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I've managed to put an end to a few things this week. I don't know if I'm the kind of person who feels better after finishing a project or starting a new one. I have a bad habit of dropping the ball on a lot of projects, so when I finish one I feel a sense of accomplishment. At the same time, I have such a hard time finding motivation sometimes that when I'm involved with something that really clicks with me when I finish I feel like something just died. That's kind of the way I feel right now.


Like dandelion fluff blowing in the breeze. XD


For starters, I finally finished writing the rough draft of Chapter Five of my novel a few days ago. Before any of you start thinking that I'm just a great big slacker, I have to point out that Chapter Five took up an entire composition notebook, minus a few pages for extra notes in the middle. It's going to be quite a task to revise all that work. Sometimes revising is fun, though--like fixing up a new house. At this point I don't think the writing is terrible...maybe it's okay. I've read a lot of books that were okay, but not terrible. You can still get a lot out of an "okay" book, but when you're writing it yourself you have a responsibility to yourself and your future readers to make the okay parts as good as the great parts. Sometimes it's tempting to rush it out, especially when you're looking for acceptance and validation. I've always found it to be a big mistake to let other people read my first draft. I won't even let Kristen read my first draft, and I rely on her imput to make Draft Two into Draft Three.


Two More Things I Finished. )
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Or maybe not.


I guess I haven't posted in a while. It's been a whole three days! I don't really count picture posts as legitimate entries, so it really does feel like a long time. I wanted to post earlier this weekend, but it was so windy that all the windows on the east side of our house kept rattling like they were going to shatter. Miraculously we didn't lose power, unless I count the short blackout we suffered when I was in the freaking shower. We rely on an electric pump well for our water, so that really sucked.


On the bright side, if anyone dumps poison in the local reservoir, our water would still be safe to drink. Also, water main breaks don't affect us.


On the dark side, if we lose electricity we can't even flush our freaking toilets.


Lucas has been doing fine lately. I haven't posted about him because eventually everyone gets tired of hearing about the wacky adventures of somebody else's cat. We finally got him to jump in the cat stroller of his own accord. He enjoys it when I push him around inside the house, but I don't think it's good for my arms! That thing's about as big as a supermarket shopping cart. I wonder if I was wrong to choose the largest stroller I could find? Lucas is a big boy, but I could fit three of him in there!


On the book front, I've been reading Lilith's Brood by Octavia E. Butler. I got the recommendation somewhere as an example of a fantasy/sci-fi book written in "transparent" a.k.a "non-purple" prose. I'm about halfway through the second book in the anthology. I'll post my detailed opinions when I'm done with all three books. All I can say right now is that it's a fascinating book and very brutal, kind of like Saramago's Blindness except with tentacle monsters. And the prose is not purple, thank God. Anyone who's been following my blog for a while must know how much I hate purple prose! XD


I'm still not done with Chapter Five...but I'm getting there. My right hand is permanently stained with ink from my Space Pen, which I've decided I prefer to the Parker Jotter. I've been faithful to my doll-rooting ban. When I finally finish writing I'm going to bushwhack my Blue Bird's Song III Miu. Weep not for her! I have a very interesting hair color picked out for her that I've never used before.


Forty-two Hours into ToGf. )
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I haven't posted in a little while because I damaged myself shoveling snow. Even though my heart can take a lot my muscles are still puny and underdeveloped. If we really do have another snowstorm in the middle of next week I might seriously consider taking my own life. Fluffy snow is one thing, ice boulders are another. Over the past few weeks I've felt like Sisyphus trying to push the rock up the hill. Just where in the hell are we supposed to be putting all this snow? The piles on the sides of the driveway are five feet high. And it's been too cold for anything to melt. Somebody save us from this horrible plague of winter! ::screams::



I have managed to wrap up a few things over the past few days. 1). I finished reading Titus Alone 2). I finished rerooting Maya (though she still needs her hair curled) 3). I managed to get the Sarai ending in elan plus 4). I made a lot of meatballs 5). I watched a few movies.



