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Archive for February, 2010

Friday Fun! (Dessert Pizza)

February 26, 2010 8 comments

When I was in middle school, Pizza Hut came out with dessert pizza.  I very rarely got to go out for dinner, as my parents didn’t have much money, but my middle school had a merit competition twice a year.  The kids who got over a certain number of merits for various things like memorizing Bible verses got to go out to Pizza Hut for the buffet, and let me tell you, the only reason I was memorizing Bible verses was for that dessert pizza.  But then suddenly dessert pizza vanished from the menus of pretty much every pizza place.  I thought they were gone forever.  Oh, I was so wrong.

This week it was my friend’s birthday, and three of us went out to a local bar.  My two friends were suddenly like, “Let’s get the dessert pizza.”  Wait. What?!  It arrived, and you guys, it is an ooey gooey amazingness of awesome.  It’s cinnamon, maple syrup, and sugar sauce with slices of apples topped by cream cheese like stuff.  The most delicious dessert pizza I’ve ever had.  I brought the leftovers home, and after eating them last night, my boyfriend and I promptly decided we needed more, so take-out it was!  Not to mention a left-over slice for breakfast.  Welcome back to my life, dessert pizza!

I realize my Friday Fun posts have a tendency to be about food, but dammit I love food!  Happy weekends, everyone!

5 More Questions About Books

February 25, 2010 6 comments

You guys may remember the previous meme post I did 5 Questions About Books, which I acquired from Syosset Public Library’s Readers and Reference blog.  Well, the lovely Sonia of the library, contacted me with the complete list of questions they use in case I wanted to do another meme!  Gotta love my fellow librarians ;-)  So here’s 5 More Questions About Books, and as before, feel free to use the meme yourself.

What book is on your nightstand right now?:
The Angry Heart: Overcoming Borderline and Addictive Disorders: An Interactive Self-Help Guide by Joseph Santoro, PhD.  It’s a great book, and I highly recommend it!

What is a book you’ve faked reading?:
Bleak House by Charles Dickens.  It was assigned for a required course in British literature.  I attempted to read it, but after a couple of chapters and with the other homework I had going on that semester, Sparknotes became my very dear friend.  For the record, I aced the exam questions on it. ;-)

What’s a book that’s changed your life?:
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  I was raised in a very traditional, religious, patriarchal manner, and this book was what spurred me on to investigate other ways of looking at the world.  Needless to say, I am no longer religious; I am a feminist.  This book is what started me on the path to free-thought, and I will always love Margaret Atwood for that.

Can you quote a favorite line from a book?:
“…If death
Consort with thee, death is to me as life;
So forcible within my heart I feel
The bond of nature draw me to my own;
My own in thee, for what thou art is mine:
Our state cannot be severed, we are one,
One flesh; to lose thee were to lose myself.”
Adam to Eve, Paradise Lost by John Milton.  One of my favorite quotes of all time.

What’s your favorite book genre?:
This should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone, but dystopian literature followed closely by scifi with horror a super-duper close third.

Wolf Bite Wednesday (Hypocrisy of Humane Animal Farming)

February 24, 2010 9 comments

As a libertarian, I believe that adults should be able to do whatever they want to do as long as it doesn’t harm other living creatures.  This means that in what society sees as gray areas, I go with whatever side allows for more choice.  It also means I try to avoid being “militant” about anything and just hope that with the evidence I calmly present, people will change their minds.  Unfortunately, no matter how many times you present the evidence that evolution is real, some people still choose to teach their children that god made woman out of Adam’s rib.

One thing that I cannot stand and won’t stay quiet about, though, is hypocrisy, and it’s something I’ve been seeing cropping up more and more in the green movement.  You guys all know that I’m a vegetarian.  I wholeheartedly believe this is the right choice, and it’s one I want more people to make.  However, I respect whatever choice people make, because what you eat is your own business.  I have no problem with omnivores who say they enjoy being at the top of the food chain, that we’re naturally predators so we may as well enjoy it, etc…  They’ve decided what matters to them while acknowledging that this choice causes pain.  I don’t agree with the choice, but it’s not hypocritical.  I also have no problem with people who want organic animal farming due to a concern about chemicals in meat.  I think it’s kind of a silly thing to be concerned about, but again it’ s not hypocritical.

