Monday, July 31, 2006

Dress Issues

Will I get in trouble if I use real names? Oh well, we’ll see…

It’s five days to my wedding. Five! I thought all the big stuff was done. On Sunday, I had lunch with my beautiful bridesmaids. Then Lia, on of these lovely ladies, took me to the Elwood Spa and I had a very fabulous pedicure. In general, I had a relaxing weekend and looked forward to a relatively cal week. But, no!

I’m having dress issues. My last bridesmaid’s dress has not arrived yet. I ordered it late, after the four other girls, because of complications with this bridesmaid living overseas. But that doesn’t matter. I asked the bridal store if there would be any problems. They said, no. It’ll arrive at the end of July. Well, it’s the end of July. Where’s the dress? I couldn’t deal with it anymore, so I had Pam (my MoH) calling for me last week and over the weekend. Not what Dawn is in town (the overseas BM) I have her calling too. After that woman brushed me off the phone, I knew that I’d flip out if the next answer I got was the wrong one. So, Dawn will get her dress (fingers crossed) and I will never have to deal with Tiffany’s Bridal again.

Wait. I have more.

I and three of the bridesmaids, at the recommendation of the bridal store, went to a woman named Minda who operates out of her home. They “highly” recommended her. so I, not knowing any better, went with their recommendation. We dropped off our dresses on the 13th of July and still don’t have them back yet (1pm on July 31st). When I got a hold of her on Thursday, she told me they wouldn’t be ready until Monday (today). I told her that I had asked for the 28th or 29th at the latest. She said, no, Monday. I didn’t know what to do, so I called Pam. She call her and got the woman to agree to Sunday. Pam tried to call her again over the weekend, but she didn’t answer. She had no answering machine!! So on Sunday, before our delightful lunch, Pam called again and sat on the phone and let it ring. She let it keep ringing until finally Minda picked up. Of course she said the dresses were NOT ready. Why? Because something came up. The b*$@^ got her way and I don’t get my wedding dress until five days before my wedding!!

Everything will be fine. That’s what I have to tell myself. Everything will be fine…

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Way Forward Is With A Broken Heart

I’m about halfway through a collection of short stories by Alice Walker. I’ve been reading it in between the Lemony Snicket books. The Way Forward Is With A Broken Heart is very emotional. Right now my favourite story in the collection is “Olive Oil.” It is so instinctive and emotional, the relationship between the husband and wife. Trust is put into play. The trust is valued, given easily and taken warily. This marital relationship is tender. By the end of the story it glows.

The sections of the collection I have read, is filled with stories based on a couple, sometimes married, sometimes not. Usually, the couple is interracial, in a time where that was rarely done. Though not always. Each story looks at a different part of the relationship. Sometimes the relationship is new, sometimes it’s on the verge of breaking apart and sometimes it’s already broken. The final story in the collection is the title story. I am looking forward to reading it, to see how the male and female of the story move forward.

The Vile Village

I can’t think of another word more perfect to describe The Vile Village except vile. Not very original, but it fits. These were horrid people. Hector was almost as useless as Jerome. Jerome could never stand up to his wife. Hector could not even look up at the Elders. How horrible!

Some good did finally come out of this story, depending on how you look at it. There is a definite freedom being achieved, not just the obvious freedom of Hector and the Quagmires, but also a small one from the Baudelaires. It doesn’t look like they’re going to have Mr. Poe placing them with even more inept guardians. They’re still children, but as a few first steps are taken, they are slowly growing up.

Now they just need to solve the mystery of their parents’ deaths and the misfortune that plagues their young lives. Somehow it is connected to the “author,” Lemony Snicket. I can’t wait to find out who Jacques was and Beatrice. Craig and I have a few theories, but none of them quite work. We’ve thought that Beatrice might actually be the late Mrs. Baudelaire, but the timeline of her death doesn’t work out. She could also be a future guardian of the children, who dies, as many of their guardians do. Should could also be a late member of the V.F.D. What a great mystery these books create.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Ersatz Elevator

What a horrible story!!! The Ersatz Elevator was excruciating! Again, the Baudelaire orphans are betrayed by people they are supposed to trust. They think that they have finally found a home that they can live in and grow up in until Violet comes of age. Again, they are sadly mistaken.

They were so close to saving the Quagmires. They certainly are in a precarious predicament. Every time the Quagmires about to tell the Baudelaires about the V.F.D. something stops them. I’m sure this secret will tell them all about their parents’ mysterious deaths. It’s very frustrating.