The meatballs and Maya are the only things I can talk about safely without a cut! We've made Cook's Illustrated's Swedish Meatballs many times, but this is the first time we tried making their Italian-Style Meatballs The recipe was for spaghetti with meatballs, but we ended up making meatball grinders instead, with melted mozzarella cheese on top. I think I may have discovered my new favorite thing! Storebought frozen meatballs are so gross, and jarred tomato sauce is just as bad. I'm glad we were able to find a recipe for smooth tomato sauce that doesn't require the use of a blender.



Maya didn't take me nearly as long as Alma and Nao. The sky-blue/azure blue mesh looks nice, and I'm surprised that I was able to pull off side-parted hair with straight-across bangs without having to constantly check back and fill in bald spots. I ended up using one and a quarter large format skeins. I guess that's only of interest to me, though.



Talk of Titus Alone and the Sarai Ending. )
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Actually, I'm just continuing to read Gormenghast. I've reached the third book in the trilogy, Titus Alone. There are four books in the series, but the last is incomplete. It's included in the anthology along with some critical essays and I swear it's about two pages long.


I committed the age-old error of reading book reviews before I started the novel. Apparently most people consider Titus Alone to be some kind of travesty because of how different it is from the first two books. I'm only about forty pages into it so far. Over eight-hundred into the entire anthology! I wouldn't call it a travesty, but it's very, very odd. Who would have expected that the third book in a Gothic trilogy would be comic-book sci-fi? I have to admit that I don't like Titus at all as a character. Ever since he "came of age" in Gormenghast he's been a whiny, Hamlet-like anti-hero. Not as likeable to me as Fucshia, Flay, Dr. Prunesquallor or even the Countess Gertrude. Oh well. The premise for this last finished book is interesting enough to keep me reading. We'll see if I'm crying foul by the end!


The only other book I have lying around from the holidays is Thomas Mann's Joseph and His Brothers. I'm really getting hooked on these long books...

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That's what it's been doing today. Raining.


It was fiendishly windy this afternoon, but the winds have thankfully started to die down. There are only two rooms in my house that aren't overshadowed by enormous trees (the spare bedroom facing north and the basement) so when we have windy days I get very, very nervous. I think it's the one year anniversary of the night that tree got blown into a utility pole one house down from us and caught on fire. I can still hear that zzzzz...BOOOOM! in my mind like it happened yesterday. I'm such a pussy. XD


I'm taking a day off from holiday knitting because it's been giving me bodily problems. Honestly, I don't know how obsessive knitters do it. I've only knitted one and a half scarves over the course of two weeks and my elbows and hands are killing me. I guess I'm just not built for that kind of life.


Since the weather was terrible and I hurt all over, I just loafed around the house all day drinking tea, playing ball with Lucas and plodding through the brilliant monstrosity that is Gormenghast. It is by far the hardest read I've encountered in my life, but when you move past the excruciatingly detailed descriptive passages and reach the scenes with human-to-human interaction that are always wonderful, it's a beautiful series.


I don't normally write this poorly. You've got to believe me! I'm still not great at putting my impressions into words!


I am also still playing Arcana. I've reached Chapter Four of Five and my notebook says I've clocked 7 hours of gameplay. So I'm assuming that the game is 10-15 hours long. I don't know what it is about that game that sucks me in. The Ice Mine was as maddening as I remembered. The English translation is so bad that most of the time I can't understand what the characters are saying. One of these days I'd like to play the Japanese version (Card Master) and figure out what the hell they're really talking about. Damn persistent guy! XD I'm not sure if I'm in love enough with the game to pay for EMS shipping, though. There are probably only about 20 lines of dialogue in the whole game.

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I finally finished Anna Karenina last night.


::breaks out the champagne and Chambord::


The idiot in me is wondering if I should try picking up a copy of War and Peace one of these days. Yeah, that's right, the poster-child for incredibly long (and boring?) books! Because to be fair, it's not like I didn't care for Anna Karenina--I thought the parts that didn't involve Levin obsessing over agriculture and the nature of his own soul were fascinating. I think that the subject matter of War and Peace seems interesting enough (now I can hear a whole chorus of people laughing at me back there). Ah, who knows. My journey into the land of classic adult literature continues.


