Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolution: Drink Less Water

Ever since watching the documentary Gasland, I have been wary of natural gas extractors. Well, now I live in a huge state that is chock full of oil and natural gas wells.


I think in 2012 I need to watch less news and fewer documentaries so I won't be afraid to do simple things like hydrate myself.

Ignorance really is bliss.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Wyoming Meth Project

Now that I live in Wyoming, the youtube ads that play before my video have a dark and scary message.
Gone are the commercials enticing me to buy shiny, new and improved stuff.

Now I am treated to this:

Hooray! I wanted watch a funny cat video and now I have images of meth-addled youths in my brain. I can see it now, kids across Wyoming: "Mommy what's a hustler?" These disturbing videos were created by the director of Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan, etc. Like Requiem for a Dream wasn't the best advertising to never do drugs; I have to see some girl slit her wrists before I can enjoy the breathy falsetto of Kay Perry.

Population of Wyoming, get off the meth! I don't want to see these ads anymore!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Worst Book of 2011

As this year is drawing to a close I pause to dwell on all I learned, saw, tasted, experienced, listened to and read. My brain was transported to far-away vistas by the likes of Clive Barker, Neil Gaimen, Rick Ridoran, Joyce Carol Oates, Phillip Pullman, Sherman Alexie, Roddy Doyle, Jeffrey Eugenides, Colm Toibin, Edna O'Brian, Francesca Lia Block, and many more besides. But instead of detailing the good books I read I wanted to talk about the absolute worst. 
Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi is by far the most atrocious book of 2011. The book is a sappy, over the top romance, thinly disguised as a dystopian novel. "We" have done "something" to the earth and now the "Reestablishment" rules the world. 

The main character, Juliette, is a mary-sue character suffering from, what I like to call, "Bella Swan Syndrome." She is a special snowflake who doesn't know she's gorgeous, she is a whiny do-nothing, she constantly complains, and all the boys love her. I won't dwell much on the "plot" because I don't want to ruin the book. Instead I will focus on the literary shortcomings. Mafi uses inappropriate passive voice. The punctuation in the book is inconsistent. It is littered with fragment sentences. She also uses a nauseating amount of strikethrough.  

Clearly the writing of a sane person. 

Mafi's metaphors are both unintelligible and long winded, "I'm dripping red paint on the carpet." What does that mean? Also, instead of describing a character as black, Mafi says they have "chocolate" features. 
The author personifies every inanimate object within reach. And Juliette, who narrates, uses a boatload of similes to describe herself. 

At one time or another Juliette's body parts are: a lump of nonsense, a crepe, a reptile, a maze of impossibility, a handful of hot butter, a race horse, mush, a Venus fly trap, chips of ice, windows, a whisper that never was, a shaky pen, a water balloon, and a piece of pavement being trampled to death. 

Now, here are the worst, least literary lines from the "book." 

"There aren't as many trees as there were before, is what the scientists say."

"I am a raindrop. My parents emptied their pocket of me and left me to evaporate on a concrete slab." 

"These words are my vomit. This shaky pen is my esophagus. This sheet of paper is my porcelain bowl." 

"I wish I could stuff my mouth full of raindrops."

"I think you look rather lovely with all your body parts intact." 

"His lips are two pieces of frustration pressed together." 

"The dining room is big enough to feed thousands of orphans." 

"I want to bury my tears in a bucket of regret." 

"The sun is...redirecting its warmth in our general direction."

"His gaze is...two buckets of river water at midnight. I'd like to cry into his eyes." 

"He's more wrong than an upside-down rainbow." 

"I'm blushing through my bones." 

"Truth is a jealous, vicious mistress that never, ever sleeps, is what I don't tell him." 

"I realize I'm paying attention to nothing but the dandelions blowing wishes in my lungs." 

"He's accompanied by no one." 

