Round-up: books

I have just been devouring books lately, comic and conventional. Thought it might make for a decent post to round ‘em up. And besides, I am not in the office today on account of pink eye all around and I need something to keep me sane until I go in for some meetings later.

Read:

The Joker – Brian Azzarello

The Joker in this book is a lot more like the Heath Ledger portrayal and I like it. I prefer my Joker dark as opposed to silly. Harley Quinn was in this as well but not as her normal kooky self but sort of a dialogue-less blond whom serves the purpose, at one point, of showing us how the Joker can actually have feelings. There’s a scene where he’s knelt down and grasping his arms around her waist, crying. And who said comic books don’t have anything for girls?

Batman: The Long Halloween – Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale

This is the first of a trio of books by these two artists that takes you through the tale of Gotham’s crime families and their debacle with a murderer called “Holiday”. I liked this a lot because it pits them against Batman and Harvey Dent and about 5 other baddies like Poison Ivy, Joker, and the Mad Hatter.

Batman : Dark Victory – Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale

This is a follow up to the above and it’s gritty, a mystery slowly unfolding and always leaving you wondering who the killer is. I was never much one for mysteries or detective type things but this was awesome.

In the midst of reading:

The Commoner -John Burnham Schwartz

So far, I am liking this one. My mother left it for me during one of her visits and I admit, it sat in my living room gathering dust for a few weeks before I ever picked it up. It’s hardcover so the nondescript red book didn’t exactly pique my interest. But the narrator is interesting and dynamic so I think I’ll probably get back into this soon.

The Other Boleyn Girl Philippa Gregory

I began reading this one a whim, as it had sat on my desk for a LONG time. It’s not my kind of thing but the more I looked at it, I thought it might prove to be a quick little read but just the right amount of debauchery. Well, so far, it’s all tease but I mean, it’s the story of a girl trying to hook it up with the king (a summary in the most basic form) and I think I stalled out because it was the same thing over and over for the first 100 pages. I’ll probably finish at some point, when I am bereft of anything else good to read.

Up Next :

Haunted Knight – Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale

Since I just finished reading the two others in this “trilogy”, The Long Halloween and The Dark Victory, I’m moving onto this, which seems to come “last” though it does not follow in a sequential order at the other two. (Thought I read them backwards, not that it mattered).  I look forward to seeing what these two do with three Halloween related tales (my favorite holiday!) I am pretty much thrilled to be picking this up soon.

Batman: Hush, vol. 1 – Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee

I don’t know much about this one but it’s always the “if you liked blank, you’ll like this” recommendation. It looks pretty dark yet also is reminsicent of some of the Xmen stylings (duh – Jim Lee) so I’m slavering over it, cannot wait to dive in.

I think I have read almost all of Bill Bryson’s books save his newest one and I am looking for some other non-fiction I can pick up. I really like books like River of Lakes wherein the author travels up Florida’s St. John’s river you learn a lot of history but take a neat little journey too. Anyone have any suggestions? Hell, I’ll read anything.

Get this train back on track

I think I have some more things to do but for now, this is where I will begin. It is difficult when the weather is as it is: gray, dark, wet and cold. Our high is only 56, it’s 55 now. Yesterday was my recovery day, my day to fall asleep at 9 PM, once the movie we were watching got started and the lights were low, blankets on me on the couch. I took a leave of absence from any serious blog-writing, I didn’t accomplish much at work. I needed to recover from taking care of the sick ones in my house; the laundry, the dog who puked in his crate, the endless piles of dirt and random pine needles on the floor, the glass Ash dropped in the bathroom, and the bits and pieces of our lives that get strewn about the house and bring about this tiny bit of anxiety.

I was walking back out to the car with my bag and water bottle, after having already strapped Elliot into his seat, and I suddenly felt very grown up and capable. As if all along, I was not. I single-handedly got the boy up, fed, dogs out and fed, dressed, lunches packed, put Ash’s phone by his bed so that when he awoke, he could call in sick to work. Sure, these may seem like mundane, average things but I think about other people I know and wonder how they get it all done. Some seem so… incapable and yet, are these activities really that difficult? This feeling, I find, is difficult to put into words. I think I am getting the hang of this parenthood thing, this adulthood thing. At almost 30, I sure as hell should.

