Friday, January 30, 2004

create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide
With apologies

I misremembered Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott" for the below blog title. The actual verse is the following:

The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.

The entire poem can be found here.

Literary examples of this poem used as an element in a novel include Bel Kaufman's fabulous Up the Down Staircase and The Mirror Crack'D by Agatha Christie. Both books I highly recommend.

I had a false alarm with the doom virus earlier this evening; McAfee screamed at me that I was infected. That wasn't the case at all, as I ran the scan once again and Stinger -- which is a neat little 2-minute download to rid your computer of some viruses. Computer came up clean, so I figure there was probably some kind of conflict between the email scan and the actual computer scan. I dunno.

My brain is not working. I'm on day 4 of headache and it shows no sign of dissipating. TGIF.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

The doom is come upon me she said as the mirror crack'd side to side

I've been eaten by the My Doom virus, among other things. McAfee is screaming every time I open my inbox. That's because my email address has been spoofed and I'm getting about 10-20 copies a day in the Top Sekrit Email Addy Box in addition to the deluge in the Yahoo! box. I have been blocking each spoof as I discover them, but God, if the MyDoom is going through "What to Name Your Baby" book, I'm seriously doomed. Ex:,, -- you get the idea.

I'm trying to turn off the catch-all forwarding because this is getting insane. It's one more thing to put up with and I'm just not in the mood for it right now.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Encounters with the Blimp Kind

I apologize to all for being incommunicado for the last 48 hours. I could tell you the real reason which is rather boring, or I could tell you the fantastical story of the Blimp Kind and I think, frankly, you'd prefer the latter.

Anyway, as you all know, I work on the 38th floor of a 50-floor building. Now, this is a small tower, I agree, but you cannot quite grasp the horror that is a skyscraper until you're standing at the window next to your desk and you see this bigass blimp coming right at you. A big red blimp. With the word "Saturn" printed in white ariel on it.

Now, we're not talking a blimp that's a quarter of a mile away, not at all. Probably less than that. And aimed right at us.

We wondered if Blimp!Pilot could see us. After all, we're a big honking building in the middle many big honking buildings, but there goes the blimp just blithely on its merry way right towards us. I cannot possibly stress this enough. And I don't understand this; I know that there aren't any clear landmarks in the sky so perhaps our Blimp Kind were simply lost, but it's impossible, impossible I say, to miss a forest of buildings. And believe it or not, Friday was not an ozone-action day, so our Blimp Kind cannot say they were blinded by the smog either.

Now, let me make something clear: we do get buzzed by flying objects -- some identifiable, some not -- on a regular basis. Helicopters, the occasional commercial jet, the small prop planes dragging around advertisments for Hooters ("Wings just 25 cents!") or of the political variety ("Fire our legislators now and take away their parking spots!"). And there's always the slow-moving unmarked 747 that cruises its way through downtown.

Now mind you, this wasn't our first encounter with the Blimp Kind, but this was seriously the nearest encounter. We could see the little wheels on the blimp! (And btw, those wheels are very tiny; it boggles the mind how a big balloon thingy like a blimp can land on such tiny wheels, but I'll leave that questions for the scientists and the engineers). We would have waved at the people in the blimp if only they could have seen us (we're well protected from the Blimp Kind by tinted windows, you see). However, we weren't particularly worried about a Hindenburg-style diaster as Very Big Publishing Company has equipped us all with emergency preparedness kits in case we should ever have an encounter with Blimp Kind.

However, the joy-riding Blimp Kind finally got a clue that whoa, there was a downtown, and whoa, big buildings, and narrowly missed our building. It turned, with amazing and surprising grace, upward and buzzed the 50th floor before disappearing into the smogless sky.

This story wouldn't be complete without the Return of the Blimp Kind later on in the afternoon, but we all noticed that this time, they stayed quite a bit away from downtown. Smart people.

Sidebar has been updated; old blogs cleared out, new RSS feeds added. I've got other techie/redecorating things I want to do, but all in good time. I'm just plain exhausted from my encounter with the Blimp Kind.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

I'm linking to two arguments on the pro-life side, both made by RJ. I think both are well-worth reading -- Part I and Part II. Well-reasoned and logical points and honestly, I cannot disagree with either argument (the comments -- both sides reflected -- are also intelligent and worth reviewing).

But even though I agree on a personal level with what RJ has to say, my fundamental belief in the right to choose remains unchanged. I understand that a dichotomy exists when one says one is personally pro-life and fundamentally opposed to abortion, but prefers that it remains a legal choice for women. I understand that it's an inconsistent, middle-of-the-road stance at best. I can only echo what Elizabeth I said when asked about what religion she would support -- restoration of the Roman Catholic faith or the fledgling Anglican church. She dismissed the question entirely, saying "I have no desire to make windows into men's souls." (In the end, the Anglican church prevailed, but at least Elizabeth did away with the 'witch hunts' that so characterized the reigns of her brother and sister, Protestant and Catholic respectively).

