Friday, July 27, 2007

Nothing left to theorize


Last night I told Mike I'd just read for half an hour then get dressed so we could go out for coffee. About twenty minutes into that half hour, Deathly Hallows picked up the pace big time. Three and a half hours later, I had finished the book.

I loved it. I wish it went on forever, but nothing can. And similar to the death of a loved one, it feels wrong to say anything negative.

I thought I'd cry but I didn't. I emerged late at night into the living room and Mike looked up and could tell I had finished. He gave me a nice long hug and then tucked me in and I woke up this morning and continued reading Water for Elephants. Life goes on.

I will certainly read it again soon just because I did read it a bit fast. I don't think I missed anything but it felt like my heart was racing most of the time which, looking back, makes me feel like I speed read.

I look forward to the rest of the movies and I really look forward to reading the stories to my children and then them reading them to me. I feel special that I was around for it all - the craze, the anticipation, the movie releases. I hope my kids are jealous.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Worst way to spoil it for someone

Damn, I'm annoyed! Pissed as all hell really. I just stumbled upon information regarding a significant death in Deathly Hallows in a ridiculous way. Now, I had a hunch this person was going to die but I wanted to read about it not have some stupid livejournal subscriber spoil it for me.

I was reading oh no they didn't! like I always do (rather shamefully) and reading about some stupid show on NBC getting sued. I clicked on the link for the rest of the story that happened to be above the comments and some dumb bastard had the face of the character who dies in Deathly Hallows with R.I.P. next to it as his image or avatar or whatever the hell you call the photo that shows up every time you post a comment. My eyes flicked to his comment to see what this jerk had to say about the NBC show getting sued and he wrote, "I am so sad XXXXX died!"

Why the hell would he/she post that in the comments section of this show being sued??!!

I have shown great care in avoiding all articles, radio, and news altogether that even mentioned Harry Potter the past two weeks unless it specifically said, Safe to continue - we will not spoil your fun!

The book came out Saturday and it's 750 plus pages. If you have a job and a man to make dinner for, chances are you haven't finished it yet.

People are so fucking stupid! Honestly, they are. No consideration whatsoever.

Oh, and if you think I spoiled anything for you, you're stupid too because we all know at least three people are going down and I haven't revealed anything.

I'm a tad shy of being half way through by the way.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Less than 18 hours to go

Life is short and a lot of people find it easier to be miserable than do something nice. My mom is case in point. So to alleviate this problem, I throw in a dash of guilt, a touch of manipulation and hope for the best.

For example, it dawned on me today that instead of just dropping my mom's HP book off tomorrow at her house, we should do some reading together. But not at her house. Not the sort of setting I want for this final read. Sounds awful, but her house doesn't feel worthy of the act of my reading this book there. I am making one last Harry Potter reading memory starting tomorrow and yes, I will be picky about where I read.

So I told her it would "mean the world to me" if we could pack a picnic and go to a nearby (25 minute drive) state park that has a lake and pretty scenery so we could have lunch and start the book together. I told her it's our last chance to do this and that I would keep my fingers crossed waiting for her reply. After some heeing and hawwing and wondering how long we'd be gone, she asked if she could speak to her husband first before she responds. I concluded this is the best answer I would get at the time and couldn't argue simply because I was at work. After dealing with this woman my whole life (obviously) I can gage almost to pinpoint accuracy the chance of our picnic happening. Right now there is a 78% chance. She'll most likely ask first why we can't just read at her house and I'll give my response and then she'll give in but not before asking one more time if we can stay home once I show up tomorrow to pick her up.

I know where, when and why I picked up the first Harry Potter book - I was 20. I cannot remember if I bought book five on its release date or if it was out already but I remember reading it. I remember buying book 6 the first day it went on sale and reading that book with the intensity of someone dying of thirst lunging for a cup of water.

I think it would make a brilliant memory and an excellent story to tell my children if mom would go and read with me in the park tomorrow and I hope she does. At this point, I'm just as excited to see what happens as I am preserving these memories. I can only hope that another series just as wonderful as Harry Potter will ever appear again in my lifetime.

