grrgoyl: (Vendetta V)

We had Christmas four days early this year, because we're grown-ups and can do as we please -- and we got socked with ten inches of snow, Tery took a four-day weekend, and wanted toys. 

So I'm writing this on my new tablet.  It's pretty damn awesome, like my phone but three inches bigger; and after a few short hours playing with it, my phone already seems comically tiny and I can't imagine how I did anything on it (just now Tery brought it in from where it had lain forgotten under today's mail, and I cried, "Nobody wants a Charlie-in-the-box!") 

Not to mention the wi-fi network I had to set up to get online with the tab is pretty sweet, and surprisingly painless to establish, considering my adversarial history with all things wireless.

So maybe we can expect to see more updating from me in the future.  Merry xmas to all of us.

My second-best present was the book "Harry Potter: Page to Screen," which is gorgeous and truly so enormous we might need to add a new wing to the condo just to house it (you know those corny fantasy films where the wizard leafs through a spell book the size of a coffee table? This book is about that big.  If you were reading it before bed and fell asleep with it on your chest, you'd be crushed instantly).  Still, for all its girth, it took a full five minutes of paging through before I found one picture of Snape.  >:(

Tery enjoyed her presents as well, being as they were mostly running-oriented.  So I would say the Christmas of a Thousand Dreams (as I've been marketing it all month) was a roaring success!


Unless you count my cynicism bordering on anxiety about certain recent  political developments--I'm referring to some very scary legislation that you'd never think stood a chance of getting passed in America (NDAA and now SOPA. Look them up if you think I'm overreacting).

Not helping my near-hysteria in the slightest was the arrival of an email from my dearest friend H, an isolationist in the best of times who now sounded like his paranoia had reached critical mass in the six months since our last communique.  His email was peppered with links supporting his thesis that "the internet has been compromised" (hence my protecting his identity here).

I'm including here my response, because I think it sums up pretty well my present feelings, and my blog, in addition to entertaining me, has proven to be a great source for future historical references.

"Once upon a time I would have said, 'Oh, H, my adorable conspiracy theorist.' Not any more.

I didn't click on any of your links because frankly, I already know too much. I don't want to know these things I know, and I damn well don't want to learn any more. I want to go back to being angry about stupid things like picking up Tery's socks one more time, or that every time I go for an oil change it costs me $500 (forever finding maintenance jobs to do on my 14-year-old car). I don't want to think of my government as sinister, and I don't want to live with the fact that the people we're hoping will fix things are a very big part of the reason things are the way they are in the first place.

I want to live in the Fox News bubble, or no-spin zone or whatever they're calling themselves these days. I want to point at Occupy and say "dirty lazy hippies." I want to read my Snarry, play my Angry Birds, watch my Netflix and imagine that none of this has anything to do with me.

I want to tell Morpheus to give me the blue pill, please, and I want a steak, medium rare.

I sign online petitions. I signed about a million of them to try to stop NDAA, and now I'm signing a million more to stop SOPA. And I've written to everyone including Obama about both. All I get back are dog-and-pony-show form letters, and I know it's a fucking waste of time, but I feel like I have to do SOMETHING. And I can't march with Occupy because they have their big actions on Saturday when I always have to work, and anyway I don't want to get pepper sprayed and/or end up in Gitmo one day.

Everyone says the answer is to vote out all the incumbents. But November is 20 years away, and anyway MyFriendDeb asks "and replace them with who?" And she's right. Which of them can we trust? A lot of Occupiers say Ron Paul, and I know he's on the right page for economic reasons, but his position on the rest of the issues kind of sucks.

If I could have a Christmas wish this year, it wouldn't be for world peace. It would be for everyone to behave, for the politicians and the bankers and the 1% to stop thinking of themselves and their secret agendas and to just give a shit about their fellow human beings for a fucking day. It would be for America (and the world) to go back to a place I'm not scared to live in."

That's my naive little wish.  Naive because H is convinced there's a far bigger end-game, somewhere down the road, and all these little grabs of power and erosions of our rights are quite, quite deliberate and straight out of some tyrannical playbook. 

It isn't just the two of us. Check out the mad ramblings of Rick, the radical refrigerator repairman, a full two years ahead of his time. Perhaps not so radical anymore?

I've already said too much.  Happy Holidays everyone!

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.

grrgoyl: (amelie dog)
Well hi, LJ. Bet you've forgotten about me. I'm around, just not much happening.

Unless you count two of Nancy's dogs going missing from her yard. Tery saw the news on Facebook. I would have been content to pretend I didn't know (don't judge me; let me remind you of a few posts back where I showed how much of a shit she gives about my life), but then Tery stupidly had to go leave her a comment. Nancy assumed someone had stolen them and "didn't expect to ever see them again." Oh, drama. Like anyone wants your slobbering, poorly trained mutts (we reasoned Jasmine, the service dog, wasn't one of them; she's so fat and lazy it's a chore to get her to move when you WANT her to).

After a day I emailed my mother because Tery was demanding more details. Evidently the gate was left open, probably by the pesky gas man who has to come on the property to read the meter and who goes way back with a history of adversity with the dogs (Nancy's reluctance to limit her dogs' freedom extends even to controlling them enough to ensure the safety of utility servicemen). They had been spotted by acquaintances in the vicinity, putting to rest the stolen mutt theory.

The day after, presumably while putting up flyers at the local pound, Nancy and mom adopted two more puppies. Her beloved girls are gone three days and she's already replacing them! As Tery put it, "I've looked for a pair of slippers longer." (Later on the phone Nancy justified this impulse buy by insisting that losing the other two was "creating a serious detriment in Jasmine's training" because she was moping so much. I didn't ask what the plan was going to be if and when Jasmine (the service dog) goes to an owner who doesn't own other dogs.)

The day after THAT Elise the schnauzer turned up at a different pound. She was microchipped so was easily traced, and was home within four hours. Nancy wrote on Facebook, "Praise the lord, one of my girls is home!" She's gotten very religious lately, though between you and me and Tery, we think if Jesus's niece came to visit he'd be a smidge more gracious about it. In fact, when I called Amy with the original news of the dogs' loss, her first speculation was maybe this was karma's way of punishing Nancy for her abominable treatment of our niece (though if it was karma, this was a very shortlived lesson indeed). Doubt if Nancy would ever see it that way. The lord is only at work when good things happen.

So as of this writing Morgan (the Newfoundland mix with the incredibly annoying licking addiction) is still missing. But since Nancy has two new puppies, I doubt she'll be missed for long. Oh, and the silver lining of all this is we never received Christmas presents from her (see past Xmas posts on why this is a very, very good thing).

~*~

So enough blabbity de blah. I leave you with some pictures (plus backstories).

Wheel truing becomes necessary when the wheel spokes become loose and disrupt the delicate balance of push and pull performed by each and every spoke, causing the wheel to wobble. This is the problem I thought I had after changing a tire on a recent ride (where I discovered that, as miserable as biking in 40-degree weather is, not half the pain of changing a tire when you have to take your gloves off to do it and can't feel your fingers after two minutes). My front tire was wobbling something fierce. I decided maybe I could dip my toe in the waters of wheel truing, which seems like a useful thing to know how to do when you're as cuckoo for bike riding as I am.

A truing stand can cost upwards of $200+, not an investment I'm prepared for at the mo'. It would be nice to have because it has calipers you can hold up to the wheel to see exactly where the wobble is, and apart from that I have no idea what it is about it that justifies that enormous price tag. I settled instead for an $8 spoke wrench and the biggest stationary object I could find in our house, a very large gargoyle.


