Monday, June 30, 2008
I'm not really a comic book fan. I don't have anything against them; I just haven't pursued getting into comics. A girl can only have so many obsessive interests, you know?
However, the MOH lent me this book, so I figured she had a good reason. Also, Neil Gaiman recommended it, according to Amazon. Did it change my feelings about comic books? Not really, but I enjoyed it well enough.
Gloom Cookie is a semi-satire about the goth culture, with fantastical elements thrown in. The plots in this first volume felt a little convoluted, but showed promise. I did like the artwork, but I discovered that I had a hard time keeping track of the characters, except for the evil queen character and the main character, Lex. The rest of the time, I had to think, "what was that guy's name again? And is it the same guy as on this other page?" I'm not sure if that's the comic's fault, or mine (as a person not used to visual literature).
One thing that bugged the crap out of me is that there were many, many, many typos. I just couldn't help but notice them. Some of them I corrected in pencil, since I figured the MOH would laugh about it, but there were so many, I just couldn't do them all. Really, this book is an argument for "Everyone needs a proofreader. Everyone."
However, the story was sweet and easy to read and I liked looking at the goths. It took me all of an hour to read it. The MOH has promised to lend me the next installment, and I have hopes that it will be better, or at least less typo-ridden.
(Original article can be found here.)
Woman Auctions Role as Bridesmaid to Pay for Wedding
Rising Costs Force Brides to Plan Creatively
By YUNJI de NIES, MARY PFLUM, MARIECAR FRIAS and STEPHANIE DAHLE
June 26, 2008
It may not buy love, but money certainly pays the bills.
One woman got creative in funding her wedding.
And weddings are costing a whole lot of it, averaging more than $27,000, according to a recent survey commissioned by The Knot Inc., a publicly traded wedding media and services company.
With the dress alone reaching into the thousands of dollars, plus more spending on cakes and photography, for instance, every penny counts, especially in these tough economic times.
So one bride in Virginia Beach, Va., got creative and turned to the Internet, auctioning off a spot in her bridal party to the highest eBay bidder.
Kelly Gray and her fiancé, Karl Gau, both 23, were trying to plan their wedding on a tight budget. Their combined income is about $32,000, on which they support a 1-year-old child.
The couple tried to cut corners wherever they could, and they aren't alone. Many brides are planning weddings on a shoe-string budget.
"There are brides out there willing to put together their own floral arrangements, brides who ask a friend to be a photographer," said Antonia Van der Meer, editor of Modern Bride magazine.
When one of her bridesmaids had the idea to raise some quick cash to pay for the $7,000 wedding, Gray decided to give it a shot.
Gray, a hairdresser, began the eBay auction and watched the bids pile up.
"I can't sleep at night," Gray said. "I go to bed and then wake up an hour later -- and run to the computer."
With the top bid at $5,700, the auction ended Wednesday night, and the winner was, surprisingly, a man named "Nick" who told Gray that he was raising his own bid to $10,000.
But it turned out "Nick" was actually a representative for the owners of Dr. Pepper and Snapple. And he won't be in the wedding. Instead, the company is launching an online competition to decide who Gray's bridesmaid should be -- and they say it could even be a surprise celebrity.
The amount of money and media attention is more than Gray ever expected.
"We can have a honeymoon," she said with glee. "I wanted my wedding, now we can have a honeymoon."
While I'm really happy that this couple now has some cash for their wedding and honeymoon (and their budget just puts ours to shame, frankly!), I just couldn't do it. I know America loves reality TV competitions and hard luck stories (and especially those two things combined), but I just don't think I'd want my wedding sponsored by Dr. Pepper (although, maybe they'd supply free drinks!).
I don't want to be judgmental of this couple--what's right for one couple is not necessarily right for another couple--but I was just amazed when I read this article. I think I might have made a different choice, if I were in their shoes.
However, I realize I'm very fortunate to have the money to plan a nice wedding. I'm very thankful for that. Even though we are not having the most extravagant celebration on the face of the planet, we are spending a good amount of money for this. And I'm thankful that it is sponsored only by me and Mr. T!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
On the radio this morning one of the members of Dykes on Bikes, the awesome group that opens the parade every year, announced that their scooter contingent is going to be dressed up as bridesmaids for the parade. I love that!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I was reading this book while in line for BART last week and the white-haired gentleman in line behind me said, "That's an interesting title for a book."