I'm taking a reprieve right now to reread my copy of The Marvelous Land of Oz, the second book in L. Frank Baum's series. I picked up that one because the Wonderful Wizard of Oz anime that's been showing on ThisTV has reached that point in the series. The anime has been basically faithful, the most glaring difference being that in the books Dorothy didn't come back into the picture until after Ozma returned. I was really interested in how the anime would portray General Jinjur, my favorite of the "obscure" Oz characters.


And....they made Jinjur a scrawny, butt-ugly redhead. I have no idea why--the descriptions of her in the book and the illustrations made it clear that she was supposed to be pretty. An interesting thing to note is that in the English dubbed version her motivation seems different that it was in the book (spreading doom and gloom versus rebelling against masculine authority)....but in the bits of the Japanese-language version I've seen on the internet, Jinjur's dialogue is word-for-word the same as in the book. I wonder why they changed it for the English dub?


I like what they did with Ozma in the anime, but really....Jinjur's character design is too much!


On the gaming front, I'm attempting to play Final Fantasy X for the first time. I picked up a copy two years ago in an effort to reach some common ground with my brother after he broke his leg. The last FF game I played was VII...I thought it was good for the first five hours, until the point where you leave Midgar for the great beyond. :O I might go back to it later, but right now, the game seems to me to be a mediocre piece of...whatever.


My first impressions of FFX have been pretty positive. I hope it stays that way!

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As of this morning, the bachelor's button seeds I direct-sowed as well as the seeds in the pot have started to pop. I noticed that the sprouts that are coming up now are growing their second leaves from the base of the plant as opposed to the top. I hope this means they won't grow leggy and die! Maybe bachelor's buttons demand to be sown outside? Of the seeds I started weeks ago, I have one survivor in the ground and one in the big pot. I hope the second round has better luck!


Two of the cosmos I transplanted outside have been stomped by some creature, probably the same skunk that randomly sprays our trash cans at night. All of the sunflowers are doing great, though. I have more sunflower and cosmos seeds, but I'm not sure if I want to direct-sow more plants. I think I have enough to care for.


I have one little jalapeno pepper growing. All the tomatoes have little fruit on them, including the three cherry tomato plants that had the Funk. They seem to be recovering. I am glad.


I'm afraid I won't have many new flower photos to share for a few weeks, unless anyone wants to see a bunch of vegetables in pots. I probably won't see any new blooms until the end of July. Everyone else is holding strong, thank god for daylilies!


Onto other topics...


Getting a little long so I will cut it. )
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I spent yesterday evening transplanting all my little sproutlings to the front border. Now they seem to be growing up before my very eyes. If all goes well, I'll have nice hedges of dwarf sunflowers and cosmos by the beginning of August. Of all the bachelor's buttons I started indoors, only two survived.


I'm just remembering that the only year I actually received compliments from my neighbors about my front yard I had cosmos growing everywhere. Every other year, they just pass by like O__O...Our yard tends to get weedy and overgrown fast.


It seems that the bachelor's button seeds that didn't pop until after I transplanted the peat pots are doing much better. I had quite a few seeds left over, so I direct-sowed them in two areas and sowed more in a 12-inch pot I'm keeping outside near the front door. I'd like to think that no bird would have the cojones to eat the seeds right from under my nose. I guess you never know. As long as it stays hot and humid, they have a good fighting chance!


My basil is currently going nuts. I'm going to have to make pesto soon, or else the bugs are going to eat the leaves before I get a chance to use them. The tomato plants are tomato-ing. I know I can't expect to see ripe tomatoes for at least a month. Growing tomatoes is such a drag sometimes.


On the movie front, I've developed a taste for black-and-white films. I have such an aversion to gore and ultra-violence that it really is the only option for me, aside from watching children's movies (which can get old fast). Over the past few weeks I've watched some "four star" movies I recorded off Turner Classic Movies: Some Like It Hot, Laura, Goodbye Mr. Chips, and The Enchanted Cottage. My favorite of the lot was Some Like It Hot. I'm finding that I like the 1950's era movies best, because they don't abuse the maudlin soundtrack so much!


