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Supernatural: an opinionated look at season 4

SleepyJane just asked me what my thoughts were on the fourth season of Supernatural, and I'm sorry to say it opened the floodgates.

I haven't written about Supernatural lately because I have some severely mixed feelings about it.  As everyone knows, I adore this show.  Which makes it extremely painful for me to admit that I'm... shall we say... less than impressed with the current season.

The first episode, 'Lazarus Rising', brought my favorite Winchester back from hell and introduced the main premise of the season - demons, angels, and the apocalypse.  It was a strong opening, and I was excited about the first few episodes... until it slumped into a downward spiral with poor writing, angsty angels, and a gradual loss of the well played family drama between the two brothers, which was one of the factors that turned Supernatural into one of my favorite shows.  I don't mean their reversal of roles, or their growing animosity towards each other - I know exactly where the writers are going with that - but it lacks the delicate writing and balance that the show has previously displayed through three whole seasons that made their relationship feel so realistic.

There were a few truly great episodes here and there, but the majority of the season made me cranky and disappointed.

It didn't come as a surprise that the writers chose to take this season of Supernatural down a more traditionally biblical path.  After all, demons are common enough, why not bring a dose of the divine on in?  But the season's descent towards the traditional apocalypse, hell on earth, Lucifer rising, blah blah blah... To me, it shows a departure from the unique, and a complete lack of imagination.  It's been done before.  Again and again and again.  

When 'On The Head Of A Pin' aired, I thought it was one of the most intense and well written episodes of the season.  I was wary of the subject matter, since Dean is brought in to torture a demon (and I have some strong feelings on torture in the media), but it was beautifully written and flawlessly acted by many of the people involved.  I allowed myself to get excited again.

Then.... 'It's A Terrible Life'.  An episode that could have been much funnier than it was, and seemed to point to the fact that the writers were having trouble creating any kind of plot device without angels being involved.  Still, I kept my hopes up.

'The Monster At The End Of This Book'.  Last week's episode.   I couldn't have been more disappointed.  It started out humorous, not too bad... a filler episode.  Then.... a prophet?  Protected by an archangel?  Puh-leeeze.   

This twisting of the show to become so Christian/apocalypse themed bothers me because Supernatural has always skillfully walked a line between the unique and the traditional, and this is just.... lazy.  Unimaginative, cookie cutter, bland.  The writing has suffered in more ways than one, and honestly, if Jensen Ackles wasn't around constantly proving that not only does he have a pretty face, he can act, I can honestly say I would have thrown in the towel and given up on the show.  

I'm not looking forward to the Sam vs. Dean season finale.  And honestly, I'm not particularly looking forward to season 5.  I am glad that although the series has definitely been renewed for a 5th season, word is that there will not be a 6th.  Supernatural is running out of steam, and it's painful to watch the show slip into mediocrity, where it does not belong.

To be perfectly fair, although I'm derisive now, my opinion may change slightly when I have a chance to watch the season back to back on DVD without the long breaks  between new episodes.  It may flow better.  It may not be as bad as I think.  But from where I stand right now... I doubt it.

I'm sorry, oh faithful Supernatural fans, but I did say this would be opinionated.  What do you all think?


Conversation dos and don'ts with Becca


DO tell me about the awesome deal you got on a jacket from Macy's!

DON'T mention how I've been wearing my jacket inside out for two and a half hours. At work. Where I'm supposed to look professional.


DO tell me about how the last few days of sunny weather have inspired you to spend more time in your garden.

DON'T say a word about how I shrieked and ran away from a bee while trying to plant my flowers.


DO share a funny story from your drive test back when you first got your license.

DON'T remind me about that time I was singing at the top of my lungs to Green Day and merrily drove right through a red light.


DO tell me about how your day went. Share your high points and low points.

DON'T point out the lines of blue, red, and black ink across my temples that happened as I stuck various pens behind my ear during my work day.


DO get into a spirited debate with me about movies. I love them, and I love arguing about them.

DON'T mock me when I can spout lines from Joe's Apartment. I'm embarrassed enough already, I promise.

Video Games

DO argue with me about the merits of the various Final Fantasy games.

DON'T screech at me when I'm playing Silent Hill or Resident Evil - I'm jumpy enough already!


DO talk to me about Supernatural!


I don't know why you would want to, but I'm just sayin'....

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It was Friday night when I broke.

I was sitting at my parent's dining room table eating homemade pizza. Innocent enough, until I opened my mouth. "Mom," I said, "I feel like I need to at least watch Twilight. I've spent too long mocking it without having read the book or seen the movie."

Conveniently, Mom just so happened to have the flick in the house.

So it came to be that I watched Twilight.
I promptly went out and bought the first book the next day.

It was hard for me to admit that I had actually enjoyed this immensely popular teen fiction. When I want to read about vampires, I pick up Laurell K. Hamilton or something similar. I'll have blood, sex, death, sadomasochism, and badass chicks with my supernatural fiction, please. But there was something about the simplicity of the story that captured my attention (and I'm a sucker for a vampire romance... no pun intended).

However, I do have several major issues.

I'm no stranger to Stephanie Meyer - I read and enjoyed The Host, though I thought her origins as a young adult author clung too heavily to her "adult" novel. It had the potential to be truly excellent, but skirted too many deeper issues for me to say more than 'The Host really held my attention, and it could have been really good." I felt similarly about Twilight. The writing felt clumsy and clearly aimed towards young teen girls, yet there were a few moments when it really shone.

I have another problem with the book. Bella bores me. I mean, she bores me to tears. The elements of her character that make her interesting and likeable were completely clouded by her obsession with Edward. Instead of granting her some semblance of independence, Meyer took her protagonist and viciously wrung out all trace of character, leaving her limp as a wet dishrag. And oh my God the teenager angst. I have so little patience with it!

