Thursday, April 17, 2008

the darjeeling limited

let me preface this by saying that i am a wes anderson fan...truly. i loved bottle rocket, rushmore, royal tenenbaums (my personal fav minus the suicide attempt scene). the life aquatic left me non-plussed and the latest the darjeeling limited left me less than non-plussed.

i dont know if it was because i couldnt believe the brotherhood of the three...the fact that adrien brody being very much jewish and owen wilson beign very much not and then jason schwartzman thrown in there as well...and not just ethnicity but the whole interactions of the three of them...i dont know. it could also be that as soon as they left the train the journey seemed very disconnected and rambling.

i didnt care about francis and his bandages, i didnt like peter, i didnt feel sorry for jack. i guess the emotional nakedness anderson was attempting to portray fell short on me. i have been amazed with brody in his past movies, so seeing him act in such a different manner seemed stunting to me. i felt like he was compromising his ability to fit into anderson's world and it didnt match up.

i love the stylizations of anderson and this movie is no exception. he definitely creates these worlds and new contexts for reason and new rules for characterization, but in the over-planning (much like the character francis himself...hmmm) he loses out on the depth.

what threw me over the edge is when at the end of the movie *spoiler* they visit their mother in a convent. everything surrounding their mother and father is very disconnected and piecemeal, so as an audience you want some answers, but they meet her and it is the cheesiest interaction in a movie ever. i felt cheated, like when you read a book or watch a movie and the author or director ends it by the main character waking up. cop-out. the whole - lets say it with our eyes and not with words and the way too long close ups of each of the characters - i didnt get it. i didnt feel it and it pissed me off.

anyway - i wouldnt recommend it if you could tell - there were a couple funny parts and not to mention the beautiful scenery and cinematography, but overall the world that anderson created was too shallow to allow for true emotions.

the voyage of the dawn treader

this book was my second favorite as a child. i read it almost as many times as magicians nephew and the lion the was the third book written by lewis, but falls 5th chronologically. the story brings lucy and edmund back to narnia (for the last time) and also brings their cousin, eustace, which the opening of the book and the first description of him sums it up best:

"there was a boy called eustace clarence scrubb and he almost deserved it. his parents called him eustace clarence and masters called him scrubb. i can't tell you how his friends called him for he had none. he didn't call his father and mother "father" and "mother", but "harold" and "alberta". they were very up-to-date and advanced people. they were vegetarians and non-smokers and teetotalers and wore a special kind of underclothes. in their house there was very little furniture and very few clothes on beds and the windows were always open"

i simply loved this description. the book itself was written in 1952 and i can just picture his house and his family with all the "modern" craze going on...anyway - that is eustace.

the book follows the adventures of prince caspian (3 years after they first met him in prince caspian the book) on board the dawn treader attempting to find the 7 lords and friends of his father that were sent out to discover the eastern islands. one of the stories that stood out for me as a child was the island of the duffers - the dwarf monopod creatures. i also recalled the island of dreams, which frightened me then and i would make my mom skip that part usually.

a part that really spoke to me as an adult was when eustace turns into a dragon *spoiler* and he meets aslan for the first time. the description of him turning back into a child really spoke to me as a symbol of true change and enlightenment. it is a long telling of a story so i will shorten it by prefacing that aslan came to eustace as a dragon and told him to undress and bathe in this stream. he thought that since he is a reptile he can just sort of shed his skin - which he did by attempting to scratch it off himself and he saw the skin on the ground next to him but when he went to step into the stream he could tell that his feet were just as scaly as before. he attempted to do it himself 3 times.

"then the lion said - but i don't know if it spoke - 'you will have to let me undress you.' i was afraid of his claws, i can tell you, but i was pretty nearly desperate now. so i just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
the very first tear he made was so deep that i thought it had gone right into my heart. and when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything i've ever felt. the only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. you know - if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place. it hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.
well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as i thought i'd done it myself the three other times, only they hadn't hurt - and there it was lying in the grass; only ever so much thicker , and darker and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. and there i was as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than i had been. then he caught hold of me - i didn't like that much for i was very tender underneath now that i'd no skin on - and threw me into the water."

after his experience eustace's attitude rightly changed as well. it brought forth some images of times in my life where i experienced the unveiling of some ugly truth and how much easier it was to go on living like it wasn't there. even though i knew it was, covered up it was easier to deal with. when it came out and turned my world upside down and the pain i experienced was beyond anything i had experienced, but the longer i spent in my skin knowing the truth is now exposed was more a freeing feeling than anything i had known. this is also true in relationships when someone you love knows some awful truth about you and can love you anyway and the freedom from that. it is these earthly examples that i try to understand my relationship with God and how someone could love me like that and at the same time know all the ugliness that lies beneath the covering.