With that said, I am going to step away from the internet for a second. For an hour, or two, and get things in my office done. Filing, organizing, decluttering. That’s a good palce to begin. A clean desk always helps my mind stay focused. How do you stay focused?

Slightly crazed ramblings

Well, finally back to work and glad for it. Woke up this morning and inspected Elliot’s eye; lo and behold, the pink is gone so he was on his way to daycare, much to my delight. I awoke yesterday feeling inspired to work, to do the things in my office I’d been putting off. But I didn’t end up going in. And it’s not that I don’t love staying home with Elliot but with him sick and Ash too, my day was hellish. At least during nap time I got to wash and wax my car. Shiny! I also made dinner, for once. Seems like ever since we were sick a couple weeks ago it’s been tough to get back on that schedule. Not to mention, I haven’t even felt like eating anything more than peanut butter and jelly or cheese and crackers. Strange.

But, you don’t really care about any of that, do you now? No, I didn’t think so. I am bereft of a topic today, seeing as how I have about 5-6 things on my plate but I cannot get organized and motivated. I am too distracted by current hobbies (Batman graphic novels, for one. Blast you, Bats!). I tend to jump from one thing to another this way, becoming intensively interested, finding everything I can on one subject or whatnot and then burning out all too quickly. There is no pacing, no moderation. All or nothing. In it to win it. And any other cheesy phrase you find appropriate, and it’s never appropriate.

So, I offer you this slim pickens post, lame, sad, and brief. But you’ll find others, it’s OK. My blogroll can entertain you for a while, or my bookmarks on Delicious. And speaking of delicious, I am off in search of food.

Oh, Monday, you come again

And again and again. And not in a good way. Har har har. Anyway, it’s overcast, gray, and not even that cold. Elliot is home sick with a nasty cold, pink eye and an infected sucking thumb. Triple threat! Ash is staying home with him so I can get some work done, though I feel ridiculously unlike work in any way, shape or form. Could be due to MONDAY, or the weather, or just in general, I’d rather be reading or writing or anything but what I need to do. That’s always the way. I guess I’m just feeling lazy.

Our weekend was overshadowed by Elliot’s sickness but we still had a decent time. On Friday, I went to a friend’s house for Girl’s Night, in which we drank, ate fondue, and talked. I didn’t even get home until 1:30 and that is late late late for me. On Saturday I read a lot and Ash played a bunch of video games; we pretty much wasted away the day. On Sunday though, I managed to clean, and we went to the mall. We almost waxed my car but the weather got bad. Oh yeah, and I took Elliot to the doctor for his many ailments. Sigh. Little kids who get sick are so pitiful. I felt terrible for him all day.

Oh and check this out: we got into the elevator at Dillards and were on our way from the ground floor to level two when the doors tried to open suddenly between floors and then shut, causing the elevator to stop. Amusingly, the elevator is glass so all the people on the escalators could see us trapped in there. We depressed the Help button but it didn’t do a damn thing. So we pressed the alarm. Most elevators in which I have sounded the alarm (purposely of course and not because we were stuck) have been loud and obnoxious. This was a tiny “ding ding” slightly softer than a bell on a bicycle. So we sat there, for about ten minuets, like animals at the zoo. People went up and down the escalators, making funny gestures at us; the nerve. Finally I saw a woman on the second floor motion to me that she had alerted someone. The elevator began moving, as I said, after about ten or so minutes. Unfortunately, it went back to the ground floor.

As we evacuated as quickly as possible, a mother and he daughter,a tubby kid maybe 8 or 9 years old, were waiting for the elevator. We warned them that it had just gotten stuck and the mother – who seemingly couldn’t get into that thing fast enough – said “Oh no, my leg can’t take it. I gotta ride up.” And I’m thinking, you couldn’t take the escalator? She was obviously a chronic excuse maker. She seemed taken a-back and almost angry when we warned her. As we rode up the escalator, we hoped and prayed that it would stick on her and her daughter, just out of sheer principle. Lazy bitch. Alas, it did not. Just us. But it made for an interesting afternoon, I suppose.

