Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.
[W. H. Auden]

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A cat by any other name...

As I was researching color names for a paper, I ran across this site. If you have a new kitty and just can't think of name, this is the place for you. Because nothing says "I'm an orange cat" like Gillivray or Pasclina. Want your feline friend to stand out? How about Conchobhar (Gaelic, lover of hounds) or Zulima (Arabic, tranquil)? Does your cat think it's regal, even divine? Try Domhnull (Scottish, "all ruler"), Shikyna (Hebrew, presence of God), or Zeus (Greek, god). Is your feline friend a bit fiesty? Try Harimanna (German, "warrior maiden") or Wymer (English, "famous in battle"). Want your cat to have identity issues? Consider Hank the Cowdog, The Hound of the Baskervilles, or Gray Bear Gray Cat.

Really, this site could also be a unique resource for future human parents experiencing namer's block. There are enough Joshuas, Megans, Ashleys, and Johns in the world. Give your kid a name to build an identity on. Just, please, don't choose Orford, Shkëmb, MacDhuBh, or Enkoodabooaoo.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Get Smartpen!

An advertisement on Facebook offered a new product today. The photo shows a college-aged kid asleep in class. The caption says "CAN'T STAY AWAKE?" while the blurb beneath it reads, "NOT A PROBLEM. THE PULSE SMARTPEN RECORDS AND LINKS WHAT YOU HEAR TO YOUR NOTES, SO YOU NEVER MISS A WORD IN CLASS. GET ONE NOW."

The pen could be useful, particularly as a journalist (it's easier to transport than a tape recorder or laptop), but the headline "CAN'T STAY AWAKE?" makes me laugh: Sleep through class and listen to the lecture at your own convenience and pace! Don't worry about getting more sleep or paying attention, technology will solve everything! Typical advertisement, offering to conveniently mask the symptoms instead of cure the illness.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lions, Dog-Catchers, and Cars, Oh, My!

Yep, you guessed it.
I had another lion dream last night.

This time, it started out in the day, with an vaguely unidentifiable friend and I driving around Portland/LA. Traffic abounded, and we were lost. Eventually, we came to the abrupt end of an overpass at the outskirts of town that looked over a bunch of dilapidated streets and highways that had sunken into a desert. We decided to stay there for the night and do some quality stargazing. A bunch of frantic but slapstick stuff happened then that I barely, fuzzily recall. A lion was involved, and other people.


Somehow, I got back to my hometown. I decided to walk home from the library, but took an unfamiliar route, passing through some sketchy neighborhoods. The late afternoon waned into nighttime. I saw a lion meandering around down a side street and picked up my pace, making it home in time to warn my dad, who was doing yard work, of the lion's presence. Its lazy tracking became chasing, and my dad and I only had time to lock ourselves in his truck outside the house. We stayed there quite a while until the lion had got bored lurking around the truck and surrounding houses and wandered farther down the block. We ran into the house, the lion noticing and chasing us to the door. So we called the police, who didn't know what to do (lions are, after all, quite rare in these parts). Optionless, they called in the dog-catchers, who took forever. In fact, we were stuck inside the house until the next afternoon. The lion paced around the house relentlessly. It didn't speak.

The dog-catchers finally arrived with some sort of tranquilizers. Unfortunately, they were made for dogs, not big cats, so they just subdued the lion without knocking it out. The lion then slurred out something like, "All I wanted was a car ride."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I had another chasing dream, but this one involved three friends from school and I fleeing human chasers (one hooded in black, a la LOTR, one a normal young chap). It started at some sort of gathering which was crashed by these evil chasers who were trying to get rid of all of us (not kill, just vaguely "get rid of"). Some of the people at the gathering were from school, some from camp, some from nowhere identifiable. Anyway, three friends and I escaped by jumping into someone's Mustang and sneaking away while the chasers chased other people. The two aforementioned chasers tracked us, though, and what followed was an elaborate series of clever, desperate, and sometimes ridiculous escapades involving a lot of driving; crowded airports; windy, mountain roads; long, deserted highways; luxurious, pink hotels; and dingy restaurant/gas stations.