I have to say that the best chapter in possibly the whole series is chapter 10 of The Ersatz Elevator. It was amazing! I yelled out loud. If you can only read one book (besides the first one) read this one. After all they’ve been through; this is just a horrible kick in the butt.

I loved this story. I can’t wait to read The Vile Village. I can only imagine how horrible it will be.

Friday, July 28, 2006

8 Days Until My Wedding!!

Do you know where I will be a week from now? At 8pm on Friday, August 4th, 2006, I will be at my rehearsal dinner. Having just run through my wedding ceremony with the wedding party, our parents and other important people. I can’t wait!! I’m getting married in 8 days. I’m too excited for words!!

People keep asking me if I’m scared. The honest answer is, no. I’m not scared of marriage at all. I am marrying the perfect guy for me. No one else could put up with my craziness… We just fit. That’s all. We compliment each other. Why would I be scared to spend my life with such a wonderful man? I don’t know. I’m sure. There is no fear when you are sure.

The only thing I am “worried” about is other people mucking up my big day. No temper tantrums. Be quiet when people are speaking. Don’t bad talk other people in the room. Don’t fight. Don’t get plastered and throw up on a bridesmaid/groomsman. Just be happy and celebrate the love Craig and I share. If that’s too difficult, don’t come. Honestly, on the big day, I don’t think I’ll notice who’s not there.

I’m actually really excited to give our wedding party their gifts. I’m not going to say more than that, in case one of them actually reads this. I think they are great… I hope they like what we picked out.

I think I’m going to make myself a martini and enjoy the rest of my night!


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Joe & Kelly's Wedding Website

This a website friends of mine created to celebrate their wedding. They are getting married just over two months after us. Joe is one of our groomsmen and Kelly has graciously agreed to be our photographer. They are great people and I am happy for them. (Hahaha! I got married first :P)

Joe & Kelly's Wedding Website

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Writers' Circle of Durham Region (WCDR)

Good website. Offers links to real contests, as well as a contest of its own.

The Writers' Circle of Durham Region (WCDR) - Home Page

Wedding Thoughts

I first thought about doing a blog back in the fall. A cousin of mine suggested it to me. What can I say? He was right. If I started it in the fall, maybe it could have been a wedding planning blog too. I’ve certainly had to go through quite a bit planning this production. That’s what a wedding is sometimes, a production. Though, I think it should be a celebration of the love between two people. The opinions of others should not matter. A wedding should reflect the two people who are getting married.

It took a month just to find the right place to get married and have the reception. Getting a caterer was pretty easy. I went to a bridal show with my MoH (Maid of Honour) and there they were. They had the best package deal. When we at the tasting with our parents picking the food couldn’t have gone more smoothly. We all agreed on everything. Something I did not expect. One of the most pleasant surprises in this whole wedding planning process.

The invitations. Well, I’m just not going to talk about that except to say that I loved them.

My ideas for a dress changed so many times, I don’t know how I ended up in what I’m wearing. I love it! It’s gorgeous and I can’t wait to dance around in it. My bridesmaids are going to look dead sexy!! I picked my colour (some call it grape, others call it royal purple, I call it hot!) and then told the girls they could pick whatever dress they wanted, as long as it came in the colour I wanted. That left us with five different dresses, each appropriate for the different body type of each girl. I didn’t want some to look frumpy and others to look great. Seriously, they spend a lot on these dresses. Picking the one they want, there is actually a chance they can wear it again.

Flowers were relatively easy, once we found a florist. I talked to a florist who tried to tell me I would need to spend $1500 on flowers!! Are you kidding?! No way. I still spent more than I wanted to, but I went to a local florist and it was the best decision. It was the decision that made me happy. When we were there, the ideas just flowed and built on each other. Then suddenly, I had a bouquet. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m getting married in a garden and don’t need any flowers for decoration for the ceremony.

The party favours are easy. They just require quite a bit of set up time. After all we have to make over 160 of them.

The seating plan would have been easier if people just told me if they were coming. Come on people. I sent the invites with a self-addressed stamped enveloped. All you had to do was check off the right box and stick it in the mail. How hard is that? It’s really frustrating. Oh well. I’m only doing this once…. Now I just need to make a seating map and decide where the tables are going.
For the most part, it’s been fun. I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself. This has been such a huge part of my life for the past nine months. What am I going to do when it’s over? Oh right, I’m going to work on my career.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Austere Academy

The Austere Academy was atrocious. Another frustrating story. It is clearly fictitious. No one in the modern world would let a school be run that way. The punishments were just beyond belief. Again Mr. Poe falls short in finding a good place to locate the Baudelaire youngsters.

