no extra charge... which I really need because I can't be home watching her and Soushi's really rough sometimes.  So it all boils down to the question of if I can trust this vet.

I've never seen that kind of set up.  They had a tiny waiting room, which doesn't surprise me.. it's Tokyo.  But there was nothing blocking the animals getting checked on the exam table and the animals in the waiting room except a small desk, hence the laundry bag they stuck Ophelia in.  She was scared, not violent.  She got violent because they scared her, fair enough, but the laundry bag and how they pulled her out of the kennel (which has a removable lid...) was rediculous.  They have a back section, and a lot of clients, so they can't be that bad... but considering how they treat human medicine here... I almost want to wait until I get her to the states except that my new neighbor is an asshole (pardon the language) and thumps the ceiling if I walk heavy or have music going at noon.  How's he going to react when she's yowling in heat?

I looked into cat nutrition, and I've been feeding them almost soley dry food all summer because if I put down wet food it would rot before they ate it and I'm not wasting that kind of money.  But come to find, dry food is the opposite of healthy for them, and it doesn't really matter what the brand is.  I can't afford to cut the dry food completely, but I do plan to cut back on it.  But I don't even know if this will help her liver.  It looks like, from what I've read, it's not dangerous or even much to be concerned about unless it's 3x what it's supposed to be.  The biggest concern right now is I need to get her fixed.  Whatever is wrong isn't that bad, and in time, hopefully, if I feed them better, it'll fix itself since the vet seemed to think it was diet related.  My question is, will it have an impact on her healing from surgery?  I don't know, and I don't trust the damn doctors here.  If I had to have surgery of any kind, I'd have my butt on the first plane to the states, expenses be damned.  I know it's different for a cat, and I'm not going to shell out the $300-400 most of the vets want... I just hope it's okay to do that.  I didn't officially cancel the appointment.  I was uncomfortable with 5 people and their pets watching me and listening in on me talking to the vet, so I wasn't able to ask all the questions I was thinking of on my way there, so I took their sample food and left.

Personally, I'm not surprised that I want to snap at the first person who slurps their tea in the office.  On a good day I hate that sound.  My stress level is breaking my own meter right now, and this with Ophelia is not helping.  When I got Soushi fixed I wasn't that attatched to him yet, and he's a boy (granted they only did a visectimy - which does nothing to fix behavior) so it's not as major.  But I know that if I just hand Ophelia over I'm going to feel awful if something happens.  Sucks when there's nobody to talk to and get information from.  I have a friend who lives here with a lot of medical problems, and I don't know how she does it.  Some of her problems seemed to have been caused by the crap health care here.  If nothing, dreams or not, health is important, cause if you don't have it you die... which really shouldn't even bear saying.  I really feel like pounding something right now.  Pity I still have 2 more classes. *sigh*  Everything's telling me getting her fixed right now is a bad idea.  I guess I should listen to that.  It's not usually wrong.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

The Drawing of the Three - Stephen King

I’m impatiently waiting for lunch and bored out of my mind, so I’m going to do my last review... since I’m almost done with The Waste Lands and will have to do that one soon.


This had sequel syndrome, and I didn’t like it. I liked the beginning. I like Eddie as much as I liked Jake in The Gunslinger. I like how that was done. I did not like any part of the Odetta/Detta character, section, any of it. Partly, her repeated description as “schizophrenic” bugged the daylights out of me. Multiple personalities, Dissociative Identity Disorder, not schizophrenic.

Schizophrenia is characterized by profound disruption in cognition and emotion, affecting the most fundamental human attributes: language, thought, perception, affect, and sense of self. The array of symptoms, while wide ranging, frequently includes psychotic manifestations, such as hearing internal voices or experiencing other sensations not connected to an obvious source (hallucinations) and assigning unusual significance or meaning to normal events or holding fixed false personal beliefs (delusions).


That’s from the information page on schizophrenia.com. No where in there does it talk about more than one personality manifesting. Seriously, if you’re gonna write about it, research it! Aside from how poorly done her character(s) were, I couldn’t get over that point. If he’d stopped repeating it, I might have been able to move on. But he didn’t, and it still irks me. And the whole joining of the personalities, rather the way it was done, annoyed me because even with magic it was totally unbelievable.

I liked what Roland did to The Pusher though. That was pretty amazing in the badass sort of way... though I’m having trouble picturing how he shoved 150 .45 caliber bullets plus two bottles of penicillin into women’s underwear and ran through the train station on fire….

Eddie’s part of the story was really well done. The rest of it I really didn’t care for. He needed to spend time on the characters, and I realize that, but I thought it was badly done for the most part. Roland’s character made sense, though he often acted on knowledge that he shouldn’t have had, like with the “schizophrenic” personalities (seriously, dude, RESEARCH!) and how to act in our world.

The gunslinger’s world was interesting – giant killer lobsters and all. The concept of the doors was...not all that amazing and a little outside of the magic that was shown in The Gunslinger. The directions also kept annoying me. Walking north with the mountains to the east and the ocean to the west, the mountains should, by all rights, be on the right hand side, but instead they were on the left. I had two thoughts about this; either King and his editor have no sense of direction, or he’s messing with the cardinal directions (which is hardly fair to the reader, though not totally unexpected, when you’re also messing with time and distance). It’s the latter, thankfully, explained briefly by Roland in The Waste Lands when they make a make-shift compass. Apparently north is no longer north. I can deal with that.

