- Fizzy Thoughts: August 2007


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

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Evidently someone is filming a war movie in Morro Bay and last night was the helicopter scene. We couldn't figure out why there were helicopters circling over head (first there were two, then there were four, and they were loud! They were flying so low our house was shaking. Yikes!). Finally, HB made the connection to the movie. The only reason he knew about the movie is because one of his surf spots was closed for filming. I went to take a picture, but the rechargeable batteries were dead. Those things suck! They aren't holding their charge, so I'm back to toting the AAs to Italy. Bummer.
So HB and I were being quite curmudgeonly last night, bitching about the fact that the Pit (the surf spot) was closed and the house was shaking due to the helicopters and who gave them permission to buzz our house anyway? I wonder what all the real Morro Bay curmudgeons (trust me, there are a lot) thought?


Unconscious Mutterings

Sunday, August 26, 2007

  1. Uneven :: haircut

  2. Wonder :: 7 Wonders of the Ancient World

  3. Spider :: Man

  4. Emma :: Goldman

  5. Swing :: Dance

  6. Orbit :: Sputnik

  7. Flirt :: eyelashes

  8. Donation :: Goodwill

  9. Veil :: Harem

  10. Atmosphere :: Space


Last week the wienermobile, this week...

Friday, August 24, 2007

I actually drove by a man doing this on my way home last night. The sign on his handlebars (which I could see clearly, because, you know, I was driving towards him and he was facing me, yet going the same direction as me...too confusing for my poor brain!!!) said he was "Biking Backwards Across America in support of homeless awareness, medical marijuana and HIV." I googled him, but couldn't find squat, which makes me doubt he was riding across America. That, and the fact that he was on a BMX bike and looked like he was going to blow out his knees.
Anyways, this is what it looked like, even though this is not him...


The Blood of Flowers

The Blood of Flowers
Anita Amirrezvani
368 pages

“They say that the glorious prophet Mohammad, who wiped the sweat off his brow while ascending to the throne of God, spent seven lifetimes in each of the seven heavens, yet returned to earth before his sweat reached the ground. How is this possible? They say it’s possible for time to expand into years for one person, while for another it consumes only an instant.”

Out of all the passages in the book, this one jumped out at me because time has been dragging at work lately. And while my work has absolutely nothing to do with this book (other than the fact that I’m writing this review there), I found it amusing that this one paragraph was just oh so true.

I was really looking forward to this book. I read about it in a few places I can’t recall, and it seemed that people were raving about it. And the back cover claims (actually Geraldine Brooks on the back cover claims) it is a “sensuous and transporting first novel filled with the colors, tastes, and fragrances of life in seventeenth-century Isfahan.” It was a good story, but not that good. I found it a little flat overall. It was missing a bit of spark, some special something that makes me go from “yeah, it was good,” to “why, oh why, did it have to end?!?!?.”

This is a story of a young girl in ancient Iran. After her father dies, she and her mother go to the city of Isfahan, where her uncle takes them in. Although they are treated as servants, they are well fed and our narrator is fascinated by her uncle’s skill as a master weaver. She begins to improve upon her own weaving skills. But in the meantime, her aunt and uncle contract a sigheh for her, which is basically a short-term marriage. In this case, our narrator sacrifices her virginity and the family is receives money and the possibility of future carpet commissions in return. The rest of the story focuses on her struggle to assert her independence in a culture where women have few options, and an unmarried woman dependent on her family has even less.

A few things I liked about the book…the glimpse into another culture and the tales interspersed throughout the story (although I must say the comparison to One Thousand and One Nights seems a bit of stretch. I should probably confess to never having read One Thousand and One Nights, but I can’t see this book aver achieving similar status).

A few things I didn’t like…I could never visualize the weaving process, or the patterns for the carpets, which was frustrating for me. And the narrator has no name. This is explained on the book jacket, though. Evidently it’s in the tradition of the many weavers of ancient Iran who didn’t have the right to sign their work and remain forever nameless. All I know, is it makes writing about the book a difficult task.

This is my fourth book for the Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge.


a "special" post for Mackadilly

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lookie, lookie, Mackadilly! It's a blog devoted to the misuse of "quotes." Think of all the material you have to submit! Come on, I dare ya. I double-dog dare ya!

Okay, you're probably sick of quotes, since you probably have to put up with them 20 times a day. So for a change of pace, I give you Literally, a web blog.



Booking Through Thursday - Indoctrination

When growing up did your family share your love of books? If so, did one person get you into reading? And, do you have any family-oriented memories with books and reading? (Family trips to bookstore, reading the same book as a sibling or parent, etc.)

