WoW. Or not.

So, people maybe don’t know this about me, but I like video games.  Actually, my entire family does.  My husband leans more toward first-person shooter and racing games, while I’m definitely more of an RPG fan.  Our son is being indoctrinated into both genres.  I will admit to enjoying RockBand, and I’m pretty sure I could get down with Dance Dance Revolution.
Anyway, I have some friends who play a PC game called World of Warcraft (you may have heard of it, lol).  Yeah.  I have to admit, I totally dog on WoW.  Alot.  And I’ve always felt a little tiny bit guilty about that, because I do enjoy video games, and I actually enjoy RPG games, so I should enjoy WoW, but I wasn’t even giving it a chance.  Why was that?
I had a lot of reasons:  I didn’t like how immersed people became in the game.  I didn’t like the negative image of WoW gamers.  I thought it was ridiculous that some of the players actually held WoW-themed weddings, with their avatars getting married on-screen and everything (totally not kidding, I’ve had the screenshots shown to me by friends who’ve “attended” these).  I’d also heard things about the loading quality and the game needing lots of patches and stuff.
The thing is, all the reasons I listed were b.s.  WoW seems like a cool game.  There were plenty of times I thought about trying it, but didn’t.  I just never really examined why.  Then my friend Scarlett, who plays it, sent me an e-mail invite.  This is how retarded I am.  I actually sat there for about 3 seconds staring at the e-mail invite, wondering how the download would get from my computer onto my console.
In my defense, I had a very bad head cold.
Anyway, that’s when I realized what my major bias against WoW is — it’s not the MMORPG aspect, or any of the other negative stuff that WoW has against it.  It’s the computer game bit.  I like consoles.  I played maybe two computer games when I was a teenager —Oregon Trail and Prince of Persia.  When I married John, he had a PS2, and he bought me Final Fantasy VIII (still my favorite, I don’t care what you say).  I have loved console games ever since.
It’s not that I haven’t tried computer games.  John played all these Civilization games on the computer, so I tried some of those.  And out of nostalgia, I downloaded MS-DOS and Prince of Persia again.  I tried a demo of Diablo II.  There were some others.  It’s just . . . it’s a keyboard, people.  Where’s the joystick?  Where’s fight buttons and stuff?  A keyboard is for typing, you know . . . words.
Anyway, long story short (ha! too late), I tried to do right by my friend.  I’d promised her I’d give WoW a try, so I tried downloading it.  The download was a butthead and didn’t work.  I didn’t try very hard beyond that, unless you count writing the e-mail apology for not trying.
Ah well.  Win some, lose some.  Actually, I feel I won in this case.  Oh, and visuals below!

John and the boys playing RockBand.

A WoW wedding screenshot.

A common Oregon Trail screenshot.

Prince of Persia MS-DOS screenshot. You know, I don’t even know if this game had an ending — I only ever made it to level 8 or so before it became so insanely difficult that it was stop or bang my head against the keyboard in absolute insane frustration.  I’ve heard similar stories from everyone who played it.

Final Fantasy VIII cut scene.

book club, yeah, baby

My sil, Missy came down to visit today — bringing, of course, her daughter, the oh-so-adorable Mea.  We went to Book N’ Brush to pick up Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.  She (in an act of great generosity) also bought Little A a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney.
I’ve been trying to get Little A interested in this series all summer, but he’s shown only minimal interest.  Apparently his teacher, however, has the series in the classroom.  Little A picked up the second book and started reading it, but his teacher won’t let him keep reading it (for reasons he can’t explain to us — we’ll ask at the parent/teacher conferences coming up).  Anyway, it’s the first non-children’s that he’s asked for, so hey.  And he’s already a good way through it.
Anyway, the reason I bought Uglies.  I’ve decided to start a book club.  My Washington friends are pretty far flung, ranging from Sultan to Olympia, Seattle to Centralia.  Some of them have issues (like me) with trying to go out on a regular basis.  Anxiety, energy, mood, problems with medication.  You know.  Anyway, I know that pretty much all of us enjoy reading (because, really, who doesn’t?), even if we don’t always enjoy the same genres or authors.  I know we usually have Sundays free, thanks to husbands who have Sundays off and can watch the kids at least once a month.  So I said, “We’re having a book club that’s going to meet once a month on Sundays!  No kids allowed!  Also, we’re going to drive pretty far for some of the meetings, so it may be an all day thing, but it will be worth it for coffee and books and friends!”
And people listened and agreed.  I feel very happy about that.  So we decided on the first book, which we’re procuring copies of by Oct. 1st (I have my copy).  Then we’re going to set a date to read it by and a meeting place to discuss it at.
I’m excited.

shopping local

A friend of mine (Scarlett) came down from Sultan this weekend.  I wanted to take her to some of the local shops — Hip N’ Humble, a hair salon, Book N’ Brush (previously mentioned) and some of the cute sewing shops in downtown Chehalis.  A couple of things got in the way, however, and events transpired so we ended up in Downtown Oly instead.

