Sunday, November 30, 2008

Constantine, Christianity, and "That Dude's Movie Code"

I've been reading Mysteries of the Middle Ages And the Beginning of the Modern World by Thomas Cahill. I picked it up because I very much enjoyed his book How the Irish Saved Civilization. I picked this book up because I've frequently thought of the Middle Ages as a backward era lacking in education and intelligence. Despite the legends of knights and castles, it's not one of my favorite time periods to read about or to teach. 

My students, however, disagree. They love it. This is the one time period where they are enraptured by everything. So, I try to oblige. Hopefully this book will help open my eyes to some of the more interesting topics that I've skipped in my dislike. 

So far I've found the book interesting, though I still have not progressed past the Roman Empire. Official tolerance of Christianity was brought by the emperor Constantine. I did read an interesting footnote that I couldn't pass up without a mention: 
The depiction of Christianity in the popular thriller The Da Vinci Code as a fraud perpetrated by Constantine not only is preposterous to any reader with a modicum of historical knowledge but rests on melodramatically anti-Christian assumptions. The book's further premise that the Catholic Church sends out Opus Dei hit men to murder anyone who has stumbled on the truth is a straight-forward anti-Catholic libel. And its notion that Jesus fathered progeny by Mary Magdalene is a fantasy lacking the least historical support.

Wow, Mr. Cahill! Showing our bias, are we? Not that I disagree with him, but I haven't come across such vehement rhetoric in a history book before. Someone didn't like Dan Brown's bestseller, which I find refreshing. I haven't read it myself, but I've had enough of people insisting that it's real, with one acquaintance swearing that it opened their eyes to the truth behind the Catholic Church. 

Like I didn't have enough questions to answer about my faith in Baptist Land, Dan Brown had to go and open up the floodgates. That and the questions during my Renaissance unit if that's Mary Magdalene in the painting by "that dude with the movie code." This has made any urgency I felt to read the blasted thing go out the window. 

I did, however, watch the National Geographic special. I am so glad that I kept my subscription. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn

Mr. Cavendish, I Presume is Quinn's second book in the Two Dukes of Wyndham series that began with The Lost Duke of Wyndham

Thomas, the Duke of Wyndham, has always known what his lot in life was. Being duke came with a lot of responsibilities, and among them was marriage to Lady Amelia Willoughby. His intent had been to marry her when she turned twenty-one, but she had passed that mark without a date for the nuptials being set. 

Into this ordered life comes Mr. Jack Audley. A former soldier and current highwayman, Thomas is shocked to find out that his grandmother believes that Jack is his long lost cousin and the rightful Duke of Wyndham. 

This book follows the exact same events as the previous book. As a result, I felt that I had read this book before because I had. Apart from the change in point of view, the events are the same. The story is the same, only the focus is on Amelia and Thomas instead of Jack and Grace. 

Because of the repetitive nature of the story, I skipped large parts of it. The dialogue in many instances was the same. The end of the book was the same (except with Amelia and Thomas instead of Grace and Jack). Quinn's wit was even the same in this book.       

The entire attempt would have been better in one volume. If she tightened up the extraneous interior monologues and repetitive moaning of feelings, she could have made Thomas and Amelia's story a good secondary romance. On its own, however, there just wasn't enough. 


Monday, November 24, 2008

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

OMG. Finally. 

Yes, that's right. After three months, I have finally finished THE book that has everyone frothing at the mouth. Not to mention THE movie that managed to gross nearly $80 million its opening weekend. 

But where do I stand with the book? Well, if you liked the book, :heart: Edward Cullen, or have seen the movie twenty times, read no further. Don't leave me nasty comments, don't call me a hater, I'm just telling it as I read it. 

Bella Swan has moved to the small town of Forks, Washington to live with her no-longer-estranged father Charlie. While there, she falls in love with the mysterious Edward Cullen. Only he's a vampire, complete with all the baggage vampires have. Only he's enrolled in high school. And he comes out during the day. Why don't vampires go out at day? Because their skin sparkles, as if a glitter factory exploded all over them. Combine that with the pale skin, cold hands, and nonexistent appetite for human food, and all of a sudden I understand why more vampires don't go to high school. Teenagers pick on everything in high school, including themselves.  