I honestly don't know where I got my love of reading. I don't remember being read to as a child or even learning to read, although obviously it happened, as I do remember being in the advanced reading group in first grade. Growing up I know my dad wasn't a reader and my mom didn't read all that often. And we joked that my brother only read the captions under pictures in magazines. My mom is more of a reader now, but she certainly doesn't share my um, fanaticism. We have been known to browse through B&N together, though. I pass some of my books onto my mom, but she doesn't like a lot of what I read (the travel memoirs, the weirdly-funny stuff (like Christopher Moore) and books that I tend to love (like The Historian or The Time Travelers Wife)).
When I was a kid my love of reading was definitely encouraged. I had shelves of books and my parents thought nothing of me holing up in my room and reading all day...although they weren't too fond of the reading half into the night. I used to claim I fell asleep with the light on.
I also have an aunt and two older cousins who are avid readers, but when I was a kid we lived in different states, so I can't claim them as an influence. One of the few books my cousins and I have shared is The Roaches Have No King, which is one of the weirdest books I have ever read. Truly, it defies description. I'm sure it says something about about our family that we all loved the book.


Unconscious Mutterings

Monday, August 20, 2007

Here's a free association game, compliments of Luna Nina. The idea is to reply to the ten prompts with the first thing that comes to mind.

  1. Darling :: Peter Pan

  2. Majesty :: Purple

  3. Pebble :: Bam-Bam

  4. Fate :: Whimsical

  5. Instant :: Coffee

  6. Screen :: Shot

  7. Unplugged :: MTV

  8. Dairy :: Cow

  9. Benefactor :: Sugar daddy

  10. Market :: Piggies


Booking Through Thursday (on a Sunday)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

One book at a time? Or more than one? If more, are they different types/genres? Or similar? (We’re talking recreational reading, here—books for work or school don’t really count since they’re not optional.)

I go through phases. Usually I'm a one at a time reader. I'm certainly a more productive (not like I'm counting books or anything, I just can't think of the word I want) reader if I limit myself to one book at a time. But there are times when I will keep starting different books, because I want to read them all, and I want to read them all right now. However, when it comes to finishing them, I usually have to go back to the one at a time practice.

So I guess you could say I'm a wanna be polygamist, doomed to a life of monogamy.


Softdrink Simpson

Check me out...I've been simpsonized!

A much better likeness than my meez, I think. Wouldn't you like to be a Simpson, too?


Got milk?

Good thing HB wasn't with me today...he would have really hated today's movie. Actually, who knows with him. Maybe he would have liked it.

My mom and I saw The Golden Door today. Odd, but good. Or maybe it's oddly good. It tells the story of Salvatore, who after seeing postcards of giant chickens and money growing on trees, decides to leave his rocky home in Sicily for a better life in America. He packs up his mother and two sons, and off they go. Along they way they seem to inherit two young girls who are going to America to be married, and a mysterious Englishwoman named Lucy. After a long (it was even long in the movie!) boat ride, they arrive at Ellis Island, where they are subjected to a bunch of shady physical and IQ tests, all designed to weed out the undesirables. Did I mention the movie is set in 1904?

There is some really trippy imagery interspersed throughout the story. After hearing that California has rivers of milk, Salvatore has some weird-ass dreams about swimming with Lucy in a river of milk with giant carrots. He also hallucinates about jumbo apples, so he was either worried about feeding his family or 1904 Sicily had good drugs. You think I'm kidding about the river of milk? Well, here's the poster for the movie...

This morning I was reading the latest National Geographic, which has a very brief article about Ellis Island (mainly how the buildings are falling apart). It mentioned the medical inspections and showed pictures of the hospital ward. Kinda weird to watch a movie a few hours later that focused on that very topic.


At the movies

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I had a sneaking suspicion that HB wouldn't like The Bourne Ultimatum, but he so rarely wants to go see a movie that I didn't voice my doubts. Hey, who am I to pass up an opportunity for popcorn and candy?

And I was right. He loathed it, going so far as to state it was probably the worst movie he'd ever seen. Personally, I thought it was an entertaining, although highly unbelievable, story. Wait, the unethical CIA actions I can believe. But Matt Damon's character should've died about 20 different times in the movie. Maybe more. And for someone who couldn't even remember his original identity, I have a hard time believing he knew his way around the alleyways and side streets of Tangier. Oh well. There were some good chase scenes, a few amusing moments where the CIA looked like fools, and lots of blood. I threw that last bit in as a warning for those of you who don't like to look at the red stuff in your movies. There was even a modern day Batman fight scene. Instead of POW! Bam! Kerplooey!! they used whoop, whoop, whoops as sound effects during the kung-fu moves.