I think we can all provide justifications -- reasons -- for our behaviors and actions, why it is we do what we do and why we believe in certain things. I'm not sure I can provide a good enough reason that explains a contradictory stance within the pro-choice movement that will be acceptable to the pro-life movement. In the end, I agree with RJ that we have to be answerable to God for what we do and the decisions, we, as individuals make, must reflect that.

I have no desire to make decisions for other people. I can only hope that they make the decision with full support and full knowledge of what they are doing. And while I hope desperately the first and best choice is one to carry a pregnancy to term, I also feel most women are psychologically and physically altered by the very act of abortion. If at the end of the day, this is something they can live with and can answer to family, society and God for, how can I stand in their way? My conscience cannot be the conscience of another person. And so, when I make my vote, it has to be to allow individuals the freedom to make a choice for themselves, that they themselves can determine what they will be answerable to.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004


In lieu of any meaningful content. I got this one from RJ. There's a whole big world out there I've yet to see and experience.

create your own visited country map
or check out these Google Hacks.

Monday, January 19, 2004

A Comedy of Errors

So today, after surviving three freeways at rush hour, I really did not think my undoing would come at the virtual hands (so to speak) of iTunes -- the savior of electronic music online, courtesy of Apple. I downloaded iTunes sometime ago but have never quite done anything with it until today, because until you've spent 3 hours driving across an endless landscape you don't realize that Sarah Brightman does not have a greatest hits collection. This is a problem because I was thinking the other day that if I had to recommend a CD, which one would it be? And I do have my particular favorites, but even the ones I'm not especially fond of have moments of absolute brilliance on them. I thought that perhaps Classics would be a good way of solving the dilemma, but in general, that compilation CD mostly features Sarah's operatic pieces and doesn't highlight anything else.

So, what's a girl to do but take matters into her own hands? So, with able assistance of Bjorn on the telephone, I proceeded to rip 21 songs from eight CDs. Bjorn, who uses iTunes himself, was kind enough not to laugh at me. I really had no earthly idea of what I was doing and I don't believe in reading help files. The end result was me screaming and Bjorn saying, "Well, hold on a second..." I'm amazed the boy didn't hang up on me; I would have hung up on me.

To give you an idea of just how utterly clueless I was: I couldn't figure out how I got the first three songs off The Andrew Lloyd Collection. I mean, somehow I clicked my way through the CD and the songs appeared in the iTunes main window. But when I went to duplicate my efforts with Harem and just could not do it. I was like, "There's an import button around here! Where did they hide it?" In the meantime, XP was being its usual helpful self saying things like, "You have inserted a CD into the CD-rom drive. What would you like to do with it?" Unfortunately, "rip songs into iTunes" was not an option. But somehow, I got a few songs off "Harem," and by the time I started on Dive, I'd located the "import" button.

When I ripped the songs from the CDs, they came across with descriptive names like "Track 02" because I couldn't figure out how to name the songs. I couldn't get CD info from the database because you have to be online to do that and I had Bjorn on the phone, so I couldn't get online. And at first, I was like, no big deal -- but then I realized that I had multiple tracks called "Track 02" and no way to differentiate "Unexpected Song" from "Anytime, Anywhere." I clicked all over the frelling thing, and could not figure out to how to do this.

Because I was slowly going insane, I started to write down the playlist in the order that they appeared on my screen so that I could differentiate one song from another. Example: "Track Three - In Winter Light," "Track Three - Just Show Me How To Love You." etc. Finally, Bjorn reminded me you can rename songs easily by just double-clicking them (well, duh, Seema).

So then after the naming-of-the-song drama, came the whole creating a playlist drama, and finally I had like six playlists because I really am that incompetent. I'd like to say that the playlists reproduced on their own, but that is not the case. Folks, after using a PC since 1986, I've been finally forced to accept the fact that I cannot drag and drop to save my life or double-click properly.

Anyway, the end result is that an hour and 44 minutes later (according to the log on my phone), I finally had a "Sarah Brightman's Greatest Hits CD" or perhaps, it should have been more aptly titled "Seema's Favorite Sarah Brightman Songs" because I omitted "Nessun Dorma" and "Nella Fantasia". But it all burned properly and it plays in my CD-alarm clock, if nothing else, and so life is good. I, however, am exhausted. I don't trust Mac people any more. There's nothing easy about iTunes, nothing at all.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

The trouble with semantics

It's an election year so the rhetoric is flying fast and furious. I admit I'm a bleeding heart liberal -- have never made such bones of it in the past, but I hope my comments here do not make any readers uncomfortable or that I'm insulting people or their beliefs. That is never my intention but I'm very aware that many of you who read this blog do not know me well or at all.

