Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Yay for Christmas!



I hope everyone has had a lovely holiday season!

We certainly did. It was a nice, quiet Christmas. On Christmas Eve Eve we went on our traditional dinner out to Denny's with the whole family, followed by a drive through the rich neighborhoods to look at their lights. My older brother noted that there were fewer lights this year, probably due to worry over global warming, and my dad shouted out the cracked open window, "Thanks for ruining Christmas, Al Gore!" The rest of the car ride consisted of my sister and I covering our noses while trapped in a car with my brothers' combined fart power. We also had a big burn pile during the day, and when I checked on it that night... there was an evil face looking back at me!



Christmas Eve was lovely! I finished Northern Lights faster than I can remember finishing any book in recent memory (read for fun, of course) and saw the movie The Golden Compass. Wow. I understand a lot of the sacrifices they made for the screen, but wow. If they were going to give it a PG-13 rating they should have actually shown some of the gory or more upsetting scenes, like, I don't know, the end. I was more upset by the studio (or whoever made the decision) not taking a stance on the religious content of the book/film. They hinted at it with a few split second scenes of Christian artwork, but that's all. By excluding the Christian elements, the filmmakers have excluded the pivotal element of the book. I mean, the title is appropriated from the epigraph from Paradise Lost. I understand that it's a business and they wanted to appeal to the masses (which often equates to the lowest common denominator) but if Pullman had the gall to write about it and the publishers had the balls to publish it, then you'd hope Hollywood would have the danglies to at least do the text justice. Maybe not. Hollywood may have no hangy dangies at all. I'm not about 50 pages into the second book, The Subtle Knife.

I let it all slide in the light of it being Christmas Eve. My sister and older brother and I went out on an evening ride to look at the lights on the houses in the valley below. Beautiful. Though Houdini, the horse my brother was riding, is still pretty green, which always makes riding with him interesting. And they were all a little extra tense... either because it was cold, dark, and near dinner time... or because they sensed Santa near! We watched the nearly-full moon rise from horseback. Things got exciting when we lined up for a picture and Houdini kicked Mickey and I. Luckily it was just a glancing blow that hit my boot (though my feet were so numb I hardly felt it) and didn't do much damage to Mickey.

I love Mickey. He's such a wolly mammoth in the winter!

Calming Mickey and Sparrow when they started to spook from Houdini.

Lights on the houses below.

Me and Mickey, the demon eye.

My brother and Houdini who doesn't like his bit.


Sparrow and the moon.

Sparrow and Mickey.

Christmas Eve I tried crab for the first time in ages. It was pretty good.

We left Santa a small feast!

Christmas morning was lovely and the sun shone. After opening gifts, we had a delicious meal of roll that my mom made.

That afternoon I gave gifts to the kids I babysit. The little boy's favorite present from me was a potato. It's a joke that goes back to when he was three or so.

That evening Alex and my bog bro went on another horseback ride. I'd been standing in the kitchen forever making homemade egg nog and needed some exercise, so I ran on ahead of them. It was a variation of how my sister and I once played "Runner." I ran and she hunted me down on horseback. It's great fun and scary. I have more respect for Ronon!


Houdini, the little green boy, before the ride.

Christmas sunset!

I was a bit smug after beating the horses and waiting for them to arrive for several minutes. Even Teyla the toot was a happy little angel on her second Christmas!

E

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Shopping



So last Friday my sister and I went Christmas shopping downtown. I have a habit of attempting to encourage reading by buying everyone books (which has been working, as far as I know, with the kids I babysit) and as such resulted in me leaving Borders with such a heavy bag that, after hauling it around for about three hours, left me with sore trapezium. Good 'ole trapezium. They're very useful.

After hiding out in an expensive clothing store just because it was warm, accidentally ripping out my earrings while trying on a top (I got my ears pierced about two months back and no one ever tells you about the weeks and weeks of difficulties that follow the initial 4-6 week cleaning-leaving-the-earrings-in thing) and getting shouted at by a tarot card reader ("Hey - lady in the green with the long hair! Get back here!") who apparently really wanted to read my future, my sister and I slipped into Marini's - the lovely chocolate and candy shop to get fat. We went all out and even split a piece of chocolate cake.

And you'll never believe who we saw in the store. SANTA! He was sitting there in a green chair with a sign on it that read "reserved for Santa." I know that the Santas in department stores aren't the "real" Santa, but you never know where he might turn up, and I was curious if this could be the really real Santa. So I asked him if I could take his picture. He was so nice about it that I asked if I could be in it with him. He said of course. As I tried to crouch beside him he patted his knee, insisting that I sit on his lap. I should have seen it coming. But this was a thin old man and I'm about 135 lbs - I figured I'd snap his femur, but alas. My sister took the picture then he eagerly insisted that I take one of her next. Just when we thought we were getting away he said, "And now let's get some nice person to take on of BOTH of you!" We tried to explain that it was fine, but he leapt up and snagged some random bum-like man off the street and asked him to take our picture.

Of course, this was in front of the store window so several passerby were stopping to catch a glimpse of the pimping Santa, since it took ages for the random guy off the street to figure out how to take the picture. You'll note our pained smiles. At least mothers used us "big kids" taking our picture with Santa as encouragement for their children and all of the sudden Santa was inundated with kids.





Each step we took away from the store brought more laughter. We wound up so distracted by the weirdness of what had just happened that we started heading in the wrong direction and had to power-walk past the store window again, refusing to look in at the Big Man. "He wasn't the real Santa!" my sister noted. "He had these little fake black things covering his shoes to look like boots!" As if we didn't already know - he was an impostor!

I think the real Santa was the Santa I saw riding by on a bike in a Hawaiian shirt and Santa hat. He probably was taking a break at our seaside city before he had to get back to work.

When we got home and looked at the pictures Alex was being driven crazy trying to figure out who that "Santa" reminded her of... I thought he looked familiar, too... and then it hit her. It makes perfect sense. Harry from Harry and the Hendersons. The resemblance is uncanny.


Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Solstice!

With the semester finally over and the solstice, here, I celebrated by baking an almond Yule Log and decorating my room (as I do every year) with moons and stars.



