Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Upswing

I would say that creativity comes to me in waves.  It is always there, bubbling under the surface, but it certainly boils over in inconsistent intervals.  As is evident of being absent from posting here in nearly a month.  I told you I was no good at frequency; you were warned.  

This time of year, there are plenty of reasons to be disconnected from the interweb-world.  Holidays, end of the business fiscal year, but really,  no offense to anyone I solely speak with via internet,  but I just didn't want to be here.  I've been reading, doing a little bit of writing (with a pen, in a notebook), baking, catching up on TV I ignored all of Thanksgiving week and and end of month week at work (which was last week), shopping (it is shopping season after all) and generally being busy around the house.

Let us see.  Adventures in real life.  I had a pack of small children in my house for the first time two Saturdays ago.  I think it went well.  I had paper and crayons.  And cats. Cats are nearly always a win with little kids.  Fortunately,  I have brilliant friends, and their children were raised right, so I was not at all worried about what sort of hi jinks they might get themselves into.  As a matter a fact,  I think my house ended up cleaner after they left than when they arrived.  Well, mostly,  I did find a few cheez-its squirreled away in a corner of the living room and a single french fry on the top of my wing-backed chair.  But over all,  these children were better house guests than the group of grown men that used to frequent my house every weekend all weekend.  So,  there is hope for the future.  

I've been organizing. My spare room had to be made functional for the Pack, so we had to get creative with storing things.  Mostly due to the bazillion or so Magic: The Gathering cards in boxes. We love to play (we even taught my 59 year old mother to play and she whups us almost every time. I've learned to show no mercy.), but I honestly don't know what we were thinking when we continued to buy all these cards.  We'll never play enough games to use them all (I certainly don't have the patience to make enough decks out of them to play them all), and most of the cards are too old for official tournament use.     So, I'm not sure what to do with them all, other than find some cool art thing to do with them.  This just goes to show that even Husband the Great can fall victim to impulse shopping.  

I've gotten a bit rambly, haven't I?  I was talking about creative waves.  I'm back in the upswing I think. I have a few jewelry things to do,  I want try some neat photography tricks, and there is more baking to do before the end of the year.  So,  again,  it could be a while before you hear from me.    

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Privilege and Good Graces

Today, I am not feeling nice.  I was woken up exceptionally early by unfamiliar sounds and could not get back to sleep.  This set the tone for my entire day.  I am not in any way a morning person,  unless you count those days where I just have not been to sleep yet.  I am a night owl and despite being stuffed into a corporate job that requires mornings,  I have never adjusted.  But this post isn't about my inability to greet the early morning without wanting to kill it,  this is just explaining why I am Cranky McCrankyPants today.

What I really want to talk about is people with privilege and how ridiculous they sound when the world just doesn't fall into place for them or give them exactly what they want when they want it.  I feel I have every right to talk about this and point fingers because I will absolutely be pointing three right back to myself.  When I was growing up,  for the most part, if I wanted it and it wasn't just absurd (buy me that $300 toy that will break in a month),  I got it.  My mother loves to buy presents. She loves to see a person's face light up when she gives them just the thing they were looking for.  But, as parents are known to say,  she was not the bank of Mom when I became an adult.  Plain and simple,  she could not afford to keep bailing me out when I was the one spending all my money.  Now, she has saved me in DIRE times of need.  Like my brakes have failed and have to be replaced, or co-signing on a loan to pay off credit card debit.  But it wasn't just a handout,  I always had to pay her back.  Always.

I have some friends who their parents always help them out.  Stove's broken?  No problem,  we'll get you a new one and call it a birthday present (they still got birthday presents when their birthday rolled around).  About to miss a car payment cause you didn't balance your checkbook?  Here you go, just don't do it again. (they did it again, multiple times).  In one case,  they got a free house.  A whole house.  (Not the best house or the best neighborhood,  but the square footage is good and there's a lot of potential. And I should mention that they cared for their ailing Grandmother who owned it until she passed, so it wasn't entirely unwarranted.)

