Monday, May 30, 2011

I'm Not Addicted. I Can Stop Whenever I Want.

I do NOT own every set ever made. I just started in 2010.

Can you find Voldy in this picture?

This shot is a little closer to help you out:

This is what he looks like (but I moved him, so this isn't where he is in the above pictures):

Here's Harry playing quidditch:

Harry dressed up for the Yule Ball, and Dumbledore:

The trio in Diagon Alley (that's Mr. Ollivander on the right):

Teachers* (Flitwick, Snape, Hagrid, Dumbledore):

Luna is riding the Hogwarts Express:

Hermione is reading the newspaper on the train:

Draco got stuck pushing the food cart (ha ha):

What on earth? How did Sensei Wu get in there?

Crazy Bellatrix! (and Fenrir Grayback)

And of course (part of) the Weasley family:

Just because I pre-ordered two of the three new sets already does not mean I'm obsessed. I just happen to like Harry Potter. And Legos. And Harry Potter Legos.

*Some of the characters, including Snape, came with a cape/cloak, but the papery cloak things annoy me, so I took them off. Only Voldemort gets to keep his on.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

If Only I Could Tap Dance

In the main foyer of the institute building, there are two parallel staircases. Halfway up each staircase is a small landing, where the stairs switch to the opposite direction. That's fairly standard.


The strange part is that in between these midpoint landings, there is a tiled platform, as if it wasn't just dead space above the entry doors, but a place where people were meant to walk or stand or be.


What I would really like to do is climb onto that platform and tap dance, but I don't have any tap shoes, and I don't know how to tap dance. Ah, well. They'd probably kick me out anyway if I tried.

Anyone know how to tap dance? What other pranks could I pull from this tiled platform?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Things You Should Not Put In The Microwave

(speaking from personal experience)
  • potatoes (maybe you can do potatoes now?)
  • paper
  • Easy Mac in a too-small bowl
  • wrappers
  • clothing
  • cheap plastic wrap
  • cardboard frozen concentrated orange juice cans with a metal bottom
  • metal in general
  • the honey bear bottle for more than 30 seconds
  • paper with foil on it
  • any sort of foil
  • microwave popcorn bags after you've already popped the popcorn (guess they're serious when they say "do not reheat")
  • pizza (unless you put it in the toaster oven afterwards--otherwise it's just a nasty soggy mess)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Excerpt #5: Entwined

And now, for your amusement, some excerpts from a very enjoyable book, Entwined, by Heather Dixon. This book has THREE starred reviews so far, which is pretty darn fantastic, if you ask me. I don't even have ONE starred review. Granted, I haven't published anything yet, but still.

If you haven't heard of Entwined, it is a retelling of the 12 dancing princesses, but it goes way deeper than that. It's about love, and family, and acceptance, and courage, and mourning, and loss, and discovery, and relationships, and all sorts of other things. The main character, Azalea, has all the innocence and kindness of Mary Poppins (in the Disney movie), but is also passionate and capable. At one point, when Keeper asks for a dance, Azalea tells him to, "Snap your own head off." I love that part. :o)

The humor in the book is subtle. Here are some instances of the humor that make me laugh. They're even better in context.

In the very first chapter, the king is going off to fetch the doctor for the queen:

"Really, Azalea," said the King, putting on his stiff hat. "Is everything about dancing to you?"

It was, actually, but Azalea decided now wasn't the best time to point that out.

Later that evening, Azalea finds all ten of her sisters crowded behind some Christmas trees in the ballroom in order to watch the ball:

"Looks... comfortable," said Azalea.

"It's not so bad now that we can't feel our legs." Bramble grinned, her thin lips turning up into a wry smile. "It's a bit squashy, but it's worth it."

Azalea's father (the king) shoves her out of the library and locks the door behind her, all without a word:

"It's just a guess," said Bramble after a moment, "but I don't think he's in the mood to see us."

The sisters attack Azalea and Lord Bradford with potatoes (no excerpt).

Azalea (on horseback) argues with the king while at the dock in the rain:

She threw the coat with all her might at the King. It fell only a foot from her in a soggy pile on the platform.

The stiff (but lovable, in my opinion--all Heather's men are lovable, even the bad ones) Prime Minister Fairweller speaks with the sisters about their father, who is away at war:

"We haven't written him?" said Bramble, her ears red. "He hasn't written us!"

"Yes." Fairweller took a sip of the strong-smelling tea. "Your family is very interesting."

Lord Teddie visits:

"Oh, great muffins," he said, bouncing up and down again. "Everyone knew your mother. I knew her before she boffed off to Eathesbury! Met her at one of Mother's balls. She taught me a bit of the Entwine, you know. I was five."

"You were five?" cried Hollyhock, tugging at his hand. "You weren't of age and they let you go to a ball?"

"Crumbs, yes! Best way to learn how to dance, I say!"

The younger girls crowded about Lord Teddie, hopping with eagerness. Azalea groaned inwardly, thinking of the headache she would have explaining to the girls that they still wouldn't be allowed at balls until they were fifteen.