Because of the variation in audiences, I try to keep my politics to myself. I may occasionally go off on a rant on something, but in general, I hope I'm not being hypocritical here by saying current affairs stay mostly out. However, if you are looking for treatises on long dead English men/women, this is the blog for you.

All of this is leading up to the point where I admit I read a few conservative blogs and I'm about to stop doing so. I think it's fair and necessary to read opposing points of view, to see where the other side is coming from. I don't think it's enough to rely on one source for the news media, though I admit I prefer CNN to FOX News for obvious reasons. But what gets me about the few blogs I have been reading is the obvious dislike and judgemental attitudes coming back at me.

I read the blog of a person I know and respect in RL and was amazed to read exactly what she thinks of those of us with pro-choice philosophies (read: not pro-abortion, but rather allowing the individual to make the choice best for her without the interference of religion or other belief systems and believe it or not, most pro-choice people are individually pro-life; but our choice is not the same for everyone). To read the diatribe in the blog about Planned Parenthood, about the 'evil and immoral' pro-choicers (actually she used the word 'murderers') made me absolutely furious.

She's talking about me, someone she knows. Granted, it's her blog and she's welcome to use any kind of language, any kind of philosophical statement she may want to make there. But at the same time, using that kind of language draws me further away from her position. When she calls me 'evil and immoral', I have no desire to read further; there may be good points in her blog supporting her position -- I do not want to read. There may be more insults hurled in my direction.

Such language -- from both sides of the arena -- only serves to divide, not faciliate dialogue in any way. How can you possibly expect to sit down at a table and have a coherent conversation with people of opposing viewpoints have already decided you are the enemy and think you are 'evil'? Note, I'm not just talking about conservatives; we liberals don't hold back either when it comes to mud-slinging. What is the matter with stripping a subject away from its emotional core and talking about it that way? I've always said the world would be a better place if more people used bulletpoints; imagine how much quicker things would get down and how much less the possibility of insult.

So if you do ever hear me insulting another viewpoint, however inadvartently, please tell me. However, I still reserve the right to mock Brannon Braga mercilessly.
The Hours

I rented The Hours from my apartment complex on my birthday, mostly because I wanted to indulge in seeing a movie in the middle of the day. However, I didn't finish watching it until last night. "The Hours" is a very quiet, subtle and nuanced movie, with seeming inaction. There's a lot of walking, for instance, and long silences as well. But still the movie fascinated me, mostly on the strength of the acting from the marvelous troika of Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman. Ed Harris was also spectacular in this movie as Richard.

What got me though, while watching this movie, was just how character-driven it was through all three time-lines and there are only a few 'big' moments in the movie, which I won't spoil here, but in general, we're not talking about an action-packed movie, or one with an obvious "boy meets girl" plot. Instead, three timelines are woven together and the editing is marvelous as the parallels between Kidman's Viriginia Wolf, Moore's Laura Brown, and Streep's Clarissa Vaughn are shown. Three very different women with three very different issues.

This movie had heart. I talk about 'heart' in writing a lot because it's an elusive, intangible quality to writing and it's not always there. There are some books/stories that are proficiently and technically good but when push comes to shove, there's no identification with the characters, no realization of who the characters are, and why the story was written.

I briefly mentioned 'walking' above and while I was teasing about DWS' comments about walking in stories, I know he's perfectly right. It's not enough to move a character from room to room, from scene to scene, and expect it to be a story. My definition of a story is when the character in the first paragraph has changed or has discovered something new about himself by the last paragraph. As my writing teacher once said, "If there's a gun over the mantel in act one, it'd better be fired by act three."

There's a scene in "The Hours" where Clarissa is breaking and separating eggs. This is a scene I remember clearly because it's so ordinary -- a woman breaking and separating eggs. But it's the way she does it, cracking the egg on the rim of a pottery bowl, of flipping the yolk from hand to hand while the whites drain between her fingers, and finally gently putting the yolks in a smaller orange bowl. Now that scene had a lot of heart. The action was ordinary, but the way the action was performed, you could see clearly what was going on in Clarissa's head; her agitation, her nervousness, her unhappiness -- all of that in an ordinary gesture.

Movies can show us this and skilled actors like the ones in "The Hours" have an uncanny ability to bring us into their lives. Moore's bright artificiality, for instance, or the way Kidman's Wolfe never quite met anyone's eye -- this tells us about character. The more we know, the more we identity and care for what's going on with the character. When you make a reader care, there is heart in a story, or more precisely, oomph.

