Monday, July 13, 2015

Japanese June

Japanese June was created on Youtube by LittleGhostCreations. I decided to participate in this
"challenge" because one of my goals for 2015 was to read more diversely. Actively seeking books written by Japanese authors was challenging, but not impossible.  I was able to locate a variety of literature from classics to contemporary, and I've discovered some authors that I'd love to read more from.

Here's the breakdown of what I read, the format I read it in, and a brief review of each item.  I did not include summaries, but I've included links to the goodreads page for each book.

Never Let Me Go (Format Read: Paperback)
I really wanted to like this one.  I really did.  It didn't live up to the hype that I've seen surrounding it.  It felt like the story wanted to go somewhere, but it didn't.  It painted some beautiful pictures, but something was just missing the entire time I read this oI'd ne.

Botchan (Format Read: eBook)
I never realized how sarcastic and funny Japanese literature could be.  This novel was written in the early 1900s.  It was a quick read, and absolutely hilarious.  I enjoyed this reading, immensely.  I'd have rated it higher, but there were several translation issues in this edition near the end that bothered me.

Rashomon (Format Read: eBook)
I read one of the stories contained in this collection during a Film and Lit class back in college.  The famous Kurosawa film Rashomon was actually based on the story In a Grove, told by unreliable narrators.  This was by far my favorite of all the stories included in this book.  Akutagawa is a favorite in Japanese literature, and there is even an award named for him.  I can understand why.  I'd definitely read more of his work.

The Elephant Vanishes (Format Read: Paperback)
 A few of these stories were hard to get through, but overall, I really enjoyed the experience.  I even bookmarked a quote, which I don't do very often.

"What a wonderful thing it is to be found by your 100% perfect other.  It's a miracle, a cosmic miracle."  - from On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning

From "slice of life" stories to magical realism, there are a variety of experiences in this collection of short fiction.  The best part of this type of writing is that you're not stuck reading through hundreds of pages if you're just not that into a story.

The Diving Pool (Format Read: Paperback)
These stories had a hidden darkness in them. In this collection, Ogawa seems to be exploring the darkness just below the surface of each individual.  I enjoyed these stories, but they take you into the darkest corners of your mind. This was not a light happy read, but one that I'm glad that I took the time for.

Android Angels (Format Read: eBook)
Cute, weird, nothing special.
Anomal (Format Read: eBook)
The first story was the best.  The rest were just ordinary. 

Overall Experience:  I really enjoyed opening up my reading world.  I hope to continue to do this throughout the year.  I really feel that 2015 has been a wonderful reading year, and I'm looking forward to reading more from Japanese authors in the future.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Top 5 Books I will Never Read

I recently joined a goodreads group called Top 5 Wednesdays created by gingerreadslainey, and I love to read lists like these, so I thought I'd jump in and make my own.  This weeks topic was "Top 5 Books I Will Never Read."

There are many books in my life that I will never read.  Many of those will go unread because life just passed me by. I'm not generally one to outright avoid specific books, but I am selective when it comes to what I choose to read. I honestly believe that life is short, and we should read good books.  We should read the books that make us happy.  Who cares what other people think.

Fifty Shades of Gray Trilogy - Do I really need to explain this?  Fifty shades of never going to read these books.  EVER.

Twilight Series - No.  Just.  No.   I've read some of Meyer's other writing, and it hurts my brain.

A Tale of Two Cities - I can't get through anything Charles Dickens writes without throwing it against the wall.  I read some of his work in school, and while I liked most of what I read in my classes, Dickens never did it for me.  Sorry, Charlie, I'm not reading anything else you have written.  We're done.  It's not me, it's you.

Moby Dick - To be honest, I've never been interested in this one. I'm okay with that.  I heard there's a nice chunk of the book devoted to whale anatomy though.

Go Set a Watchman - This is a bit controversial.  The reason I'm not going to read this is because I'm not 100% sure that Harper Lee really wanted it released.  Until I can be certain that she agreed to this without coercion, I can't, in good faith, read it.  I'm sorry.

Honorable Mentions:

Harry Potter Series - This came out when I was 18 years old.  I read the first book, and it felt like a children's book. It wasn't a worldwide phenomenon at the time.  It was just a weird book that I picked up at the bookstore.  I never jumped on the bandwagon.  I understand the way a lot of young people feel about it, and sure, I'll let my kids read it, should I ever have children.  However, I will probably never read it myself.  I do enjoy the films and the stories.  Hate all you want, but it just wasn't part of my canon.

