Friday, August 31, 2012

Dragon*Con Part 1: Thursday Night

Phew.

Seriously...phew.

I'm finally back at my hotel after nearly twelve hours of running around Dragon*Con - and yeah, I'm exhausted.

But I can't wait to do it all again tomorrow :)

That said...here's a quick update on my first night in Hotlanta!

I arrived around 7:45 PM last night, checked into my hotel and headed right over to the Sheraton to get my D*C badge. At about 8:20 PM there was no line for pass pick up, but I did have to wind through the crazy queue! No lie, it was kind of ridiculous - registration was in this *giant* hall, and the entire thing had been turned into a queue. It took me longer to walk through that thing than to actually get my badge, haha :)

Anyway, I also picked up Steve's badge and was surprised that I didn't have any trouble. I had a copy of his license with a note on it giving me permission to pick it up, but I don't think they even looked at the note. Still, for future reference, yes this is possible, though I would go the whole shebang and get written permission along with a driver's license copy, just in case.

I headed right back to the hotel - which isn't a host hotel, by the way, but is only about a 10 minute walk from the Hyatt (less from the Westin, but quite a bit more from the Marriott, Hilton and Sheraton) - to get ready for the ABC (Anything But Clothes) party at the Hyatt. I found out about this kind of last minute...they have VIP passes available for a donation - they get you into the party an hour early, but you have to get them in advance. And then from 10 PM until midnight you can only get in in an "anything but clothes" outfit...but you also have to be prepared to wait in line.

Thankfully though...I got lucky! I happened to pull out my computer to play some music while I was getting ready, and then I figured hey, why not sign into Facebook...well, lo and behold, someone had posted on the ABC Party Facebook Event that he had an extra pass! And so I met Rob, a.k.a. Draco. I had some technical difficulties with my bubble wrap. And my duct tape. And my stickers. So I didn't actually make it there until 9:55, but I *did* make it, I *didn't* have to wait in line, and I had a blast.

First, I met Loras Tyrell. Or rather, the girl who is dressing as Loras Tyrell on Sunday ;)
Then, I got several drinks from these fine ladies.


And then I danced amongst these people, until I was so hot and tired that I had to make my way back to the hotel :)

Seriously though - everyone was SO nice. They did run out of beer kind of early (it was before midnight, anyway) - but they had plenty of pre-mixed drinks. One was a fruity red punch that I think had rum in it; the other was an orange sort of punch that had vodka. All I know is that it was free open bar, plus you could always BYOB :) Though there were several people NOT in ABC outfits in the suite before midnight...boo to that, I say!

I was smart enough to throw a plain black cotton dress in my suitcase, so I walked to the party and back from it with that thrown over my bubble wrap dress. And I wore flats. Also a really good idea, haha. So something to keep in mind if you're thinking about attending this party next year (or later years) and aren't staying at the Hyatt (or whatever hotel they are having it in, but it's been at the Hyatt the past three years).

Also, obviously joining the Facebook event for it was a great idea - you may not get lucky and happen upon someone with an extra VIP pass, but even after the fact I've connected with people I met via the event page :) This is also where they will first announce the room number, though I will warn you - make note of it! I didn't and when I tried to find the post with the number later, it was impossible thanks to a crappy hotel internet connection and the fact that a ton of people had posted on the event page and bumped the room number post down :-/

Honestly though, it was a perfect first night at *Con...even if it made for a long, exhausted day today. That, however, I'll get into in my next post...so stay tuned!

Signed,

The Girl Who Wore Bubble Wrap, Black Duct Tape, & Stickers For The Band She Sings With
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Writer's Block Wednesday: More Geek Pride, Just in time for Dragon*Con

"So why were you mortified back then? Write about embarrassment you felt when you were younger that you would probably not feel today."

You know, I really wanted to keep this week's posts (shoot, and probably next week's too, so I'm sorry in advance for anyone who doesn't give a crap) about Dragon*Con...and when this prompt popped up for today's Writer's Block, it was almost like fate. Because when I was younger, I would not have been caught dead going to a convention like this. Just as I didn't want to be discovered reading Star Wars novels or writing original science fiction or swooning over Mulder and Scully.

