Sunday, June 30, 2013

What the heck is a pineapple? (or, "In which I have a random conversation")

So recently Steve and I stumbled upon a post - I want to say we found it on Reddit - about how the English is the only language that calls a pineapple a pineapple.

Of course, this is us we're talking about, so we couldn't just leave it at that - we had to know why basically every other language uses some version of the word "ananas" when referring to pineapples.


Yeah, I know, who cares, right? But these are the types of conversations we get into, what can I say ;)

Anyway, we had to know what came first - the pineapple, or the ananas. Of course, the scientific classification is ananas comosus, as we discovered by looking up the wiki page on pineapples...but noooo, I couldn't just take that for an answer. I had to read the history of the name to determine which name actually came first.

I scrolled down the wiki page and read that pinecones were originally called pineapples, and that word was first recorded in 1398. Columbus encountered the pineapple in 1493 on Guadalupe, but at the time he called it pina de Indes, or "pine of the Indians" - they weren't actually referenced as "pineapples" until 1664.

But still, I thought, couldn't it be a possibility that the classification name of ananas comosus was given to the pineapple after it had been named "pineapple", which would mean that technically they were first called pineapples?


This led me to read that ananas was chosen as the genus name for pineapple because the South American language Tupi word for pineapple is nanas.

And Tupi, along with Guarini, is one of the better-known languages in the area where the pineapple originates. Additionally, the word nanas - both its existence and its reference to the pineapple - was first recorded in 1555.

So I guess it's not hard to see - and I suppose, not all that surprising - that yes, our language is a bit silly for continuing to insist on calling the ananas a pineapple.

But at the same time...I think the word ananas is weird. A bit tongue-twisting, perhaps. So I think I'll just stick with pineapple anyway ;) Pin It

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Walking Dead: Top 5 Shocking Moments According to...Me ;)

* Please note that the following video includes spoilers through the end of season three of AMC's The Walking Dead, as well as possible spoilers for the Walking Dead comics. *

And don't forget to check out my Walking Dead drinking game ;)
(No seriously, check it out, it' a way...)
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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Travel Tuesdays are back!

I've had to streamline a lot of things lately, because it's gotten to the point where I just don't have time to do everything I want to do (or need to do, for that matter) as well as I can.

Because of that, I'm setting aside my travel blog. For a time I loved writing in it, but it long ago became more like work. I travel a lot, though, so I don't want to completely stop writing about my vacations/trips...and I thought that weekly-ish entries focused on my travels would be fun to add to this blog :)

Therefore, as a sort of re-introduction to Travel Tuesdays I'm going to start by listing off (in sets of five) all of the US states and foreign countries that I've visited! I'll begin with the states, and go from for today, here are some of the states I've been to and - to make it a bit more interesting - how I ended up there...

1) Alabama: The first time went to Alabama (and probably the only time that truly counts) was in 2008, to attend a NASCAR race at Talladega (yeah, I know, I know). Since then I've driven through the state a couple of times and stayed overnight there one other time, in the middle of nowhere, on my way to New Orleans.

At the Talladega race in April 2008

2) Alaska: Another place I visited in 2008 :) I spent about 11 days in Alaska - a week on a cruise up the coast, and then a few days on a land tour that took me up to Talkeetna, Denali, and Fairbanks. It was absolutely gorgeous and amazing and definitely a place everyone should visit, given the chance.

Denali, Alaska, May 2008

3) Arizona: I've been here twice (three times if you count me stepping over the line into AZ when I visited the Hoover Dam). First was in 1999 for a mission trip with my church, second was 2002 for a business trip. On the first trip we saw a huge portion of the state (Phoenix and northern AZ, the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, and several other random places)...sadly, on the second trip I was just in Phoenix and of course had to work most of the time.

Grand Canyon with my friends Scott and Scott, June 1999

4) California: I was lucky enough to get to visit a friend there in 2005, and during that trip I saw Santa Barbara, Disneyland, and Laguna Beach. I returned to Cali in 2011 with Steve, to visit his brother in San Fran.

At the Disneyland Pirates, October 2005

5) Colorado: I went to a dude ranch (no lie) with my family in 1996 - North Fork Ranch, specifically. It was actually a completely amazing vacation!

Trail riding near North Fork Ranch in Colorado, July 1996

Stay tuned next week (hopefully) when I add five more states to this list! Pin It

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Confessions

I confess...I didn't do even half of what I *should* have done yesterday and instead lazed around watching movies. But hey, I did laundry, so that's something, right? (Right?...)