So, write about breaking an egg. Talk about what it feels like in your hand. Is it cold? Is it slimy? How are the hands doing? Are they shaking or steady? What does the kitchen look like? Is it messy or clean? And after the character breaks her eggs, how does she feel? Satisfied because she's one step closer to finishing her cake or irritated because a sliver of egg shell made it into the yolk and now she has to fish it out?

There's no magical formula to inserting 'heart' or 'oomph' into a story. Many stories simply don't have that quality because it is so hard and there's really no clean-cut definition as how to get there. I now know that DWS is right and that walking simply pretends at character-action; what's important is what's below the surface, the little details, not the big ones. And more importantly, if one writes from the heart, the reader will surely notice. I noticed the heart about "The Hours" and hereby give it two thumbs up.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Geek stuff

I just re-enabled bloget for those of you receiving this blog via email. I have no idea how long the connection was down, but it should work now. If you have an LJ, this blog is syndicated and can be friended here. If no LJ, but you still want to avoid the drudgery of checking back here every day, I've got two different RSS feeds and if you use the approriate reader, this blog will be downloaded into them. The feed powered by myRSS updates once a day and can be found here. If you're interested in up-to-date info on Seema (ha!), the folks over at RSSify can help you out here.

Of course this is all conceit, that people actually are reading.
If I stand starry-eyed

Ah, tonight finally came and I saw Sarah Brightman in concert. For those of you in the know, I'm a total fan girl, but I was put to shame by some serious hardcore fans at tonight's concert. First of all, I had the best possible seats. I was seated about 100 feet from the stage at worst, in the row right behind the people who forked over $125. I owe thanks to Liz for that, because after talking to the people on either side of me, I learned that we all bought tickets on the very first day available and Liz was the one who convinced me to get my ticket that day; hence, our very wonderful seating. Also, seated in front of us was Frank Peterson, Sarah's producer. Two of the hardcore fans got his autograph, but I managed my dignity. I can spare no love for Frank, when there is Sarah.

The show started about 15 minutes late, and after a musical interlude, Sarah appeared on the stage, dressed all in white. The crowd went insane and even I felt verklemped. I was sitting close enough that I could see her face very clearly. She opened with three songs from "Harem": Harem, Beautiful and It's a Beautiful Day . On stage with Sarah were eight female dancers, dressed in black charara-type outfits and dancing in Hindi filmi style.

After these three songs from "Harem," she abruptly changed gears and performed one songs from "Eden": Dust in the Wind (apparently this is the first live performance, despite this song having been two albums ago). Then it was back to "Harem" for two back-to-back love songs, " The War is Over, in which Sarah played the piano, and then Free, which has to be my least favorite song on the album, but performed live, I did like it a lot. I thought "The War is Over" was spectacular, especially with Ari Ari Bach (?) who performed with Sarah. From "Eden," she performed Anytime, Anywhere. Then it was back to "Harem" for A Stranger in Paradise (from which the title of tonight's blog entry is taken).

The music for Nessun Dorma (found on both "Classics" and "Eden") had barely begun before the crowd erupted and people were on their feet. It was Sarah's first standing ovation of the night. Again, not a favorite song of mine, but her vocal strength, the ability to sustain a note for long period of time, the richness and emotion -- I can see why this is a crowd pleaser as well. The same is true of another standard of Sarah's, Nella Fantasia. The only song she sang from "La Luna" (my favorite album) in the first half of the concert was La Luna itself. From her bestselling "Time to Say Goodbye," she also included No One Like You and the very first non-Phantom song I heard of Sarah's, Who Wants to Live Forever. That took us into intermission.

During intermission, I struck up a conversation with the people around me and learned that they were serious fanboys/fangirls. I thought me, who owns every Sarah CD from Phantom on, and has watched every PBS special, I thought I was hardcore. But this one guy, he buys the American/English/Canadian/etc versions of her albums, just because every album is slightly different. Another guy was on his fourth concert. A girl went and got Frank Peterson's autograph and I was completely befuddled: why would you get the sound guy's autograph anyway? The girl's mother explained to me that it was Sarah's producer and her daughter, who looked about 16 or 17, had been into Sarah since 7th grade.

The second half of the show was much more visual. I'd say the first half had some neat special effects, some nice lighting, but the second half was when things really fell into place. "Harem" was on the menu once again with Arabian Nights and a electronica version of What a Wonderful World -- which featured Sarah singing in a swing. Also, another song from "La Luna," was featured in this set, A Whiter Shade of Pale. When the heavy beat of Phantom of the Opera began, the crowd went absolutely insane. Along with a brief excerpt from "Angel of Music" and "Little Lottie", Sarah sang "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" in full. Somewhere in there, I think there was Lascia ch'io pianga (off of "Classics" or "Eden"). It was one of the operatic classics, in other words, and most of them -- with the exception of "Nessun Dorma" and "Nella Fantasia" get jumbled up in my head.