Roland really seems like an obsessed fanatic, which he is, but you got a glimpse of him as a person in The Gunslinger, and the lack of that throughout The Drawing of the Three was sad. Given that it’s a sequel, and sequels usually suck, I gave the next book, The Waste Lands, a chance, and I’m glad I did. The Waste Lands is better. I could have gone without the second half of The Drawing of the Three, but I suppose something was necessary to explain the female character. I don’t like her presence even in The Waste Lands, but that’s likely because King has a habit in these books of writing all of his characters mostly the same. They may talk different, but their actions end up following the same logic, and their understanding of the world and how it runs are too similar. I don’t want three Rolands fighting to get to the Dark Tower. If there are three in a party, I want three different people, not all slices of the same.

Again, though, the first half is good, and it didn’t suck so much that I didn’t want to give the next book a chance. It did suck enough that I had to give the next book a chance instead of going “I want the next book, now!” so take that as you will.

Okay, lunchtime will be happening soon, and the headphones are going in. I can hear someone eating bread across the office. Gah!

Blood Bound - Patricia Briggs

Since I’m on a roll with the Moon Called review, let’s plunge forward into Blood Bound. As far as I can tell, this is a trilogy, though the publicity materials say each is a stand-alone book. I’d say you can read Blood Bound without having read Moon Called and know what’s going on, because Moon Called tied up its ending very nicely (as did Blood Bound), but there were references to Moon Called, and jokes that arose between the stories in each book and character relationships that would make more sense having read both books. I’d say it’s probably best to read them in their intended order.


And I really freaking hope Mercy doesn’t end up with Samuel!! Actually… I was rooting for Stefan, but him being a vampire and all bodes badly for him. Adam at least respects her as a person, and it isn’t totally his fault that he’s dominating. He’s the Alpha (leader) of a pack of werewolves. That would mean understandably a control freak, but at the same time… who wants to be in a relationship with that? Samuel is one of those characters who I feel bad for, love, and want to hit with a baseball bat. I’d just say Mercy’s love life should not happen, because none of her options are very good.

That’s not what the story was about though! It was about hunting something an entire community of vampires was terrified of, which turned out to be a demon possessed (demon riding?) sorcerer turned vampire (and his idiotic sire – seriously, who would think that was a good idea?!). It was fun to see Patricia Brigg’s version of vampire society, which is about as f-ed up as you would imagine a society of vampires to be, though a bit more structured (might be the right word). Infighting, backstabbing, laws that make no sense, manipulation, magic, really old stuff that’s super powerful, total lack of concern for other creatures. Stefan’s a different sort of vampire, but even with his “good guy” appearance there was still the strain of “This is incredibly messed up” (followed by excited cackles….. I like vampires :P).

Stefan was my favorite character in this story. I still liked Mercy’s narration, but I was more interested in him than anyone else. For one, he’s a centuries old vampire who drives a mini bus painted up like the Mystery Machine complete with a stuffed Scooby-Doo in the passenger’s seat. For another, while he doesn’t kill his food, he still has a “menagerie” of 12 or 14 (I forget the exact number) humans living with him who he feeds off of. Some of them are there because they have or had medical conditions, but none of them can leave until he’s gotten complete dominance over them, which means several years. He also has no qualms about killing (or using someone else to kill so he doesn’t actually have to) bystanders to protect what he cares about. He has a strong sense of honor, but looking at it from a traditional moral perspective, it’s pretty messed up. I loved his character.

Like Moon Called, the excitement wasn’t so much what would happen, because the good guys were going to beat the bad guys; it was how that would happen. I kept wondering which of the main characters she would actually kill off and, maybe I was expecting it to be darker, was honestly a bit surprised. The mystery of the whole demon riding vampire guy wasn’t that difficult to figure out, even guessing “Hm… who would’a done something like that?” toward the beginning, but you don’t get any proof or even clear markers until nearer the end. Then you’re left wondering, “Ok… so what are they going to do about it?”

Apart from the main plot, Briggs found the space to show more of the werewolf society. You get to see female werewolves doing things other than simply hating or trying to eat Mercy. You also get to see more of the dominance system that was talked about so much in Moon Called as well as what that means for the wolves’ mates. Some of the parts I wondered if she was just doing it to show something new, but she managed to connect bits like that together to be part of the structure of the story. I thought the ideas of the structure were interesting as well. Once-humans living in a society that’s run by wolves’ instincts – it came out really neat!

Mercy’s character does a lot of growing (and shaping in other ways) since the beginning of Moon Called. Her relationships get clearer and more mixed up at the same time. You start being able to see some of the whys of her relationship decisions. Since the focus was less on what werewolves are in this story, her narration got to be more about other things like the other fae, people around her, and herself. She also gets a lot more strength, which I really hope is going somewhere good for her character. I can see it crashing and burning or turning out really interesting. I’m also curious about her abilities as a walker. You learn in Moon Called that walkers were a royal pain in the vampires’ butts for the first few decades that the vampires lived in North America, but the most you learn is that they’re impervious to most of the vampires’ magic. You learn in Blood Bound that it’s most, not all. The mistress of the vampire seethe (community) tells her that walkers can see ghosts, and along with Mercy you’re left going “… So what?” It helps Mercy in the end, but I want to know what their real power is. What made the vampires try to wipe them out?

