Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oh Happy (Zombie) Day! 

You know what that means, kids. A movie trailer!

I give you...Resident Evil: Extinction. w00t!

Don't you just love how their trailers start with Umbrella Corporation propaganda, and then REE REE REE REE!!!

Preliminary complaints ('cause y'all know I have some):

1. Mila's hair. Observe:

Resident Evil: Genesis


Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Slightly ragged, but still cute.

Resident Evil: Evolution


2. Choice of Co-Star

Resident Evil: Genesis
The first movie had no other equivalent characters in the video game, so here's a shot of the group.

Lovely, no?

Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Jill Valentine vs. Jill Valentine

Very close, and she had some great stunts.

Resident Evil: Extinction
Claire Redfield vs. Claire Redfield

Ali Larter? Really? Somehow her Heroes whininess does not inspire my confidence.

I guess I should just be thankful we still have Carlos Reveira.

Ok, ok, the second picture is from The Mummy. Is that really important right now?

3. Western Boots

Where are the spurs? Tumbleweed? Will Doc be sending Marty back to the future on the train tracks?

4. Too much dust...

...not enough laser beams...

...and also, no undead dogs.


That being said, it's not coming out until the fall, and seeing as how there aren't many special effects in the trailer, I trust they will be spending that time wisely.


Also, I was just there in November. Sadly, there were no zombies at the time, or butt-kicking supermodels.

My picture of the Venetian:

In the zombie future:

One can always hope.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Rebel in Seat 16D 

Ok, there is no rebel in 16D, because that person is usually me. In the last year, I traveled over 25,000 airline miles, some business, most pleasure, though sadly not all on the same airline. Most were on US Airways in the same seat so I won't have to keep neurotically checking my ticket on my way to sit down. My most recent trip was on AirTran.

AirTran has great points that look even better when they're the lowest fare. The planes are newer, and therefore the inside is brighter, seats are cleaner, etc. The attendants have a humorous take on their jobs similar to that of Southwest (who unfortunately doesn't fly to Boston). The air systems even have fresher air, so you're less brainfogged when you arrive at your destination, and XM Radio which is in some ways better than an iPod considering nobody tells you to turn it off during takeoff and landing.

Right on the other hand, what is the deal, people? I've never seen such a rebellious bunch of travellers in my life. At least 3 different parties of people picked seats regardless of their tickets, and then proceeded to huffily flounce into different seats, still not their own, until they were finally relegated to sitting in their proper seats on a full flight, much to their rancor and dismay. On every leg of the flight up there and back there were quite a few people who wouldn't put their seats up for take off or landing and had to be reminded. Then, as soon as the attendant would walk away, they'd slam their seats back down like sullen teenagers...and yet they were full grown adults. What point are you trying to prove there? I really don't get it.

My biggest problem with the flights, though, didn't have to do with the passengers, and isn't confined to one airline. In my experience, considerate pilots keep you updated with news. For example, the flight is slightly delayed by 15 minutes; we're 14th in line for takeoff; we're going to sit here for an hour, so if you'd like to use the bathroom, go ahead. What's rude is saying nothing...nothing...nothing..keeping the seatbelt light on...nothing... 45 minutes later, "Hey, folks, we're next in line for takeoff!" Um, thanks?

Are you telling me they don't know these things before they pull out of the gate? Of course they do. Why don't they warn you, just for mental health, as you're sitting down? "We're going to get where we're going, and we'll probably be on time thanks to headwinds, but don't save your good book 'til we're in the air, if you know what I mean." Heading off air rage starts on the ground, and yet, amazingly, notification is still up to the good graces of the pilot.

The rules and laws governing passengers on flights continue to grow, while those governing airlines don't keep up with common sense. With the news in the last few days, it's obvious very few airlines have contingency plans once the passengers have embarked. When you're on, you're on for the duration, and apparently if they're stuck on the ground, they just figure it out on the fly, pun intended. And that is why I support this:

Proposed Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights
All American air carriers shall abide by the following standards to ensure the safety, security and comfort of their passengers:
*Establish procedures to respond to all passenger complaints within 24 hours and with appropriate resolution within 2 weeks.
*Notify passengers within ten minutes of a delay of known diversions, delays and cancellations via airport overhead announcement, on aircraft announcement, and posting on airport television monitors.
*Establish procedures for returning passengers to terminal gate when delays occur so that no plane sits on the tarmac for longer than three hours without connecting to a gate.
*Provide for the essential needs of passengers during air- or ground-based delays of longer than 3 hours, including food, water, sanitary facilities, and access to medical attention.
*Provide for the needs of disabled, elderly and special needs passengers by establishing procedures for assisting with the moving and retrieving of baggage, and the moving of passengers from one area of airport to another at all times by airline personnel.
*Publish and update monthly on the company’s public web site a list of chronically delayed flights, meaning those flight delayed thirty minutes or more, at least forty percent of the time, during a single month.
*Compensate “bumped” passengers or passengers delayed due to flight cancellations or postponements of over 12 hours by refund of 150% of ticket price.
*The formal implementation of a Passenger Review Committee, made up of non-airline executives and employees but rather passengers and consumers – that would have the formal ability to review and investigate complaints.
*Make lowest fare information, schedules and itineraries, cancellation policies and frequent flyer program requirements available in an easily accessed location and updated in real-time.
*Ensure that baggage is handled without delay or injury; if baggage is lost or misplaced, the airline shall notify customer of baggage status within 12 hours and provide compensation equal to current market value of baggage and its contents.
*Require that these rights apply equally to all airline code-share partners including international partners.