I hated being stuck in there, by the way. I don’t like feeling like at any second, we could suddenly drop, like that blasted ride at MGM Studios. Ugh.

Anyway, I gotta get a shred of work done so I can go to lunch and not feel like I’m wasting time.
What’s the scariest place you’ve ever been stuck? Do you avoid it now?

No comics before bed

To continue the theme here, I got into reading comic books in about 6th or 7th grade.  The aforementioned friend of mine, Tracy, and I both began collecting Xmen and Wolverine. I was intrigued by the stories of course but I think what drew me in was the superhero powers in the characters and then, the brevity of each comic, followed by the anticipation of waiting for the next issue to come out. I got 20 bucks allowance each month. Tracy and I went to comic book shops and shows in the mall and blew it all on comics. I remember trying to hunt down Uncanny Xmen #256 – the first appearance of Gambit. I still have it. Along with a large box of everything I ever collected. Though the interest waned at one point – and I had no friends into the same thing – I always went back and read the good issues (Wolverine #50, Xmen #8). For years we waited and wanted in vain for an Xmen movie. Until 2000. I am sorry to say that they sort of effed with cannon – a lot. But in general, the movies were OK. I am excited for Wolverine in May. But anyway, I started reading some Batman graphic novels that I am borrowing from a friend. I read some more of it around midnight and I had to put it down when Superman showed up in a very ridiculous scene including a flowery field and a horse. But anyway, I had a few dreams last night. Here’s how I recorded it this morning, as it still haunted my brain, causing me to have a pretty tough time coming around. Does that ever happen to you? My brain is so caught up in the realness of the dream that it can’t come to and focus. This morning, Elliot woke up with his eyes completely crusted shut due to – as it turns out – pink eye. But anyway, onto the dream(w/ minimal editing to give you the best gist):

The portion of my dream in which I was on Batman’s side are fuzzy; it’s as if I were following him around, sort of like the new “Robin” in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. Suddenly though, I was one of at least a hundred people lined up along the perimeter of a large dark room we  were being held hostage by the joker. Not the movie Joker and not the comic joker but one in between. He was almost attractive in a slightly boyish way. He tested us, prodded, asked people about their families and some kind of mocking way. We were there a long time. Sometimes, people would disappear – you knew they were dead. At some point, there was a breakout and we were in a courtyard near tall office buildings. I was running from police (?) and I hid on my side, in the fetal position, in the middle of  a square bush. I knew that the joker would not kill me, for there was something between us. I watched people die all around me, flesh torn up by bullets. A hefty man was standing over me, another hostage, and as he fell dead, I did not move, but left him lying on top of me as a decoy. I was saved.

The next part, The Joker was going to let people go. Or something. We were all moving in a line to a tall building, where only I knew he was going to kill them all. But he and  I were standing in this line, my arms around him, our faces close. He kept saying how he knew there was something different about me and I told him how I had seen the same thing. (A  little reminiscent of Harley Quinn, no?) Neither of us could understand it but at that moment, as the line ended and he had to go, I knew he was setting me free. It was a bittersweet goodbye because I looked up and saw – of all people – Superman, and I’d never see Joker again. I  walked away thankful to be alive but sad with the knowledge it was over. I got into an elevator and went up 5 floors, seeing each one pass through a slight crack in the door as I climbed higher. And whe the doors split open to a large office with glass windows all around, I felt alone and empty, and woke up.

Pretty weird right? So tell me, do you dream about the last thing you’ve read at night? What’s the strangest media related dream you’ve ever had?