In all honesty,  I'm not opposed to my friends having the privilege of parents who will take care of all the lifestyle cramping expenses.  If their parents want to do that for them and never make them face the reality that one day their parents will be gone and they will have to handle their grown up lives all on their own,  more power to them.  What I am opposed to is these friends not having the good graces not to constantly talk about it.  Yes,  it makes me feel absolutely wonderful when you tell me (about five times in less than an hour) that your parents are going to drop $300 on a new iPhone 4s 32gig for you for Christmas.  No,  it doesn't bother me in the least (for those of you who are terrible at working out the inflection of one's writing versus one's speaking,  this is sarcasm).  Of course, I would love to listen to you bitch and moan and sigh about how there are no iPhone 4s' to be found and how you won't have it right this second.  And no,  I don't feel at all guilty when your apparently extremely fragile feelings are hurt when I tell you that your over-privileged whining is doing nothing to improve my horrid mood (this part is sarcasm free).

These are the same friends that don't understand making a choice between bills or food.  Don't get me wrong,  neither did I.  But then I graduated high school and put on my big girl panties. Now, don't read too much into that,  I have never been in danger of starving (I'm a pudgy little thing).  My mother would always feed me if I needed it.  And she would house me if I needed it. Simply put: I'm an adult and DON'T WANT HER TO.

So,  those of you who still get whatever you want by pointing at it and saying "Mom, Dad, buy me that", I'm not saying you have to change your ways,  I'm saying you don't have to tell me about it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Why mess with a good thing?

Today I would like to talk about some movie adaptations that strayed so far from the book it's interesting how they justified it keeping the same title (well, really only one, the other two are still pretty close). Like I said before, I can enjoy a movie exactly for it's entertainment value, no more, no less. But there are some books I have read and loved so dearly that I was fairly disappointed at Hollywood's interpretation. However, there are ways Hollywood did some a bit of justice. I'm going to give you a few examples and you can decide if you think Hollywood did right or wrong.


We'll start with Thomas Harris' "Hannibal". I have been fascinated by Hannibal Lecter since seeing "Silence of the Lambs" when I was a kid. I know, not a kid movie, but my parents were pretty liberal about what I watched since they knew I could handle it. So, I was pleased as punch when I found out they were making a movie that focused on everyone's favorite cannibal. And I saw the movie, I enjoyed it greatly. And while no, it no longer had the wonderful Jodi Foster, I felt Julianne Moore was an excellent replacement.
((UNLIKE the switcheroo they did with Rachel Weisz and Maria Bello for the last Mummy installment. I love Maria Bello, but she ain't no Evey. However, I digress))
So, I saw the movie and liked it, but the character still fascinated me, so I went and got myself the book. I tore through it, finding I greatly enjoy Thomas Harris' writing style. Only, I got to the end and found out that Clarice Starling ends up running away with Hannibal and becomes a cannibal as well. What an excellent ending! It was such an amazing testament to the level of head game Hannibal Lecter could play that I was very sad that they did not use this in the movie. He basically had managed to convince Clarice that her career was over and that no one understood her or loved her like he did. It was glorious. With all the shock value of the story, it seems a shame that Hollywood was too chicken to have Clarice fall to the dark side.

Then, there's "Blood and Chocolate" by Annette Curtis Klause. In the movie, the main character, who is a version of werewolf that literally turns into a wolf at will finds herself falling in love with a normal human man, but she is being pursued by their pack leader to be his next mate. As you can surmise, all hell breaks loose when said human kills the pack leader's son (who know about the romance and was trying to scare off the stupid human). When the human finds out what she is, he at first freaks out, but then decides he can work around it and still love her. Well, in the end, the heroine kills the pack leader and runs off with her shiny new human to live happily ever after.
I'd read the book long before the movie had come out and I was heavily anticipating the movie. I was very disappointed with the movie version. In the book, the main character still finds herself falling in love with a human and she is still being pursued, and when she does the big reveal to her human, he still freaks out, only in the book, he stays freaked out. And I can't remember if it's him or other humans that were hunting them, but someone shoots or stabs her with silver and she gets stuck in the half-human-half-wolf form and it is the unconditional love of the wolf that pursued her that helps her regain her two separate forms and she realizes that she was a fool to try and deny her nature all along. It was much more satisfying to me.