Oh, and can we talk about stalker Edward? Yes, teenage girls, it's romantic to have some guy trespass into your home and watch you sleep.


A quick comment about the film - I thought it was terrible. There's just no getting around it. Robert Pattinson was lovely and actually very good, but the special effects were atrocious, much of the acting was wooden, and the script was painful.

All that harsh criticism aside, the simple truth remains that I did enjoy it - both book and movie. But I enjoyed it in a hey, that was kind of fun sort of way, not in a OMG I love Twilight, it's SO GOOD! kind of way. I feel no pressing urge to run out and get the second book. I feel no thrill of excitement contemplating the release of the next movie. I'm left with that wanting more feeling - not wanting more of the story, just wanting more substance to the story.

I guess what I really want are more adult, interesting characters, and a more adult, interesting romance.

This is why I shouldn't be allowed to read teen fiction.



One thing I haven't done near enough of in my life is travel.

When I was much younger my family would take cross country road trips from Washington to the east coast to visit family, so I have seen quite a bit of the U.S. But as far as my adult life goes...

I went to Boston that one time?

There are so many places to see in this world, and no good reason not to see them. I had this idea in my head that travel was astronomically expensive, out of reach for a small town office drone like myself. Then my cousin flew out from Boston. Total price of his round trip tickets? Around $300.

I did some quick searching and found I could end up in a lot of places in the U.S. for under $200, and outside of the U.S. for under $600. Completely shattered the "traveling is WAY to expensive for ME" thought, and left me with a fair amount of excitement. Working on my finances for a month or two has freed up a surprising amount of money, and if I was so inclined, I could afford to head out of town right now.

My new plan is to try to take two trips a year. One within the U.S. and the other outside of the U.S. I'm not going to have any destination in mind, I'm just going to check around, find out where it would be cheapest to fly to, and head there for a few days to a week. I'll see places that I never would have chosen to visit, and while this may or may not be a good thing, at least I'll have seen them.

Most of my vacation time has been eaten up by taking days off here and there, then the week long vacation last week, but I plan to go somewhere random this fall. Maybe September or October.

It's going to be difficult for me. I've been described as a "homebody" on more than one occasion, and I can't in all honesty deny it. What can I say? I love sleeping in my own bed. But... there will really never be a better time to start seeing new places. I'm not married. I don't have children. I don't have major debt. And I don't want to be sitting in my rocking chair knitting socks when I'm eighty thinking to myself, "man, I wish I had actually done some of that stuff I talked about doing when I was younger."

It's within reach. Not necessarily within easy reach, but with a touch of planning and good financial management, definitely within reach. Now all that's left is to do it.



A week of vacation.

Saint Patrick's Day.

Kitchen full of alcohol.

Cousin visiting from Boston.

Whew.... yeah, I'm still wiped. Real post soon, I promise. ^_^

My cousin Jared and I. Good times. =)


He makes me laugh...

Me: **hiccup** So what I'm saying is **hiccup** that you should really **hiccup** think about what**hiccup** ....I give up....

Pat: You sound like a poorly buffered internet movie.

Me: .......


What's YOUR professional best?

You haven't seen me at my professional best until you've seen me leave a message for someone I hate.

The message I left was businesslike and respectful, giving the agent the information she needed without sounding angry, upset, condescending, or arrogant.  There was a chipper, nearly sweet lilt to my tone.  

All the while, I was making THIS FACE:

That may actually be an exaggeration.  After all, it's hard to hold one's jaw in that position while talking.  I also may or may not have been making stabbing motions with my pen.

I know this isn't a real post, but I'm working up to resuming my blogging duties, I promise.  ^_^


The haircut

While Becca is a touch disappointed that there is simply nothing to be done about her huge nose, she does love her new haircut.


2009 Oscars Fashion

Ah, the Oscars... I have such a love/hate relationship with you.

Frequently I sputter in outrage over the movies selected to receive the prestigious awards. Frequently I cry out in frustration at the long acceptance speeches. Frequently, and this is my favorite part, I shriek in horror at OSCAR FASHION.
Yes, the only reason I watch the Oscars at all is honestly just to check out who is wearing the ugliest dress, and though Oscar Fashion was kind of boring this year, I had plenty to scream and avert my eyes from.

Behold my discoveries.

Amanda Seyfried may well have escaped my notice completely were it not for the giant bow in the middle of her dress. Without the bow, the dress would have been boring, but sometimes boring is the lesser of two evils.

Beyonce, your dress was as terrible as your performance. In fact, I don't even want to talk about it.

I really like Heidi Klum's shoes. I do not love her dress. The neckline sort of makes me feel like her dress wasn't quite finished yet, but she wore it to the Oscars anyway even though there were still a few seams that needed to be sewn. "I'm Heidi Klum!" she probably announced airily. "Everyone will think this is what it's supposed to look like, and I'll be stunning!" You are pretty neat, Heidi, but no, bad dress.

Jessica Biel gleefully snatched a curtain from her picture window and wrapped it around herself with a flourish while brandishing her empty wine bottle. "I'm going in THIS! I'll just tuck a table runner into it, and I'm ready to go!"

I think Marisa Tomei is a stunning creature. However, and you may not be able to tell from the angle of this photo, from the waist down her dress looks as though it was created by stapling a bunch of those fold-out paper fans together. TOO MANY PLEATS!

The next time Melissa George appears at the Oscars will be for her ground-breaking role as a mermaid. Seriously though... super skinny, tight, constricting dress suddenly exploding into a mass of tulle? No.