This is how they trued wheels in medieval times


P.S.: Turns out my rim was already true. The problem was my worn-out old tire didn't have the bead seated evenly all the way around. Has since been fixed (by me). Also good to know!

This photo needs no explanation, other than I think it would make a lovely book or album jacket:


We literally let our cats walk all over us. I adore the look of utter resignation


Lastly, this is Tery's big big present this year (DON'T YOU DARE TELL). She wanted the Dorothy Hamill diamond encrusted heart pendant, but since that cost $1800 on the first site I found, she's getting this instead:



I think it's perfect. It represents the huge steps she's made in her life, her fight against alcoholism, her newfound spirituality, and her determination to be a triathlete and next year (hopefully) a marathon runner.

Merry Christmas (or whatever you celebrate) everyone!
grrgoyl: (Dr. Horrible)
Christmas (and at this point New Year's) is over for another year. Whereas last year we celebrated two days early, this year we did it two days late, which was again rather surreal but ended up working out well when one of Tery's last minute presents for me arrived in the mail Saturday. My scrooge of an employer not only made me work my regular shift (which I expected), they asked for overtime! Which I worked since it was just another Friday for me. Consequently when they extended the request to Sunday, I felt free to ignore that one. Let all the people with families who slacked off Friday take care of that.

ADDENDUM: Today, Jan 2, the backlog is finally gone and work is scarce. This is the time all the people who said "screw work, it's the holidays" are looking around saying "where'd all the work go?" Ah, revenge is sweet.

I got a good haul, again mostly thanks to Tery. My family? Oh no. They kept up the long tradition of ignoring my wish list in favor of kitschy crafty shit that invariably goes to my local Goodwill. Except this year instead of crap from the streets of Mexico it was crap from the streets of Hawaii, where my older sister went to work for a few weeks. It was also wrapped in Hawaiian newspapers, so either she went that extra length to give it an authentic, local flavor or it was literally bought, wrapped and mailed from a Hawaiian convenience store.

Do I sound bitter? Only because I go to such pains to get as much as I can afford on their wish lists. Every year I'm driven by some bizarre sense of guilt, and every year Tery tries to remind me how upset their lack of reciprocation made me the year before, and the year before that, and the year before that. Hell, right up until the moment I landed in the ER up to my eyeballs in medical bills I was still planning to send an Omaha steak package on Christmas day.

None of this applies to my mom. She got me one thing off my list, which is all I've ever said: I would be happier with one thing I asked for than ten things I didn't (specifically, ten things that seem to have been chosen for a Yankee swap party, not hand selected with me in mind).

My mom got me a Wii game, "Need for Speed II: Nitro!" You street race bad-ass muscle cars and try to keep the cops off your back. Kind of like "Grand Theft Auto" without killing prostitutes. I guess my Need for Speed wasn't that great initially, because I spent every race consistently in last place. Cracking open the instruction book to see what I was doing wrong, it suggested drafting other cars for style points. "There are other cars?" I thought, because I'd never seen a single one. Tery sat and watched and chuckled and called me "granny," all the while refusing to pick up a controller herself.

Then I worked out how to start the race without stalling out and the fine art of "drifting" (tearing around corners by braking while accelerating and steering hard in the opposite direction), and before long I was scraping along walls and slamming cops out of my way. Oh, it's great fun.

While customizing my car (in the game) I blew my nose (in real life) and got a nosebleed (the game is JUST THAT intense) and was trying to clean up. All Tery heard was a bunch of snorting noises from upstairs and asked, "Did the game come with a dime bag of cocaine?" She's so funny.

Just as fun though a bit tamer and a lot sillier (and not so many cops) is "MarioKart," which Tery gave me. Also "Band Hero," which contains a dismaying number of Taylor Swift songs but is still more fun than "Rock Band: Beatles."

Also the first two Harry Potter Ultimate Edition Blu-rays which are AWESOME and I'm not wasting a cent on any more of the regular versions (also have to sell my existing ones just to fit these two on the shelf). The packaging is a bit deceptive, the same height as standard DVDs, and I'll admit I had a bit of stress thinking she had tried to save money with those instead of the Blu-ray, and how was I going to feign happiness. I know, evidently Christmas is all about me, me, me, me, me.

Between the Harry Potters and the Wii games, Tery said it was like shopping for her 15-year-old son.

Let's see: Boondock Saints unrated DVD. The AFI CD "Crash Love." "Pushing Daisies" Season 2 Blu-ray. And my big big present: one free visit to this place -- indoor skydiving! Looks very, very fun, and we're both glad it wasn't my heart failing that weekend.

She wasn't the only one who did good: [livejournal.com profile] meamjeffyjeff got me the "Watchmen" and "V for Vendetta" graphic novels, to round out my education. There's no promise of hot gay sex anywhere in them, but I'm giving them a look anyway.

Unfortunately my loved ones have yet to fulfill my dearest Christmas wish, that someone toss a steak laced with antifreeze onto Tracey's porch for her dogs. And I mean that with the utmost sincerity.

~*~
Speaking of "that weekend" (dun dun DUN), hopefully some of you care enough to wonder maybe how I'm getting on.

Since gallstones are exacerbated by fatty foods, I almost immediately set about cutting as much fat from my diet as I could -- not a happy activity, but then neither was grabbing my chest and swimming through fever, chills and nausea. One of Tery's techs actually had the surgery at age 20 and recommended a daily limit of 30 grams.

If you read the sides of most food products, the first thing you notice is that 30 grams is not a lot and can easily be consumed very quickly if you aren't paying attention (which I never have before now). Like, two teaspoons of peanut butter is 16, and that's half your allowance gone! The second thing you notice is that even foods that claim to be low fat only get that way because the serving size is about one-quarter what I was eating.

Let me tell you, when you only eat one piece of chocolate a week (I can't possibly give it up entirely), it's the best damn tasting chocolate you've had in your whole life. Of course, I'm not wasting that one moment of indulgence on cheap Hershey's products: Tery got me two bags of Lindor for stocking stuffers that at this rate will last until my birthday.

So, portion control. Portion control and no more 2% milk (which is pretty much my only reason for living. Well, that and now my Need for Speed!) I've struck on a satisfactory substitute in mixing Silk with nonfat milk. Silk straight up is too thick and nonfat too watery. Plus cutting the Silk with very cheap nonfat is more economical too. I also only have it with breakfast, I drink water the rest of the day. Never has a milk product survived so long in our fridge.

It's really not so terrible, except I'm STARVING all the time. Lean Cuisine frozen meals are quite tasty, I just feel like I need to eat two to get a complete serving. My stomach is slowly shrinking, but I swear I can feel it every hour of the day. Only just in the last 48 hours have I stopped feeling ravenous from the minute I wake up to the moment I fall asleep.

But the good news is not a lick of pain either. For all I know I could eat more than 30 grams, or even go back to regular milk, but my discharge instuctions forbid it and I always feel a wave of unsympathy when I type a report of a patient pigheadedly noncompliant with recommendations. I've got this Vicodin prescription sitting in my medicine cabinet, which MyFriendDeb joked I should try selling on the black market to pay for my ambulance ride.

I visited the internist this past Monday, a jovial Nigerian guy named Dr. Obinnah -- well, I suppose I'd be jovial too if I got paid $120 for less than 30 minutes of my time, which is what he got from insurance-less me. He at least seemed a bit more sympathetic to my plight, and joked, "Maybe for you Obama's plan will come through, yes?"