"Oh yes," I replied, "It's about vampires."
"Oh," he said, startled, "I didn't really get that from the title."
"Yeah, you missed the fangs on the front cover," I told him, and flipped the book over to show him. After that I was allowed to read in peace once more.
Anyway, I borrowed this one from one of my book club girls. The book club had previously read and enjoyed the author's book Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Friend, which was funny and terribly irreverent. I lent that to my dad and partway through he told me, "This book is actually funny!" so I counted it a huge success. My dad then sent me The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror, which is a Christmas story involving angels and zombies (two great tastes that taste great together, in my opinion).
You Suck is in the same vein, if you'll pardon the pun. Very funny, slapstick, over the top humor, and very light reading that goes quickly. This one is set in San Francisco (there have been a lot of those lately!) and features two newly-turned vampires. They've imprisoned the master vampire who made them, so they have to fumble around trying to figure out how to turn into mist and acquire minions (two teenage goths, who are hilarious) to do chores for them during daylight. Of course the master vampire escapes, and they have to face him, but because Christopher Moore's books are so light-hearted, everything works out for the best, and the main characters make out okay at the end.
My favorite characters were Chet, the enormous cat that belongs to a local homeless guy, who gets shaved and put into a sweater, and "Abby Normal," their first teenage minion, whose diary entries are scattered throughout the book.
This was perfect light summer reading and I recommend it. It's not highbrow literature, that's for sure, but whereas slapstick can grate on my nerves sometimes (I typically prefer more subtle and sarcastic humor), Moore just does it right.
This is the 10th book in an ongoing series about Harry Dresden, wizard and Chicago resident. It also spawned a short-lived SciFi Channel series, but they didn't get it right and didn't have the money to spend on the effects (or the scripts, apparently), so I wasn't too sad to see it go (How BSG could be so good and every other thing on that channel so cheesy is beyond me. I guess we can tell where all the money goes...).
Anyway, I can't remember why I first picked up this series, but I was instantly drawn in and got a bunch of my friends (including Mr. T, naturally) to read it. It's set in modern-day Chicago, and the protagonist is a crime-fighting wizard (although the crimes he fights are in the magical and supernatural communities only). When the series started, Dresden was a wizard for hire, and the series really had a hard-boiled detective novel-feel. The first novels were a little clunky writing-wise, but refreshingly, the author seems to be improving at his craft. This latest novel was no exception--the plot was fast-paced but not too tangled, and the repartee between Dresden and his police-officer pal Murphy was snappy and funny. Not all of the pop culture references went over so well, as you might expect from a man who looks like this:
but, I loved him for making them anyway, and since I am a total geek myself, I stand united with other geeks. Geeks rule!
This book's plot centered around Harry and his friends facing down the Denarians, or a set of Fallen Angels. Harry's team includes two Knights of the Cross, or men who wield swords that have nails from the cross (THE cross) worked into the hilt, giving them power to fight the Fallen (during this book Harry also discovers that all of the Knights are descended from kings). Harry is also assisted by a few other wizards, his cop friend Karrin Murphy, and his half-brother, who also happens to be an incubus. Oh, and he's also working off a debt to Queen Mab in the process.
Butcher's concepts are well-realized, and the plot moves along to an exciting final confrontation. It's hard not to cheer for such an wiseass hero.
My complaints? Butcher is still writing Dresden as though he has a dark side that could take over at any moment. That may have been true at one point in Harry's troubled past, but all we really see from Harry's actions now, particularly as the series progresses, is that he is ridiculously chivalrous and always always always does the right thing. So I think Butcher should let Dresden let go. I don't think that dark side is very believable, any more.
I also had an issue with what happened to one of the characters at the end, but only because I'm invested in that person. I suppose it would be a boring author that gave every book a fairy-tale happily ever after ending, but I didn't see that one coming!
Anyway, I highly recommend Butcher to fantasy/mystery fans, and I can't wait for the next installment.
Monday, June 23, 2008
I don't typically review my book club's picks here, because I get enough discussion and dissection when we meet about those books. But this was an interesting one, so I thought I'd post it.