Miley Cyrus.... if I never hear her name again I'll die a happy woman. I'll also die a happy woman if I never have to see this dress again. I just... I don't even know what to say about it, except.... EWWW.

I actually think Penelope Cruz looks lovely. Lovely if she were at her own vintage wedding. Which, if I may point out, she is not.

Sarah Jessica Parker. How I loathed you in Sex and the City. How I have often scoffed at your clothing, and true to form, last night was no exception. I am somewhat grateful to you, however, for your attempt to look like a fairy princess with smashed boobs bulging out of your dress certainly gave me something to laugh about. (Seriously, you can't tell so much in this picture, but the boob bulge was BAD.)

Now I don't actually know who Vanessa Hudgens is (or even how to spell her name) but I do know that the random sprouting of feathers and whatsits from her chest, paired with the boufy (shut up, that's a word!) bottom, really make this dress a piece of work. A piece of burn it in a bonfire work.

Now that I've insulted several famous women on their choice of outfit, I'd like to turn to the actresses that I thought looked amazing:

Although I was not fond of (and by "not fond of" I mean "hated with a firey passion") Amy Adam's necklace, I thought her dress was stunning. Dramatic, flattering, and interesting without looking weird from any angle. Lovely.

I heard Freida Pinto caught a lot of flack for wearing this dress because it was "too old for her". To be honest I can kind of see where the nay-sayers are coming from, but the color is so gorgeous on her, the lace is so pretty, and it has such an awesome sari-like feel to it, that I say good job.

This is Harvey Weinstein and Georgina Chapman. I don't know who Georgina Chapman is, but her dress is awesome. It reminds me of some crazy tapestry or maybe an awesome rug. I know it sounds weird, but I really like that dress!

Natalie Portman is a wee, petite sprite of lovely. I'm not 100% crazy about the color, but I just love the overall look.

Most everyone at the Oscars feel into three catagories: LOVE IT, GROSS, and BORING. There were a few, however, that I simply couldn't figure out how I felt about.

I think Jennifer Aniston is quite pretty, even if she's never been one of my favorite actresses (and MY GOD I hated 'Friends'!) but I think her dress is okay. It's the hair that's making me nuts! Elegant, fairly simple dress, with that hair! I just... I don't know.

Kate Winslet could show up at the Oscars wrapped in a shiny black trashbag with thigh high hooker boots and I would still comment on how gorgeous she was. But still... I'm not crazy about the dress. And again with the hair! You can't really see it in this picture, but it totally ruined everything. With great hair I'm pretty sure I would have liked the dress.

Taraji Henson has an awesome name and an awesome necklace. However, I can't decide if I adore her dress, or if it looks like someone ran in circles around her really fast with a roll of paper towels.

Lastly, there is always a person or two who you love because they're so crazy, and you secretly hope they'll show up wearing something bizarre.

Mickey Rourke, the only man who stands out enough in a crowd to warrant making it into my blog post. How I adore you and your craziness!

As far as award show getup goes this is tame as far as Tilda Swinton is concerned. But... it's TILDA SWINTON! I both worship her, and am sort of scared of her.
And so ends Oscar Fashion 2009 with Becca. I missed the Oscars last year, but I did cover Oscar fashion in 2007. The formatting broke when I transferred it from Wordpress, there are typos, and the writing is poor, but you get the idea.
Until next year!


Haircut guilt

I know it's time for a haircut when my mom has been haranguing me about it for about a month, and throwing it, still damp, into a ponytail before I go to work starts to seem acceptable. Happily, my delightful 19 year old sister has contracted a friend of hers to cut my hair today.

Fortunately this friend isn't some random 20 year old with grand aspirations and a pair of dull scissors just waiting to butcher a haircut. This friend went to haircutting school*, has been working for a while at an upscale salon, and gave my sister one of the best haircuts she's ever had, so I have faith in her abilities.


I have guilt. Serious guilt.

I've been going to the same hairdresser for years. And by years I mean that I've been visiting her whenever my hair starts to look like an encounter with a weed whacker would do it some good since I was a child. This will be the first time ever I've had someone other than Belinda cut my hair. I feel like I'm betraying her, especially in this tricky economic time when it's more important than ever to keep loyal clients.

But this girl, Caroline's friend... she's coming to my house to cut my hair, which means I don't have to try to get off of work early. And, umm, haircutting house calls. How could I resist?

I may have trouble sleeping tonight, but I'll just keep repeating haircut house call, I'm saving gas money, haircut house call, I'm saving gas money...

Nope, not helping. Guilt. I have it.

*I actually have no idea where people go to school to learn how to cut hair. I guess it's not called "haircutting school", but you get my point. ^_^


Bits and Pieces - Friday!

It's Friday and I'm suffering from sleep deprivation at the tail end of a long week. I had a couple of ideas for a real post but couldn't seem to concentrate on writing any of them. Apparently I have the attention span of a gnat this morning. So instead of a post with actual content, we have Bits and Pieces!

  • Not all Unexpected Encounters are unpleasant. My neighbor Liz and her husband came over last night for snacks and conversation. They are absolutely lovely people, fun and friendly, and I am so grateful that Liz come over to introduce herself earlier this week. Plus, she kicks ass at Halo 3. I mean... my God. I didn't even know what hit me.

  • The new gym I joined is pretty slick. Small, sparsely populated, and full of everything I need. Perfect. I'll be setting up an appointment with a personal trainer next week sometime. I'm on my way to a sexy, sultry, muscular physique. Seriously though, I'm focused on training myself in discipline more than anything else right now. I need to stop saying "I'm just too tired, I'll work out tomorrow." If I can conquer my gym procrastination, I'll be well on my way to Rhona Mitra Badassness*.

