Archive for May, 2010

The n00biest n00b, and a tea review.

May 17, 2010 - 4:53 am 2 Comments

You guys, you guys.

I just figured out how to reply to comments.

I will now reply to you.  I promise.

I won’t, however, be replying to ALL past comments (well, the ones that I would have, at any rate), just ones I receive from now on.  Okay.  Now tea.

I’m house sitting for my grandmother through next week, and I have discovered she has a cupboard full of wonderful-sounding teas.  The one which first caught my eye was Duchess-brand Peach Apricot Pure Ceylon tea.   I am a big fan of Republic of Tea’s Ceylons, and I thought this might be similar to the mango Ceylon that they carry (yes, I am aware that mangoes, apricots, and peaches are all entirely different fruit; it was just the only thing I had to compare to).

It was not.  I let it steep for about 4 minutes, added one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of honey.  It was terribly, terribly bland, which was not what I was expecting, since the color was so dark and the smell upon opening the can was so rich, and, well, peachy.  All I could figure to do was add a little more sugar, and when I did, all I tasted was sugar.  Honestly, Lipton’s little tea bag peach tea was better than this (admittedly, I think Lipton has very good teas, but they’re not very adventurous, and yes, they are a little bland unless you let them steep a good while).

I had never heard of Duchess Teas before, and after this, probably won’t go out of my way to find anymore.

If you’ve had a different experience with them, let me know! In the comments! Which I now know how to reply to!

On a final note, a few hours ago I started reading Brock Clark’s (what a name) An Arsonist’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in New England.  I’m about a third of the way through, and if I have my way (read: if I don’t fall asleep on the couch) I’ll comment on it, and the final book in Christopher Paolini’s final book in the Inheritance trilogy, sometime tomorrow or Wednesday.

The Duel: A bit of literature.

May 15, 2010 - 3:36 pm No Comments

Well, I was gonna write a really amazing and specific blog about something and it was gonna be awesome, but the trouble is that I now don’t remember what that topic is.  And, after the week I’ve had, what with being stung by wasps, being allergic to be being stung by wasps, the Pens losing to the Habs, having a mouse in my house, and then having an amazing night out with Kristen of http://carnivaloftherandom.blogspot.com (okay, so that wasn’t really bad, in fact, it was the best thing all week and that’s competing with a rousing game of Dungeons and Dragons), I’m coping out and posting a bit of prose I’ve been working on for way too many years.

This is the opening to a story I’ve been writing, and this is the only part I feel like I really have nailed down, so I’m posting it now in lieu of actually saying anything interesting (alright, it’s interesting, but I put no effort into it other than copying and pasting from where it was living before).  I’m going to do another book post, possible before the middle of next week, but I actually want to delve into some different material since I’ve really only been reading one thing all week.

On with the show!

~*~

It’s amazing how beautiful the world is just before you die.

I stood there, my sword in hand, holding it as I had been taught long ago. I could feel its sturdy leather grips beneath my fingers, sturdy as the red clay earth I stood upon. The sky above was warm with tones of evening as the sun threatened to lose itself behind a mountain, as though using it as a blanket to keep itself warm in the dark night. The fading light made the clouds blush the delicate pink of the virgin bride I had never been while the empty sky around them bled out the remainder of the day from orange into ever-deepening shades of crimson, maroon.
A breeze began to pick up and it blew, almost soothing on the back of my neck, simultaneously calming me and making my flesh crawl as though this were the very breeze that would carry the lips of Lady Death upon it.

I looked into his eyes; stark, black eyes. He was a traitor, to his people, to his cause, and to me, and there’s nothing I could tolerate less than a traitor. The same breeze that had kissed my neck now brushed his hair, tossing it just the way he hated it, and blew raw desert sand over my shoes and into my mouth.

I hated him. With every fiber of me that still cared, I hated him. He had lied, and his lies had caused the deaths of the very people he was meant to protect, which was exactly what he had intended to do. He lied as he whispered sweet nothings into my ears and bedded me as hot, innocent blood quenched the thirst of the earth, staining it red, feeding it what it should not be fed, and I was oblivious. I believed him. And he never once stopped smiling. He never failed to look me in the eyes when he vomited falseness onto me and then twisted quick fingers into my hair to sate me with a plague of kisses.

He was so fucking proud of himself. Even now, he couldn’t make a toothy sneer fall away from his lips; even still, he looked me in the eyes.

One of us was going to die.

