Friday Five: Zones

  1. Those silly TV programs showcasing supposedly funny videos often feature unexpected blows to someone’s Man Zone (you know, crotch shots). How amusing do you find these videos? In general, not very, unless they’re particularly dramatic or interesting.
  2. Athletes today often talk about being “in the zone,” attaining that state of mind where everything is both automatic and excellent. When did you last find yourself in the zone? Usually at work–I’m able to do what I need to without really thinking about it but still do really well, plus I get to a point where I don’t like to take a break in the middle of something.
  3. What time zone do you live in, and is there anything especially good or bad about it? Eastern Standard, and I can’t think of any notable pros or cons.
  4. An erogenous zone is an area of the human body that has heightened sensitivity, the stimulation of which may result in the production of sexual fantasies or sexual arousal (not to mention orgasm). What typically non-sexual part of your body is an erogenous zone?* I really don’t think I have one, although I guess to an extent, my thighs and waist. They’re sort of sexual but not intensely so. Now, my back is really sensitive, still not sexually, but enough that Paul jokes about it compared to, uh, other lady parts. I love back rubs. I even love having my back lightly scratched or tickled, and I usually hate being tickled basically everywhere else. But anything on back is the best.
  5. Where can you get a really good calzone?* I have no idea.
  6.  * Alternate question in case #4 is too personal or #5 is too stupid: In theStar Trek universe, a neutral zone is an area between claimed territories in space where bordering governments agree not to tread (else war is declared). Where in your personal or professional life are the neutral zones? I try to do this with any talk of Paul’s mom with him–unless it’s necessary, we both try to avoid it and it’s understood that I don’t want to hear much about her, and because it’s his mother, I also make an effort not to say anything especially harsh or critical beyond urging him to move out and stand up to her.

Booking Through Thursday: Favorite

Do you have a favorite book? What do you say when people ask you? (This question always flummoxes me because how can you pick just one, so I’m eager to hear what you folks have to say.)

And, has your favorite book changed over the years?

I have a notoriously hard time picking a favorite anything, so I generally have a few go-to writers as opposed to books. Plus I have such a huge reading list that there’s not much I’ve devoured multiple times, and for me, a favorite is something that is amazing every time, and I can’t really make that call if I haven’t done it.

So my favorite writers would be David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Charles Dickens, J. K. Rowling, Anne Rice, and Rob Sheffield. As a bonus, the poet William Carlos Williams.

There are a few stand-out books that I’ve only read once or it’s the only thing I’ve read by that writer so far, and that would mostly be Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

I wrangled Paul to go out for me for Record Store Day Saturday morning since I had to work, so he came over Friday night and surprised me with Sandman–except it was the wrong volume. When he’d texted me asking which one was next, I thought he meant the one he was on since he reads them as I finish them, so he was a bit disappointed in the mix-up. The good news is he bought it from a comic shop a few blocks away that we’re in so often that the owner knows us, so he called and organized an exchange for the next day.

He’d also had the day off and spent part of it getting yelled at by his mother about authority or something because he told her (nicely) she needs to butt out of his brother Josh’s life and leave him alone. Paul and Josh have very similar personalities–Josh is basically a more extreme version of Paul, so when Paul says he understands what Josh is thinking or feeling and therefore knows how to approach him, I believe him. Meanwhile, his mother seems to take issue whenever someone disagrees with her on certain things, especially in front of her kids. I get disliking certain criticisms or not wanting to be embarrassed, but it’s not like most of her kids haven’t already figured out she’s overbearing and full of shit, and it’s not like we’re dealing with young kids–we’re dealing with kids in their late teens or early 20s and are expected by the rest of society to be running their own lives.

Record Store Day ended up being a fail. I told him he didn’t have to go because I was figuring on long lines and didn’t want to make him wait all morning, but he said he’d do it and got there about a half hour after opening. Last year, I waited till mid-morning to avoid crowds and ending up missing out on David Bowie’s new album on vinyl, which is still a huge letdown, so I figured this year, around opening time would yield much better odds. But apparently, that was still too late, as by the time Paul got in there, everything I wanted was gone. Fortunately, the whole trip wasn’t a waste and he bought himself some CDs. I’m thinking of making a trip out there soon since I didn’t get to experience the day or its purpose myself.