I confess...that I'm usually really careful about the amount of sun I get (admittedly more so in recent years), but Saturday I did stay outside a little too long. I'm not super burnt, just a bit red. ::sigh::

I confess...that I need several more sports bras. I only own one proper sports bra, and it gets more than its fair share of use considering I run about 5-6 mornings a week. But man...proper sports bras are expensive! (And that's your TMI for today, I suppose.)

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Friday, June 21, 2013

World War Z vs....World War Z?

* Please note that the following review contains spoilers for both World War Z the novel and the movie. *

So it's pretty rare that I go to the movie theater, rarer still that I go see a movie during it's opening weekend, and even more rare than that that I bother to review a movie. In this case, though, having recently read and reviewed World War Z by Max Brooks, I'm inspired to review the movie World War Z.

I've only recently become pretty obsessed with zombies. I'm not really sure why that is, as I saw and enjoyed movies like 28 Days Later and I Am Legend (yes, I know that the creatures in the latter are not traditional zombies due to the facts that they can't stand sunlight and that eventually Will Smith's character finds a "cure" to make them "human" again, but I'm throwing Legend into this category because it's similar in that it deals with infected humans who turn into something nonhuman).

Of course, having read the book and knowing what I knew about the movie - that it was filmed, then put aside for a while, only to be taken back up and have some things re-filmed/new parts added - I wasn't expecting much. Thankfully, this time I was able to separate the book from the movie before seeing the latter - something I can admittedly rarely do. But I knew just from the brief plot synopsis that this was very loosely based on Max Brooks' novel, and I also knew that there was no way they could tell that entire story in a two-ish hour long movie.

If you can do that - separate the movie from the book - then World War Z is pretty damn enjoyable. The few times I was really taken out of the storyline was when they clearly tried to pull in lines from the text - for example, during the first few minutes lead character Gerry's meeting with Jurgen Warmbrunn in Jerusalem.

And speaking of Jerusalem, I have to admit that was the one change I wasn't too fond of - that they brought in the storyline of how Israel walled itself off, but was letting healthy people in...aaand then proceeded to ruin that by having the zombies overrun the city anyway. That whole scene was clearly there as an additional action sequence, but I just can't figure out why, with everything else that happened in the movie, it was necessary.

As for the zombies themselves, while plenty was left up to the imagination in the novel, I think they were a bit more like "super undead" in the film...yet at the same time, there were moments when the audience was actually laughing in response to things they did (particularly when Gerry is in the W.H.O. hospital). I'm fairly certain no part of this movie should have elicited such a reaction as laughter, yet even I couldn't suppress a chuckle when Gerry was stuck in the W.H.O. disease storage locker and one of the zombies is standing outside the door clacking its teeth at him...over and over and over again.

Still, for everything they got wrong with World War Z, they got several more things right. Had the novel been made into a miniseries, for instance, they would have probably had more luck in keeping it close to the book with its post-zombie-war interview format - but in a movie that lasts just a couple of hours, they needed the additional human factor that Gerry, his family, Segen, and even the little boy Tomas gave it.

Of course, some of that 'human factor' wasn't handled all that well - young Dr. Fassbach's premature death, never finding out what happened to the men at the army base in South Korea, and the altogether too-happy ending in which it turns out that Gerry's concerns over his family's relocation to the Novia Scotia safe zone were completely unfounded and all of them - even Tomas - alive and well.

Personally, I also would have liked to see them realize the zombies in the water, but hey, I guess we can't have it all.

And besides, Brad Pitt was as always damn fun to look at watch.

In the end, World War Z the movie is admittedly less intriguing and original than the novel that it pretty much just took its name (and a few other minor plot points, most of which were changed anyway) from...but I believe it is what it sets out to be: a zombie movie for people who aren't all that into zombies, yet also a zombie movie for those of us who have been missing those fast-moving "gonna launch themselves through the air to bite ya" undead that are missing from, say, The Walking Dead.

What I'm saying is, this movie is worth a chance. If you've read the book but can separate the movie from it, or if you haven't read the book and just want an action movie with a bit more drama and humanity (and I guess, un-humanity? anti-humanity? heh) in the very least World War Z is good entertainment.
Plus, you know, Brad Pitt. ;)
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Writer's Block Wednesday: The Bechdel Test

Of all the things that have come up in conversation with my good friend Mike, the "Bechdel test" is probably one of the most least in terms of what the two of us usually talk about.

It's funny, though...I'd honestly never heard of the Bechdel test before he mentioned it. Even more interesting is the fact that since we talked about it, I swear it's being mentioned everywhere! (Or maybe I'm just noticing it being mentioned where I wouldn't before? You know how these things work.)

So the long and the short of it is that in order to pass the Bechdel test, a book/film/show must include at least one conversation between at least two females...that is not about a man or men.