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Middle school = good blog fodder

So when I went home this past weekend, I was given a box of old things my sister saved before she chucked everything in an old closet. There was a random smattering of items inside which included but was not limited to: issues of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People from 1992- 1997, old Birthday/Christmas cards from everyone, pictures of celebrities I must have liked, paint brushes, old sketch books, homework from Anatomy and Physiology, short assignments from Creative Writing, and much more. It wasn’t only stuff from middle school but it had some letters that two of my best friends had written to me. Tracy and Jamie and I wrote letters like fiends. You’d think we didn’t even DO homework or PAY ATTENTION in class. Truthfully, I was THAT kid who didn’t need to study. We all got ridiculously good grades regardless. Hence our boredom. I was going to reproduce a couple letters that Jamie and I exchanged but they were a bit too, well, graphic in an embarrassing sort of way. Like, in the way 8th graders hear the word “hard” and giggle. But I scanned in this one, from Tracy in about 7th grade.

old-letterSlightly bigger if you click; WordPress is restraining my size here.

This gives you an idea of the strangeness of 8th grade girls, though I have much better examples. My favorite part of any letter was the P.S.’s This included the initials of all the guys we liked. Above you’ll see Christian Slater, Robert Patrick (don’t remember who the second one was – note   the “squared”), Sean Patrick Flannery, Emilio Estevez, and a few I can’t remember. Though, I remember not condoning RDA – that would be Richard Dean Anderson; Macguyver. At one point I know Laser from American Gladiators was on our list too.  Note the “Gambit”. We omitted Wolverine, as he was mentioned again later on. We were total comic nerds and deeply shipped the Wolverine/Jubilee pairing. It may be silly but I read this and want to say, “See? We were total Wolverine fans way before they ever made Xmen and now, the Wolverine movie coming in May. But that’s the immature side of me, the one who is still that 8th grade girl crazy about boys and all things teenager.

I would say it’s embarrassing to admit all this but it’s almost like a was a different person then. I am not ashamed of who I used to be, though this used to be the case.

So, what kinds of memories do you have that seemed relatively embarrassing but you have now gotten over?

P.S. Stay tuned for my next entry in which I explain why I should not read comics before bed.

The urge

Lately, I’ve a the distinct urge that I haven’t felt in quite a while. I used to get it all the time, before college. In fact, even way before that. I would hear a song or see something take place that struck a chord with me. And I’d need to do it: write. It was a hobby then, before it became my major and then, expected. It became regimented. Though the last two years of my undergrad and graduate school, I definitely learned more about the process of writing and editing and not self-censoring. The deadlines made me write and pushed me to produce. But they also made me disgusted with writing; it felt forced. It wasn’t how I wanted to do it.

I haven’t sat down to write – and actually gotten anything of substance – in probably over a year, maybe longer. This saddens me. Sometimes when my office is slow and the late afternoon sun floods my office with warmth, I wonder why I’m not using that time more effectively. Honestly, had I gathered up all the minutes and turned them into hours, I might have been able to write a novel or at least a novella.

Today, I really thought I might start working on something. Just begin and see where it leads me. It’s not as easy as it once was; I don’t have the kind of free time to just do this as I please. These days, I actually have yo make time, force myself, stick with it. But nothing worth doing is ever easy so I guess it’s time to buckle down. I’ll probably be happier in the end if I do.

Movies, a list

As an opening aside: a student just walked in here and was looking for her teacher. Do you know that she didn’t even know his name, now three weeks into the semester? What the eff is wrong with these kids today??

Ok, I had to just get that out; I don’t want to sound like an old fart whining about “kids today.” It’s freezing here and making me grumpy. So I shall try to offer you some substance today, in spite of my foul mood.

Digg this morning had this article, which explains President Obama’s top 5 movies and what they say about him. I was surprised by his choices (Come on, Godfather III was not THAT bad!) but not necessarily the “what they say about him” commentary. So, without further ado, my top five movies (not in any particular order) and what I think they say about me.

1.) Groundhog Day – 1993 – Bill Murray, Andie McDowell

I have always loved this film. Bill Murray is funny as ever, the plot is intelligent yet reveals a side of humanity that we often forget about; if given the right chances, anyone can change. I find that I could never get sick of this movie because each and every time I watched, I found myself wondering new thing about the characters, the plausibility of events, and the chronology and possibility of time, etc. Plus, there’s a pretty good little love story beneath it all, which I am a total sucker for.