I wish this book had lasted longer. That was my biggest problem with it, but then again, I spent most of the day reading. I enjoyed it so much that I was begrudging the time I had to walk from the station to my door because I can’t read and walk at the same time in public. Definitely getting the next book with my next round of splurging my gift cards. ^_^

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Moon Called is narrated by Mercy, a history major turned VW mechanic and probably the most entertaining first person narrator I’ve read yet. She’s smart and snarky and written well enough to be a darn good storyteller. The problem with a lot of first person narratives is that the narrator babbles too much (Mercy does occasionally, but it’s usually funny enough that you want to read it) and reveals too much. They also tend to repeat things over and over, which is one thing I found Mercy doing, but not too much – little enough that it could be brushed off as “This is for the reader who wasn’t paying attention or flat out didn’t get it the first time.”


The writing style was really easy to read; very clean, very organized, and very relaxed. The story had a good number of clichés in it, but with werewolves, vampires, and all kinds of fae, how can you avoid that? The plot was predictable in some ways, but I still found myself reading until 3AM because, while the main curve was predicable (good guys win, bad guys loose), what happened in the interim wasn’t.

It’s considered Urban Fantasy, and this is the first book I’ve read that’s been specifically called that (though if Moon Called is typical of the genre, I can think of several supernatural type stories that could be added into there or maybe are and I just don’t know it). Werewolves is the biggest group, or at least the one with the most focus. They are collected into packs, which are joined under a stronger leader who governs the pack leaders on the continent from how it sounded… at least the US at any rate. They’re fairly brutal when it comes to pack law – break it and you might end up dead for the good of the pack – but not savage. The same goes for the vampires. In this world the lesser fae have been revealed to the public, and met with fear and some violence, so the werewolves and vampires are being extra careful not to be uncovered. The top pack leader is considering revealing their existence to the world since it’s already fairly well known to the government and it’s only a matter of time.

Mercy is not a werewolf, but she was raised by them. She’s a skin walker, but not the type that actually puts on a skin and causes mayhem. She turns into a coyote and is, apparently, the bane of vampires. Her magic is rooted in Native American magic rather than European, like werewolves, vampires, and fae. It makes her stand out as a character, so much like the werewolves but much more human and at the same time neither. It could have failed horribly, but it was done (so far) carefully enough that she has an important enough role as her character, and not just as a one of a kind creature, that it worked.

There are several human characters as well, some oblivious to the werewolves around them, some related to werewolves. All of the characters had a lot of life to them. I wouldn’t say the book was deep literature, but it was a damn good read. I certainly enjoyed it – enough to buy the next book and look up the author’s other work.
This wasn’t as detailed a review as I wanted to do, but I finished the book last week, read two more since then, and am half way through my third, so it’s not as fresh in my memory. On top of that, I don’t want to retell the story, and it is really more the story and characters that are the charm of this book. I love them! I want to smack some of them, but I love them and I want to know what happens to them. I’d say that’s a good book.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

This posting layout is funky...

Whatever's up.. I hope google fixes it soon.  I'm not a fan.

I finished Blood Bound.  Unfortunately, I started it this morning on the train to work.... I enjoyed the heck out of it, but I gotta say, 8 dollars for a book that only lasts a day is depressing.  I have the next Dark Tower one, but at this rate, I'm going to be out of my gift cards before November ><  At least I'll be amused until then.

I'm actually surprised that I'm enjoying Patricia Briggs's work so much.  I enjoy it partly because it's vampires and warewolves and magic things, but that's really mostly why I'm surprised I'm enjoying it.  Most of those books suck.  I like the narrator, that helps.  I'm pretty sure the narrator is Briggs's own voice, but that's not a negative here, because it's an amusing voice and carefully written so the reader isn't smothered by it (*cough*Twilight*cough*)  or annoyed by it.  And the story is just good.  It's interesting, it's exciting, and it's snarky enough that the necessary cliche (it's a coyote skin walker and a bunch of warewolves and vampires... cliche's happen) isn't irritating and actually works.

I don't have work tomorrow, apparently.  They've closed the school, again.  Apparently their gargling with cold tap water in public sinks and washing with generic bar soap isn't helping prevent the spread of the flu.  I'd say I told you so, but I'm as likely to get it as the next person with my crap immune system.  I'm actually surprised I haven't gotten sick yet.  I kinda wish I didn't have another day off though.  Boredom is a bad thing.

Soushi's such a good boy

He laid in my arms for close to an hour and didn't get up until I was done being upset.  I'm so thankful for my kitties.  Animals are amazing.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Dinner's always a pain

I ended up with hot dogs (too many of them cause they're addicting) and grapes.  It probably would have cost less to eat out.  Ah well.  The grapes were good.

I finished The Drawing of the Three.  I liked it less than The Gunslinger.  It was good enough to get the third book, but not go right ahead and get the fourth book at the same time.  We'll see how the third book comes out.  I still have to review Moon Called.  I got the second book Blood Bound.  Second books are always the worst.  Again, we'll see.

My gift cards are almost gone.  I'm going to be bookless in about 2 or 3 books... :(  Kinda wish I didn't read so darn fast.  Kinda wish books lasted more than a day or two.  I still have a bunch of other books on my reader.... but I've read them all for the most part.  And as much as I love Shakespeare, his histories just aren't entertaining enough for the hellish train rides.

I have two classes tomorrow, and possibly only one on Friday *sigh*  It's a long commute for just that, but it's not like I'm hourly so I really can't complain all that much.  I guess once the books run out I'll just have to go back to playing games on the train... but those really don't work well in the morning.  6AM + fighting in 3D = way too over stimulating.