I have to say, I love Downtown Oly.  Shops like Archibald Sisters and Wind Up Here introduced me to local merchants and cemented my strong affection for independent stores.  On Sunday, I took Scarlett to Archibald Sisters and Wind Up Here specifically because I love them.  At Archibald Sisters, I even bought some stuff — a card for my little sister, who’s on a mission for her church; a personal library kit; a journal; and a magnetic chore pad.

That all sounds very dry, but the magnetic chore pad is made by this company, and I love the way it’s organized and set up.  I couldn’t find an actual picture of it and our scanner’s on the fritz, but trust me: adorable.  If a chore pad can be adorable.  The journal I actually bought as a gift for my little sister — the one on a mission.  I have an idea for a gift that I want to try out.  And the personal library kit?

Well, that was just because it was awesome.  You can’t look at that and tell me that’s not awesome.  Also, I’m a bit tired of compiling the necessary information before lending out a book:  home and work address, home, work and cell phones, birth dates and school year of any children, etc. etc.  You know, so I can hunt down whatever person stole my book.  By whatever means necessary.


I have had four books stolen from me though, however unintentionally, so I do like this kit.

Anyway, then Scarlett and I wandered about looking in the other shops and chatting.  She found this one shop, I think it was Radiance.  It’s in the right place on Google Maps.  She bought some incense, which she was very pleased about.  Then we wandered on a bit until we found Hot Toddy.  How do I best describe this store?  Hmmmm.

It is how I want to dress always and ever.  It is awesome.  It is the personal wardrobe of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn combined — casual elegance, classy and timeless.  It’s beautiful.  I almost wept at how perfect everything was.  I just . . . I want.

Hot Toddy is now on my List of Rewards.  You know:  “When I Get A Job and Need New Business-Like Outfits” or “When I Lost 15 Lbs and Allow Myself Awesome Shiny New Clothes.”

more books and a signing!

Recently, I’ve been reading quite a few editorial and author blogs.  This is partly because I want to keep abreast of what’s going on in the industry — learn about digital rights, how the face of literature as we know it is changing, what editors and publishing houses are looking for, that sort of thing.  It’s also because who better than those within the industry to give me a heads-up on the must-have books of the day?
Because of these blogs, I’ve started reading in amounts I haven’t since before I was married.  This may also have something to do with the fact that my son is now in school and I have lots of free time.  I’ve also started buying books, rather than simply waiting to check everything out from my local library.  I still support my local library, don’t get me wrong.  But I like owning shiny new books and when we have a little extra cash on hand, I don’t see anything wrong with buying books that come highly recommended and that I’m extremely interested in.
Anyway, I bought some more books after the last post.  This time, I went to the aforementioned Book N’ Brush.  I bought Stargazer, by Claudia Gray and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.  I mentioned Stargazer briefly in my last post, but I don’t think I mentioned the fact that it’s an unusual book for me to like.  It technically falls under what I would normally call, “Vampire Lit,” and therefore would avoid at all costs.  But I actually like it.  I’m still trying to figure out why — I think it’s maybe because instead of telling the story from either:
  • the p.o.v. of the mortal, tormented by his/her fear or love of the immortal
  • the p.o.v. of the vampire, tormented by their eternal damnation

Gray instead uses a p.o.v that makes the character extremely relatable and likable.  Anyway, the Evernight series was originally recommended via a livejournal post by Sarah Rees Brennan, who wrote The Demon’s Lexicon, another book that I thoroughly heart.

This is the beauty of industry blogs, I might add — through author, editor, agent and intern blogs, I’ve found recommendations to books that I normally wouldn’t have looked at twice.  The Demon’s Lexicon and the Evernight series are two great examples.  Another neat thing about industry blogs?  I learn about what’s going on in the world of the books I love.  For instance, Rees Brennan, the author of The Demon’s Lexicon, is joining up with Scott Westerfeld (of Uglies fame, which I still need to read) for an author tour.  Which will be hitting both Portland and Seattle!!!!
Okay.  Sorry.  Let me just pat my hair back into place and straighten my shirt.  Jumping up and down like that gets me all ruffled.  Anyway, yay!  I will actually get to meet an author!  Two authors!  And I own (at the moment) one of their books!  Trust me, by the time the event(s) roll around, I’m going to own more than a few of Scott Westerfeld’s books.  I’ve heard really great things about his work.
I may actually get an author-signed book!  Yay!
Portland author schedule
Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009
Westerfeld @ noon, Rees Brennan @ 3:00 p.m.
Presentation and Q&A at Wordstock, Portland’s Book & Literary Festival

Location: Oregon Convention Center

7:00 pm presentation and signing at Barnes and Noble
Book N’ Brush Purchases

Stargazer by Claudia Gray
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Also mentioned in this post:

The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
Evernight by Claudia Gray
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (Which I haven’t read yet.  The tagline is: “Is a world of extreme beauty, anyone normal is ugly.”)