Fairweller is a guest at their house:

"I can be agreeable," said Fairweller. "If the other party is."

"Oh, well," said Bramble. "There goes that, then."

Trying to get rid of an undesirable suitor:

"Lord Howley," (Azalea) said. "Why don't you tell the King about that marvelous three-party system you were explaining earlier? He'd love to hear it."

Lord Howley pushed a branch out of his face. "I don't think he likes me very much," he said.

"He's that way to everyone. Besides--" Azalea clasped her hands together, still beaming. "It would impress him!"

"Do you think so?" Lord Howley brightened.

"Oh, yes. He loves it when people tell him how to run the country."

When Azalea falls into the stream and is rescued by Lord Bradford:

"Are you all right?" he said. Water dripped down his face and long nose.

He's talking to you! her mind yelled. He's talking to you! Say something clever! Say something clever!

Azalea said, "Mffloscoflphus?"

When Azalea blacks out:

"What happened?" said Clover, wetting a cloth in the basin, and dabbing Azalea's face.

"She had a sort of fit," said the King. "I think her underthings may be laced too tightly."

All the girls, including Azalea, blushed brilliantly.

"Sir," said Eve. "You're not supposed to know about the U word!"

"Am I not? Forgive me."

Just after Azalea hides in the closet to avoid Fairweller:

When the door jangled closed, Azalea burst from the closet.

"Good heavens," said Mr. Bradford. "There's a lady in my coat closet."

Clover recounting to Azalea the story of when a lady wanted her (Clover) to deliver a love letter to Fairweller:

"What did Fairweller say? When you delivered the note?"

"Oh," said Clover, calming a little. "Well . . . nothing, actually. I sort of . . . accidentally . . . tore it to pieces."

"Accidentally," Azalea echoed.

"And threw it in the fire," said Clover.


And, to further whet your appetite, here is one last excerpt, from when the sisters discover the magical place they escape to in order to dance each night:

...They turned the next curve, revealing an archway below. A soft, silver light emanated from it. Azalea's brows furrowed. Bright moonlight? Indoors?

The girls stayed back as Azalea descended to the doorway. Hands quavering, she leaned against the edge and looked.

She stepped back, dumbfounded.

The scene washed over Azalea like a crystal symphony. A forest.

But nothing like the wood behind the palace! Every bough, branch, leaf, and ivied tendril looked as though it had been frosted in silver. It shimmered in soft, misty light.

Azalea inhaled, catching the muted scent of a morning fog, with a touch of pine, and stepped through the doorway into the bright forest. Everything sparkled in bits, catching highlights in glisters as she moved. Even the path beneath her feet. She turned to a glass-spun tree on her left. Silver ornaments glowed among the delicate silver leaves--glimmering glass plums. Azalea touched one. Its edging glittered as it swayed. Next to the ornament, strings of pearls swathed each branch in swooping arcs.

"It's so beautiful," whispered Flora. The girls had followed Azalea through the doorway, their voices hushed.

"Like winter, when the snow's just fallen," Goldenrod whispered.

"Or... the Yuletide trees," said Clover.

Azalea thought it looked a mix of all of them--the gardens, the palace, and the Yuletide--all mixed into one and dipped in silver.

"Az, what is this place?"

Don't you want to read it? I already read it once through and now I'm listening to it in the car. Fun times! Oh, and today is Heather's birthday too. Happy birthday!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Excerpt #4: Hawaii

These are from a book called A Pocket Guide to the Hawaiian Islands. While in Hawaii, I bought some little touristy books because they had nice glossy pictures. One book I bought just because I liked the paper it was printed on. I've been pleased with my touristy books so far. The pictures are actually not too bad. The writing is generally ok too, but in this particular book... Well, this book is written by a guy who writes coffee table books for a living. So maybe that explains it.

This first excerpt is written about the big island of Hawaii:

Northeast trade winds stream across the young landscape, dropping moisture on the windward rain forests, funneling through the saddle areas, accelerating down the leeward declines, and eddying around Mauna Loa's buxom mass.

Come on now. Really? Buxom? Sheesh.

This second excerpt is a caption for a double-page spread of a sunset (with palm fronds bordering it):

A golden path of fading sunlight bestows its blessing of romance on a tropical paradise. Such soothing displays of idyllic beauty contrast the jagged coastlines, volcanic peaks, and raw, elemental forces of the Hawaiian Islands.

They couldn't have just written, "Sunset off the coast of Hawaii", or whatever. :o)

I wouldn't mind this writing style so much if I'd encountered it less frequently, but almost every paragraph is written like this, thick with heavy prose. It's a bit much for me. I can only take the book in small doses, and I mostly look at the pictures.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Excerpt #3: Sharon Creech

Sharon Creech is one of my favorite authors. Her stories are creative and her characters are real, plus she writes beautiful prose.