Thanks for the memories, J.K.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Changing like the weather in NJ

I think this may be it for the major changes in appearance. Blogger is just so limited and I have hated all my previous failed attempts at blog design. I kind of like this one. I need a photo or two but beyond that, I think this may stick.

What do you think?

You'll see I also changed the title of this blog. The name Criscipline goes back a very very long time - about twelve years - and I hate it. I hate it because the name was born out of my stint with Bi-polar Disorder and it was the name I gave to the darker side of myself when I did heavy writing during my growing pains and waves of madness at 12 years old and beyond. I have tried over the years to convince myself that the name had taken on a positive connotation but yet still, every time I see it, I feel a pang in my stomach. I feel phony when I use it and I am finally so content with being little 'ol me, Jessica, that I don't want to be anyone else or use any silly pen name anymore.

I'm just over it I guess it would be fair of me to say. So as of now I am officially retiring the name. See ya later, Cris. You were like a tumor in my brain and a thorn in my side and I crushed you a long time ago and kept you alive in spirit but no more.

*I am proud to add though that if you Google Criscipline, the only hits that come up are mine - stuff I wrote, links to this blog, etc. Not one other. That's quite an interesting little tid bit. This web address will remain the same too for the sake of convenience.

Best to be sure

So as I wrote out a check for the second class I'll be taking my first semester this upcoming fall, I just had to be sure, "So all I have to do now is buy books and show up for my first class, right?"

I was relieved when the gentleman who took my money responded, "That's right!"

Call me silly or stupid, but it seemed the whole process of enrolling at County College was a difficult one. So many papers, departments, things to prove and I still have to mail out a few papers. I am so relieved the hard part is done (at least until classes begin.)

I registered early enough to get a spot in the classes I wanted at the times I wanted.

My fall schedule:

Mondays - 8:00 - 10:30 - Statistics
Wednesdays - 8:00 - 10:30 - World Civilizations

I'm excited and nervous to be going back but ecstatic I followed through. I am going to be a student again and I am quite pleased I won't miss dinner with Mike twice a week. However, I will be crying once Project Runway starts up again and Kelly and I already agreed to move our Wednesday night hang-out to another night.

It will take quite a long time but now that I'm 25 I really do see just how fast time flies and that if life continues in any sort of pattern resemblant to what it's been, my life won't be very similar to what it is now (except for Mike being in it I hope). That's what's so much fun about life. You always hear people say, if someone would have told me five years ago I'd be doing XXXX or being XXXX, I would never have believed them!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Simple flavors

Last weekend I did my grocery shopping and planned out a menu for the whole week so that I could get back in the groove of making dinner and I must say, it was a blast and I loved cooking every night and finally trying some new things again. I think I kind of slacked off there for a while because I was so sick of the same old dinners.

Now this week I'm back to cooking Mike one thing and myself another because I really need to lose some of this weight that doesn't want to go away! Yesterday afternoon I tried to focus on what I wanted. I wanted wonton soup but without the wontons. So just a few clicks later I had a recipe for wonton soup and after crossing out everything I didn't need, I was left with four ingredients. I was skeptical.

However, I picked up some ginger root after work and some fat free low sodium chicken broth and some scallions. I had garlic of course. I cooked about a tablespoon each of minced garlic and ginger in Enova oil for a minute, added a handful of chopped scallions and poured in 4 cups of the broth. I brought it to a boil and let it simmer for twenty minutes and I was amazed by the smell. I couldn't believe what some ginger and garlic produced when married and I had used these flavors before of course in stir fry.

I was so pleased the soup tasted as good as it smelled. Mike had made himself a tuna melt but near the end he said, "that really does smell good. Can I try some?" He didn't leave a drop.

The best thing is that I've found a new favorite quick and easy soup recipe that has virtually zero calories minus the tablespoon of oil to cook the garlic and ginger in. This recipe is also really just a base and you could do anything your heart desires with it. I think next time I'll add some broccoli and egg noodles.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

You know you've really made it when you're a character on the Simpsons

This is what Mike and I might look like if we were in the Simpsons:

Go make your Simpsons avatar and be sure to let me see!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Mike and I braved the madness last night and headed out to see the 12:01 AM showing of the latest HP movie. I love the excitement - you can feel it in the air and you're bound to see some kick ass HP shirts and wands flailing around and groups of kids in their favorite school colors. I wore my faithful Gryffindor shirt of course.