At least in this story, the Baudelaires found friends their own age. The two Quagmire triplets were wonderful. They were the perfect friends for Violet & Klaus (and even Sunny). They were orphans, who had their own fortune… and misfortune, sadly. It was great to see the Baudelaires interact with people their own age. It was also good to see that they were excited about being in school. They had been pushed from home to home, that school didn’t come up until The Miserable Mill but then it was only mentioned in passing.

Again, the ending was Unfortunate. It left the Baudelaire children feeling another deep loss. At least we didn’t have to live through another death… Though the person Count Olaf replaced is likely dead, there was no ‘death scene.’ It just left you wanting to know what happens next.

I’m itching to read The Ersatz Elevator, but Craig (my wonderful fiancé) is in the middle of it. So I guess I’ll find something else.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Miserable Mill

The Miserable Mill is malicious. How could Mr. Poe think that ‘Sir’ was an appropriate guardian for children? Mr. Poe should definitely do more thorough background checks. It’s so frustrating that all count Olaf has to do to escape is run. No one ever gives chase. When the Baudelaire children have tried, Mr. Poe stops them. They no longer bother to try. Of the four books I’ve read so far, I found this one the most infuriating.

It remains a great story. The Miserable Mill is full of all the things that make Lemony Snicket’s series wonderful. Intelligent children and fun little definitions. The ominous and clear foreshadowing of disaster. Set up for the next story. In no way will this book stop me from reading the rest. It just makes me want to know even more, how the Baudelaires fair in the end.

For an interesting comparison chart of the entire series, check out the Wikipedia entry. Be warned, there are spoilers.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

We (my fiancée and I) saw Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest on Monday (his birthday). It was such a fun movie! No wonder that it’s making so much money. The action is great. The sword fight was fabulous. The dialogue was witty and hilarious. Everyone should see this movie… by the looks of things, everyone is.

My only… well, I don’t know if I would call it a complaint… My only negative comment would be that it took a little long for the meat of the plot to get started. There were a lot of things happening, starting out with a tense, exciting beginning. The characters keep moving, but the plot almost transforms into something else. There are definitely a few unexpected surprises. Feelings for certain characters developed during the previous movie change with this one. But only in a way that better serves the story.

So it was great. Really great. On par with the first Pirates movie. I can’t wait for the DVD.

By the way, did you hear a Transformers movie is coming out? That’s fabulous! I love Transformers!

(Wow, I just made myself into a huge dork!)

The Wide Window

Lemony Snicket certainly knows how to create enjoyable stories. The Wide Window was wonderful. At least from a reader’s point of view. Again, some very nasty things happen to the Baudelaire children. Count Olaf is back, of course. Mr. Poe doesn’t listen, naturally. They have a guardian that is less than satisfactory, sadly. The misfortune just keeps coming.

After the wonderful guardianship of Uncle Monty in The Reptile Room, Aunt Josephine is a definite disappointment. She’s a bit crazy… actually, she’s just crazy. Afraid of everything, she has to be rescued by the children! Apparently, she cares more about her own safety than that of her charges, offering them up to Count Olaf in an act of desperation. It does her no good in the end, however. Aunt Josephine is not as reprehensible as count Olaf, but she does leave much to be desired in a guardian.

What does the future hold for the Baudelaires? It’s off to The Miserable Mill for them. After Uncle Monty, I don’t think Violet, Klaus and Sunny will have as nice a guardian, but the children can hope. That’s what the readers of this deftly creative story can do: hope the next is better for the Baudelaires, though they will likely be mistaken.

The Reptile Room

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Definitely a lesson learned in Lemony Snicket’s The Reptile Room. This second Unfortunate Event is every bit as adventurous as the first. It is another story that deals with death on a personal level. I think I see a pattern…

This story frustrated me. In the first story, The Bad Beginning, Olaf declared, “Nobody listens to children.” He does so after his dastardly plan is revealed. One would thing that the adults would have learned to listen to the Baudelaire children. Especially Mr. Poe, since he clearly missed the mark last time. Alas, no. The children try to tell Mr. Poe and Uncle Monty the truth about ‘Stefano’ and fail. The consequences are dire.

Snicket warns the reader that this is coming. He tells you who is going to die and approximately when. It gives the ‘adult’ in the room time to explain a few things about death to their children. The warning is sad though. You spend much of the story waiting for the axe to drop (or something like that.) But off they are going to another home and another adventure.

By the way, I’ve already finished reading The Wide Window.

Did I mention, I love that Violet is the inventor?