We both had loaded guns in the holsters at our hips, but that was not a proper duel, that was a coward’s duel. And though he may have been a traitor, he was certainly no coward. And I was certainly not afraid of him.

He held his sword at the ready, and the crimson sunlight bit the edges of it, a warning sign, a threat that this immaterial red that now graced the blade could soon be replaced by something much more sinister. Catching a deeper balance in the stance of his body, he began to recite, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

“Lies,” I whispered, but the fel wind caught it and swept it to darkening heavens, an oath from my lips to God’s ears.

In that instant, he lunged at me, and I at him. The twenty paces between us were quickly reduced to nil, and in once grand, practiced sweep, our swords collided, once with metal, and then with flesh.

An instant was all it took, and then it was over. I stumbled and nearly planted my face into the dusty earth, but caught my footing, regained my balance, and stood straight up to face the setting sun. My back was to him, exposed, and I feared, if for just a moment. Whipping around to face him, my hair gracelessly caught the wind, fluttering, then laying sedate along my shoulders once more.

He was on the ground in a pool of his own blood, one hand trying to keep his guts inside his body, the other reaching for his pistol. He stopped when he saw me turn, his eyes and mouth agape, the blood washing over his lips telling me I had cut into his stomach, and could smell the acrid smell of acid and blood and death in the air, a metallic odor that molested my senses.

He had told me that bleeding to death by through the stomach was one of the slowest and most painful ways to die, and he deserved every second of it, but I didn’t have the patience.

“I loved you,” I whispered to him, and then caught him just above the ear with a bullet. Slipping the pistol back into the holster, I watched the ground soak up his blood for a moment, feeding it with his tainted blood as it had fed on the innocents he’s put to death. I spit on his chest. A fitting end.

“A fitting end indeed,” I murmured, and reached for a cigarette, but my pocket was damp. Dropping my sword, it landed with a dull clank as I touched my side with both hands. Pulling them away, scarlet fingertips prophesized my fate.

“Oh…” was the only word my moth formed, and it sounded strange to my own ears. It wasn’t an “oh!” of surprise, or an “oh…” to God, but a happenstance, “oh”.

The sun curled up beneath it’s mountain-blanket and even the wind seemed to settle down for the night. Everything was still and quiet as a red moon rose, signaling the end of a season, the end of summer. The harvest moon.

As the sky darkened, so did my vision, and I was filled with an overwhelming warmth as I crashed to my knees, then onto my side, right next to him. His eyes were still open, and still black, and the blood on his lips only made him look alive. I’d shot him on the other side of his head, and from this angle, as my eyesight blurred, he looked like an angel. He had once been my angel.

It occurred to me, then, that angels fall. We all fall. And here I was, having falling into the arms of a man who had once been my friend, my comrade, my lover, and my enemy. To him, I whispered, “I loved you.” With my remaining strength, I turned to kiss his lips one last time and my mouth was flooded with the taste of blood, a taste like sugar and copper, and I wasn’t sure if it was his or mine. I rolled my head to watch the blackening sky as tiny stars blinked into existence one by one, but then, in a last great wash of cold and blackness, they were wiped away again, and my eyelids slipped shut.

It’s amazing how beautiful the world is just before you die.

Books and books and books.

May 5, 2010 - 11:44 am 3 Comments

As you may or may not have assumed by the title, I myself am a huge fan of reading. Thanks to the wonderfully magnificent Kristen at http://carnivaloftherandom.blogspot.com (be more awesome, curb the suckage), who I am constantly pleased to have as a friend, I’ve decided, since I can rarely otherwise decide on a blog-worthy topic lest I go on and on about what I had for lunch, I shall blog about the myriad books I rescue from the library.

The thing being.

I rarely have much to say about most books, unless they’re particularly good (or particularly bad). As such, I’ve devised a system. Each time a receive a book, be it from the library, as a gift, or actually having spent my hard-earned money, I’ll update a list. Books that are particularly good (or bad) will be blogged about on the whole; otherwise, I will simply update the list with the title, author, a brief summary, general thoughts, and whether or not you should give it a look-see.

I’ll split the list up into four categories: Currently Reading (self-explanatory), Finished (also pretty clear), Back to the Bin (books I wasn’t interested in enough to continue reading after 50 or so pages), or Waitlisted (books I’ve got with me but haven’t yet started). I’m including the Waitlisted category in case I pick up something good that you, yes you, reader, recognize and can leave a comment like “Make sure you get to (whatever book),” since a lot of the time Waitlisted books end up going back to the library if I can’t get to them quickly enough.  I typically take out way more books than I’ll ever have time to read; that way, if a disproportionate number of them are Back to the Bin or shorter than normal, I don’t have to sit around twiddling my thumbs should I actually run out of them.

