By The Book

Yes, another meme. Beats discussing the phlegm and wretched coughing which are otherwise consuming my life. I've seen this on a couple of blogs recently. I do like to read, but certainly don't consider myself "well read." I mean I'm currently reading a 3rd grade book about a golden hamster! I'm sure Ren will not laugh at me upon reading this.

Anyway, here's the key for the following list:

In the list of books below, bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a ten-foot pole, put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk (*) the ones you’ve never heard of:

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)-one of my favorites
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. + The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. + The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. + The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. *Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. *A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. +Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. +Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. +Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Rowling)
17. *Fall On Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. +The Stand (Stephen King)-I read this years ago. I read a lot of Stephen King when I was in middle school and early high school.
19. +Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. +The Hobbit (Tolkien)-I've tried and can't finish this book!
22. +The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)-love this and read it multiple times
23. +Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. +Life of Pi (Yann Martel)-I have this on my stack of "to read" books.
26. +The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)-tried to read as a kid, but couldn't finish.
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)-I love Steinbeck, but never read this one for some reason.
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. +Dune (Frank Herbert)-I've tried and failed to get into it.
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. +Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. +1984 (Orwell)
35. *The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. *The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. *The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much Is True (Wally Lamb)
39. *The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. *The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. +Bible-well, I've read some of it
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. +The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She's Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. +The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. *Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. *The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. +Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice)
65.*Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. +Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. +Les Miserables (Hugo)
70.+The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)--I have this in French!
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)-one of my all-time favorites. Not sure why I don't have a copy.
76. *The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79.*The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81.*Not Wanted On the Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. +Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. *Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. *Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. +Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. *Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. *Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. *In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)-I really enjoyed this in high school
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)-read multiple times
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Wow, more mortifying than I thought. I haven't even read a quarter of the books listed. Granted, I'm not even sure what this list is, but I know there are many on here that I should have read by now.


My Other Blog

Still under the weather here, so I don't really feel much like writing. In case you are mildly interested, I have been updating my photoblog a bit today. I post there often, participating in daily photo challenges and a weekly haiku challenge. I went overboard with the colorful theme this week and wrote not one, but seven haiku. Nothing brilliant, but once I get on a roll...


By The Numbers

We cleaned, they came and watched The Oscars®, I'm still sick.

# of pounds of E's famous meatballs that were consumed: 6

# of minutes prior to guests arriving that I jumped into the shower: 30

# of guests that squeezed into our tiny house: 47

# of video screens playing the awards show (including the bathroom): 7

# of photos of the festivities that I took: 0

# of Burger Bites I have left over, just for me: 5

# of cool, new tote bags I received: 1 (Thanks, Kenny!)

Oh, and most importantly:

# of years E and I have been married, as of today: 12


When All Else Fails, Do A Meme

I've been at a bit of a loss on what to write about lately. There's also an issue of being quite short on time currently. Not a good combination for keeping up with a blog and possibly even making it interesting. So, I borrowed this meme from a certain Ambitious Hamster, who was very sweet to send Ami some adorable Hello Kitty valentines.

What curse words do you use most?
Well, I'm pretty much an equal opportunity potty mouth. I'm not necessarily proud of it, but I drop my fair share of f-bombs. I am trying to perfect saying "Damn It!" in that gravelly, sexy way Jack Bauer does, but I don't think it's working with my girly voice.

Do you own an iPod?
No, but I do have a Samsung 20G mp3 player. Who needs a stinkin' iPod? I don't use any Apple hardware or software anyway. This way I can put actual mp3 files right on my machine. I have over 4,000 songs on it. I need to add some of my newer cds too, but that involves that elusive time thing.

What time is your alarm clock set to?
Which one? I usually set at least 3 on a workday. They are set in a range from 5:30 to 6:00am. I'm usually up by 6:15 at the latest.

Would you rather take the picture or be in the picture?
Absolutely take the photo. I hate being in pictures. A good compromise is for me to take photos of myself.

What was the last movie you watched?
Music and Lyrics for my Valentine's Date.

What cd is currently in your player?
It's one of two that I recently purchased and I'm not going out to the car to check. It is either the new Barenaked Ladies Are Men or The Shins' Wincing The Night Away. I had been listening to an audio book.

Do you prefer regular or chocolate milk?
Ugh! I HATE milk! I do take a little in coffee or tea, but I do not, will not, you cannot make me drink it on its own.

Has anyone told you a secret this week?
No and I'm fine with that. I'm really good at keeping them though.

When was the last time you had Starcrack Starbucks?
About a week and a half ago. We won't talk about crackberry pinkberry.

Can you whistle?
No, not so much.