The thing is, the test doesn't simply mean that the women would only be talking about romantic partners - to truly pass, their conversation can't be about any men. At all. In considering my actual life and the conversations I have with my female friends, I can often have long conversations in which not a single man is mentioned at all...or for instance, if one is, it's as the conversation is dying, sort of as a footnote (for example, my best friend Jenna will often - but not always - ask about Steve, and if she does so it's only after we've discussed work, money, cars, pets, and God knows what else).

Unfortunately, it's not quite that easy to find such conversations in works of fiction - which, as the Bechdel Test page on the TV tropes website points out, seem to think that "women aren't worth portraying except in relation to men". Sadly, many of my favorite books, films, and shows do not pass this test (though notably, my all-time favorites Gone with the Wind and Jurassic Park do)...but what really matters to me is whether my own writings do. I'm fairly certain that anything I write that has at least a few conversations between two or more women does, but it's honestly hard to recall off the top of my head...especially when, come to think of it, I haven't written very many stories that feature conversations between women and only women.

Weird. (To think that much of what I write features few women at all, and almost no all-female interaction. Hmm.)

Anyway, I was also interested to stumble upon an an article in the Disney blog about animated Disney/Disney-Pixar flicks that do or do not pass the Bechdel Test. While it's not surprising that plenty of them don't, I was pleased to see how many that do...including Beauty and the Beast, The Emperor's New Groove, Lilo & Stitch, and Tangled :)

Yes, I know that this "test" has been around for a while. I guess my point in writing this is that I'm curious as to whether people have more recently decided that it's almost necessary for a piece of fiction - be it in writing or on the screen or even on the stage - pass? (Outside of the obvious stories that couldn't logically pass, i.e. one that takes place entirely on an armed submarine during World War II.) Of course people say that whether or not a work of fiction passes this test does not determine how good it is, or whether or not it is misogynistic...but I don't know. Wouldn't it be nice to have more books, movies, and shows that feature female characters on their own merit, rather than to constantly remind us of how they relate to men? Pin It

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Confessions

I confess...that I somehow got a lot accomplished this weekend, yet at the same time it wasn't nearly enough.

I confess...I had some horrible nightmares last night and definitely didn't get enough sleep, so I'm a bit of a zombie today ::sigh::

I confess...yesterday Steve and I decided to go see a movie, and neither one of us could really get psyched up enough about Man of Steel to choose that one. So instead we saw This is the End...though I'm not quite sure how I felt about it yet. Jury's still out, and all.

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Having heard so much about this memoir in the past couple of years - mostly good things - I knew that I'd have to read it. To be honest, it sat on my bookshelf, having been given to me as a Christmas gift, for a good year and a half before it finally became the lucky next book that I picked up to read.


The problem is, now that I've finally read the darn thing, I'm having a difficult time deciding what to say about it. Was the writing good? Yes. Was the story interesting? Yes.

Unfortunately, this being a memoir, I think the proper question is: Was the story *believable*? And unfortunately, the best answer I can give that one is "not really".

Honestly, I had a pretty darn good childhood, but there were definitely things that my parents chose to do that I look back and seriously disagree with. Sometimes it's hard to look back and not feel a bit of...well, "resentment" probably isn't the right word, but it's the first one that comes to mind. Now, I was worried that perhaps I was just being jaded and cynical when I kept thinking "this 'memoir' has to be exaggerated - either that or Ms. Walls is lying to us and/or herself about how well she has coped with her terrible, awful, no-good, very bad childhood". But then I perused some Amazon reviews (mostly three-star ones, as I find those to be the most useful, honest, and informational) and saw that many others felt the same way.

Of course it's natural that we never quite remember things exactly as they happened. Still, all I can say is that if Ms. Walls truly experienced everything that happened in The Glass Castle - to the extent that she described these events - and if she is actually as happy and healthy as she claims to be at the end of the book - then kudos to her. Because to be completely honest, I can't understand how things turned out that well for her, and therefore have to call this 'memoir' at least a bit of an exaggeration - no matter how well it was written. 3/5 stars. Pin It

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Writer's Block Wednesday: Another link & video share!

Hmm, I may have to make this link and video share post a weekly thing...though I may move it to a day other than Wednesday! I almost always find tons of interesting articles and whatnot throughout the course of a week, and while I want this blog to remain my own personal space, I think it would be cool to share the things that catch my eye and/or inspire me, no? :)

First things first, I think it's obvious - if you've ever read any of my Song of Ice & Fire/Game of Thrones posts - that I'm a *bit* of a book purist when it comes to that series. This season it was definitely easier for me to separate the show from the book, but to be perfectly honest there were still a lot of things that I wasn't happy with. I am, as the following article discusses, a nitpicker.