I found out more about a grad program yesterday.  I'm excited, but at the same time I kinda just want to run and hide.  That's one thing I hate about Japan, it's robbed me of all of my self confidence.  I applied to universities on a whim out of high school, and one of them gave me a scholarship.  I got good grades in undergrad... the only trouble I can think of will be letters of recommendation...  I need 3, I can likely get 2, maybe one from work if they'll write it and the school will accept it....  But my blood runs cold when I think of applying because "I might not get in, and then what?" which is completely stupid, cause 1) I will get in if that's what I'm supposed to do, and 2) if I don't, I'll find something else to do.  Not like I haven't moved half way across the globe before.

Bed time for me, I suppose... a little late.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Typhoon et al

All I have to say about the typhoon is that it'd better wait till Friday.  I have a concert on Thursday, and I'm going!  (Brother one man, who could miss that?!)  I'm far off the water, so typhoons here are just nasty cold rain and wind.  The wind means umbrellas don't work.  The rain means you're freezing and wet.  They're good days to stay indoors.  If it's on Friday, they'll likely close down my school, cause it's pretty rural, and it's a 15 walk from the station, not to mention the kids who have to walk to their own station.  And that train line sucks and will probably go down.  Last tyhoon they sent everyone home right after classes got out.  No club activities that day.

So, my friend Jen from middle school is a substitute teacher now, and I asked her about the job, cause I figured I'll be going to school to get my teacher's certificate after I've already graduated, so I can do it, and why not?  Well, it'll work if all of my classes are in the evening, and if I'm really dillegent... which... I'm old enough to realize that for the sake of paying bills and eating, yeah, I can do that.  Apperently, unless you get a long term assignment, it involves waking up at 4 and refreshing a list of openings for the day.  There aren't any benefits.  I checked the pay schedule.  In Ingham county the PESG website has it at $75 per day for an assignment of 1-15 days, $90 per day for 16-50, and $150 for 51+.  I would need a second job on the weekends, basically.  I'd still like to get a freelance writing gig going, but I need help setting that up, and my friend who does it is busy lately. 

My plan, at this point, is to go for a secretarial or receptionist job, since there won't be work in the summer anyway.  Actually, I'll take any job, but to pay my bills, I honestly need a higher paying job.  If I got a school gig every day, I'd still only end up with about $1,500 a month... which, in Michigan, may just cover everything, barely.  Figure $500+ for apartment, $500 on my loan, $100 for insurance (actually I'm not sure how car insurance is going to work out this time.  It had gotten really cheep before I left.), however much for health insurance, however much for a phone, and food and gas.  I've made it here on that pay in a month, but it's really quite the opposite of fun.  Actually I got sick shortly after.... I could pay less on my loans, and I probably will end up having to at some point when I'm going back to school, but I'd like to pay as much as I can while I can.  So, once I get settled, after the summer and whatnot, I'm going to apply to State and apply to be a substitute teacher, maybe.  I think it'd be good experience.  But maybe I'll hold off on it until I'm in school.  I figure it'll take me around 2 years, plus the internship (at which point I won't be able to work) to get the certificate - which is why I didn't bother with it before I gradutated - and I don't want to be in an office for that long.

Knowing there's work at all is at least comforting.  Of course, I remember months of being jobless and applying to every place even if they didn't have a sign in the window and getting nothing.... but we'll see.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Food

I'm having major issues with food lately.  The root(s) of it are 1) I have trouble with quite a number of foods which I can't eat either because I'm allergic to them or because my gallbladder, which I inherited from my mom and grandma (I love you guys, but why am I a physical carbon copy???), doesn't work right and they either make me nauceous or cause me pain.  2) (Split up because that sentance was really long) Everything in Japan, and Tokyo in particular, is outrageously expensive.

Okay, so I'll make an attempt at not incoherently babbling this whole thing out.

Anything made with egg and shellfish is flat out.  For the last year I've been forcing myself to keep down food with some egg in it, just because complete abstinace was making my allergy dangerous.  The most notable problem was that cooking something in a pan that had been used to cook eggs and not washed thoroughly before used again gave me a fever and I passed out.  Compare this to a few years before when I would just be nauceous all the time.  Granted, avoiding eggs altogther meant I could eat more because I wasn't feeling sick all the time, but it's just impossible to not accidentally eat eggs or something that's touched eggs once in a while.  (And side comment, if the tea/coffee is too hot to drink, don't sit there and forcefully inhale until you get a drop or two at a time.  WAIT!! Gah, Japanese eating habits gross me out sometimes.  And small offices that are dead quiet otherwise are torture...)  So, back to the egg discussion, I'm now able to keep down about 1 meal every day or so that has something cooked with egg in it.  I can eat egg yolks fine, as long as they're hard boiled to avoid the whites clining.  I've even managed to eat cooked egg whites (on accident) once, but I got a nasty nasty stomach ache (and omg my headphones are going on NOW ><#).  If I eat more than that I start feeling not so good.

I found out in the spring of 2007 that I'm also allergic to shellfish.  Who'd have thunk?  Well, I never ate them before that... cause fish grossed me out.  Shellfish still gross me out, but I was up for trying things after I discovered I liked some types of fish (not many).  So, at DisneySea I had a sandwich thing with  scallops(?) in it and spent the rest of the day feeling gross and awful.  Lindsey and I figured it had to be the scallops, cause we'd been really careful to avoid egg that day.  Then, when I had my layover in Hawaii, Chieko's family took me for shrimp scampy, and I was a bit nervous but, hey, Hawaii for 7 hours with an awsome friend who I'm not gonna see for years + free something I've never had before = I ate it.  And really had a hard time not puking on the plain to Chicago.  Actually, probably partly because I traveled for over 30 hours all told, and partly, I think, cause of the shrimp on top of that, I still felt bad when I landed.  I've had one more run in since then.  Kazu tried to be nice and put scalops in my pasta (for free) at the bar one time.  He pulled them out one by one after he found out I couldn't eat them, but I still got sick.  So... no shellfish.