Hence the built-in audience. Bella, the main character, is full of angst and woe-is-me, feelings that most teenage girls have.  In fact, Bella is in so much angst that the entire first 3/4s of the book is filled with her going on about how unpopular she is, how no one likes her, and on and on, when in reality she is quite popular at her new school. She has to beat the boys off with sticks, they all want to take her to dances, and she spends time trying to foist them off on her friends. 

The story had potential. It really really did. The problem was with the execution and pacing. The first three quarters of the book as I previously mentioned is spent on Bella's adjusting to high school in Forks and trying to get Edward Cullen to notice her. The true villain of the book doesn't come onto the scene until the last quarter of the book. That was the quickest part of the book for me, waiting for the end to come. There is no antagonist for three quarters of the book! Sure, there's conflict between Bella and Edward, but it's so mundane and gets the plot nowhere. It took me three months to get through the first 3/4s of the book. 

Meyer also spends much of the narrative telling instead of showing. Much of the information is dumped through dialogue. Perhaps this is due to the first person narrative, because the reader is only introduced through the eyes of Bella. Had the third person narrative been used, a better woven narrative than what already exists. The villain James is very lackluster, and I was disappointed that Bella was unconscious when he fell to the Cullen clan. 

I'm going to let the teenage girls have this book and the sequels. I'm going to give them a miss. 


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Samantha's Birthday Pinafore Dress

Lately I've been making a lot of doll outfits that fit the 18 inch doll. With the retirement of the Samantha doll (thanks a lot, American girl!) I've been trying to add to my collection via E-bay, especially since most of the items are sold out right now. I've been more successful on some than others. 

This is my latest acquisition: 

Mom made this dress in lilac gingham a long time ago, but I wanted the fancy taffeta dress. It came all the way from Hawaii, too! I love it. Hopefully I'll receive the trunk I have on backorder, because I'm running out of room in the one I have... 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Un-Yarn Geek Love

Today I went to Hobby Lobby to pick up some stuff for the Thanksgiving Break. I went to the clearance aisle and found yarn! It was pretty, Yarn Bee's Highland Thistle in Loch Ness. I started putting skeins into my basket. When I got to ten, I really took a feel of the yarn, and it felt like... plastic bags. The "thistle" part felt like plastic bags! 

I could just imagine knitting with it, and the pain my hands would be in. 

So I put it all back. 

Every last skein. 

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Evil in US Weekly

I have a subscription to US Weekly. I don't know how it happened, but so far I've received three issues. I looked for a customer service number, but it doesn't exist. I sent an e-mail, no response. Today I finally was able to find the cancel process. 

What a pain in the ass. 

How did I get the subscription?? I wish I knew. I really do. I think it happened when I went to Books-A-Million last, which was back in September. Scratch that. The last time I bought anything from the store was back in September, the date that the subscription was entered. I've been in there since, but they never have the book I want. They had at the register the four free issues plug, to which I always say no. If I have the choices of US Weekly, Time, and Sports Illustrated, would I really pick US Weekly?

The answer is no. I'd pick Time, then Sports Illustrated. I'd never pick US Weekly, because it's the most evil form of journalism ever. I can't even watch E! except when The Soup is on. I don't care who looks better in what dress and why they got rid of some characters on Grey's Anatomy

So, I'm going to dissect the November 24th issue of US Weekly. Enjoy. 

