Monday, April 25, 2011

Last Week

It's good to be home. As much fun as we've had last week -- visiting Eileen, car hunting, and hanging out with Will and Ari -- there's just nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed. We had flown down to Burbank last Sunday morning.

We left Intruder Cat in the care of robots for the week. An automatic feeder and an automatic watering dish, since she's bad at portion control. However even with the robots, I was a little anxious about leaving her. What if their batteries, even though brand new, mysteriously died? What if they became sentient and took over the house?

At the airport we got a couple of slices of pizza for lunch. Just to see me stuff my face like a child raised by wolves, Aaron tricks me into thinking that we were missing the boarding of our flight... So I'm haphazardly shoving pizza into my head as we walk hastily back toward our gate. His amusement about the situation raises my suspicion and he confesses that we've still got a whole 40 minutes remaining!

When we landed we hit the grocery store for some supplies, where I finally (after some week of craving) got an actual cupcake. To make it even better, it was decorated with a frosting frog on top. Like that cupcake had been hand crafted with my arrival in mind. Just for me. I almost felt guilty eating him. Almost.

For dinner we tried Five Guys Burgers with Eileen. It was tasty, but no In n' Out. Don't get me wrong. It was delicious. I simply prefer burgers from In n' Out. The nice hot beef, melty cheese and crisp fresh veggies... damn it. Now I'm hungry.

Monday we went searching high and low for a quality vehicle to call our own. Unsuccessfully, as the asking price for the only decent car we found was preposterous. We managed to barter over a grand off, but even then it was over-priced. It would be another handful of days until we found something both attractive and reasonable.

Tuesday we were inducted into Trashy Tuesday. The night of the week Eileen and her best friend Jeri get together to watch reality TV and the like. We had fresh seared Ahi for dinner with asparagus, which admittedly seems too fancy for Trashy Tuesday, but boy was it good. I had never had Ahi before.

Wednesday evening we took Will and Ari out to dinner for their birthday. Their birthdays are only a day apart -- how cool is that? Their choice was Studio Cafe, a nearby place with a friendly atmosphere, yummy food, and one dollar beers. Hard to beat that. Afterward we returned to their place for hot mead and socialization.

Thursday evening we returned to help Will set up for their party on Saturday. Ari was out with a friend, so her cousin Orry, Will, Aaron, and I hit Aroma Cafe around the corner for dinner. Having ate just before we left, like a fatty fat-fat who couldn't wait, I instead had a giant Red Velvet cupcake and a hot cocoa. Nom.

Friday is the day we finally found our car. After visiting a couple of places asking too much, we discovered a Mitsubishi Montero in remarkable condition. It was a deep, vibrant forest green color. Most other cars we'd seen were plain boring old white, so it had a leg-up on any other contenders right from the get go. Its miles were a little high, but records show that it had been cared for lovingly by its previous owner so we decided to go for it.

Complete with new car smell!
After managing to wrangle some insurance on Easter weekend, we were able to happily drive our new car to the party on Saturday night. We got to meet some corp mates from Eve Online and generally just had a ton of fun. Drinking, partying, and being merry. Responsible as we are, we decided to crash at Will and Ari's rather than risk driving anywhere. Sunday morning we went out and nabbed some Starbucks for breakfast and then headed back to Eileen's to load up the Montero and hit the road.

Leaving Eileen's house is always difficult, because she makes you feel so welcome and at home that leaving just seems wrong somehow. Add in the fact that she had just bought us our car as a wedding gift and you can understand at least a fraction of how hard it is to hug her and say goodbye.

We managed to get on the road early afternoon and headed back North to Sacramento. In our car. I just like saying it, because we walked or rode bikes everywhere previously. Which we'll continue to do since most places we need to go are within such a distance -- but it will certainly be awesome to never have to take a bus or cab again when we want to go someplace beyond walking distance.

When we got home, Intruder was extremely excited to see us. I don't think she thought we'd be coming back. The robots had taken good care of her, sure, but she clearly missed human interaction. Before we left, she would only get up into the bed with us in the morning, when she was trying to wake us up to fill her food dish. Last night we couldn't get her out of the bed. She was sleeping all over us and purring and 'making biscuits' nonstop until morning. It was adorable. Disruptive to sleep, but adorable.