I also watched the 1940's version of The Yearling a few nights ago. I thought it was a good movie, but the red-neck patois was a little hard to follow, and as an animal lover the final scenes upset me quite a bit. I've always found Gregory Peck in his prime to be one of the most attractive men who ever lived, but his character really irritated me in that movie!


On the book front, I'm starting up Anna Karenina again. I'm somewhere around page 560. I've been enjoying the book a lot provided I read it in increments of 200 pages...

leene_chan: (Default)

They're Molasses Spice Cookies from Cook's Illustrated's The Best Recipe. These cookies push all the right buttons with me (the spicy button, the sweet button, and the chewy button). The best thing about these, other than the fact that they're delicious, is that rather than hitting their peak warm out of the oven they actually improve with age. I've never tried shipping these, but I hear they travel well. I think they'd make the perfect cookie for holiday gift-giving if I could only be certain that the recipient likes molasses. Well, they oughta! O_O


I finally moved my sproutlings outside to bask in the sun this morning. I had wanted to leave them in until they got their second set of leaves, but they were starting to look wobbly. So far, only the sunflowers are 100 percent grateful for the move. The cosmos look okay, but the bachelor's buttons have grown so weedy that they're starting to tie themselves in knots.


I finished reading Blindness last night. I think I must have been clutching the book too hard while I was reading, because the pages are all wavy with perspiration and the laminated cover is starting to separate from the paper. I had borrowed that book from my brother. He's going to kill me when he notices the damage I did to it...he always keeps his books in pristine condition, probably because he never reads them! Oh well, the book was an intense read. I recommend it to people who like psychological thrillers and don't mind reading about the characters constantly stepping in human excrement (because they're all BLIND!)


I've found this TV channel called This!TV that's been showing all this ridiculous children's programming. They're currently running the 1980's anime "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" (the one narrated by Margot Kidder), which I haven't seen since I was twelve years old. I used my DV-R to tape this jaw-droppingly hilarious version of Puss in Boots starring Christopher Walken as the titular character. He sings, he dances, and the budget is so low that they couldn't even make him into a talking cat. He's just a regular cat who morphs into Christopher Walken dressed like a medieval gay prostitute. Good God...

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Ugh...I had an entire post typed out a few hours ago and LJ died when I was in the middle of saving it.


It was incredibly hot today. It always surprises everyone in New England when we get these days of intense heat in early spring, but it happens almost every year. I personally hate hot weather. Unfortunately, as we learned last year, a pleasantly cool spring and summer means DOOM for all things green. Moldy tomatoes, herbs that never grow past sprout stage, the works. I should know better than to wish for that kind of weather. Just the same, it's tough when you see the high temperatures reduce your bouncy long-haired cat to a lethargic pile on the floor. =_=


He felt much better when we turned the AC on.


We finally got our stove fixed. Considering how much the electronic oven control cost to replace, I was expecting the repairman to come in carrying a gigantic panel, not a silver box the size of a VHS tape. o_o Twenty minutes and 400 dollars later, our broiler was working again! Kristen and I are going to celebrate by baking a cherry cobbler with the jarred Morello cherries we got from Trader Joe's.


Here's Some Talk About What I Finished and Started This Week. JS and Mr N and Atelier Rorona. )
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Maybe...but not really. As of recently I've been tuning into strange late-night programming. For the past week, I've been watching a show from my childhood that I never really got into--Star Trek: The Next Generation. So far the episodes have been hit or miss with me; I thought that the two part "Descent" (Data, Lore and the Borg!)was excellent, but the two-parter I watched most recently, in my opinion, kind of sucked. Okay, I think it really sucked. I'm talking about "Time's Arrow," the one with Data going back in time to 19th century San Francisco, featuring Mark Twain and too much Whoopi Goldberg. O_O Aside from the appeal of seeing major cast members wearing period costumes...I mean no disrespect, but please, tell me that wasn't a fan-favorite episode!


I really think that Data carries the series, though.


Last night, I stayed up late watching back-to-back episodes of Pit Boss, the Animal Planet program about the pitbull rescue run entirely by Little People. I actually thought it was pretty awesome, as well as thought-provoking, but I'm still not about to adopt a pitbull into my household. I can't believe Shorty spent 10 years in prison for attempted murder! O_O I'm not sure why the program is only run late at night. Is it because of the bleeped out language, or the fact that the red-haired receptionist girl is a lesbian? This is the 21st century, people!