I believe I’m also going to start doing the same thing with albums, but that’s another blog post for another day.

So, without further adieu, here is this installment’s list:

Currently Reading

  • *Omega Minor by Paul Verhaeghen: I’ll be honest, I’m eighty pages in and I’m not really sure what this book is about.  So far, we’ve covered Nazis, quantum physics, sex, behavioural psych, and lush descriptions of the German country side.  That being said, this book is almost 700 pages long with some of the tiniest print I’ve ever seen.  It’s huge, it’s elaborate, and it has a tendency to digress.  Of course, I love it.  If you’re into that sort of thing, give it a good, strong chance, but if you can’t abide by translations, pointless banter, or a hearty helping of the f-word, pass it up.
  • *Dagon and Other Macabre Tales by H.P. Lovecraft:  Look, it’s Lovecraft, do I really have to get into this?  Of course, this is a collection of his less-popular works, so I’m actually probably going to give it a good, solid review when I’m through with it.  Until that point, it’s Lovecraft.
  • *Halting State by Charless Stross:  I’m really enjoying this.  The plot involves the theft of the contents of a bank in a World of Warcraft-esque world called Avalon Four, and how, since these games are so invasive to such a wide and important market, this could drastically upset a real-world economy.  It’s set a bit in the future, has lots of UK slang, and is in the second person.  If nothing else, it’s a really strange read, with a lot of good, nerdy humour.

Finished

  • *Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker:  If the words “Clive Barker” didn’t get you, then the opening sentence should: “BURN THIS BOOK.”  A story told by the world’s most incompetent demon, who is the book.  That’s right.  Is the book.  If I say too much more, I’ll give something away, for sure, so all I can say is, if you have a free few hours (that’s all it took me, both because it’s not terribly long and also because I didn’t put it down for hour-long stretches), read it.  It’s worth it.  It’s funny as hell.  This may get a full review at a later date, if I can find a way to do it without spoiling the whole thing.
  • *The Neverending Story by Michael Ende: I had a deprived childhood.  I’d never seen the movie.  I’d never read the book.  This was sitting on the shelf, I nabbed it, and finished it quickly.  It’s a story (for those of you who were as deprived as me) about a world known as Fantastica and how humans influence this world, and vice-versa.  I will say this: the first half of the book, the story of Atreyu, was one of the most compelling pieces of YA fiction I have ever read.  The second half, the story of Bastian, I could have taken or left.  The kid is simply too trite and whiny, and in such a fashion that he makes you want to strangle him.  Avoiding as much of a spoiler as I can (once again, for the six people who’ve never seen the movie), I almost wanted him to fail.  I wanted someone or something to kill him just so I could say, “HAH! SEE? YOU’RE A FUCKING FAILURE OF A HUMAN BEING.”  Maybe the movie is different, I still haven’t seen it.  I say read it, but if you find yourself in the second part and completely unmoved to finish it, don’t bother.  You’re not missing much.

Back to the Bin

  • *Sorceress by Lisa Jackson: This was a smutty romance, so I wasn’t expecting much.  It’s not even that the story was particularly bad; on the contrary, it could have been a legitimate novel if the author’s style wasn’t so amateurish, the characters so flat and obvious (and for those of you who think all romance is that way, you’re sorely mistaken, I promise).  Actually made it a hundred pages in, then put it down one night before bed, and never cared to pick it up again.
  • *The One Marvelous Thing by Rikki Ducornet:  A collection of short-stories.  Not much bad to say, her style just didn’t tickle my fancy.  Too abridged.

Waitlisted

  • *The Word of God by Thomas M. Disch: This man wrote The Brave Little Toaster.  I didn’t know there was a book.
  • *A Visible Darkness by Michael Gregorio
  • *Unfinished Tales (Of Numenor and Middle Earth) by J.R.R. Tolkien: Yes. I’m one of those people.
  • *The Endless Forest by Sara Donati
  • *Angel Time by Anne Rice: Her latest work.  Got a few pages in, but wasn’t in the mood.  It feels very like The Witching Hour, at least stylistically.  Will try again later, but it goes back to the library today.

All for now! More books (and music and movies, very possibly) later!

[EDIT: On a style note: apparently bullet points don't work in this theme, so the asterisks are there as place keepers so I don't have to edit this post should I change the theme.]