You should too. Sign the petition here.
The Stranded Passengers blog.

Also, please don't write me or them and say, "You get what you pay for...People want to spend $79 on a ticket to Reno blahblahblah, etc."
1. Nobody made the airlines offer low priced tickets.
2. The last time my ticket up north was less than $200... well, I don't remember. Who exactly is it that's lucky enough to get these tiny fare tickets people keep yapping about? My recent fare to Las Vegas was over $400.
3a. The first class passengers who presumably paid more for their tickets do not get treated better or let off the plane while it's on the runway.
3b. Buying a discount ticket should not mean you're relegated to Titanic Steerage status.

It is a big problem, and someone needs to create some guidelines.


Monday, February 19, 2007

I Got the Baby 

Yesterday we celebrated Grandpa Duncan's birthday with a coconut cake and a King Cake for Mardi Gras. My cousin's daughter Emily was very excited about the possibility of finding the baby in her cake, but alas, it was not meant to be. I had very little hope of finding it in mine, especially after last year's book club debacle--our King Cake had no baby at all, despite our having ripped it to shreds looking for him. That is typically the kind of luck I have, and for that reason you should never play poker with me. Or rather, why you should. Of course, finding the baby in your cake is kind of a backwards thing, in that you have to buy the cake next year. Between that and the loveliness of this particular baby, my antiluck held out. Behold:

Greetings, Earthlings. I am Mardi Gras Baby, reincarnated Lord Xenu, and I have come to reclaim the wandering Thetan souls from their Earthly prisons and subject them to yet more torture re: endless loops of Tom Cruise movies. I'm sure you thought you were partaking in a harmless annual ritual of debauchery, but haHA, I and my troops have entered your homes via your disgusting confectionaries. Though you cannot see, I am sporting a soul-sucked hole straight through my brain, not unlike you will soon have. Enjoy your cakes, children. BUAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

And, now, to cleanse your palate from the horror, as if that's possible, some pretty Valentine Tulips from Adam:

Finally, Livingston wanted you to know he has a lovely, lovely tail. What a showoff.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Book Club Food: The Secret Life of Bees 

The premise of Secret Life of Bees is pretty simple, so there isn't much need for plot explanation. One of the nice touches of the book, though, is that it's peppered with superstition about bees and honey, of which there is much given their complicated lives and societies. It seems that to properly care for bees, one must have a little faith and a little mysticism to truly understand their nature, both insect and tribal.

Each chapter begins with an excerpt from a beekeeping book, introducing the theme for that chapter's human drama. It seems bees have long been associated with the crossing point between life and death, messengers that understand something about what we are not yet ready to see. In essence, by looking into the tiny world of bees, we learn to take the leaps of faith necessary to be at peace with our own lives and losses. In honor of that literary conceit, my favorite feature of the book, here is my own bee story.

When our 21-year-old dauschund Max died, my family reeled from the loss of our friend who was so much a part of our lives. He'd been a constant companion to anyone doing anything in his little kingdom, watching the world from one of his many beds with his expressive eyes and telling you all about it in his doggie-speak. Mom talked to him about everything while she did her chores. He sat with me in my long hours at the computer, sometimes 16 a day, building the family business. He kept Dad company in the yard, and supervised Joshua's homework. He was precise in his schedule down to the minute. By the time he became our "Little Old Man" it was only natural that we'd care for the end of his life as any other family member. Everything revolved around Max, which could be incredibly frustrating since you never really knew how to help or what he'd need. Eventually, it was just his time, and when he passed away, I couldn't stop thinking that I should have done more.

A couple of days later, in an incredibly vivid dream, I saw Max sitting on his pillow in the dining room. I was so happy to see him again, that I scooped him up and ran to put him in the sunniest spot of the yard, under our giant philodendron and next to a pretty group of wild lilies. The sun was so warm I could feel it. I told Max I loved him and that how ever many times he wanted to go out in the garden, that was fine with me. He looked at me with his sweet little eyes, like he understood and always had. Suddenly, a bee came between us and started circling him. I tried to get closer, but the bee was guarding him. More bees joined the circle and I called for Max, who looked at me contentedly but a little sad. I grew so panicked trying to reach him that I woke myself up crying.