The Fault in Our Stars - The last time someone tried to get me to read this one of my friends was in Hospice dying from cancer.  Telling me to read a book about sick kids dying from cancer is NOT OKAY.  My friend's little sister was also battling a brain tumor at the time.  Telling me to read this book is NOT OKAY.    That being said, I don't want read a book about sick kids.  I just don't.  Okay? Okay.

That wraps up my very first Top 5 Wednesday!  Hoping that I keep my blog alive this time!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: Morning Phase

(Beck Official Site)
More than a collection of songs, Beck’s Morning Phase seamlessly transitions from one beautifully crafted piece to another.  It begins like the first rays of light filtering through the windows, picking up momentum as the album proceeds.  From start to finish, it was just like waking up.  I honestly didn't want it to end. 

I've been a fan of Beck since “Loser” hit, back when I was a precocious adolescent.  His music has evolved and grown.  From his experimental roots in lo-fi to his expertly layered pieces, Beck has matured as an artist.  His talent is impressive, and deserving of accolade.  I, for one, am glad that he won a Grammy for this effort above the trite manufactured sounds of the Pop Machine.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip through Beck’s Morning Phase.  If you’d like to give it a listen, the full album is available on Spotify.   I plan to purchase this one; it deserves a place with the rest of my collection.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Titanic: The Exhibition

Titanic Scale Model featured in the exhibit.
While visiting my brother in Raleigh, I discovered that the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences was hosting an exhibition featuring RMS Titanic, Inc. Photos were not allowed, but if you'd like to see some of the items I saw, there are photos at the RMS Titanic, Inc site.

Upon arriving at the exhibit, you receive a boarding pass with a passenger's name, and some information about the person whose name is on the pass.  I received a boarding card with the name Jamila Nicola-Yarred, a 14 year old third class passenger from Lebanon.  Her family was escaping religious persecution, headed for Jacksonville, Florida.  She was traveling with her younger brother Elias.  Their father was turned away from the Titanic due to an eye infection, so the children embarked on the journey to America alone.

The exhibit began with the blueprints and building of the Titanic.  There were several artifacts from the ship placed in climate controlled cases throughout the first rooms.  The music they piped through had sounds of crowds mixed in.  It created a unique atmosphere.  Visitors passed each other, and talked about their passengers, discussing where each was from, and taking care to see the items in the cases, which included a scale model of the Titanic, and a small leather bag recovered from the wreckage.

Upon entering the next room you're greeted with a more upbeat music, dance music from the era plays over cases filled with money, dishes, toiletries and decorations from the ill-fated vessel.  I was most impressed with the distinction made between the serving ware used among the different class distinctions.  The dishes designated for third class passengers were extremely plain, heavy duty items.  It was believed the  they would steal anything, and to deter theft the dishes were stamped them with the company logo.

Moving forward, there was a small hallway, and a recreation of the third class quarters.  The bunks were small, and it looked like a college dormitory or a barracks.  As most of these passengers were planning to immigrate at Ellis Island, these were adequate accommodations for the trip to their new life.  Tickets for these small spaces would cost nearly $400 today.

Next we stepped onto the bridge.  Housed in this room were the wheelhouse assembly and telegram which directed orders to the engine room.

Our story then took a tragic turn.  The ship was taking on water.  There was ice in the water.  Something was terribly wrong.  We walked under a recreated door that would close off lower portions of the ship, and entered into one of the most well known shipwrecks of all time.

A large iceberg, made of actual ice, stood off to one side.  Video renderings of how the ship made her journey to the bottom of the North Atlantic on another.  In between, the ghosts of passengers.  Their belongings, shoes, hats, jewelry, and other personal artifacts were scattered throughout the room. The room was darker than previous spaces in the exhibit, and created a somber, sobering atmosphere.

Next, we learned the fate of some passengers on the ship.  The one that stands out most to me are the musicians.  If you've seen the James Cameron film "Titanic" you might remember the scene with the band playing as the ship sank.  That really happened.

Also in this room were photographs of artifacts on the ocean floor paired with the actual artifacts, also in glass cases.  There was a monitor set up with a 3D film of the Titanic in her final resting place.  Covered with calcium deposits.  It was incredible to see.

Finally, we learned the fate of another passenger, one who never boarded the ship.  He packed his bag and promised a friend that he would meet him there.  Instead, he was kidnapped.  He ended up lost in another country for years.  His belongings made the journey, but he managed to escape tragedy.  I think he might have been the original Final Destination passenger..

