10.28.2011

7x7 Blog Award Meme

Ani at Anime's Musings tagged us for a blog award! Thanks, Ani! This means we have to share 7 interesting facts about ourselves.

1. (KRISPY) I play 2 instruments: the flute and the Chinese zither.

2. (KRISPY) After graduating from university, I went on an archaeology internship in Taiwan. We cleaned 5000 year old human bones, glued pottery back together, and got attacked by nefarious Asian mosquitoes. We also spent a week napping in a warehouse full of ancient babies in pots.

3. (KRISPY) The only time I've ever felt claustrophobic was in my Senior year of high school. I was in Germany with my German class, and a bunch of us took up the challenge of climbing the world's tallest church steeple in Ulm. That's like 700-some steps, which is daunting enough by itself but SO MUCH WORSE when most of those steps go upwards in a narrow, enclosed spiral. Imagine climbing 300 steps in the cold of winter without being able to see below or above you. No windows, just solid, centuries-old STONE. Around step 379, I thought (in the tradition of Arrested Development), "I've made a HUGE mistake." (For the record, I made it to the top and back down without having a panic attack.)

4. (KRISPY) 98% of the time, I can make myself fall asleep in 5-10 minutes. Even if I've had tea or coffee only an hour before.

5. (ALZ) I hate Krispy for the fact above. But that's not an interesting fact because everyone already knows it.  Krispy says I should tell you all about how I have an "intense passionate hatred" for Prince Charming from Disney's Cinderella. I just don't like him because of his pink face and his unbending Lego limbs and his utter and complete uselessness. This is not hatred. This is merely the Judgment of Alz, as she says to Prince Charming's charm and princeliness:


6. (ALZ) I am a super badass extreme unconquerable asskicker in Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Or I used to be.  It's been a while since I last played.  But I bet a bucket of diamond-encrusted platinum nuggets that I could still destroy anyone who cared to raise a hand against my almighty combo-gem-smashing skillz.


7. (ALZ) Krispy insists that I admit I find nothing particularly special or deliciously delightful about In-N-Out. I would not go out of my way to eat of their food, no matter how fine or crave-satisfying Krispy and so many others purport it to be.


We'll tag people next time. Until then, HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Gorge on candy.

And by the way, peeps--who's doing NaNoWriMo?

10.26.2011

Joust, Criminal Minds, Pumpkin Carving

Today's post is brought to you by Alz's ancient Wacom tablet, Krispy's suggestions, and Lydia's request for stick figure drawings with crazy eyes.

First off, a visual summary/mini-review of a non-YA fantasy book by a prolific and popular author whom I used to love from third grade through high school and then—well, her books started going downhill much the same way boulders, avalanches, and wingless ducks go downhill.

Yes, I'm talking about Joust by Mercedes Lackey, a book about a young boy enslaved and enserfed into serving his enemies, the dragon-riding Jousters who are at war with his own country. Young Vetch seeks to raise his own dragon and return to his homeland to teach his country's Jousters the secret of raising tame dragons as opposed to capturing wild ones.

The book is nowhere near as exciting as that.  It's pretty much the daily grind of being a dragonboy, Vetch angsting, and Vetch's circumstances becoming a saga of boring and incredibly convenient coincidences. I shall show you what Vetch is like throughout the book:



Everything falls into Vetch's hands like ripe fruit, for conflict? There is none. He just worries about stuff but gets away with absolutely everything without ever being caught. Nobody ever hurts him or bothers him throughout the entire book. His master is a sickeningly "good" man who understands that serfdom and slavery are wrong, drinks only moderately, and is modest and unbecoming and noble and heroic and the repeated iterations of Vetch's relief that Master Ari is just brotherly and not a pedophile really did not help.

Moving on! Krispy suggested I doodle something related to the TV we've been watching lately. This is what happens when Krispy and I watch Criminal Minds:


Lastly, over the weekend we threw together a Halloween-themed surprise birthday party for our friend. There was Chantilly cake and red velvet cupcakes and candy and truffle cheese and baguettes and cute monster sodas, and the evening culminated in Krispy's sister carving her first ever pumpkin. It was a beautiful heartwarming scene forever immortalized in the portrait I sketched alongside the master carver:



And that, my friends, is all for today. Have you carved your pumpkins yet?

10.21.2011

Shot of Randomosity & Third Campaigner Challenge

Happy Friday, peeps! I've actually got a double dose of fun for you today.

#1: A Shot of Randomosity
This week, I rediscovered some books while filling my new bookcases, including an Alexander Hamilton biography a friend had bought me (not the glorious Ron Chernow one). I pulled this Hamilton biography from the box for History shelf placement when I noticed something tucked inside.

