Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The good holiday is over. When I was little, all I wanted was presents. Now, all I want is good food. (Like stuffing. And cranberry sauce in the shape of a can, right?) Thus, Thanksgiving rocks. But these days all that's left is the concluding wintry month in which I receive metaphorical lumps of coal from Santa, because I'm a pretty selfish girl. Still.

This recent turkey-tofurky-smurfy-whateveryouwannacallit weekend, we travelled the 618 miles to Louisville, Kentucky, to meet up with some other displaced family members due to careers. But I only wanted to do this because these people make me happy and laugh. And I would get to bring Cary's brother home with me. And we could watch The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Battlestar Galactica and start reading The Maze Runner series.

I also wanted to see Louisville. And another '-ville.' Nashville. Where we ate at the corner steak and spaghetti (weird combo to me but Cary doesn't see it) place Demo's and roamed the few short blocks that really are the strip. It was cold, but that didn't keep the doors shut; live music poured onto the sidewalk, and an open air concert with beer tastings was in the middle of it all. We visited a warm Ernest Tubb Record Shop to get Johnny Cash and Elvis compilation albums.

(Getting older isn't so bad for your taste buds...)

In Louisville, we swore we wouldn't even try to imitate the way natives say their town name. Turns out, we didn't ever need to, nor did we hear a soul say "Looavull" once. We hit Churchill Downs. We lost money. (I once again tried to regurgitate to Cary all I had learned from the Seabiscuit book and Secretariat movie.) We hit the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. We got suckered into wanting tiny bats as well as posing in front of the giant one out front. We hit Muhammad Ali's museum. It was cool. But I secretly wished it were Katniss Everdeen's - since Jennifer Lawrence is from there supposedly. Even though this doesn't really make any sense). We ate Cuban. We begged for military discounts everywhere we went. We even got stuffing and jelly cranberry sauce.

The best were the Mammoth Caves. This cave, or series of caves, is the largest in the world if you can believe it. Believe it. This national park encompasses 390 miles of discovered cave. We visited both "ends" and saw Frozen Niagara (not as cool as it sounds) and took a couple mile tour into the main part (way cooler than it sounds). We descended into a gaping black hole the size of a big house that made me so curious about how the original explorers may have reacted to it. Shock? Greed? Not much at all?

Once in the main cavern - this time the size of a Hollywood mansion - Cary said it seemed like a place every Native American tribe leader would meet to make the big decisions.

Uh huh. Uh huh. I could totally see that.

But every time we had a good observation like this, it was dashed by the tour guides' wisdom.

It got short and narrow in one place, just enough to make your panic meter rise a notch. Hmm, perfect. The crickets were kinda like giant spiders. It felt cool and sometimes damp. You could hear water in places, or see it. There were deep crevices. There was a bathroom a mile in.

It felt warmer outside when we resurfaced after a lot of stairs. We walked gingerly across the soapy, spongy mat again to rid our shoes of certain things picked up. A fungus or something is killing the bats somewhere in the nation. (I listen well.) And it could wipe out the thumb size bats that apparently inhabit the cave but don't like to make an appearance for my blog. "Would you want to make your bedroom where people are turning on lights all the time and being noisy?" One of our tour guides kept asking us rhetorical questions like this.

But with the lights out, and the kids in the group as quiet as they could be (which is louder than at any other point on the journey), we got to experience cave darkness and wannabe silence. This was cool.

So... I went the whole day wearing my Mammoth Mountain sweatshirt without getting a single comment on it. What the frack?

Well, that brings me to (as hoped) the fact that I've spent the week breaking from work for mini Battlestar Galactica marathons. This might just be the best show ever. They say 'frack' instead of 'fuck.' Most everything square has the corners chopped off: dog tags, books, papers, computer screens, pictures. It was on the SyFy channel from 2004 to 2009, but it's now available on Netflix streaming, thank the gods (they use the plural).

I crack up, I tear up, I hold my breath. I learn how to say the eff word without really offending anyone and sounding like some kind of muppet. What else do you need?

*     *     *     *

The best of the road trip music in case you need to add a few songs to sugar and spice up your playlists:

WordGirl for Grown-ups

Editors usually get this right, but civilians rarely do.

Incorrect: I honed in on the cute girl.

Correct: I homed in on the cute girl.

Also correct: I honed my flirting skills.

Word of the day: Frack. Yep. Use it. Maybe it'll peak the interest of people who weren't (and still aren't) early sci-fi adopters and didn't do things like read Ender's Game and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy when they were 11. This is okay.

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chapter five: SF

dear self, leaving the down jacket in the car does not keep you warm.

yours (literally),

Monday, November 14, 2011

What Would Salander Do?