He said I didn't need surgery, could probably manage through diet (which was good news apart from the wanting to eat the waiting room furniture). He also said I needed to exercise, which was a bit of a kick in the teeth after going to the gym three times a week for nine months. He was probably using the BMI scale (Body Mass Index) which, stupidly in my opinion, only considers height and weight and no concession made for muscle content. The BMI classifies me as "obese" which I absolutely am not. In fact I think I look pretty good as long as I keep my clothes on. On the bright side cutting all this fat out of my diet should start producing some real results.

He determined all this from talking to me and poking at my abdomen. Maybe the easiest 120 bucks ever.

Not out of the woods yet: my liver numbers are elevated, which could mean either inflammation from the gallstones or hepatitis. Fingers crossed for the first. Back in a month to recheck. (He asked me if I was SURE I didn't drink. Well, unless I drink SO MUCH that I completely black out any memory of it...which, sadly given the state of my memory on a good day, isn't as wackadoo as it sounds...)

So I broke down and got insurance. Truthfully, for all my bitching the primary reason I didn't have it before was because I think the insurance companies are a bunch of greedy crooks that are more interested in increasing their profit margin than taking care of their clients. But I'm only basing this on letters I type for doctors begging them to reconsider denying a patient's (seemingly perfectly valid) claim. My one consolation was I wasn't giving my money to those vultures. Maybe my employer's insurance is one of the good guys. We'll see. With the very real possibility of surgery looming for me, I guess I can't afford the luxury of principles anymore.

~*~

So, 2009 in review:

This was the year of the Blu-ray.
It was also the year of the Wii.
Tery bought a new car.
She also got a DUI and lost her license.
We both got gym memberships and radical lifestyle changes.
My niece Jane was born.
Our cat Alsatia died at 17 years old.
We adopted cat Logan (status still pending -- he attacked the bird twice this weekend and Frances is still very much on the fence about his residency)
Ferret Washburn had $1500 surgery for an obstruction.
I bought a new computer I can't use (oh yeah, still gotta tell you guys about that)
I went to the ER with gallstones.
I was forced to abandon my principles.

Bring it on, 2010.
grrgoyl: (AD Chicken Dances)
Christmas shopping so far this year is turning into quite the nightmare.

First I looked over my sister Nancy's Amazon wishlist, full of lots of $40-$50 sewing items, and a $300 Amazon Kindle. Yeah, that's not happening. So I thought I'd surprise her with something not on her list, that I was sure she'd love anyway -- Wall-E on DVD. My sister is a child at heart like me, has even been known to buy Happy Meals for the sake of movie tie-ins. I emailed my mother in advance asking if she knew Nancy's feelings on the movie. "I'm sure she'll love it" she responded.

I ordered it straightaway. The next morning I opened an email from my mother saying that Nancy had walked through the door last night and announced that she had just bought Wall-E. Grrrrr. She evidently is not living under the same self-buying moratorium Tery and I have imposed in our house. I asked my mom, "Would you like a copy of Wall-E?" She said yes. I said, "Great. Try to act surprised."

However, she will be surprised since I'm returning it to Amazon. For the past three years my mother's wishlist has contained the same two lonely, and currently unavailable, items, a set of mixing bowls and a solar-powered car window fan. This year I decided to make half of her dreams come true and found an equivalent car fan on eBay. "She'll never expect this!" I thought gleefully. True dat, as I discovered yesterday either my mother creates new wishlists and then forgets about them every few years, or there really are five different Marjorie Adamcewiczs on Amazon. Her CURRENT list is made up of almost every Cesar "The Dog Whisperer" Millan product known to man, not a bowl or car fan to be seen. Thus Wall-E is going back for a refund, cuz my paychecks aren't getting any bigger (see previous post), and it's not the 3-disc edition I yearn for.

But all this is nothing to the horror show that is one of Tery's gifts. She asked for a new iron, an iron that must be damn special because Amazon was selling it for close to 80 bucks. Always cutting corners trying to save a few dollars, I went to eBay instead. I got in on a "new" one starting at $9.99. My maximum bid matched what I would have paid at Amazon, thinking winning it for anything less would be a coup.

Sadly, there was no coup, I got into a bidding war, and ended up paying almost my maximum. Fine, still $10 less than Amazon.

The item arrived via DHL, a company I hate so much I had actually rejoiced when I heard about their demise. You can imagine my dismay at this evidence that those rumors were unfounded. It was shipped in a beat-up old shoe box. The manufacturer's box had obviously been opened, but worst of all the entire thing, inside and out, reeked of a foul, pervasive, clinging perfume worn by a ten-dollar whore about 20 years past her prime. Oh my GOD what a stench.

Of course I emailed the seller immediately with my complaint. They responded the box had "only been opened to check the contents" (why would you need to check the contents on a manufacturer's sealed box??) and they didn't remember any smell. Well then, I guess it must have been dunked in the perfume vat at DHL's warehouse, the one they'll never admit to having. However, the seller "regretted my inconvenience" and what could they do to make me happy?

Meanwhile, back at Amazon the price had dropped 20 bucks overnight. GodDAMMMIT. So I came back to the seller with a link to Amazon, not specifying a refund amount but implying a partial one would be a good start. But apparently their offer to make it up to me didn't extend as far as actual monetary compensation. Though I don't know of any dissatisfied customer being appeased with only kind words and feigned concern.

Yep, they stopped answering my emails, obviously hoping to walk away from this with just a negative feedback. I'm filing a dispute with PayPal for intentionally misrepresenting the condition of the item. I'm only asking for $10, because it's really more about the principle than the actual money for me (plus I noticed a negative feedback rating buried back in his shady past complaining they had returned the item and received no refund. THAT would be even worse than dealing with the stink). I don't think $10 is unreasonable, and I just want to prevent this guy from getting off scot-free.

Just in case nothing comes of it, I've removed the iron from the box (saving the box for evidence. If nothing else, it will serve as an amusing illustration when I tell Tery this tale on Christmas Day. Of course, if I ever try to sell my car I might be accused of stuffing a dead hooker in the trunk). I tried powering it on and ironing something to see if there are any odor-related consequences. Doesn't seem to be, knock on wood. MyFriendDeb has generously offered the use of her balcony for a full airing as a last resort.

Don't ask when I'm going to learn my lesson and stop trying to save a few bucks. 'Ain't never going to happen.

My little sister is having still worse luck. She ordered a gift for her new boyfriend, again from eBay, and wondered why the heck it hadn't come yet. Then she was walking with him down the street when five doors down, purely by chance, she noticed an empty box with her address on it among the garbage bags. Either the post office had delivered it to the wrong address, or someone stole it off her porch. Either way, the scumbag opened it and kept the gift. Without knowing who took it, she's left to stew impotently, furiously wishing the worst possible karma on the asswipe responsible -- which isn't terribly satisfying, as I can attest to. She promised me she'd go to the post office today and raise some hell, because I think they bear a large portion of the blame.

Heads up, people. Christmas this year has been cursed. I blame Twilight.

UPDATE!: She went to the post office, and as expected got a whole lot of "What do you want us to do about it?" She was on the verge of filing her own PayPal dispute against the seller, a decision she wasn't at all happy with since she knew he had delivered faithfully, when she called me for advice. Since the seller has a second auction listed for the same item, I suggested she tell him what happened and try to negotiate a bargain on the second one. She'd get her gift without spending twice as much, he'd unload the item (sometimes a reduced price is better than nothing), win-win. She loved this idea. Why can't my own problems be so easily solved?

