The Story of the Cursed House

First it started with the surprise visitors of two little baby mice stuck in our recycling bin the day we close on our new house. Cute little mice, but knowing that there was a momma mouse somewhere, we quickly stomped the baby mice. Just Joking!! Anyone who knows me knows I would never allow that, we drove them a couple miles away from our home and released them into the woods where hopefully they'll survive, but worse case scenario they become food for a hungry predator, a more natural death then stomping by a human foot. So mini-crisis diverted, mouse traps bought to catch any further mice (the most humane mouse traps we could find).

We're happily painting the bedrooms of our house, waiting for our stuff to arrive from Ohio in a couple of days when we notice we're sweating profusely. Now, hubs and I are pretty good sweaters, but this was ridiculous. We check the air conditioning vents, air's-a-blowing but it's definitely Not cold air. The air conditioning's broken. So only a couple days into our home warranty and a day before our stuff arrives, our air conditioning's busted. Did I mention it's the middle of the summer here? The air conditioning guy can't come until the day After we get our stuff, so we have to move in with the house at around 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit. And don't even get me started on sleeping in that temperature! Hubby was like, well at least you've been to Africa, you should be used to sleeping in this heat. And I laughed, it wasn't even near as bad in Uganda as it was in our house! The dorms we slept in were made of concrete and were actually quite cool and comfortable. Not hot at all.

Fine, we're sweating balls, but our stuff is coming, and according to the movers, early in the afternoon the next day. We're excited until the morning of the move I step on a piece of glass in our kitchen. Now remember, we haven't moved anything in yet, so this glass was from the previous owners and I had no idea to beware of it. So I'm hobbling around like a gimp for a while until hubby can come home and take the glass out of the heal of my foot, and even after that it still hurts enough that I limp a bit. Hubs takes off work so he can help facilitate the move and we wait. And we wait. The movers don't arrive until 6pm! Irritated but still glad our stuff is here we're further surprised that there are only two men to move our stuff weighing 10,000 lbs! They ask if we know anyone in the neighborhood that would like to make a couple extra bucks, we do not, having just moved in and all, and so hubby and I help, despite being irritated because that's why we hired movers so We wouldn't have to do it and the fact that I'm still limping around a bit. Not even twenty minutes into the move, it starts to thunder and so we just move everything into our garage. It rains. While it rains, hubby and I are moving stuff into their rooms, unwrapping the covers off our furniture, etc. and the movers are chatting and chilling in their truck. I could have strangled someone.

Finally we get the move done with some major damage to our side and coffee table which are pretty much brand new and also some broken dishes. The next day all is going fine as I unpack, nothing major broken except for the broken dishes, which aren't the end of the world but a bit of a bummer. The air conditioning guy comes, tells us we have a leak in a coil and that he's not sure that our home warranty will cover it because our plan is so new (grrrrrrrr, why even have the darn thing then?) and since he has to go through the home warranty company with approval before he does anything, he couldn't fix our air conditioning then. We still haven't heard from our home warranty company and the air conditioning is still broke.

We have a nice dinner with a friend visiting from out of town and come back home, I'm in the kitchen reaching up to turn off the light on the fan by pulling the chain and CRASH, the light comes smashing down onto the kitchen island and the floor. I scream bloody murder and hubs comes running downstairs. Somehow the whole light came crashing down and shattered and yet not one shatter hit me. Thank goodness for that island that made it so I wasn't directly under the light. Glass shards are everywhere and hubby and I clean it up the best we can, but inevitably hubby gets cut on the foot the next morning and I have to pick glass bits out of the dogs' food bowls.

Needless to say, our house is cursed and it hates us.

And I didn't even mention the leaky toilet or the broken faucet handle. Sigh, the joys of owning a new home.


Disturbing, Disappointing, Disgusting.