In the final room, we discovered the names of all passengers, those who survived, and those who didn't.  My passenger survived, and her story is one that I'll remember for a very long time.   She heard noises and commotion, so she roused her brother, and headed to the deck, where people were boarding lifeboats.  She was placed onto a lifeboat, but her brother was left on board.  Distressed, she cried out for her brother, who was then placed into the boat with her.  As the story goes, she was also handed an infant wrapped in a mailbag.  This infant, according to everything I've read, was the last living survivor of the Titanic.   It's such a beautiful story, and I really related to this young girl being given charge of her younger brother, and I couldn't help but imagine myself and my own brother on that ship.  Would I have been so courageous?  So brave?  I'd like to think so.

We exited into a small gift area, where I purchased a replica of a third class passenger cup.  I like to think I smuggled it away from the White Star Line, to spite them for expecting the worst of the "lower class."  In reality, I paid $10 for a souvenir mug.

If you have the opportunity to visit this exhibit, you should absolutely go.

I'd go again if I could.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Night Film Review: Psycho (1960)

Believe it or not, I had never seen Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho until tonight. As a film buff, I'm ashamed. I'm familiar with the shower scene, then again, who isn't?

Since I started watching Bates Motel on A&E last month, I thought it was time to see the film and story that inspired the prequel.  When I saw it listed for viewing on one of the premium channels tonight, I figured that now was as good a time as any.

Anthony Perkins is the perfect Norman Bates.  Awkward and socially inept.  A bit weird, but really he seems harmless.  He play this part so delightfully well, I would never have suspected the horrible things that he eventually did.

The shower scene didn't disappoint, and though it's not as gory as today's slasher films, it was disturbing and disorienting. Hitchcock really did make a moment that I won't forget.

Atmospherically, it was as creepy as a film in the 60s could be.  The score was my favorite part, escalating the terror in just a few sharp notes.  It pairs beautifully with the horror that's unfolding in the story.  I think if I heard that while strolling down the block, I'd pee my pants.  I'm not lying.

Oh, and if you even think about watching the Psycho they made in the 90s, do yourself a  favor, and take a shower at the Bates Motel instead.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Finally, Grimm's Back!

Starting this Friday, March 8th, Grimm is back on NBC. It's about time!  I've missed Monroe, my favorite Blutbad!

If you missed the first half of the season, you're really missing out.  This show is really getting good.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

International Tabletop Day!

Wil Wheaton has been teasing it all week long, and now, here it is!

My favorite Geek & Sundry venture, Tabletop, is doing something really awesome! International Tabletop Day! Felicia Day does a better job explaining it than I ever could! 

The closest event to me is a couple hours away.  I might just try to con a group of friends get a group of friends together to play some games.  I've got an expanding collection!

Also, if you've never watched Tabletop, get thee to Geek & Sundry, watch, get hooked, and subscribe!  You know you want to!

And, in the words of Sir Wil of Wheaton, play more games!


Friday, February 15, 2013

Halloween Horror Nights Recap: Better Late Than Never

Jas getting his first taste of Butterbeer!
We started the day with an early entrance pass to Universal Islands of Adventure. It was such a good idea to do this. We had a blast, and it was only $20 add on to our HHN tickets, making our day at Universal a whopping $60 each, which is half the price of a regular park ticket.  Not bad.  In October, on a Sunday, it wasn't as crowded, our waits were short, and we were able to see everything we wanted!  I've been to both Universal Parks, and so I didn't need a full Universal experience, but I did want to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.Jas and I got to drink butterbeer, fly a hippogryph, and escape from Hogwarts! 

We even took a trip to Jurassic Park, where we were so incredibly soaked that I had to change my clothes!  We even spent $5 to stand in this gigantic dryer.  Some girls came off the ride soaked to the bone, and we let them hop in for the last few minutes of warm dry air.

It was cooler than we expected it to be, but it is Florida, and as much as I love my home state, the weather is fickle in late October. This trip was a gift for his Birthday.  He loves horror, he loves halloween.  It was a win win situation!

At around 6PM, we decided to head over to  Universal for the main event, HHN!  We got to enter through the backlot, and after a brief search, and a surrender of our tickets, we were in! We were able to see all the houses but one, and were able to ride all of the open attractions, minus the roller coaster.  We even managed to get in Bill and Ted, which was hilarious.

No photography allowed in the houses, so we didn't get pictures. But we got this awesome map with the house info and all the rules for the night.