The last I'll leave you with is "The Other Boleyn Girl" by Philippa Gregory. The movie, well, if you've read the book, and you know your Tudor history, it's a bit of a train wreck. Yes, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johanneson are breath-taking and were good casting. But really, if I wanted to watch "Anne of the Thousand Days" that's precisely what I would do. "The Other Boleyn Girl" is about Mary, it follows Mary, you get insight into the disaster of Anne's treachery to become queen from Mary's point of view. You get to see that Henry was a good man driven to madness by horrid advice and the need to provide a male heir. You get to see Mary carve her own path even if it is one that no one likes. I liked reading Mary's version of events. You get none of that from the movie. So disappointing was this movie that I rank it below Showtime's "The Tudors" (which I ended up watching all the way through even as I wanted to throw things at the screen at times).

I could go on and on and try to figure out why Hollywood does the things that it does. But I did just mention in my last post that some people take movies too seriously, so I'm trying to just note the differences. And I should mention that I own the movies of "Hannibal" and "Blood and Chocolate" and I enjoy them thoroughly every time I watch them because despite the glaring differences, by themselves, they are good movies.

So, how about you Random Reader? Do you have any examples to share?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Movie Magic

Let me begin by saying I am a champion of all movies.  I love movies.  They are near and dear to me as any childhood prized possession like my first stuffed bear (Townsend Vermont).   Growing up, we went to the movies all the time.  It was a staple on the weekends, to the point that when my dad passed away,  one of my good friends burst into tears at the thought of not going to the movies with him any more.

My love of movies as lived on and as many who know me will tell you, my husband and I have an insane movie collection.  I started it, and Husband the Great has only added to the wall of movies.  My friends will no longer play Scene It with me because it is no longer fun for them, my favorite kind of music is Movie Scores.  I LOVE MOVIES.

But,  I find these days that the market is over-saturated.  There are so many movies coming out that I just can't keep up.  And I'm finding that with many of them,  I just don't want to.  There was a time when going to the movies was an outing.  Now it's just expected. I remember just one or two major summer blockbusters a year while growing up.  Now it's an entire season of non-stop "blockbusters".

And I think people are taking movies too seriously in certain aspects.  To me, you should walk into every movie expecting nothing except to be entertained.  Over the Top?  Who cares?  Blatantly Inaccurate? Were we going to History Class or a Movie?  Didn't follow the book word for word?  Could you imagine how long that movie would be?  C'mon people,  they're meant to be entertaining.

If you want something deep and meaningful on the level a major intellectual satisfaction,  read the book the movie was based on.  (Which I love to do too,  but that's a post for another day)

Monday, October 31, 2011

One Down, Infinity To Go!

Husband the Great actually turned that phrase yesterday; "One Down, Infinity To Go".  And I couldn't agree more in the sense that we've only been legally married one year today.  But really,  we've been solidly together for years.  And together in the wishy-washy 'he's really not my boyfriend' way for for years before that.  For a  girl who's all about instant gratification,  one might think that taking ten years to get to the altar took massive amounts of restraint.  But no, not really.  We got there exactly when we should have.

Joe and I often reflect that had we gotten married the first time we got all twitterpated with each other, we would have ended up bitterly divorced.  After we broke up the first time (1998), there was about a year where we couldn't even talk directly to each other.  Then, we became friends again, we and several friends occupied his mom's house and on valentines day 2000 we became a little more than just friends.

I won't go into all the gory details of moving in together in our first apartment,  then apart again, then second apartment, then separate apartments,  then together again into my mother's house,  then being still together as I ran off to Texas in search of a better job (it didn't happen) and me coming home, to us buying our first house   two and a half years ago, to having what I am insisting was the most fun wedding I have ever seen.

All of this change,  all of these tumultuous moves and issues and repairs helped us to learn to talk to each other; to trust each other.  Had we not worked all through it,  I don't know if an earlier marriage would have survived.  And I am glad we have worked it out.

Infinity to go!  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Am I Old or Just Part Cat?

Twice now this week, I have been suckered into an evening nap by Husband the Great.  And by suckered, I mean Wednesday night I just crawled into bed with him when I got home (I work 1st shift, he works 3rd) and Thursday evening I sort of just pushed him over on the couch and trapped him there by laying on him.  I'm sure he doesn't mind,  he's an Olympic sleeper.  That man will be talking to me one second and snoring loud enough to scare the cats the next.  I don't know how he does that.  But, when I do something like nap for three hours when I get home from work, it throws off my entire night; hence the post at one in the morning. My brain isn't winding down yet because it got a rapid re-charge.

