Friday, January 20, 2006

Book #3 of 2006: The Princess Bride

OK, I am so gullible. After reading the opening of William Goldman's The Princess Bride, I went online to double check whether or not S. Morgenstern was a real author with a real version of The Princess Bride that inspired Goldman's abridged version. For those of you wondering, I'll let you do your own research to fulfill your curiosity (and by the way, I discovered on a message board that I wasn't the only one who did this).

But it really attests to how compelling Goldman is as a writer, the fact that so many of the world's readers are under The Princess Bride's spell. It is one of our favorite family movies, and I also enjoyed the book. It is almost the same, with some changes made here and there to minor details, and more history given on Buttercup, Fezzik, Inigo, and Prince Humperdink, which I appreciated. However, after about halfway through, the book is almost exactly as it is in the movie,which makes the book not as exciting of a read from that point on, although I found the spirit of the ending in the book much different, a bit darker, but still satisfying despite the questions it raises. However, in the edition I read, many of those questions were answered by the addition of the abridged "first chapter" of Buttercup's Baby (quite compelling!).

The Princess Bride is one of the few stories in which I like the book and movie equally, which would make sense since Goldman also penned the screenplay. That reminds me: the forward in the edition I read written by Goldman includes some great info on how the movie came to be and some touching stories about Andre the Giant, the wrestler who played Fezzik.

Next on the list, a recommendation I read somewhere in the blogsphere from Alexa, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Abortion Advocates Threaten to Shut Down Walk For Life in S.F.

I would love to attend this event, but G.R. works that day. My brother-in-law attended last year and was shocked at the complete hatred displayed by the pro-abortion camp. He said they were lined up, ready to confont the Walk-for Life crowd, spewing out obscenities and vulgar talk at every turn. It amazes me that the anti-life advocates don't realize that their tactics which are so hostile and venemous actually make moderates cringe and turn away from their movement. But oh well, that just means more pro-lifers abound.

Prayers for all who are able to attend this grand event, right in the heart of San Fransisco, which needs major prayers itself. Last year, Gavin Newsome himself showed up ready to go toe-to-toe against the pro-lifers marching in his city. Prayers for his soul as well; he is such a charismatic man. Too bad he isn't on our side.

Prayers for an end to abortion, a respect for life at all stages, and for sexual chastity among people of the world, so that the option of abortion may no longer be considered.

Man vs. Machine

As I was doing dishes, scrubbing the curry scent out of my crock-pot, down the drain went a washcloth completely unnoticed by me. As I flipped the switch, I heard a chug chug and then nothing. I peered down and saw the nasty rag, and thought, "no big deal, just pull it out and no harm done." Wrong. As I yanked and yanked, I realized that it was not only stuck, but that I would probably break my hand trying to get it out without some innovation on my part. Yet did I bcome innovative? No, at least not for abot 20 minutes. I continued to try and yank out the bunched up rag from the drain. Mind you, the rag was so bunched up and my hand was actually fully immersed in the drain while doing this yanking and would've innevitable lead to some kind fo injury.

Finally, innovation kicked in and I realized that I need to get the rag out without breaking my hand. So, I got the sharpest knife in the house and began to cut the rag within the drain in an attempt to extend it and be able to yank it from outside the drain. Yes, I realize that this endeavor brought about an equal chance of injury, this time involving blood instead of broken bones. But you have to understand that my main concern was not injury, but the amount of money I might have to pay hiring a handy-man to fix this problem, or to buy a new disposal.

Well, I was successful and proceeded to shred the rag with this butcher-sized knife, but was able to get it to the desired yanking length. It took only a few minutes to then get the rag out of it's predicament.

So, I flip on the switch. Nothing. I realized the problem was much bigger.

Now, do you all remember the infomercial for a set of do-it-yourself home improvement books pitched by...I think it may have been Bob Villa... and on the commercial a voice-over says, "Learn how to fix a jammed garbage disposal yourself!" while showing the image of a woman jamming the end of a broomstick into her sink with a smile on her face at the success this attempt will obviously bring? Well, I decided to try this as well, having no clue what exactly it was I was supposed to be doing with the broomstick. I just jammed it in there and wiggled it around and gave it a few forceful jabs. I removed the broomstick and flipped the switch. Still nothing. Ok, that was stupid.