Now only a few more days till Christmas Eve and Santa comes! Yay!

I've finally gotten around to reading my copy of Northern Lights and am enjoying in so far. I hope to see the film soon.

I've yet to figure out how to properly use the "user friendly" mac, but I'll forcibly devote some time to it later. As it is, I'm happy to announce that my last-minute video "My Stargate Story" made it to the top ten finalists of the Amanda Tapping Stargate Atlantis Superfan Contest. That means Mrs. (or is it Ms. when you keep your maiden name? Assuming that is her maiden name...) Tapping will be forced to watch our video then pick a finalist. While I'm honored, I'm not holding my breath. That poor woman. Bless her. Here's our entry in case you missed it (sorry if it displays twice, I can't seem to fix that):

My Stargate Story

Hope you're all well! Next time - my Christmas shopping experience.

Melissa - thank you, darling! I think we've named it The Fat Man. And what movie-making software would that be? Final Cut Pro? I'm so new to the mac world. I'm used to sneering at it!

gods lil Tippy - Many thanks to you, as well, sweetie! And Merry Christmas to you, too!

tedrick - Thanks! I know - FINALLY. I have no idea. I'm hoping I don't get anything lower than a B+ but you never know. Next semester I'm taking the two American Lit courses and a screenwriting class that I don't actually have to show up to. How about you? And let me know how the gifts go over... some of them are in a picture I put up here somewhere.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Surprise

Beauty

Over the past year I've strayed into becoming a night owl. Night classes don't help, either. Nor does being a bum. As such, I went to bed around 4:30 last night and woke up at noon. As such, noon was my morning, and as I drank my coffee I noticed a large brown box on the deck. My brother's always ordering essential car parts (like the Dixie horn and testicles for his truck) so I assumed it was his. A little bit later my mom announced that it was for me. I was surprised to find that it was from MGM.

My sister was home early so we opened it together, assuming it was a DVD set of the TV show Reno 911, which we've never seen, but entered a parody contest for a few months ago. Since we were the only entry MGM "killed" the contest and the guy running it was nice enough to say he'd try to get us some DVDs for our trouble. Though the box felt a little heavy for DVDs.

On the top was crumpled papers from the LA Times followed by the most exciting sight of tons of... wait for it... free FedEx envelopes! Imagine the joy. I squealed. When we cleared all of those out we stared in shock. At the bottom of the box was a white Apple bag. Inside it was a white Apple box. Inside that was a white Apple Macbook. We stared in shock. Who the hell would send us a free computer?

My only deduction is that it's a prize for winning the Reno Vs. Chapelle contest... or rather for entering, since as I said the contest died. I hope it wasn't sent to me by mistake. There was no "congratulations" letter or anything. It was like Santa came early! Though if a free laptop is the reward for stuffing my bra and and murdering a bear after getting farted on on-screen, then I'm saving my socks for just that from now on. Though it could just be that we were the only entrants. Here's the video I assume merited this:



I'm not a "Mac person" and hate feeling like I'm owned by the Man (meaning the pear-shaped Steve Wozniak who frequents the area) but am intrigued by this new machine. That is, when it's on. When it's off it's terrifying. It just sits there on my bed like a fat white man, blinking expectantly. My sister and I deduced that it frightens us because it cast a spell in the delivery truck. This is insight into my 4.0 GPA.

Here are some pictures from the event:


Alex making good use of the envelopes.


The fat man himself.

And here's footage of the momentous event - my sister doing the honors of opening it for the first time:

video

My reaction to it all:

video

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My Stargate Story

I finally entered the Amanda Tapping Stargate Atlantis Super Fan Contest. Here's my entry:



The original was about 20 mins long... so imagine how much more there actually is to "my Stargate story." Some of what was cut:

- The fact that my older brother would sprint outside during commercials to lift weights in the hopes of looking like Teal'c.

- I once read that Amanda Tapping answers all of her fan mail so I sent her a letter... in 2002... and am still waiting for a reply. I'll probably take a little while to send her a thank you note when I do get my response.

- My first exposure to Stargate was the film when, in sixth grade, I did all that was expected of me and got to go to an end of the year party. We were studying ancient Egypt at the time (which merited the film) and our parents had to sign permission slips to allow us to watch a PG-13 movie. Alas, the party ended before the film so I was left wondering what happened to Col. O'Neill and Dr. Jackson after they were captured until I begged my mom to rent the movie that summer.

- The TV series began when I was in jr. high and I wasn't always allowed to watch it. Probably because I was very impressionable... though as you can tell from our fan films, the damage was already done.

- I used the excuse that I had to get home early from high school dances to watch my show to get out of dancing with boys who were even bigger geeks than I was.

- I used to wish I had glasses so that I'd look more like a Dr. Jackson nerd and would get upset over my perfect vision and the fact that my friends laughed when I'd ask if I was a nerd, assuring me otherwise... much to my dismay.

- I like cheese.

- I was influenced by Daniel and Indiana Jones and wanted to be an archaeologist for ages until I realized that, as is the case with most sciences, much of one's time is spent teaching and grant writing. I then realized that I just like reading about what archaeologists have figured out rather than having to do the work myself.

- I wrote a journal entry my freshman year of high school about observing school from the POV of a traveler from the stargate and how terrible school was. I was depressed that summer was over. My teacher was disturbed by my emo-ness.

- Daniel and I had a falling out... after I read an article about why Michael Shanks left the show (allegedly because he wanted more Daniel-centric episodes) "Michael Shanks" became a swear word in our house. My sister even had an sign on her door that had his name with a cross over it. Imagine our horror when we were forced to see him naked when he came back onto the show. The roof nearly blew off as my sister and my best friend and I all shrieked and tried to close one eye.

- We then realized that Daniel had formed a nudist colony, hence all of the clothes that were constantly left behind after he'd help others "ascend." I will stop here lest my pervertedness rear its head.

- There is much more I can say about Michael Shanks, including the horrible fact that the two children (1 and 3 at the time) that I took care of would knock over block towers shouting "Osama bin Laden!" and "Michael SHANKS!" I even have it on film.