  • I hate that the table of contents starts on page 18, and it tells the reader about information that I read BEFORE page 18. Shouldn't the contents be first? I can handle the ads before the table of contents, but the actual content? I have an idea, lets call that the index! 
  • Stars Who Talk Trash About Their Exes! Kiss and dis! (Yeah, I totally needed this.) 
  • With "Gretchen's Talented Tot", we find out that not only did she saddle the child with a name like Ptolemy (that went out of style with Alexander the Great), but we get to hear about how wonderfully average the child is! 
  • Stars--They're Just Like US! They eat fondue! They hit the road with pals! They hang out with their bros! They try on high boots! What is this rubbish? Really? Some actress--I'm guessing, because I've never heard of Jessica Szohr before, so she could be a singer, model, escort--but I really don't care if she's buying high boots. Ooh. 
  • Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon didn't have sex before they married. That makes one couple in Hollywood. 
  • And of course there is the special Obamas--Just Like US! section that tells us that they "Kiss and Ride", "Work Out", "Love Date Night," and have "Election Night Jitters." I thought presidential candidates were robots. 
  • And just when I think that I can throw the entire thing out, there's a Twilight section. I'll have to give that to Lisa, who's in love with the movie, and will probably drag me out to see it. Oh, and who's the hotter vampire? Edward nudges out James by 52% to 48%. And 75% of US readers say Madonna should get custody.... snore. Oh, sorry. 
  • OMG! Taylor Swift and Joe Jonas are over! The world as we know it is over. 
Thank Goodness that's over. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Wanna Barf

One thing I like about the Carolina Hurricanes--okay, I vow to keep it to one because I don't want to induce boredom, and I can't list them all--that isn't Time Gleason, their great team colors, and the fact that they are three hours away from me, is that they always put up really great wallpapers up for the computer after every home game. 

Until yesterday, that is. The picture from the Atlanta game--which we lost horrendously--was of the Storm Squad. I don't watch the games because of the skinny chicks that do I-don't-know-what. No, I want a picture of the team. This picture drove me insane. 

I'm not putting that up on my desktop! Boo!

Sunday, November 09, 2008


I like knitting. Sometimes, depending on the mood, I can get through a project really quickly--why I like scarves. Usually, though it takes me a while, especially when I get in a mood where all I want to do is sew (the final product comes more quickly). But lately I've been knitting a storm, especially for the Christmas season and my upcoming nephew, Riley. 

This scarf I've started countless times, only to have frogged it just as many times. I tried crocheting--single and double--tried the "My So-Called Scarf" pattern I found on Ravelry.  I tore them all out and ended up just using a regular old ribbed pattern. I call this my "Carolina Hurricanes Scarf. 

And here is me wearing it, at a Carolina Hurricanes game! Had a wonderful time, even if my boys didn't win it. The scarf is very warm. 

I started this scarf a while back and meant it for me, but one of my former students wanted me to make a scarf for her. I thought this would be a great pattern for her, and the colors are so pretty. (Yarn Bee's Mosaic Twist in Dahlia, which has been discontinued.) I added extra long fringe to the end of it. I finished it just in time, too, because she wants it before Thanksgiving! 
Since I'm making a his and hers set, a scarf similar to this except in a different color (for her boyfriend) will be up here soon! 

I wish I could add the baby blankets I'm making for my sister, but I want them to be a surprise. She pops in here from time to time, so we're going to have to wait until January! 

Friday, November 07, 2008

Four Things About Me

Things you may not have known about me.....

A) Four jobs I have had in my life:

1. 4K assistant at a day care
2.  Cashier at K-Fart, I mean Mart. 
3.  "Castmember" at Disney store
4.  I took notes and copied them for LD students while I was in college

Four movies you would watch over and over:

1. King Arthur
2.  Gosford Park
3. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

C) Four places you have lived:

1.  Simpsonville, SC
2.  Columbia, SC
3.  Coventry, England, UK
3.  Florence, SC

D) Four TV shows you love to watch:

1.  Hockey games 
2. Chuck
3. Those cheesy Celebreality shows on VH1
4. Project Runway

E ) Four places you have been on vacation:

1.  Ireland
2. Scotland
3. Wales 
4. The Jersey Shore

F) Web sites you visit daily:

1. Carolina Hurricanes
2. icanhascheezburger
3. sportsquee

G ) Four of my favorite foods:

1. pierogies 
2. Mom's lasagna
3. pizza
4. pasta pasta pasta

H) Four places I would rather be right now:

1.  England