I was so disturbed by the dream that I wrote a group of INFJ's I chat with online about it. As an English major, I'm usually pretty good at picking out symbolism in dreams, but I couldn't figure out the bees, because they seemed so threatening but hadn't hurt him. Then one of my friends wrote to say bees had often appeared in legends about saints, hovering over bodies that were "sweet". I was so comforted by that thought that I was able to let my guilt of not "saving" him go.

Incidentally, if you found my story too sentimental, dramatic, emotional, overly personifying of animals, or sacreligious, you will probably not enjoy The Secret Life of Bees, because it's all of the above. My only beef with it was that it was yet another book featuring the voice of a 14 year old (you'll that our next book was as well) who was preternaturally wise (though her emotional state was right on) with an accepting attitude towards the world that seemed anachronistic (ditto with the next book). Nevertheless, it was enjoyable and a good summer read. It's also a good excuse to have an old fashioned Southern themed book club meeting!

Food Mentioned in the Book:
Quaker oats
Blackberry jelly
buttered bread
graham crackers & marshmallows*
angel food cake & milk
red Jell-O
sweet potatoes
barbeque pork and Coke
raspberry tea & biscuits
banana everything
ice cream cone
bologna sandwiches
green Kool-Aid ice cubes
sliced tomatoes
3-tiered chocolate cake
pork chop sandwich & slaw
orange juice
grape juice
banana cream pie
Mary Day cakes* - small 1 layer cakes drizzled with honey
Rice Krispies, milk, and raisins
PB sandwiches
corn fritters
tomato sandwiches
hot dogs

Menus in the book:
in addition to the food mentioned above

fried okra, pork chops, fresh tomatoes, and sweet tea

sliced ham, fried chicken, deviled eggs, green beans, turnips, macaroni & cheese, and caramel cake

smothered chicken, rice & gravy, butter beans, sliced tomatoes, biscuits, coke and peanuts

Recipes in the book:

Equal amounts of the following:
Sunflower seeds
Sesame seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Pomegranate seeds

Salt the mixture (or choose salted seeds). Drizzle in honey until just sticky, but not large clumps. Spread on a baking tray and bake until just brown.

Candlestick Salad*
Turn banana upright in a pineapple slice and add a maraschino cherry on top

Our menu:
fried chicken
deviled eggs
green beans & almonds
tomato salad
rice & gravy
banana pudding

We also served a honey margarita, similar to this recipe.


Monday, February 12, 2007

The Tao of Lex 

What? I haven't posted in 2 weeks? Time flies when you're not having fun, eh? Here, then is a lighthearted entry to counteract all that studious literariness, a la phonecam time.

You might think that cats don't know much, but I assure you this is not true. Nay, they are students of the universe, and here is the proof--my cat, Lex. Lex has recently taken up listening to just about anything. The lesson we can learn from this, is that there is wisdom all around us. For example...

In a glass of Perrier. Note his contemplative Monkey Tail pose. What wisdom can be gained from Perrier, you might ask? It takes patience and a lot of time to figure this out. Apparently. And each glass is different.

In the tub. This is his favorite thing lately. I can barely get out of the tub before he insists on getting in for his nightly lesson of aquatic knowledge. Note the cocked ear, listening intently to the wisdom of a dripping faucet. Here is a haiku about it:
Little urban cat
Darkened shower, claws unsheathed
Drowsy woman screams

In origami. Origami is a form of meditation; but as in yoga (and physics) there must be an opposite action for everything. Here, Lex demonstrates the balancing of the force by the destructive action of ripping my "kitten" origami figure to bits. You can see what a proud little Darth he is.

In my grey sweater. This is his Yoda. I don't know what they talk about, but every night I put this sweater on the bed near his towel and each time he gets up on the bed, the first thing he does is go over and purr at the sweater. This is good in two ways. First, the sweater gets to tell Lex all the secrets of the universe. Second, Lex kneads the stew out of the sweater and not my arm, which he goes after if I forget to lay the sweater out a strategic distance from my body parts; it's a sort of cat flypaper, if you will. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but question Yoda, you must not. Even if he is in the form of a sweater.

In a side note, this and the related blue sweater I bought from Express 10 years ago are the best purchases I've ever made. Not only do they not ever fade or age, no matter how many trips through the wash, but the are claw resistant and an attack preventative. If I'd known how important they'd be, I would have bought many, many more.

In the Puppy bowl. You might not be able to tell, but that is in fact the Puppy Bowl. There was so much wisdom being bandied about by the hyperactive pups that the Close Captioners were clearly having trouble keeping up. But Lex was not deterred. After 40 minutes straight of listening to their existential crises, he fell asleep on my stomach. To ponder.






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Recent Entries...

Oh Happy (Zombie) Day!
Rebel in Seat 16D
I Got the Baby
Book Club Food: The Secret Life of Bees
The Tao of Lex
Atonement Spoilers
Book Club Food: Atonement
Holiday Ginger Cookies
Oh Happy Day!
The Mushroom Saga Continues


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