- David Hewlett's fans at the A Dog's Breakfast screening all-but terrified me. I won't go into the specifics of the reasons why lest I offend any readers.

- Martin Gero is my MySpace friend and helped me with a school project once. We're so BFFs. Except not.

- When I first heard about the spinoff Atlantis, I laughed. When I saw the cast photograph I laughed harder.

- I fell in love with Atlantis and would watch it while coloring in my Harry Potter coloring book after my wisdom teeth were pulled. I could blame the Vicodin but that would be a lie - I just liked coloring in it.

- My sister wasn't allowed to watch Atlantis at first because my mom thought it was too scary with the Wraith. I assured her that if she had seen the severed heads flying over the walls of Gondor in Return of the King, she could handle this. I won.

- When Ford left the show, I'd randomly collapse on the floor crying "Rainbooooow!" because I wanted Ford back and thought that Rainbow Sun was the coolest frickin' name ever. It still is. I also thought he was cute. I still do.

- When Ronon first came on the show I had no idea that he was a cast regular and kept waiting for him to leave. He didn't. Then I liked him. Teyla finally had a fellow-alien BFF.

- When we first saw a picture of Atlantis season 2 my mom thought that Ronon was Ford with plucked eyebrows and dreads. Suffice it to say that it was a very small picture. Though Ronon's plucked eyebrows, creating the perpetually-surprised look, still kinda creep me out.

- Sometimes Sheppard scares me.

- Weir has always scared me.

- Toes often scare me.

- Children's shows almost always scare me.

- I have nightmares about oompa loompas.

Okay, I've gotten rather side tracked. There's lots more I could say, but I'll spare you, whoever you are.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Scarves and Moldy Pumpkins


Wow - it doesn't feel like it but it's been over 20 days since I last posted! As you can see, I've been busy knitting scarves - some on commission and some just to sell to the unsuspecting public of my university. Which is probably illegal. If I suddenly am never heard from again I was probably hauled off by the police and tasered for possessing a scarf - a deadly weapon. But in all honesty - I've sold all of the scarves in the picture except for the reject little orange one and the Gryffindor Harry Potter scarf! This has been a good year. I'm busily knitting more to fulfill my last-minute commissions and to sell to a few who were interested when I ran out of stock, but it looks like I've already earned Christmas present money.

I've done this for about three years, now... maybe four. The year I was trying to sell as many as possible to earn money for my trip to Ireland that January was particularly interesting. People saw me sitting there outside of the Student Union and thought all kinds of strange things. One man asked me if I was with the Commonwealth, and another asked if I was from Ireland. Apparently I look the part of my impoverished ancestors peddling their wares! I should start talking with my Irish accent when I try to sell them - maybe people would be more interested in buying them.

The same year that I was raising money for Ireland this barefoot hippie sat down at the table next to mine and held a piece of hemp between his toes and began weaving it. He was selling hemp knot jewelry... though who would buy it after watching him weave it with his toes all over it is beyond me. In fact, I didn't see him sell anything. After he tried to make conversation for an hour or so I ditched him. Nothing that interesting has happened this year other than being asked if I had an online shop where people could order scarves. Maybe that's not a bad idea...

Ah, the holiday season is here! The tree outside my window is completely naked except for a few leaves. I have a yearly tradition of cheering the straggler leaves on as the wind blows, trying to knock them off. Thanksgiving has come and gone rather uneventfully. I accidentally got drunk last year by drinking a spiked eggnog before eating anything and as such was a bit more careful this year. I tried to play Halo with my sister and cousins and my six-year-old cousin killed me several times. That wasn't because of the brandy -- I just suck that bad.

But enough about me. Time for some BEAUTY! Pictures of this blog's namesake: Moldy Pumpkin. For those who woefully do not know, the phrase comes from our fan film Stargate Atlantis: Discovery, wherein we meet Ronon's MOMMA for the first time.

When a teenaged Ronon dares to ask MOMMA why she's so mean, her response is, "Do you know what you looked liked when you were born? Ever seen a moldy pumpkin?!"

So here it is, imagery of baby RoRo:



I think the Voldemort on the left looks so awesome. Though my random mean guy in the middle is pretty hectic. And the redneck vampire on the end has aged well, too.

Atlantis Jackson: Yay thanks for your comments! Chaplin cracks me up. And yes - the jokes in our films are meant to be politically incorrect. I'm very irreverent when it comes to humor. Though getting saluted as dier fuhrer was a little disturbing! As for the picture from the earthquake... I now have it! Though I must warn you - I look like Baba Yaga in it! As for the school paper - I have no idea. I've had my picture taken for it more than once and I'm never on campus the next day to pick up a copy to see if it made it in. It probably doesn't matter anyway, since I make such a convincing man they probably captioned the picture as "Kelvin" rather than Kellie. ;o) Here's the one from the quake:

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Season Finale!


Can you believe it? It took us long enough to get there, but Bone Rice Films has just wrapped up our historic first season of Stargate Atlantis fan films with this new installment, "Hidden." Our "season" began back in August of 2006 when we made the first fan film for fun then decided to put it up on YouTube in case there were a few more deranged Atlantis fans out there. As it turns out, there were several.

I hope you enjoy this episode and stay "tuned" for "Hidden, Part II" sometime in the coming months!

Stargate Atlantis: Hidden

Description: In this season finale, Weir hosts a talent show in an effort to distract the people of Atlantis while Vala hunts down the alien intruder from "Unexpected." TRT: 21 minutes.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Oh yes, and because I promised my non-existant readers to share the story of last Halloween in my next post, here it is. And it's conveniently related to our first Atlantis fan film, too.

It was right around Halloween that our first Atlantis fan film, "Unexpected," was put up on the actor Jason Momoa's official website. This was, of course, very exciting to us for it meant more exposure (I'd guess maybe 5 people scrolled to the bottom of the page and saw the links before heading off to the forums gush about how gorgeous he is. Not that there's anything wrong with that - homeboy's a beautiful guy. But I'm trying to be realistic about what "exposure" means in this case). I was suddenly worried because "Unexpected" was made with a lot of inside jokes and wasn't originally intended for "mass consumption." I have a very irreverent sense of humor and it's rubbed off onto my little sister.