Nothing pisses me off more than stupid, irresponsible parents. GET IT THROUGH YOUR HEAD FOLKS, PARENTING ISN'T SUPPOSED TO BE EASY! Just because your 16-year-old daughter thinks she's in love with her manipulative pedophile 40-year-old track coach doesn't mean that she is. She's SIXTEEN for gods sake. Hell, I thought I was invisible when I was sixteen, I thought I'd marry just about every other boyfriend I had when I was sixteen! It's the parents' responsibility to Know that their daughter doesn't know any better and to protect her from making a huge life-destroying traumatizing mistake. Yes, she's going to throw tantrums and make your life difficult, um, but that's what teenagers do last I checked.

Sorry, I'm so disgusted that I'm puking out of my ears. If I met these parents I'd literally beat them down.

The picture says it all and is as disturbing as it gets:

I feel so badly for that poor girl that has absolutely no one in the world to protect her now.


Watchmen: A Review

Watchmen is unlike any other comic I'd ever read. It read easily, much like fiction, and the plot and characters were not only fully developed but also fully realized. Alan Moore is known to be a bit eccentric, he is also known to be somewhat of a genius. It is easy to see why Time Magazine named Watchmen one of their 100 Best Novels and it's also easy to see why a movie would be made from one of his books, V For Vendetta, even if he wouldn't take any of Hollywood's dirty money from it. Moore is an interesting guy at the least, and has been accused of being paranoid about the government. Whatever you think of him, you cannot deny his skill for storytelling or the fact that he brings up interesting and thought provoking arguments, and pretty convincingly at that.

At first glance, Watchmen is about some "retired" masked vigilantes who start getting wrapped up in what at first seems simply a murder of one of their former masked comrades, but then turns out to be much deeper and much more sinister than they could ever imagine. What really impressed me the most at first are the characters. They are so well developed that they become very complex and very realistic. Even some of the lesser characters, such as Bernard, the newsstand guy, or Rorschach's psychologist, Malcolm, are well developed and are more than just flat supporting characters. The characters are not just well developed but also interesting and original, complex and contradicting, just like real people. They stick around with you after you're done reading the book, some may even haunt you.

As I progressed through the book, the plot really took off. It pulls you through with a mystery, and at first you don't think the mystery is as big as the characters in the book, but then there are some very odd clues that start making you wonder what the hell could possibly be going on and you get a sense it might be bigger than what you originally thought. In the end, the truth was bigger and more shocking then anything I could have personally guessed. It is a controversial ending, one that makes a political and social statement, as Moore's known for doing, but I didn't get the sense that Moore himself was leaning one way or the other, I might be wrong about that, but in the book I felt that he left the ending up for debate. He showed the good and bad, the noble and un-noble of both sides. And to tell you the truth, it's a disturbing and sad ending, but one that makes you think deeply about our society as it is today.

All this from a comic book you ask? Yes, it was a book I could barely put down and kiss my husband good night while I was nearing the end. I'm still thinking about it today and still feel haunted by one character in particular.


Update: I got jibed a little by my friend who got me into comic books because I wrote this review in 25 minutes. He said something to the effect that I couldn't write a review on a Masterpiece in 25 minutes, and he's right. I could have written forever about it, about the balance of the plot and characters, about the ingenious Issue all about Jon or the way the everything was interconnected and so well plotted out that it rivals the plotting skills of the writers of the TV show '24'. Or I could have gone on and on about all the symbolism or the foil of The Tales of Black Freighter to the main plot. But really, there's so much to praise and talk about in the book, and with considerations of not revealing too much of the plot as well as keeping it short and sweet for those who are interested but don't have time to read a super long review, I didn't touch on everything I easily could have in the book. If you would like a more in-depth look into Watchmen, I kindly direct you to good ol' Wikipedia. Though I do warn you that under "Plot Summary" it does spoil the ending, so if you don't want it spoiled, skip that part. For more of a review on Watchmen, and to avoid the spoilers, check out here and here. They are far more in-depth than my review and written by more comic book aficionados than myself. I'm rather impressed by their analysis of the book, but I do believe it takes a couple of readings to grasp Watchmen in the way that they have. My review comes from a person discovering Watchmen for the first time, a relative newbie into comics and maybe it will reach those who are on my level of comic book reading. So please, if you're interested, explore, enjoy and read the book! You won't be disappointed, I promise.