Thinking back on it though,  I would say that I am certainly a cat-nap master.  As a matter of fact,  there was entire section of the photo board at my high school graduation party entitled "Naps Are Underrated". It was easily thirty pictures of me from toddler to teenager sleeping in odd places in crazy positions at any given time.  

Simple fact is: I love naps.  There's something to be said for going into my spare bedroom on a Saturday afternoon when the room is a bit warm from the sun coming in the windows and just laying down for a bit.  My spare bedroom is especially good because that is where we keep the majority of our books so it has that wonderful smell of books and I find that extremely comforting.  AND, as a bonus,  it's like playing hide and seek with Husband the Great should he come looking for me as the spare bedroom is the most little used room in the house.  But usually,  if I have those naps, he's still sleeping in our bedroom and doesn't even know this has occurred.

Why not just go nap with Husband the Great?  Well,  I move quite a bit in my sleep.  I like to flip myself like a cute and pudgy little pancake.  It disturbs him... and the cats.  It's worse for him in the daytime because already the sun wants to wake him up despite the heavy curtains in our room, and the other multitude of things like lawn mowers and constantly barking dogs that tend to happen on Saturdays when all the rest of our neighborhood is awake and active.  So, I resolve myself on Saturdays to nap alone.

But evenings, apparently, are becoming the new nap time.  I really shouldn't,  but Husband the Great is warm and comfy and he will not deter a nap even if his life depended on it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

When it comes to everything in my life,  I would have to say that I am certainly a Jack of All Trades and Master of None.  I know a moderate amount about a plethora of things. I know just enough Jeopardy answers that if you were to see me on the show,  I would be that woman who gets just enough right that she held her own in the first round,  but then would likely be trounced throughout the rest of the program. 

This is also true for my artistic ability.   I can fairly well create anything I turn my hand to,  but I would not call anything I have made something that will stand the test of time and will be called ART years after I am gone. 

This includes writing.  I love to write and I know that people like to read what I write,  but I lack the ability to finish something I've started.  I have never finished a story.  That's mostly because I get very invested in these characters I have created and I just want to keep knowing what happens to them.  I would be great for comic books or television series, but novels are a serious challenge for me. 

And there are times I have too many artistic ideas floating about in my head that I get overwhelmed.  Between writing ideas, jewelry projects,  baking adventures (I love to bake.  Love IT. So much easier with my own kitchen),  wanting to play video games,  make scrapbooks,  take photos (with my bad ass camera I got for Christmas last year) and edit them with Lightroom (which I need to learn) and Photoshop (which I know just enough of to get me by),  sewing ideas (there's this coat made of upcycled sweaters I want to try) and trying to get a small business (custom jewelry and clothing, more on that another time) going,   I find myself sort of just standing in my little office/studio and staring blankly at my work table while my brain tries to prioritize all these wonderful ideas.   Hell,  I can't even make a list to prioritize them without going into 'Does Not Compute' mode. 

I am getting better though.  I have discovered that if I make the list before I get home from the cubicle reserve and am not immersed in my artsy little world,  I do much better.  Now,  I just have to stick to that plan when I get home.  Which happens about seventy-five percent of the time.  Husband the Great is very good at distracting me with things like attention and Jeopardy and Lego Pirates of the Caribbean (I have a bad habit of making little Lego Jack run around just to watch him flail his little arms about.). 

So really,  the entire point of today's post is to tell you that I am easily distracted by Shiney Objects.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I think too much.

I feel like there are days I think too much on things that bother me.  

The thing that bothers me today is the loyalty of friends.  I find it depressing that I have more interaction with friends I made while living in Texas for less than a year than I do the friends I've known for all of my adult life and live right here in town.  In all honesty, I don't think they think about it as often as I do.  Sadly,  Joe (Husband the Great) and I are on the fringe of two different groups of our friends.   The older group; who all have children and all but one couple seem to have the opinion that our house is so child-unfriendly that their kids wouldn't survive the night.  And the younger group; they abandoned us back in February and never looked back.  

