Wednesday, June 28, 2006

April Showers Bring...More Time To Read!

It's time once again for a Heather's Book List. So, without any further ado:

32. Cities of the Dead - Linda Barnes

33. Eternity - Maggie Shayne

34. Mac's Angels: The Last Dance - Sandra Chastain

35. The Runaway Bride - Sandra Chastain

36. The Cat Who Dropped A Bombshell - Lillian Jackson Braun

37. Edge Of Evil - J.A. Jance

38. In The Night Room - Peter Straub

39. Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier

40. My Cousin Rachel - Daphne du Maurier

41. The 5th Horseman - James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

The Book of the Month honor goes to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. I had purchased the movie years ago when I first got into my old movie phase and remember loving it. I also remember waiting for my grandparents to show up one day and it was on Turner Movie Classics and they showed up during the infamous scene where (**SPOILER ALERT**) Mrs. Danvers almost succeeds in getting the 2nd Mrs. DeWinter to jump out of the bedroom window and I was bummed that I had to miss the rest of the movie.

However, giant shocker, I had never read the book. So, the last time we visited my grandma, I borrowed Rebecca from her. Now, it had been 8-10 years that I had watched the movie so the book was pretty much new to me. I had no idea what was coming and I loved every bit of it. It drove me crazy that I never learned the 2nd Mrs. DeWinter's first name, especially since Maxim DeWinter made such a big deal about how unique it was when they first lunched together. But I can forgive that.

Any book that makes me talk back to it must be good and I was doing a lot of that when #2 wouldn't stand up to the old biddy, Mrs. Danvers. I almost cheered when she finally did. Actually, I might have, come to think of it. After reading the book, I dug out the old tape of Rebecca and made Collin watch it with me. I felt so bad for him during the viewing - not just because it's an old "chick flick" but because I kept going, "Uh! That scene was never in the book!" "UH!!! SHE didn't say that!! That never happened!!" I did that A LOT!

I never had a problem with Alfred Hitchcock until I saw how he butchered the story of Rebecca on the silver screen. He made up scenes, he had characters saying other character's lines and - the worst of all - HE CHANGED THE ENDING!!!! **another spoiler alert** In the book, Maxim (played splendidly by a very handsome & dashing Laurence Olivier) admits that he killed his first wife Rebecca, shot her dead in the boat house then dragged her lifeless body onto her boat and sailed her out into the bay then sunk the boat. He hated Rebecca because she was cold and heartless and evil. It's a huge turning point in the book to discover this because his new wife is afraid that he loved Rebecca so much he couldn't get over her. For #2 (Joan Fontaine) to learn he never loved Rebecca is the whole point of the story!

In the movie, Ol' Alfie changed it to Maxim & Rebecca arguing in the boathouse and she turns to leave and trips over a rope, bangs her head on something and accidentally dies. Maxim panics, throws her onto her boat and sinks it. Now. By changing that in the movie, it takes away the whole tension from the inquest scene after Rebecca's body is found. In the book, the reader knows he's guilty and what if the jury realizes it? He'll go to prison and #2 will be left alone with the crazy and creepy Mrs. Danvers in Manderley!!

In the movie, that tension is moot since we know he's innocent and the evidence will prove it. I don't know if it was a sign of the times that a man not be shown murdering his wife or what but it bothered me that the whole plot was changed. I don't know if Daphne du Maurier had anything to do with the screenplay but I just can't see why she would allow Hitchcock such liberties with her wonderful story!

Sorry, didn't mean to go off on such a rant, there! I guess what I'm really trying to say is - I. Hate. Sauerkraut.

No, wait - Read Rebecca. Only watch the movie if you're a fan of Olivier.



Friday, June 23, 2006

Weekend Chronicles - Part II

The 2nd part of mine & Collin's anniversary trek was down to Beulah, Colorado to see Bishop's Castle. It's an actual castle that's being built as we speak by one guy, Jim Bishop, and it's free to walk through it and check it out. So, that's what we did.