Gellatin in some forms, and some preservatives give me a similar (but not as strong) reaction, but whatever it is isn't as common in foods here.

Okay, so no shellfish or eggs.  That cuts out the vast majority of cheep foods here.  Even hot dogs have eggs in them for some reason.  Hamburgers are completely out.  Most types of bread are out.  Lots of pastas and any frozen dinners are out.  Aside from the hot dogs and hamburgers, it's pretty much the same back home, to be honest, but whole wheat bread doesn't cost $3 for the end crust + two thin slices.  Pasta's not cheep either.  Actually, neither is rice, but it goes farther than pasta.  $20 will last me a month at least, longer if I don't eat it every day (obviously).  Fruit is a no-go unless I'm feeling fabulously spendy.  I did get apples yesterday, but they were half priced at $.69 per apple.  Mikan are cheep sometimes, cheep being about the same as the deal I got on the apples, but that's only for a season.  Grapes... holy crap, they're unbelievable!  For one, they're mutants.  They're easily the size of a normal strawberry.  They come in a bunch that's not impressive.  Because of the size of the grapes, it's just bigger than my hand... for $4 or more.  Gone are the days of eating a bag of grapes while I watch a movie instead of popcorn.  Strawberries I bought once when I was a student and feeling fabulously spendy.  They were good, but not worth the money.  Peaches are delicious but hard to get and $2 or more per peach.  Watermelon, which I got often over the summer cause I could cut it, take it to work, and it'd last me a few days, is $3 or more for 1/6 of the melon if you buy it on the rind.  Cut... just don't buy it.  Pineapple's cheeper to buy in a can or cut, but then it's still a few bucks and not very good. 

Veggies are expensive too.  I haven't bought them in a while because they're pricy, so I forget how much tomatoes are. Carrots are 3 for $2 ish.  Potatoes are $1 for 5 - not bad, so I buy them to put in stuff, but, starch....  Corn is like $1 or 2 per ear.... and it's really not good.  I buy it for my soup, because I refuse to put canned corn in anything, cause canned corn is nasty.  Broccoli is $2 or so for a small head.  Lettus... I forget cause I can't really eat it.  When I was buying it to put on pork/beef hamburgers (explain later) I got 5 leaves for $1 cause if I got the head it would go bad in like, 2 days.  Cabbage is cheep.  $1 ish for a head, I usually get 1/2 or 1/4 cause I don't eat it that much for the same reason as lettus.  I'll put it as filler in food though, cause it's cheep.  I don't even look at the cucumbers, celery, asparagus, or any types of squash.  Bean sprouts are cheep though.  $.39 for a decent sized bag.  Edamame (soy beans) vary depending on store and quality.  I can usually get 400g of decent ones for under $2.

Onto meat!  Chicken is the cheepest.  Well, actually, fish probably is, but not salmon, and I don't know how to cook any of it really.  I've fried some in my pan, but picking out the bones is too much of a hassle, and I really don't like most of it.  And I'm not going grocery shoping every day after work to buy fish for dinner.  Thank you, no.  So I usually eat chicken.  Chicken breasts are about $3-4 for 250g.  Sometimes my store will have a sale, 3 packs for $10, so I like buying it then.  But I can only get 3 because I have no freezer, and meat goes bad here before it's sell buy date sometimes.  Beef is insane.  They don't sell it in steaks.  Squares of something really fatty (I have no clue what) are, like 1in squares, about 10 of them for $5.  Ground beef I've never bought.  I usually end up with pork/beef mixed that's about 2 1/2 hamburgers worth for $4.  But it's really dry and only tastes good if you add a bunch of sauce, so I stopped getting it.  Plus, they don't sell hamburger buns (.....?) so I had to use bread, and that just doesn't work well.

I stopped eating the bran cereal I was because it's $4 per box, and a box lasts less than a week.  Yummy though.  I eat the kids stuff, which isn't as sweet as Frosted Flakes (thank heaven!) but still sweet.  That's under $2 per box.  I tend to make taco rice for lunch because the chicken tastes good for one, and it's easy to make every day.  Just make a bunch of chicken early in the week, make rice fresh every day (yay timer!!), and assemble before work.   I don't have a microwave at home though, so I can't do stuff like that for dinner.  (I didn't want to cook yesterday, so today my lunch is ... rice with seaweed.... and an apple...)  Dinner is the big issue when it comes to "What do I eat?"  I hate cooking.  I should mention that as a part of my food problems.  Hate. Hate. With a dash of Loath.  I don't mind cooking meat once in a while.  I like experimenting with new flavors and sauces... but I don't want to make anything that goes with the meat.  And I only have one burner, so I have to actually coordinate how I'm cooking.  It makes it really easy to cook rice, because my rice cooker is epic in its awsomeness.  Lately I've just been settling for a bag of edamame, but that's not enough on a normal day.

So, rice is obviously the easiest, but rice makes you gain weight like nobody's business... and I'm honestly sick of eating it. I want a variety, which isn't going to happen, but rice for lunch and dinner is just a no.  And I've been gaining weight and my pants are all uncomfortable (even my loose work pants, of which I now have one less pair because the sun bleached out one of the outer seams.... I hate sun-dried laundry....).  So I was looking up ways to readjust my diet without cutting portions, cause I really don't eat that much.  Apparently pasta is significantly better than rice.  Long grain rice is better than short grain rice.  Whole wheat is better than rye bread and in the same catagory as pasta in the glycemic index, whereas rye bread is in there with white and pizza.  Sweet potatoes are better than regular.