  • I meet with my grandmother every payday to work out a budget and go over my finances (I'm profoundly grateful that she's willing to act as my financial advisor, 'cause God knows I need the help!). This payday I came within $0.50 of my planned budget. It feels absolutely incredible to be so on top of things. Go me!

    It's a skimpy Bits and Pieces posts, but I've got nothing else.


    Happy Valentine's Day!

    funny pictures of cats with captions

  • *Silly spellcheck, of COURSE 'badassness' is a word!

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    Unexpected Encounters Part III

    I've had a string of odd encounters while living in my duplex.  Take a look at Part 1 and Part II.  Actually... does three count as a string?  How many encounters would it take before it became a string?

    It was my usual quiet Monday night.  I had played some World of Warcraft, eaten a peanut butter sandwich for dinner (being to lazy to actually prepare something), and was curled up in bed reading when the doorbell rang.

    Startled, I turned from my Patricia Briggs werewolf novel to glance at the clock.  11:15.  PM.  I was seized by a sudden fear that it was my parents at the door.  Maybe they had tried to call to tell me my younger sisters had been eaten by zombies, but I hadn't answered!  I snatched up my cell phone.  No missed calls.  No texts.  Probably no zombies.

    Cautiously I slipped out of bed and hurriedly pulled a sweatshirt on.  Maybe the cops were out looking for Ricky again.  It was unlikely to be my parents since they hadn't called, and Pat had a key.  I hesitated when I got to the door.  If I scream, my neighbors will hear me, I reminded myself, but still I hesitated (I haven't started my diary yet, after all).  Or, maybe it was Jensen Ackles!  I was brightened considerably by the thought. Stella hopped up on the windowsill and shot me an impatient look.

    "Who's out there, kitty?" I whispered.  "Is it Jensen, Mom and Dad, or a serial killer?"

    Stella ignored me.  Ungrateful cat.

    When I finally opened the door I wasn't presented with the killer from Friday the 13th, my parents, or (tragically) Jensen Ackles.  The young woman standing outside with a shy smile on her face was small and blond, huddled in a gray sweatshirt with her hood pulled up, and looked decidedly harmless.

    "Hi," she said uncertainly.  "I'm your neighbor from across the street.  I hope I didn't wake you up, I saw your lights on."

    "Um... hi," I replied.  "Don't worry, you didn't wake me up.  I'm Becca..."

    "I'm Liz," she said, smiling.  "I'm so sorry to bother you, but I've been meaning to come over and introduce myself for a while now.  Plus our refrigerator just stopped working, and I'd love someone to talk to."

    We chatted for about twenty minutes.

    And then she went home.

    Ah, life and all the little random surprises.  Anti-climactic, I know, but hey - that's what happened!  ^_^

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    Photographic Reflections

    I was thinking back to my vacation to Boston in 2007 today and felt like sharing some memories.

    The Houses

    I swear to God every single house in Boston has a PERFECT YARD. I love houses, so I took a ton of house pictures while I was there. It was only later, after I was going through my photos, that I realized every single yard was impeccably manicured. I'm sure there must be unkempt lawns, but I certainly didn't see any.

    The Public Gardens

    The Boston Public Gardens are absolutely beautiful. My sister and I spent quite a bit of time wandering around the park.

    The Bridges
    Do I even need to say anything about this? Seattle sure as hell doesn't have anything this cool. The Space Needle? PFFFFT.

    Harvard Yard

    Or, as I was instructed later by my aunt, "Hah-vahd Yahd".

    Harvard Museum of Natural History

    Little sis Caroline and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in addition to the Harvard Museum of Natural History, but I have to confess that dinosaur bones can occasionally beat art as far as I'm concerned.


    Such character! Normally I despise crowds, but even though Provincetown was filled absolutely to the max with people, I was totally relaxed. The diversity of the people and the stores that populated the downtown area was so rich and exciting.


    Yeah... I wouldn't mind spending the rest of my life hanging out there.


    Caroline and I stayed with our aunt and uncle, and spent a lot of time with our cousins. Since we live across the country from each other we only get to see each other face to face every few years or so if we're lucky.

    So the best part of the trip? Family.


    But I did see get to see Dropkick Murphys. In BOSTON. That might trump family.


    Taken Movie Review

    Taken (2009)

    *1/2 out of ****

    Liam Neeson is a badass for whom I hold an unabashed adoration. Action flick, comedy, or drama, I'll watch it just because Liam Neeson is in it. Plus... I mean, the man did voice acting for Fallout 3. How can you not love that?

    Now that we've established my near worshipful feelings for Mr. Neeson, you can understand how excited I was when I first saw the previews for Taken. Action movie starring Liam Neeson - and it gets better - written by Luc Besson! My favorite movie genre with one of my favorite actors. Umm... yes please? This caused me to overlook a few things that should have been glaringly obvious.

    Premise: CIA spook Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) has retired from government service to attempt to rebuild a relationship with his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). Kim runs off to Paris for summer vacation with a friend, and while on the phone with her father, is kidnapped by an organization of slavers specializing in forcing girls into prostitution. Bryan flies to Paris and comes down on the organization like the wrath of God in single minded pursuit of his daughter's kidnappers.

    Okay. Liam Neeson was fantastic, as always. And this movie had a lot of really great elements. Fight scenes that were well choreographed and filmed, great one-liners, satisfying explosions... it was an action movie. But honestly, if I didn't like Liam Neeson so much, I'd be slamming this movie a hell of a lot harder.

    This all goes back to my very strong feelings about torture in entertainment (yeah, I know I couple of you are saying I told you so). Once again, the "good guy" - loving father just desperate to get his daughter back - resorts to torture to gain information that he needs. Without even batting an eye.