~*~

This past weekend I had a full house, as to be expected on a holiday weekend. People love their pets, until they have a house full of guests. Among them was my boy Beowulf, who if you'll remember had a grand old time on his last stay the night I decided to let him run around the place. He recognized me when I walked in, and I think remembered what I did, because the whole time I was walking everyone else he was just bouncing up and down, chomping at the bit to get out. He had to wait even longer because I was asked to give another dog a bath in preparation to go home the next day (went better than expected. As Tery assured me, the dog was so terrified at the strangeness of standing in a tub being sprayed down that she didn't move a muscle. It was kind of fun).

I finished with her and out Beowulf came. He immediately ran upstairs, the majority of his territory he claims, which is just fine by me; an intruder would probably have to get in up there. I would just like to see the look on their face when they spotted Beowulf galloping down the hallway at full speed towards them.

I also had Honus the Asshole Beagle of Death, who has settled down amazingly well since the family adopted Travis. But Honus didn't care for Beowulf's preferential treatment, oh, not one little bit. He howled and barked and yapped up a storm. Sorry, Honus. Beowulf is my favorite. Maybe if you were my favorite....but no. If there was some bizarre cataclysmic event that wiped out every other dog on the planet except you, Honus, you STILL wouldn't be my favorite. And even if I had an inoperable brain tumor and decided you were, I hopefully wouldn't forget the last time I gave you free run as a desperate attempt to get you to stop barking THE ENTIRE NIGHT, and you completely trashed the place. No, Honus, sorry. Not again in this lifetime.

Beowulf spent a few happy hours walking his perimeter -- around the top floor, sit by the front door for awhile, then back down to check on me. It was all well and good until I finished my work and lay down for a quick nap. Then his circuit included trotting over to my cot and thoroughly washing my face. On every single pass. Ewww. Meant no open-mouth sleeping, but I tolerated it because it was the most affection he'd ever shown me, and I don't much fancy the idea of saying no when such a large beast has his jaws exactly at face level.

By morning he was literally yawning, could hardly keep his eyes open (I exhorted him multiple times to relax and sleep next to me, but he would have none of it. Not while there was a building to be guarded. Tery's employees should have half the dedication). Tery says the day shift who came in after me remarked about how calm and well behaved he was. Yep, just have me be Beowulf's personal handler. That would be great.


My happy boy


Some more pictures: I found this symbol drawn on every available surface last weekend. I deduced it was Twilight-related.


Where are the fundamentalists who thought Harry Potter was satanic? Too busy getting gay marriage banned, I guess


My Navi Navi, licking her lips and Lomo-fied:



Unrelated, here's another gay ferret boy pic, because I can't get enough of them:



~*~

Finally a movie rec: Right at your Door. A terrorist attack hits LA, and we're trapped in a house with a guy who knows less than us, cuz he didn't read the EW review. ::spoilers? Yep, got those. In spades:: )

Scary? Oh yeah, it plays just right on all the new fears of the 21st century. Terrorist attack, government figures who are even scarier than Muslims, biological warfare on American soil, the media lying to the public -- this movie has it all. Kind of a downer of an ending, which is what I liked most about it. Rent it now.
grrgoyl: (Office Poop)
Last entry of the year! (At the risk of building up undue excitement around it....) Don't worry, won't be one of those drab "What I accomplished/learned this year," just a plain old update, cuz that's how I roll.

Now we can afford to pay our electric bill


You'll be happy to hear Tery took first place in the lighting contest handily, despite an eleventh hour freak-out when she noticed her latest addition, a strand of LED lights, was only half lit (chintzy environmentally friendly lights). Second went to, of all people, Tracey the Crankwhore, whose display amusingly included those electric deer that people scatter on their front lawns -- however, having only a tiny balcony, she positioned them instead with their heads jutting over the side in an unconscious (?) imitation of the way her dogs glower down, waiting for passing neighbors to bark at. At first we were pleased that she was participating and acting like she wanted to belong to the community, until we noticed she had taken it down again after a mere three nights of operation, seeming to suggest all she cared about was the prize money. This would have made it a very bitter pill to swallow had she beaten us.

~*~

Can't keep a Guitar Hero down


In TV news, when the new Aquos arrived, the old 27" Sony had gone upstairs, a process so arduous and injurious (to the appliance as well as to yours truly) that it was clear it would only be going back downstairs feet first, so to speak; this TV weighs probably 100 pounds. Lacking a better option, I had it balanced precariously on a sturdy metal stool temporarily. Temporarily was becoming permanently until I hooked up an old DVD player to it, and then the new Playstation (for Guitar Heroics while Tery was watching football). Suddenly we had massive cable clutter and so a proper stand was in order.

I risked a retail environment on the day after Christmas. I agonized a good 30 minutes in the Target aisle between a $50 ugly silver one that might tolerate the weight, and a $70 black one that certainly would but was kind of enormous. I opted for the cheaper and prayed it wouldn't be instantly crushed. I got it home, got it built, then the moment of truth. I crouched over the set to make the transfer, shifted it just an inch in the wrong direction.....and the stool literally PUNCHED through the bottom of it. I staggered and set it on the floor on its side (in what was more a controlled fall than a deliberate action) which put a huge crack in the side of the casing.

God DAMMIT. The entire bottom of the set had crumbled away, exposing the motherboard inside. The front buttons had been shoved backward so they were no longer flush with the panel. I thought I had killed it for sure, after investing all this time and money in it. I plugged it in gingerly (sparks flew), and it took a good 5 minutes, but the damn thing powered on. Sony gets my ringing endorsement! But, I wasn't at all comfortable using a TV with so much exposed wiring that sparked every single time it was plugged in.

At first I turned to Craigslist, but after three hopeful inquiries went ignored, I asked myself why I wanted to be saddled with another heavy old relic and instead went to Amazon, where I found a lovely 19" Philips LCD instead (Christmas bonus money from the hospital -- we won a sweepstakes from the Home Again pet microchip company, awarded $250 each on Amazon). It'll look silly on this stand built to hold a 32", but I predict it will also look fantastic in our tiny loft.

~*~

I fought the law and I won


The new TV-buying quest almost ended prematurely, however, when I received a Toll Violation Penalty Assessment. Back when we bought our Aquos, when we had left one Best Buy in disgust for another, the most direct route between them was via Colorado's E-470, an isolated toll road that I never, ever take because it goes around the outskirts of the city and so is normally not very useful. In this case it most definitely would help though, so we stopped at a gas station specifically to get change for the toll. I got on the highway, paid my $1.75 and we were on our merry way. We passed a toll plaza just a few miles short of our destination, way off down the side of a hill on an exit. "Do we need to stop there?" Tery asked as we flew past. "No, I paid the toll. Why would we have to stop again?"

Well. It turns out, whereas other sensible states stretch their toll plazas across the entire highway and require you to stop once to get a ticket stub, and once to pay it at the other end depending on your distance, backwoods Colorado has their plazas stuck way off to the side to leave the main road free for EXpressToll members with transponders to commute unfettered. Nowhere is there a sign telling you to stop (that we saw), and there are no less than 6 of these "mandatory" exits along the entire route. Not terribly convenient for the casual user.

Hence my penalty assessment, to the tune of $78. I considered my options. As loathe as I was to miss a day of work for a hearing, I also felt it was outrageous to pay such a high price for what was an honest mistake. Then I read the fine print, which stated that "not intending to miss the payment or go through the EXpressToll lane" wasn't considered a legal defense. So much for my metaphorical leg.

I called the next morning, determined to weep my way out of it. I got a very pleasant Mexican lady who asked for my information. Before I could muster my first tear, however, she announced, "What I can do for you is waive the fee, since it is your first time and you did not know." She went on to explain to me about the 6 stops and the correct process for using the road. I explained I was from New England where things are different. "I know!" she commiserated. "In Mexico, the booth goes across the WHOLE ROAD so you HAVE to stop." THANK YOU. Even Mexico, with all the problems plaguing it, knows how to set up toll booths.