The alleged last song of the evening was my mom's favorite Sarah tune, the blockbuster hit, Time to Say Goodbye. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. And we were on our feet, yelling, screaming, clapping and it took a good 2-3 minutes before Sarah came back to do an encore with my favorite song from "Harem," The Journey Home, written by the incomparable A.R. Rahman. Shweta Shetty, a Hindi pop singer, backed up on this song. We then called for a second encore, which turned out to be another favorite of mine, A Question of Honour (from "Fly"). During this last song, Sarah actually flew through the air, the lights were flashing and confetti streamed down from the ceiling. I'm fangirl enough to admit that I grabbed a few pieces of confetti as I was leaving the building.

All in all, a very good concert. It's just amazing how good her voice sounds in person. She can go from a little girl voice to a deep, powerful operatic soprano all in the same song. The lighting and special effects were cool as well and the Middle Eastern/Indian theme carried well, even with some of the older songs like "Time to Say Goodbye" and "No One Like You." I thought the back-up dancers were good, but the band/orchestra/ could occasionally be overpowering.

I was mildly disappointed that Sarah didn't perform my theme song (but that would have been a stretch anyway, since it's a 'hidden' track on "La Luna") and I was really hoping for Music of the Night from her "The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection", but alas, that did not happen.

I was surprised to see so many selections from "Eden," and only a couple from "La Luna." The ones from "A Time to Say Goodbye" were true classics and of course, the emphasis was rightly so on "Harem". No songs from "Dive" or "The Unexpectes Songs" were performed and only one from "Fly." However, even given all that, it was a good mixture of new favorites with old. In sum, I enjoyed myself thoroughly and consider myself a very happy fan girl tonight.

In the morning, after I've gotten some rest, I will tell you about my driving foibles. But for now, this fan girl is going to sleep, but will leave you with a few last lyrics from "The Journey Home" (which, btw, samples from "Taal"):

The journey home is never too long
When open arms are waiting there
The journey home is never too long
There's room to love and room to spare

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Mysterious Days

Less than 23 hours to go! For those of you interested, I have already plotted out my route, scoped out a parking spot, and have planned what tomorrow's dinner will be so there will not be a minute of wasted time.

And in honor of tomorrow night's event, I quote:

Not every boat you come across is one you have to take
Now sometimes standing still can be the best move you ever make

Anyway, I won't be around tomorrow evening. I'll blog on Thursday morning.

ETA: I updated my links page with new recs. Enjoy!

Monday, January 12, 2004

Much ado about nothing

I don't have much to blog today but only to mention that there is less than forty-eight hours left in my countdown. Of course, some of you, most notably T'Other Liz, know exactly what I'm counting down to. A few others of you are thinking my countdown is referring to another event entirely, one that comes around once a year. I assure you, I'm counting down to the first event, not the second, and a full detailing of the event shall be chronicled here in the blog on the morning after.

Speaking of the morning after, I've taken the day off from work to celebrate that once-in-a-year event and plan to indulge myself shamefully. And I mean shamefully. I spent way too much time at work today researching area spas. I'm thinking, at the very least, a facial and a massage, but a manicure and pedicure might be in the works too. I might even catch a movie as KC noted earlier today, I haven't really been doing the movie thing as of late. Who knows? Also, just got off the phone with V and we'll be meeting for dinner after my day of utter and shameful relaxation.

Also, V and K are moving across the street from me. This is very good news. Currently, they live about 10-12 miles away, but with the intense traffic, it takes nearly 45 minutes, if not more, to travel that distance. So we either meet on weekends or we meet at a restaurant halfway. Because we both work in downtown, when she's in town (she's a consultant), we have lunch together. Also discovered A works in my building on the 26th floor and so he called me today and we had lunch. Very nice. We were joking that it took us five months to realize we worked in the same building and only discovered it last week because I was very, very, very late to work and he was, um, on-time.

Also, jemima has a thing or two to say about contests and while she's more scientific about it than I am, I agree with every not-so-snarky word she writes.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Headlines addendum

I'm not reviewing Nicholas and Alexandra, as I'd hoped to. I'd rented the movie over the New Year's holiday from the library and seeing as it was two tapes long, I figured two weeks was ample time to watch and mull over the movies and then review it here. I've only gotten through the first 40 minutes and have decided to call it quits. It's not so much that it's inaccurate as much that it's a disjointed, badly-paced mess. I have no idea who half the characters are in the movie without falling back on my Romanov history. I can only imagine that the average viewer who knows little to nothing about Tsarist Russia would feel completely lost.

