Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Falling Walls and the Wire

What, you may be asking yourself, are those two beautiful pictures of? Well, it's a very interesting story, actually, and some of you may have already heard it.
A very huge slab of concrete fell out of the wall of a building right onto me. Or perhaps I should say slid forwards out of a building down my leg.
I was just minding my own business, leaning my leg on part of what seemed to be a very sturdy building, when a huge hunk of it fell out onto me. And then smashed my foot, crushing into small pieces on the very edges.
The concrete won. Aside from the edges that had crushed off and the fact that it was no longer part of the wall, it seemed to be doing just fine at the end of it all. The one person that witnessed the event actually laughed at me.
These pictures don't really do justice to the size and discoloration of the bruises.

Anyhow, things in Audrey Land are going pretty well. I finished Smallville season 5, which ended amazingly, and I had promised Guillaume that I would start to watch the Wire, so I am now on the 5th episode of the first season.
Now, I have heard many magnificent things about this show from many trustworthy sources (namely, Meg Cabot's blog and Guillaume), and so I am sad and disappointed to say that - I'm just not loving it. Sure, there are funny lines and the characters are interesting and there is a TON of stuff going on. But I just, well, find it without any particular interest to ME. The episodes are just a little less than an hour long, and I can't sit through one without doing a million other things. Today I actually played a level of New Super Mario Brothers while watching. And I checked my e-mails. And I made my lunch.
Maybe that's the problem - despite everything that's going on in the show, I still feel like I can follow without actually paying attention.
Anyhow, I guess I'll just keep watching and maybe eventually it will intrigue me.

Other than that, I decided to read and finished "the Blind Assassin" by Margaret Atwood and was once again disappointed by the Man Booker Prize. At least it was better than the other two. I was mostly just bored with it. I would give it 2 1/2 stars, or 3 if I am being nice.

Now, though, I am reading "the Shack" by William P. Young, which is a book that Kristen gave us all for Christmas (I just accidentally typed that she gave it to us for Kristen), and I am LOVING it! It's very well written, and it raises quite a few interesting topics that really make you think.
One thing I have always wondered is why God, in general, is almost always portrayed as a man. I mean, he is supposed to be nurturing and forgiving and all-loving. These are attributes that are far more often given to a mother than a father. So why has God always been considered more of a father figure than a mother figure. The book gave me a very satisfying answer to this question: ". . .once creation was broken, true fathering would be much more lacking than mothering. Don't misunderstand me, both are needed - but an emphasis on fathering is necessary because of the enormity of its absence."
I would not call myself a Christian. I would not call myself a religious person. But I think I can safely say that, despite its overt Christian undertones, this book is for everyone who has ever been sad or afraid or confused. Which is everyone. And I would thus recommend it to everyone. But maybe I should finish it first.

Aside from books, tomorrow I am going to see AN CAFE!!!!

I am so so so so SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO psyched! Even if I have to go alone. And then on Thursday a mega cleaning frenzy must take place. And then Alex comes!!!! And then Mom and Grandma come!!!! And then Kristen comes!!!! And then we go to Annecy!!!!
Did I mention that I am PSYCHED?!?
Now, I am off to Japanese class.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Baby Seals are something you can relate to

Go to this site to read about the brutal slaughter of seals in Canada. Then fill in the form at the bottom to urge the Olympic Commitee to help End Canadian seal slaughter.

Go to this site to sign an anti-seal hunting petition.

Baby Seal

Could you club this adorable animal? Could you brutally smash his head in with a weapon kind of like a baseball bat or with a hakapik (long metal thing with spike on the end)?
My guess is no. It's horrid and barbaric and inhumane (and outdated), and it shouldn't happen.

Last year, something like 200,000-300,000 BABY seals (we're talking 12ish days old; just born) were slaughtered in this way in Canada, which is thankfully less than in 2006 and 2007.

Go to youtube, type in seal slaughter, and watch the first video that comes up - now that you're educated on the matter, have seen it firsthand on youtube, can you really just sit back and do nothing? Especially when it's so easy to do something. Click on the link above to send the letter and sign the petition.
Together, we can stop this.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Man Booker

The Man Booker Prize is a weird thing, I think.