We have made a joke of the fact that Weir is a diplomat and interested in cultures in the real show by making her ignorant and somewhat bigoted in our "show." But you always run the risk of being misinterpreted and I was paranoid about the joke our Weir makes about Teyla and Ronon not being allowed to wear uniforms because they're "brown people." Nevermind the fact that my sister and I were the Teyla and Ronon in question and that we take no offense to the joke that teases how Teyla and Ronon never wear uniforms. But we live in a very color-conscious world (where, for example, I fill out hundreds of forms that ask me to identify myself then have a long list of races with the last being a color, "White." A friend of mine once joked that someday she'd fill in "other" with "Vanilla" because she wanted to be a flavor rather than a color. I'm always tempted to write "North Atlantic Islander") and I did get at least one comment by someone who didn't find Weir's ignorance all that funny. That was before YouTube killed my account for having Atlantis music videos so that comment disappeared with all the others when I started a new account.

A day or two later was Halloween and I dressed up as one of my favorite comedians, actors, filmmakers and all-around genius, Charlie Chaplin. Or rather, I dressed up as his character the Little Tramp. It was interesting to go to school like that - not everyone knows who Chaplin is these days! Though one girl in my poetry class couldn't stop staring at me then gushed to our classmates that she couldn't help it because I make a very attractive man. Bless her. I never know what to make of those comments. After I made The Lord of the Freaks people were constantly telling me I looked so much like Elijah Wood. I can't necessarily disagree - we're both pasty, dark-haired and have eyeballs way too big for our heads. At least they give me good peripheral vision. I survived those years with my feminine self-esteem by the counter-comments I'd receive that "You look just like Arwen." That one I can't agree with but take as a high compliment - Liv Tyler is one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen. And what's not to love about Arwen? By the gods I've gotten sidetracked...

So there I was waddling around campus. Someone stopped me to take my picture for the school paper. Another boy catcalled across the street, shouting, "hey you little tramp!" I don't think I'll ever be so elated to be called that. Someone knew who I was! I'm in love with that guy, whoever he was.

I took the bus home and my mom picked me up from the bus stop on her way to the grocery store. I was telling her about my anxieties about the joke in our fan film and she told me to not worry about. I was beginning to feel better when two teenaged boys spotted me in the car and started jumping up and down, shouting "hail Hitler!" and saluting me Nazi style. It was like a Seinfeld episode - even strangers thought I was racist!

I guess not everyone knows that Hitler loved Chaplin and grew his mustache to emulate him. If I could find a picture of me in costume I'd put it up. But alas!

I hope you're enjoying the many changing colors of autumn!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!





I hope you all had a chilling All Hallow's Eve! It was a fun day for me and certainly is a favorite holiday. I love the tangible magic in the air and the wonder and delight of all the children. Celebrating the eve as a liminal night when the dead return is such a thrilling, life-affirming ritual that it really is a shame we only make an allowance for it once a year.

The pictures are of our jack o' lanterns. The first (from left to right) is my sister's rendition of Lord Voldemort, the middle is my carving of some smug guy, and the last is my brother's redneck vampire. I think his is the best. The next picture is of the caramel apples my mom made. They were delicious though she constantly lamented that "they look like a moron made them!" Next is a terrible picture of my sister and I. She was a poor sod who got run over and I was uh... well... I'm not quite sure. I did the make-up for a Vampire but then I couldn't get the teeth to stick and the gown I was looking for seems to have disappeared. So I threw on the Renaissance outfit that my neighbor made for me 2 years back in her bribe to get me to go to the Renaissance Faire with her. So I guess I was some sort of dead Renaissance Faire reveler. Or something. I don't know. I was really off my game this year. I usually have a costume in far advance for this wonderful holiday. I'll have to tell the funny story about last Halloween in my next post. This one is dedicated to the spooky events of October 30th:

I always find it hard to pay attention in my second night class on Tuesday evenings. It runs from 7-9:45 and I have an hour commute so it's kind of a big deal. And we don't always get a lot done in that class - most of the work is done at home. Last class our professor encouraged us all to bring our laptops so I brought mine. My sister was stuck at home, on the other side of the mountain range, with my mom's book club. I couldn't let her bear that alone so I covertly signed onto messenger and started instant messaging her while my professor gave an example of what a paper presentation at a conference is like.

Alex was hiding in her room as the book club ate our Halloween cookies. I told her to steal some for me but she couldn't - the women wouldn't leave the cookies! Every once in a while she snuck down the hallway and took covert photographs of the goings ons and sent them to me along with her spy report. It was all fun and games and much more interesting than the paper my professor was presenting. He was going off about Tor House - the house made of rocks that the poet Robinson Jeffers had built by hand along the coast in Carmel. I honestly was half-paying attention but there's only so much you can take. But my professor's discussion of Jeffers' expression of the sublime in his poetry was suddenly enhanced as a deep rumbling snapped the air.

I had been 6 years old for almost 2 weeks when what is known as the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 struck. People in other parts of the country don't seem to realize that it was actually centered in the Santa Cruz Mountains (which rose during the quake). I was playing hide and go seek with my older brother and had just crawled behind a footrest leaning against the wall to hide when I felt the 7.0 quake. My mom turned into a bear and yanked the footrest off of me and had me run outside while she grabbed my baby brother. The windows flopped to and fro in their frames like a bubble being blown on a wand. I still can't watch Titanic without hearing the groans of the sinking ship and breaking dishes and thinking of the sounds of that earthquake. I sat outside with my older brother watching and listening to our house falling apart. I'd never been in such a large quake before (and haven't since) and, dinosaur nut that I was, assumed the worst. "This isn't an earthquake - it's a giant volcano coming up out of the ground and it's gonna blow up and we're all gonna die like the dinosaurs!" 2 years my senior, my brother comforted me with a panicked, "I know!" Luckily, it wasn't a giant volcano and we only lost almost all of our glassware and our chimney. The aftershocks were terrifying and we didn't know when they'd stop. People died. Buildings burned. The water and electricity didn't work. We couldn't go back into our house for a while. But my loved ones all made it through okay. Needless to say, I was a traumatized toot and made my dad stay in my room with me until I fell asleep for months afterwards. Well-into my teenaged years I would get an adrenaline rush whenever I heard a rumbling sound that sounded like an earthquake. I like to think I developed a sixth sense (for once in sixth grade I randomly stood up in fear in the middle of watching a video and just as a kid started to yell at me to sit back down, an earthquake struck) but more honestly, I was just scared.