Obviously I wasn't a person who would poke fun at people who would do any of those things - including attending something like Dragon*Con. I just knew that if any of my "friends" [at the time] had discovered the Timothy Zahn book in my backpack or the dog-eared notebook nearly filled with my own personal vision of the perfect science fiction story or knew that I'd watched the "Triangle" episode of X Files half a dozen times over Thanksgiving break...well, I never would have heard the end of it.

Thankfully those days are long gone...over a decade long gone, in fact. Those of you who read my blog, follow me on Twitter, and/or are friends with me on Facebook have dealt with a barrage of Dragon*Con/geekiness-related posts these past two weeks or so...and so far as I can tell, none of you have run away screaming. Though if you had, well...not to be rude but the loss wouldn't hurt my feelings very much. I am who I am, I am who I've always been...it's just that this older, wiser me refuses to be mortified, embarrassed, or ashamed of my interests.


"You know, seeing you sure brings back a few things. Yeah, I'm responsible now, the price you pay for being successful." 

Oh Lando, I know how you feel. ;)
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Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Confessions...late again.



I confess...that I'm about to adopt a friend's new saying as one of my own. "You already know what I think about that." :D

I confess...that I have no idea how I'm going to finish reading the last 38% of Clash of Kings (according to my Kindle, that's what I have left) by Saturday evening and finish watching the last seven episodes of season two of Game of Thrones by bedtime Wednesday night in preparation for Dragon*Con. Phew!

I confess...that I am on my last ounce of patience with the CVS Caremark prescription program. I've dealt with some crappy, disorganized health insurance companies but this is just beyond anything I've experienced before, and it's absolutely maddening.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Funday: Dragon*Con Prep!


Well, we were supposed to go tubing on the Green River again today...and sadly, it would have been a perfect day for that, weather-wise :-/ Unfortunately I've been sick for nearly two weeks, and between antibiotics and Mucinex before bed last night, I slept through two alarms (which *never* happens, I'm a total morning person) and didn't make it out of bed until 11 AM. Sigh.

But...that's okay. Sort of ;) Because instead I spent the day perfecting my Dragon*Con schedule and running to Michael's for the supplies that will help me finish my dragon's egg, paint my dumb orange blaster for my Juno Eclipse costume matte black, and brushing up on Game of Thrones!

I need a glass/goblet that looks at least SORT OF like this for my Cersei costume. Pier 1 seems to  have a few decent ones, so that's my goal tomorrow :)

And yeah, there may have been some champagne involved. And tequila as well, though at this point I'm not sure the tequila sunrise I mixed up was a good idea...


I leave you with proof that Stannis Baratheon is the most brutally honest man ever.

“Make it Ser Jaime the Kingslayer henceforth,” Stannis said, frowning. “Whatever else the man may be, he remains a knight. I don’t know that we ought to call Robert my beloved brother either. He loved me no more than he had to, nor I him.”
“A harmless courtesy, Your Grace,” Pylos said.
“A lie. Take it out.”

Oh sassy Stannis, you are my fave! :D
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Today is Thursday, no?

Today is Thursday, and that means...

~~~ Tomorrow is Friday (duh...haha), so the weekend is almost upon us! ~~~

~~~ One week until I arrive in the ATL for Dragon*Con! I'm beyond excited, but also a little nervous as well...especially as I *still* haven't even started to make my dragon egg(s) for my Daenerys Targaryen costume... ~~~