I texted Alz:

ME: I just unearthed a Hamilton book & it's got like loads of $ in it!!! Thank you, darling!
Monday, 6:35PM

ALZ: wtf? you hide money in books??? :P
Monday, 6:36PM

ME: Uh, I didn't think so and yet here we are.
Monday, 6:35 PM

So, yes. I found MONEY inside my Hamilton biography. $60 to be exact. Yep, that's my man - First Secretary of the US Treasury and Founder of the Bank of the United States.

#2: Third Campaigner Challenge: Show Not Tell
To recap, Alz and I missed Rachel Harrie's Campaign this year, but I found this challenge through Lori's Challenge Entry and was inspired to do it myself. Alz posted her attempt on Wednesday. Mine is after the prompt.

Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:


  • that it's morning
  • that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach
  • that the MC (main character) is bored
  • that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting
  • that something surprising happens
Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise." (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).

Not sure if I got the boredom bit and didn't use the words. Mine's exactly 300 words.

Rude Awakening

The wind woke Casey first, then the rough tickle of sand against her cheek. Slowly, she became aware of the salt on her chapped lips. The muffled static in her ears resolved into the sound of rushing water. She pushed herself upright, blinking. To the east, the sky blushed pink-gold.

Casey had no idea where she was, and she might have been alarmed if she weren’t so baffled. Her body was sore, her memories hazy, but she’d bet her college savings a meddling angel was involved. A headache threatened when she tried to remember. So she stared at the sea, too drained for anger.

She hoped someone would fetch her soon. This was getting old fast, and something sat uneasy in the pit of her stomach. Her insides shuddered at the thought and then lurched when she caught a whiff of smoke. It was harsh and metallic. Electric.

Stifling a gag, she turned and found an angel looming over her. The dawn light enveloped him as if drawn by celestial magnetism, leaving the day sapped and dull. It cut the planes of his face to diamond sharpness and gilded his pale hair. His wings smoldered, shedding scorched feathers and oozing ozone. Blood trickled down his arm and sizzled as it hit the sand.

It was Uriel, and Casey had never seen his eyes so luminous blue like stars. She had never seen him injured or his bright beauty shadowed by -- what was it?

“Where is the Commander?” he demanded.

“Michael? Isn’t he with you?”

“No. I thought he accompanied you when he sent you here. To safety.”

When she didn’t answer, Uriel muttered something and glanced down the shoreline. It sounded like a curse. Casey realized then what was different about the angel. In his expression, there was fear.

Hope you enjoyed that! For the record, I have no idea what's going on (much to Alz's annoyance). So here's my Q4U: what's the weirdest place you've found money?

SUPER SPECIAL P.S. I found out last night that LYDIA KANG of Medical Mondays fame, who recently landed an agent, now also has A BOOK DEAL!!! SQUEE! GO CONGRATULATE HER POST HASTE!!!

10.20.2011

Narley Ninja Feature at ali's!

Just popping in to nudge you in the direction of ali cross's fabulous Writing Dojo. Today, Alz and I are the featured ninjas, and we're spilling our Deep Dark Secret when it comes to writing. (It's pretty shameful.)

So we do hope you'll check it out! Narley Ninjas: Krispy & Alz

Other than that, I'll see you all tomorrow with a shot of Randomosity and my 300-word Third Campaigner Challenge attempt! xoxo

10.19.2011

Third Campaigner Challenge - Show Not Tell

Krispy saw this writing prompt on Lori's blog (her entry is fabulous, by the way).  She told me about how fun it sounded despite the fact that we failed to sign up for the campaign this year, and told me about the wonderful idea this prompt inspired, and then she proceeded to not actually write it.  Instead, I wrote my own snippet while she finished watching Nikita. 
Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:that it’s morning,

  • that it's morning
  • that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach
  • that the MC (main character) is bored
  • that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting
  • that something surprising happens.
Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise." (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).
I didn't include the extra words, but I think I more or less covered everything else.
Stroll


The sun peeked over the edge of the horizon, shedding a dark glow across the sea and highlighting the roiling bubbles in amber. The steam rose from the boiling water in dense clouds of gold that coalesced on the angel's straggly hair in tiny shiny beads. His hair was dirty blond both in color as well as the fact that he hadn't washed it in an unhygienic amount of time.

He'd been strolling barefoot over the black obsidian sand since midnight, long enough to see the sea begin to shimmer and bubble as it built with the onslaught of daylight into a full-blown boil. Every inch of the angel's skin glistened with sweat and condensation. The scent of honey thickened the steamy air so that the angel could hardly breathe—and then a whiff of sulfur made him glance over his shoulder.