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2.) The Dark Knight – 2008 – Christian Bale, Heath Ledger

Since the last two Batmans have been wildly successful, it seems sort of cliche to claim this in my top five but nevertheless, I was moved by this movie. I have liked all of the Batmans in some way (though, maybe not Batman and Robin; even George couldn’t salvage that one) but this movie was raw, was real, and endlessly entertaining. I saw it in Imax at midnight while we were in Chicago and I was wide awake the entire time. This is a feat of great strength for me. (LOL: “What we need is a great strength of feet.” Tell me where that’s from and I will totally send you a package of cookies. No joke.) Anyway, Ledger as the Joker was brilliant and Bale turned your neighbourhood vigilante hero into something so much more than a surface character. I am drawn to movies with flawed heroes and even in some small way, I think the Joker and Two-Face could be considered types of heroes. To some anyway.

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3.) The American President – 1995 – Michael Douglas, Annette Bening

Ahh, one of my most cherished “political” movies. I love this movie because it depicts a “normal” guy as president whose wife died and he is raising a daughter and juggling presidency at the same time. It is, in essence, a love story but there’s also so many great scenes about his presidential duties as well. Written by Aaron Sorkin (West Wing) this image is idealistic at best but what I would like to think his life is like. I would love to see a president like Andrew Shepherd in this movie. Plus, there’s a great speech towards the end. Here’s the second half of it. I get goosebumps and tear up a little every single time I watch it.

“I’ve loved two women in my life. I lost one to cancer, and I lost the other ’cause I was so busy keeping my job I forgot to do my job. Well, that ends right now. Tomorrow morning, the White House is sending a bill to Congress for its consideration. It’s White House Resolution 455, an energy bill requiring a 20 percent reduction of the emission of fossil fuels over the next ten years. It is by far the most aggressive stride ever taken in the fight to reverse the effects of global warming. The other piece of legislation is the crime bill. As of today, it no longer exists. I’m throwing it out. I’m throwing it out writing a law that makes sense. You cannot address crime prevention without getting rid of assault weapons and handguns. I consider them a threat to national security, and I will go door to door if I have to, but I’m gonna convince Americans that I’m right, and I’m gonna get the guns. We’ve got serious problems, and we need serious people, and if you want to talk about character, Bob, you’d better come at me with more than a burning flag and a membership card. If you want to talk about character and American values, fine. Just tell me where and when, and I’ll show up. This is a time for serious people, Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up. My name is Andrew Shepherd, and I *am* the President.”

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4.) V for Vendetta – 2005 – Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman

This is another one of those “gives me goosebumps” movies. I’m a total sucker for those! I list this in my top 5 because it gives me hope that as a people, we will someday realize that we’re all in control of our own destinies and we will follow our ideas and ideals, not listen to some far away government and let them infiltrate our lives so deeply that we forget how to feel. (Much like Equilibrium, which won’t make this countdown). There are some wonderful scenes in this film where someone is hiding something as beautiful as a rose or a painting or a book, and I feel so happy, able to be who they yearn to be, even in a world where we fear such artistic outlets. Artists have probably always been downed for their free attitudes, etc but what would we do without them?

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5.) Nightmare Before Christmas – 1993 – Written by Tim Burton

I debated whether or not to put this up there but time and again, I realize why I am so endeared to this movie. It’s not so much that it deals with two of my favorite holidays (and I take them SERIOUSLY) but that the characters, though stop-motion clay figures, are so incredibly detailed and their personalities shine through, as if real. Of course, there’s a love story too but not in a very traditional sense. Sally and Jack were “meant to be” but we don’t ever get any sort of traditional romantic anything. I love that. I also like that Jack is searching for something – perhaps his true calling – and when he thinks he finds it, he realizes that all along he already had it; he just had to look past his own front door to see that it was actually right at home in the first place.

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Honorable Mention:

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – 1996 – Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton

An Affair to Remember – 1957 – Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr

So, tell me yours. Why do you keep coming back to those movies again and again?