If you, like me, enjoy reading terrible books to mock the terrible writing; Shatter Me can be purchased here
I really recommend the book if you like overwrought metaphors, no character development and hot teens! Also this will be the first in a series and the movie rights were purchased by Fox. Soon I'll be able to bash this story across platforms!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Grand Tour

I wanted to show off my new digs at my sister's apartment. She lives in a two bedroom, and there are four of us. My room is M's closet.
I enjoy this for the following three reasons:

1: It's dark in there, and as I've mentioned before, I need soul-crushing darkness to sleep.

2: I can connect with Harry Potter on an even deeper level. My living space, though not a cupboard under the stairs, is cramped.

3: I can literally be the monster in a child's closet. Muhahahahahha.

Trust me to come up with the weirdest, most awkward living arrangements possible.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Real Christmas Miracle!

Anyone who has met more than 5 time will undoubtoudly surmise that I am not particularly feminine. I don't wear makeup often, no jewelry, skirts are unlikely. I burp shamelessly, and I only shave up to my knees. I am no master of the feminine arts. I can mess up toast. I allow gravy to boil over. I add a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon. I could go on. 

That's supposed to be fruit salad.

This Christmas I am at my sister's house. Since she works hard all week I decided that I would help by making some food for our holiday dinner. And damn did I deliver!

This pastry-wrapped brie ball took literally minutes to make! 

I dug deep within myself and summoned up all the repressed knowledge gained from those lazy hours watching the food network. Somehow I made some halfway decent sides to go along with my brother-in-law's superb prime rib.

Yes pigs-in-blanket take ten minutes to make, yes ranch baked oyster crackers aren't souffles.Yes my carrots were a bit burned on the bottom and my greens a little wilted but all in all it was a unbutton-the-top-button-of-your-jeans rip-roaring good time. 

Maybe I summoned the power of baby Jesus. I sure hope father time helps me pull off a new year's feast. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

If you give your kid an inch; she'll still only be an inch away because she's on a leash.

My sister doesn't want to be a helicopter parent. She has a lot of love in her. In this modern world it's tough to let your little one spread their tiny wings. 

She couldn't bear to be away from her beloved child so she co-slept for several months. I'm conflicted about this. M is too young to know this is on her (she hasn't worn it yet since I've been here), and the monkey backpack is really cute. 

Well this is fashion forward.

I want to go walking with M to see if I get any comments, either pro or con, from concerned parents. It seems like a good way to give your toddler freedom without letting them toddle into danger.

Verdict: Approve.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Miracle!

As I mentioned before; my sister's dog is the devil. She is a miniature hound of hell. Currently, she is in the dog house, if you will, for attempting to escape the comforts of this apartment. She sprinted for the mountains; disrupting the Christmas peace that had descended not five minutes previous.

This is the second time this mongrel has attempted a holiday escape. Two years ago, to the day, she absconded in below zero weather. She must be craving some attention. 

I'll show her how to set up a blog; that'll fix her right up. 

The View

Slightly different from the flat landscape of the midwest.

Friday, December 23, 2011

My New Enemy

This is Lyla. She is evil incarnate. I thought those meddlesome cats were trouble; I was wrong. This smelly fluff ball is determined to make my life a pain. Her breath smells like a dead raccoon. She wipes her snotty nose on my pants. She has to go out every 5 minutes. She's yappy as all get out. She bites the baby. She follows me everywhere which causes me to trip over her hairy torso. She is dim and crossed-eyed. She makes me sneeze.....She's watching me right now..... 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Meet My New Roommate

This bundle of adorable cuteness is my new roommate. Yesterday I traveled through four states to end up in Wyoming. I'm going to be babbysitting this cupcake for the time being.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I am back in America. Sooner than expected. Don't want to get into all the hairy details at this point but I will say I came home in the most awkward way possible!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Might Need to Re-assess my Priorities

My favorite part about this holiday season is hands-down the black Friday shopping. I wake, bleary-eyed at 4 in the morning and scamper out to the mall; leftover Thanksgiving ham in hand. I have wrangled several friends into this tradition over the years. We decimate the mall and take advantage of all the early bird deals. It's not only the shopping, the excuse to eat doughnuts, or well deserved afternoon nap that I love: it's the people-watching. 21

Women with fatigued and fussy four year old kids, frantically searching for the perfect Christmas gift. Random groups of Japanese tourists all sporting matching shirts and Mickey Mouse ears. Ladies grabbing those shoes like it's the only pair they've ever seen. Ah, the beauty and majesty of humans reduced to our baser animal instincts. The instinct for savings.