    Now, my feelings about this one are complicated. What wouldn't you do to get your child back from a ring of slavers? Especially if you had already found a trailer full of drugged girls prepared to be raped, and were imagining your daughter going through the same thing? Would you electrocute a man into telling you what you need to know to find her? Unfortunately the scene is treated cavalierly and no consequences are presented, as usual, and the end of the scene is shockingly brutal.

    Actually, there are scenes throughout the entire film that are shockingly brutal. From his apparent complete lack of compassion when in the trailer with the bound and drugged women, to the torture scene, to his shooting an innocent woman in the arm ("It's a flesh wound. But if you don't get me what I need, the last thing you'll see before I make your children orphans is the bullet I put between her eyes"), it all adds up to his character being a single minded, unfeeling monster. Not a good way to portray your main character.

    The last thing that left me with a sour taste in my mouth was the complete lack of any sort of attempt to put a stop to the women trafficking. Maybe there was something that got left on the editing room floor, but the film left you with the impression that Liam Neeson saved his daughter and just decided to pretend he didn't know about the fact that young girls were being kidnapped, drugged, raped, and forced into prostitution. "Lalalala, I have my daughter back, all is well in the world, wheeeee!"

    It was disappointing. This movie had great potential, but smothered all the good things it had going for it with a cold, mostly unlikeable main character (he was adorable and sweet for the first fifteen minutes) and a profoundly unsatisfying ending.

    "If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you."

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    Monday Perspectives: Anxiety Dreams

    In my dream, I was playing World of Warcraft and suddenly decided I needed to buy a strategy guide for instances and raids. I was unimpressed with the wealth of information online, and wanted to be able to page through a book. I hopped in the car and headed to my local game store where I found the shelves completely bare except for the book I wanted.

    "What's going on here?" I asked the clerk, surprised. I gestured to the empty store. "Are you guys moving?"

    "All the game stores in Washington are closing down," he told me forlornly. "The economy is so bad, no one's buying video games."

    I was struck speechless, horrified, imagining not being able to wander into the store and browse the used section, looking for a good deal. It was too heart wrenching to comtemplate, so I turned to the one item left on the shelf, the World of Warcraft Instance and Raid strategy guide.

    "Two hundred fifty dollars?!" I cried.

    "Sorry," the clerk said, and started playing with his PSP.

    I stared at the book, trying desperately to figure out how to work that two hundred into my budget when I - woke up.

    It's funny how sometimes when you have a dream you know exactly why you had it. I live down a couple of side roads off a main thoroughfare that was once lined with businesses. The RV dealer is long gone, and one by one parking lots that were once packed full of shiny new cars have been emptying as the dealerships declare bankruptcy. The movie theater parking lot is sparsely populated, even on a Friday night. The coffee stand looks sad and alone without the usual stream of cars going through.

    Small restaurants, coffee shops, car dealerships, tiny local stores.... all disappearing. It's one thing to read about the suffering economy in the news. It seems alarming in the abstract, yet clearly someone else's problem. After all, no matter what the news says, things are fine. Yes, I will stick my head in the sand, thank you. Then people you know start losing their jobs.

    I've been thinking about it a lot as I work my way out of a hole I dug for myself with my finances. I'm extremely fortunate in the fact that my grandmother, who had a career in the banking industry, has been willing to act as my financial advisor and help me climb back up. I'm becoming acutely aware of how important money management is, and how imperative it is that we live within our means.

    I'm not really sure where I originally intended to go with this post. All I can think about right now is how grateful I am that I don't have much debt and that I still have a job. And the fact that I'm profoundly grateful it's not up to me to fix everything. So that secret movement to take over the government and install me as Supreme Dictator... yeah, let's hold off for a little while on that, okay?

    In: ,

    World of Warcraft Controversy

    I originally posted this on Power Word: Totem, but thought it was worth another post. It may be World of Warcraft related, but it has enough real world significance that I threw it on here as well. Plus, I'm having some serious writers block. Give me a break. ^_^

    The Art of Persuasion.

    I was playing World of Warcraft and running my toon Härpy around the Borean Tundra powering through quests when she ran into that one. It took me by surprise. I carefully read the quest text, then re-read it.

    "It is fortunate you're here, Troll.

    You see, the Kirin Tor code of conduct frowns upon our taking certain 'extreme' measures - even in desperate times such as these.

    You, however, as an outsider, are not bound by such restrictions and could take any steps necessary in the retrieval of information.

    Do what you must. We need to know where Lady Evanor is being held at once!

    I'll just busy myself organizing these shelves here. Oh, and here, perhaps you'll find this old thing useful.... "

    "WTF is THIS?!" I typed incredulously to my boyfriend. "I'm being told to torture a prisoner?"

    Until just recently, America had a president in office who staunchly defended the use of torture techniques. Movies, television shows, and video games constantly glorify that barbaric approach to gaining information, and suddenly I was faced with my favorite game jumping on the filthy bandwagon.

    I used to scoff at the idea that the entertainment industry was the cause of violent crimes. When the Columbine shooting occurred I shrieked in outrage every time I read an article that held metal bands responsible. "I listen to metal, and I'M not about to go shoot up a school," I snapped. "How about some personal accountability!" But since then I've seen our entertainment become more realistic and grim, and witnessed the emergence of the "torture porn" cinematic genre. When Hostel was released, I'm ashamed to say I went to go see it. Within the first half of the film I literally felt sick to my stomach, but worse than the film was the fact that I was surrounded by young men who laughed through the entire duration of the movie.