This book (the author's first...my book club winds up reading a lot of first novels, for some reason) is set in the near-future Bay Area. It was written in the 90's, so near-future meant 2008! It was funny to read that. In Lethem's vision, no one is allowed to ask questions (unless you have a special license to do so), and the news on the radio is composed solely of music. Newspapers only have photos, no type. Drugs are not only legal, they're free and encouraged by the government; folks can make their own cocktail of drugs (called "Make") out of ingredients like "avoidal," "acceptol," and "forgettol." The protagonist is a private investigator (so he's allowed to ask questions, although it makes people incredibly uncomfortable), and he is hired to investigate the murder of a rich doctor.
The dialog and storytelling is pure over-the-top hard-boiled noir, but somehow it completely works for this book. The protagonist tangles with the wife of the dead doctor, the dead doctor's partner, a drug dealer/crime lord, and government agents, none of whom want him sniffing around the case. Mixed up in all of this are genetically engineered animals, who can walk and talk, and what Lethem calls "Babyheads"--children who are genetically engineered to grow up faster, because the regular process was taking too long for folks' tastes.
It was a bizarre and entertaining read. I would definitely recommend it (I actually did recommend it, to Mr. T, and he liked it too), and I would read other Lethem novels, too.
I am behind on my book reviews! So many books, so little time to review them.
Anyway, I borrowed this book from a friend who thought I'd like it after she read my blog on the Mata Hari book. And I did like it...mostly.
What's so aggravating to me, especially since my parents paid a lot of money for me to major in English at a university and I should be able to articulate myself when it comes to literature, is that I can't really put my finger on what didn't work for me in this book.
It may be that I had to put it down so that I could finish my book club book in time for our meeting, so that my reading process was interrupted. But...I wasn't really all that sad to put it down. I was just plodding through it.
I don't know why, though! The writing style was lovely, and the premise is interesting: it's written from the perspective of a dwarf companion of a courtesan in Renaissance-era Italy. It's peopled with famous folks like Titian, who actually paints the courtesan in question at one point during the novel. So why didn't I love it? I love freaks and outcasts. But this one, while I would recommend it to folks, didn't grab me the way that my favorite books do, in that "I need to read you in every spare moment I have" kind of way.
Perhaps it was just my frame of mind. I can't figure it out. I'm going to try reading one of Sarah Dunant's other novels, The Birth of Venus, to see if I appreciate that one any more!
Hooray, free stuff!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I completely missed the Ethnic Dance Festival, which I go to see every year (and I usually attend all three weekends!), among other fun shows and concerts (Thievery Corporation, Ryan Adams, My Morning Jacket) that have come up.
I think Mr. T had some doubts about my ability to curtail spending (well, you did, didn't you, Mr. T?), and I probably did, too, but I think I'm doing just fine. So far.
Still, if Tom Waits hits our area, I am DEFINITELY buying tickets for that. And I wll be seeing Radiohead in August (along with every other person in this area, I'm sure). But those are my two exceptions.
Recently I got some belly dance cards made through Moo, and at the time I thought, "these would make good save-the-dates. I should mention these to folks." And then lo and behold, I just got an email newsletter from Moo (since this is the month of all things wedding), with suggestions about how those adorable little Moo cards could be made into favors, save-the-dates, or place settings, to name a few uses. Great minds!
They're only $20 for 100 cards right now, and you can use a bunch of photographs, not just get 100 of the same photograph.
Another idea is to have photo stickers made (90 for $10), and you could either use the stickers to seal your invites, or you could have stickers made from your wedding photos and use those stickers to seal your thank-you notes. Who doesn't like a photo sticker??
Plus, I mean, I know the cards are small, but they're so cute.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Although technically I should be saving my pennies and putting them into our wedding savings account, today I gave some money away. And I got Mr. T to do the same thing. Shocking behavior!
But how, might I ask, could you resist this picture?:
Well, you might be able to, but I just can't. Look at the wee tiny thing!
So, I emailed Mr. T at work and asked if he wanted to chip in money to donate to the Humane Society's disaster relief fund, which allows them to rescue the pets people had to leave behind when they evacuated their houses in Iowa. His immediate one-word email reply was "yes."
I encourage anyone who has any spare pennies to think about donating--just a little!--to the Humane Society. They do good work. Yes, helping the people in Iowa is very important, I get that too, but the animals don't have voices to speak up for themselves, so it's important that someone does it for them.
Let's get those pets reunited with their humans!