Is that better?

A Great Loss.

Maybe not to you. Maybe you never even heard of this guy, but at Miami he was the father of the greatest years our football team ever had. He was known to be a friendly and kind guy, and also tough as nails. Unfortunately he was not tough enough to fight off the brain tumor that took his life today. My thoughts will be with his family and in my heart I know the world has suffered a great loss. He was only 59.


African Publishing House

An interesting interview with the co-founder of The New Gong, an African Publishing House. Sounds pretty cool! Thanks to the Literary Saloon for the link.


Heroes Con.

So I've lost my Comic Book Convention virginity today by attending the Heroes Convention in Charlotte, NC. It was hard for me to know what to expect and being a little bit of a newbie in the comic book world felt a little nervous about navigating the depths of the comic book's secret lair. Luckily for me I had my brother, also a relative newbie into comic books, for support and my good friend, and consequently the reason I've become a comic book fan, to show me the ropes of the con. It was definitely an exhausting day, but really fun and interesting! I learned more about comic books today then I had learned in the months of my budding interest! I also got some awesome deals on some comics that I'd been wanting, and other than one elusive Issue 3 of the Adventures of the Escapist comic book that I wanted pretty much found everything I wanted and got at least 50% off of it too! I definitely grew a deeper appreciation for the comic book artists and writers and am even more interested in the art form.

And I know what people think when they hear "comic book convention." Granted, some of the attendees looked like they just crawled out of their fortress of solitude and haven't had contact with human civilization in years, but there really was a diverse group of people at the con with varying interests in different types of comics. Within the comic book genre (if it's considered a genre, I'm not really sure how it's categorized) there are many different genres and styles, from horror to hero to Disney. What I really learned is how huge the world of comics is and that if you're interested there really is something for everyone's interest. I suggest reading a comic book, you might be surprised at what you find. If you want to learn a little history and to explore the Holocaust in a complete new, insightful and evoking way, check out the Maus series. If you want a personal memoir about the struggles to discover your sexual identity and the courage to claim it, read Fun Home. If you're looking for a political comment on our intervention in the Middle East, check out the well done and moving Pride of Baghdad. And when you're looking for your Superhero story with a slight twist, great pictures and a good story go out and get The Dark Knight Returns. All of which I highly recommend. And there's more for the many other things you could be interested in, whether it's a Disney comic for your kid or the new Buffy comics for those (like me!) who was obsessed with the show. Hell, I named my freaking cat after Buffy!

Hey, if all these movies are now being made from comic books, there's gotta be some good stuff there. And there is, and you don't need to goto a comic book convention to find it. Most comics are eventually made into trade paperbacks that you can find in most bookstores and on many internet booksellers. I can promise you you'll be reading more comic book reviews on this blog and I hope one of them inspires you to give them a try. Comic books aren't just for kids anymore.

Also, as a nice surprise, I was reminded how far reaching and great the Steelers Nation is! At the Heroes Con I literally saw about six different people in Steelers' jerseys! And then even saw some more people with Steelers' paraphernalia (such as a tee-shirt, etc.) Needless to say, Steelers Fans Rock!

*The picture is for my friend who was so generous to donate his time to guiding my brother and I through the mazes of tables and booths at the con. He pulled off that Spiderman costume very convincingly... Just Kidding! So he didn't wear a Spidey costume, but Spidey is his favorite and it was the cover for the Heroes Con so I thought I'd use that picture.


If You Didn't Already Want To...

...then this article will make you want to read What Is the What by Dave Eggers.

If not for this reason alone:
We both agreed that I would not be paid for the work, and that any and all proceeds from the book would be his to use or distribute however he saw fit. He knew immediately that he would send most of the funds home to his village of Marial Bai, to build a school, a library, a community centre, and any number of other facilities.