I still haven't finished Persona 3 PSP. I'm kind of holding off. I learned the neat trick of earning extra EXP by fighting enemies in Tartaros alone. I'm at lvl. 90 now, and beat the Shinigami in a slow-paced battle. I'm not sure how accomplished I should feel...


On the writing front, writing has been like sh--ting a brick. Pardon my language. On the book front, I've started reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I've read 90 pages so far. I think it's a rich and absolutely fascinating book, but holy crap, it's 800 pages long. I'm committing myself to reading 40 pages a day, even if I have to read standing up while cooking!

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I'm still on the caffeine-restriction regimen. Two cups of caffeinated tea is probably pretty generous, but I wonder how many cups of tea or coffee the average person drinks every day? At my worst I've drunk five cups of tea a day. I probably only drink coffee once or twice a month. Some of the professors I had in college drank twelve cups of coffee a day. I think my bladder would explode!


I miss the full-bodied taste of caffeinated tea far more than the buzz it gives me (which only seems to happen when I don't want it to). I've been experimenting with ways to add flavor to commercial decaf. I always take black tea English-style, with milk and sugar, and that often leaves decaf tasting like marshmallow water. I've found that if you add a cinnamon stick and two whole cloves to the cup to steep with the tea it tastes quite nice. ^___^ Good luck fishing those cloves out! I guess it's only really worth it if you have the spices lying around...Orange peel and cloves are good too, but I've been finding that this year's oranges have reeeaaaallly strong-tasting peel. Better only use a small strip, unless you want your tea to taste like Sunny Delight!


On the book front, I've finished Woman On The Edge of Time. It was pretty meaty and not a quick read at all, but I thought it was an excellent book. Definitely among the best I've read in the past few months. Kristen just finished reading Let The Right One In, and she wasn't impressed at all. I guess that neither of us are really into vampire literature. I swear I heard the film was better, though.


40 Hours Into Persona 3 PSP. Spoilery Comments Abound! )
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Lucas always gets in my way when I try to make the beds. I tried to punish him this morning by throwing an afghan on top of him, and this is what I got:



I haven't had any luck taking videos of him lately. Maybe the midwinter lighting isn't strong enough...


I've still been playing Persona 3 PSP like a crazy person. I've clocked 15 hours at it now, and am two weeks away from the third full moon. I only watched Kristen play the original game several years ago, but I think that the girl character's quest is less obnoxious in many ways. It's easier to trigger communities with party characters, and everyone bickers a lot less. It seems that in spite of being a mute character the girl is supposed to be a different kind of character; cheerful and high-spirited while the male main is supposed to be moody and emo. Maybe it really is sexist, but I bet the game programmers didn't want the party characters being mean to a girl. XD Junpei and Yukari are always wanting to hang out, and I'm currently trying to bag Akihiko as my boyfriend (not that I'm that attracted to him, but it's between him, the kid and scrambling to save Aragaki). I have a problem with becoming devastatingly addicted to games with a simulation aspect. And Persona 3 is not an Atelier game...I'm not going to finish this game in a week!


I'm setting aside the massive Italo Calvino book temporarily to read Marge Piercy's Woman On the Edge Of Time. Another book recommendation from the Heartless Bitches.::snickers::

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I'm trying to wean myself off caffeine again. I had ordered Super Irish Breakfast and Kopili Assam tea from Stash for Christmas, and probably enjoyed them more often than I should have. Super Irish Breakfast is fabulous with milk and sugar, but apparently as eye-opening as espresso. After a week of mostly sleepless nights and irrational reactions to just about everything (I hear a bag of rolls fall to the floor in the kitchen, I scream. An image pops open too fast on a webpage, I scream) I decided to wean myself off the good stuff. I'm only allowing myself two cups of caffeinated tea a day, both before 5pm. The rest has to be dishwater decaf. =_= I tried doing my "steep for 30 seconds, throw out the water, steep again as normal" trick for a while, because the tea it produces is much better than commercial decaf. The problem is that it's not really decaf. O_O


It's been hard. I've been tired most of the time, but at least I'm not getting headaches! I've been able to sleep better than before, and I'm having an easier time focusing on things. But oh, I am so tired. Especially at night after 8pm. I hate to think that my boundless youthful energy is caused by a drug.