I looked up what the glycemic index was, and it's not a diet "loose weight" thing.  It's a measure of how different foods react in your body compared to pure glycose.  Lower GI foods, or a low GI diet can help control weight.  It's also good for reducing cholesterol and lowering the risk of heart disease.  Or so I've read.  Anyway, what I know is that rice makes you gain fat, where as pasta makes you fuller.  So... more pasta it is for me.  They don't whole weat, but all of the spaghetti pastas are made from purely semolina, which, apparently, is among the better kinds.  I only know because I sat at the grocery store reading every pasta label and checking for eggs....

This was one of the sites I was looking at.

So yeah... I don't really know what the point of that was.  I've just been having a lot of problems that boil down to "food in this country is a royal pain."  I've made a menu of sorts for this week, so I don't have to think too hard.  The biggest flaw I'm finding is that the only things to add to pasta, because butter and parmesean are insanely expensive (and butter's hard to fine.. it's all margerine), are oily and fatty... and don't taste that good.  I got garlic and parsely to put in spaghetti sauce to make it not taste like katsup though.  I'm also gonna try to cut my rice portion in half and put more meat and ... other stuff.... if I make it.... Yeah... See how that works.

How much of our lives are spent thinking about, preparing, or consuming food?

Water levels are a pain

Water levels inevitably take me three times as long as any other level, sometimes more, cause I always get lost!  Every game.  I hate them!  Grr... Done with Atlantia though, finally.  I actually quit playing for a week cause I kept getting lost and it was ticking me off.  It doesn't help though that when you recieve a new item or ability, it flashes on and off the screen so quickly that it's impossible to read.

Anyway... I have no motivation to do anything today.  I have to make my lunch for tomorrow... maybe I'll go to the store and get kitty litter.  Maybe a walk will help me perk up.

OH! I was exercising this afternoon on my trampoline.  I don't know if it makes noise downstairs or what, but it doesn't shake the floor that much, and I've used it a dozen times, but today the guy downstairs kept banging on the cieling.  At first I thought it was the door, but yeah.  Cranky bugger.  Guess Sundays when everyone is home are a bad day to use the trampoline.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Modern fantasy can do something other than suck!!

Moon Called was good!!!  I spent hours upon hours stuck to it!  Well.. actually 2 or 3 multi-houred spurts of addiction... Seriously good though.  Lots of laughs, good plot, good writing, enough good and humor to balance out the cheese of some of it, and oh, so wonderful to read individual character voices!  I'll write a review of it when it's not 2 AM and I'm not almost done with my chuhi. :P

My teeth hurt.  I need to destress! I'm loving all of this reading I get to do again!  It's helping.  But I'm still grinding my teeth like nobody's business, and one of my lower teeth has shifted, which, I noticed yesterday morning, has shifted my bottom front teeth to rub against my top front tooth so now that tooth hurts too.  Cutting back on the caffeen... at least for the weekend.  Hopefully I get some sleep this week... The last few days were rough.  I got maybe 2 hours of really bad sleep Thursday night.  I made it through Friday (thank you solid lesson plans so I don't have to think hard during class!!) on mmMmm Cafe o... I really should learn how to spell that.  Anyway, coffee mixed with lots of milk and suprisingly not a lot of coke... The coffee took a while to drink, and I have 4 classes on Friday, and I had a lot of stuff to do between classes, so I really didn't have desk time to sit and drink it.  I think I chugged the last bit right before lunch and maybe drank half of the thermos of coke I brought.  Yes, I am a dork and I put my coke in a cheep thermos.  I figured out it's a few bucks cheeper.  A bit heaver to carry around, and a pain to open (push down tops don't work well with carbination..) and awkward to drink from, but hey.. not a famous author yet.

I spent a good few hours today practicing my bass and trying to arrange the violin and cello parts in Cannon in D so I can play more than 8 notes on my bass for the song.  I'm about 1/4 through it. :P  It felt good to bust out the basses though.  I always forget how much I love having them in my hands.  The Ibanez plays so nice.  The G&L's sound is amazing, but it's a bit harder to play, to be honest.  The Ibanez is definitely a rock-out instrument.  The way it's made, I don't know, but it doesn't pick up slips of the fingers as easily.  The G&L really does.  If you hit the notes though, man does it sound good.  I need to get it to the shop when I get home and have it set up.  The strings are a bit high off the base of the neck, and the higher up you go the notes start deviating from their pitch.  That would be my fault for being cheep and trying to fix it myself a few years ago...  Definitely worth the 30 bucks to let the pros do it.  Might also have something to do with the 3 airplain trips it's been on since I bought it....Beautiful instrument though. I'm really at a loss for how to get them back short of shipping my suitcases.  They're too big for the regular mail.  The limit is just over a meter long.... ah well.  I'll figure it out.

Ophelia's watching me from on top of the air conditioner.  She's such a sweet girl.  Soushi has is "MOMMY!!!!!!!*puppy-tale-wag*" moments, but when she's not in heat, Ophelia is almost always near me.  When I'm sitting somewhere, she'll reach up and put her paw on my leg or my arm to get my attention.  She wants on my lap, but for some reason she won't jump up.  Soushi just hops up and gets in the way of whatever if he wanst up, but when I reach down for her she bolts.  I found that if I follow her, she won't run up the ladder (if she does, I leave her alone), but she'll run to a corner or under the curtain and lay down.  If I pick her up she'll whine at me, but once I'm sitting with her on my lap, she'll stay there.  She's stayed a good 5 minutes after I stopped petting her.  I really need to get her fixed.  I missed my Ophelia last week when she was in heat.  She turns into a really unbelievably bitchy cat, and I barely see her (unless I've scared her out of whatever place she was howling from, at which point I started shutting her in the bathroom so she wouldn't tick me off or get me fined).