Unfortunately in our absence there was a flea-splosion! Nothing a bath, a vacuum, and some Advantage won't fix though. It was just a really weird thing to return to, since she didn't have a problem before we left. Magic fleas.

Edit: It has been brought to my attention that there was a cupcake prior to the frogcake, which I had forgotten completely about. Somehow. While at another store, there was a misfit cupcake on sale for 49 cents because it had tipped over and its frosting had slid partly off. Still tasted just as delightful! Also, it was wearing a football helmet. Why? I don't know.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Game of Blogs

In all of the excitement of being out of town, I forgot to comment on the A Game of Thrones series aired Sunday evening on HBO. All-in-all a good first episode that didn't stray far from the story-telling of the book. There were a few trivial things which bothered me a bit, but nothing that so much distracted me from the plot that I couldn't get over them.

The pilot could have benefited from narration.

Without having read the books, the first episode may have been a little complex for viewers. Simple things, had you read the book, were not explained at all. This was probably done under the assumption that you either already knew or would eventually figure it out later.

Like the significance of the Weirwood tree, for example. With no explanation of what that place is, it really down-played the significance of the entire scene. The name and impact of Eddard Stark's greatsword is another example. Or the fact that, "Winter is Coming," isn't just a warning that it'll be cold for a few months until next Spring, but that those are the words of house Stark -- and that Winters in this place last whole lifetimes. The Stark children have grown up knowing nothing but Summer. "Winter is coming," should be a truly foreboding three words.

While I strongly dislike every little thing constantly being explained, in some cases, at least a little clarification would make 'getting into' the realm George R.R. has created a lot easier.

Blonds with black eyebrows.

I know it seems really petty, but it's something of a pet peeve of mine...

I'll be the first to tell people (usually artists as they constantly get this wrong) that people with light colored hair, often have darker colored eyebrows. That's just how it is. Why? I don't know. It just is. Bleach blonds usually have dirty blond brows, or even light brown brows. Brunette brows are usually a little darker or richer in color than the hair on their head. Red heads almost always have brown or auburn brows, etc., etc.

I understand that many of the actresses and actors chosen for the roles in this do not naturally have blond hair. That is fine. I also understand that dying your eyebrows and bleaching them in particular is quite a hassle. The hair there differs quite a bit from that on your head and doesn't take color well, or hold it for long as it grows quick. But! There is little excuse for simply leaving them stark black in contrast. Especially as an actress with a full color and styling team on hand.

The Lannisters are undeniably blond. Every hair on their body, with the exception of Tyrion, should be golden. Yet Cersei for some reason has blond hair and the blackest eyebrows you've ever seen. Like one of those dudes with black hair and a red beard -- it just instantly makes her look odd and unappealing. Which is the opposite of what Cersei Lannister is meant to be. She's supposed to be an enchanting woman, only truly rivaled in attractiveness by Jaime (who is just a remarkably beautiful man). However with her current appearance, the only captivation she instills is the desire to ask her what the hell is going on with her eyebrows.

The Targaryens take having fair hair to even more of an extreme. Thanks to selective breeding (Read: incest) they're all meant to have white-silvery hair and lavender eyes. Viserys and Daenerys have both gotten the hair right but have strange dark eyebrows. I give them credit, particularly on Emilia Clarke, as it appears they have taken methods in attempt to lighten their brows somewhat -- but they're still a little weird and dark for my taste.

Tyrion "The Imp" Lannister is some kind of tiny sex-pot.

The only true misrepresentation thus far has been the portrayal of Tyrion Lannister. Everything else is mostly just me being nit-picky, and ultimately can be forgiven without consequence. This one is kind of a big deal though. Let's get something straight folks: Tyrion is meant to be fugly. He's called "The Imp" for a reason and it has nothing to do with the fact that he is short.