Even now when I'm an old lady I often look out the window when a loud plane flies by when I'm in class (the planes are a lot lower and louder in the city). I admit that after September 11th I'm more afraid of the planes crashing into buildings, but still. I've had to learn to filter out the scary sounds. So I was kicking myself when the scary sound actually was an earthquake on Tuesday.

The classroom is a rectangle with windows lining one side. We sit at long tables arranged in a rectangle - we're trapped and cramped in a small box. When the quake hit, students were suddenly leaping out of their chairs. I did, as well, with a mind to run to the door, but as soon as I saw my classmates diving under the tables I did the same. But first I slammed my laptop shut with the bizarre, misguided notion that by doing such I was somehow protecting my little sister (with whom I'd been chatting) and a piece of equipment that my parents had spent a lot of money on (I actually have a pretty cheap laptop that I got on sale for about $600 a few years back but my parents surprised me by paying for it since I tend to be a Hermione in school). This is the same kind of thinking that made me always want to grab my lunchbox before we evacuated a building in elementary school during fire drills. My lunchbox? I've never cared that much about food, but I think what I cared about was the fact that my mother had made the food. What can I say? I'm a mommy's / daddy's girl.

I dove under the table and was on my hands and knees, feeling the floor beneath me pulsating like liquid - like waves in the sea. It really is beautiful despite the danger. I was paranoid about the windows right next to me. It was a 5.6 and was centered just a few miles from my university. Thus far there have been no reports of damage. Thank the gods we have good building codes. It lasted a good 30 seconds. My professor kept saying, "I think we're in the safest building on campus..." as we all waited it out. When it got quiet I looked across at him and said, "Well - I'm glad we're not in a rock house." Maybe you had to have been there but it was a funny moment. Though not quite as funny as the flash that suddenly went off while the ground was still shaking. My classmate Anthony (who took the lovely pictures at the MFA BBQ) had whipped out his camera and was photographing us under the tables! What a true journalist. He later asked if he could send one of me and the girl next to me to the school newspaper. Bless her - the girl next to me was from Serbia and this was her first earthquake. She was literally shaking for minutes afterwards. Another woman in the class is from Mississippi and after she announced that that was her first quake (for some reason we all applauded for her) she declared, "You Californians are crazy!" No argument there. But I'll take earthquakes over tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, snowstorms, and all those other scary things any day.

If/when I get the picture of us under the table I'll put it up for your amusement. My poor sister thought I had died in a building collapse because my laptop went insane for a while after the quake ("You survived the earthquake but your laptop did not!" the girl beside me joked) and it took me a bit to get back online to reassure her. Poor Alex. She isn't used to earthquakes. When it hit she thought it was the book club all running around the house. I love the way her mind works.

We ended class early (45 minutes later...) only to discover that we were supposed to have evacuated the building! They really should make that alarm louder. My ride texted me that she was leaving without me and my bus buddy ditched me for someone else (though he often reminds me of a sweet version of McKay so given McKay's reactions to earthquakes I guess that's not surprising...) so I wandered to the bus stop on my own. When I looked away from the flashing lights in the 8 story library (telling everyone to get out) I looked down to the bus stop bench only to notice a photograph of Fidel Castro. Talk about bizarre.

I made it home safe and sound and alive enough to type my tale. I certainly found it amusing and hope you do, too.

Last night I escorted my sister trick-or-treating. The benefit of having a sister 8 years younger than you is that you can really mold them as they're growing up (though I think Alex has even surpassed me with her insanity) and I have a vague excuse for my arrested development. Yes. This year was the first that I haven't gone trick-or-treating (to be fair, last year I was gathering candy for a young friend who'd just been in a car accident and was in the hospital) and gotten candy. I guess that's an upside to people thinking I look young (I in no way agree with this - I think I look my age or older) and hanging out with a younger kid. Though I did make her promise beforehand to give me a box of Nerds if she happened to get two. She did.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Awaiting the Redemption of Integrity



This blog was intended to be fun, inane, a place to keep up with Bone Rice Films' videos and hopefully be mildly entertained at the same time. In this post I am switching gears.

Last night I stumbled upon a website with two of the most sickening, disturbing, outrageous videos -- maybe the most upsetting I have ever seen (if such a qualification can be made). I almost shut the first video as soon as I realized what it was I was hearing but I was so repulsed that I kept watching like the rest of the students in the library. Were I a religious person I would be muttering, "my GOD..." "Jesus Christ..." "God Almighty..." like my fellow-students did as we watched the twin towers fall when we were 17 and sitting in our video productions classroom, but I'm not. Instead I am shocked into enraged silence, fighting the urge to don warpaint and dump a shiteload of tea on the lawn of the White House, at the very least. I am now in concurrence with the bumper sticker that reads, "If you're not outraged, you're not informed."

This is the website (and if you haven't noticed yet, this is actual footage. It's disturbing. That said, this is not a warning to not watch if you are faint of heart. By the stars, this is a warning that after you see these first two videos you will be so sickened that you will feel you have to do something about the injustice and abuse of power)

Shame on you, Senator Kerry, for passively watching this happen. Shame on the UCLA police and administration for condoning the actions of the police against their own student. Welcome to the ranks of Stalin.

Fear. That's what I sensed at these events and what I felt watching the footage of them. To be honest, fear is what I feel right now for exercising my First Amendment right by sharing this information and that is the most sickening sentiment of them all. I am a US citizen sharing information and outrage over how these two situations were handled, and I am mildly afraid of the consequences of my actions in doing so. A part of me worries I'll be blacklisted while another part of me wants to raise my head and say, "bring it on." Translated from Irish, Welsh and French, my full name means "Audacious brave woman warrior pearl." And I have rarely been so eager to cause change.