Courtesy of The Telegraph
Lisbeth wouldn't be caught dead running a race.

Since discovering the Swedish films last year (finally), and the books (again finally) this year, the character Vogue said people say is today's Scarlet O'Hara role has become more than the entertaining protagonist of the Millenium trilogy for me.

She's become someone who makes the activities I do seem kinda pointless.

The girl with the dragon tattoo, who also played with fire and kicked the hornet's nest, makes choices solely based on consequences. Due to her quintessentially fucked up childhood. If it won't get her hurt, institutionalized, or require any pointless socialization or activity, Lisbeth Salander will, well might, do it.

Coffee, Coke, cigarettes, sandwiches. Black. Boots. Mac electronics. These are necessities. Fighting violence against women. Also a necessity. Sex? Any gender will do. Revenge? Serve it frigid. If she's going to splurge, it'll be on a motorcycle, a room with a view, IKEA furniture, or by taking down a serial killer, billion-dollar thief, or sex trade ring leader - also her dad - without anything but a keyboard. Or a nail gun.

So maybe she would consider running the Pensacola half-marathon if she knew it would help her run away from bad people, or chase them down.

Nope, she'll never be a Salander.
However, as I jogged along with some buds on Sunday, I started to feel less and less like a bad-ass and more and more like a sack of pulp with gravel in my joints and ugly black-and-blue toenails. Aw well. At least I can prepare and hope for an ethical foot chase in my future.

Tip: Read each book and chase it with each Swedish movie available via Netflix streaming.

Note: The American version due out this Christmas will not be as good. But go see it anyway despite the slight, but expensive, slap in the face to the Swedes. Director David Fincher made me feel a little better about wanting to see it when he told Vogue this:
"We are walking in other people's footsteps, and we have to be careful." 
That's right you do. Rooney is no Noomi. Daniel no Michael. Despite the looks. But we all still want to see the American interpretation ... Damn it.

Harriet's hair is still not right in the U.S. version. How hard is it to find a black-haired Harriet?!

Per entertainment, if your'e not watching Homeland, you should be. Showtime On Demand that shit.

WordGirl for Grown-ups

In a world of electronic communication, spelling is easy with spell check but grammar, and thus meaning, sometimes suffers. This doesn't mean that shortened words in text messages and incomplete sentences in e-mails are not okay. They are.

(Especially in blogs, where all rules are your own.)

But a quick read through for clarity, or professionalism, or whatever the intention of the medium is, is even cooler. Your reader will like you more for it. Lisbeth would never turn in a Milton security report in less than perfect form. But I also don't see her spelling out every 'u2' or '&' and adding superfluous commas in a message to a fellow hacker. She would, however, make her point clear - the ark of communication.

Word of the day: Quintessential. Adjective. Representing the most perfect or typical example.

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You stub your toe, think I deserve this.
You step lightly for two days, doing ledger work behind those wide, round eyes.
A leaf caught in the fence. Rain against the windowpanes.
You see the sunlight, think it’s a gift. 
You deserve it, after all.
You see your mistakes, think they’re reversible. Think you can do better next time.
You gain some ground, think it’s an accomplishment and not a reprieve.
You’re a pattern maker.
Double stitching disparate elements into something pretty to wear to the funeral.
The event is just the event.
The moment only counts when you’re still living in it.
Don’t connect the dots.

Just eat the berries.

You deserve it.

I like to do things the same way over and over again. Like how I will always wash my face last in the shower, or take six gulps from the water fountain, or leave before I am left. And maybe it’s because I’m scared, or maybe it’s because I know I will be too reckless. I’ve scraped my knees more times than I can count, but don’t you know that’s how I tell when it’s time to stand back up? My heart hasn’t started beating any slower, and I haven’t gotten any farther than I already am. I’ve cut my hair once or twice and that was change enough for me, and god damn my knees won’t stop bleeding. I read, you know. Vonnegut and Nietzsche and all those other great authors. I couldn’t tell you shit about them or what they said, but I wanted to sound worldly and you wouldn’t guess it but I haven’t read a new book in a year, rather I’ve been reading summaries to make pleasant conversation when silence falls awkwardly at our feet just like my dress on the floor. For christsakes, my knees are dug into the gravel in the same way my nails dig into your skin. I always stick my feet out from under the covers, you know. They just get so god damn hot, and maybe there’s a chance that the stories our parents told were true and the boogeyman exists and he’ll steal you away in the night if you’ve been a bad person. I still have nightmares, and I still can’t visit cemeteries because I don’t belong, and I’m still afraid of getting lost, and I’m so fucking tired of scraping my knees.

Courtesy of BPRMedia
Learn more about the man behind Salander, Stieg Larsson, the author who's best-selling books were published posthumously.