My favorite trick we attempted was hiding in waist-deep pool of water surrounded by lawn decorations and brightly colored flora until the chasers passed in their blue/black/purple car (the color changed throughout the dream, like a bruise) passed us on the nearby highway, once again located outside of Portland. I thought it was brilliantly clever and cinematic, but my friends complained about the chilly water and their new shoes. Eventually, we met the two chasers in the airport, where the young chap explained they didn't like being chasers, but the hooded fellow had a bad case of indigestion during which he lost all control of his mind and joined the truly evil chasers. The young chap had been trying to tell us all along.

Interestingly, this dream happened twice in a row, like an immediate recurrence. I don't remember the first time as well, but it didn't turn out so well. Interestingly, we were aware of that within the dream, and the first experience came in handy. "Remember what happened when we tried that last time?" one of us would say ominously. So we chose a different path, and that made all the difference.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lions & Jaguars Rampant

Last night, I had a vivid dream that possessed three main elements:
1. Chasing
2. Church people
3. Camp

Synopsis: Big cats (primarily lions, with a few tigers and jaguars) chase me and other people (primarily from church) around the camp I attended through junior/high school.

This is notable because for the first time I recall, my dream mostly consisted of things I had recently and consciously been thinking about to some extent. While I don't agree with a lot of dream interpretation, I think dreaming is a powerful realm of the unconscious and is a tool of problem solving. The latent content of this dream seems fairly obvious to me, based on the struggles I've had lately.

Usually, though, my dreams involving wild animals/chasing seem far fetched and unrelated to my conscious life (like the the only other lion-ish dream I recall having), more like adventure-horror films than stuff of significance. The other vivid wild animal/chasing dreams I remember from the last few years:

### Giant komodo dragons chase me from downtown to my neighborhood, where I and a few imaginary neighbors go to elaborate lengths to escape the lizards of unusual size by climbing fences, telephone poles, and rooftops. The komodo dragons could talk.

### Oversized nutria (a species prevalent around my Oregon college) chase me around a semblance of my campus, where I take shelter in the academic center. An imaginary professor, who happens to personally know the English-speaking nutria king, takes me to make negotiations with the talking R.O.U.S. Unfortunately, the nutria king cannot control his subjects, who continue to attack my peers and professors on campus and around town. Most of the dream takes place at night, which is an unfamiliar dreamscape for me.

### A wolfish beast chases my roommate around, trying to seduce her to marry him. Entranced, she agrees to meet him that night, when they will run away. Somehow, a few random personalities from my campus and I find out about the wolf. Then we discover his nefarious intentions to kill her. So we finally find my roommate, lock her in a boys' dorm, then set out to find the wolf, who tries to get into the dorm. Think Beauty and the Beast meets Phantom of the Opera meets Lady in the Water. Yes, the wolf could talk. (This also partially takes place at night; interestingly, I can only remember three dreams, including these two, that involve the dark. I've had all of them in the last six months.)

I also had an interesting dream this last semester that took place in my hometown. It involved leaf-zombies invading. (No, I didn't know what leaf-zombies were before this dream, either. They are vague human-like creatures that lay in wait as piles of leaves in street gutters until they swirl up into their humanoid form.) I was at Sharis, across town from my house, with some friends. When the televisions informed us of the invasion and warned us of innocent-looking leaf piles, we set out in a friend's car to get away, but I insisted on going home to warn my family. Somehow, I managed to get halfway across town without being eaten (er, consumed by a pile of's an odd, non-violent way to die, I guess) by the leaf-zombies, although I saw several other people eaten. I met a nice older fellow behind Walgreens, who gave me a magic dollar bill (yes, you read that right) which would protect me from the autumnal creatures before he sacrificed himself to the leaf-zombie lurking behind the drugstore so I could proceed. With the magic dollar bill, I made it home safely and tried to convince my parents we could escape to the country with my pecuniary protection, but they told me to calm down and continued reading the paper. Talk about an anti-climax.