The only incident in my life that I can compare it to is (and those of you who have followed my every video on YouTube will have seen these) the injustice I felt at the treatment of one of my loved ones by the US Government. It prompted me to make a video project (that failed miserably in the face of the complacent, complaining public) called "YouTube: Enlighten America." After some criticism of my vagueness in discussing the source of my dissatisfaction with the state of the nation, I was requested to record my story, so I did that as well... and creatively called it "My Story."

I've witnessed violence before. I grew up with it. But abuse of authority disgusts me to no end. Even the other day on the bus the driver decided to talk to a passenger as if he were mentally incapable (he later claimed the man was drunk but he just seemed a little slow to me) and deny him a ride. This was the last bus leaving downtown past 10 at night. When the man tried to pay and meekly asked, "why you gotta be so uptight?" the bus driver called the police. We all got to wait around until a cop who looked like he was all of my age arrived. It was midnight by the time I got home. Okay, I get it - the driver thought the guy was drunk and didn't want him on his bus. So instead he left him stranded in downtown at the middle of the night. It makes a lot of sense to discourage drunk driving then refuse the intoxicated public transport, doesn't it? It's as asinine as the police breaking up a rowdy party and standing around, watching all the party-goers get into their cars and drive away. Real f*@!ing smart.

I am a paradox - I'm a patriot and love my country. I listen to Country music, I proudly wave the American flag on festive occasions, and one of my closest friends is an Iraq War vet who is a strong Republican Christian. And yet I live in the city who was the first US government to denounce the Iraq War, I often wear a bracelet with Bob Marley on it, and I am afraid of the police. I'm afraid of all in power in this country and that sickens me. It raises my hackles. But it is because of my love of my nation that I want it to change. I still believe in the words of our Founding Fathers and while we haven't yet become the nation they envisioned (hell, even their grand Enlightenment ideas included an economy built upon slavery and expansion based upon the extermination of the original inhabitants) but I think we still have a chance of making it there.

I will not conclude with a shattered utterance of "God help us..." If I were religious I know I'd be thinking, "Shoot, the Dude let us get into this mess because he wants us to get ourselves out." instead I will remind anyone who is reading this that regardless of religion or nationality, this middle-earth is our domain. We are Humanity's keepers -- we are responsible for each other and our own actions or inaction. Pray if you must. But my mantra is, "may we save ourselves."

We are waiting on baited breath for the redemption of integrity.

The pictures are of my town's Memorial Day Parade 2006 and the inside of our local covered bridge near the festivities of the day.

Melissa - I'm glad you're making progress with your video! :oD

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Help Stargate Atlantis!

It's time to help our favorite (okay, my favorite but maybe not yours) show and show our support for Stargate Atlantis by encouraging those in charge to renew the show for a fifth season. A friend asked me to share this and I'm more than happy to:

It's that time of year again. SCI FI just renewed Eureka & Destination Truth - guess who's still on the hook?... None other than our beloved Atlantis. Now's our chance to weigh in on a decision that's coming up ASAP (like starting now thru early next week). You guys know what to do - Choose one or more of the following cards -- email and regular mail them and let your voice be heard! We want another season of Stargate Atlantis! Spread the word to all...

Dave Howe
Executive Vice President and General Manager SCI FI Channel
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York NY, 10112
Dave.howe@nbcuni.com

Thomas P. Vitale
Senior Vice President, Programming and Original Movies, SCI FI Channel
30 Rockefeller Plaza, Fl. 21
New York NY, 10112
Thomas.Vitale@nbcuni.com

Mark Stern - (New York Office)
Executive VP Original Programming
NBC Universal | Sci Fi Channel, NY Office
30 Rockefeller Plaza,
New York NY, 10112
Mark.stern@nbcuni.com

Bonnie Hammer
President, USA Network and SCI FI Channel
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York NY, 10112
Bonnie.hammer@nbcuni.com



Download postcards here:

http://mihd.net/zuqi05

You click "request download link" then click on the top right thing and you download a zip file. You can print out the postcards then send them off to the addresses above, but I'd e-mail them and send them snail mail to let them know how scary we obsessive fans are.

The Highland Games 2007











Last Saturday was the annual Highland Games. There's nothing like the comfort and balm to the soul than a healthy dose of ones ethnic background. First, foremost and always I am an American, but most Americans are made up of the blending of many different tribes of people. As far as I know, I'm a Celtic mutt (Irish, Welsh, English [to no small amount of shame], a wee bit of German and Scottish). I've only ever been to Ireland and was born and raised in California, but I can't help but feel a sense of belonging among my fellow Celts. The Highland Games are a perfect excuse for celebrating heritage, eating haggis and buying merchandise that reflects an idealized inheritance (if there's one thing I learned from my travels in Ireland it's that Irish Americans are often more "Irish" then the inhabitants of Éire).

But there is something about the yearning, echoing call of the bagpipe that feels as if the instrument is filled with the bellows of the heart rather than the lungs. Every year my small mountain town has a parade for Memorial Day to honor our fallen soldiers and veterans. The local Celtic society has always marched, playing their pipes, and I can remember being a little girl and stilling as they strode by. My mother looked down at me and asked, "Do you feel shivers when you hear bagpipes?" I nodded yes. "So do I," she continued, looking back out. "I know it can't be, but I swear it's because it's in our blood."

For most of my childhood, being Scottish meant little to me other than odd family stories. Like the one I just told. I kept my tartan coin purse, scuffed from my brother throwing it, because my grandmother had brought it back for me all the way from a place called Scotland where my aunt nearly got run over and there was a castle that belonged to our family; the Eilean Donan - the most photographed castle in all of Scotland. Once my grandmother sat my brother and I down with a picture of the castle and explained to us how our clan were the guardians of the land, known as "the fighting MacRae's," and how the women of the clan were famous for fighting alongside the men. She showed us the mountainside covered with heather and traced her withered finger along the line of the ridge. When a MacRae died, he or she was carried by his/her fellows up the mountain and buried in a cemetery where all of the headstones bore the same surname. There's something of comfort to that - as Americans we don't have a sense of clan history. Even though I've never been there, it's nice to know that there is a land where my ancestors lived, breathed and died - there's a sense of familiarity with the faceless names that mark where you come from, even if you cannot return.