I paid my $8.75 court fee gladly, thanked her profusely, even said "God bless you!" (what she doesn't know about my agnosticism won't hurt her). Tery and I agreed that she had the best job in the world, handing out "get out of jail free" cards all day to surprised, grateful people. Tery thought maybe she was only allowed to give out four a day, so I was lucky I called early. At any rate, my two points are these: A) If you're receiving so many appeals that the waiver is given out with so little fuss, maybe perhaps you need to change the system so people aren't fined in the first place, and B) if it's too much hassle rebuilding the booths, make the fine more reasonable, say $25. The offense isn't vehicular manslaughter, for heaven's sake. Fewer people would bother to contest it, you'd make more money, win-win.

That is all for this year. Happy New Year, every one!
grrgoyl: (Default)
Here's an update on Baby and his crazy mom, which I had really hoped wouldn't be necessary once the cat was laid to rest. She called me back last night around 8:00. I let it go to voicemail, and good thing. "Hi Elaine, this is Ellen. My cat is Baby, you took care of him this past weekend" she began, as if I need clarification of which crazy pet owner is calling me today. From there she became progressively weepier and more irrational, saying she was wracked with guilt because she had bought something called a "scat mat" designed to deliver a small electric shock to keep pets off the furniture. She was convinced this fried Baby's kidneys. I don't know anything about the medical consequences of shocking your pet, I just couldn't get past the fact that her beloved cat, her Baby who she swaddles and cuddles and treats exactly like "her baby," wasn't allowed on the sofa. As my sister said, Baby didn't die of kidney disease, he died of mixed messages.

I feel bad ignoring the woman in her pain, but I'm really not trained as a grief counselor. I think not answering the call was the best thing I could do for both of us, as I really wouldn't know what to say to make her feel any better. It's one thing if we had a longstanding relationship -- there are a lot of elderly clients who have been bringing their pets to the hospital for years and Tery has an established relationship with. She even sometimes picks up the pet for appointments because the owner isn't mobile enough. But I don't know this woman from Adam. If she wants some kind of reassurance that she didn't kill her cat, I really think that's a discussion for a doctor and not a weekend worker who sweeps kennels and occasionally gives injections. I'll gladly sign the condolence card, but these phone calls on my days off have got to stop.

Hopefully I'm done.


~*~

Tery's Christmas balcony display is complete (unless she comes home tonight with more stuff, which is entirely possible). You know that house on the block that sets their front yard ablaze every year with lights? The one that makes you slow down in utter disbelief? In our neighborhood, that house is OURS.

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Victory for the home team!!


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Prettier but blurrier without flash. Giddy Giddy really didn't have that much to do with it.


She's insane. Note the large disco ball thing smack in the center of the ceiling, the coup de grace in my opinion. She's especially fond of the huge bulbs near the bottom. Our balcony will be burned onto our neighbors' retinas for months to come.

In other Christmas photos, here is Kitten Mitten With Whom I'm Smitten (who, it should be noted, has free run of all our furniture) posing with the tree:

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I tried a version with red eye removal, but I think you'll agree she looks ready to tear my throat out at any second:

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~*~

Finally, going here will take you to an assortment of clips from Sweeney Todd (many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] kavieshana and [livejournal.com profile] minikitkatgirl!). "Behind the Scenes Footage Part 2" has the much anticipated Alan/Johnny duet. "You Gandered at my Ward" literally gave me shortness of breath (MyFriendDeb's reaction was similar: "I'd gander at his ward in a minute if he'd talk to me like that"). Once I finished hyperventilating I told Tery about them. Her response was "I don't think Alan Rickman is even good-looking, let alone hot." *cries* How cruel the Fates are to me. Her title as a joy-sucking robot still stands.
grrgoyl: (Shaun)
I wasn't really planning to see Beowulf, mostly because I kept forgetting the screenplay was by Neil Gaiman. As an English major I had taken an entire college course devoted solely to the study of the ancient poem, of which I remember not word one, so I hardly felt any special affinity for it. However, never underestimate the draw of Angelina Jolie's boobies well-done 3D (and IMAX) for me.

(Actually that boobie bit is such a joke to me. Someone at IMDb posted the anxious, hopeful query, "Do you actually see Angelina's boobs?" Dearheart, if you're relying on CGI nudity to get your jollies, save your money and buy some titty magazines. Honestly.)

Before I discuss Beowulf the movie, I must discuss Beowulf the audience. I was the first to enter the theater, and chose a seat in the very back row high at the top. Because I just know it could be me and one other person, and that person would sit behind me and kick me through the entire film.

Next came a young guy, dressed like a gangsta but before we judge too hastily, he took his seat and whipped out a book -- you know, those paper-filled thingies with words that most kids don't touch outside of a classroom? I so would've dated him in school (but would make him lose the ridiculous skateboard cap).

After him came a succession of men, all middle-aged, some alone. Down near the middle of the theater, a pair of burly, silver-haired biker dudes were preparing to take their seats. I watched with great interest, ever since [livejournal.com profile] dopshoppe pointed out to me how some straight men put an empty seat between them, lest a stray brush of shoulder be misconstrued as an offer of oral sex. I felt a warm glow of pleasure when they sat arm to arm. I felt it blossom larger when I noticed them sharing a tub of popcorn. And I flat out fell in love with them when I noticed them sharing a soda (separate straws though). Movie food is damn expensive and if I were a guy, I would have no problem shoving social mores aside to save $7. And nor did they. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Which is not to say all my fellow moviegoers were perfect little microcosms of an ideal audience. Minutes before the film started, two mooks sat directly in front of me (empty seat between them), one of whose big fat head edged up just enough into my line of vision to make me move (after sitting in that seat for 30 minutes. Bitch). Minutes after the film started, another guy sat a little farther down, set up a feeding trough and proceeded to snarfle, snort and chomp loudly through the entire movie, perhaps pausing when Angelina's boobies made their appearance. I SO wanted to say something after the first hour, but other people were sitting much closer; surely THEY would speak up? Or not. Pussies.

::Turns out Mr. Piggy Pig Pig was in good company:: )

I'm going to stop right here because I'm telling the whole damn movie, which was not my intention. Since I have barely no memory of the poem, I can't tell you how much liberty is taken in this translation. I DO know that it was all Gaiman to make Grendel's mother's feet the shape of stiletto heels, I'm pretty sure those hadn't been invented in the fifth century. It was a nice touch. The story is engaging, with a compelling mixture of history and mythology as only Neil can do. The action is gripping; it's very easy to forget the movie is animated, the CGI is done so well. As always, if you have the opportunity to see it in 3D, I highly recommend it. 4.5 out of 5

Movies I fucking can't wait to see: I Am Legend (IMAX, shyeah baby) and of course Sweeney Todd (not in IMAX, dammit).

Then I came home to #6 in the Horrorfest series, Wicked Little Things. ::Oy vey:: )

Dismally bad. Incredibly stupid and pointless. 0.5 out of 5 Come on, "8 Films To Die For" -- IS THIS THE BEST YOU GOT????

~*~

Christmas. Season of Lies and Deceit. Already the stressful challenge has begun of not blurting out events of my day that might give away Tery's gifts.

When she got back from visiting her gay brother in New York, all she could rave about was this fancy Rabbit wine opener he had. I bought one from eBay for her, then it occurred to me how little fun it would be without something to use it on on Christmas Day. I emailed her brother for suggestions, since I knew very little about her taste in wine. He recommended two brands that were sure things.