    I am still reluctant to blame the media, blame entertainment. It still feels like a cop out to me, a way to dodge the personal responsibility. But I don't think there's any escaping the fact that we are building a culture of desensitization - perhaps have built. And I know that this quest seems insignificant. Click, click, the prisoner says a few cheesy lines, and it's done. From how I look at it, it feels like all Blizzard is doing is adding to the commonplace nature of torture, and not only that, promoting it. What does Librarian Normantis say to you?

    "You see, the Kirin Tor code of conduct frowns upon our taking certain 'extreme' measures - even in desperate times such as these."

    Even in desperate times such as these. I say that in desperate times such as these, and by that I mean the world we, as players, have to inhabit in real life, we need to stand up and object to this casual integration of brutality into our every day entertainment.

    This is a smaller point, but one I'd still like to mention.

    Children play this game.

    I'm a twenty-four year old adult, I was raised with very strong moral values, and I know the difference between right and wrong. World of Warcraft is rated "Teen", and I know twelve year olds who play. Now don't get me wrong, I believe very strongly that parents should be involved in what their children are doing, and the games that their children are playing. But even if you're an attentive parent and you're watching your fourteen year old play WoW here and there, it seems all right. Cartoony graphics, bloodless battle. Odds are you probably wouldn't notice the quests to torture helpless prisoners slipped in there under the radar. What's next, torture in children's books?

    And don't even get me started on Forsaken biological warfare.

    In: ,

    A Lack of Vehicular Mishaps

    I've been extremely fortunate to have never found myself in a vehicle versus vehicle battle to the death, which is how I tend to think of car accidents. The closest I've ever come was running into a deer going 55 mph. The poor suicidal thing leapt right out in front of me, leaving me literally no time to react. Even if I could have swerved, I wouldn't have. Huge trees on one side and a steady stream of oncoming traffic also going 55 mph makes that decision pretty easy. The deer, a fairly small specimen, crunched in the hood of my car and nearly came through my windshield. My insurance barely covered it.

    If a wee little deer could cause that much damage, then what could one of those giant behemoth trucks do to my small Suzuki Esteem? This isn't something I ever really want to find out, and I find myself shooting baleful looks at the huge trucks and SUVs whenever I see them. "You constantly park in parking spaces too small for your size almost blocking me in, you're bad for the environment, AND you'd probably kill me if you rear ended me," I think viciously at them.

    Never in any of my imagined scenarios of death-by-behemoth-truck did I imagine that I would be the one doing the colliding. But that was nearly what happened this morning. Nearly being the key word there - I still have never been in a car accident.

    When I got up I was profoundly irritated to find that it was snowing again. I've had enough of snow this winter, and I swear if I see one more flake come down before next year, there's going to be anger terrible to behold. And possibly tears. I swore, incredulously told my kitty to look out the window, then sighed and went about my morning routine. There was barely any snow on the ground and I knew it was supposed to warm up, so I figured I would at least try to get to work.

    I drove slowly down my side roads up to the main drag, and everything seemed fine. The roads weren't slick, and I didn't detect even a hint of ice. Until I got up to the main road. There was an enormous truck in front of me, his brake lights coming on just as I reached the speed limit. I pressed my brakes. Aaaaand.... as I'm sure you've guessed.... nothing happened. I kept slipping and sliding along a huge, random patch of ice, yelling "stop, fuck, stop!"

    I managed to get my car over to the shoulder where there wasn't any ice right before plowing headlong into the bed of the truck. I think I've said this before, but I have no snow/ice driving skills. None. I think it's pretty amazing that I managed to stop.

    I almost turned the car around and went home, but I found I was absolutely terrified of that stretch of road. Better to continue on to work than to chance something like that happening again. Which really is too bad - I totally could have squeezed an extra couple of hours in bed out of that one. "It's to icy for me to get to work. I'll be in as soon as it warms up a little." Such a wasted opportunity.

    I'm still convinced that somehow it was the behemoth truck's fault. I'm not sure how yet, but I'll figure it out. Don't worry.


    Bits and Pieces: January Edition

    • I cleaned out my fridge two weeks ago, and it's taken me this long to be able to talk about it. It was terrible... the horrors... I just.... no. I can't. Not yet.

    • I went to go see My Bloody Valentine 3D opening day. Except... the 3D part? I wish. I was all excited about seeing flames and pickaxes and murder victims flying off the screen at me (and I'm not going to lie, I wouldn't have been upset about shirtless 3D Jensen Ackles), but apparently my town is small and backwards enough that my local theater didn't have the correct projectors to play the movie in 3D. If I wanted to see it in 3D my options were to either take the ferry into Seattle, which would cost an arm and a leg plus taking over an hour, or drive all the way to the next county. Because none of the theaters in my neck of the woods were playing the flick in 3D. ERRRRGGGHHH. But despite the disappointment, Jensen Ackles was still hot.

    • I've been playing a lot of World of Warcraft (I know, big shock) and I'm ready to kick my WoW blog, Power Word: Totem, back into gear. I took a deep breath and erased the 20-odd posts or so that were already there and decided to start fresh. The Matriarch of my collection of random toons, Harpy, dinged 74 the other day. She's slowly forcing her way to 80.

    • I spent some voluntary time at work this weekend working on my Adobe Illustrater training program. Watching the training videos made me feel like I was watching a bad stand up comedian. Mr. Illustrator Trainer made an attempt to be funny with this gem: "While holding down your mouse button, hold shift, ctrl, and alt to do xxx. But now we need to change this other thing. You're out of hands! Unless you're an octopus. But if you're an octopus, I guess you don't have any hands, just tentacles! HAHAHAHA!" Really? Who thought it was a good idea to record you while you're sounding like an idiot?