On a positive note, I think central facets of the title characters have been well-captured and detailed. Nicholas's absoluteness in his conviction that a douma or Parliment is detrimental to the people of Russia, Alix's religious fanaticism and devotion to Rasputin, and of course, their deep and abiding love for each other. Some well-known figures of the Bolshevik revolution make an appearance early on: Lenin, for instance, marching on the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg (which ends in a horrific massacre), Trotsky running a subversive newspaper calling for a douma in the echo of England's monarchy. So while it is tempting to see the sad trainwreck that is the last of the Romanovs run its course, I'll recommend instead the Robert K. Massie book upon which this movie was based. You'll get more out of Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra and also, his follow-up to the truth behind what really happened to the last Tsar and his family, The Romanovs: The Last Chapter.

A word of caution the latter: it is highly scientific, very provocative, and disturbing all at the same time. In fact, it should not be considered light reading. "Nicholas and Alexandra" is a biography, very well-researched and well-written and the same is true of "The Romanovs: The Last Chapter." However, "The Romanovs: The Last Chapter" is dedicated to the murder of the family and all of the gruesome details. In other words, if you've read the last few chapters of "Nicholas and Alexandra," consider "The Romanovs: The Last Chapter," published in the last decade, to be a fluid extension of the first. But know that it is a scientific and investigative book, which doesn't focus on the pomp and circumstance, but rather with ashes and bones.


I have food. Amazing amount of food. I'm practically overwhelmed by the quantity and the choice. I had to pretty much get everything from staples like butter and orange juice to frozen veggies and fresh ones as well. I was also out of potatoes, eggs, and frozen lunches to take to work. I'm not a big snacker, but I did get some jello mix and microwave popcorn just for fun, as well as my usual snack food of choice -- chips, salsa and chedder cheese to make nachos. Now I'm good to go until next weekend. So you people no longer need to worry about me wasting away because I was too lazy to brave traffic and go to the grocery store.


And ooh, I forgot the countdown in my earlier post: 3 days, 3 hours, 10 minutes. Squee!

I'm wearing a wool sweater. A red wool sweater. This is so many degrees of wrong I can't even begin to tell you. Of course, the Northeast has it worse, definitely, and they probably think I'm a big baby (okay, so I am!), but good God, wool sweater? Here? Now? Bah, I say, bah!


I may be changing my email address, I'm not sure. I'm getting tired of weeding through the spam mixed in with real mail. The Top Sekrit Addy is still spam-free for the most part, but I'm not ready to give that out to the masses at large. I'll keep you posted.


I almost missed the US Women's National Figure Skating Championships yesterday. It was only by a fluke I saw that it was on. To avoid spoiling, the results are here for anyone interested.


No food in my house. Absolutely none. My brother and J tided me over for one more day thanks to bringing me Thai food yesterday, but now, between dinner and lunch, it's all gone. I only have half a bowl of rice left. One would think the logical thing would be to go shopping. Oddly, I've done many boring and mundane things today like cleaning the inside of the microwave and vaccuuming, yet these chores are more interesting to me than grocery shopping. But my stomach is reminding me that I cannot, cannot put this off a minute longer.

Now, the decision is which grocery store? I could probably waste another hour or so just pondering that question.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

To the moon and back

George W. Bush wants to initiate a permanent American presence on the moon. We were talking about that at work yesterday and I said, "Why would anyone want to go to the moon? That place has no atmosphere."

And I got lots of blank stares. ::le sigh::

I'm chalking it up to the fact that I have a very cerebral and dry sense of humor. Way too subtle for normal people to get.

Or least these are the lies I tell myself.

It's funny joke, isn't it? Isn't it?

Or to quote Dana from "Sports Night": "I'm a lot funnier than you ever gave me credit for.

Countdown: Four days, nine and a half hours to go. Squee!

Wednesday, January 07, 2004


One week. Seven days. One hundred eighty hours. Ten thousand, eight hundred minutes. Six hundred and forty-eight thousand seconds.


In other news, no dent in email. Email just accumulates. It's amazing. Especially since I've unsubbed from so many lists and since I don't respond to email quickly, I have no idea where it's actually coming from. I am, however, mostly caught up on answering FB. There are maybe 2 or 3 notes I haven't answered yet.

And speaking of FB, I always find it oddly flattering when I fangirl over someone else and then they, in their response to me, fangirl over me? Now that's where the email exchange always breaks down for me. Do I respond and thank them for their squeeing? Do I suggest we form a mutual admiration society? Do I ignore the email as it's been an even exchange -- I squee, you squee, we all squee for fic? I go for the first option more often, but I always feel slightly dorky in cases like this as if by sending FB in the first place to random author, I was trolling for FB myself. It was much, much easier, I think, when no one knew my name or read my stuff (and this is making the incredible leap of faith that people do indeed know my name and actually read and like my stuff).