The second that first all too familiar orchestra note hit when the Warner Bros. logo sculpted of dark stone appeared on screen with the dark ominous sky behind it, the crowd went wild with applause. At last we were seeing the next installment!

The next two plus hours went by with a few laughs, a lot of hooting when Harry finally braved his first kiss, and a lot of tear shed near the end due to an amazingly well done flashback type scene where Harry lays in AGONY. He really did some good acting in this one although I cannot say the same for anyone else.

So how do you take an 800 page novel and make a kick ass movie? Well, you can't.

It's quite clear that the writers and directors know their audience - at least 80% of them read the book - so it's alright to cut corners and chop some stuff out. Unfortunately it's all that filler stuff and the scenes between major action that make Harry Potter the story we love and cherish so much.

Much like Lord of the Rings, the first 200 pages in Book 5 took up about six minutes in Order of the Phoenix. Yeah, they got all the big stuff but I left feeling like I was rushed through what should have been an amazing experience - seeing a story I love so dearly on screen! For those who didn't read the book, I feel that they could have blinked and missed Sirius' death and possibly not even fully realized what happened to Mr. Weasley. Furthermore, there was so much going on that Harry and Umbridge were the main characters in this movie. Two minutes of Hagrid on screen? Unacceptable! So little Snape? Disappointing. I know they're not around too much but I even felt like Ron had hardly any lines.

But alas, they did their best most likely and I'm sure it was no easy feat. 800 pages is a lot to work with. It was still a Harry Potter flick though so, ya know, it was great for that!

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Farewell by Stephen King

He says is best of course so here 'tis:

Goodbye Harry
by Stephen King

I'm having a day of mixed feelings: happy because I'm reading the manuscript of a novel that's full of magic, mystery, and monsters; sad because it will be finished tomorrow and on my shelf, with all its secrets told and its surviving characters set free to live their own lives (if characters have lives beyond the end of a novel — I've always felt they do). It's called The Monsters of Templeton, by Lauren Groff, and it will be published early next year.

Did you think I meant the final Harry Potter tale? Don't be a sillykins — not even your Uncle Stevie gets that one in advance (although I'm sure you agree that he should, he should). But I expect to face the same feelings, only stronger, when the pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows dwindle down to the final few. Hell, I had trouble saying goodbye to Tony Soprano, and let's face it — he was a turd. Harry's one of the good guys. One of the great guys, in fact, and the same holds true for his friends.

The sense of sadness I feel at the approaching end of The Monsters of Templeton isn't just because the story's going to be over; when you read a good one — and this is a very good one — those feelings are deepened by the realization that you probably won't tie into anything that much fun again for a long time. This particular melancholy deepens even more when the story is spread over multiple volumes. I felt it as I approached the end of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy, more strongly as I neared the conclusion of Frodo's quest in The Lord of the Rings, and with painful keenness when, as the writer, I got to the end of The Dark Tower, which stretched over seven volumes and a quarter century's writing time.

When it comes to Harry, part of me — a fairly large part, actually — can hardly bear to say goodbye. I'd guess that J.K. Rowling feels the same, although I'd also guess those feelings are mingled with the relief of knowing that the work is finally done, for better or worse.

And I'm a grown-up, for God's sake — a damn Muggle! Think how it must be for all the kids who were 8 when Harry debuted in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, with its cartoon jacket and modest (500 copies) first edition. Those kids are now 18, and when they close the final book, they will be in some measure closing the book on their own childhoods — magic summers spent in the porch swing, or reading under the covers at camp with flashlights in hand, or listening to Jim Dale's recordings on long drives to see Grandma in Cincinnati or Uncle Bob in Wichita. My advice to families containing Harry Potter readers: Stock up on the Kleenex. You're gonna need it. It's all made worse by one unavoidable fact: It's not just Harry. It's time to say goodbye to the whole cast, from Moaning Myrtle to Scabbers the rat (a.k.a. Wormtail). Which leads to an interesting question — will the final volume satisfy Harry's longtime (and very devoted) readers?