We hung out for a little while when I finished work, walked up to the comic shop since it was a nice day even though my legs regretted it because I underestimated the slight hill on the way, and then we walked through town–the part Steve insists is a slum, mind you–trying to find this gelato place I know I saw once on my way home from therapy. There’s a cafe where I thought the gelato place was, so either they have gelato and aren’t advertising it anymore, they have seasonal gelato, or they replaced the gelato place.

When that quest obviously was a fail, too, we walked back to my apartment and then took my car to a Rita’s, which I don’t think I’ve ever had before, and Paul bought a frozen-custard cake to take home and we both went home for Easter, where I made Grandma’s potato salad with my mom, who is getting over bronchitis.

Easter was nice. Paul’s family had invited my whole family over, but I’m still running on my fill of them from Thanksgiving and prefer my family’s low-key, much-less-chaotic approach to holidays. I planned to turn him down but did pass the invite along as promised, and turns out it was probably for the best because of that pesky bronchitis. Instead, he came over for a little bit, I went over there for a little bit, and things worked much better that way, I think. The only downer was Paul’s grandfather went to the hospital Friday for cellulitis and was still in over Easter, so we stopped by for a nice visit with him that he seemed to appreciate. From what I’ve heard, he wasn’t the greatest of parents, but he’s very easy to talk to and get along with. So he’s basically like my dad’s dad.

My mom still does Easter baskets for Brandon and I–and of course, Duke, too–which is fun as an adult. It means I get everything from candy to silly things like bunny sippy cups to useful things like Giant Eagle gift cards.

My goal was to spend most of Monday at my apartment, but that, too, was a fail and I did things like relax in my parents’ sauna, shop and lunch with my mom, and finally indulge in Vinny’s, which opened for the season. And who should I see working there but Nicole, Sarah’s ex, who was nice enough to pay for my milkshake.

Finally, I made my way back here in the evening, unfortunately sans Easter leftovers–my mom and I finished off our whole batch of potato salad by Monday morning.

Friday Five: Attention

  1. What were the circumstances surrounding your last reception of unwanted attention from strangers? I don’t remember, but about a month ago at Geibel’s musical I sat on Paul’s lap and bounced up and down for like a second and he claims people stared. He was not pleased.
  2. How do you feel about being flirted with? I like it, but sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between flirting and politeness.
  3. Whose attention would you like a little more of? Sometimes Paul’s. He’s not always the best at balancing girlfriend and family, though to be fair he has five siblings and an overbearing mother.
  4. How’s your attention span? Lately, terrible. I’ve been kind of restless the past few days. Overall, though, pretty good.
  5. Who in your life seems to crave the most attention? Probably Paul. He tends to crave more affection than attention, though, and is a pretty needy dude. And then there’s Duke, who thinks everyone goes to my parents’ house to see him. He’s not too off on that, though, because he is everyone’s favorite.

I’m officially on Saturday rotations for the month, and as low-key as work is on Saturday and as productive as I am on Mondays since I have the whole day for myself, the timing of it kind of sucks because there’s a lot going on this month. Seems to be a spring thing.

Steel City Con, for one, was this past weekend, and between Paul and I, it was a packed weekend–I worked Saturday, he wanted to play Magic the Gathering at a shop/practically our new hangout in Washington, and he had to take Jacob to the airport and go to a pancake breakfast on Sunday.

So we squeezed Steel City Con in Friday when we were both done with work. If not for traffic between work and the con, Friday would be the perfect day to go–it’s dead. The big crowds apparently come out Saturday and Sunday which is fun if you want to see awesome cosplay, but I get really annoyed because people have a tendency to  congest the aisles and make it tough to go through faster than a crawl and sometimes block tables you want to check out. But Friday wasn’t like that, and we ended up bullshitting for a long time with both Shane, writer of Cross Worlds Nexus, and the owners of a booth selling neat themed soaps that I would’ve bought had I not run out of cash and their trouble running cards through.

Paul and I also had dinner at the best thai place I’ve ever been to, Green Mango. I got my usual pad thai, which I think I need to eat at least once a month to function, and he had this really good tofu-mango salad. We also had custard, but I’m discovering I’m not a fan of the thai desserts. Paul loves them, of course, but the nice thing about custard was it was really light after stuffing my body full of noodles and tofu.

Work Saturday went okay–I didn’t have to answer the phone or caption a commercial, so I consider that a success. I met Paul for dinner at Mr. Gyros, who have sadly ditched most of the entrees on their menu I could eat, but I lucked out when I ordered a platter and they ran out of meatballs that come with it that I planned to give to Paul and gave me double the usual number of grape leaves instead.