When first encountered he is described as one of the most hideous people you'd ever have the displeasure of meeting. A man who is not only a dwarf, but has eerie mismatched eyes, uneven limbs, bad skin, a pronounced forehead, and facial hair so dark and gritty compared to his trademark Lannister blond hair that his entire person is just off putting. Add to the fact that he's got a sarcastic, jerky attitude and you have a man who is truly repulsive to 99.9% of the population. You should have no desire to get to know him deeper. No part of you should want to hop into bed with him. Even prostitutes give pause, and he's paying them.

I can kind of understand the desire to make him more appealing to the eye. Many people simply cannot relate to a character with little to no redeeming qualities, especially unattractiveness to that extent. But, taking away his ugliness -- to the point of actually making him attractive is so steep a change that it actually damages the story. Sorry Peter Dinklage.

Overall though I'm actually quite pleased with the show and it's direction. I am curious to see more. Ending the first episode where they did was a very smooth move. Any confusion-based doubt which may have had new viewers (people with no knowledge of the books) on the fence about watching next week was probably expunged by the manner in which they chose to end the episode.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Best Tax Day Ever

April 15th, a day most Americans despise. Tax Day, the deadline by which you need to file your taxes -- my birthday.

The night before my birthday, Aaron came home from class with a box of ice cream sandwiches as a pre-birthday treat. The next morning I awoke to caramels and a rainbow of oil-based colored pencils, followed by pancakes with cappuccino. A magical way to begin my day.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love to draw. Along with that, that I love coloring what I drew. While I enjoy many mediums, oil-based colored pencils are my favorite. Much to my dismay, they're also difficult to find. I used to own a supply of vintage Coloray pencils but they were stolen from me by an ass some years back. Since then all of my sketches have been, for the most part, black and white. Aware of this, Aaron returned color to my art world.

The pencils are very nice. Arranged in a splendid metal case, thin enough to travel with, but protective enough to prevent breakage. Much nicer than the old ones I used to own. Wooden barrels with a natural polish and colored ends in a nice matte finish to give you a keen sense of the color you're reaching for without having to read its name. Speaking of their names, their labeled in both German and English. I prefer the German, because in English it's, "Pale Geranium Lake," whereas in German it's, "Geranium Hell." Geranium Hell, f-yes.

After being bombarded with generous birthday wishes, I settled in at my desk and got to work with my new pencils. Having not applied color to much of anything for such a long time, I had a hard time deciding what to color first. Athera? Maelin perhaps? Maybe a Varay drawing? After much deliberation I decided on Athera, since her 6000 Views drawing had been promised in color some time ago. But what colors should I arrange for her? Her official colors were blue in life, but since this is a, "What if?" scenario sketch I could really go with anything and get away with it. Granted, as my original creation, I could really go with anything and get away with it.

I settled on lichtblau, nachtgrun, and bergblau with a Persian blau base. See? The German is much better. The finished product can, as always, be found on my deviantart.

For dinner Aaron took me out to Marrakech. A Moroccan restaurant where you're served five separate courses while being entertained by belly-dancers. We ordered a bottle of red wine for the occasion. They start off by washing your hands, then present you with a savory tomato and lentil soup, followed by a 'salad' and bread, then a mystical pastry. After that your main course is brought. I had the lamb in honey, and boy was it delicious. The meat was so tender and moist it just fell right off the bone.

Once you've finished, they wash your hands again, pamper them with orange oil, and bring you hot tea. A sweet mint and honey blend -- one of the greatest teas I've ever had and I'm kind of a tea snob. Finally you're brought a slice of nice, flaky, hot baklava. The entire meal is eaten with your hands, no silverware. A truly unique dining experience. Very fun. Very tasty.

There were two belly-dancers performing while we were there. From time to time they would approach a table to try to get the patrons up and dancing with them. Though a couple of people got up for a minute, most people were too embarrassed and refused. I got up and belly-danced with both women, with Aaron's encouragement. Almost a whole song with the second. It was fabulous.

After that the large group of Asian men seated in the corner got up and started trying to dance with her too, but only one of them had any rhythm to speak of. The rest of them kind of looked like what you'd imagine a robot trying to do ballet to look like. Which was pretty funny to watch.