Silent Hill House - This was the first house we went into.  It wasn't too bad. I only had one scream moment, and I had a great time!  I think Jas just enjoyed having me clinging to his arm the entire time!

Alice Cooper - Welcome to My Nightmare.  First, you enter his mouth. Creepy.  This house made me sick.  Literally, so I don't remember much about it.  Flashing strobe lights triggered some photo sensitivity and we had to take a break from the scares for a while. I've never had this happen before, but maybe it was a combination of the bloody freaks and the flashing lights that caused me to get so dizzy I could barely walk.

We headed over to The Simpson's Ride and the MIB ride after that to settle down the crazy.  Jas also decided that we needed the Express passes after that, considering the ultra long wait we had for Alice Cooper.

House of Horrors - Skipped.  We saw the exit in line for Alice Cooper, and based on discussion with some of the folks in line, we decided not to take a chance with the strobes.

Penn and Teller's New(kd) Las Vegas - The 3D house.  This was interesting.  I imagine that's what an acid trip might be like.  I was tempted to take off the glasses, but I was afraid the radiation would kill me.

This hit me right in the feels....
Walking Dead - I'm not going to lie, this was reason #1 I wanted to make the trip to Orlando for HHN.  I was not disappointed!  It was a fun experience, complete with the car that waited for Sophia on the highway.  *tear*  I think by the time we got to this house the scareactors were tired, so it wasn't terribly scary, but seeing people in full zombie make-up was totally cool.  The car was in the exit, so I was able to snap a photo.

Gothic - Flying Gargoyles.  I thought that was a nice touch.  Some of the timing was off, so it wasn't as awesome as it could have been.  All in all one of my favorite experiences that night.

Dead End - Designed to look like you're entering an delapidated house.  Walked up the steps onto a broken porch, and into the front door of someone's nightmare.  Dolls, creepy dolls, weird midget people with boils, Bloody Mary.  The atmosphere of this was incredible!

The street scares weren't as intimidating as I thought they'd be.  It was fun to walk around and see the ghouls, and such running through the park.  They liked to chase the girls wearing the most revealing clothing, because they seemed to spook easier.  I'm okay, unless someone comes at me with a chainsaw.

It's So Fluffy I'm Gonna Die!
The only really bad thing about the experience were the drunk people.  They were selling so much alcohol all night long that people were wasted, and beyond annoying.  I don't care for crowded places with drunk people. As we were exiting the park they asked us to fill out a survey, where I complained about that. I'm all for people having a good time, but when I'm dodging vomit piles, and dealing with your lack of boundary issues while I'm trying to have a good time, I have a problem.  Seriously.  The other thing were the annoying blinky devil horns they sold to people.  Ugh, they gave me a headache!

Would I go again?  Of course I would!

I nearly forgot to mention, I got to have a ride on the brand new Despicable Me ride!  It broke down (someone puked) and we had to wait for 45 minutes in Gru's living room before were able to enter.  It was fun.  Great for all ages, and of course you exit through the gift shop. I had to grab the pink unicorn for a photo!  I am a huge geek, I know!


The Return.

Real life sort of got in the way there for a while.  I'm aiming to write a blog entry at least once a week, and this blog will contain more than just rants about geeky things.  I'm a geek, yes, and that's a huge part of who I am. Like all of you, I have a wide range of interests, and I also have a sense of adventure. 

So, back in the saddle.  Ready, set, blog.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Geek Vacation

This weekend, I'll be on vacation, doing some geeky things.  Just a quickie trip, but cram packed with some seriously fun stuff!

The itinerary:
Star Wars:  Where Science Meets Imagination - A Touring exhibit which just happens to be in the area while we are. Arguably the most geeky thing we will be doing this weekend. The Museum also promises to deliver quite an interesting array of other exhibits which speak to the science nerd in me.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter (in Islands of Adventure) - When I found out that I could add on an admission to this park to my HHN ticket for only $20 I was sold. This will be my second visit, and I'm hoping it's less crowded than my initial visit in August of 2011. 
Halloween Horror Nights- As a Florida Resident, I got a deep discount on the tickets, and I've been aching to go for ages.  Once they announced a Walking Dead House, I was not missing this year. There will be other themed houses, including Alice Cooper, Penn and Teller, Gothic, Silent Hill, and Classic Monsters.  Along with the houses select rides are open, including the new Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem.  Loved that movie, and can't wait to experience some of the less "scary" aspects of the evening.

As you can see, I'm completely excited about all of this, and I'll have some write ups on them all when I return.....if I don't fall to the walkers!