Specifically, though, today is Thursday August 23rd, and that's important because...

~~~ Four years ago *today* Steve and I met in Myrtle Beach and reconnected [in person] after spending the entire previous weekend on the phone, catching up from having not seen each other in nearly three years. And that one day/night in Myrtle Beach...well, it was fate ;) Four days later he told me in no uncertain terms that he liked me and wanted to move forward with "us", despite certain...challenges. I've not regretted a moment of our lives together since :D :D :D ~~~

Steve and I four years ago today (8/23/2008). Not the best picture of either of us but the only appropriate one from this exact date that was crop-able. (croppable? haha)
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Writer's Block Wednesday: 20 things to...avoid?...in your 20s. Part 5.

Well, here we are (finally, right?) - the last installment of 20 things us people in our 20s (yes, I know, I don't have much longer) should avoid...enjoy!

16. Losing the important friendships

Okay, first things first: PLEASE do not take this to mean that you should hang on to long-time friendships simply because they are that: long-time, I mean. Some - possibly many - of your high school "besties" will not remain as such even through college, let alone into adulthood. Especially if you (or they) move away from where y'all grew up. And you'll probably lost touch with some of your college friends as well. That's just the way of life, and forcing or pushing friendships outside of their comfort zones (because let me tell you, "real life" is nothing like college and even less like high school) is never an intelligent decision.

That said...I cannot agree more about making time to call (and visit, if you can!) those friends who are truly worth it. I have several close friends whom I haven't seen in years, but I make sure to talk to them often to, err, "keep the fires burning", if you will. And I'm lucky to have friends who live all over the country and meet me on vacations elsewhere (on top of calling them on a regular basis as well). Because no, Facebook interactions don't count as much as a phone call or a visit, people ;) 

Just last month I went to Charleston with my good friend Jamie. She's from Boston and we met on the Disney College Program 11 years ago...and yes, still keep in touch. Obviously ;)

These next two are self-explanatory. At least to me!

17. Incarceration

18. Microwaving your food in plastic
 
19. Being in such a rush to grow up

Oh gosh, I can't agree more about not joining the rat race immediately! Unfortunately...not everyone has the ability to take a year off or whatever else this article suggests...I know I didn't. However...I followed my low-paying dream job (that decidedly did not have 9 to 5, Monday through Friday hours) for a while after graduating college...then took a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday job that also didn't pay well but afforded me the option to take basically as much time off to travel as I wanted. I even took a few months to work a couple jobs that weren't desk jobs, before settling in with my current company at 25 years old...and I don't regret one moment of any of that, even though it led to me having to be a lot more careful with my money than I would have liked ;)

Random Myrtle Beach trip in 2008 to see my cousin Katie, who was visiting from Connecticut. Courtesy of aforesaid short break from a desk job, nonetheless :)

20. Avoidance

Hmm. For the last thing to avoid in your 20s, this article sure is a bit...random. Or maybe just round-about? First it says to plot out your next "60, 70, 80 years"...but then it says to make a list of 30 things to do before you're 30. So...I don't know. I agree with the idea that thinking broadly is a good thing when you're still in your 20s, but honestly...if you'd asked me two years ago where I'd be at 30, I would have given you a pretty assured answer. Yet if you ask me now, I would say that I've reevaluated some things and have somewhat changed my mind about them, and those decisions may completely reshape the next five or so years of my life in a way that the me of two years ago would have never considered. Because hey, 29 isn't too old to make life changes, in my opinion!

I will say this...DON'T avoid the following:

Telling your family and close friends that you love them.

Being there for those who need you as much as you possibly can.

Saving a bit of money.

Reaching for your dreams while you're still young, because honestly...this is when they are most attainable.

AND THE ABSOLUTE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO *NEVER* AVOID, BUT *ESPECIALLY* WHILE YOU'RE STILL YOUNG...being honest and up front about your feelings - whether it's because you don't care for a path that a friend is going down, whether it's in a new relationship, etc. etc. etc. Sometimes you won't receive the reaction that you'd like...but sometimes you will, and that makes all those other crappy reactions worth the strife that they may will cause.   
TAKE CHANCES. 
Trust me.