One of my favorite moments of the night was when, finally, one of the dancers coaxed the old man sitting across from Aaron and I into belly-dancing with her. Ever seen a 70 year old man with a ZZ Top beard try to belly-dance? It's priceless. Probably not something I'll ever have the luck of seeing twice, but by golly I'll never forget this once. He was impressively spry for his age.

My soon-to-be mother-in-law presented me with a beautiful pair of diamond earrings and baked me a cherry pie. My favorite kind of pie, for the record. Her best friend, the lovely Jeri,  gave me a candle which smells just fabulous. The sort of candle so quality in fragrance that you may not even have to light it for it to scent the room its in.

This was by far the best birthday I've ever had. I did nothing but what I wanted the entire day. And there will be more celebrations forthcoming. At the end of May we'll be headed off to Ohio then Michigan to visit my family for a week. They've all decided to withhold my presents until such a time that they can give them to me face-to-face. Tomorrow we're flying down to L.A., so I should probably finish up the laundry and get to packing.

P.S. Ice cubes melt into a surprising amount of water. Just saying.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ten Years Ago

I shamelessly stole idea from My Lena, over there.

Ten years ago today I was excited about turning eighteen in two days time. I planned to buy porn even though I don't watch it, cigarettes even though I don't smoke, and go to a strip club just because I legally could. I did two of those three things, as I couldn't find a strip club near by because I lived in bum-f Ohio.

My ideal weekend was a concert or a rave. Or a concert and a rave. Or several concerts and several raves, depending on how much money my friends and I had. I would dance for six hours straight.

Unrelated, I spent more time in the hospital than I did in high school.

Speaking of high school, I was buying same-sex tickets to Prom. Before it was hip. The school didn't want to let me, but they did once I assured them we weren't actually lesbians. You could only buy tickets to prom as a couple and my friend April didn't have a date. She really, really wanted to go. So I took her, even though I could have gone with a boy. Dress attire required, she wore a black gown and I wore a white one. Underneath my dress my stockings were Polka dotted. She and I don't talk anymore. I don't know why. She just disappeared one day with no explanation. There was no bad blood between us.

I got rides to school from Kym, who would randomly not show up sometimes. Or show up late. I spent most of my lunches in detention for tardiness or truancy as a result of this. Kym also disappeared mysteriously, though not until after high school.

Without social networking tools it was really easy to lose touch with people.

I had a pager, it was neon yellow. A numeric page of 333 meant, "I love you," between my friends and I. A numeric page of 187 of course meant quite the opposite. 411 meant, "Call me asap, we need to talk!" Payphones were everywhere. They only cost twenty-five cents to use. Even so, we would often call eachother collect and instead of saying our names when prompted, we'd just say whatever we needed to really fast or leave the call-back number for the payphone and hang up. This meant no one ever actually had to accept the charges. Payphones could receive calls from outside lines for free. Unless you were at a payphone in a different area code, then long distance applied.

Long distance charges were absurd.

While most of my friends were looking forward to leaving their parent's houses, I enjoyed living at home. Probably since for a while there, I didn't have one. I lived at Morgan's, Ashly's, Sarah's sister's, amongst others. So being back at home, feeling like a kid, seemed nice. I rebuilt the relationship with my mother that had been needlessly strained by the d-bag she had been married to. Things there were good.

I got my first tattoo on a whim. Designed it myself. Drew up the stencil in the car as we were driving there. I planned on getting tons and tons more -- I'm glad I didn't. While I do not regret my tattoos, and would even get another right now, there is a such thing as over doing it. Everything in moderation. You don't need to be covered head to toe in ink to express yourself. A little here and there is quite sufficient.

My hair was black and purple. It was also over three feet in length. By that summer though, I would cut it for the first time: A shoulder-length bob. The stylist would cry as she did it, not able to fathom why I would ever choose to cut it all off and terrified that she would do an unsatisfactory job. It seemed all-in-all a bigger deal to her than it was for me. I donated it to Locks of Love.

My long lost family from Michigan was still long lost. I missed my sisters on a daily basis but had absolutely no way to reconnect with them. Even though they were only three hours away, across the state line, they may as well have been in outer space. Several years down the line, I would find them on Myspace and we'd meet face-to-face for the first time in over twelve years. Finding them again still stands out as one of the best days of my life.