I'd also like to note that once again, the temperature is in the 30s, with a windchill in the teens. Any minute, I expect white stuff to come falling out of the sky.

Still seven days to go...

Monday, January 05, 2004

Score one for the straight people

From this article:

"It was just crazy, man," the 22-year-old told "Access Hollywood" in an interview at his home Monday morning. "And we were just looking at each other and said, 'Let's do something wild, crazy. Let's go get married, just for the hell of it.' "

See, it's not the gay people we have to worry about undermining the sanctity of marriage; the straight people are doing a hell of job themselves. I think it's interesting that the blame for the undermining of marriage in our society is placed on the very people who cannot get married in the first place and here you've got people getting married with about as much thought as one would utilize to buy a tube of toothpaste.
Sometimes a picture says nothing at all

I went to the Museum of Modern Art yesterday for the last showing of a very famous exhibit, featuring works by Monet, Sauret, Picasso, Chagall, Warhol, O'Keefe, Matisse and Dali. The place was packed actually and it was very hard to see some of the more famous works, like Van Gogh's Starry Night, which was virtually impossible to see as many headphoned people clustered and refused to move, so moved they were by the painting.

Also on exhibit were some lovely works by Sauret -- up close, you could see each dot and backing away, the beautiful painting that resulted. There was only one painting by Monet on display, much to my dismay, and that was the famous Waterlilies. Up close, amazingly, I wasn't as blown as I was by Sauret's work.

I'm not a fan of Picasso. I hate to say it because the admission reveals my secret philistine, but while I'm at it, I'll also say that I'm not particularly fond of Matisse either (I did visit his museum in Nice last summer), who had a version of Notre Dame on exhibit. I saw much of Picasso at Reina Sofia in Madrid, particularly the very famous anti-war statement, Guernica. I remember seeing all of the guards and video-cameras keeping watching, but I was strangely unmoved. Discombulation and angles don't speak to me the same way flesh and blood do.

The whole exhibit had that same effect on me -- I was not moved at all. I could not discern beauty in the lines of Piet Mondrian and perhaps there was a smile or two at some of Warhol's work, but in general, it's hard to conjure up a reaction to a canvas done up completely in black (even if the artist has claimed to use different shades of black).

I left longing for the timelessness of the Prado and the Louvre. I love and appreciate the clean bright lines of the Classical era, the light and slightly out of focus landscapes of the Impressionists, the deep feeling and emotion of the Romantics, and of course, the dark, rich portraits of the Renaissance. I'll take detail, color and vividness any day over a stark red line painted on a white background.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

I am queen of the world or so I tell myself

I played a long game of Civilization this afternoon. I get into these kicks every now and then when I just have to play. I've been playing Civilization since high school and we're on the third variation of the game now. I'm still no better at it than I was in high school but I consider it a victory if my civilization is still on the map, come mandatory retirement in 2050.

Today though was probably my worst possible performance. I only founded 6 cities, absorbed a 7th (the English town of Brighton) by cultural prowess, and then picked up an eighth, Novograd (Russian city), but ended up losing it back to the Russians after my new assimilees decided my culture sucked big time. I had a good start, but got behind thanks to wandering barbarians and my own inability to deal with the issue. After losing about 5 settlers and 3 workers, I got smart and sent an archer after the barbarians. Problem solved, but then I was 100 years behind Abraham Lincoln and Queen Elizabeth.

I also don't ever click on the "Big Picture" screens. My method of going through technology is somewhere along the lines of "Hmmm, what can I learn in the shortest amount of time?" Well, that never gets you to the Manhattan Project, but it'll certainly get you the Hanging Gardens of Babylonia, simply because everyone else is busy building towns and infrastructure while my civilizations are invariably twiddling their thumbs and raising taxes.

This time though, I built a huge military. I never build huge militaries. This time I did. I even built a nuclear submarine and a bomber. That was kinda a cool. I usually never make it past upgrading my armies from warriors to spearman. Then when the Germans or French roll through with their tanks, I'm usually history. This time, I wasn't history because they were all freaked out by my large, mostly useless army that cost an enormous fortune (200 gold/turn) to maintain.

I also became kind of an arm-twister. The French were scared of my tanks, so I managed to wheedle money and technology out of them. The Persians were good for ivory and silk, while I went after the pesky English for iron and saltpeter. But despite my new military prowess and cunning acumen, I still managed to score my lowest score ever in my decade of playing this computer game.