All unknowing, I went across the street to our local liquor store to pick up a bottle. I balked slightly when I realized there were about six aisles of wine. I made an effort to look for the bottles on my own, but I felt about as out of place as a guy in Victoria's Secret. I felt my floundering made it obvious that I'd never bought a bottle of wine in my life, that I couldn't tell wine from champagne if I had a gun pointed at my head.

I asked the cashier for help. He couldn't find Jason's suggestions either, which gave me small comfort. I called Tabby hoping she'd know what Tery liked; she couldn't help ("Real alcoholics don't drink wine"). Friends Chris and Liana were similarly stumped, and I took bigger comfort in the fact that even her drinking buddies had no clue. Chris did at least steer me towards a cabernet, and from there I took the cashier's recommendation and bought a brand called "Insatiable" (I don't know about wine, but I am easily impressed if the label is cool enough).

It'll have to do. I've already spent X-hundred dollars on her for Christmas with the TV. I'm not going crazy on the wine too.
grrgoyl: (ferrets are love)
Christmas was a smashing success this year for us. In spite of the Great Blizzard, we had a really fantastic day, materialistically speaking. Here's a list of my booty, cut because I'm aware that lists aren't very interesting to read (though there is some commentary that's not to be missed):

::You know that we are living in a material world:: )

But of course only half the season is about receiving. I did more than my share of giving as well.

::The luscious Tery got:: )

Before you think me a capitalistic pig, keep in mind that last year we were so poor that Christmas was spent with some crusts of stale bread, a bottle of lukewarm water and a flickering candle stub, and we considered ourselves lucky.

But, holidays wouldn't be holidays without family. My older sister called from California and did her usual talking AT me for a solid hour. The problem is her stories blend so seamlessly into each other (by dint of never taking a breath, not because of skillful segues or anything) that there's no contributing anything of your own until the subject has long been abandoned. Not for lack of trying -- at one point I started to tell the tale of the bloodied hospital, but was interrupted so many times that Tery walked by and said exasperatedly, "It's YOUR story!!!!" as my end of the conversation was reduced to, "So I unlocked the front door and....uh-huh.....oh....right.....really?"

Yep, hectic weekends at the kennel, record-breaking snowfall and even Polo's death registered barely a blip on her radar screen. Not compared to story after story about her exciting life inventorying Home Depot. The good news is because of her, my sister Amy and I are hell-bent against turning into her and have become twice as thoughtful listeners to compensate. The other good news is her birthday is New Year's Day, so one phone call around this time of year covers two occasions. Am I a bad person to think this way?

MyFriendDeb came over for dinner, and we were later joined by Ryan and we all watched Little Miss Sunshine. The boys got their Christmas baths, so when Xandir emerged, he got his picture taken with everyone.

Deb and XandirBathtub BoyzRyan and Xandir
For being a shy boy, that Xandir does get around.


Happy New Year everyone!

Edit: Guess what? It's snowing again! Why does God hate Denver so?
grrgoyl: (mars who I am)
If there's one thing I hate about Christmas, it's the subterfuge required to keep presents a surprise until the magical day. The deception, the duplicity... It's wholly against my nature. At least 20 times a day I have to stop myself from telling Tery a story that might inadvertently reveal something I bought for her. I crack so easily under pressure. We tell each other where our stuff is hidden so we don't stumble across it accidentally. "Don't look too closely in the upstairs closet," I told her. She told me my gifts are all cleverly hidden on various store shelves and in shipping warehouses.

The need for secrecy has had me hanging by a thread in the case of one of her gifts, her own Motorola Razr. Back when T-Mobile was offering the upgrade for only $30, she was all, "No, I've just gotten used to my old phone. Why do I need a new one?" Now that the promotion has been upped to $50, she's noticed that her ghetto Nokia is too old for T-Mobile to offer downloads, and that the Razr has a kick-ass animated emoticon system that's not compatible with the Nokia. Suddenly, #2 on her wishlist is "Razor phone." *rolls eyes*

First I tried ordering it by calling T-Mobile. They said I couldn't have the upgrade until we paid off some of the overdue bill. Great. How could I pay the phone bill (which she normally does) without her becoming suspicious? My way around this was to offer to pay what I actually owed her already for my phone. Score! But the T-Mobile operator had mentioned that I could get the new phone at any local dealer, and that was more appealing to me than the further stress of hiding a visit from FedEx from her.

That night I ventured out in 8-degree weather and the first official snowstorm of the season to a T-Mobile kiosk. The salesman was super friendly, however, the problem was I wasn't on the account and could not authorize the contract extension necessary to qualify for the rebate. This was of mild annoyance because I specifically remember being put on the account when I needed warranty service on my phone a few months ago; guess it just didn't take. He apologized profusely even though I was very understanding. I thought for a minute, and was struck with inspiration. I had a cell phone on me. I stood on the icy sidewalk and called Tery, asking her to call T-Mobile and add me to the account, praying she couldn't tell I was calling from outside. "Why do they need you on the account just to pay the bill?" she asked. Uh-oh, hadn't thought of that. I said I didn't know, they just did. "I'm driving through 3 inches of snow, I'm not calling T-Mobile now!!" and she hung up. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.....

If I were as smart as I thought I was, I would have just called T-Mobile myself. It's not as if they can distinguish my voice from hers and I know all her personal information. But I wasn't smart and I decided I just had to return the following morning. When Tery got home I had to nag her twice before she made the call. Again I hoped she didn't become suspicious at the sudden urgency to get this done, and every minute the temptation to just blurt out my hidden agenda pressed against my brain relentlessly.

Finally the deed was done. The next morning the minute her car disappeared from the parking lot, I was out the door. I was glad the same salesman was working, but first I had to wait behind this guy who wasn't shopping so much as delaying his return to the cold weather. He paid his bill, then started asking questions about rebate offers and phone features. Even after being told he wasn't eligible for an upgrade, having renewed his contract only a few months ago, he persisted. The salesman was infinitely patient and friendly throughout, while I stood there and gritted my teeth. The customer grasped at thinner and thinner straws until his last question, which was "Why don't the new Motorolas show the date? My old Motorola showed the date." By now I wasn't even trying to be subtle about rolling my eyes back in my head, but the salesman hung in there with a smile. He's a stronger person than I and props are due (I filled out a glowing online comment card about him).

I got my business done, paid the bill and got Tery's phone. DONE. I went home and contemplated deceptive ways of wrapping it so it wasn't obviously a phone, then felt immensely pleased with myself when I thought of sticking it inside an old coffee mug that she never uses.

But the parade of lies never ends. Today she asked me for proof of my payment to send to her hospital headquarters (they reimburse her a certain amount monthly). Gah. While she was in the shower I hurriedly leafed through the paperwork from my transaction. I had a receipt, however it had the address of the kiosk boldly printed across the top and an invitation to fill out a questionnaire on my in-store experience on the bottom. If she barely bought the lie about needing to be on the account to pay it, she ABSOLUTELY wouldn't buy that I left the house to do so. I briefly thought of scanning it into the computer and doctoring it, but this didn't seem like a wise idea for a document that would be sent to corporate. I'll just have to find some way of putting her off until after Christmas, I guess.