P.S. sorry about the little picture - i wanted to include the book covers that i grew up with as a kid and there aren't too many pictures of them online and i am way too lazy to bust out my camera!

Monday, April 14, 2008

prince caspian

prince caspian was the second book in the narnia series written by c.s. lewis, but falls to number 4 in the chronological series. this book takes the original characters (lucy, edmond, susan and peter) back to narnia several hundred years after they left the first time to find narnia overtaken by a neighboring country and the old narnians are in hiding.

i just found out tonight that this is going to be the second movie made in the narnia series so it got me a little excited. i dont feel as though the book is that exciting to read in fact it is pretty anti-climactic in a lot of respects, but the movie potential is exciting - there is a war and some pretty amazing characters that will be fun to see larger than life.

for me the most memorable character was reepicheep the mouse - the valient mouse always ready for a fight. i recalled the picture of him i had as a child the moment he appeared and a slight grin spread across my face.

another memory from childhood was the scene in which a black dwarf - nikabrik - brought a hag and a were-wolf into a meeting to discuss battle plans. i had remembered the wolf's words and how it shook me as a child and how i couldnt shake the similarities of sin as an adult:

"i'm hunger. i'm thirst. where i bite, i hold till i die, and even after death they must cut out my mouthful from my enemy's body and bury it with me. i can fast a hundred years and not die. i can lie a hundred nights on the ice and not freeze. i can drink a river of blood and not burst. show me your enemies."

that powerful imagery has stuck with me for over 20 years. i think that the idea of something that values overtaking you more than their own life is a powerful one. it rings true with kamikazes and suicide bombers. the pure evil of it.

anyway - i guess next month - may 16 - those of you who have read the book will be able to finally see it come to life (i am so not even going to mention the horrible mini-series that attempted this) and those of you who do not read will be able to see a great book also come to life...although i do hope for your sake that you do get tempted and encouraged to read the series as well!

taxes schmaxes update

i preface this post with an apology for my rant, but i have never put it down in words and the time has so come.

taxes. i hate them more than patterns. thank the lord that we have an amazing accountant who is fluent in "the man" language. last year we had a pretty hard blow at tax time and this whole year i had been saving as much as possible to make that history not repeat itself. not sure if it was anything i did, but for some reason the first time in 6 years we actually overpaid!!

i can not contain my excitement slash disbelief over this. i feel as though a huge elephant slash hippo (whichever is heavier) has been lifted from my pocketbook. we owned a house slash condo for 3 years and saw no money back from this at tax time...which sucked! anyway - enough slashes but i am excited to say the least.

part of what irks me is that i feel as though - actually screw feelings, i know california makes it extremely hard to run a legit small business. we gave our business to the Lord six and a half years ago and decided to run it completely by the book and it has been a tough battle. our business thankfully has grown every year but the hardships with running our own business has also grown. we are not able to have our pool technicians be employees because workman's comp is so ridiculously irrationally expensive. we have been threatened with law suits at least 2 or 3 times a year and have been able to successfully avoid any so far. we have had to change our business structure - first a general partnership, then an LLC, then an S-Corp to avoid the heavy taxation that businesses face. not to mention the ridiculous amounts of money we are forced to spend every year on liability and workman's comp for bryan and i and taxes and permits and licenses.

our state is forcing so many small businesses to move to nevada (which has amazing benefits and protection for small businesses and if nevada wasnt such a sucky place to live i would consider it myself) and colorado and neighboring states. why can't our state get it together? i totally voted for the terminator thinking he would bring some legitimate change for small businesses, but perhaps that kennedy wife of his had some influence or who knows what happens in the messed up world of politics, but needless to say i am still waiting arnold!