    Ancient History

    Once upon a time, before Becca had a Blogspot blog, she had a Livejournal. The year was 2004, which would make Becca 19 (but she turned 20 in September '04). During this period of time Becca was still living with her parents and two sisters. She hadn't yet made the move to her first apartment (and by apartment I mean glorified 350(ish) square foot garden shed in someone's back yard), and in fact didn't even have a driver's license yet.

    Becca was having a blast dating a fantastic guy named Ian (whom she has remained friends with), and was working part time as a glass blower's assistant and as an office assistant at the real estate company where she still works - though now, five years later, she has her real estate license and the back of her business card says "Listing/Marketing Coordinator".

    Becca posted intermittently in her Livejournal, and used a small JPEG of Tank Girl as her profile picture. Her posts were generally short and used more as a communication device with her friends, since when Becca had a Livejournal all her friends had a Livejournal too.

    Perusing Becca's old Livejournal entries were somewhat amusing:

    "March 10th, 2004:

    I just finished watching the second disc of 'V'. LIZARD BABIES!! HAHA!!! LIZARD BABIES!!!"

    Stellar entry. Becca conveyed her thoughts so intelligently, yet left her opinion open to disagreement and healthy debate...

    What's next? Ah yes, parts two and three of "The Housesitting Saga".

    "March 13th, 2004:

    Still housesitting. Still watching bad movies on the Sci-Fi channel. Tonight it was 'Snakehead Terror'. I decided not to watch 'Shark Hunter' which was on after 'Snakehead Terror' because I've already seen it.

    Wow. That's sad. "

    "March 14th, 2004:

    Sci Fi channel movies watched today include 'Return of the Living Dead 3', 'Day of the Dead', 'Route 666', and 'Dagon.' Still bored."

    Absolutely RIVETING! Before Becca was posting her painfully amateur movie reviews, she was simply listing off the titles!

    "June 28th, 2004:

    "Post offices are evil! I've always hated post offices, maybe even been a little afraid of them, and Nils made me go into one! I knew something bad was going to happen because of this, and I was right! We walked into the post office, deposited the mail in the proper receptacle, got back in the car and started it, and the CD player stopped working!!! It won't even eject the CDs that are already in it, so it has effectively eaten my Therion CD! Post offices are EVIL!"

    Apparently Becca was once superstitious about.... post offices?

    "August 29th, 2004:

    So I dreamed last night that we all went to Oregon, and when we got there Sean told us that his shower was possessed by an evil spirit and we couldn't use it. O_O So we decided that we all had to take a shower, so we hung like fifty crosses up in his bathroom. We came back later, and all the crosses were upside down, the shower was still possessed, and we still couldn't use it. XD"

    Then Becca actually went to Sean's apartment in Oregon, and was relieved to find that his shower was not, in fact, possessed.

    "September 9th, 2004:

    Well, I'm being hired as an artist's model for $15 an hour for two weekends this month. The glassblowing studio where I work is hosting a head/shoulders sculpting workshop and one of the people I work with is taking it and asked me if I wanted the modeling job. O_o I've never even thought about doing something like this before, but hey, $15 an hour to walk around and look serious. I can do that. XD "

    Becca has a slew of photos that she took of the roomful of clay sculptures that were fashioned in her likeness. It's sort of creepy.

    Okay, I'm done talking about myself in the third person.

    It was fun re-reading a year's worth of silly journal posts from 2004 (I can't quite make myself call that LJ a blog). It made me a little nostalgic for the days of no bills, staying up until 6AM playing video games, and dating Ian. Things were a lot easier back then, and I had a blast.

    2004 was a good year.

    Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can dredge up some photos from '04 - the days before I had a digital camera - and scan them!


    Irritation of the day

    I just have something quick. Something that's been bugging me since this morning.

    WHY have they not invented panty hose in some kind of material that doesn't catch and tear on ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING???? ERRRGGHH!!!

    If I'm wearing a skirt it's impossible to not wear them - it's cold outside, and feels vaguely unprofessional to show up at work with bare legs in the middle of winter. And even though I always do my absolute damndest to try to keep them from tearing, it's inevitable that within two hours of leaving my house they'll be completely destroyed.

    I believe that the person who invented panty hose did so as an evil scheme to separate women from their money. And IT'S WORKING.



    Resident Evil: Degeneration Movie Review

    Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008)
    **1/2 out of ****

    Because I have a deep, abiding love for zombie movies/games and Resident Evil titles in particular (despite my disappointment in the last live action Resident Evil flick), when I discovered that Capcom had created a CG Resident Evil movie, I immediately popped onto the computer and added it to the good old Netflix queue. So now, because it's been about a trillion years since I added to my list of amateur movie reviews, I'm posting about it!

    Premise: Zombies. This time in an airport. Enter the infamous Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield. After escaping the airport, they trace the outbreak to a terrorist organization and suddenly there's a guy who turns himself into a giant monster, and... umm... there were zombies. And stunning CG. Is it my fault I didn't pay attention to the plot?

    Really, I don't even know why I'm bothering to review this. If you've played the Resident Evil games, you're going to get a kick out of seeing Leon and Claire running around killing zombies in mind blowing CG. This is hardly a film to showcase phenomenal acting or sharp writing. The plot is sort of incomprehensible (though that may have been because I was half asleep through the last third of the film) and the characters typically one dimensional. But hey! It's not only a movie based on a video game, it's a CG movie based on a video game that was produced by Capcom! You can't expect too much from that!

    Confusing plot, poor writing, and over the top voice acting aside, I really enjoyed this flick. Really, my only complaint is that at 97 minutes it felt too long. I could have lived with a shorter version. There is only so much Capcom driven CG zombie/mutant madness I can handle without starting to get a little irritated.