What are you looking forward to?
June 23, 2007 when I will finally see The Police live in concert!!! We got tickets this morning in some sort of pre-presale! Pretty decent ones too considering they are playing a huge venue (Dodger Stadium).

Did you watch cartoons when you were little?
Yes. I enjoyed Scooby Doo, The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Tom and Jerry, and Captain Caveman. I watched others too, with friends, but didn't really like them as much such as Superfriends and Bugs Bunny.

Do you own any band t-shirts?
Yes, but I've definitely cut back on buying them due to the price. I have several Ben Folds Five and Barenaked Ladies shirts. There's two R.E.M. shirts, one from the 1989 show I've mentioned before and one from the 1995 show I went to. I also have a Peter Gabriel one from 1993. I honestly can't remember if I still have the remnants of my Sting t-shirt that I got at a show in 1985. It was really threadbare, but I don't think I was able to part with it. I may have it stored somewhere.

What will you be doing in an hour?
Sleeping. I'm pretty sick today and stayed home to rest.

What was the last song you heard?
I have no idea.

Last time you cried?
I'm not sure.

Desktop or laptop?
Mostly my crappy laptop.

Desiring any new ink?
I have no tattoos and while I always think that maybe I want to get one, I never do. I can't decide on a design or location. There's also that pain issue. I try to avoid pain most of the time, so I'm not keen on paying for it.

What’s the weather like?
Dark clouds are rolling in from Burbank. I think it is supposed to rain.

What were you doing an hour ago?
Sleeping. I got up to email some information to a co-worker.

How many hours of sleep do you need to function?
I guess that depends on how you define "function." I can get by with 4-5, but ideally I like 8-10.

Do you eat breakfast daily?
Again, I guess it depends on how you define breakfast. I eat something, but it isn't necessarily a typical breakfast food.

What did you do last night?
I was starting to feel really sick, so after feeding the dogs, I curled up with some hot tea, asked Eric to bring food home, and watched a little tv. I went to bed early to try to fight this funk.

Do you use sarcasm?
Who me? No way! (I was just talking to someone yesterday about a couple of specific times where sarcasm has gotten me into trouble!)

Do you like mustard?
No, not really.

Do you sleep on your side/back/stomach?
Usually my side or stomach. I "thrash" (per E) around a lot though, so I change my position a lot during the night.

Do you watch the news?
No. I tend to read it online.

How did you get one of your scars?
My most recent one, on the pad of my right ring finger, was obtained recently on vacation. I burned it on a really hot Pop Tart.


Holiday Shmoliday

My 1-day weekend is quickly coming to an end. Damn.


POP! Goes My Heart

Just as I had hoped we would, E and I saw Music and Lyrics last night. It was cute and silly and made me laugh out loud quite a bit. The opening music video was worth the price of admission alone. I'm not always spot on with my film recommendations, but if you were into the 80's pop music scene at all, you will probably be entertained.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a lot of the songs in the movie were written by Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, two great bands. There may just be a soundtrack purchase in my near future.


On This Day...

1 Year Ago: I officially became a proud hamster owner! I've endured all kinds of ridicule for being so obsessed with the exquisite little beast, but hey, he inspired me to self-publish a book. And he's so darn cute!

New Addition

The first photo I took of Ami. He was tiny and I thought he was a girl.

15 Years Ago: I got engaged. I mentioned that to Eric and he said, "We're old." Yep. Luckily, we still love and tolerate each other, even after so much time. How can I not love a guy gets me hamsters and light-up squirrels?

My creation

That's it. Mushy as I'm getting. Feel free to share any of your favorite Valentine's Day memories with me in the comments.


Lost In Translation

I was poking through one of my blog trackers the other day and discovered that my hamster was featured on an Italian motorcycle enthusiasts blog. Huh? Oh you remember...the Critter Operated Chopper that I tortured the poor beast with, purely for my own amusement.

The Italian blog included one of my photos and a video clip. I was curious to read what people had to say, so I ran the page through several online translators, which all yielded similar and somewhat hilarious results. Clearly, some folks were quite upset by the way I treat my pet. I do get the point, but what the hell is "a free badness" and fairies will be exiting from what and from where? Now who is the one being cruel?

"A FREE BADNESS, fairies to exit that poor animal from within, if contact the protection animals and does not mark it is what!!!"

"that witness of ….! the human beings are worse of the beasts. in…o to see these things to me"

A couple of commenters said positive things like "Fantastic!" and "I want!"

And then there was the disgruntled reader who wants less frivolous posts:

"motoblog published serious articles please! in this the motion centers little!!"

Who knew my little Ami was such an international hamster?