anyway - please dont think i am bitching about having a successful business - that is not the case. i am so thankful that my husband has the mindset of business that he does and that we are both able to raise our child and spend this time together, i just wish that our political environment and business environment made it a more comfortable one so that others can pursue their dreams. we were only able to do it because we started this when we were first married with no jobs to speak of. if we wanted to do something like this now, it would be too big a bear.

that is not to discourage anyone else. please by all means do it. and maybe together we can change policy. we might not be able to change the litigation hell that plagues so many businesses, but maybe we can make a dent in the policy of small business protection!

by the way, in case you are considering it...starting a business is not difficult. you first obtain a business license through your county, then register a DBA (doing business as) and perhaps even a bank account and then write off as much as you possibly can!!! antagonist

i had just spent like $50 or something on some cute fabrics because i am addicted to finding more modern prints than joanne sells, and i thought that i would start a business because at least i could write off all the fabrics and things and lord knows we need all the deductions we can get with owning our own business. i had thought the idea of doing it myself pretty daunting, so i sent an email out to a couple girlfriends from high school...actually one of them goes back to jr. high and the other from high school, on a sort of fluke and luck turns out that they were both totally for the idea!

we are starting a shop - for a future blog since the site isnt up yet - and will be selling handmade goods directed towards babies, toddlers, moms and people shopping for babies, toddlers, moms. i modified my favorite item as a nursing mom - the hooter hider - and had been just giving them as gifts and the response was really great, so i thought why not try and sell them and make some extra cash! we are also going to sell our stuff at craft fairs, swap meets, flea markets and things like that as well.

since this all came about i have been on a creative high and been sewing in my *spare* time - which anyone who is the parent of toddler will inject a chuckle here i am sure. mainly after his bedtime and on weekends and occasionally a lazy afternoon movie where said toddler is more preoccupied with some pixar movie than with my scissors and fabric. the nursing aprons are pretty easy now for me to knock out and i have been tinkering with other ideas and projects as well.
so...all this brings me to the topic at hand...patterns. i hate them. i hate cutting precisely and following directions written down and not understanding words and having to google them endlessly and still not understand them. i dont know if you get the point, but i hate them.

my first pattern project was a simple tote bag (pic on left) the bag is reversible so the pockets can either go on the outside or inside. i was so shocked that it actually came out to be a tote bag. it got me all cocky, so i thought i would try some more.

i am really into aprons but hate buying them because if they are cute at all they are expensive! so i got the emmeline pattern by amy butler and tried it...i think it turned out fine - not an "a" by any standards, but at least a "c+" - i used an alexander henry pattern for one side and finally put my honeymoon balinese sarongs to some actual use and used one for the other side. (the sarong is the red and white number). the biggest problem i faced was the bias stitch halter top and despite my many efforts, i ended up scratching that idea and doing a simple d-clasp top.

these are far from marketable, but i am realizing that i am gaining practice in this and maybe eventually patterns will come easier the more i do. one can hope at least!

the horse and his boy

with what little downtime i had this weekend - from taking 21 kids on a field trip to the aquarium on saturday and then coming home to a bbq for 20 people from my niece's basketball team, plus attending a young women's basketball tournament....i was able to finish a couple more books in the narnia series.

i started with magician's nephew and i skipped the second book - the lion, the witch and the wardrobe - because i had just re-read it before the movie came out and also because i must have read that book 10 times at least and felt i could recite it if need be. so i picked up book 3 - the horse and his boy.

unlike magician's nephew i had no clear memory of this book. certain things came back to me, but overall it was like i was reading it for the first time. this was the 5th book written by c.s. lewis, but comes in 3rd chronologically.

a lot of the book seemed slow going and there is a huge trek through the desert that i think even lewis couldnt make all too entertaining, but the sub text of this book i really felt was great. just to preface a little, although not too much because you really should read it if you havent, there is a boy named shasta who grew up as basically a slave and circumstance introduces this boy to a talking horse from narnia - bree - and they begin a journey together. bree was a war horse and knew it and along the way he disappointed himself. he meets up with aslan - the god/jesus figure and this is what aslan tells him:
"you're not quite the great horse you had come to think, from living among the dumb horses. of course you were braver and cleverer than them. you could hardly help being that. it doesn't follow that you'll be anyone very special in narnia. but as long as you know you're nobody very special, you'll be a very decent sort of horse, on the whole, and taking one thing with another."