I think Wikipedia is wonderful for research. It's a great tool.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Cripple & His Talismans

Simply put, A Cripple & His Talismans is a messed up book. I know “messed up” is not a very literary term, but it fits. The story jumps around from the main story to memories of the character’s past to things that seems to be from a past life. There are also memories and events that I’m not sure were real. You could ascribe it to the mental trauma of losing an arm or you could say there is a mild streak of urban fantasy running through this book. It’s almost surreal. This is definitely not what I would deem a light read.

Initially, you are made to feel sympathy for the main character. After all, he lost his arm. Especially after the impact of the first chapter. Then your feelings change. His memories reveal aspects of his life you did not expect. Do you still sympathize? Do you hate him? Did he get what he deserved?

Anosh Irani did an excellent job. My feelings were so confused after reading this book. Thinking about it now, they still are. It makes it difficult to write about. I definitely enjoyed the book. I recommend it highly, but the faint of heart should be wary. Such a fantastical novel deserves so much more. Maybe I just need some more time to think about it. Maybe I need to read what other people have to say about it. If you like good literature and want to support a young (and fairly handsome) writer, get this book.

The Bad Beginning

I know that I am an adult (more or less). After all, I’m getting married in a few short weeks. I would like to think that more often than not, I make good choices. The books I read often reflect the interests I have. Recently, I found myself reading Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the First: The Bad Beginning. (A long title, I know.)

Have an open mind; it leads to good choices. I had heard many good things about Lemony Snicket’s series of books, long before the movie came out and I did quite enjoy the movie. It was very entertaining, even though so many bad things happened to the Baudelaire children. Naturally (for me, anyway) I thought, I absolutely have to read these books. Plus, I like knowing what the kids are reading.

The Bad Beginning was a curious ride. Things that seemed to plainly obvious to the children were missed by the adults. The only adult to really understand how intelligent the Baudelaire children were, was Count Olaf. (Isn’t that a great name for a villain?) As much as they try to explain their predicament to Mr. Poe and Justice Strauss, the adults just don’t hear them. Nobody listens to children.

Even when Count Olaf is found out, that does not mean the children get what they want. For a moment, which the author clearly indicates to the reader, you thing that it will be a happy ending. The children will end up in a nice home and Count Olaf will get what he deserves. But if that happened, it would be a ‘series of unfortunate events,’ would it? The children are then set up for the next story.

One thing that did strike me was how educational this book actually is. While the book itself does not have the feeling of being complex (though the story is quite intricate) the author does not shy away from using ‘big words.’ When he uses words that his young readers may not know, he explains their meaning within the context of the story. It seems quite cleaver to me. It teaches the reader without if feeling like a lesson. Some of these little definitions are even a bit funny.

It was definitely a fun book. I read The Bad Beginning in just a couple hours. It’s a great story to read, whether kid or adult. Don’t forget to watch the movie too. Jim Carrey and the young actors are marvelous. This is definitely an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird was written by Harper Lee in 1960. It was a really enjoyable and easy to read. Many people read this book around the tenth grade (but not me). It was also a best seller in its day as well as a source of controversy. I would expect nothing less.

It is easy to see why many American southerners found this book abhorrent. It paints the south of the 1930s as a place fraught with racism. Racism so ingrained in the populace, there was no other way to think. What better way to see the errors of an old community than through the eyes of a child? Even in Scout we hear her offensive comments. She doesn’t know her words are wrong, but she knows the actions of the county are.

The book is narrated by the androgynous Scout Finch (I loved her tomboy attitude!) and thereby focuses on her and the Finch family. Initially, the story seems to be about the children and their obsession with Boo Radley. The shut-in of legend. The town crazy. The never ending subject of gossip. The meat of the story and the source of controversy creeps in. After all, the source of the problem lies with Atticus Finch and is only revealed to the reader as Scout learns about Macomb’s current events.

I appreciated that the book came full circle. Boo Radley may have disappeared (though he was never actually seen) from a part of the book, but there he was, just at the right moment. He came and fulfilled an almost forgotten childhood fantasy. I think it was a perfect ending to the story.

Though To Kill A Mockingbird is clearly not a happy story, it still left me with a good feeling. People learned from their experiences. There is so much potential for Scout and Jem’s future. The reader sees Atticus Finch, a man from an old southern family, with lots of ‘background’ do the right thing, no matter what. Atticus Finch is a good man.

This is an amazing, emotional novel. If you haven’t read it yet, got get it! Even if you have read it, read it again… It’s definitely worth it.