    I told Steve I had to move to South Carolina for work. Three months later he'd found a job, we'd purchased a house, we'd taken that leap...and we've never looked back :) :) :)
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    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Monday Confessions



    I confess...that I really really need to work on my dragon's egg for Dragon*Con (and my Daenerys costume), but I'm at a loss as to how to finish it. I have the egg base but...that's it. Sigh. I'm just not creative in the "crafty" way, what can I say.

    I confess...that I finally started watching Boardwalk Empire and I'm kind of obsessed ;)

    I confess...that the only other thing I have to say right now is that it was a long, tiring, stressful weekend and weirdly enough, I'm almost glad that it's over.



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    Saturday, August 18, 2012

    A recipe, for a change :)

    I haven't posted one in a while, so here ya go...

    GRILLED CHEESE & TOMATO SKILLET

    10 slices soft white sandwich bread
    3 tablespoons butter, melted
    2 pints grape tomatoes, divided
    3 cups vegetable broth
    1 medium onion, finely chopped
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    4-5 garlic cloves, pressed/minced
    1 lb shell pasta
    1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided



    - Trim the crusts from the bread to form 3-inch squares; discard crusts. Brush one side of the bread slices with the butter and using a large skillet cook over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, turning once. Once they slices are golden brown remove them from the skillet and cut the slices diagonally for a total of 20 triangles.

    - Meanwhile cut 1/4 cup of the tomatoes into quarters and set aside. Place the remaining tomatoes into a food processor or blender and run until they are finely processed.

    - Put the vegetable broth and processed tomatoes into a pot and heat over medium on the stovetop until hot (you can also microwave 4-6 minutes in a bowl).

    - Add the oil, chopped onion, and pressed/minced garlic to a 10 or 12 inch skillet and cook over medium-high for 2-3 minutes or until the onion is translucent, stirring frequently. Carefully add tomato mixture, pasta, cream, salt and black pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook 6-8 minutes or until pasta is still slightly firm, stirring occasionally.

    - Remove the skillet from the heat and add half the cheese; stir until the cheese is completely melted. Top with the remaining cheese, cover, and let stand 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Arrange the bread in an overlapping circular pattern around the edge of skillet and garnish with the reserved tomato quarters.


    (I was honestly a bit unsure of this recipe at first, especially as it called for white bread which I basically never use...I thought about switching it to wheat but decided (for once) to follow the recipe and I'm actually glad I did...this was surprisingly tasty and I bet kids would especially love it. Lord knows Steve did...haha)
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    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    TWO WEEKS 'TILL DRAGON*CON!

    Okay, my bad. My blog is called "A Geek Saga"...yet I've kept relatively quiet about the fact that I'm attending Dragon*Con in JUST. TWO. WEEKS. Like two weeks from today I'll be driving down to the ATL, yet I've only mentioned this Con in passing here on my blog. So yeah, bad Tara. Bad bad bad.

    First things first, I originally didn't have enough vacation days to take time off for Dragon*Con...which meant not arriving until probably 8:30 or 9 PM Friday night :( But due to some [not exactly positive, but oh well] changes at my job recently, I'll now be arriving around that time on THURSDAY night! And boy am I excited to not miss out on what Friday has to offer. This also means more chances for dressing up (y'all know how I love to do that), so I will definitely be reprising my Juno Eclipse outfit from Star Wars Celebration V (and this time I have her Imperial cap! I'm also going to spray paint my dumb orange blaster, haha)...and possibly my Luna Lovegood outfit as well :)

    But the *big* costumes I have planned are (surprise surprise? haha, not) Song of Ice & Fire / Game of Thrones costumes. On Saturday I will be Daenerys Targaryen, in a dress that is almost an exact copy of her wedding gown from season 1 of GoT...


    Now, originally I was only going to go as Dany at all because Steve was supposed to dress like Jon Snow...but he never got around to making his costume (due to money AND time constraints). We thought it would be fun to go all trope-y on everyone's asses, but now that's a no-go and I'm kinda sad :( Of course I'd already purchased the bits and pieces to put my Dany outfit together, though, so trudge forward with it I must will.