I especially enjoy Chasing Redbird. The main character, Zinny, is outwardly quiet, but inwardly vocal, which makes for some fun situations. The part with the beagle cracks me up, and Zinny's whole relationship with Jake is also interesting. This excerpt is slightly longer to show how Sharon Creech sets up the relationship between Zinny and Jake, and Zinny's older sister May.

Into my mind flew Tommy Salami. His real name was Tom Salome, but even he called himself Tommy Salami. Three years ago he was in May's class at school, but whenever he saw me, he'd give me a present. They were bitty things: a plastic ring from a cereal box; an old bottle from his barn; and a rusty key he'd found along the road. To me, they were treasures, and I got the dizzies just thinking about him.

He would say the most unusual things. He asked me if I'd ever seen trees walk, and if I'd ever wanted to be an aquarium.

"An aquarium?" I said. "You mean something in it - a fish?"

"No, I mean the whole aquarium. Everything: the water, the plants, the fish, the snails - an aquarium."

I worshipped Tommy Salami. I thought of him day and night, I dreamed about him, and I wrote his name in all my school books. As far as I was concerned, Tommy Salami had hung the moon and stars; that's how great I thought he was.

Then one day, I saw him walking up our drive. I could barely breathe: Tommy Salami was coming to my house. Tommy Salami was coming to see me. Quick as a dog can lick a dish, I whipped a brush through my hair, changed my shirt and ran downstairs. I pushed through the screen door, and there on the porch swing was Tommy Salami. Beside him was May.

I crept back inside, stumbled through the house and out the other side. I made my way down the drive and waited. One hour. Two. At last, I saw Tommy Salami leaving, and I stepped out.

"Zinny?" he said. "Where did you come from?"

I didn't answer. There weren't any words.

"I owe you some thanks," he said. "You must've put in a good word about me with May. She's going to the dance with me. How 'bout that?" He had a grin so wide you'd have thought he had a couple extra sets of teeth. "You're a real peach, Zinny."

All I could think was that I was Zinnia Taylor: idiot. I was mortally embarrassed and certain-sure I'd die in my sleep of complete and total humiliation. I didn't amount to a bucket of spit.

There were more boys like Tommy Salami. There was Jerry Abbott and Mickey Torke, Slim Giblin and Roger Pole. They all plied me with sugar-mouthed flattery and gifts, and they all eventually ended up with May. I might as well have been a pig in a dog race...

...But after Tommy Salami, I was not as trusting, and by the time poor old Roger Pole came along, I was downright nasty. When he offered me a bag of popcorn, I threw a double duck fit and said, "Take your stupid popcorn and choke on it."

So perfect. You can tell Zinny wants to be liked, but you can also tell she's fed up with being a doormat.

At any rate, read Sharon Creech. She's fantastic!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Excerpt #2: From Class

One of my fellow students is, in my opinion, rather preposterous. This was evident throughout the semester, but I was still surprised when, on his final project, on a totally publicly accessible website (the website was the final project), in a place where the other students in the class were directed to go in order to give him (and everyone else) feedback, he posted this:

Is this "A" work? I think it is. In fact, it might be the best one in the class. I'd put this site and my Adobe Flash CS5 creations up against anyone else's for the "tasters choice" seal of excellence. I know that's a bold statement indeed and I realize this probably can't compete on a commercial level but no one else did as much with integrated audio, video and text. No one. Frankly, I think it's "A+" work if compared against my peers, that is unless you're holding me to some higher standard which would be totally unfair - though not unprecedented. It seems a lot of professors give me a "B+" when I not only earned an "A" but was the best student in the class with the best work (Wacholder did it, so did Belkin). I guess that it just goes to show how "subjective" and "petty" things really are.

First of all, I don't know why anyone would publish that anywhere, online or off. Second of all, I don't know why anyone would indicate that their professors, who have years of experience and are well established and respected within the field, are incapable of accurately assessing the results of one's efforts within the class. It's all a bit mind-boggling to me, but then again, I try not to be an inflammatory and radical person (at least in public), so maybe that's the problem.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Excerpt Week!

Woohoo! In honor of my finishing another semester of grad school (I'm halfway through now!), I am going to publish a post every day this week and share with you an interesting excerpt from something I've read recently (or not so recently).

To start off, here is an online review my coworkers found for a car seat (can't remember from which retailer). We read this review aloud to each other multiple times because it amused us so.

It was a gift! I thought was all are same so I decided keep it, Wrong Mistake. In the beginning , I like it because it is light weight and the car seat is ok BUT my complaint is that first my son is so big for car seat, so it's no worthy, but the stroller is a piece of junk because won't turn and the wheels all lock up. Exactly like the other lady is describing. My husband put some oil expecting to see an improvement in that...And no, just suddenly it get locked. My son is not SAFETY, and the important thing is always reclined the baby cannot sit up (stroller) It's true: DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND get an expensive brand. Remember is the safety your little baby, and always you will use.

I bolded the parts that made us laugh the hardest. :o)

Stay tuned for tomorrow's exciting excerpt!