I Love This Face

I Was Hit By A Squirrel

Yes, you read that correctly. I was on my way to work bright and early this morning, for a class. I was actually really close to Ren's place and having jealous pangs, knowing she was still sleeping at such an early hour. Anyway, I suddenly notice a squirrel sprinting into the street, right toward my car. I slowed a bit and swerved a little too, but still heard and felt a THUD! in the rear of my vehicle. I caught my breath as my eyes welled up. As sad as I was, knowing I must have killed the critter, the disturbed part of me immediately looked back to check out the carnage. Not only was there no body, but the rodent was bolting back toward the yard from where it had run out initially. It seemed fine. I think I was more shaken.

Hey You!

One of my yard squirrels who is getting quite used to being photographed.


This Is Not A Blog Post

I visited four museums within the last week of my recent vacation. I hadn't been to one in awhile, so I guess I was making up for lost time.

Before leaving Park City, we stopped in the Park City Historical Society Museum, which includes remnants of The Territorial Jail. It's a small museum, but gives an interesting history with lots of photographs and a replica of a mine. Also on display is an old mine car that was later used as the first (and possibly only?) underground transport for skiiers.

On the way back to L.A. from Utah, we stopped for the night in Las Vegas. We had heard about the Atomic Testing Museum there and had thought about visiting it during our brief trip in Decemeber. After seeing two films at Sundance dealing with atomic bombs, we were even more interested in checking it out. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect, but automatically think "cheesy" when I hear 'museum' and 'Las Vegas' together. I know there are posh ones at such places as the Bellagio, but remember, I did go to the Elvis-A-Rama Museum before it closed. Well, the Atomic Testing Museum is wonderful. It is affiliated with the Smithsonian and gives a pretty comprehensive history of nuclear testing. Due to the proximity, it focuses a lot on the Nevada Test Site, which was fascinating to learn more about. I highly recommend a visit if you are into this sort of thing at all. It's not far from The Strip and is a nice alternative, educational, and admittedly a bit nerdy, activity to do in Sin City.

Typically, Super Bowl Sunday means heading out to see a movie. We're not interested in the game at all and the theatres are pretty empty. I don't know if we were movied-out from recently returning from a film festival, but we decided to check out a couple of museums instead. The first one was The Museum of Jurassic Technology, a place we've heard about and have meant to go to for years. We got there later than we'd hoped and had to rush a bit, but it was fun nonetheless. I'm not really sure how to describe the place. I was interested, confused, amused, and amazed all in the span of an hour. There were some very cool stereoscopic displays and I imagine we'll return another time and go through at a slower pace.

We wrapped up the evening at the Magritte Exhibit at LACMA. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot, not being very familiar with the artist. Well, I should say, not knowing that I had seen lots of his images that I couldn't put a name to. I'm uneducated when it comes to art and often feel stupid at shows like this. I do like to look and decide if something moves me or not, but I've never really studied art and I don't understand it like one is supposed to. I think I "get" a piece and then read the accompanying description to find I was completely wrong. Somehow, I still enjoyed it and recommend going before it leaves next month.


My Hamster Could Paint That

Not only is it nice to get belated, unexpected gifts, but when it's really cool...even better! Ren is one of the best gift-givers I know.


These are paintings done by a hamster! I tried to find a link to the "artist," but was unable to. Someone put non-toxic paint on their hammy and let it go to work. Brilliant! I only wish I'd thought of it first.


Due to a class I scheduled months ago, I will be unable to attend CFI-West's Darwin Day celebration this coming Sunday. I volunteered at last year’s event and had a blast, so I’m a little bummed to miss out. However, I did make it to a screening of Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus at The Egyptian Theatre last night, which CFI co-sponsored as a lead up to Darwin Day. Quite a few people from my book club were there, as well as some other friends.

I really enjoyed the film, which takes a somewhat light-hearted look at the intelligent design vs. evolution "controversy" that has been created to keep people confused and to push religious and anti-science agendas into our schools. The filmmaker, who was formerly an evolutionary biologist also highlighted the scientific community’s inability/unwillingness to articulate the case for evolution/against ID.

This is another topic, like global warming and stem cell research, that our government, with the help of evil entities such as The Discovery Institute, surrounds with confusion and controversy.



Dorkbake has come and gone. Eric and I, or "Team Roswell," triumphed and took 1st Place! I know the mint chocolate star-shaped cake (with vanilla cream filling) was not the tastiest food cooked by the 100-watt light bulbs in competition, but I think we won over the judges with our sleek and simple oven design, as well as our "zazz." We were the team that went all out in terms of costumes and presentation and it paid off.

We had our 1950's flyer saucer inspired oven designed, and mostly built, before we left for Utah. Eric has his Ro-Man costume from Halloween, but I had to get my outfit together and we had to finalize our recipe. We got the mixture for our little cake down, but the ingredients provided at the bake-off were a bit different. So, we had to improvise a bit.