    Next on the list is Cersei Lannister! Again she was chosen because a friend was supposed to come along and dress like Robert, but again money got in the way and so far as I know he won't even be going to D*C now :-/ That said, this is the costume I'm most excited about, if only because it actually led to me getting invited to participate in a private photo shoot on Sunday afternoon! Unfortunately I couldn't find a way to make my dress entirely screen accurate, but I would say it's fairly close to this:


    Basically it's red and gold, with a "V" neckline, a cummerbund (though that is made of cloth because I can't deal with whatever I would have had to make the thing in the picture out of) and dagged sleeves. I even have Dany's dragon brooch and Cersei's Lannister lion necklace! Plus extensions for Dany (because my hair is already blonde enough, thank you) and a wig for Cersei (because my hair is too blonde for her, sorry). I've gone all out, so to speak ;)

    Other plans for D*C? Well let's see...I've signed up for a handful of Writer's Workshops (for $8 each, how could I pass them up?) as well as several Game of Thrones activities - not just the private photoshoot above, but some bigger/public ones; a Game of Thrones Game Show; a themed wine and beer tasting...even a themed wedding! All of which I am super, super excited about.

    But most exciting of all??? I was chosen to be one of the panelists for the Game of Thrones: Clash of Kings panel on Saturday night at D*C! The panel description reads, "HBO rolled out the 2nd season with some notable deviations from the books. Did it still work for you? What was your reaction to the War of Five Kings?"

    Obviously I'm most interested in those "notable deviations from the books"...I mean come on, I already went off on a tangent about it here on my blog ;) In general, though, I'm just beyond happy to have this sort of opportunity to truly participate at/in Dragon*Con.

    You can bet that I'll be crossing off every day on my calendar for the next two weeks...though truth be told I'm still working on getting ready for this trip! (Making at least one of Dany's dragon eggs is going to be a heck of a task, let me tell ya.) Pin It

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Writer's Block Wednesday: 20 things to...avoid?...in your 20s. Part 4.

    Phew, only today and next week left in regards to the "20 things every person in their 20s should avoid" list!
    I'm finally [sort of] back on track with this, I guess :)

    11. Becoming too dependent on technology

    I think that this could be looked at in two ways, but the instance that the article focuses on is not having a backup for "passwords and important documents". At first glance I would have assumed they meant "don't become so attached to your iPhone that you have a panic attack when you forget it at home" or "don't allow Facebook or email to become the only means of communication between yourself and your friends"...in which case...I think I do better than some people, the same as most people, and probably worse than a few.

    But as that's apparently not what the article really "meant",  I cannot stress enough that while I'm not sure what they mean by having a backup for one's passwords (??? can someone help me with that ???), having a backup hard drive for your computer is a MUST. And updating it regularly is obviously important as well. I have a regular backup hard drive and we have a Mac Time Capsule that updates basically daily, so I'm good in that respect, thank God. In fact, when a document is *really* important, I'll not only have it on my computer and a back up hard drive, but I'll email a copy of it to myself and add it to a saved folder in my email. Yeah, if you can't tell, I've lost important documents before ;)

    12. Going to an 18+ club after age 25

    Is it me, or do these barely even exist anymore? I know that when I was 25 and my little sister was 20, we went out a few times in the Greenville area and it was basically impossible to find an 18+ club on a Friday or Saturday night. There's one that still does 18+ on Thursday nights, but I honestly haven't had the need to go to an 18+ club since my sister turned 21 (which happened while I was 25)...and thank God for that. Because I suppose if 18+ clubs do exist in your area, it's best to just stay away from them. The couple of times I went when I was 25 were definitely not that fun. Almost bordering on awkward, in fact. No thank you.

    Pretty sure this was one of the last times - if not THE last time - that I ever went to an 18+ club (July 4, 2008)

    13. Guarding your heart too much

    You know, I didn't really experience this in my 20s...but that's mainly because I spent the first half of this decade married to Ex, and when I left him I met the most open, honest man ever ;) Steve never played games with me, and from the very beginning both of us were up front about how we felt and what we wanted from our "relationship" (in quotation marks because we talked and acted this way before we were even officially together). Really, I'm completely aware that I got lucky that he was the first guy I wanted a serious relationship with after I left Ex (there were a couple 'I know this isn't going to work out but it's fun for the moment anyway' flings in between, mind you).