Interestingly, the third dream involving nighttime also involved a few people from college, as well as the building of my old church. And a dark forest, which I've never dreamt about before. And a human antagonist, instead of animal--a thief/possibly murderer type who broke into the church and then chased my friends into the forest, where I followed, looking for some imaginary child. I'm sure there's some sort of meaning there, particularly with the darkness-college connection, but it isn't an obvious one. I can't think of any significant problems that relate specifically to college or the people there; in fact, I love the community there, and it's fairly isolated from the problems of the world, personally and globally. So maybe it represents something, but I do not know what. I'm a journalist, not a psychologist.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Two Books, Two Days

In between working and sleeping, the last two days have been consumed by two delightfully satisfying YA novels, Twisted and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. These two bildungsromans, written by Laurie Halse Anderson and Sherman Alexie, respectively, follow two very different young men from uncertainty and anger to a choose-your-own-destiny sort of conclusion. I’d been waiting to read these books for months, and neither disappointed.

Twisted: A Synopsis
On probation for vandalizing his school, 17-year-old Tyler Miller returns to school as the nerd he’s always been—but now with a dangerous reputation, which gains him favor from the alpha female of the school, who happens to be his dad’s boss’s daughter. Struggling against a dysfunctional family, suicidal thoughts, and a police investigation thanks to false accusations from his peers, Tyler begins to learn what it means to be a man.

Coming from Anderson, author of the critically-acclaimed and personally-beloved Speak, I had great expectations for Twisted, her first foray into the male mind. The front lapel* of the book reads, “Everybody told me to be a man. Nobody told me how.” It’s a simple, sort of cryptic, and highly provocative teaser, perfectly appropriate for the story.
Laurie Halse Anderson delves into her protagonist’s mind, painting a spotless and sometimes troubling portrait of adolescence. She delves into high school, which is never uglier and never more meaningful than when she holds the shovel. She delves into the troubles of a suburban American family, offering hope without succumbing to a happy ending. Five stars for Twisted, easily. (If you decide to read this story, remember that Anderson doesn’t tell pretty or comfortable stories; although she does tell important ones.)
I can’t resist repeating one of the promotional quotes on the back of Twisted, from author Chris Lynch: “Laurie Halse Anderson is the undisputed bard of suburban American high school society.…Reality may bite, but perception just might tear you to shreds. The last line of defense for our hero is the same as it’s always been—character.”

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: A Synopsis
Junior (Arnold Spirit, Jr., formally), born with many medical issues, grows up on the Spokane Indian Reservation as the brunt of many jokes and fistfights, and as the target of many bullies, including adults. Sick of poverty, inadequate education, and hopelessness, he decides to attend nearby all-white, small-town Reardan High School. The rez community sees Junior’s decision as a betrayal of his home and culture.

True to his self-aware form, Alexie manages to write about serious issues—death, alcoholism, racism, growing up—with a lighthearted and ironic, though still reflective, voice. A chronic cartoonist, Junior inserts many drawings into his “diary” (Part-Time Indian does not really follow the traditional journal format, but whatever), a multi-media dimension that is verging on a bit of a trend in YA lit, a revamping of old-school illustrations. Sherman Alexie, being Sherman Alexie, covers a lot of rez angst and culture conflict; and, of course, being Sherman Alexie, he does it honestly, without getting whiny.

Reading Part-Time Indian within 24 hours of Twisted was probably a mistake, since they are both coming-of-age stories aimed at the same audience, thus demanding a comparison. Anderson’s writing is very involved, mentally and emotionally; she sets a high standard of storytelling. As much as I love Alexie’s poetry, his prose—at least in this book—seems just so-so. His protagonist writes straightforwardly, without the layered depth Alexie usually employs. Yes, Junior’s voice is strong and honest and lovable, but there’s a lot of depth Alexie leaves wanting, which is surprising considering how personal this story is: While it’s being marketed as a novel and not autobiography, Junior’s story follows the author's own life (at least the first three paragraphs of it) quite closely. To be fair in comparison, though, Alexie uses humor to a perfection Anderson can’t compete with. And in the end, both are resoundingly satisfying tales of two boys coming-of-age.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

A stretch of imagination

After a nearly year-long hiatus from blogging here, I have returned (at least for today). Mostly, I want to share the most intense college prank ever known to mankind. Also, check out the early artwork of Dr. Seuss.