I'm simply not cut out for all this sneaking around. I have learned two things, however: Judge Judy is 100% right - If you tell the truth, you never have to worry about keeping your story straight. And, I'm never, ever buying a cell phone as a gift for anyone again.
grrgoyl: (snarry OTP)
Weekend One P.B. (post break-in), and I'm slowly picking up the pieces. I returned to work at the hospital this weekend with a fair amount of confidence, not because I wasn't nervous (although I do refuse to live in fear), but because Tery feels badly enough about me having to replace my window that she's agreed to let me quit if it happens again. Because I hate to admit it, but now that the novelty has worn off of this job, 75% of my motivation for staying is just to make Tery's life easier. Guilt is a powerful tool, and it works both ways. So now I think of it as being one break-in away from leaving this job. If that isn't seeing the cup as half full, I don't know what is.

My new driver's license has arrived just in time for my trip (and I don't look drugged in this one, thankyou), and I've found a new bag that doesn't begin to approach the coolness of the messenger bag I lost, but it will have to do. Everything's coming together nicely *steepling fingers and tapping them thoughtfully*

~*~

It's December 6th and I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping. This is an unprecedented event in my history of Christmas shopping, and it feels pretty damn good. My older sister seems to have been beset with a terminal case of Johnny Depp lust, and I've obliged her with 3 of his movies off her Amazon wishlist. I know I've said it before, but this year I mean it: If she reciprocates with $13 worth of crap off the streets of Mexico™ again, I WILL cut her off this time.

I say "almost done" because I am still in pursuit of the most elusive, but what will be the best ever, gift for Tery. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you....the iKaraoke. A microphone that plugs into your iPod, transmitting any song to your stereo sans vocals, turning anything into a karaoke number. Think me a wee bit presumptuous, giving the gift of an iPod accessory without actually owning an iPod? Don't. If I don't get one as a gift, I'm buying myself another one. Make no mistake -- one way or the other, I WILL have my iPod wrongs redressed and possess once more that which was taken from me (I've got my eye on this aluminum beauty, in case anyone feels really, really sorry for me. No? I HAVE to find more fabulously wealthy friends, dammit).

But the iKaraoke is proving to be, as I've said, elusive. Amazon has it but mysteriously won't ship it until after Christmas (update: today suddenly it's "unavailable"). Apple.com has a similar delay. BestBuy.com says "Coming soon!" and CircuitCity.com tries to tempt me with crappy old school karaoke machines instead. Phone calls to not one but two Apple stores had similar results. I suppose it's too much to ask a store devoted entirely to Apple products to actually carry, you know, Apple products. Am I the only one who thinks they're really missing the boat on the highest selling volume time of the year? Perhaps they think they're so hot that Christmas or no Christmas won't make a difference in their sales. I wish I could be the one to teach them differently, but Tery simply has to have this.

~*~

I'm so full of the Christmas spirit this year it's almost painful. Last year we were too poor to buy each other gifts, so didn't even bother decorating. Immensely depressing. This year we're making up for it. We're even in a balcony light war with Tracey FCW and I couldn't be more pleased. I even said hi to her the other day in passing, in the interest of forging new neighbor relations (probably to [livejournal.com profile] kavieshana's disappointment, sorry). Active meth users don't bother decorating so elaborately for the holidays, do they? I hope it isn't just a cover.

Conversely, the Alcoholic has new neighbors below her, renters judging from their lack of consideration. They pump up the jams so loudly you can hear them through the closed windows. I'll bet Tracey's screen door hanging wide (albeit quietly) open is looking pret-ty good to her right about now. Karma certainly can be an evil bitch, my friends.

~*~

Lastly, after [livejournal.com profile] ms_hecubus' hair-tearing announcement that the Harry Potter DVDs might be re-released with new extras, I Googled "Harry Potter commentary" immediately to see for myself. One of the results didn't promise to answer my questions, but I clicked nevertheless, on a commentary on the Harry Potter mania. It turned out to be an open letter from one of these God freaks denouncing Harry Potter and all the Evil JK Rowling has wrought on the World with her bastard Creation. I'm sure these things are a dime a dozen on the internet, but I've never bothered to read one.

And I regret starting with this One. The Author rants and raves about how the Lord wants Him to spread this Message and how it behooves each one of Us to help Him do so. As far as I can tell, the Message is simply, "Harry Potter is Bad." He doesn't produce one Shred of Evidence to support His rant, not a single quote or example, and in fact left me highly Doubtful that He'd even read the Books at all. He had the nerve to say something to the effect of, "If the Columbine High School killers grew up without Harry Potter, how much worse will the Future be with children that have been Raised on it?" And to compare the supposed literacy benefit to Children reading Hustler magazine. "All sins are Equal in the Eyes of God, so I don't think this is too much of an Exaggeration" he writes. This is perhaps a fair statement to make about the Harry Potter stories that I read, but 10-year-olds? Sir, get a grip.

To this I have the same four words I've always had: Lord. Of. The. Rings. An entire generation grew up reading those books and it didn't bring about the birth of the Antichrist. I also refuse to be told what I can and can't read by someone who uses such random and nonsensical Capitalization in their own writing (demonstrated in the above paragraph. Hella distracting and obnoxious). As for Harry Potter fans' serial killer potential, frankly I worry more about children raised by religious fanatics who don't feel the need to provide valid, logical reasons to hate and fear things indiscriminately.
grrgoyl: (Default)
I spent the better part of my weekend feeding my Snarry hunger. During work I idly bookmark various recs if they look halfway promising, and I finally got time to sit down with some of them and decide yay or nay. But not before spending a good 12 hours or so reformatting and printing out the existing chapters of the Tea Series by Telanu, all 556 pages of it...chuckling and gibbering to myself all the while as I slid a few hundred yards further into madness. I couldn't help it. The story is perfection, perfect enough that I want to read it in bed before going to sleep at night, which is out of the question if it's only on my hard drive.

It's so GOOD to be back in the grip of a full-fledged obsession again.

Tery didn't understand at all. Not only did she snark about the massive amounts of paper I was using (until I pointed out that I bought it), but she was horrified when I chose to compile the pages into a used (but still in almost new condition) work binder with the word "Surgery" on the spine. Tery has this bizarre hangup where she has to buy brand new materials for every project. She'll use five pages in a composition notebook and then discard it, buying a whole new one the next time she needs to write. Her defense is some nonsense about needing a "clean slate" for her creative energy, but if you tear out the used pages, what you have left IS a clean slate and nobody's the wiser (unless you're freakin' Rain Man or something). Such wastefulness (but means plenty of free notebooks for me, so it isn't all bad).

After completing my labor of love (or "my precioussssss" as I refer to it....I know, how original), I was ready to begin navigating the treacherous waters of fanfiction. I've never loved anything enough to really get into the fanfic scene (I dabbled in a bit of Xena slash and even less Buffy/Giles) so there was nothing to prepare me for the very bad writing that is presently consuming oodles and oodles of bandwidth space. This is the problem with starting with such a pinnacle of talent -- it's all downhill from there. I know what you're thinking: sure, it's easy to sit and criticize without ever lifting a finger to try it myself, but that's the bed in which every writer must lie. And there are some truly bad, bad, spectacularly awful stories sitting on the internet, just waiting to suck up gobs of your time that you will never get back. I don't have a lot of free time, so I violently resent these pieces of smeg trying to steal it.

For instance: "At the End of All Things," which has something to do with Harry receiving the magical equivalent of chemotherapy, naturally administered by Snape, though there is no reason given why the school nurse wouldn't be the more obvious choice (other than the fact that she just isn't sexy enough). The author of this piece is clearly in the medical field, as they go into very involved descriptions of the procedure. There is such a thing as TOO involved though, and this certainly falls into that category. Sorry, cancer and chemo treatments really don't light my Christmas tree, if you know what I mean.