Memoirs Of A Geisha

Memoirs Of A Geisha was simply fabulous. The story draws you in. Don’t let the length daunt you. I have actually known people who will not read novels longer than 400 pages, especially if the type is small. With this story, it does not matter. You want there to be more words. You want to know everything about Sayuri.

Arthur Golden fools you into believing that Sayuri is a real person. You want to believe that these ‘Memoirs’ are real. I am sure you’ve heard by now that they are not. Our sweet, little Chiyo never existed. If you don’t know at the beginning, Golden tells you plainly at the end. He describes where the story came from and how he came to know the world of Geisha.

Feelings become confused reading this novel. A Geisha isn’t a princess. Her happy ending is not the big wedding and living happily ever after. There is only so much a Geisha can hope for and a fairytale ending is not possible. A Geisha is not a prostitute, though some lesser Geisha have prostituted themselves. Their virginity is also sold to the highest bidder. But that isn’t all. They spend their whole lives training and learning. The good ones may only have sex with a handful of men their whole lives; potentially as few as two.

A Geisha isn’t free. It is rare for one to go off and get married. Being a Geisha is something they are born into or sold into. It is romanticized, but the reality should not be ignored. That is what Golden gives us; a deep look into the real life of Geisha.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Me (Loni)

I like this picture, but I think my left eye is a little squinty.

What I've Read In The Past Year

I am including in this tool of mine, besides my own book reviews, a list of books and literary journals/reviews/magazines I’ve read in the past year, with approximate completion dates. If anyone out there has questions, comments or wants to discuss something, I’m very happy to lend an ear… or eye rather.

July 19th, Le Mariage, Diane Johnson.
August 1st, Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix, J. K. Rowling.
August 2nd, The Mississippi Review.
August 5th, An Inexplicable Story, Josef Skvorecky.
August 11th, Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, J. K. Rowling.
August 12th, The Gospel According to the Simpsons.
August 28th, Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood.
October 3rd, Only In London, Hanan Al-Shaiykh.
October 15th, Murder On The Orient Express, Agatha Christie.
November 9th, Miss Silver’s Past, Josef Skvorecky.
November 22nd, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen.
November 23rd, This Matter Of Marriage, Debbie Macomber.
December 27th, Maya, Jostein Gaarder.
December 28th, subTerrain.
January 26th, The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells.
February 4th, Cheet, Anna Davis.
February 14th, The Professor’s House, Willa Cather.
February 18th, Undead and Unappreciated, Mary Janice Davidson.
February 18th, Other Voices.
March 9th, Family Matters, Rohinton Mistry.
March 10th, Antigonish Review
March 22nd, Heavenly Date and Other Flirtations, Alexander McCall Smith.
March 23rd, Geist
March 31st The Europeans, Henry James.
April 15th, The DaVinci Code, Dan Brown.
May 3rd, The Marquise of O- and Other Stories, Heinrich Von Kleist.
May 30th, Insomnia, Stephen King.
June 11th, Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden.
June 21st, To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee.
June 22nd, A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning, Lemony Snicket.
June 30th, The Cripple and His Talismans, Anosh Irani.
July 10th, A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Reptile Room, Lemony Snicket.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The First Post

Good day. I feel a little funny doing this; posting my thoughts on the internet. I thought this over a long while. Did I want to risk someone reading something that they shouldn’t? What would I write about? Would anyone actually read this? Did it matter?

So I came to the decision that I would do this; I would create my own blog. The easy way of solving my first question is: don’t post anything you don’t want read. Simple

I will write about what interests me and what I want to discuss, but need a forum. Right now that is mostly books. I read a lot. Seriously. I keep finishing these fine (and some not so fine) works of fiction, etc. Then I want to talk about them. I want to get my feelings and reactions out. I want responses too. I want someone to say, ‘I agree’ or ‘I disagree’ with a little umph behind it. This blog is going to be my outlet. If no one reads it, that’s okay. Though, I would like at least someone to find this helpful or engaging. But if not, I can live with that. I’m not sure what else I’ll include… likely my own rants on politics, current events, maybe even fashion. We’ll just have to see what the future brings.

Picking a good day to start this was/is important to me. I like creating special occasions and making existing ones even more memorable. Today is the 9th of July, 2006. Yesterday was my parents’ 28th wedding anniversary. Yesterday was also, coincidently, the day of my bachelorette party. Last night, I celebrated the upcoming end of my singledom, on the anniversary of the day my parents ended theirs. It just worked out that way. I had chosen the 8th, because it represented both beginnings and ends. However, I was a little busier than I though last night….

I am full of opinions and observations… I have much to say, but I like to think I can be concise… How concise what this first post? Oy!

Thank you for visiting.