She's grown a little.  I had to loosen her collar the other day.  I took it off cause I could feel bumps on the back of her neck, which turned out to be scabs that pulled out chunks of hair when I brushed her.  My cat-owner friends think they're old bug bites, and considering the mosquito and spider bites I have, I wouldn't be surprised.  They're cleared up now, but she had a few spots where the hair broke the skin when it came out.  Poor baby.  She did good though, let me brush her out with no fuss.  And they're all gone now.  There were a few I'd left because it looked like they hurt her, but I checked today and there was nothing there.  Now if she'd just stop moving my couch away from the wall and using it as a scratching board.....

I got new shampoo cause the last few days I've had a weird waxy coating on the back of my head that was making my skin itch.  I'm always careful to rinse all of the shampoo out, and I don't know what it was, but I shampooed the crud out of my hair this morning, and the waxiness is gone.  Of course, my hair is now crunchy from being completely dried out... One of my seventh graders on Friday (cute kid, scared as anything to talk to me but always hangs around looking like she wants to talk) commented that my hair was getting gradually brown.  I really had no response.  haha.  The ends are almost blonde at this point.  The water here as thoroughly damaged my hair, no matter what I do to it.  I've used panteen pro-v for a few years, and I got a damage repair set over Christmas that got my hair almost back to its normal texture.  Lindsey's mom brought me another set of it in the spring, but all of it's gone now except the deep conditioner.  The Japanese version of it just isn't the same.  I'm trying Herbal Essances now.  I got their regular stuff and an extra conditioner that I'll try out, at least till I run out.  Of course, in the same shopping run (so girly, all I bought was hair stuff, soap, and eye shadow.... *shudder*) I meant to buy body lotion, cause it's getting toward the time of year where I get rediculously itchy if I don't use it after a shower.  Only, and I've done this about three times now, I read the characters for "body" and assume the following ones are lotion  ボディーウォッシュ vs ボディーローション.  Yeah, somehow I always manage to buy the body wash, which I had needed and was the purpose of this girly shoping fest... but I ended up with two this time.  (-_-)

I like the eyeshadow though.  It's the same brand as my gray that I really like, but it's green.  The color actually is almost too mild to see.  It covers up the normal purple-ish "I got sacked in both eyes" color that my eyelids are most of the time, but doesn't strike me as "I'm wearing green eyeshadow!!!"  It doesn't make me look as dead as the gray though, so it'll be good for work.. if I manage to get my eyeliner on thin enough.

Gah! I'm writing about make-up in my blog after the girliest shopping trip of my life!  I'm going to bed, now!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Sword of Shannara

I gave up for now.  It was ticking me off.... I was actually bookmarking pages where the prose struck me as so horrible I wanted to hit myself in the face with the book... except it's an e-book reader and I don't want to break it.  So we'll give it ago... next time I run out of books.

Honestly, it may be a good story (I don't know.. I stopped 400+ pages into it), but it's too much the same "hero's journey" story, and too much that screams "I LOVE LORD OF THE RINGS!!!" and not good enough writing to make up for it.  The whole story up to this point has been told, his favorite technique being to jump from mind to mind of all the characters present, which is the only device he uses to describe anything, and let me count the ways that part alone is enough to make me never pick up a book again until I run out of books to read... For one, don't jump perspectives on me mid page, much less mid paragraph!  For two, I really don't care what the characters are thinking every moment they're awake.  Nothing's changed, quit mulling over the horse that you hacked and diced and thoroughly minced already.   And the story is in third person.  Third person means you, as the writer, get to narrate as God, so why in heaven's name, excuse the phrase, are you only using the characters' "Oh, I hadn't noticed this about this situation or that person before, even though they've been wearing the same clothes since I met them, unless they somehow changed in the middle of our journey which they barely packed for," rambling observations to describe everything?

The writing is clumsy at best.  I'll give it points for grammatical correctness, but the sentance length makes me look brief sometimes.  There are random "big words" thrown in that stand out like a super-nova when the rest of the story has been told with a fairly average vocabulary.  "Irascible" was used twice in succession to describe the same character, and come on, if you're going to think up a word like that to describe someone, they'd better well deserve it (which, I note, the character in question occasionally grunts at people when they tick him off, hardly worthy of being labeled "irascible").  Either way, twice??  In succeeding scenes?  Show me he's irascible.  Don't tell me he's that and then have him sit through a tense meeting and just listen.  Oy ve.