My bologna has a first name...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Driving home from work today, I saw...

the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile! I actually saw it twice. The first time it passed me as I was merging onto the freeway. I looked over to see a giant hot dog in the fast lane. A bit surreal, that. Especially when I noticed the personalized license plate - YUMMY. I saw it again when I was at a stoplight and it went cruising through the intersection.

That thing can move. For those of you familiar with SLO I got off at the Morro Bay northbound exit and I could still see it ahead of me. It must have exited at California, because I was at Santa Rosa and Foothill when it rolled through the intersection headed for Foothill Plaza. I'm still wondering where they were headed. Can you even imagine pulling up to a gas station in that thing??


Let me out of here!

You know you're ready for vacation when...

  • you have retro dreams about backpacking through Europe and staying in hostels (what made it a truly bizarre dream was the wedding ceremony happening at the hostel...the bride and groom were singing their vows to a rock song)
  • all of your work projects are finished or near to being finished and you have nothing to do, so you resort to writing really boring blog posts at work
  • all of the trip planning is done, so you can't even keep busy at work doing non-work, yet still productive, stuff
  • you can't seem to get to work on time. Although, since you have nothing to do, does it really matter?
  • you have to bite your tongue to keep from screaming, because your co-workers are driving you freakin' crazy with all of the little things they obsess/complain/nitpick about (no Kate, not you guys)
  • time creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeps by
  • everyone is sick of your countdown (11 days, in case you were wondering)


Season of the Witch

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My most recent read is not part of the Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge, but it was a good book. Read all about Season of the Witch here. Not everyone's cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it.

I think I used up all my words for the review. Either that or the caffeine just wore off, because I can't think of anything else to write about.


My meez must wear contacts...

Friday, August 10, 2007

...because she can't stop blinking.

What does it say about popular culture that there was only one (1!) background for my meez that involved books?

And it's one of the most inhospitable libraries I've ever seen. Tile floor?? Think of the noise!

And another thing...the choices for short hair suck. Not to mention, I haven't been that skinny since, well, never.

Despite all the complaints, it's my new profile shot, at least for the time being.


St Lawrence's Tears

Meteor showers this weekend! Or, if you're really, really old, the tears of St Lawrence will be shed.

According to MSNBC, Laurentius, a Christian deacon, was martyred by the Romans in 258 AD on an outdoor grill. Apparently he was a hardy soul, since he was lucid enough to tell his torturers, "I am already roasted on one side and, if thou wouldst have me well cooked, it is time to turn me on the other." Wikipedia, another highly esteemed and credible source (umm, yeah, sarcasm), puts it like this, "I am done on this side! Turn me over and eat."

Anyways...evidently the August meteor showers were long believed to be the tears of St Lawrence. There was a point to my gruesome quotes...you need a little backstory to understand the tears.

Sunday night after 11 (at least here in California) is supposed to be prime time viewing for the showers/tears. And no moon, so it should be nice and dark, unless there are lots of streetlights around, then you're SOL.


Who knew Goofy liked white peaches?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

You know, some things just shouldn't be. Like Goofy stickers on my fruit.

(Not the actual sticker, because I couldn't find a Google image of it, but you get the idea)

When I go to eat my peach I don't want to look at Goofy's dopey grin. Now if it was Elmo, it would be a different story.

Wouldn't you rather see that on your fruit in the morning rather than Goofy's ugly mug? Besides, Goofy is missing most of his teeth...how can he even eat a peach?

Go here to read the full story on how Disney is taking over the world.


2 weeks, 6 days

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ecco, my new suitcase...

Because, you know, I just can't pack light. And I need some extra room, because there's no way I'm spending four weeks in Italy without buying anything.

So it's a 25 incher, and supposedly weighs in at a trim 8.6 lbs. Isn't it purty? Hopefully, it'll arrive soon, because all I have left to do is pack. Oh, and email to confirm reservations. And break in my shoes. And charge the rechargeable batteries. And sort through the guidebooks to decide who gets to go and who has to stay home. And make sure I have all our directions printed out. And figure out when and where we're meeting up with Sue and Lance. And figure out how we're getting from Termini to the apartment in Rome. Ack! And panic.

I just happened to glance over at the Rick Steves phrasebook sitting on my desk (because I still need to see if it is worthy of the trip), and this is what is on the back cover...

Se non rallenta, vomito. If you don't slow down, I'll throw up. Lovely.


One helluva long walk

Monday, August 06, 2007

I finally finished this one this morning. I had been working on it for a few weeks and was starting to doubt I would finish. Luckily, it picked up...