We got a write up on Boing Boing today and I posted a couple of photos to flickr. All in all, it was a good time. I just don't think I'll be cooking in a sequined mini-dress and 5-inch heel hooker boots anytime soon!


Focus On Film

It was the slogan seen on large buttons worn by volunteers, Sundance Film Festival staffers, and a good majority of event attendees all over Park City. Focus On Film. It's the reason Eric and I have been going for the past several years. We head up to the cold, snowy mountains to see films, hang out with other independent filmmakers, and watch their films, many of which are great even if they aren't in the big fest. I have more celebrity sightings in Los Angeles and frankly don't care to go to the parties I wouldn't be let into anyway. So, for me, I didn't need the reminder.

As promised, here's a little blurb on the movies I watched:
  • If I Had Known I Was A Genius: Markus Redmond wrote and stars in this charming, clever, and funny film that is an exaggerated auto-biography. It was a little long and slow in parts, but I tend to say that about nearly every movie I see.
  • Wonders Are Many: I was fascinated by and learned many things in this documentary that chronicled the creation of Doctor Atomic, an opera about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the 48 hours leading up to the first atomic bomb test. I wasn't sure going in if this would be a film for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • Fido: I'm usually not a big fan of zombie movies in general, but this is one I'll put in the category of those I do like such as Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later. Eric describes it as "a cross between Romero's Night of the Living Dead and a 1950's episode of Lassie." Billy Connolly was nearly unrecognizable, and wonderfully subdued, as the title character.
  • Everything's Cool: This documentary is a good companion piece to last year's global warming flick An Inconvenient Truth. I think kids may enjoy this one, although it did tend to drag in some parts.
  • Four Sheets To The Wind: Admittedly, we went to this feature because we know the editor. In all honesty, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, which is sort of a Native American Garden State. The story was moving and the cast was incredible. Tamara Podemski won a well-deserved special jury prize for acting “for a fully realized physical and emotional turn.”
  • White Light/Black Rain: It seemed appropriate to see this documentary after seeing Wonders Are Many. This film, which interviewed survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic blasts, was tough to watch at times and incredibly emotional. While the subject matter is difficult, it is one of those important films that I hope a lot of people get to see. According to the director, it will be airing on HBO and in schools later this year.
  • For The Bible Tells Me So: An engaging documentary that focuses on Bible literalists and the oppression of homosexuals. The film profiles of several Christians coming to terms with gay family members. This was one of the movies we really wanted to see, and it took a couple of attempts to get in. It was worth the effort.
  • Chasing Ghosts: A fun documentary about a group of old school video game champions, then and now. Unfortunately, Eric and I didn't get to sit together (we barely got in to this screening) because I would have loved to have seen some of his reactions. I know he could relate to some of the guys in the film, who were all fascinating characters.
  • Rocket Science: Winner of The Directing Award (Dramatic). If I have to pick a favorite movie that I saw at Sundance, this is it. This movie had a great story about a boy trying to find his voice and it told through great performances. Rocket Science is funny and heart-wrenching at times. It just felt real and did not go for the cliched ending, like it could have. Go see this one when you get a chance. It was also just the right length.
  • Grace Is Gone: Winner of The Audience Award (Dramatic) and The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Okay, this one is a doozy. John Cusack broke my heart as a father who doesn't know how to tell his daughters that their Mom has been killed in Iraq. I think I cried throughout nearly the whole film. Don't let that scare you off though.
  • Hear and Now: Winner of The Audience Award (Documentary). A couple who have been deaf for their entire lives decide to get cochlear implants. Their daughter is a filmmaker and documented the process and how it changed, and didn't change, their world. At the heart of the film is a wonderful love story, told through wonderful archival footage and photos.
We saw two blocks of short films. Shorts can be real hit or miss and the programs we attended were generally weak. There were a couple of films I wish I could have seen like Joe Strummer and Waitress. Considering we don't go for the entire festival and we don't buy any kind of pass, I think we do an okay job of seeing a good variety of movies.

Oh, and for anyone who is curious...the one celebrity I did see was Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who was Mr. Eko on Lost. I've been a fan of his since hi played Adebisi on Oz. It was a good one.


Dorkbake is quickly approaching. We lost a bit of prep time being away on vacation. We had pretty much completed a functional oven with a cool design before leaving and had even begun experimenting. Now we are in the finalization phase of testing our recipes, honing our presentation, and procuring a proper costume for me. Oh, the pressure of it all.

I swear I'm going to need a vacation to recover from this one. It has been loads of fun, but I dare not call it "relaxing."


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