We hung out for a bit, he went home to go to bed to take Jacob to the airport at like 2 a.m., and I’ve spent the rest of my weekend–yesterday and today–alternating between doing fun stuff and tackling IYS stuff and even submitting that essay on the Craigs last night. And the thought of that getting published is actually pretty scary, despite changed names, some excluded details, and no real new information, but because of this and my terrible luck, they’ll probably love it.

Friday Five

  1. What field trips, one from elementary school and one from high school, do you remember most fondly? You know, as shitty as my elementary school was, we went to a few ballets, which I really liked. In retrospect, though, taking a bunch of elementary-school kids to a full ballet is probably a terrible idea. And there’s the time we went to the zoo and the monkeys were touching themselves and each other and when we were all laughing, the nuns came over to see what was so funny. Priceless. French field trips in high school were the best because we went to the art museum.
  2. How does your handwriting today differ from your handwriting in high school? I’m not sure that it does, but if anything, it’s bigger and messier now.
  3. What let’s-pretend game did you most enjoy when you were a child? I used to like playing house a lot, but Barbies were probably my absolute favorite thing to do.
  4. If you had to take the name of any one-named celebrity, whose would work best? Probably none of them, but I think Prince has the best one. And it’s actually his name.
  5. A brain, a princess, an athlete, a basket case, and a criminal: Which of these roles will you take, and which friends fill the rest? I’d probably be the basket case–and so would Terra. Paul would be the brain. Meri might be the princess, though not in the sort of vapid way they mean/Claire was in The Breakfast Club, at least in part of the movie. She was much cooler by the end. I just hope she stayed that cool. Marion would be the athlete since she played more sports and enjoys more sports than any of us. I’m not sure about a criminal, though. I don’t really associate with anyone–and never really did in the past–who would fit that.

Booking Through Thursday: Mark-Downs

Does the price of a book affect your decision about buying it? Do you wait for cheaper editions of books you want?

Not to any notable degree. If something new is out, especially by a writer I really love, I’ll just pick it up. When I do pay attention to cost or make decisions based on it, it’s more choosing what books to buy new as opposed to hitting Half-Price books, and usually that’s a matter of how new a book is. Older stuff I’ll hold out for Half-Price books or even a place like Bradley’s Book Outlet.

I am a huge fan of used book stores, though–lots of books, including the occasional hard-to-find gem–on the cheap. I’m known for coming home from a used store with big stacks. There have been times I’ve been with Paul and only quit shopping because I physically couldn’t carry any more books.

Photo Blog!

I’ve been wanting to do a nice, big photo post since basically I started this blog–and I feel like there are a couple lurking somewhere–and today, with no life updates or memes, I figured I might as well. So, here we have 2013 in pictures.

The weekend was fun. Paul came over Friday night to hang out as usual, then got up early as hell to pick Jacob up from the airport since he’s got a week of leave. Since Paul got up so early, I ended up early, and Jacob was texting me to see if Paul got his texts about the flight landing since Paul doesn’t always text anyone else back and his entire family uses me when they can’t get to him, and by that time I was pretty sure I wasn’t gonna fall back asleep, so I just got up.

I won Pirate tickets at work, and the plan was to go with Paul, but he’d forgotten about this gun bash for a fire department all the men in his family were going to, so after a few days of prodding, I convinced Brandon to go instead. He kept saying he had a paper to write, but no college student is spending a Saturday night on a paper. I lured him in too with suggestions of dinner at Grille 36, but he got so messed up in traffic on the way to my apartment that it was way too late, so we just headed to PNC Park to park and explore the park to find food. We settled on sushi and hibachi steak.

The game itself wasn’t great. It was cold as fuck–after this winter, temperatures in the 40s seem warm, but after sitting in it for a few hours, it’s terrible. I warmed up in the bathroom and with some hot food. The Pirates also lost, but it was still a good time. It was fireworks night, which was probably the best part–closing down a bridge and some streets and setting off fireworks looks cool as hell.

They do this contest where they number the programs and then draw a number and the winning numbers get free slot play at the casino, and our programs won. You only have 24 hours after the first pitch to claim them, so Brandon talked me into going, especially since the casino is so close to the park. And since we were there, we decided to go ahead and play a little, especially since we were playing on the casino’s money. We actually hit well enough to keep playing for a little bit but ultimately lost everything. That said, “everything” was like 20 to 30 bucks each, tops. I was hoping to double my slot play of $15, but I didn’t get much past $20 before I lost.