Thanks for letting me get on my soapbox. We'll now return to our regularly scheduled wedding planning.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Well, I'm a girl of varied interests, what can I say? Anyway, I'm on the Dollhouse Bettie mailing list--I love the store on Haight St., they actually carry cute bras for girls who are, uh, very genetically blessed. ;-) Well, they carry all sizes, really, but of course I'm biased toward a store where I can find cute stuff in my size. They definitely have a vintage flair, which I also enjoy.
Anyway, they are having an in-store sale for brides-to-be until the end of June: bring your wedding announcement or invitation with you when you shop and receive 15% off any item in store. That's a pretty sweet deal! I can't partake just yet (we are a long way off from getting invites!), but I know some of you ladies aren't, so I had to share.
Go check them out! They're awesome!
I got a little teary this morning when I saw the front cover of the Chronicle, featuring the picture above.
From SF Gate:
Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon made history - again - at 5:07 p.m. Monday when they were declared "spouses for life."
At that moment, standing next to each other in the mayor's office in San Francisco City Hall in front of cheering friends and relatives, the couple of 55 years became the first same-sex newlyweds in San Francisco and among the first in California under a new right bestowed by the state Supreme Court.
"And it feels great," said Lyon, 83.
It was a little more than four years ago that Lyon and Martin were the first to wed after Mayor Gavin Newsom sanctioned same-sex weddings. About 4,000 gay and lesbian couples took the plunge, but the California Supreme Court later ruled those weddings legally invalid because Newsom acted without proper authority.
This time around, Martin and Lyon were once again San Francisco's first same-sex couple to get married - only this time, it was legal.
"I never thought it would happen in our lifetime," said Arlene Rusche, 68, a friend of the couple.
I love that the mayor officiated. What a momentous step for human rights. It's so exciting to see it all happening at last.
One of the bloggers on Weddingbee compared it to Loving Day, the anniversary of which recently passed, ironically--June really is the month of all things wedding, isn't it? Loving Day is the celebration of the 1967 Supreme Court ruling that interracial couples were legally allowed to marry. The blogger noted that 40 years ago, she wouldn't have been able to marry her fiancee, who is Chinese (she is white). I can't imagine loving someone and not being legally allowed to marry them. How awful.
I know we have a long road to travel (California is just one state, after all), but this makes me very hopeful.
Congratulations to all of the couples getting married this week, but especially to Del and Phyllis.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Still here are some lovely dresses, found via Offbeat Bride. The first two are a circus performer named Lucifire, she seems like quite a character:
Check out her red furry hooded cape and the skull atop her transportation to her wedding:
Can't remember how I found this photo below, I think from Lucifire's dressmaker's site? Anyway, I'm worried about bustles, even though they're cute.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I got my first one this morning and am considering hitting up another Starbucks for lunch coffee (this is one time when it's good that chain is so viral--I could get multiple coffees from all the locations near my office!).
Yes, I could get coffee for free at work, it's true. But, the coffee at work isn't as good, especially since the turnover is lower--coffee can sit in the pot for hours. Also, if there's ice at work, which I doubt, I'd be skeptical about the taste, since the fridge hasn't smelled so good lately.
And finally, work doesn't supply me with soy milk, which I can get at Starbucks for free if I ask nicely, so that's another savings.
Hee! Free stuff!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Anyway, what we were discussing was that our grandmother is turning 90 this year, and my cousin and I have been discussing a mini-family reunion in honor of the occasion. I was trying to sweet-talk my bro into bringing his family.
I also let him know about our engagement party in August. But, if he had to pick one, I thought he should go with the outing to see our grandmother.
And guess what? I'm not sure any travel is going to be advisable later on this year, because my sister-in-law is pregnant again! I'm excited to be an auntie for the second time, and happy for my brother and his wife, but I'm also disappointed not to be seeing them in the near future. Perhaps I'll try and book a trip next Spring, if I'm not totally insane and broke by then.
The other crazy thing is that since they don't live in California, they don't get maternity leave like we do. Here I was thinking that this was a universal thing--you have a baby, you get time off--but apparently my SIL has to use her vacation time to take the time off, so she's saving it all up this year.
Another reason the Sunshine State is awesome...
Monday, June 9, 2008
I said, "what the heck?" and emailed the coordinator at Venue #2 to see if they'd hold our date for us without a deposit, since we don't know the football schedule and we also want to do a tasting closer to the season we'll be getting married in.