That said, I'm not including this article because I agree with the title of it, that's for sure. To be honest, the article itself isn't absolutely amazing (I still don't get what the title has to do with the content other than a supremely vague connection)...but! It's on Esquire magazine's blog, and it mentions my buddies at Podcast of Ice & Fire!

(Okay, to be fair, I can probably only call Amin & Ashley buddies, but whatever - they're pretty damn awesome, the podcast itself is great, and I'm psyched that they garnered a mention in a major magazine's blog!)

by Thomas Fichtenmayer for

Second things second, as I've participated in a couple of podcasts with the ESO Network in recent months, I've also made connections with several of the people who are involved in the network. One of them, "The Award Winning Bobby Nash", recently wrote a blog entry about his writing journey. He has done a lot of comic book work, as well as publishing several novels, and the story that he posted was really thoughtful, helpful, and inspiring. He's been in the game for quite a long time (for all intents and purposes, since 1992), so I can't imagine it would hurt to check out his tale, if you're interested in getting (or at least trying to get) published...

by Bobby Nash for

Aaand last but not least...a personal video for ya ;)

Well, sort of personal. The "sort of" stemming from the fact that it's actually a highlights reel from the two+ hours of footage that I've gathered from those who recorded events at Ice & Fire con back in April.

Now, before viewing the following video, please keep the following in mind:
1) It's entirely set to music.
2) *Some of that music is NSFW* (or the ears of innocent little children)
3) The song choices were not in any way intended to offend; these are my personal choices based on past fan parody videos and just general ridiculousness. They do not reflect the views of Ice & Fire Con and I also don't claim that they reflect the views, opinions, or music preferences of the other organizers.
All that ya go, and hopefully you'll enjoy ;)
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Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Confessions

I confess...I think that last night's episode of Game of Thrones was...wanting. I can't believe that's how they ended this season. ::sigh::

I confess...simply, that I'm old enough to know better. Take that as you will.

I confess...that you can find a way more interesting post by me over at Needless Things, today :)

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday Funday: Another Game of Thrones-filled-day!

Well, it was pretty much inevitable that today would be yet another Sunday filled to the brim with Game of Thrones food, drink, and activities...and that was before several other things came about this weekend to fill out what could or would have been any non-GoT-hours ;)

Unfortunately there was plenty of real-life stuff that I had to do before *really* settling in to prepare for tonight's episode. And just like Sansa...

Of course, booze must be counteracted with food. This is *not* a Feast of Ice & Fire recipe, but maybe it should be? Very Higharden/Renly-ish, as it were...


4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper
1 1/2 cups peach preserves
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
2 peaches (preferably white, but any will suffice), sliced
Mixed greens

- In a large saucepan, mix the peach preserves, honey, and mustard in a large sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.

- Rinse the chicken breasts (trim if needed!) and season with salt and pepper. Add to the simmering sauce, cover and cook over medium-low for 20 minutes.

- While the chicken is cooking, toss the greens with the peppers and peach slices. Serve the chicken over the salad and spoon some of the peach sauce over it.

Seriously, I'm pretty sure Renly and Loras would approve of that meal :D

And after the food, well...bottle number two, anyone?

Of course Sandor is ready to watch last week's episode with me in preparation...though to be honest this episode hurts. Even though I knew what was going to happen, and even though I've already watched it twice, I don't think it will ever not be seriously emotionally compromising :-/


So instead, I tip back my last bottle of Ommegang's Iron Throne Blonde Ale. Now begins the winter of my discontent, and nearly ten months of waiting for season four...

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review: Something Blue by Emily Giffin

I'm not sure why I insisted on picking this book up, considering I read its prequel, Something Borrowed, and rated it a mere 1.5/5 stars. But even having disliked that book - and, not surprisingly, the movie that was based on it - I was intrigued with the idea of hearing the story from bad-best-friend Darcy's point of view.


Now I can't lie, I hated Darcy as much as the next girl when I read Something Borrowed...but to be completely honest I also wasn't all that fond of uber-good-girl Rachel, either. That probably had a hand in why I was so interested in reading this sequel.

The thing is, what I believe bugged me most about Something Borrowed was that there really wasn't any character development. Oh sure, Rachel stops letting Darcy push her around, but the way she gets to that point is by having an affair with Darcy's fiance? Ugh.