    Well, that and I kept reaching for my X-Box 360 controller because I couldn't shake the feeling that this was the new Resident Evil game and the intro was about to end.

    Oh, did I mention the neat CG?


    Split personality

    This is me:

    This is ALSO me:

    They're going to lock me up one day.

    In: ,

    Why I've decided to keep a diary

    I decided this year that I need to start writing in a diary again. I was pretty good about writing when I was fifteen and sixteen, and let me tell you, re-reading the things I wrote back then is freaking hilarious! The angst! The drama! In addition to the hilarity, it really makes me happy that I'm not a teenager any more.

    Humor is not the reason I want to keep a diary again, although it probably will be pretty funny to look back in ten years at my twenties ("the angst, the drama!" my thirty-four year old self will giggle). No, the real reason is that if I'm unexpectedly murdered, I want the attractive police detective or FBI agent to have something juicy to search for clues in.

    I get such a kick out of reading a book or watching a movie where someone is murdered and the investigator discovers the treasure trove of wicked little secrets - The Diary - in the victim's bedroom. Stories of stalkers, illicit affairs, furious parents... all held within the pages of The Diary, and inevitably leading to the arrest of the murderer.

    Now, if I was murdered, the attractive cop or FBI agent wouldn't have a diary to read, thus lowering the chances of my murderer being caught. Clearly this problem needs to be rectified, because we never know when we might find a serial killer waiting for us in our coat closet.

    My diary won't be a composition notebook like it was when I was fifteen, nor will it be a cute or pretty book with 'Diary' emblazoned on the cover. No, mine will be a forbidding, thick, leather bound tome that I'll keep hidden under the false bottom of a dresser drawer. The detective who finds it will feel a chill when he touches the cover, not quite able to bring himself to pick it up yet, because a book like that just screams 'scandal'!

    Of course, it will be quite a let down when the detective starts reading:

    "Jan. 6: Came home for lunch today. I had a peanut butter sandwich and some vegetable beef soup. SOOO GOOD! Kitty has fleas again."

    "Jan. 7: I remembered to pick up some Advantage at the vet's office for kitty. Pat's coming over. We're going to play Grand Theft Auto and watch Resident Evil movies! Yay!"

    "Jan 8: Forgot to set my alarm last night! I've never gotten ready for work so fast!"

    Obviously I'm going to have to introduce some more scandal to my life to make sure my diary isn't a disappointment in the event of my murder. On the plus side, my blog will get a lot more interesting! Don't expect all the details of my new, scandal-filled life, though - I have to leave some secrets for The Diary!


    It's not an obsession

    I don't think I'm obsessed.

    Do you?

    Okay, so maybe that's a question that I don't actually need answered right now. Sleep on it. See how you feel in the morning. Then let me know.

    Tragically, it's been over a month since I've been able to get my weekly Supernatural fix. Even though I'm not crazy about the direction the show is taking this season, and in fact spent the last two brand new episodes snarling futilely at Pat about how angry it's making me... I WANT TO WATCH A NEW EPISODE. You might be thinking this is mostly because Jensen Ackles is divinely beautiful, and you wouldn't be entirely wrong. Up until now the show has been amazing, and I've been singing it's praises since I first started watching it. I watched it for its brilliant writing, great acting, and magnetic story. Jensen Ackles was just a bonus. A huge bonus, granted, but just a bonus. Now, though... with the writing slipping so much, it is starting to turn into a 'damn, I really want to watch Jensen Ackles in something new' rather than a 'I can't wait until the next episode! SO EXCITED!'

    I think the show starts airing again next week, and I'm clinging desperately to the hope that the writers will haul it out of its slump and make me fall in love with it again.

    BUT! Even if the next brand new Supernatural episode doesn't grace our televisions next week, I have something else to look forward to:

    Coming out January 16th!

    Why would I be looking forward to My Bloody Valentine 3D? Aside from the fact that it's a horror flick in 3D, of course. Who wouldn't want to go see a 3D horror film?

    Well, this:

    Yes, Jensen Ackles stars in My Bloody Valentine.

    Come on. You know you're excited!

    I know there's not much substance to this post. But seriously, with two whole photos of Ackles, do we really need substance?


    Learning to Knit

    I really enjoy doing things with thread and yarn. I sometimes cross stitch, but not very often. I'm working on a pattern so epic that I really need to be able to sit down and work on it for a couple of hours to make dragging out all my materials worth the effort. But yarn... ahh, quick and easy, instant satisfaction.

    I know how to crochet, or at least I know how to crochet one thing. It's called a granny square. When I crochet a granny square, I have a process. I assemble a huge amount of yarn of all different colors, work on it until it's big enough to cover a queen sized bed, and call it an "ugly blanket". TaDA! Finished!

    My mom had been bugging me about learning to knit off and on for a long time, and I had been resisting. 'I'm not even remotely interested,' I told her. Two straight sticks that looked like I should only pick them up to eat Chinese food seemed a bit overwhelming compared to my single crochet hook. I couldn't fathom how knitting could possibly work. Then one random day I suddenly decided for no reason whatsoever that I needed to learn how to knit. So I went over to my mom's house, and she taught me the basics. A couple days later I had finished my first dishcloth (apparently I have perfect tension, yay!), and mom taught me a few more stitches.

    There are just so many things one can knit! Sweaters, hats, gloves, and scarves, of course - but did you know there are also patterns out there for things like knitted penis (complete with balls) shaped chap stick holders?

    I'm inspired to continue to learn about knitting. I never had any ambitions with crochet, I was more than happy with the one thing I knew how to do and had no interest in learning anything else. But with knitting I'm excited about learning more and being able to do more and more advanced things. You know, like penis shaped chap stick holders!