My grandmother died when I was sixteen and we did the best we could to emulate the funeral processions of our ancestors. Mimicing a distant people of a nation not our own can sound cheap, but there's a heartbeat where ritual transcends a facade and lives and breathes. It becomes a part of your own impassioned life's blood and is no more "cheap" than the celebration of one of our numerous holidays. My dress and hair whipped around me as I stood outside of the building the memorial was to be held in, ignoring the nose-chilling cold. Everyone else filed past and I couldn't understand why they'd ignore something so beautiful as what was before me -- a lone piper silhouetted by the overcast sky, playing a lament for a woman who was a grace to the world.

May I carry her strength, and the strength of my Scottish ancestors (whose motto was Fortitudine - Latin for "fortitude") with me always.

The pictures are from the Highland Games. My favorite band to see live - the Wicked Tinkers. A young golden eagle with an ethereal eye. A wannabe Hedwig. The Caber Toss. Some random old guy, my sister, me, and my older brother watching the Tinkers play. The beautiful Wicked Tinkers. If you ever are blessed enough to see them play, be warned (or maybe this is a selling point) - they wear their kilts regimental style. That means they don't wear anything underneath. And they like to twirl about.

Here's a clip I accidentally filmed of them when I was trying to take a picture. One day I will figure out how to work my new camera.


video

Melissa - Sounds like you've met some interesting bus people of your own! I don't think I'd know how to take it if someone assumed I was on welfare, either!

Until next time (which will be a few minutes) Slainte! (Irish for good health)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Dangerous Man

I ride the bus to and from school and as such have met many "bus people." In fact, I have so many stories about these people that I have already written a screenplay based upon them. But in the time in-between when I finished my screenplay and now (a year or two) I have enough stories for yet another. I should make a coffee table book with artistic photographs from the bus on one side of the page and a bus story on the other. I know you're thinking that that's a good idea and that you're gonna steal it but too bad -- there's a flaw in your little scheme. You don't know the bus stories but I do (unless, of course, you're one of the few people who have read my screenplay in which case I still win because it's legally protected). But for all of you nice people out there who weren't thinking of stealing my idea (let's not get into the lunacy of that statement) here's a free bus story:

I pretended to be engrossed in reading the comments I'd received on a story I had workshopped earlier that day but he kept staring at me. I reminded myself to keep my eyes moving on the page to make it look realistic but I could see this stained fellow craning his neck over his shoulder to watch me. I figured that if I acknowledged him he'd get what he wanted and look away... or keep staring because often people on the bus just like to stare. Once one man perched behind his seat and peered out at me from the crack between his seat and the next with Gollum eyes the entire ride. In fact, for a moment I wondered if this new starer was the Gollum from that one time. I glanced at him and smiled hi before looking back to my work and he smiled back then started laughing. I tried to ignore him but he laughed even louder so I looked back to him.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I'm sorry, but when I see something beautiful, I have to look."

Before you think it - no, I'm not sharing this bus story just to point out how a grungy man with a Greek accent tried to give me a compliment. There's actually even more humor involved than him complimenting me, so bear with me.

"Whether it's a china or a poem, I have to look. Beauty is beauty." Yah seriously, I swear he said china. I have no idea why but he did.

"Thank you, that's very flattering," I replied then looked back to my papers as my woman instincts hollered to end all contact before the imminent sleazy move was made. But what he said next made me look at him again.

"I hope you are as kind as you are pretty."

I've had people ask me if I'm nice before. What the hell? I took a sailing course and was the only female in the class. Before we went out on the lake we had to pass a swimming test and right a flipped sailboat. When you're the only girl among 20 or so guys they either forget you have ovaries and treat you like one of them, or they treat you like a lady. I'm actually not sure which category my class fell into, but at the time I was in the middle of the pool climbing into a sailboat in the most conservative two piece I owned, surrounded by staring, half-naked men. I started to haul my sorry ass onto the boat when I tugged at my top, muttering that I didn't want it to come off. My teacher somehow heard from across the pool and shouted, "that would be a bonus!" I should mention that my teacher was a large Englishwoman. I'm still not sure about that comment but I'm digressing. After I righted the sailboat I swam to the edge of the pool, beside her, and as I climbed out she asked, "I take it you're friendly?" What the hell? "Uh, I'd like to think so," was my response and she just sort of stood there as I wrapped a towel around myself. Since she didn't offer any clarification I took a stab at her meaning. "If you're worried about the guy thing, it's fine - I was raised with a brother on either side of me." She insisted that she hadn't thought that it would be a problem then went back to watching the next poor sod flopping about on the centerboard of the tipped boat. It was only later that someone tried to convince me that "friendly" was English lesbian code for "gay" and that I'd answered incorrectly. But now I've completely veered off course. Where was I? Oh yes. The Greek asked me if I were kind.

"...I... hope...so..." was my ingenious answer.

"Good, because aside from beauty, kindness is the most important part of a woman..." and he was off praising feminine kindness. I smiled benignly and nodded, wondering why kindness wasn't also an important quality in a man, from his point of view.

"I hear people saying 'beetch.'" He was pronouncing "bitch" with an accent. "They say, 'son of a beetch,' and this all the time and I did not know that was what I was hearing. It is not nice to call a woman this name. But kindness, kindness is very important."

I'll bet, buddy.

"You know," he continued. "I know this woman - for a thousand days and a thousand nights I have known this woman, and she say to me, she says, 'You are a dangerous man!'"

Aha. I often forsake the propriety most young women demonstrate by moving seats to get away from people like this because I can sense a future story and a character out of these yearning individuals. They're great material... and they're our fellow human beings. In my experience, when a bus person has randomly started a conversation with me, they have something they feel they need to confide in someone, anyone -- they just need to get it off their chests. So here it was - the reason for this man's rant on female kindness.