The Places In Between, by Rory Stewart

This is the same review I posted over at Readers Without Borders:

At one point in this book the author is talking to a member of the British Special Forces. The man tells him he is a “fucking nutter.” Coming from the Special Forces, that’s saying something. However, it’s a pretty accurate description of Rory Stewart and the story he tells. And Stewart is a very smart man, despite his dubious decision to walk across Afghanistan. Since I’m lazy, I’ll defer to Wikipedia:

"After a brief period as an officer in the British Infantry (the Black Watch) , Stewart joined the Foreign Office. He served in the British Embassy in Indonesia from 1997 to 1999, as the British Representative to Montenegro in the wake of the Kosovo campaign and as Coalition Deputy Governor of Maysan and Senior Advisor in Dhi Qar, two provinces in southern Iraq during 2003–2004. From 2004, he was a Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard University, USA. He has travelled extensively, notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. From 2000-2002 he walked across Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Nepal, a journey of 6000 miles."

Oh, and he was born in 1973. You do the math.

The Places In Between chronicles Stewart’s walk from Herat to Kabul. The only reason I’m not writing a snarky review like I did for Bettina Selby’s Beyond Ararat is that Stewart obviously knows and respects the cultures and people of Afghanistan. He speaks the language (although not fluently) and he can talk his way out of some scary situations.

This is an interesting book due to his journey, but it’s not an easy read. Stewart is a little too fond of quoting passages from Babur’s diary (Babur being a Mughal ruler from the late 1400’s), and I had a hard time keeping all of the historical figures and modern feudal chieftains straight. The first 2/3 can be difficult at times, but the last 1/3 picked up, especially as he was travelling through areas where the Taliban still had support.

This is not my usual choice in books, but it makes a good companion to A Thousand Splendid Suns. It also provides a totally unique perspective on a troubled country. Rory Stewart knows his stuff and manages a respectful, fairly unbiased account of the people (well, the men anyway) of Afghanistan.

This final comment was not part of the original review, so don't read it if you don't want to know what happens at the end...but I can't not say anything
I can't believe Babur the dog dies just before he's all set to board the plane for England and live out his doggie retirement in Scotland. Aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrggghhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


When In Rome

Sunday, August 05, 2007

No, this isn't a list of what I want to do when I'm in Rome. It's the title of the book I just finished.

When In Rome: Chasing la dolce vita, by Penelope Green

Penelope Green is living the fast-paced life of a PR person in Sydney, Australia when at the age of 28 she decides to chuck it all and move to Italy. She packs a backpack and takes off for Perugia to enroll in Italian classes. After a few months, she again packs up and moves to Rome. In the next year and a half, she works in restaurants and wine bars, for a hostel, and tries to re-build her career as a journalist. She meets locals and non-locals and slowly builds a family of friends. The book ends as she turns 30 and reflects on all that she has gained by building her new life in Rome. According to the internets, she is still in Rome, working as a free-lance journalist.

What makes this book so different from the numerous ex-pat tales is Green's tell-it-like-it-is style. She doesn't romanticize the city or the people, although she is often awed by the history and monuments surrounding her. She pokes fun at herself and is honest about her half-hearted attempts to practice her Italian and her numerous linguistic goofs. Unfortunately, the one word I remember from the book is vaffanculo (because it makes numerous appearances), which isn't something I think I want to go around shouting as a tourist.

Anyways, this is a quick and enjoyable read, but if you want to read it your best bet is to sign up for one of the globe-trotting editions through The Sisterhood of the Traveling Books. Otherwise, good luck finding a copy...published in Australia, it's not readily available in this neck of the woods.


Did someone say books? And travel??

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I've joined a reading challenge:
A Life In Books is hosting the challenge. I ran into her post last weekend when I was following links from other blogs, and it was just too interesting to pass up. Especially since most of the books in my current and to be read piles fit the criteria. What are the criteria, you ask? Direct from the source, they are:

  • The challenge runs from July 1 through December 31 during which time you must read six books that fall under the ‘armchair traveling’ theme.
  • Fiction or non-fiction works are fine, and do not need to be specifically travel related, as long as the location is integral to the book - I’ll leave that to your discretion. Locations must be actual places that you could visit, so no Middle Earths or galaxies far, far away.
  • Books may be cross-posted to other challenges, but you cannot count any books read prior to July 1st.
  • To join, make a post outlining your six choices and link to that post below. Because I like to have a little wiggle room, you can opt to switch out books throughout the challenge.
  • And yes, there will be prizes!

Here are my six choices:

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns (Herat and Kabul, Afghanistan)*
  • When In Rome (Rome, Italy)
  • The Places In Between (Afghanistan)
  • Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight (Africa)
  • A Year in the World (mostly Europe)
  • The Blood of Flowers (Persia)
*Yes, I've read it already, but no, I'm not cheating. I read this last weekend, so I am well within the dates of the challenge. :-D

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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