quite often i find in lewis' books is a reoccurring theme of humility and the importance of it. in - the screwtape letters - the protagonist wormwood writes his demon nephew advice in turning a christian away and he tells him "when he becomes humbled make him realize his humility and then you will turn him away from that which he strives to become" - that is a paraphrase by the way...not sure how to quote a paraphrase...probably shouldnt have put it in quotations. anyway back to the point. that passage from screwtape letters have really stuck with me through the years. i think it is just human nature to strive to be good, but at the same time seeking that approval from others and upholding some sort of goodness reputation, instead of seeking good and truth for its sake alone.

anyone who knows me...or shall i even say has met me...probably knows humility is not a strong point. it is something that i have always grappled with. i really felt for the horse bree and his struggle in being a big fish in a small pond and wrestling with the idea of meeting people better than him and in that having his ego/self-identity crushed. i feel as though it can be a life long journey to be comfortable in your own skin and i am constantly plagued with holding my image up to so many others instead of working with what i have. i feel this especially with being a mom. i compromise a lot because of how others might perceive me, my actions, my son's actions, instead of following my instinct.

okay - i didnt intend to digress that much away from this book, but as a quick sum-up - i enjoyed the book, but not as much the story line itself, but the underlying message is what really spoke to me.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Magician's Nephew

i loved the chronicles of narnia as a kid. my husband bought me a hardcover boxed set for christmas, which replaced the 70s paperback falling apart set i still have from my childhood. i was feeling a bit under the weather yesterday and decided to start in on the set (which is now boxed in chronological order as opposed to the order C.S. Lewis wrote them in).

this was by far my favorite book as a child. i loved the sense of two naughty kids stumbling upon the creation of a world and also the adventures they find themselves having. i was surprised at how much i remembered about the book, although vague, i had these very elaborate scenes in my still-there-somewhere imagination of the woods between the worlds, of the evil witch Jardis, of the ruins they stumbled upon in the first world they entered, of the bell upon a platform, of aslan singing narnia's creation, of a tree in a garden, of some sort of creepy uncle.

my father is a big Lewis fan and said that in an autobiography he read it said that Lewis never intended to write with Christian themes, but they happened, as it were, naturally. it is hard to believe him because even down to the apple and temptation Lewis depicts the Genesis creation pretty much. even so, i love the idea of song calling into creation and the way he describes aslan and his solo which is shortly joined by the stars.

i am glad i read these as a child and still can conjure up such pure imaginative scenarios for these scenes. i doubt reading them as an adult could produce such lively characters and places, although the book is pretty descriptive.

i had forgotten entirely about the cabby and his horse also being pulled into narnia. i thought it was interesting that aslan made them the first king and queen of narnia - which is fitting for a Christian mindset - God always makes a habit of choosing the most ordinary people to do the most extraordinary things.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

alabama chili

our dear friends jena and joel from portland were down for a visit not too long ago and inspired me to do all sorts of things. aside from this blog and reading twelfth night, i was also inspired to cook chili. my parents always hosted hoe-downs in our backyard with chili cook-offs, so i guess you can say that chili is somewhat of a nostalgic thing for me. they recommended the book, chili nation, which has a chili recipe from each of the 50 states. i started with alabama because it was the first one in the book and seemed simple. i thought it would be good to blog about since i can look back and remember which ones turned out good and which ones i didnt care for, etc.

the alabama chili is a pretty straightforward one - it has garlic, onion, ground beef, tomatoes, green chilis, pinto beans, and also rolled oats - which you cant taste or see but gave it a nice texture i think. the spices were cumin, salt, pepper, chili powder and crushed red pepper flakes, but i also added a little cayenne because we like it a little spicier.

it turned out really nice - the chili was somewhat thick and we happened to be at farmers market today and there was some fresh jalapeƱo corn bread that went excellent with it. i have a ton of leftovers too in case you want to try it.