I understand the older group; it's a pain in the ass to haul kids places.  But they do it.  And some of them have never even seen our house (we've been here 2 1/2 years).  I would be giddy to host parties and have everyone over,  but they don't want to come over.  I don't know what the remedy might be other than to get over it and just keep on going over to other people's houses. 

I do not understand the younger group.  These are guys who were in our wedding party not quite a year ago and I feel like we don't even exist to them anymore.  One of them makes regular contact,  but even so,  he's made it clear that if he has a choice between anything else and visiting Joe and I, it will be anything else every time.  We could go visit them, sure,  but I, nor Joe, will not just show up uninvited to some one's house after such a long period of not being around them all the time. To me,  these friends have made it clear we are not on good enough terms anymore to just show up. 

So, long story short,  Joe and I find ourselves with an abundance of free time.  I find myself alone with my thoughts more often than I would like.  And really,  it's no one's responsibility to entertain me (save maybe my husbands),  but once upon a time there were people who wanted to.  

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A New Breed Of Child

This is one of those posts that may lead people to believe that I'm a heartless bitch.

For years now, I have noticed this startling trend of children being horribly unable to entertain themselves.  Even in the age of video games and several entire television channels dedicated to them,  I've observed multitudes of children unable to give their parents five seconds to themselves.  This observation has made me sort of take a look back at my childhood and wonder if I was just curiously self-sufficient, or if there has been a drastic change in the way people are raising kids to make them overly dependent on their mothers and fathers.

When I was a kid,  it was understood at social gatherings that my parents were there to see their friends/adult family members.  They were there to have conversation that did not involve instilling morals or patiently explaining simple things that they'd known for years to their children who'd never encountered such things before.   They were there to get some relief from every day responsibility.   So,  it was mine and my sister's job to be good kids (for the most part) and play with the other kids of parents that were looking for the exact same relief.  I don't know about the rest of you,  but I could go an entire day without talking to my parents because I was far too busy playing out the latest adventure that had come to mind,  either through Barbies,  My Little Pony,  or just flat out make believe in the back yard with sticks and any junk Dad said was okay to play with in the garage.

As a result of this,  I am a firm believer in the separation of Adult Time, Kid Time and Family Time.  There are times you just need to get a babysitter.  There are times you just need to kick the kids out of the house.  Your kids do not have to go everywhere you go.  Your kids won't learn to be self-sufficient if you don't cut the umbilical cord.  But at the same time, I'm not suggesting you leave them home alone if they're not mature enough to govern themselves.  Nor am I saying you should forget your children entirely and just live life as if they hadn't been born.  There's a fine balance.  I personally feel like my parents had it right.  To the point where even to this day,  I LOVE to spend time with my mother, but I don't HAVE to.  She doesn't wig out if I don't call her every day, or visit every weekend. She doesn't get upset when I choose to spend New Years with friends instead of family.  She doesn't shove emotional blackmail down my throat.  From what I've heard over the years, my mother is an exception to the rule.  Sadly, this makes it incredibly difficult for me to accept such behavior from other mothers to their children.

It's this weird, clingy, unable to let go pandering to these kids that have this entire generation of spoiled, kinda  dumb, early twenties/late teens believing that they are masters of the universe and their iPhone will provide for them everything Mommy and Daddy did (or still do and always will).  Now before you get up in arms,  there are always exceptions.  There are always smart people with common sense that get it right despite everyone insisting that their way couldn't possibly be the right way because the Internet said so.  But sadly, smart is not valued like it used to be.

I'm sure there are those who will read this and dismiss it entirely because I don't have children and couldn't possibly know what I'm talking about, hell some of you may even get mad.  But it doesn't take having kids to be able to observe behavior, and what I'm seeing lately makes me fear for the human race.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Must Be A Day That Ends In "Y"

Yesterday,  I said "I do not suffer fools gladly".  This is not to say I do not suffer them at all,  when I'm forced to,  they get to hear first hand how foolish they are. 

I work in a corporate customer service setting.  Earlier today, I called it a cubicle reserve.  This company is not a fan of logic, or actual organization.  They are very good at acquisition, terrible at integration, and a major change brings on full on Armageddon.  Nepotism reigns supreme and once upon a time if you admitted you drank or smoked,  they did not want you to work for them; though I think they've lightened up in that aspect. 