I went to the bookstore today.  I’m going to admit something straight up here:  I love new books.  That’s why I went to Barnes & Noble instead of a used bookstore today.
I actually wanted to go to this adorable little indie bookstore in town called Book ‘n’ Brush.  I think the owner is a genius for combining the oft-ignored link between love of literature and love of artistic creativity.  It’s beginning to be a little more than cliche for a bookseller to go for the coffee/book angle.
Anyway, I ended up going into Olympia to hang out with Missy and Mea, my sil and niece.  Now, there is no shortage of used bookstores in the Olympia area — I’m not sure how many there are now, but I think I can count at least 8 off the top of my head that I knew of while I was growing up in the area.  There’s also plenty of stores like Target, Kohls, Costco, Fred Meyer and the like — places that all have a bookish section of the most recent best-sellers, but no in-depth selection.
I was in the mood for a real bookstore today.  A place where I could browse through stacks and piles of freshly printed pages and look at beautifully rendered, unmarred cover art.  I wanted to admire and salivate and dream of a day when my work might grace the shelves.
Of course, first thing when we walked in, Little A had to use the restroom.  So we hurried back, but on our way, my eye was snagged by Diana Peterfreund’s Rampage, of which I’d just read a review on this very funny author blog.  So I grabbed that.  Then as I was walking away, I saw the sequel to Evernight, by Claudia Gray, and I did a sort of squeal and dance move right there in the aisle, until I realized that I was being ridiculous and I couldn’t buy both hardcover books today, because that would be just too expensive.
(I later ended up buying two hardcover books anyway, but who’s counting?)Missy and Little A managed to drag me away from my anguished contemplation — killer unicorns or vamp lit that’s actually well written?  — and into the kiddy section, where I pored over Halloween books for Little A.  I don’t know why, but I always end up buying him books around the holidays.  It’s some sort of reflexive reaction — it doesn’t matter what holiday it is, he gets a book.
Anyway, this year he picked out Clifford’s Halloween.  I scanned the pile for Tilly Witch, which I’d gotten from one of those Scholastic book fairs when I was in grade school.  It wasn’t available.  I miss that book, it was cute.
Eventually, we meandered our way up to the checkout, grabbing a calender on the way.  Once there, I saw Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, which I’d just finished reading last week.  Of course I had to buy it — Gaiman is beyond awesome.  I once owned a book of his short stories, Smoke and Mirrors, but I was silly enough to lend it to a girl in my English class.  She moved to some state in the midwest and took my book with her.  Similar incidents have happened to me before, yet I never learn.  I think maybe I’ll start always buying hardbacks to remedy this — I’m too trustworthy with my paperbacks.
Anyway, this is a rundown of my final purchases:
Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

2010 Calender by Anne Taintor

Clifford’s Halloween by Norman Bridwell

I’m happy with my day.  That sounds remarkably sedate when you consider that I’m writing this entry in between doing a victory dance around the living room with the hardback copies of my shiny new books, singing about killer unicorns.

susy homemaker

I always feel so 50’s housewife on days like today.  I baked a loaf of bread, did all the laundry, cleaned the bathrooms and kitty litter (yech), swept and mopped, cleaned the dishes multiple times, chopped up and froze the zucchini a friend gave me (I heart zucchini bread), and made some cream cheese brownies.  Also meatloaf, of course.
I think it’s all the baking that did it.  I mean, the other stuff is pretty much daily chores (the mopping is every other day — if I did it daily, I’d go insane, what with the no carpets and 5 animals).  But baking, as soothing as it is, puts me in this 50’s housewife “mindset.”
It’s the weirdest thing, too, because I’m willing to bet that actual 50’s housewives were not too different, emotionally, than modern ones.  When I say 50’s housewife mindset, what I mean is the general perception of a 50’s housewife — the perfect hair, happy smile, a bright yellow Dior-inspired dress.  That type of deal.  When I bake, I go to that place, mentally and emotionally.
I turn into a Stepford Wife.
This may be why my husband bought me a pretty red KitchenAid Mixer from Costco last week.  It is possible he prefers the Stepford Wife to the PMS-ing Wife.  Who knows.
I found a recipe for sandwich wheat bread on Smitten Kitchen, which I’ve baked three times already (I used regular yeast instead of instant, and it works fine).  I’ve also tried out her awesome cream cheese brownie recipe because I love getting cream cheese brownies from good bakeries, and it seems like I’m hardly ever around decent bakeries any more.  So I had to try out a recipe for myself.  I’m liking them, but I want to mess with the cream cheese batter a little.  Oh, and I finally got around to making banana bread, using a recipe I got from my dad’s new wife.  It’s a good recipe.
Obviously, I could have done any of these projects without the KitchenAid mixer.  I baked on average once or twice a week with what I had, which was . . . well, wire whisks and a blender and such.  I didn’t have a n electric hand mixer, either.  It was tossed out in the after-flood-cleansing.  But with the KitchenAid mixer, well . . . I definitely spent a lot of time in the kitchen today.  And this last week.
I do feel vaguely guilty because I never did get around to cuffing Little A’s last pair of school jeans.  He starts 2nd grade on Tuesday.  He’s getting way too big, way too fast.