    Just over two months after we started dating and we were already on our first vacation together - to Disney, no less! We'd already said "I love you", though we even outright admitted that we LIKED each other about 4 days after we started hanging out again ;) I wouldn't have it any other way.

    14. Wasting your time on romantic relationships that don't contribute to the person you want to become

    Mehhhhhh.

    Obviously I did this. If I hadn't I wouldn't [technically] be a divorcee. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have spent half of a decade with the wrong guy.

    That said, often a person can learn a lot from being in a relationship with the wrong person. I certainly regret some of the choices I made in regards to my relationship with Ex, but you know, I don't even know if I regret marrying him, or if I'd go back and change that decision. Being married to the wrong person made me a better girlfriend, a better live-in girlfriend, a better fiancee, and eventually (again) a better wife. More so I would say that I regret wasting so much time on a romantic relationship that didn't contribute to the person I wanted to become...but even that is a sort of half-assed regret, because had I left Ex six months earlier, or a year earlier, or two years earlier (etc. etc. etc.) I likely wouldn't be where I am today, who I am today, or with Steve at all...and I'm very, very happy with all three of those things.

    15. Cavities

    As the article itself says, "Floss, people." I do. Every. Single. Night. And ::knock on wood:: I haven't had a cavity in over three years :) (which was about the time I forced myself to not just floss sporadically but constantly. so there.)
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    Monday, August 13, 2012

    Monday Confessions: Bachelorette Party Edition



    I confess...that I went to Chicago for a proper bachelorette party this past weekend and had an AMAZING time. It was the first true bachelorette party I've ever been to. Only problem is that I spent *way* too much money.

    I confess...that actually there was another problem - I should have taped my fingers together and worn my splint, but I didn't because it wouldn't look good and now they are killing me again :(

    I confess...that in fact there is a third issue! I'm so tired from this weekend that I almost fell asleep in the car driving to work this morning. Several times. Oops?

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    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Writer's Block Wednesday: 20 things to...avoid?...in your 20s. Part 3.

    Well, I'm waaaay behind on this today. Blame it on the band. And my day job. And grocery shopping. I don't know, I've been insanely busy lately.

    Anyway, for part 3 of the "20 things every person in their 20s should avoid" I'm going to keep it short and sweet and simply finish up the last three that didn't make it into part 2 of this series :) Which happened because I went picture happy in that last entry. Oops?

    8. Debt

    Honestly, my mother taught me well - don't have credit cards unless you can handle them. I only ended up with one because at 21 Ex and I were trying to buy a house and having trouble with a loan because I had *no* credit. So I signed up for my first credit card.

    That was the fall of 2004, and that's the only credit card I've ever had.

    I'm lucky that my parents paid for my college education, and I appreciate that more than I can ever express. While I do have a mortgage and car payment, I've certainly gone without things that I wanted in order to avoid the one big thing I do not need - this aforementioned debt ;)

    9. STDs

    Be intelligent in your choices and safe in your practice. I know I always have been. Enough said.

    10. Grudges

    Well. I...can't swear that I've been the best at this. I may not move on fast enough when someone has wronged me. That said, I long ago stopped caring about the people who wronged me in high school (and certainly those who wronged me before). But I'm not sure I agree with "actively forgiving old lovers and betrayers" and "not letting them dictate your feelings". While of course it's not good to linger on the crappy things one experienced in the past, those experiences change us and hopefully help us grow...and in that respect we should allow them to have an effect on future choices and the like.

    Forgiving oneself for past mistakes and failures is, however, a must...but it's also seriously seriously difficult. I think it takes reaching a great point in your life and realizing that every choice you made - the good and the bad - led you to that great point.


    And you know, to be honest, even then, even after then, there will still be times when those regrets come back. It's just...all in knowing how to handle those times, I suppose.

    Now hopefully next week I'll get back on track with the rest of this list, eh? :)
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    Monday, August 6, 2012

    Monday Confessions