So I then went to and read on how to fix the garbage disposal, which proceeded to be nothing more complicated than resetting the red switch at the bottom of the disposal. I was kind of disappointed that I didn't get to lay underneath my sink for an hour screwing and unscrewing, using tools such as wrenches, screwdrivers, or other metal devices I didn't know the names of, getting all wet and grimy but engaging in a full battle of (wo)man vs. machine. However, I still won this battle and feel pretty proud of myself. So proud that I gave myself some me-time and proceeded to stop my work on the dishes.

It's amazing what kind of excuses I give myself to get out of my chores.

Book #2 of 2006: The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio

Just read Terry Ryan's account of life with her contesting mother, and I've come away feeling about as renewed and inspired as I would've if I had read a spiritual book. Evelyn Ryan encompasses everything I would want to be as a wife and mother: determination, spunk, a constant positive outlook, innovation, self-sacrifice, joy amidst poverty, resourcefulness, intelligence, and forgiveness. I personally think every woman should read this and thank God for such women.

Ryan writes about her mother through her own eyes as a child surrounded by 9 brothers and sisters, fathered by an alcoholic, and sometimes violent, man who drank away most of his earnings, leaving his family to suffer an impoverished existence. However, her mother was the rock of their family, and found an incredibly creative way of not only supplementing the family income, but of also releasing her creativity and giving herself an outlet that enabled her to cope with such stressful circumstances. Evelyn Ryan became what was known as a "contester", one who perpetually entered the writing contests once provided by different product companies (now replaced with sweepstakes that center on luck and chance versus talent or skill). Be it finishing the last line of a jingle or writing a product description in 25 words or less, Ryan poured her words onto entry blank after entry blank, winning cash, prizes, and notariety. Three contests proved to be landmark events in the Ryan household bailing them out of situations one thought only a miracle could remedy.

This book not only inspired me to keep some aspects of my attitude in check in regards to dealing with hardship with cynicism, but it also taught me to actively seek out my interests in the capacity I am able to, rather than disregard them because I can't indulge in them to an excess.

This book also is a good kick in the butt to our indulgent, credit-card addicted society. Reading about Ryan's bills piling up, having to pay them on time with cash, relying on the good faith of her townsfolk when she was unable to pay, made me ponder my own spending and bill-paying habits. By the way, the foreward to this book was written by one of my faves, Suze Orman.

This book would also be an excellent tool for high school grammar classes. Evelyn Ryan had an amazing knack for writing, using grammatical devices such as alliteration, inner-rhyme, puns, and plays-on-words that would inspire and astonish many modern day English professors, who probably haven't seen such language skills out of students in a while. In fact, Ryan was not the only one with such excellent writing skills; it seemed most people were proficient in this area, considering these lines were used for ads that everyone would be reading. The book is a wake-up call to modern day writers and speakers.

The final inspiration derived from this book is Evelyn's ability to rise above the disappointments in her life and to discard any notion of victimhood from her reality. She truly believed everything in her life was as it should have been and she not only made the best of it, but she thrived. Truly an example for many women who are looking to remedy their life situations in a society where blaming others for one's problems and professing oneself a victim is all too common.

HIGHLY recommended!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

First book of 2006: The Time Traveler's Wife

Finished my first book of the year, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. It is a story of a man, Henry, who spontaneously travels through time, and his relationship with his wife, Clare, throughout the course of their lifetimes. She first meets him as a six year old girl (he is in his late thirties, traveling back in time to visit her), while his first encounter with her comes when he is 28 years old. The story begins with Clare getting to know her future husband throughout her childhood as he knows everything that is in store for them, and then the story flips to Henry being the one getting to know Clare while she has already fallen in love with his older self. The story is incredibly compelling, and raises many thought provoking questions. Does she have the free will to fall in love with him, considering he has already told her she is his wife in the future? Would they have fallen in love without the time travel, since when they "first" meet in chronologically correct time, Clare recognizes Henry immediately as her future husband? And is Clare's life of "waiting" the one she was meant to have? Is she able to truly live out her entire life? Is Henry a true lover, or a sociopath? And another interesting question pops up as the story progresses: should one feel jealous when his loved one holds a torch for his older/younger self? This story has many more interesting questions to be answered as Clare and Henry fall in love, live out married life, and deal with the fear of having to deal with all the ramifications his "disease" brings to their lives.

The book is well written and compelling, although it gets a bit slow in the middle, and I found the climactic event she was building up to a bit predictable. However, it was definitely worth my time.