This whole show don't tell thing is kinda one of those basics for writing fiction.  It's probably why this book is over 1400 pages long.  You also run into the problem of telling too much.  Brooks destroyed the only character I was remotely interested in (and by remotely interested, I mean extremely, minesculely, I'm-reading-this-book-and-bored-out-of-my-mind-gah!-need-something!! interesed) by using his thoughts as a tool, and a bad one at that, to tell the reader how hard his decisions were.  Don't kill your sorcerer like that! Seriously, now!  And quit telling me that there's some dark secret that he has to keep, oh me oh my what shall I do?  Must.not.tell.theothers.....  Also occuring problems related to telling too much are repetative trains of thought in different characters.  And then having a character think something and on the next page repeating the thought (in the same character) as though it was the first time he'd thought that.  There's another problem of characters coming to terms with their fate... over night?  "Hey son, by the way, you're a descendant of kings, albeit removed (still direct though!!) to the point of obscurity.  Sucks to be you, cause now the Warlock Lord is gonna kill you unless you run now and leave behind everything you know, possibly forever.  Oh, one more thing, you need to take over his newly clamed fortress and get this sword back, that we don't know how to use, so you can fight him.  Hoo-rah! Cheerin' for ya buddy!"  Come on!  I don't care if you're the hero of a fantasy novel.  These things take time to get used to.  But Brooks's narration keeps going in the character's head, and (400ish pages in and a day after finding the last bit out about the sword) the character is completely at peace with his fate and trying to prove his right to be in the party?  There's over a thousand pages left of the book!

Character reactions are completely unbelievable.  Adapting too quickly.  Thinking too conveniently.  God-knowledge and intuition all around.  They also all have the same voice, even the irascible dwarf.  The peasant half-elf-hero who grew up the adopted son of an inn keeper in what appears to be a medieval (minus the kings in patches of the land?? cause that's likely...) society has a very conflicting opinion about politics and what type of government best serves the people and can ponder, cause the characters do a lot of thinking, in modern terms the fine details of political science.  Not likely.  If so, give me a reason.  You're telling me so much, you might as well tell me some more to explain your characters since you're not showing me much.

There's an attempt at history, which might have worked if it was more carefully written.  This was one of the places where my palm met my forehead and I had to put the book down a while.  One of the first actually, the next was several pages later where the same history was repeated by the same person to the same people.  Shortly before I gave up on this book, the history is expanded upon somewhat, which again kinda makes me want to hit the book against my face because it came out as completely laughable.  Mankind blew itself sky-high, but small pockets of people survived.  This was written in the 80s?  Yup, we had nukes then.  If we were gonna blow ourselves up, the nuclear fallout (cause you know somebody'd launch one) would more than likely cover the whole planet.  Small pockets survived and reverted back to the equivalent of animals.  Elves were already in existance, somehow finding a way to avoid getting blown sky-high with the rest of the planet.  The pockets of men that evolved from that point branched off into Gnomes, Dwarves, Men, Trolls, and people who inexplicably preserved the old books and could still read the language centuries later when there was time to sit and read them and a thousand years later attempted to put verbal pieces of the science puzzle (accidentally finding magic instead) together known as the Druids.  The shape of the continents also changed.  It seems this apocolypse also created Moria-style squid-like marsh monsters, half robotic man eating tenticle blobs, and old men of the river that smack of Bombadil without the completely confusing and not helpful.  Oh, and man eating trees.

This brings me to my next issue... 

Really though, for all his forward brought up how he waited to write the story so he wouldn't write Tolkien's story again (fantasy writers, follow his example!!), I had completely forgotten about his even mentioning that until the bridge at the end.

Yeah... Props to King for not rewriting The Lord of the Rings.  Massive minus to Brooks for dancing around waiving a "Tolkien fan!" sign in his novel.  The hero, Shae, and his adopted brother, Flick, don't start off initially in Frodo and Sam costumes, but they all but grow hairy feet without the depth of personality and interesting characters before they even start on their adventure.  The Skull Bearers are black, cloaked, wraith like things that skuttle across the ground searching for the hero.  The winged Skull Bearer has a tendancy to always know exactly where they are and fly directly at them before getting distracted.  Okay, that was just bad writing.  Frodo and Sam Shae and Flick are completely immobilized by fear before they even see the Skull Bearers.  That's a rip off.  The other party characters are more combinations of typical fantasy good-guys, though the prince of Leah (so memorable I forgot his first name) had an incredibly "Boromir at the council of the Ring but justified because he was helping his friend make a choice" moment at the council that took place just before our heros started out on their journey from the haven they'd run to for the belly of the beast.  The monsters, aside from the robot-tenticle beast, have all been from the Fellowship.  They're just dressed in different colors.

I don't know how the story turns out, obviously, and maybe it's good.  Someone thought it was good enough to use as the launch point for a major publishing company, and it has a lot of fans.  My biggest problem was that the writing was so clumsy, I had trouble seeing past that by itself.  When I got to the next layer, all I saw was a sloppily dressed version of Tolkien's story.  Maybe if I'd never read fantasy before I would have been able to enjoy the book.  But the same could be said about Eragon, which is a blatant rip off of every popular fantasy and sci-fi story out there.

Anyway, enough ripping apart of that book.  I could keep going, but anything else would be nit-picking.  I started Moon Called by Patricia Briggs.  It was recommended to me prior to me striking several names off my list of people to take recommendations from following the Twilight horror.  Though I doubt the person who told me to read Moon Called is a Twilight fan.  Actually, I can pretty much picture her having the same impulse to stake Edward on sight as I do.  So far, actually after the first page my interest was piqued enough to be tempted to walk through the station reading.  I didn't, mind you.  I hurried with my glasses on and got in line at my turn over and opened back up.  There are a couple of grammatical errors, possibly editing errors, that I noticed... like putting a comma between two clauses.  It's not a difficult rule to follow, but people always do it!  See? Example.  A little bitty comma.  But the train ride felt wonderfully short, and the only thing keeping me from curling up with it on my couch is my promise to myself to exercise 6 days a week, starting today, which I have happily avoided for the last two hours since I've been home.  I should get to that....