    I confess...that I stayed up until midnight last night watching The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Because, you know, why not?

    I confess...that I'm still sad that we didn't get to go tubing on the Green yesterday. Boo to being an adult and having to use my day off to do adult things :(

    I confess...that my Cersei Lannister costume for Dragon*Con is just about finished and I'm kinda really psyched about that ;)

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    Sunday, August 5, 2012

    Sunday Funday with Champagne...because, well, why not?


    Last weekend I had a true Sunday Funday, but that is another tale for another time, to be honest ;)

    Today was actually supposed to be a repeat, but instead I had to do adult things...make a grocery list, mow the lawn, catch up with DragonCon stuff (okay, maybe that last one isn't quite so "adult")...still, Steve and I found time to go out for a late lunch/early dinner...and the bartender was nice enough to give us the happy hour price for a bottle of champagne even though happy hour didn't start for another hour...


    Well, and on the way home obviously we had to stop and pick up more champagne...because we had none at home...and this is what we actually came home with...


    I mean, nothing says fun like Prosecco and a giant bar of ridiculously expensive chocolate! :D

    And here's a gratuitous picture of my awesome dog Rigby, a.k.a. "Rigaby Bumsley III, Esquire, of the Hartford Bumsleys", for your enjoyment! (on our freshly mowed yard...mowed by ME, no less!)

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    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    Book Review: Murder on the Boulevard by Kori Donahue

    Okay, here's a confession: I really, really don't want to write this review.

    Why, you ask? Well, because this is a self-published first novel by a fellow blogger. Being in the throes of writing my own novel - and considering how I've been struggling with my writing lately - I really hate to write a distinctly negative opinion of this book, knowing the courage it probably took for the author to put her own money down and publish it.

    But.

    It has several glowing reviews on Amazon, and I've seen reviews of it on other blogs as well - all of which simply gushed and gushed about how awesome the story was...and I just don't understand how any sane person could say such a thing. I'm sorry but here it is, the dirty truth: this book should never have gone into print in its current form. It reads like a really, really terrible first/rough draft, and I just can't wrap my head around how anyone could enjoy it.

    First things first - the ridiculous number of grammatical errors. Normally I would blame this on a bad or outright botched editing job, because admittedly it's obvious that some of them are probably just typos...but by "some" I mean maybe 30%, 40% max. The rest is simply downright incorrect grammar - more often than not comma usage (or the lack of it) - and this I simply cannot abide, considering the author is apparently a high school English teacher. I certainly don't claim to have perfect grammar (especially when it comes to this blog), but as I turned page after page to find the same distinct and easily correctable errors over and over and over again I became almost horrified at the consistency with which these errors were repeated. By someone who published a book, but even more so, by someone who teaches grammar lessons to teenagers.

    As for the story itself, I lost sight of where this was going within the first few chapters. The writing style appears to be geared toward a young adult readership at best, while the actual plot and themes are, well, too mature for that audience. Of course, while I say that the plot - the idea of a serial killer who tortures, rapes and kills women - is too mature, its development and the characters it features are the exact opposite. I'm not sure if it is the author being naive or if she was simply trying - and failing - to immerse the reader in the mid-1950s era in which the novel is set. Characters fall in and out of love every other day and every couple resorts to calling each other "honey" or "baby" every time they speak to each other (to the point of being ridiculous and far beyond any sort of stylized dialogue that would fit into a 1950s setting).

    Another issue is that not one of the characters is likable and in fact they are mostly unbelievable. This goes beyond the constant usage of words like honey and baby; it goes beyond the fact that in the course of 219 pages the main character, Bobbi, falls hard and fast for three different men. I understand that she is meant to be an "independent woman" who doesn't fit in the world of the 1950s, but her actions and reactions not only don't fit in that decade, they don't fit the character she is originally described to be. This is a problem that also crops up with the original picture we are given of the detective, Charlie, but at no point are there details given that would help the reader understand whether these are action-driven changes or whether the author simply does not know how to introduce characters, period.