Tragically this year I am in England and they do not give a hoot about our quaint American traditions. They also don't do ANY pumpkin here. No pumpkin pie, no pumpkin spiced lattes, nada. It's a travesty. Anyway, I have recently been having dreams that are set inside a mall. More than one. Today when I was watching Dawn of the Dead, in between screaming at the zombies, I felt a sense of loss that I was not currently in a mall mapping out my black friday master plan.

Maybe my inability to engage in a massive consumerist mob will be a humbling experience that will make me less materialistic. Or maybe I'll cry.

Either way I need to re-assess my priorities so I stop dreaming about the mall.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Home Sweet Home (Invasion)

Want to know something that kind of sucks about England? They love protecting the rights of criminals (unless they set fire to London).

 Now, if I was to describe myself I'd probably mention my liberal inclined politics. However when I hear about the "human rights" laws set up for criminals my suppressed, redneck Uh-Merica! side comes out.

Here in England if a burglar breaks into your home you may be prosecuted if you use anything other than "reasonable force." Now no one can define reasonable force, so it can end up that you (the homeowner) could serve jail time and the criminal could go free. Now in the particular case linked above the homeowner caused permanent brain damage to the assailant; on the other hand his wife and young daughters were tied up face down  and threatened with murder. Remember that thing called fight or flight? What if your body chooses fight? Don't you have the right to protect yourself and your family from intruders who could mean you bodily harm?

And another thing; if squatters decide to move onto your property and squat to their heart's desire. Now I'm not talking about abandoned property, I'm talking about prime real estate that tax paying citizens are living in or renovating. The police have no legal recourse if there are no signs of forced entry. It is a civil matter under English law. Meaning homeowners have to take the squatters to court and pay legal fees (the squatters get free legal aid!). Afterwords, the police rarely arrest the squatters and they just run off looking for the next house. While the homeowners are waiting to go to court the squatters often cause thousands of pounds of damage. The police do nothing and the squatters get to go ruin someone else's life.

Finally, this country love the rights of criminals so much that they do not publish the names or faces of escaped convicts. You read that right, and escaped murderer could be on the run and you would have no idea of their name or what they look like. So hooray rights of privacy for criminals!

England, you might want to take a lesson from America on this one. Criminals should forego the rights to privacy and protection from bodily harm when they break the freaking law!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Curse of the Amish.

I have developed a new theory about the Amish.

Maybe the Amish didn't shun technology because of God: maybe they were too inept to use it. Maybe those modern zippers and electric filaments stymied the Amish until their beards grew long. They just couldn't understand the modern world so they made up some malarkey about vanity and piousness.

I've had quite a while to contemplate this because my laptop has been out of service for a week. My power cord broke and I had to order a new one. In fact, since I have been here my external hard drive and  iTunes have died.

This is a systemic problem I have with technology. Well it has a problem with me. Technology hates me. iPods crumble under my fingers, computers crash, DVD players freeze, GPS units start spewing out directions in Mandarin.

Sometimes I wonder if I'll be forced to join the Amish.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

England Needs a Don Draper.

Hell, even a Pete Campbell would be an improvement.

Even though I've now been in the UK for several months I'm still learning new things about British culture. For instance did you know the name for an oat-filled cookie is flapjacks? I didn't either. When I was listening to a cooking show yesterday and the woman said she'd be cooking flapjacks my face lit up. I was sadly disappointed.

Pictured above: Something I don't want to eat. 

The Brits are not into pancakes. They have Scottish pancakes that are about the size of an English muffin. No plate-sized (or as I call them properly sized) pancakes here. 