Then We Came to the End: A Review

Then We Came to the End is an ingenious, witty and moving book by Joshua Ferris. His debut novel actually and a book that got rave reviews by every critic possible. It is unfortunate that it has not become the best seller that it deserves to be, some blame the awkward title, which I agree is pretty bad. I'm constantly mixing it up when I try to tell people, it's awkward to say and I always want to insert an "and" in front of it to make it And Then We Came to the End. If it is truly the title that is keeping you from the book, then don't let it. It's awkwardness does not transcend into the novel itself. The novel in fact is a brilliant, witty, original and well written story about people who happen to work in an office.

Then We Came to the End is written in the collective "we." Yes, you heard me, it's written from the first-person collective. It is funny and if you've ever worked in the office, you know that it's so true. You start saying, we Totally had one of those guys in our office! It starts out seemingly more like a statement on the office life, the office collective that tends to permeate in most office environments. It focuses on the constant gossip and drama that people tend to create in the office. But then something unexpected happens. With one amazing chapter that stands separate from the rest of the book, your heart is suddenly twisted and everything changes. The tone changes and everything you read is spun in a more human way then the mechanical collective spin the first half of the book has. The chapter "The Thing to Do and the Place to Be" is by far the most well written and emotionally compelling chapter of the book. And it is my favorite. By the time you get to that chapter your entertained by the book but you're kind of starting to wonder what is the point of the book. Is it all just to make fun of the office environment? Is it all just to show how wry and witty the author can be? How clever he can be? But no, that isn't the point and you are glad for it because you like the book so far, and that one chapter makes you love the book.

And when you do come to the end of the book, it is sad but satisfying. The last line of the book is a bit unexpected and somehow perfect because it brings you in personally, you feel like you have some sort of revelation, even if you're not sure what it is. You say yourself, "Ah ha! At last I see!" but aren't really sure what it is that you see. But that is a gift, to give your reader a sense of enlightenment, a sense that now because of your book they see the fuller picture.

Even if you haven't worked in an office setting before (you lucky bastards) you can appreciate this book. But for the people who Have worked in an office setting, this book can't be missed. It's an original and intelligent book, full of heart and humor. It is true and exaggerated, real and false all at the same time with the perfect balance. Ferris seems in line with those first time masterpieces such as Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and Janet Fitch's White Oleander. I don't know how you can get much better than Then We Came to the End as an author. Simply, it's a masterpiece. Except, he could always come up with a better title.


The Shipping News: A Review

The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx was a reread for me. I had read it when I was in junior high, probably too young as I still remember the shock of reading the words "cunt juice" in the book and knowing well enough what it was but not really knowing what it was either. I had been taken with the book, the scenes had stood out vividly to me and I had been completely attached to the characters.

I'd been meaning to reread this treasured favorite of mine for a while, but of course always found reason to read a new book instead. Finally, after we moved and I was feeling a little melancholy for the familiar, I thought when better to reread an old favorite of mine?

Immediately I was shocked at how choppy Proulx's writing was. I didn't remember noticing that before, I only remember being completely sucked into the story. Proulx's style isn't careless choppiness, it is deliberate and artistic and I was able to appreciate it for that, but also, it's not my favorite style of writing to read. I tend to like writing the flows a bit more, but that's just tastes, no comment on her skill. The novel was well written and with a cast of the most interesting characters and an original story.

Quoyle is one of those protagonists that you simultaneously sympathize with and want to knock upside the head. He's stuck in his cycle of chronic low self esteem and more or less tortures himself with it by letting people abuse him relentlessly. After a disturbing incident almost loses him his daughters, Quoyle's aunt convinces him to move to Newfoundland with her, the place of his ancestors. In a journey that tests him and frees him, this is a coming of age story for Quoyle that just happens to happen when he's thirty-six. It's a story about love and pain and ultimately a story of second chances. The characters are lively and likable and the story is hopeful and yet real. There's no fairy tale here, but it paints a very real picture of love. One that isn't necessarily full of pain and passion like in all the movies, but a love that is respectful and kind, calm and content. And it also speaks to that self growth and discovery of finding your place in the world and finding your self respect.