"I had been angered," he said, "and I kicked... I kicked over a pile of rocks that I had stacked there. And she say to me, 'You are a dangerous man.'"

He was obviously still hurting from this accusation, possibly attempting to grapple with the fact that he might be dangerous. For all I know he may have just murdered someone. But for some reason my mind was caught up on that pile of rocks. Was that his "kick when angry" pile? I mean, what were they doing there? I think I'd like to stack up a pile of rocks to kick whenever I get angry and feel "dangerous," too.

He continued on about how the man in my life better be treating me right and how he hoped that I had more focus in my life than a man. I'd started to zone out so I held up my papers and said, "I'm a writer. School is my focus." I thought I'd impress him with that but I don't think he cared if he understood, but he did thankfully switch his rant from what would constitute as blasphemy to a hard-core feminist to the dangers of trying to read in the weak light provided by the lamps on the bus. He made his sleazy move then, inviting me to sit closer to the light which was conveniently beside him, but the gods were with me and it was my stop.

"May I know the name of this lovely creature I have been talking to?"

On the page that sounds rather suave, doesn't it? I had to give him credit and told him my name (though in retrospect I don't know how much of a compliment "creature" is).

"Kellie," he said as he tugged on his baseball cap just before I rose to get off the bus. "Do I look like a dangerous man to you?"

He posed with his profile to me and I studied his Hawaiian shirt. "You look like a traveler. You even have the tourist shirt."

He smiled and winked. "Thank you, Kellie. I will not tell you my name - that is for next time."

"It's a promise, then." I wondered why I said it even as I was stepping out of the bus. I guess because it sounded like a scripted response.

No offense to the guy, but I hope there is no next time. But Greek sleaziness aside, the point of the conversation was that he must have been thinking that women see him as dangerous (he's on the right track but sleazy doesn't always equate danger) and was hoping for some sort of feminine redemption. Like the portion of the Hero's Quest when the hero must face some representation/expression of the feminine. Whatever the hell "the feminine" is.

Okay, I admit that I thought the rock-kicking bit was comedic and worth the telling this story but now it's been weighted down by musings on the human condition. But then again, maybe that's something worth musing.

Melissa - Nikki barks at Orange Wraith? How funny, but... how are they "orange" if they're invisible?

tesajb - Dude... I didn't know about the wild Wraith parties in the woods. Instead of alcohol they must make a human drink all kinds of chemicals then feed off of him/her to get some kind of high.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Flatulent Felon

Doesn't that sound like the title of a SpongeBob episode? It's the title of our entry for the Reno vs. Chapelle YouTube contest. So far we're the only entrants (if our video gets approved). Now to be fair, I've never seen an entire episode of Reno 911 or The Chapelle Show. In fact, the bits and pieces I have seen of Reno 911 I deemed as waste of my time. But a contest with an approaching deadline and no other entrants was too tempting to ignore. So one stuffed bra and several little boy jokes later and we had our entry.

Actually, the fart jokes are golden. I never tire of fart jokes. I guess it's time that I admit to being a huge potty mouth. Like, this one time I was sitting with the two kids I nanny and their friend while they were eating lunch. I excitedly announced that I had something new to show them (I'd recently learned how to make rather realistic fart sounds by just squeezing air out of my upper lip) and widely opened my mouth. The tots watched in rapt wonder as I took a deep breath then deflated when their mother appeared in the hallway behind me and said,"You better not be teaching them potty talk." The lil buggers then laughed at my slightly-constipated look. I, of course, showed them my newfound skill as soon as she was gone. It's a good thing she's a kick and only has a personal vendetta against the word "fart" because she finds it more profane than the passing of gas itself.

But anyway... here's the video! And it stars a special Canadian someone... Enjoy!



Melissa - Thank you kindly for the birthday wishes! And I'll pass them on to Comanche, as well. He enjoyed an extra doggy cookie (twistedly in the shape of a cat) and several loving petting sessions on his birthday. Though, as my brother lamented as Chee Chee barked away at the coyotes in the night, "Comanche's working on his birthday!" The poor guy doesn't know when to quit... but then again, I think barking is his favorite thing. While on a walk while we were camping he barked at a lounge chair.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wraith Cruisers and Hikes

Since yesterday was my birthday I characteristically ignored the few friends I may accidentally have and struck out on my own (actually, that's not true - I have no friends). I went for a hike and brought a camera with me, snapping a memory card full of pictures since in the shifting light I thought something was gorgeous every two seconds. Like this grove of eucalptyus that made me think I was in Australia:
And this path that just needed Mr. Frodo on it, shouting out, "Get off the road! Quick!"


But then, to my great astonishment, I discovered something terrifying. A downed Wraith ship, nestled in the poison oak. Knowing that I might have company on the trail, I kept my wits about me.



I even ignored the tell-tale signs of Wraith, including this dung pile and this footprint. In retrospect I admit it. I was reckless.





















I even kept going once I'd entered the redwoods - a clear sign that I was in the Pacific Northwestern forest that the Wraith so love...

I should have turned back when I saw the log that Merry and Pippin hid behind in Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings as they called to Frodo, bidding him to hide with them. Given the fact that it has been commented that I resemble Elijah Wood, this was yet another grave mistake.


But at last I had reached my mountaintop destination!



And from this high vantage I could see the foggy coast - there before me lay the Pacific. This ocean was falsely named for it is not pacified at all, however when Captain Cook finally rounded the horrors of Cape Horn, he dubbed the mellower waters in which he found himself to be pacified.



Okay, I guess I should just admit right now that I never did meet up with the Wraith, but I know that he or she is still out there... roaming... just waiting for an unsuspecting hiker to feed upon...

After attempting to take a majestic picture on the summit (the best of which turned out to be a very Viggo Mortensen-esque shot of my mane and the sky) I headed down.


Through this natural archway... and home.



But the road goes ever on and on, and I must follow if I can.


Today is Bilbo, Frodo, and my dog Comanche's birthdays! Time to go celebrate. Namarië!