Speaking of too involved, I started on another, "Mirror of Maybe," that started out pretty good. Harry is sucked into a mirror where he's trapped for 13 years, coming back to the present within 20 minutes but with the mind of a 28-year-old man stuck in his 15-year-old body. In the future Voldemort has been defeated, leaving Harry a battle-scarred War Mage named "Ash." (Unfortunate choice of names there: Ash Potter??? Pot Ash????) I was willing to overlook all the Terminator overtones, was silently gritting my teeth every time Harry referred to Snape as "Sev" in his mind (arrrrggggghhh), until the author devoted practically an entire chapter to explaining in excruciating detail the complex metaphysical intricacies of a spell Harry uses to disguise himself in the present. I. Don't. CARE. Go back to your damn Dungeon Master's Guide and Evil Dead DVDs and STOP WASTING MY TIME.

I won't touch anything with a rating of mpreg (male pregnancy) with a 10-foot mouse cord. I will cheerfully accept a world of magic and even borderline pedophilia, but men getting pregnant from their gay lovers? This is such an appallingly stupid concept I was hesitant to tell Tery about it, even if it meant proving that plain old Snarry wasn't the most degenerate level of fiction out there.

*sigh* So it's back to wading for me. As a consequence I've gotten quite adept at speed-reading the first chapter and knowing within a few paragraphs if it's what I want. A snap decision, perhaps unfair judgment, but there is simply too much and life is way too short to spend it reading shite when there are real treasures to be found like the Tea Series.

Tery's a good sport though. When she's channel surfing she'll always stop on a Harry Potter special for me (they aren't in short supply these days with GoF opening up). She likes to rub in the fact that Snape barely appears in any of them (much like he barely appears in the movie), but I pointed out he would become much more important in the next two.

"Oh, I heard they weren't making any more," she said offhandedly.

"Did you now?" I humored her.

"Yep. They said 'enough is enough'."

I said it was perfectly understandable that they'd just walk away from the single most lucrative franchise since Star Wars. Quit while they're ahead and all that. I don't envy her. It's got to be hard being one of about 20 people on the planet who don't care about Harry Potter. I imagine them as Death Eaters, meeting in secret, biding their time and waiting for their chance to take over the world again. Not an easy life, to be sure.

Thoroughly unrelated, this morning in an Albertson's inventory they played "Here Comes Santa Claus." Not terribly noteworthy, except there was a line in there that I didn't remember from childhood that seemed very out of place. It was:

"So let's give thanks to the Lord above that Santa Claus comes tonight"

I was raised in a good Catholic household and our version didn't contain this line. I thought it was inserted as an insidious plot by the poor, oppressed Christians who are having the holiday RIPPED out from under them by callous store employees who refuse to say "Merry Christmas" (I mean really, people....is this honestly the biggest problem you can think of in the world today??), but Tery assures me it's always been there. I say it's a jarring clash of Christianity and secularism, kind of like Jesus and Santa duking it out WWF-style on South Park. And I won't have it, I tell you. I won't.
grrgoyl: (satan)
I don't know why it is, but I am hopeless at wrapping presents. This is a source of frustration not only for me, but for Tery, who is maddeningly efficient, using exactly the right amount of paper and tape, and even topping the gift off with a fancy Martha-style ribbon for added beauty. My presents, on the other hand, more closely resemble something that's been handled by an especially bitter postal worker.

This deficiency of wrapping skills started back as early as high school. I remember dreading the start of the school year for the obvious reasons, homework, forced to wear new clothes, annoying peers and cliques, but above all else the annual task of wrapping our textbooks with covers to protect them. I don't even know if kids still do this nowadays or if I will sound like a fossil writing about this. Oh, how I despised this activity. No matter how carefully I worked, my books always ended up either so loose that they fell right out of the cover, or so tight that the book couldn't even be closed. Even when my father brought home specially printed covers that helpfully provided guidelines for folding and cutting, it always ended in yelling and tears, and someone else taking over after I'd wasted an hour or two of my life for nothing.

I never expected the need for this skill that I never acquired would follow me through life, sapping all the joy out of gift-giving for me. Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, all have the black, ominous cloud of present-wrapping hanging over them for me. I measure the paper carefully, cutting what seems like more than enough for the job. Invariably, one of two things happen: either I misjudge and cut too little, or I cut too much, and then in an effort to make it more tidy, cut off too much and again end up with too little. If I don't have another gift better suited to the resulting segment of paper, then to avoid being wasteful (again a product of my father's upbringing) I try to salvage it, pathetically adding smaller bits of paper to strategically cover gaps clearly revealing what is inside. Secure the whole thing with twice as much tape as should be needed, and voila! another hideous mess lovingly hand-wrapped just for you.

I'm only mentioning this because I had the brilliant idea of mailing my sister's gift (her Crocs had arrived at last) in a brown-paper wrapped shoebox with smaller presents inside along with the shoes. (See, I know my limits enough to know that trying to wrap a pair of shoes in a bag will result in only yelling and tears.) Inexplicably, the Mailboxes, Etc across the street didn't have brown postal paper for sale. Model cars and vibrating hand massagers, yes. Basic shipping and packing supplies, not so much. I'm thinking of suing them for false advertising and making them change their name before more innocent people wanting to mail things are suckered in. So my only option was to stop at the supermarket on my way to the post office and get paper there. I already suspected this, but if you think wrapping presents on the flat surface of a living room floor is diabolically difficult, try doing it in the front seat of your car. It got done, but only with the clever use of strategically placed panels covering the gaping holes, twice as much tape as should be necessary, and some yelling and tears.

So if you get a present this year that looks like it was wrapped by a mentally-handicapped and/or blind person, chances are it is from me. Merry Christmas!
grrgoyl: (Default)
Woman Knocked Unconscious While Shopping

ORANGE CITY, Fla. (Nov. 29) - A mob of shoppers rushing for a sale on DVD players trampled the first woman in line and knocked her unconscious as they scrambled for the shelves at a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Patricia VanLester had her eye on a $29 DVD player, but when the siren blared at 6 a.m. Friday announcing the start to the post-Thanksgiving sale, the 41-year-old was knocked to the ground by the frenzy of shoppers behind her.

''She got pushed down, and they walked over her like a herd of elephants,'' said VanLester's sister, Linda Ellzey. ''I told them, 'Stop stepping on my sister! She's on the ground!'''

Ellzey said some shoppers tried to help VanLester, and one employee helped Ellzey reach her sister, but most people just continued their rush for deals.

''All they cared about was a stupid DVD player,'' she said Saturday.

Paramedics called to the store found VanLester unconscious on top of a DVD player, surrounded by shoppers seemingly oblivious to her, said Mark O'Keefe, a spokesman for EVAC Ambulance.

She was flown to Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, where doctors told the family VanLester had a seizure after she was knocked down and would likely remain hospitalized through the weekend, Ellzey said. Hospital officials said Saturday they did not have any information on her condition.

''She's all black and blue,'' Ellzey said. ''Patty doesn't remember anything. She still can't believe it all happened.''

Ellzey said Wal-Mart officials called later Friday to ask about her sister, and the store apologized and offered to put a DVD player on hold for her. (emphasis mine)

Wal-Mart Stores spokeswoman Karen Burk said she had never heard of a such a melee during a sale.

''We are very disappointed this happened,'' Burk said. ''We want her to come back as a shopper.''



Yeah, well for starters Walmart, you could fucking GIVE her the $29 DVD player after she was almost trampled to death, instead of putting it "on hold" for her. Glad to see old Sam Walton keeping the Spirit of Christmas alive and well.

I swear, I almost never want to shop at Walmart again.

-=Lainey=-

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