My freshman year is flying by. I will be spending spring break here in Oregon next week, exploring the deserted campus with some friends and trekking to Portland for a few days. I am ready for a time for sleep and adventure.

Behold the college diet:

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Grimy Talents

Portraits comprised of jelly beans, murals graffitied onto downtown walls, optical illusions created on sidewalks with chalk--seems like everything has been done. So what's an artist itching for groundbreaking expression to do? Well, if that artist is Scott Wade, the answer is simple: Scrape a picture into your friends' dirty rear windows.

What better canvas than glass? What better paint than dirt, grime, and bug guts? And what better advertisement than a car?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Maybe it's the hair.

I ran across this quiz and had to take it. I mean, I'm two feet away from a Warf action figure. Not my Warf action figure, but it still seems necessary somehow.

Her voice always bothere me. It's too masculine.

Your results:
You are Deanna Troi

Deanna Troi
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Will Riker
Jean-Luc Picard
Beverly Crusher
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Mr. Scott
Geordi LaForge
Mr. Sulu
You are a caring and loving individual.
You understand people's emotions and
you are able to comfort and counsel them.

Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Test


Monday, March 19, 2007


So I'm sure you've already seen it, but if you haven't, you should.
I'm not a big fan of Obama, but this ad is pretty clever.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Twilight (Stephanie Meyer)

Bella has just moved to Forks, WA. to live with her dad. She's clumsy but surprisingly popular in her new school, where she notices a peculiar but strikingly beautiful classmate, Edward Cullen. Edward is at first hostile, then overly-friendly, constantly shifting his mood. He has perfect superpowers, perfect timing, a perfect mind, and a perfect body. In fact, despite a few confusing mood swings, Edward is pretty much a perfect man. Well, actually, he's a vampire, but that doesn't stop Bella from falling in love with him. He, in return, is infatuated with her. Fast forward through about 300 pages of hormornal upheaval in which Bella and Edward explore the perfect romance in which Bella is perfectly besotted and Edward is perfectly heroic, handsome, and charmingly conflicted about his monsterish nature. Bella eventually meets the whole vampire family, (Please don't condemn the vampires because of their monsterish nature because they are, in fact, "vegetarian" vampires who abstain from human blood, thus making Bella and Edward's relationship possible.) who soon have the task of protecting her from bad vampires who want to, well, suck her blood. Fortunately for Bella, Edward and his family are immortal and, as mentioned, have perfect timing.

How perfect, right?
Stephanie Meyers has authored an ordinary romance novel, devoid of artistic merit or a hint of substance, and she assumes I, her reader, will sigh and wistfully say "Oh, I wish I could be Bella!" And yes, maybe her assumption is correct, because girls by the thousands are buying Twilight, indulging in what boils down to being just another teen fantasy...

There are hundreds of similar books on the market; I was especially disappointed in Twilight, however, because I expected so much more. I expected a story suspenseful, artistic, and original; I read a romance novel predictable, mediocre, and cheap. I, in my steadfast optimism toward YA lit, hoped for something different, something to perhaps challenge me. Something with engaging characters complimented with an intelligent storyline. It was a foolish hope.
It's told a bit differently and sold a bit differently, but in the end, Twilight is just more of the same old story.

[editor's note: When I wrote this review (which I edited and revamped a bit before posting here), it was on demand from one of my friends, who loved the book. I was angry, rushed, and the original review was a bit irrationally muddled for it; it shows even in the edited version, but I hope I made my point without sounding like a maniacal, raging idiot.]


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lead on paper canvas...

Since mid-January, I have experienced a renewed desire and need for art. Accordingly, I have been sketching profusely. I think Laurelines sparked the revival, a book our neighbor gave my family concerning Edward Hopper's work continued it, and several other sources and situations have conglomerated to awaken the dusty need to draw that I've ignored for several years. Although I showed artistic potential in elementary school and took an art class, my interest tapered off somewhat in junior high. I was frustrated by my limitations, and impatient with my slow progress. Frustration has again been tempting me as I cannot draw human hands or feet with any competence; however, I have been practicing and am showing improvement, slight as it may be. I am not giving up so easily this time.
I'm excited by art in a way I haven't been for years.
I'm looking forward to progressing in skill and versatility.

lugubrious (adj. mournful, dismal, or gloomy; esp. exaggeratedly or affectedly mournful)


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Feline, to the Nines

My poor cat.