On the other hand, Something Blue is all about the character development. Is it a bit saccharine? Sure. Is it completely predictable? Well, it's chick lit, so that's a resounding yes. And the thing is, if you hated Darcy in Borrowed, hearing her story from her perspective is going to drive you a bit nuts at times. But the thing about Darcy is that at least she's honest. Sometimes too much so. And then when she's suddenly not being honest anymore, you know something's really up. I've read some other reviews that are quite cynical about the outcome of her tale, and while I have to admit that it certainly lends itself to the apparently necessary sappy ending of most chick lit novels...there is growth in this one. I don't want to say any more and risk revealing the entire story, but I'm giving this one a full point higher rating than its predecessor...and for me, not being a fan of chick lit, that's pretty big ;)

2.5/5 stars

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Writer's Block Wednesday: I [almost] have no words.

I had an entirely different writer's block Wednesday subject that I was working on earlier, and then...this popped up on my Facebook dash.

Now, I prefer original Harley Quinn as much as the next person, but it boggles my mind that this picture/meme thing even exists. First, there are plenty of female comic book character outfits out there that are just as (if not more) revealing than this new Harley getup - be it from ten years ago, twenty years ago, or beyond.

The wording could have been different here; it could have said something more along the lines of "remember when Harley Quinn wasn't treated as a mere sex object?" That, at least, would have been better than the blatant slut-shaming.

There's so much more that I'd like to say in regards to this meme. What it means for costuming and cosplayers - or maybe rather, what it implies about those who want to wear a Harley costume, regardless which one of the two that person wants to wear. About how Harley was already a character with pretty major issues (it is implied that she "slept her way through passing college", and she is clearly eager to be manipulated by the Joker because of her feelings for him) and that putting her in a skimpier outfit doesn't just suddenly make her into a sex object in and of itself.

It's 2013, people. Get your heads out of your asses. Pin It

Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Confessions

I confess...despite having read the books, last night's Game of Thrones episode still got to me. There were things I didn't like about the execution of certain ::cough:: events ::cough:: ...but as a whole it was a good episode and I can't believe that there's only one more left this season :(

I confess...I seriously considered showing up at HeroesCon in Charlotte this coming weekend, but after three back to back crazy weekends I'm just not sure I can bring myself to drive up to Charlotte for one day at a con :-/

I confess...speaking of cons, it kills me that everyone feels the need to remind people that while at conventions - and for some reason (probably the heat) especially Dragon*Con - that they have to take showers, wear deodorant, and the like. While things definitely got a bit rank at times last year, it was more due to the heat in general and being in close quarters (like those awful habitrails). Maybe I was lucky, but I don't recall at any point coming across a person who smelled so bad that they clearly hadn't showered and/or used deodorant in days.

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Monthly 101 Update: April & May

Phew, I've really been slacking on these - not just the monthly updates, but actually accomplishing goals as well :-/ I'm really hoping that I'll knock out a *few* more this summer... ::fingers crossed::

Technically I completed both of the following goals in May, which of course means that I didn't complete any in April...however, considering everything I had to do to get ready for ice & Fire Con - and that the convention took place at the end of April - I am giving myself a bit of a break on this ;)

The two goals that I did finish actually both involved Steve...

Private :) (because I don't want to give it away) - This goal was under "travel" and originally the idea was to surprise Steve with a weekend away at Myrtle Beach. This *did* evolve a bit, mainly because we really needed to do something a bit closer to home and a bit more affordable...including having to bring the dogs with us to make it more affordable.

In the end I was able to find an amazing cottage for rent at Lake Lure - it was lakefront, slept up to 8 people, and allowed pets! So we had a bunch of friends, we ate a lot of awesome food, drank some mimosas, bloody marys, and beer, and generally had an amazing weekend of lake activities :) And Steve didn't know anything about it until about two days before we went...I only told him then because of course there was laundry and packing and otehr stuff involved and I knew that I wouldn't be able to hide it from him anymore....

(Thankfully, when I mentioned that I'd seriously considered surprising him with a trip to Myrtle Beach - since it really is a special place for us - Steve said that Lake Lure and our time there was way more his style.)

Make a list of/write out 101 reasons why I love Steve - This actually turned out to be part of his birthday present/part of the aforementioned surprise. I first gave him a birthday card with a little note in it (under my signature) that said "now ask me for the other thing". That "other thing" was my list of 101 reasons why I love him, of course. And woooow did it take a lot of time to come up with 101 reasons. I mean, I love Steve - very very much - but 101 is a LOT of reasons! It was worth it, though, especially because at the end of the "letter" I had included a blurb about our surprise weekend away, as well as a couple little pictures of the cottage that I'd found online.

Well, that's it for my 101 in 1001 updates for the months of April and May...but again, I'm really crossing my fingers that I'll be able to, err, "force" myself to bite the bullet and get more of these things checked off this summer!
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