900 miles over most of Florida

So I have been watching inauguration coverage all morning, both on CNN.com and through hulu.com’s embedded player, which is apparently streaming Fox News, though I don’t necessarily care for that station in general. I feel like it is my duty as an American citizen to watch this, even if I hadn’t voted for the guy. I’ve not watched a lot of the build-up but I think this is a pretty momentous day for us as Americans. I won’t go on and on about it but let it be known that it’s important nevertheless.

My weekend was busy but quite enjoyable. Elliot and I got into Orlando later at night – 10:30 PM – and my parents’ fire was just dying out. The cold snap warranted it and I only wish I had been able to leave earlier to catch some of the opening flames. Regardless, I got to partake in a scene I had pictured in my head all week: sitting at the kitchen table, under the dimmed light, eating soup my mother had made (15 bean!). It was the perfect end to my day and I then crawled under about 5 blankets and went to sleep.

The following morning, my mother, Elliot, and I drove down to Palm Beach to visit my aunt and grandparents. The weather was beautiful and we had a wonderful time. I know that my grandmother thoroughly enjoyed watching Elliot run around, being his crazy little baby self. He behaved well, even though we totally threw off his routine. We ate late each night and his bed times were all crazy. The first night, we didn’t finish eating until 7:15, a quarter past his normal bedtime. I took him out onto the porch while my mother cleaned up and he and I rocked on this little glider my grandparents have. Under the stars and the palm trees, slightly rustling in the cool night air, he fell asleep on me for the first time since probably before he was 6 months old. I almost didn’t want to set him down but my legs were asleep and it was quite chilly out there.

On Sunday afternoon Elliot went to the beach for the first time. The day was warmer and we went around 2 so as to catch the heat. At first, he was wary of the sand; he didn’t like it on his feet and tried to brush it off. Then, as we stood along the shoreline and the tide came in, he tried to slowly and cautiously back away. But eventually he warmed up to it, got brave, and even ran up to the crashing waves, though never voluntarily jumped in the water. This was probably best since the ocean was frigid.

All in all, a nice trip. I am glad we drove to Orlando Monday morning so that my next leg of the trip didn’t take place until 7 PM. That drive was ok though there was some traffic, a freak thunderstorm with rain so bad I nearly stopped, and then once on I-10, the wind picked up and blew my little box all over the highway. I was ever so glad to be back, though it’s Very Freaking Cold here. Oh, and on that topic, out heater broke this weekend. Yes you see, Ash and I had made a pact not to phone each other so that when we got back, we would have a lot to talk about and we would have missed each other a lot. It was  a good plan until about 10 AM Saturday when he sent me an IM proclaiming that the house was cold… and the heater broke. Sigh. If you’ll recall this post, our A/C went out right before Ash went out of town and right before I had family coming. Funny that our heat would do the same, only opposite. Luckily, the same company came out and got it fixed up quickly. Though Ash had to endure some freezing temps for a bit. I am glad I didn’t have to deal with it at all.

Pictures from the trip will be up soon, but we’ll be entertaining my Father in law this week and I have a bazillion things to catch up with at home after being gone all weekend. How was y’all’s weekend? Did you also enjoy the President’s inaugural speech? i thought it was very good, if only alightly redundant.

Third

  • On Fridays, Claire can typically be found at her desk but not very busy, for these days are slower than normal. Her brain tends to run on the mushy side on Fridays, and she darn near goes insane from the monotony.
  • Claire spent her lunch hour buying diapers and doing last minute packing.
  • Claire will be leaving around 6:30 for a jaunt down to see her grandparents.
  • Today, Claire is very cold. She wore gloves and an Arizona Cardinals beanie. That kept her warm, despite the winds.
  • On Claire’s left ring finer, a rash has appeared that feels more like a burn. It is on her second knuckle and looks like a scrape.
  • In Claire’s dreams, strange Dr. Suessian characters were taunting her.
  • Claire’s son has been rough with his friends at day care this week. They are working on it.
  • Claire sometimes wishes her blog were more anonymous.
  • Claire has eaten very little this week.
  • Claire is bereft of good blogging ideas and leaves you now to your regularly scheduled – and far more entertaining – blog reading.