The first Man Booker winner I read was "the Life of Pi" by Yann Martel. I LOVED it. Seriously. It was a great book. I just loved the author's way of xepressing himself. And the story was so fantastic and interesting, and I just wanted so badly to believe. And I loved all the imagery and the way the author presented it. I really think that the only thing about I didn't like was that it wasn't a true story. And that the author decided last minute to try to make you believe that even within the fiction it wasn't true. I really did love this book.

The second Man Booker winner I read was "The God of Small Things." You can find what I thought about this book written in my post about my summer book list (sorry, I don't know yet how to link to other posts - any help?). To summarize, it was the worst book I ever read. I don't know how I finished it. I hated the author's writing style. I hated the story. I hated the non-stop onomotapoeias. And more than that, I sort of hated the characters. It intrigued me enough to hope that the ending might make it just a bad book and not a horrible book, but I hated even the ending. Somehow the ending managed to make it even WORSE, which before the ending, I didn't think was possible.

Now, the most recent book I've read, "the Gathering" by Anne Enright, was also a Man Booker winner. And it, too, was horrible. The main character was ridiculously annoying. There were times when I just wanted to strangle her (rather a violent reaction to a book character, I know). The author also did the really annoying onomatapoeia thing from "the God of Small" things, but less, so it was a little less annoying. Anne Enright seemed to be going for the vaguness of old memories, and she really got it. Everything just seemed vague and out of place, and stories were ending before they even started. And, as a reader, I never knew what to believe or even what she wanted me to believe. This put together could have actually been nice and given a great impression of how she was feeling (the premise was her family getting together because her brother died). But it wasn't. The best way to describe it is just plain ole boring and slightly annoying.

Okay, so now I'm confused. Because "the Life of Pi" was so good, but "the God of Small Things" and "the Gathering" were both horrible in sort of the same way. And yes, I desperately want to read "the Blind A"ssassin" by Margaret Atwood. But it is VERY long, and it also won the Man Booker prize. So I'm afraid to start it because then I will have to finish it, and I will have wasted far too much time reading another horrible book.

Anyhow, it is a dilemma. And while it is not a big dilemma, I still thought that it was worthy enough of a long blog post. Has anyone read "the Blind Assassin?"

Now that that is out of the way, things are good with me. I have been putting off cleaning the apartment, but it has to happen soon with the end of the month approaching and my visitors coming. I am SO psyched! YAY for Mom and Kristen and Grandma and Alex!!!!
And getting ready to see An Cafe. I can't stop listening to them! I can't wait to speak Japanese so that I will understand what I am listening to without having to read the translations. It might be a while, though.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Books on Break

Like I said in my last post, I read quite a few books over my break that I ended up LOVING, and so I thought I would do again what I did with the books I read over the summer - that is, rate them and say a few things about them. So here we go.

Blindness - Jose Saramago
* * * * * (5)
I absolutely LOVED this book! I had for some reason heard bad things about it, but I can't even begin to understand why. I really couldn't put it down, and I am now dying to see the movie, despite the fact that there is NO possible way that it will do the book justice.

Plum Wine - Angela Davis-Gardner
* * * * (4)
This book was a great look at what it must have been like for an American woman to be living in Japan during the Vietnam war. It was touching and heartwarming, and I managed to basically adore it despite not really liking the two main characters. I think that's saying a lot.

the Princess Diaries #10 - Meg Cabot
* * * * * (5)
So, I unfortunately like Mia less in this book than in the other books. She has also become a flexetarian that is flexible even for a flexetarian, which I think is ridiculous and kind of a cop out. But still, it was the last in the Princess Diaries books, and despite my minor complaints, it was possibly the best of them all. I feel like saying - Meg Cabot has done it again!

South of the Border, West of the Sun - Haruki Murakami
* * * * (4)
I love Murakami's writing style and the way he always manages to turn a slightly boring character that one would rarely ever think about into something fascinating and almost always strange. This book isn't any exception to that, and I loved it for everything it was, and there was nothing missing from it. It's just so hard, though, not to compare it to everything else I have ever read by him, and because of that, I just can't give it the five stars it perhaps deserves.

Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer
* * * * * (5)
Everything that I want and have to say about this book would probably be considered spoilers, so I'll keep my mouth shut (or rather stop my fingers from typing). It was wonderful and fanastic and perfect.

the Spiderwick Chronicles #3: Lucinda's Secret - Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
* * 1/2 (2 1/2)
These books are for someone way younger than me. Each of them takes about a half hour to read, and I probably should be reading them all together instead of separating them like I have been doing. Maybe then I would like them more.

And now I have just started "the Gathering" by Anne Enright. I've really just started it, so I don't know how I feel about it, but I get the feeling that I will most likely be slightly disappointed after the amazingness of all of the books I read over break.

Anyhow, there are LOTS (maybe I should even say TONS) of books that I have read between now and the last time I wrote a book list, but I just felt like I needed to do that given the incredible awesomeness of the books I read over the break. So those books are just going to have to live without an Audrey blog rating. At least for now.

Happy Birthday, Mom! and Vegan Voyager: Glasgow, Scotland

First of all, today is my Mother's birthday!!!! So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!!!! Yay for birthdays!

So, it's over. Or, well, almost over. Today is the very last day of my two week break, and I am so so so so SO sad about it. I am absolutely NOT at all looking forward to waking up at 6:48 tomorrow morning and then having to go control group of 30 7 year olds followed by 30 8 year olds followed by group of 30 9 year olds followed by group of 30 10 year olds.
But then, I find that I am NEVER looking forward to it after vacation, and it is never quite as bad as I am expecting it to be.
Still, I don't want to go back.

Anyhow, Guillaume and I had a GREAT Valentine's Day! I made a delicious vegan quiche with a pear chocolate brownie cake that I cut into little hearts. I know I know, I am SO cheesy. We set up the little table in our apartment and ate at it for pretty much the first time since we've moved in. Well, the first time without guests. Afterwards, we had strawberries in dark chocolate fondue. It was heavenly.

For Valentine's Day, Guillaume got me tickets to go see the Wizard of Oz the musical, and while they changed all the songs we all know and love to be weird French songs, it was still FANTASTIC, and I still loved it! I think that Guillaume enjoyed himself as well, I hope.

After Valentine's Day, I headed off to Scotland on Wednesday, where I stayed about 5 days with my friend Keelan. We had a FANTASTIC time! There are some amazing vegan restaurants there: Mono, Stereo, the Tchai-Ovna Tea House, and the 78 are the ones that I went to, but I gather that there are also quite a few more.
There is also a health food store called Roots and Fruits that had lots of vegan options, including these delicious vegan patties (that they call pasties) that can be eaten either hot or cold. Delish!

NOTE: Click on any of the Scotland pictures to be linked to my album of Scotland pictures.

Aside from just exploring the delicious vegan restaurants, though, we went shopping in downtown Glasgow, which is very cool. We took a day long bus tour to see some of the Lochs and most of Scotland. It really is beautiful there.

Audrey and Keelan somewhere in Scotland

It seems like it must be so easy to just get away from everything, which is the complete opposite of France, where the further you get away from something, the closer you are to something else. If that makes sense. We also got to take a little boat tour of Loch Ness to see some castle. In a way, it seemed kind of pointless, as we had just as clearly seen the castle from the view point, but it was cool nonetheless.

Loch Ness and the Loch Ness Monster

One day, I went to the University of Glasgow campus and saw the cloisters, and I went to this really cool museum that had a whole section that was dedicated to the awesomeness of Kelvin.

University of Glasgow

We also went used book shopping, and let's just say that it was probably a good thing that I was only allowed 10 kg on the plane on the way back. Otherwise, I am sure that I would have spent WAY too much money on books. Anyone who knows me knows that this is a VERY easy thing for me to do.

Speaking of reading, that's pretty much all I have been doing since my return from Glasgow, aside from pilates lessons and Japanese classes, and I have read some really great books! I'm about to go immediately write another blog entry in which I rate all of them like I did before. Although there will be a LOT less this time!

So, that was my fantastic break, and now I have to go back to work tomorrow. :-( ::sadness:: Maybe now that things are getting back to normal, though, I will start updating more often. Let's hope so!