However, I have a serious problem with you people who purport to support organic “humane” animal farming out of a concern for the well-being of the animals and not yourself..  You are not concerned about the well-being of the animals.  If you were, you wouldn’t ask for them to die so you can enjoy a hamburger when you live in a nation with plenty of other ways to healthily feed yourself.  You’re claiming that you want the animals to be happy?  Take any animal from an organic farm and compare it being slaughtered to one being slaughtered at a factory farm.  Neither of them wants to die.  They both cry.  They both struggle to get away.  In a sense, it’s more humane for the factory farm to slaughter their animals, because they are in pain and suffering constantly.  You’re advocating to give an animal a paradise type of environment and then rip them out of it to kill them.  That does not make you a good person!!! DOES NOT.  It makes you a hypocrite.  If you actually cared about the animals, you wouldn’t eat them.  It really is that simple.

Book Review: Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

February 23, 2010 6 comments

Abstract painting on a book cover.Summary:
Connie, a 30-something Chicana of the 1970s who has led a rough life, enjoys the time she spends in 2137 at Mattapoisett with Luciente.  She believes she is a catcher and Luciente a receiver, which allows her to time travel in her mind.  Luciente tells her there are two possible futures, and they need her and all the downtrodden to fight and not give up or the utopian future of Mattapoisett will be lost.  Connie’s family and friends, however, believe she is schizophrenic and in need of their help.  Who is right?

Review:
I almost gave up on this in the first chapter when we discover that Connie’s daughter has been taken away from her due to child abuse.  Connie blames everything bad in her life on other people–the police, social workers, white people, her brother, etc…  She takes no responsibility for anything.  I was concerned that Connie’s opinions were the author’s opinions as well–blame society for everything and take no individual responsibility.  I was wrong about that, though, and I am very glad I didn’t stop reading.

Marge Piercy’s writing is astounding.  She sets up a complex social situation and leaves it open-ended for the reader to decide who is right, what the problems really are, who is to blame, how things can be fixed.  Unlike most books regarding time travel or mental illness, it is not obvious that Connie is actually time traveling or that she is schizophrenic.  This fact makes this a book that actually makes you think and ponder big questions.

The future world of Mattapoisett is of course the reason this book is considered a classic of feminist literature.  In this society it has been decided that all of the bad dualities of have and have not originate from the original division of male and female, so they have done everything they can to make gender a moot point.  The pronouns he and she are not used, replaced with “per,” which is short for “person.”  Women no longer bear children, instead they are scientifically made in a “breeder,” and then assigned three people to mother it.  These people can be men or women; they are all called mother.  In the future of Mattapoisett, women are allowed to be strong; men to be gentle, and that is just the tip of the iceberg of the interesting, thought-provoking elements of Mattapoisett.

At first I was concerned that this book is anti-psychiatry, but really it is just pro-compassion.  The reader is forced to observe the world from multiple atypical perspectives that force a questioning of world view.  More importantly though it helps the reader to put herself into another person’s perspective, which is something that it is easy to forget to do.  To me the key scene in the book (which doesn’t give away any spoilers) is when two people in Mattapoisett dislike each other and are not getting along.  The township gets them together and holds a council attempting to help each person see the situation from the other’s perspective, as well as to see the good in the other person.

What I’ve said barely touches the surface of the wonderful elements of this book.  I absolutely loved it, and it is a book I will keep and re-read multiple times.  I highly recommend it to all.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: PaperBackSwap

Buy It

Movie Review: Black Dynamite (2009)

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Montage of Black Dynamite characters.Summary:
When Black Dynamite’s brother turns up dead, he comes out of ass kicking retirement to clean up the city streets.  There’s more going on than originally met his eye, though.  It’s a damn good thing the CIA reissued him his license to kill.

Review:
There’s not much that I love more in my movies than ones that are knowingly making fun of themselves.  Black Dynamite is simultaneously a satire of 1970s blaxploitation films and a mockery of itself.  The dialogue, characters, outfits, and story are so bad that they’re good, and it’s that bad on purpose.  That makes it awesome in my book.

The acting  is excellent.  You believe in the characters in spite of the ridiculous situations and conversations they’re having.  The soundtrack is amazing.  It sounds just like 1970s music, only it has specially written lyrics that go along with the story.  The storyline is so outlandish that it lands in the awesome zone.  If you enjoyed Bill Murray’s appearance in Zombieland, you’re going to like Black Dynamite‘s storyline.

