Friday, January 22, 2010

Oregon Coast outside Seaside, May 2005

Currently listening to: Judy and the Dream of Horses by Belle and Sebastian, Relator
by Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson, Sympathique by Pink Martini, 1234 by Feist, Hand On Your Heart by Jose Gonzalez.

The winds are kicking off the foothills and I feel like the narrator in Moby-Dick:

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

But tonight instead of flying down to the BVIs, I will be going to see Avatar in 3-D on an IMAX screen with my roommate. It will be dorktastic. And I think there may even be some ocean scenes . . .

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mexican Train

I love the holidays because old friends come back into town and friends who live close by have more free time than usual and extra incentive to do fun stuff because of the unusual out-of-town guests! Nothing but parties and good food for weeks on end, very nice.

Tonight was one of those - homemade individual pizza pies and silly movies (The Princess Bride and Elf) and then a game that's new to me! And lots of fun!

It's called Mexican Train and it rocks! And . . . no . . . I don't know why it's called Mexican Train. We pondered the name while playing. We are not sure it is PC. We think it makes innocent game-playing statements sound kind of racist. We think this is funny, because my friends are generally not the sort of people who make racist comments. Does anyone out there know why the game is called Mexican Train? People need to know. Our best guess is that it was created way back when by someone in Mexico, and whoever they are, they rock, because it is awesome.

Basically, it's a dominoes game. The domino tiles go up to a double-twelve and down to a double-blank. There's a round for each of the doubles; first placing the double-twelve and playing off of it, next round off the double-eleven, etc. You can play with two players (apparently, but I think it's more fun with at least four people, and best the way we played, with teams of two). In addition to playing off your own line, matching like to like, you can start "Mexican Trains" off the in-between spaces and anyone can play off those. There are details of how to close other railroad lines down and what to do with doubles etc. but you can learn those if/when you play.

The fun part is having a buddy to discuss strategy with - you can arrange linking railroad lines of domino to domino and consider various moves several plays out. Very social, simple enough rules but involves strategy and luck - good game! I recommend checking it out, especially because it really can accommodate up to eight players. That's unusual in board or card games and nice around the holidays.

Tip: We're pretty sure points are counted against you (like in golf) and not for you, as we played. Hmm, maybe we should have read the instructions . . .

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Book Review: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Well, Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me has been all over the gosh darn place, and for awhile at that. I had it on my hold list for the Boulder Public Library, but last night I caved and bought it. I know, Dear Reader, the power that books have over me is not altogether healthy. And definitely not normal.

But, I did have a birthday gift card to spend AND I bought it at the Boulder Bookstore. Which is local. So back off, yo.

So like I said, everyone and their puppy is gushing about this book. I must say, I too enjoyed it. Although, for the record, I called the plot on page 98. But, I am the psycho who correctly deduced the Snape relationship from HP 3 (yes THAT relationship). Really. None of the other books were out yet, just Azkaban in hardcover. And I have witnesses who remember me going on and on about my theory: Harry's eyes, and Voldemort telling her to get out of the way, and WHY WOULD HE DO THAT, HMM? They thought I was crazy at the time, but oh ho ho - I showed them.

Off topic.

When You Reach Me is soooo grood. Like all the other reviewers out there, I want to keep my mouth mostly shut about it, because it's so much fun to just jump in and discover the story. I love the way Stead writes dialogue, I love her sense of humor, I love her awareness of how much children and teenagers are aware of, I love New York in the 70s, all of it. And of course, I love the references to Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, a classic if ever there was one. And, just to really make me love it, she gives us a character who is a bona fide gifted kiddo, with the shitshow that comes along with that. Here's an excerpt of the main character, Miranda, discussing A Wrinkle in Time with gifted kiddo, Marcus:

He picked up my book from the table and flipped through it. "Actually I had almost the same conversation with my teacher right after I read this. She didn't understand me at first either."
"She? Mr. Anderson is a he. You don't really notice much about people, do you?"
"Not Mr. Anderson. This was in second grade. I wrote a book report about it."
"In second grade?"
p. 52

Actually, I think A Wrinkle in Time is perfectly reasonable for a strong second grade reader. I think it should be reread regularly later though, to really appreciate it.

When You Reach Me, on the other hand, is maybe best to read for the first time between 9 and 13; that adolescent inbetweeny time when you start figuring out the world, and money, and friends, and love. In a way, it's sort of like a tween version of The Catcher in the Rye
- Stead perfectly captures a snapshot of growing up, that time when the world shifts and is never the same again.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Auschwitz Sign Located and Recovered

I heard a story yesterday on NPR that the famous Arbeit Macht Frei (literally work makes/equals freedom, or "work will set you free") sign over the entrance to Auschwitz was stolen. Completely freaked me out and made me super pissed off, so I sort of purposefully ignored it until I searched tonight and found this NYT story stating that it had been found (sawed into three words) and some men were being questioned.

Thank goodness. Really, who steals a sign off a concentration camp? Who?

Photo credit to -Alflickr- for KL Auschwitz I (Oświęcim). Thank you for licensing under Creative Commons so I could share your work on this blog! I felt the blue sky was appropriate because the sign's message is so creepily inaccurate.