Lena drove a seemingly crappy Ford Taurus. But I'm convinced it saved our life at least once. After driving nose first off of a thirty foot incline, after sliding on an icy road at 50 mph. We almost collided with a forest at one point and a telephone pole at another. We were not wearing seat belts. I have no idea how we walked out of there okay. Well, okay in a general sense. I broke several bones, but nothing serious.

I learned to always wear my seat belt.

I made friends all over the world, thanks to the growing popularity of the Internet. I'm still in touch with most of them today. Despite the stereotype that the internet is full of creepers and predators, the only truly offensive people I've ever met have all been offline -- in real life.

My dream job was to model and I landed not one but two contracts to do so. I however quickly learned that modeling was far from a dream job as it required two very key aspects: lots of traveling and very little sleep. Traveling is great until you realize if you want to work full time as a model you need to be doing it twelve out of every twenty-four hour day to get from one job to the next. You want to know why most models are so skinny and sickly looking? It's not drugs. It's not anorexia. It's having to go straight from an airplane to work, to another airplane, to more work. Eating nothing but airport food.

I realized another key thing in my days of being a model: I don't like attention. Especially not attention from strangers. Not at all. I thought I'd love to be famous, but I had never been more wrong in my life. The idea of fame quickly became not just unappealing to me, but kind of appalling. Having someone all up in your business every second of the day is obnoxious. Particularly when it isn't someone you like.

I considered disappearing off 'the grid' to live a modest life in a cave some where with stolen internet and electricity, living otherwise off the fat of the land. It's probably a good thing I didn't, as I very likely would have died out there and no one would have ever found out.

If an Inari falls in the forest and no one is around to hear, does she make a sound?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Gift Buying Guide

As requested: A Gift Buying Guide
a.k.a. How To Shop For An Inari 
(Updated frequently! 3/27/2012) 
 Moved to April for ease!

With (insert gift-buying date) fast approaching, people have begun asking me what I'd like -- but I prefer surprises. So this is a compromise for those of you who want me to narrow down the field.

I'm actually quite simple to please, even on a budget. The sentiment of the gift means more to me than the amount of money you had to spend on it. Many of my favorite gifts aren't worth much at all outside of how much they mean to me.

Here are some general things I like. These things and anything related to these things are bound to bring a smile to my face. Listed in no particular order whatsoever.

Things I Could Really Use:
  • A new bed (queensize+)
  • A bookbag
  • A netbook

Non-edible Things I Like:
  • Octopodes
  • Frogs
  • Bats
  • Polished Stones
  • Robots
  • Goldfish
  • Scarves
  • The color orange
  • The color red
  • Elephants
  • Hardcover books
  • Antiques 
  • Lockets
  • Knit cardigans
  • Snails
  • Tulips

Edible Things I Like:
  • Honey
  • Tea
  • Mead
  • Sake
  • Ginger
  • Popcorn
  • Cupcakes
  • Chocolate
  • Meringue cookies
  • Caramels
  • Wasabi peas

    Scents I Like:
    • Cinnamon
    • Vanilla
    • Ginger
    • Amber
    • Honey

      Television/Book-related Things I Like:
      • Star Trek
      • Star Wars
      • Battle Star Galactica 
      • Lost 
      • Doctor Who
      • Death Note
      • Full Metal Alchemist
      • A Song of Ice and Fire 

      Comic-related Things I Like:

      Video Game-related Things I Like:
      • Chocobos
      • Moogles
      • Prinnies
      • Tonberries

      Then there is of course video games themselves, though that can be tricky if you don't know what I already have in my collection. I prefer classical RPGs, but will play just about anything. I have a PC, a 360, a Wii, and all of the older consoles. My Steam name is: Morally_Gray

      Things I Support:

      My ears are pierced. I own a charm bracelet. I wear a size extra small (small if that's as little as they come) tops and medium/32" bottoms. My shoe size is 9, narrow. I prefer silver to gold and have an allergy to faux silver and gold-plate, unfortunately.

      Hope that helps!

      Feel free to comment or write a blog with your own lists to make things easier on me. ;)