Brandon crashed at my apartment, then we both got up Sunday and both came back home. Paul came over after Brandon got back–I was behind him because I had to get ready and pack an overnight bag–so the two of them played Magic the Gathering while Kelly and I made fun of Brandon for insisting he had to get this paper but procrastinating amazingly.

Paul and I went out to the Geyer theater in Scottdale to see Chelsea in a play again–You Can’t Take It with You–which was good and funny. Paul express interest in community theater, both attending more and possibly getting involved in it. After the play, we went to glorious Italian Oven, because apparently that’s the one Italian place Paul actually loves after spending our entire relationship telling me he doesn’t like Italian food.

The rest of the night and even today has been pretty lazy. I finally got to use the sauna my parents bought, I did my laundry for free, and my uncle found out my cousin basically dropped out of college but is still living in State College and they’ve been sending him money for almost two years, thinking he was enrolled and going to class. So now we’re not sure what he’s been doing in the meantime–other than apparently receiving messages from God telling him to help Africa. At least the messages are good and helpful, but I’m suspicious and suspect mental illness and my mom’s suspicious and suspects drugs. The past couple months, my uncle’s been stopping by my parents’ house more and more to vent about things, mostly his wife, and he came over for a bit this morning and he and my dad went out to breakfast. They’ve been gone about three hours, and I’m about to pack up and head out for my weekly groceries and to meet my mom on her lunch hour to buy a dress I saw advertised that’s similar to one I had to return to H&M because it didn’t fit.

And then I have the rest of the day off. Saturday rotations for me this month.

Dead Snow

When Dead Snow first came out, it was one of those movies that looked so ridiculous that I had to see it. I mean, it was basically a movie version of “Call of Duty’s” Nazi zombies level–and the two have some pretty good similarities.

It just took me five years to have the time and progress in my Netflix queue to actually watch it. And the thing is it’s actually a pretty good movie, at least as far as zombie gore goes. It’s not some epic, groundbreaking movie, but it’s almost a popcorn movie (if you can eat popcorn while watching intestines get ripped out many times) in that it’s definitely entertaining and something you can just sit back and enjoy.

In some ways, it relies on horror cliches–like young college students vacationing in a remote cabin in the woods with no cellphone service with a perfect male-to-female ratio where all but like two are dating and those two sneak away to bang right before one dies, plus some random creepy dude who tells of local folklore and warns them only to die five minutes later–but it plays with those cliches, too. The characters have a brief conversation just about horror movies with people alone without cellphone reception, and when they realize they’re being attacked by Nazi zombies, one of them warns everyone not to get bit. And this is why Dead Snow actually works as a film, and it’s probably one of my favorite things not just in this case but in any over-the-top gory horror–it knows exactly what it is and it’s not trying to be anything different. Yeah, Nazi zombies are ridiculous. Yeah, we’ve seen most of this movie done before in some other form. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make it enjoyable. There’s not even much of a plot–it’s basically just Nazi zombies hunting down kids in a cabin who made the mistake of stumbling upon hidden Nazi treasure and tucked away some pieces of it to take home. And that’s all you need in a zombie movie, really.

Well, that and some glorious dark humor. Part of the fun of a movie like this is it’s not trying to be too serious, let alone serious at all, which probably makes for a better film. Try too hard and you get some ridiculous, hokey movie, but throw in some jokes and lighten things up and you get something more enjoyable. The funniest and arguably most clever part of the movie is when a character mid-battle forms the hammer and sickle with his weapons–a hammer and sickle, duh–and an opposing Nazi zombie screams. And what do you do when a character decides to cut off any body parts zombies bite so as to prevent becoming one? You have a whole sequence of him cutting off his own arm and then have a zombie burst out of the snow beneath him and bite his dick, of course.

Really, I was expecting a bad horror B-movie. And when you’re a horror fan who doesn’t scare easily, that ends up being most movies billed as “horror.” Instead, I was pleasantly surprised with a genuinely enjoyable movie (with a very promising sequel that just came out) that’s easy to appreciate because of all those bad horrors preceding it and because it’s pretty straightforward–it’s just zombies and blood everywhere. And despite its use of cliches, it’s not necessarily predictable–sure, most likely all but one person will die, but the fun is seeing how it happens, as well as who survives and how they do it.