So, when I tell you that they decided to up and change the system we all work out of in an effort to consolidate,  imagine the issues this has caused.  There has been yelling and screaming (literally, I was there for some of it), full blown temper-tantrums that would put the worst Toddler in a Tiara to shame, and the plan has changed so many times it's hard to tell what we're doing any more.   That is,  until IT gets it in their heads that they're going to "fix" a problem when in reality they took away an entire department's ability to bill out huge chunks of work.  This is when I realize that this isn't a job, this is some big psychological experiment to see what it takes to destroy a person's soul.

IT's behavior doesn't surprise me,  that is how they've always operated, after all they're a bunch of sub-contracted consultants.  I had the privilege of being on the development team for this new system and more than once,  it was I and my fellow customer service gurus that told the IT guys that something was a bad idea or that something wouldn't work from a customer service standpoint.  Well,  when things started to go to Hell in a hand basket (a poorly woven one at that),  the first thing the Big Wigs did was take the customer service gurus and put them back on the floor.  So now there is no one to tell the IT guys why something could have a negative impact. 

It is the leaders of my department that have baffled me.   When I opened my email this morning and saw this horrid change, I knew immediately the impact it would have on our day to day and I voiced my concern.  This prompted my pseudo-bosses to read the email themselves and they too flipped their lid.  They sent of an email almost faster than they could voice their frustration.  All of this is good.  It's when I asked them what the plan was for when IT inevitably refuses to change it back that I was filled with dismay.  Their answer was to do nothing,  keep moving forward as usual.  A couple weeks from now,  if IT hasn't budged,  we will have a huge mess to clean up.  Which kills me because we know the problem is there and we could have taken the steps to prevent catastrophe. 

But alas,  I work for ostriches and their sandbox is quite deep.

Here We Shall Begin

To those who might be reading this, let me start with an apology.  I am horrible at starting new habits.  So, if you are expecting some sort of regularity when it comes to posting here, that is where the apology comes in.

For today,  let us talk of names.  We'll start with "Toni With An I".  My name is Toni. No, it is not short for anything like Antoinette or Antonia.  It is just Toni. Yes, it is a girl's name.  Yes,  I am a girl.  No, I do not enjoy being told "Tony, Toni, Tone has done it again".  You know that guy in Office Space named Michael Bolton, insists on being called Mike and he absolutely loathes the singer Michael Bolton?  Yeah, that's how I feel about Tony Toni Tone.  I don't like their music, I have never referred to myself in the triple person, and I don't randomly spell my name different ways.  Furthermore,  my name is spelled T-O-N-I.  I. I cannot stress to you how much it irritates me when I'm at work, having a computer generated conversation via IMs or E-mail where my correctly spelled name is in your face from start to finish and then you go and spell my name with a "y".  Multiple times.  Come on people. I have enough respect to spell your name correctly, how about you give it a go with mine.   Now,  when I tell people my name face to face,  I have come to grips with the fact that they have NO way to tell how I spell it and I just let it go.  

I've always had issues about people getting my name wrong.  When I was in first or second grade, I actually got held after school because one of the teachers called me "Joey" (My older sister's name).  It took every inch of my little might to correct that woman.  It went something like, "My NAME is TONI." with my little finger as close to in her face as I could get it considering she was more than two feet taller than me at the time.   There was a similar situation in high school with one of my math teachers, but it was far less amusing and I wasn't nearly as adoring and forgivable then. 

Spell my name right and don't call me Joey and we'll be off to a fantastic start.

Moving on,  lets talk about the title of the blog, "They All Start Out As Toads".  This is a call back to a Once Upon A Time storyline.  I've always liked the idea that witches would turn people into toads if they were bad.  And it was an idea that we, as a group of roleplayers and writers carried on into this fairytale world we built.  All princes started out as toads and got turned into princes by the Fairy Godmother.  She could just as easily turn them back to toads if they proved unsatisfactory.  The threat of Toadery was strong.  There are days I wish I could apply the threat of toadery to real life fools.  On occasion, I've been known to spat out "They all start out as toads." when someone is acting a fool.  Anyone who really knows me will tell you that I do not suffer fools gladly.  

So, to sum up, spell my name right, don't get me confused with my sister and you'll avoid being labeled a candidate for immediate toadery.