    In conclusion, I will say that I can safely rate this novel 2/5 stars (rather than the 1/5 it may deserve) because there are a handful of decent surprises thrown into the mystery aspect of the plot. I feel that if the author had spent less time trying to create cheesy relationships and ridiculous characters and more time on the technical aspects of the mystery, the book as a whole would have been far better for it. As a side note, the last few chapters - which introduce yet another new character - were a bad idea as a whole and not only the story but the idea of it being continued in a second book would have been better set up by a brief epilogue introducing the general idea put forth in the last few chapters. I would honestly love to see the author revisit and revamp this story in a second edition, hopefully using a proper editor, because there *is* some potential there. Pin It

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    Monthly 101 Update: July

    So in case you didn't notice...I "skipped" a June update for my 101 list. This was partly because I wasn't home the entire first week of July to write one, but mostly it was because I didn't accomplish a single 101 goal back in June :( Yeah, I know, bad Tara. Buuut...that's kind of okay because I think I made up for it in July! Without further ado...

    Take a spontaneous trip (spend at least one night away and plan it less than a week in advance) 

    Completing this goal last month was a total surprise...well, obviously, as it was to take a spontaneous trip! Haha. Anyway, the bassist from the band I sing with went to the beach in North Carolina for vacation...and the day after he left I was hanging out with our guitarist and somehow - after several shots of Fireball and a lot of coaxing from the guys - I ended up in Atlantic Beach for two days. It was...an interesting trip, to say the least.

    Somehow I didn't even get any pictures, but I snagged this one from the guitarist (it needed to be edited anyway). So there ya go. :)


    Return to 3 places I've loved (3/3 as of July 2012: Orlando, Vegas, Charleston)

    I could have cheated on this a bit and claimed to have finished it before this...either by listing Boston/Cambridge or Savannah as a place I've loved, or counting the numerous trips I've made to Orlando and Vegas since starting my 101 in 1001 list. But I didn't cheat, so there ya go!

    I love Orlando for the friends who live there and for the memories I have of and make at Disney World...

    Karaoke at Kimono's with Melissa and Mia
    Not gonna lie, I'm buddies with Buzz Lightyear ;)
    Wine sippers! haha, I don't know.
    I love Vegas for the atmosphere and the crazy stories a trip there always produces...

    Girls trip to Vegas!
    ...during which Jenna is proposed to by a guy she just met that day. haha
    And I love Charleston for, well, everything about it :) 

    Nitrotinis at Grill 225 at the Market Pavilion Hotel
    Walking the Battery
    Awesome breweries
    ...and of course, beautiful scenery.
     
    Let Steve pick 3 movies I haven't seen, and watch them with him (3/3 - Unforgiven, The Good The Bad & The Ugly, Gran Torino as of 7/30/12)

    Apparently Steve decided that his three movies all needed to be Clint Eastwood movies...heh.

    I actually liked Unforgiven...I mean, it's not going to be a favorite movie of mine, but it was decent. To be honest I've never been one for Westerns, so there's that.

    And having never been one for Westerns...well, The Good The Bad & The Ugly was just a bit much for me. It was *so* darn long and I feel as if nothing ever happened. I suppose I can understand the cinematic appeal of it, but I refuse to say I liked a movie simply because everyone says I should like it ;) And yeah, this goal was probably the only way Steve ever could have gotten me to watch this movie...haha.

    Lastly, Gran Torino was one of those movies that I've always meant to see...and just never gotten around to seeing. For no particular reason, because I'd pretty much heard nothing but good things about it. Of the three this was definitely the one I liked the most, though of course it was quite depressing (and to be honest depressing movies aren't exactly something I need right now, ugh).

    Switch back to a hoop nose ring for at least 1 month - started 6/26/12, still going strong with the hoop at the end of July 2012!

    Originally this goal was to switch back for 3 months, but at some point I must have edited it? I think that was because the last time I had a hoop nose ring I had some problems with it, and that's why I switched back to a stud...but whatever those issues were, I'm not having them this time around and I'm loving the change-up. So I'm thinking the hoop will stay around for a while ;)

    For whatever reason, this is the ONLY picture I have from the past month-ish where you can clearly see that I'm wearing a hoop nose ring. Ah well! :)
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