If it wasn't for the fact that I have no food in my house and thus, need to go grocery shopping and get some food, I would honestly give it another go and this time, see what happens when I declare war on everyone instead of sitting in a corner building the biggest possible stick I can carry. Kudos to anyone who knows what the reference to "big stick" is

Friday, January 02, 2004

Bruce Almighty

I rented "Bruce Almighty" from the apartment's main office this afternoon, since I wanted to test a DVD on my new DVD player. The good news is that a) the DVD player works beautifully and b) I didn't actually spend money on "Bruce Almighty." The bad news is "Bruce Almighty" is ninety minutes of my life I will never get back. My verdict on Jim Carrey being one of the most annoying actors around stands. Throughout the whole movie, I was thinking, "I should have gotten Chicago instead." Heck, they even had X2 and even the fifth time through that movie would be more amusing than the first time through "Bruce Almighty."

The thing about "Bruce," it mostly features Jim Carrey (now abbreviated as JC) making facial contortions at the screen. At best, motivations are weak, self-serving and there's a lot of leap of faiths and moments of "where did that come from?" I didn't laugh once. Not once. The dog joke? Not. Funny. JC? Not funny. Making faces at the camera doesn't constitute good acting and certainly cannot lift a weak script up. Even Jennifer Aniston was not as good as she could have been (I kept wondering what her character, Grace, was doing with a goofball like JC's Bruce -- I'd have knocked Bruce on his keister already, he was so annoying). Catherine Bell was also there, starring as the co-news anchor, and maybe it's just my current "JAG" phase, but she was the least annoying member of the cast. Along with Morgan Freeman, he was okay starring as God.

The problem with Jim Carrey is when he attempts to play serious or deep, you can't take him seriously at all. I expected, during his 'reformation' period in the film, to pull some kind of gag or facial expression. Maybe that's the point that he doesn't, but it's like, he's got this image so completely sewn up that if he tries anything else at all, even if he wants to be sincere, he doesn't come across that way.

Definitely a thumb's down movie.

Thursday, January 01, 2004


Most of you who read this blog regularly know that I'm a history buff and an absolutely stickler for accuracy. I've been watching a miniseries on Elizabeth I from the BBC, rented from the library, and so far so good. Yesterday though, when I walked to the library, I decided to forgo getting the next tape in the Elizabeth series and got Nicholas and Alexandra instead, the 1971 version of the Robert K. Massie book with the same title. So far, the reviews seem okay.

In movies, I'm better with inaccuracy than I am with books and I'm not quite sure why that difference exists for me. For instance, I adore the movie Anne of the Thousand Days, a biography of Anne Boleyn. Granted, it's highly inaccurate at the end. For instance, Henry VIII never came to see Anne in the Tower before her execution nor did Anne ever have a dream that her daughter, Elizabeth, would ever be queen. There was no reason for Anne to tell Henry that Elizabeth would be queen . Anne already knew (or suspected) that wife number three would be Jane Seymour, and she'd already seen what had happened to daughter number one, Mary, so she could hardly expect better than that for Elizabeth. So those two things at the end of the movie were highly inaccurate -- Henry coming to see Anne and then Anne's proclamation that Elizabeth would be queen. Also, the scene where Mary is at the deathbed of her mother, Catherine of Aragon, is also untrue; once the King's Great Matter began, mother and daughter were separated and never saw each other again. And I won't even say anything about a dark-haired actress playing Mary, as portraits clearly show Mary as a blond in early life and then hair darkening to a nice chestnut brown; indeed, both Henry and Catherine had blond/reddish hair. But. Still, I very much enjoyed the movie and both Richard Burton and Genevive Bujold (the original Janeway) did a fabulous job.

I also thought the movie Elizabeth, starring Cate Blanchett had its historical inaccuracies, but not being as up on Elizabeth (other than the fact I'm pretty sure Robert Dudley was not, in fact, anything more than a platonic best friend) as I am on the travails on Henry VIII, I let some of those go as well.

I'm currently rereading Margaret George's " The Autobiography of Henry VIII and it's funny how a little extra knowledge can taint your reading experience. The first time I read this, I had no idea about Richard III and what he was all about. So I accepted the Tudor view that he was a Bad, Bad, Bad man. However, reading a second time through, it's harder for me to accept that view. However, it is accurate for that time period, so I can't quibble with George about that. However, despite rereading this book, I have not forgiven her for what she did to poor Mary Magdalene.

"Nicholas and Alexandra" is two videos long so it'll take me all weekend to watch this movie. I'm going to make an attempt to enjoy it on its merits, as a film for a mass audience, and not to look too deeply into it. Other than the Tudors, the last Romanovs are another family I know much about it. So we'll see how this goes.