Guess what? She said yes! Here's her email:
I will hold that date for you with no deposit required. I agree that we must know the football schedule first and have a tasting. Once we know the football schedule, we can schedule a tasting. I will NOT release your date until both of these issues are resolved.
Take care, Awesome Coordinator*
So, I feel better about the venue issue--we can wait to find out the football schedule and not worry about our date being given away in the meantime. Phew! As the MOH says, "I like this woman more and more!" Hopefully it's a good omen.
*Not our real names.
One of the potential venues is a famous hotel, and we never thought we'd be able to afford it, but if Here Comes the Guide is accurate, it's actually the same price as the other venues we've been considering. Cake has to be included, but the place is high-profile enough that I imagine their chef is pretty good. So I think we'll go check it out!
Oh, and if anyone is wondering what I did with my "me" time, I did about an hour and a half of a belly dance DVD before I realized how much time had passed (I was only 2/3 of the way through!), then I made myself a salad and watched some dance shows.
I finished the last Harry Potter book (again) yesterday. Once again, I was so sad to read the last page and set it down--I never want to say goodbye to these characters! JK Rowling's writing and storytelling is so brilliant that I would be happy to read any number of follow-ups, like "Harry Potter and the Tax Audit," or "Harry Potter and the Job Interview," or "Harry Potter and the House Remodel," or "Harry Potter and the Bifocals."
Sadly, JK seems to be done with the series, so I'll have to scout out new favorites (and/or keep rereading the old favorites). For now, I'm returning to In the Company of the Courtesan, and I'm also finishing up our book club book.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
What I mean is: everyone deserves some me time. I'm not talking about time running errands, or hanging out with friends without your S.O. I'm talking about time alone at home. Blissful, lazy, selfish, me time.
Mr. T gets a lot of time alone because I have a crazy schedule. He is marvelously tolerant about this and takes me when he can get me, and I try to be considerate about how long it's been since we've had a date that didn't include all of our friends, and somehow or other it all works out. Frankly, I'd go nuts with boredom if I weren't so busy, and Mr. T knows it. Because he was in a band and understands the passion behind it all, he never complains about time I spend rehearsing, or taking classes, or performing, or attending dance events, or any of the things that take up my time. Really, he's a paragon of patience with all of it, and I'm lucky to have him!
However, thanks to the aforementioned schedule, I don't often get me time. Tonight, however, Mr. T has what I refer to as a "play date" or just a "date" with a friend of ours (Mr. T is also thankfully marvelously tolerant of my sense of humor), so I get to go home after work and do whatever. I think I'll watch my stockpile of dance shows that don't really interest Mr. T but he'll watch with me because he's nice and he loves me, like So You Think You Can Dance, Step It Up and Dance (or whatever that one is called), or even the movie Honey, which I recorded knowing it would be awful but I wanted to see the dance scenes anyway. When we're together we try to watch stuff we're both interested in (I'm not so into the martial arts programs he records), which means I have some shows I haven't seen in weeks.
If I'm super ambitious I might put in a belly dance instructional DVD to do before I settle into the couch for the evening.
It's not that Mr. T or I stop each other from doing things...it's just that we each enjoy our own company too. I think that's healthy. I never wanted to be that girl who stopped speaking to her friends because she was dating someone, or who lost her identity as soon as she became part of a couple. I think we have a good balance. Like all things, it requires maintenance, but we're up for it.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
The groom's gift is no exception. Yes, even this early.
Remember how I told you that I wanted to incorporate a sixpence for luck, thanks to the "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence for her shoe"? Well, no way am I putting a coin in my shoe. That would make me crazy. Halfway through the ceremony I would need to sit down, remove the offending shoe, and shake out the coin.
I did, however, find another way to incorporate a sixpence: cufflinks! This site has some cute sixpence cufflinks, and I'm not sure, but I think I can request specific years/dates. They don't make sixpence anymore, so they're harder to find, but I thought the price was still reasonable and that these would make a cool groom's gift:
A number of sellers on Etsy also carry them.
Of course, I could also get him these cufflinks (from this Etsy seller):
Mr. T says, "Nice! I could literally wear my geekiness on my sleeve."
Monday, June 2, 2008
Mr. T's cousin just got engaged this weekend. That makes two engaged cousins for Mr. T, and one for me. Maybe we're just in that age group right now, or maybe it's because we're in that mindframe, but it feels like a whole heck of a lot of engagements going on.