Although the only thing we can be sure of is that Deathly Hallows won't end in a 10-second blackout (you're going to hear that a lot in the next few weeks), my guess is that large numbers of readers will not be satisfied even if Harry survives (I'm betting he will) and Lord Voldemort is vanquished (I'm betting on this, too, although evil is never vanquished for long). I'm partly drawing on my own experience with The Dark Tower (reader satisfaction with the ending was low — tough titty, since it was the only one I had); partly on my belief that very few long works end as felicitously as Tolkien's Rings series, with its beautiful pilgrimage into the Grey Havens; but mostly on the fact that there is that sadness, that inevitable parting from characters who have been loved deeply by many. The Internet blog sites will be full of this was bad and that was wrong, but it's going to boil down to something that many will feel and few will come right out and state: No ending can be right, because it shouldn't be over at all. The magic is not supposed to go away.

Rowling will almost certainly go on to other works, and they may be terrific, but it won't be quite the same, and I'm sure she knows that. Readers will be able to go back and reread the existing books — as I've gone back to Tolkien, as my wife goes back to Patrick O'Brian's wonderful sea stories featuring Captain Aubrey and Dr. Maturin, as others do with novels featuring Travis McGee or Lord Peter Wimsey — and rereading is a great pleasure, but it's not the bated-breath, what's-gonna-happen-next suspense that Potter readers have enjoyed since 1997. And, of course, Harry's audience is different. It is, in large part, made up of children who will be experiencing these unique and rather terrible feelings for the first time.

But there's comfort. There are always more good stories, and now and then there are great stories. They come along if you wait for them. And here's something I believe in my heart: No story can be great without closure. There must be closure, because it's the human condition. And since that's how it is, I'll be in line with my money in my hand on July 21.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

You will be missed

I was thinking yesterday about how some people have loads of friends that they know and correspond with but only through the internet - message boards, gaming, a specific sport or hobby - creating a friendship where most often alias' are their only means of addressing one another and private details other than location simply aren't offered up.

I was thinking of my step brother who passed a week and a half ago. I had a hunch that he most likely had these friends and thought to myself, they may never know what happened to him.

So I googled my step brother yesterday yet again and found that there was a posting on announcing his death. It turns out they did only know him by his alias and it also turns out my step brother owed two people some Star Wars mini figures from a trading arena. One of the guys, frustrated that his figures never arrived and annoyed my step brother never responded to his many e-mails, attempted to track him down. He found his Myspace page and while reading through the comments, soon realized that my step brother either passed away or moved. He then found the obituary and started a thread asking everyone to bow their heads for their fallen brother and to not expect any trades from him.

A two page thread soon followed where everyone posted very kind words of loss and speculation and asked how the original poster learned of this information which is when he replied with the details above. The majority seemed to assume (based on the obituary stating he had passed away in a hospital and the family request donations be made to a rehabilitation clinic) that my step brother died of cancer. they offered condolences to his wife and children not even knowing he was not married. They all agreed 34 was too young to die.

So I registered and sent a message of thanks to the original poster confirming that yes, my step brother died very unexpectedly and thanked him for alerting his friends on the message board. I offered no details since it's clear my step brother didn't speak of himself to these people. I also thanked everyone for understanding about the missing trades - a poster had said that his minis no longer seem that important.

Also in the thread, people tried to rally everyone to make a donation. Some did. The acknowledgments of donations were sent to my step brother's mom. I told my step dad and he seemed grateful and admitted he was curious who sent donations from Missouri and Wisconsin.

I guess even though we have "friends" we never meet, that doesn't mean they won't wonder where we've gone when we stop sending invites to play games or stop trading toys. You don't have to meet someone to know how cool they are and know that they will be missed.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Oh, forget it

I just wrote a whole rant about how tired and stressed I am and scratched it.

I'm tired and stressed. Check back next week.