Thursday, January 04, 2007


I ate Chinese food tonight.
And liked it.
Including the rice...especially the rice.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Dragons: Delights, and Disappointments

I admit it. I saw Eragon opening night.
Now, I'll warn you that I'm having trouble separating the film's three tasks: cinema, adaptation, beginning of a trilogy. My review, therefore, might be a bit muddled. (I'll also warn you that I'm writing this review like you've read the book and seen the movie. If you've done neither or both, and intend to within the memorable future, stop reading.)

To appreciate this movie, you really have to view it as what it is: the first installment in a trilogy. That's not news, but it's important to remember.

As a movie, Eragon succeeds. Especially as a dragon movie--no, the beginning of a dragon movie trilogy. If you take it as an entertaining fantasy flick, you won't be disappointed. It doesn't carry the emotional or cinematic punch of, say, Fellowship of the Ring, but it's a fun ride.

Now, as an adaptation, Eragon falters. It doesn't beat around any bushes--it gets straight to the heart of the story. Unfortunately, in doing so, it avoids most of the story's heart. Indeed, this is certainly the briefest epic I've seen. If LOTR was too long, Eragon is much too short. There is a lot of cramming, condensing, and cutting in the story. I didn't like the book, but Paolini had his strengths--scenery (What happened to the city under the volcano--the giant, carved crystal rose in its center? As far as that goes, what happened to the dwarves?), philosophy (Alright, the religion is more in Eldest than Eragon, but the stuff about language and magic and the bond between dragons and their riders is barely discussed.), politics (The Varden vs. Esmerelda issues isn't even mentioned in passing.), battle scenes (Wait, what battle? Was there a battle in this movie?), and minor characters (Eh...the Twins? Angela and her cat? And how about those dwarves, who look remarkably human? Roran & Katrina? The people of Carvahall? Even Murtagh [a fairly substantial character] gets about five minutes of screen time.)--all of which were basically ignored in this film. In fact, most of this movie centers around three characters--Eragon, Brom, and Sapphira, with a little bit of Arya thrown in for romance. Ed Speelers, who plays Eragon, was well cast; he does his character justice. Jeremy Irons does an injustly brilliant portrayal of Brom; indeed, he is arguably the movie's strongest asset, although does do a fine job as Eragon. Which is vital, since he'll actually be in the other two movies. Honestly, Sapphira doesn't get as much attention as she should for this being a dragon movie.

There's a lot of distance edited from the plotline. There are a lot of substantial changes. I don't remember the details of the book, but there's plenty swept over. So this isn't really an adaptation. This a dragon movie.

Speaking of which, it really is a fun ride, if you can ignore the fact that it isn't the book. There are some engaging scenes, and the showdown between Eragon with Saphira and Durza with his Balrog-like "dark magic" employs some impressive effects. The acting is done well, if there are few characters who are given the opportunity to do so.

Eragon is, before all else, the first of three chapters. Three chapters about a boy and his dragon, and the world they save. (Well, we assume they will save it in Empire [which I think should be called End. C'mon, it starts with an E and everything...]. We don't actually know. Which begs the question, [which could be asked of, say, the Harry Potter series, as well]: How do you write a film based on a story that isn't finished? Meh. Overconfident Hollywood.) This is an interpretation of that story more than it is an adaptaion. Fox basically boils the book down to its bones, adds a little spice, and calls it soup. And it's decent soup...just don't expect pasta.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gothic Gratitude

Have a hardcore Thanksgiving.

solecism (n. a nonstandard or ungrammatical usage)

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I'll be around?

I won't be online much for a while, due to life, the universe, and everything.
I might make an appearance in a comment once in a while, but I claim no semblance of regularity when it comes to blogging. None whatsoever.
Happy November. (:


Friday, October 20, 2006


You have a 66% chance of surviving a T-Rex Attack

You have an above average chance of surviving a T-Rex attack. You are able to recognize what the real dangers are as opposed to the imaginary ones. Go team!

Take this quiz at