The books and game I finished over the past two weeks. )
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I must have been tired from snow shoveling, because last night I grabbed the handle of a pan that had been in a 425 degree oven with my bare hands and got terrific first degree burns on the tips of my index, middle and ring fingers. Twenty-four hours later I can say that they look worse than they feel, but really, what else do I need? Thankfully, the burns are on my left hand (I'm a rightie) and I can still write and open doors. I had to ask my sister to wash my hair for me for the past two nights, though. The burns don't hurt very much any more but sting like crazy under hot water. I had been trying to go about my business like I had nobody to help me out, but really, what's the point if you do have somebody?


The Chinese-Style Barbecue Pork Tenderloin was delicious, though.


On the book front, I've been trying to pace myself with the monstrosity that is Anna Karenina, reading a different short book after every 200 pages. Soon I will hit the 400 page mark. I had been wanting to reread Diana Wynne Jones's The Spellcoats; out of The Dalemark Quartet that was the one book I really loved. Unfortunately, I have it in an anthology with the other three books...it's such a pain to have to lug that thing around. I wish I could cut it out. Or rip out Cart and Cwidder to lighten the load. That one really sucked. =_=

leene_chan: (Default)

Hello.


I can be funny about reading books sometimes. I go through periods where I spend every free waking moment with a book in my hand, and sometimes I don't pick up a book for weeks. Within the past ten days, I've read three whole books without so much as pausing for a breath, and it felt great! One of them was under 200 pages, another was just under 300 and another was 400 pages. I'm ashamed to say I'm intimidated by long books. XD Anyway, I enjoyed all three of them, which is pretty impressive for me.


And here are some recommendations for you! )
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We had some nice weather for the past few days, but now it's back to being lousy humid. I'm going to miss leaving the window open at night. I was fooled into thinking it was fall already. =_=


Stiiilllll not done with Chapter One of my story. My only explanation is that it's a really long Chapter One and will probably end up being Chapter One and Two. (So far it's 34 pages in 12 point Times New Roman). I showed what I have of it so far to my Number One Toughest Critic, and all her criticisms were grammar-centric. So I feel better about my project. ^_^; Unfortunately, now the knuckle joint on my right ring finger is painful and swollen. I don't want to have to stop working until it gets better, so maybe I'll have to start writing with my teeth?


I have a book recommendation for all you out there who think I hate everything. I just finished Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet by Xinran. It was probably one of the most heart-rending and depressing books I've read in the past five years (besides Andre Brink's The Other Side of Silence). That's not bad for a 225 page book with extremely large print. If you're one of those people who doesn't feel satisfied with a book if it doesn't make you cry tears from the depths of your soul, please check it out. Xinran's The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices is also an excellent read.


On the gaming front, I finished Porom's and Edward/Gilbert's Chapters in Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. I just staring the Lunarian's Story--is it just me or does unmasked Golbez bear a striking resemblance to Dante from Devil May Cry? My opinion of the game as a whole still stands: it's not very good, but for weirdo FFIV nuts like me it's enjoyable enough to play through.

leene_chan: (Default)

Wow...I was watching the local news last night and found out that an English professor at Trinity College (where I graduated from) fell through the ice during a ski trip in Maine on 12/31 and drowned. I never took any of his classes but I remember always seeing him walking his dog around campus. He looked a lot like Willie Nelson--not the kind of person who would just blend in and even if you didn't have him as a professor you definitely knew who he was! He was sixty-nine years old. What a shame!


I finished The Pinhoe Egg last night. I'm afraid I can't recommend it, Diana Wynne Jones has written much better books than this, like Howl's Moving Castle and Dogsbody.


The main character (Tokio) of Barbara Ikai is the spitting image of Henmi from Oniisama E. ^o^ I think that more has happened in one volume of that manga than in seven of Fruits Basket. It was definitely worth buying new!



Twelve Hours into Tales of Destiny PS2. Spoilers Through Noischtat. )
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