Anyway, pancakes aside, these Brits need to revamp every single ad campaign they have. Sometimes I watch  a commercial or see a magazine ad and I have not the foggiest indication of what is being advertised. 

In addition to ruining Zoey Deschanal's face in this Rimmel London Ad:

They turned America's sweetheart into a waxy, dead-eyed zombie.

this country also has truly heinous TV ads. And not bad-good like the Eagle Man ones.

First off, if your ad seems like it's for Prozacs; you're missing the mark. Unless this is tea for depressed people. Second, I was distracted from the ad by the super indie cover of song song I jammed to in the mid 2000's. Finally if this tea makes me encounter my freaky doppelganger; I'll pass. 

You will never be as cool as the Geico gecko. No matter how many smoking jackets you own.

Where to even start. English people seem obsessed with these meerkats. If I look out my window right now I will see a "Solar meercat" that holds a lamp all day and treats me to a light show all night. Meerkats all over the place. 

This just scares me. I'm sure if you want people to buy your cereal you shouldn't put images in their heads that will poison their dreams. Just some advice. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

E4 and the Curse of Terrible American TV

Remember when I said the majority of British TV that filters across the pond is the creme de la creme? Well the formula here is reversed. That's right in addition to making shallow imitations of our shows:

Television executives also display the worst American shows here. Half the time when I see the advert for the "fresh, cool" American show, I have no idea what it is. I've never heard of some of these programs. Furthermore I see adverts for shows that have already been cancelled in America. "Charlie's Angels coming soon to e4!" Great are you going to show the whopping three episodes they filmed? 

Hey you remember that TBS show Glory Daze about the crazy go-go 80's fraternity life?!? I thought not. Well even though there are only 10 episodes total the show is popular here. 

All of the "quality" programming from the CW and ABC family channel is represented. And the Brits lap it up. They think 90210 is an amazing show; the best we have to offer. 

Yeah let's have a 12 hour Rules of Engagement, Big Bang Theory, and My Name is Earl marathon! Because that's representative of the best American comedy. Apparently. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Things I learned in Glasgow: Part 1

The more times I visit Glasgow the more I like love it. It reminds me of Chicago. The cities have a similar vibe. Both are working class cities, with big-hearted, foul-mouthed locals. Glasgow has a crosstown rivalry, with dire hard fans; and the Celtics lose as much as the Cubs. I had an awesome visit, and I hope I'll be back soon.

Technically some of these pictures are from Edinburgh, but what the heck.

All the garbage cans in Scotland look like this. Not very efficient if you ask me. 

From the museum of my nightmares children.

Well I could see a child liking that...

Dear God. 

Edinburgh is full of cheesy tourist shops and pirates.

I went to GOMA the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. Let me just say it's lucky the place if free. Lord knows thrifty Scots wouldn't pay to see modern "art." The comment book was littered with slander too colorful for this blog. But I will say the comments made me laugh; more than the "art."

Lamp stack = art.

At this point I stopped in an adjacent room to watch a short film; also supposedly art. The film dealt with the tumultuous and complex relationships between men and their cocks. But I had to leave because there was too much blood; I get queasy. Also I think cock-fighting is wrong, no matter how complex the relationship between man and bird is.

Seriously that's not art. 

Ok that's just obscene.

I wonder what the artist was thinking about why sculpting these.

A house made out of glued-together bread boxes. Genius? 

When I hear people laud the worthiness of modern art I get a feeling the little child felt in the story "The Emperor's New Clothes."  I just stare at their rapt faces and wonder if they're trying to pull a fast one on me. 

I guess I'm not cultured enough to appreciate the virtuosity of glued-together bread boxes.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Going Rogue

Larisa's cat Rogue might actually annoy me more than Zibah. 

The most annoying part is that I'm spending so much time thinking about cats.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Aberdeen C sides: Or I am a total scatterbrain and didn't post these earlier.

Sometimes I wonder if people actually look at the sculptures before they commission them.