Here's the bottom front of the castle. See that big tall stone staircase leading up the corner? That's the straightest staircase you'll see in the castle. I also didn't climb that one - I didn't see it until we were taking pictures and by that time I was tired of climbing.

This is my favorite feature of Bishop's Castle - the chimney. Shaped like a dragon, when the chimney is lit, the smoke comes out of the mouth. So cool. So very, very cool.

Those are my legs on the balcony. See how you can see the ground underneath me through the balcony? It's pretty scary.

Collin took this picture while I was climbing the east tower. There's a lot of stained glass in the great room which is the only place that has any furniture - - a couple long wooden benches. It would be an awesome place for a wedding...

I love this picture. Once again, I can't take credit for it. Collin took this one as well. The tower on the left side is the one I climbed to the top of - it had stone steps (winding staircase) and a hand rail as opposed to the west tower which had a winding iron staircase that you could see through and no rail. So anyway, I climbed that tower and sat on the turret to take pictures. I was pretty high up - it was awesome. On my way down, a woman came up looking for her son. She weighed AT LEAST 300 lbs and she had to squeeze by me in this teeny-tiny little stairway...I thought I was going to die!!

One last one - see that ladder connected to the unfinished tower? Can you imagine climbing across that?? It makes me dizzy just thinking about it!

There's the castle trip in a nutshell. We took a metric butt-load of pictures and if you'd like to see more, you can click here. Have a great weekend!!



Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Weekend Chronicles - Part 1

Yes, I was slacking in my blogging duties this past weekend. But it was for a good cause: mine & Collin's 2nd anniversary! Yay!!

Friday night we went to The Mona Lisa in Manitou Springs for dinner. I had never been there, nor had Collin so it was a novel experience for us both.

For those of you not familiar with The Mona Lisa, it's a fondue restaurant and it's absolutely scrumptious!! We ordered the "Fondue For Two" in which you get to try all 4 courses that they offer. We started with Caesar salads and bread. The cheese course was next but it took a while in getting to us. Because of this, David, our waiter with a Scottish accent, kept offering us complimentary glasses of wine. However, neither Collin nor I drink wine so we stuck with the water.

The cheese course we chose was a swiss blend with a white wine base - - very good and very strong. We had breads, broccoli, cauliflower, apples & carrots to dip into the cheese. The apples were my favorite and what we got 2nds of. That's one thing I really like about that place - they encourage 2nds!

Because of the wait on the cheese and our refusal of wine, we got an extra dipping sauce for our meat course. We had chosen the Classic Meats which included beef teriyaki, flatiron steak, chicken, alligator bratwurst and 2 types of fish. I do not eat fish ("If it comes from the sea, it's no good for me" is my personal motto.) so David allowed us to substutite extra chicken and quail for the fish. The little quail still had his arms and legs so I made him dance on the hot plate where we cooked him (you cook your own meats) - come to find out, Derek did the same thing with his quail the last time he had been there. Must be a Knight thing...

The meats were all excellent and were accented by the most heavenly garlic red potatoes I've ever had. I wanted 2nds of them and would have asked for some if I didn't know that the dessert course was coming. That's right - the dessert "course."

You have the choice of milk, dark or white chocolate. You can add flavors to your choice of chocolate. We chose white chocolate with Amaretto. Mmmmm.......they brought us a platter with the following desserts to dip: marshmallows, brownies, cheesecake, pretzels, apples, mandarin oranges, angel food cake, poppyseed cake, coconut macaroons and strawberries. We got 2nds of the marshmallows, coconut macaroons, brownies and poppyseed cake. Then when all that was left was a couple pretzels, here comes David.

"Would you like more? We can bring you more chocolate..." Collin said no, looking like he was going to burst. But me....I had to have more mandarin oranges. They were the perfect ending to a perfect meal. When we got the check, they also gave us a $10 gift card because of the wait on the cheese. Whoo-hoo!! I want to use it for more dessert!

Coming tomorrow: Climbing The Castle - Or Trying To (With Pictures!!!)...



Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Bowl Full of Random

Okay, maybe not a whole about 2 short stories? Sound good? Cool....

Story #1: Friday night I had a dream that I was at work but I had just clocked out and was in the library portion of the building. This is how you can tell it's a dream - this place would benefit greatly from a library like the one in my dream. It was huge - - I've dreamed of this place before - - two or three stories of mahagony shelves filled with books and a round check-out desk...anyway, back to the story...I was in the library with Collin and his son Justin and we knew that Queen Elizabeth II was on her way to visit. Justin went to open the door for her and I yelled to him to remember to bow to her. Then I told Collin the same thing. I was so concerned about protocol and didn't want to offend the Queen!! She came sweeping in with an assoiciate, a guy in a fancy suit, and I kept telling myself that I had to curtsy but she never looked at me so I didn't. Then suddenly she glanced over at me and I waved like a loon. No curtsy, just a Gir-like crazy wave. Collin leaned over and whispered, "Yeah, that's winning points." Surprisingly, the Queen thought I was "refreshing" and decided she liked me. She told me I could call her "Lizzie".

Story #2: I started a book last night by Mark T Sullivan called Labyrinth. I really like his books and was excited to get cracking on this one. It's very intense and as it's set inside an underground cave system, it's scary as all hell to me since I'm terrified of close spaces, i.e. caves. A group of escaped convicts take a guy and his daughter hostage and force the guy to maneuver them through the cave system to find a moon rock that could change the world so there's a ton of tension. I'm reading along, all into it, and suddenly I see pencil marks in the book. I got this book at the library and it looks like maybe an english teacher got a hold of it and made "corrections". The original line was "'Don't talk Dad,' Cricket said. 'You bit your tongue bad.'" The teacher wrote in an "ly" after "bad." Then Cricket tells her father to "lay down" and it's changed to "lie" and then she's thinking to herself, "Seeing her father like this scared her worse than anything that had happened so far." The teacher changed "worse" to "more". My thoughts on this are twofold. Number one, THIS IS A LIBRARY BOOK!! YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO SCRIBBLE IN IT, NONETHELESS TREAT IT LIKE A STUDENT PAPERR YOU CAN CORRECT!!!! Number two, the girl in the book is 14. She is under an extreme amount of stress, and I highly doubt that correct grammar is high on her list of priorities at this point. I think the author knew exactly what he was doing when he wrote this. I wish I could find out who did this and pop them on the hand with a ruler!



Friday, June 09, 2006

Let's Talk About ME!! And A Tater...

Why not? I found all these pictures while I was digging through a box of them and thought, hey! Why not share? :)

1990...I loved that sweater. It was the only turtleneck I ever wore. It had real leather strips on it that made it cool! Totally 80's LA Gear shoes with two-toned shoelaces.

1993...I like my hair but can you see that giant-ass bow in my hair??? It looks like there was a party (probably for me, this was January) judging by the balloon plates on the kitchen table.

Shanon & I being cool on graduation day 1989!

Me on Halloween 1995 at Fargo's. I decided on comfort when I chose this costume - pajamas, braids and a teddy bear.

I went a little more "out" in '96 - that's Christina as a dead chick & myself as a scary dead chick. You can't see them but I took plastic spider rings and stuck them in my hair and then I had my rubber snake Damien around my neck. I was on hand out that day at Fargos and there were a lot of people who wouldn't take their pizzas from me because they were either scared of snakes, spiders or both!

This is on the way to Greeley - The Platteville Potato Associtaion. I don't know why that stikes me as hilarious but it does. Just imagining what the association does with potatoes...and it has to be said with the redneck accent. It just HAS to be.

Well, that's about it. Have yourselves a mag weekend!!



Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Marching Right Along

March was a slow month for reading. I was busy at work and I also got caught up again in doing genealogy. Not to mention I picked some long-ass books to read. As such, the list is short:

27. American Gods - Neil Gaiman

28. The Ghost Writer - John Harwood

29. The Velvet Promise - Jude Deveraux

30. Kings & Queens of England - David Williamson

31. The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova

The book of the month went to The Historian. It's Elizabeth Kostova's* debut novel and I had to read it in a week because it was a "Rapid Read" from the library. It was incredibly long and took me 4 days to read it. That's a really long time for me! It was soooo good, though - it dealt with Vlad the Impaler from a historian's view which completely intrigued me. There's a scene towards the end (spoiler alert for anyone wanting to read this book!!) where Vlad takes his prisoner, the professor, into his underground library. He has everything ever written about himself in there and wants the professor to organize it all into something easy to navigate through. Of course the professor is appalled at being Vlad's prisoner and knows he's already on his way to being a vampire and does everything he can to get out and kill his captor. Pshaw!! If that were me, I would be like, "Oh, well. So it's I'm doomed to an eternity in a deep dark underground cavern with an eternal thirst for human blood...where do I start???" Seriously, getting the chance to go through historical documents like that and the only price paid is being a vampire?? I wouldn't fight it!!!

On a spookier note - - I was reading a collection of ghost stories Sunday night at work and one of them, entitled The Trial For Murder by Charles Dickens, was actually kind of creeping me out. I was sitting at the table, handtesting & reading, when suddenly I was pushed backwards in my chair by a hard puff of air on my chest, just below my throat. It didn't hurt but the pressure was such that it actually jerked me backwards. There was no one else around and nothing that would have justified such a large "poof" of air, at least not one so powerful. I figured it was my resident work ghost playing a trick on me since I was reading a spooky story. I told him it wasn't funny and was left alone after that.

* = After reading The Historian, I was curious about the author and looked her up online. There was an interview with her where she said she had been at a book signing and a lady brought her a homemade pound cake. The lady said she had seen her that morning on a television talk show and thought, "This poor girl is so busy, she probably doesn't have time to eat." And she whipped her up a pound cake. Kostova said she was very moved by the woman's thoughtfulness and I thought that was a great story.



Monday, June 05, 2006

The Rules Nazi Rides Again

This past weekend I got the urge to go to the library and I dragged Collin along. Not like I needed to go - I have plenty of books waiting to be read but I had a hankerin' so we went. After I finished ravaging the bookshelves, I made my way over to the music section where Collin was flipping through cd's. Next to the cd shelves is the lounging area where people can sit and read quietly. While I was looking at the music, I was aware of someone talking very low behind me about books but it didn't really bother me.

Suddenly, this bullhorn of a voice shouts out, "YOU DO KNOW THERE ARE SIGNS THAT SAY YOU CAN'T USE CELL PHONES INSIDE, DON'T YOU? THERE'S ONE RIGHT OVER THERE THAT SAYS YOU HAVE TO GO OUTSIDE IF YOU'RE GOING TO TALK ON YOUR CELL PHONE!" I realized that the low talking I had been hearing had indeed been a young girl talking to a friend on her phone while she sat in one of the chairs. The bullhorn belonged to a battleaxe of an old woman sitting across from her. The young girl didn't even reply to the old lady, just kept on talking to her friend. "I'M GOING TO TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT YOU!" And she stormed off.

Now, because I was paying attention to her, I heard the young girl say, "It's just some old biddy yelling at me. She's ten times louder than I was with her complaining." And that's the truth! I never would have paid one lick of attention to the cell user if the old lady hadn't started her screaming.

Pretty soon, I see her barreling back towards our area. "YOU ARE VERY RUDE," she says. The girl replied, very calmly, "And you are very loud." The battleaxe didn't even blink an eye. "YOU ARE VERY RUDE AND THE SECURITY GUARD IS ON HIS WAY TO TALK TO YOU." "Okay, thank you," the young girl said. By this time she had hung up her phone and was quietly reading. After about 5 minutes, one of the ladies who worked at the library came and very politely explained their rules on cell phone usage and the girl apologized and said she would take it outside the next time.

I wish I had had the guts to tell the old lady she was being more of a nuisance than the younger girl but I didn't feel it was my place to barge in.

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