Psycho Disney Ride

on a weekend trip out to stateline with my brother, sister-in-law and dh to pick up a quarter midget race car for my nephew we had some luck gambling and decided to do something with our winnings that would actually we bought season tix to dland. we took bryson for his 2nd birthday and he of course loved it and i hadnt had a pass for 11 years so i was thrilled at the thought of only going a couple hours at a time and also i love it.

jon and paige (friends from college) also have season passes and we went a couple weeks ago. i was standing in line for star tours and was remembering the ride that used to stand in its place. i thought it was called eye of the needle for some reason...i think mainly because i remember you shrink or are really small. nobody in my group knew what the stink i was talking about and i started remembering all these things about this ride - mainly images and mainly a big scary eyeball looking at you.

i kept trying to think about the ride and what it was about and then i remembered that now we have this amazing invention called the internet and i started looking up extinct disney rides and found it! it was called adventure through inner space. i found a description of the ride on

Step into an Atomobile and be prepared to be “miniaturized!”

While waiting in line, you see other guests enter one end of the Mighty Microscope, appear near the opposite end only a few inches tall, and finally disappear entirely. Now it’s your turn.

Your Atomobile—similar to a Haunted Mansion “Doom Buggy”—takes you on a journey into the world of molecules and atoms.

  • After passing through the Mighty Microscope, you’re shot into giant snowflakes.
  • You continue to shrink, allowing you to enter the crystalline structure.
  • You find yourself in a sea of enormous H2O molecules.
  • Electrons are now spinning around you!
  • You’ve penetrated the wall of an oxygen atom.
  • Finally, you face directly into the glowing nucleus of the atom.
  • As the snowflake melts, you finally begin get larger again. You’re back on visual.
  • Eyeball photoLook up! You’re being watched through a microscope.

Your journey ends in the Monsanto display area, featuring the bouncy theme song “Miracles from Molecules” by Robert and Richard Sherman—the team responsible for the music for It’s a Small World. became extinct in 1986. without giving away my age, i was 7 or 8 at the time of extinction. no wonder it scared the piss out of me! anyway - i must admit that star tours is a much better ride, but part of me wishes they could have kept this one and gotten rid of the tiki room or something instead.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Pseudo Brew

New Hobby Announcement

that's right. i collected another one. on a family reunion trip to kentucky we sampled my husband's uncle jerry's home brew and it was quite tasty and i always thought that it would be a neat thing to do. a couple weekends ago we were in san jose for easter and uncle jerry was there and he convinced me to try it out.

he made it seem so easy. its not so easy by the way. at least not to me. i am not the best with recipes or sanitizing, which are both good things to be good at in home brewing. i am fortunate to live in a city that has a great local brew store - in case you too are in the long beach area and want to know more about Stein Fillers - click here. i should have gone to the store without my 2.5 year old because i dont believe brew stores were designed with toddlers in mind. all sorts of glass bottles and fun bins with all sorts of dangerous things skewed about like a candy store. i was so preoccupied with trying to make sure bryson didnt kill himself or cost me a fortune in breaking merchandise that i didnt listen too carefully to the owner's instructions on how to brew my beer - or make the wort - or whatever cause i didnt listen.

i bought an equipment kit, which came with a book so i thought i was all set because the book - how to brew - looked pretty comprehensive...however little did i know that there is not one agreed upon way to brew beer.

this is what i ended up doing - and the truly sucky part is that i wont know if i did it all correctly until about a month from now when i can actually try the beer. i started with ingredients for a california pale ale, which came with cascade pellet hops. there were no instructions included on what to do with the hops and different people on the darn internet said varying things so i sorta improvised, which i am not sure if that were the right decision, but i tried calling steinfillers and they were closed and i had already activated the yeast, so i had to keep going. i boiled about 2.5 gallons of water - took the pot off the boil and added the malt syrup and stirred it in until it was dissolved. i then put it back on to boil and added 1 oz of the pellet hops. i then found something else on the internet that said cascade pellet hops were aroma hops and should only be added at the last 10 min of the boil so i took out the initial hops and boiled for 10 min then added another 1 oz of hops and boiled for 10 min. some hops you boil for an hour for the bitterness and some you only boil at the end for aroma so my beer i am thinking will be somewhat bittery and aroma-y (aromatic?).

whatever ends up happening, i will have about 5 gallons of either decent tasting beer or completely undrinkable pseudo-beer. the good news is that the ingredient kit was free and the bottling process will be free if i can manage to save up 48 bottles to bottle later on. i will keep posting the progress, more for myself than anything so that i have some sort of record of what the hek i am doing because who really knows. so this will be a learning batch, which is fine - i already know what i will do differently next time, which is all you can hope for when you begin a hobby, right?