Black Dynamite is hilarious and unique.  If you enjoy kitschy, crazy plot, dialogue, and characters, you’ll like it as much as I do.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Netflix

Buy It

Movie Review: Fargo (1996)

February 19, 2010 8 comments

Woman next to a dead body in a snowy field.Summary:
A car dealer is in deep debt, and his wealthy father-in-law refuses to help him out.  Since his father-in-law’s one caveat regarding money is that he will never leave his daughter or grandson in trouble, the car dealer decides to get some men to kidnap his wife, and they will then split the ransom.  The plan, naturally, goes horribly awry.

Review:
I think this may be one of the more stupid critically acclaimed movies I’ve ever seen.

Let’s start with the plot.  Why is this man in massive debt?  Neither myself nor the person I was watching the movie with could quite figure that out.  It’s key to me as far as relating to the character to know how exactly he got into this debt to start with.  Similarly, why doesn’t the father-in-law consider getting his son-in-law out of debt taking care of the family?  It appears that the car dealer is in trouble, and you would think that the father-in-law would want to keep the man his daughter loves safe if for no other reason than to protect her heart.  Then there’s the fact that this is quite possibly the most predictable plot I’ve ever seen.  One of the kidnappers is crazy? Who’da thunk it?! *rolls eyes*

Moving on to the acting, it was terrible.  I’ve seen more facial expression and body language from stone statues than I saw on William H. Macy, who plays the car dealer.  The only way I can possibly comprehend Frances McDormand winning an Oscar for her performance is if she naturally has a bubbly, interesting personality, because it can’t be that challenging to play a character as boring as the pregnant police chief.  Then there’s the universally horrible midwest accents.  I’m friends with a woman who was born and raised in Michigan, and she does not sound like that.  She has a slight lilt to her o’s and a’s that is actually cute and attractive, not horribly mangled words such as what these actors purport midwesterners sound like.

It wasn’t until I looked up Fargo to find a movie poster that I discovered it’s supposed to be a “dark comedy.”  Oh, I laughed at parts of it alright, but not due to any comedic value.  You just have to laugh at a movie that’s this bad.

I don’t recommend anyone to see this movie, but it’s not excruciatingly painful to watch if you find yourself stuck in a room with it, which is the only thing saving it from a one star rating.

2 out of 5 stars

Source: Netflix

Buy It

On Writing in Books

February 18, 2010 8 comments

Growing up, I was taught that books are precious objects that we do not make any marks in.  Of course, most of our books were borrowed from the library, so this made perfect sense.

Then university came, along with my two very text-heavy majors–American History and English and American Literature.  I was encouraged to mark up my books, both the primary texts of my history courses and the literature of my English courses.  At first I was hesitant, using post-it notes stuck to the pages to mark my ideas.  After the course was over, I’d remove the post-it notes, leaving just a few highlighted passages.

Along came the year when I took two courses in a row that taught Paradise Lost.  The first course was about heresy in history and literature (freaking amazing class, dudes).  The second was on the Western Canon.  I opened my copy of Paradise Lost in Western Canon and found myself devastated that all of my heresy observations were gone.  Gone and never to return.  To this day I wish I had the notations I made during the exquisite heresy lectures.  Nothing taught me the vast possibilities in good literature like approaching Paradise Lost in these two different manners did.  And nothing showed me better the value of writing in a book.

My experience reading isn’t just for shits and giggles, as the saying goes.  I learn things about myself, about the world.  My perceptions and ideas flux and change.  There are the books that I read as a teen that I’ve re-read in my 20s, and I’ve wished that I could see on the page my reaction to the writing as a teenager.

The experience of reading a word or a phrase and having it strike you.  Of wanting to underline it.  Of wanting to note what it means to you right then.  Expand this to include notations of things you’ve learned in relation to this word or phrase, such as the fact that you googled it and discovered it was dangerous for the author to write such a thing at the time.  Or even just the definition of a word you didn’t know.

I know many people think it sullies a book to write in it, but I think it expands the book.  I know people who are disgusted if they check out a book from the library and it’s written in, but I find that to be a wonderful treasure.  I love seeing how someone else reacted to the same book.  Someone who I will never know beyond the fact that they were so moved by a passage that they felt the need to write “omg!!” alongside it or that they knew so much about Greek mythology that they noted which goddess a passage is referring to.

Reading should be interactive, and books are necessarily a part of that.  When I die and people clean out my personal library, I want the copies of my books to show the wear and tear that comes from truly interacting with the books you love.  I want them to be worn from multiple readings and covered with notations and highlighting made in different colors throughout the course of my life.  I want my books to reflect the impact that they’ve had on me, so I’ll continue to write in them.  Even if it means that when I decide in my minimalist way to let a book go that I have a more difficult time finding someone to swap with.

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