I remember watching the movie when it came out and being pissed off by it. It had quite the cast, Kevin Spacy, Julianne Moore, Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, but they didn't seem right. Quoyle was grossly obese and Kevin Spacey, despite his tenacity at playing losers, didn't fit the bill. Wavey was skinny and somewhat homely looking and Julianne Moore just didn't fit the build either. Of course I watched the movie long ago and perhaps they portrayed the characters well enough to overcomes these physical oversights, I really don't remember. I think I was mostly upset that Quoyle wasn't grossly obese in the movie as I felt that was one of the main parts of the book and his psychology. I will try to get my hands on the movie again soon and revisit it as I have found out through this experience that revisiting often presents different results. I was a little disappointed that I wasn't as captivated by the book the second time around as I was when I first read it, but then I decided that I didn't have to let go of those vivid emotions and images the book brought up in me the first time and that I can kind of combine those with the new insight I gathered from the book this time that I couldn't grasp at my younger age. The combination of these two experiences reading the book has made it a fuller experience and I look forward to reading it once again perhaps in another ten years to see what that experience will yield.


It will be my goal to try to reread a book every five new books I read, just so I don't forget my old favorites and so I can experience an old beloved book in a new way with new insights.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns : A Review

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller was given to me by a good friend, and it couldn't have been more perfect for me. I've been a Batman fan above all other superheroes except for the X-Men (and more specifically that hunky Wolverine... and I'm not talking about Hugh Jackman, I'm talking that cartoon Wolverine with the yellow suit back when I was a kid - hubba hubba). There's something about Batman that is dark, mysterious and compelling. It's always been understood that he didn't have any real super power, though in this particular book there's something going on with a huge bat that might have been giving him some sort of power or strength. The most compelling thing about Batman though is that he's just a regular dude, sure a ridiculously rich dude that was traumatized as a child by the death of his parents, but still, just a dude. No x-ray vision or webs coming from his wrists and yet he chooses to dress up as a bat and fight crime. He's not special except for that single choice and that's what makes him so special and intriguing. I mean a lot of people have been traumatized, a lot of people are rich. What makes him make that decision to don the Batman outfit and fight crime? His strong moral conviction and his harvested pain make him a hero that you can almost relate to, because after all, he is just a normal dude.

The ink is very detailed and well done in this book and the story is dark and interesting. It took me a little bit to get into it, but once I was into it I was really into it. We are presented with a retired Batman, coming out of retirement. He's older and more prone to back pains and exhaustion. It's a time when the vigilant superheroes are supposed to be extinct or at least kept secret and not seen in public and so he causes quite the stir resurfacing. There are wounds in his past he has to heal and loose ends he must tie. It is a different Batman book, no evil villain dominates these pages with his diabolical plans, really the villains are hardly the center of this book. Instead, the book centers around the debate of the vigil anti. Do they or don't they have the right to fight crime and protect their city? There are many sides to the argument and the book runs through them all. It's up to you to decide what you think. Is Batman right or wrong in what he does? Is he a hero or a villain?

Oh yeah, and there's a pretty sweet ass fight scene between two well known superheroes near the end of the book that is just pretty cool if I do say so myself.


Now I'm onto Watchmen by that crazy genius Alan Moore. So far, it seems to have similar tones of the controversy over vigil antis and is Extremely well written.


A Day At The Beach.

I know, I've been MIA due to being totally swamped with getting school and house stuff together... But that didn't stop me from taking a day trip to the beach over Memorial Day Weekend! I'm not going to lie to you, that was pretty sweet ass. I've NEVER lived somewhere where I could take a day trip to the beach. And needless to say, the dogs had a blast as well.

Also, a fairly exciting victory for me. Having bought a cat tree a while back with this awesome looking hammock attached to it for my cats, I quickly discovered that my cats would be damned if they ever got into that hammock! Disappointment and multiple attempts at bribery persisted until finally I lost all hope, only to find a year later... victory! And I took no time to obtain proof of this victory so I could bask in it for years to come.

Yes, so that is what I have been up to around here. Very important stuff, no doubt.

Quote of the Day

"And by the way, when power is handed from this president to the next, the next president is going to be left with no margin for error. They'd better be smarter than their advisers."

Joe Biden

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