Seriously look at this cat's face.

One of these things is not like the other.

The real mystery is why Hasbro would rename Clue. Because Cluedo is a terrible name that undermines the seriousness of the game.

I want to be Rev. Green! Wait I don't live in an alternate universe where everything is awful. 

For all those hardcore gangsters in Aberdeen, Scotland.

I actually wish I had a picture of the university students' faces while I was making this pose. It would be a nice  juxtaposition.  

Friday, November 4, 2011

Seriously my flatmates are crazy

Remember when I mentioned that the people I live with are a bit...odd? Well here's an update:

A less popular version of the baby bjorn. I wonder why. 

I don't know who to be more embarrassed for Zeb or the cat.

I woke up to this on our first morning in Glasgow.

They do this every morning. 

No comment.

Dancing with luggage.

My Last Wales Post I Promise.

Seriously this will be the last time I post about Wales. 

How could I forget to mention my run-in with the seedy underbelly of Wales? My brush with the sordid crime of Cardiff. Before I left for Cardiff I was convinced that I would be going out every night, partying it up with the cool kids of Cardiff. But come 6pm I was done for the day. 

My dinner was eaten, all the stores were closed, and my back hurt. So I went back to my hotel and watched Nothing to Declare. This is an amazing show about the airport customs officers stopping tourists from bringing in food items and they do raids to eradicate illegal immigrants. 

Anyway, the last night before I checked out there was an incident with the police. The fellow in the room next to mine had a few too many and woke me from my slumber around 2am. That's not so bad; living in a dormitory makes you used to loud noises. But about 40 minutes later I was woken up again, to a hallway full of police officers. From what I surmised, the man in the room next to mine couldn't figure out how to open the door to the hotel. In fact, he couldn't even find the correct door. To vent his frustration he punched his hand through the door; which is entirely made of glass. 

Although the man argued with the police, his bleeding hand wasn't helping his case. Eventually the police forced the man to pay a fine outright to fix the door and escorted him to the station. In my opinion this was as fun as going to a club or and indie cafe. 

Aforementioned door now covered with a plastic bag. 

The crime filled city of Cardiff. 

Aberdeen: The Extras and B-Sides

Here are some of the weird, awesome and other things I saw in Aberdeen.

Another Jeremy Kyle guest. Did her boyfriend hide used condoms under the bed? Sadly, yes. Poor dear.

 Actually cool exhibit at the Aberdeen Modern Art museum. This was an exhibit on glass. I neglected to take a picture of the soiled sleeping bag, the piece of wood with hair glued to it, the portrait of Paris Hilton and other "art" in the museum.
Not efficient unless you like reading at your desk.

I legitimately thought these were balloons at first glance.

Posting this because anyone who know me will be shocked to hear I tried Indian food. As I am usually peckish and ethnocentric. 

You'll be even more shocked that I liked my food and everything I tried. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Aberdeen and the Highlands

So I made it back to Banbury without incident, in the normal amount of time. No floods or giant moth monsters came out of the sky to ruin my day. It was actually quite nice.

Anyway as I am back to my laptop I can post the pictures of Aberdeen. Aberdeen, incidentally, is full of imposing granite buildings, giant oil tankers in the harbor and wind. It is possibly the windiest place I have ever been in my life.

During my trip my hosts took me out to the highlands where I saw wild pheasant, grouse, one million sheep and adorable cows.

The wild birds were not happy to see my camera.

Who would build a house out in the middle of nowhere?

My awesome hosts.

This room smelled of warm bread and sugar. 

Seriously visiting a whiskey distillery is like Wonka's chocolate factory for adults.

Moment of truth: Not as burny as I expected. 

Should give you some inkling of how wet and windy it was. 

We went to a graveyard that had several ostentatious headstones.

I didn't see any flies; I wonder if the plants are hungry. 


I enjoy the contrast of arid desert inside and bleak, wet grayness outside.

City hall. 

The sea was amazing. All the Scots on the train were nonplussed. They just looked at their phones.