"What-ho," said the angel. "If it ain't my old mate Illi! How've you been?"

"Shut up, May," said Illi, peeling out of the shadow of a sickly bush: twigs turning into pearly claws, branches becoming arms, stunted leaves lengthening into a cloak of smoke and ash. "I'm here to claim your soul, you son of a bitch."

"You come all this way out to the Sea of Nightmares just for li'l ol' me?" clucked May, putting his hands to his face. "I'm flattered, love. Really."

Illi's fingers twisted together to form a twirling point like a unicorn horn, and he lunged in a smoky whirl. His long thin arm whipped back and then forward.

May looked down at the ivory spiral stabbed through the center of his chest.

"That ain't no way to kill an angel, mate," said May, grinning into Illi's face. "'Specially as there's those who say angels ain't got no souls."

There's mine, and Krispy is working on hers even now as I write up this post. She will post it on Friday. Have you done any writing prompts/exercises lately?

P.S. Tomorrow, we're the featured ninjas at ali cross's writing dojo! We'd be much obliged if you gave it a looksie. We'll post a link to the actual post on Thursday.

10.14.2011

Randomosity on Fridays: Random Whatever Edition

Krispy is writing because I am a TASKMASTER!! and she needs to write more. And because we were distracted by various things, including boba and ice cream and cheese—not all at once, mind you, and over the course of the week—we didn't give much time or thought to today's post until, uh, kind of late the night before. So here's a random Friday Five for you!

1. Krispy has been a bookmonster of late and acquired many new books, though as of yet she hasn't had a chance to crack open most of them. These books include:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Possess, Breverton's Phantasmagoria, Night Circus

I've perused the first chapters of all except Possess, and I like what I've seen so far.

2. I finally saw X-Men: First Class. The bromance was epic. I enjoyed it though I don't like it enough to buy it, unless it was like $5 and I was feeling extravagant. Then again, with $5 I could buy—

3. Italian truffle cheese from Trader Joe's. Pricey deliciousness at $11.99/lb, I nevertheless found a petite wedge to taste-test. Since Krispy and I were attending a small going-away par-taaaaay for our mutual medical student friend, I acquired this cheese, found it to be delicious, and intended to bring it to the get-together. Krispy picked me up and on the way there, I told her about this amazing truffle cheese and how ineffably delectable it was, all creamy smoothness and firm texture with the luxurious truffle flavor making for an experience of sheer decadence.

I forgot to bring the cheese.

The recriminations were, I assure you, both grievous and fierce. I'm still sorely wounded from them; poke me and I shall yet bleed.  Krispy will never let me live it down even though I brought her a piece of it the next day and she ate the whole thing practically in one sitting, literally just kicking back and gnawing on a chunk of cheese while we watched TV. Which leads me to our next random thing—

4. Television shows. I haven't watched anything much lately, except for random stuff when I'm bored. But lately Krispy has somehow managed to hook me on watching Criminal Minds, Law & Order: SVU, Supernatural, Clone Wars, and Young Justice, the latter two of which are cartoons. I'm absolutely certain this mix of criminal psychology, law, paranormal, scifi/fantasy, and superhero shows will have an effect upon my writing. Whether or not it is a disastrous effect remains to be seen.

5. Lastly, Krispy needs your input: For Halloween at work, should she be a hippie or a pirate? Or a hippie pirate, though she says this might be hard? I think she should be a pirate because pirates are pirates and hippies are hippies, but she does have a point when she says a hippie costume is easier to put together and more comfortable. But when was Halloween ever about ease and comfort?

That's all from us for this week, folks.  Got any cheese or TV recommendations?

10.12.2011

Book Review: Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Krispy downloaded this for free on her Kindle and like the masochistic fool that I am, I read it. Pressing my eyes to a belt-sander would not be enough to cleanse them of this travesty of a book.

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Pros: Reading it is a cheap alternative to undergoing lobotomy.
Cons: You probably don't want to be lobotomized.

Intellectual Rating: 0 out of 10 stars
Emotional Grade: F

Book Blurb: (from Goodreads) Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words.

Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

Alz's Take: I cannot describe how bad this book is. The writing is puerile, the story is 100% teenage wish-fulfillment, Laurel is Mary Sue to the max, and I honestly cannot believe this book got published. This is the level of writing and story I expected from Twilight, which ended up exceeding my expectations; Wings undercut my expectations exponentially.

Even other books that I've rated F (Nightshade and Crescendo) were better-written than Wings. At least they more or less adhered to the old show-don't-tell adage, whereas Wings is bent on doing the opposite: Tell, don't show! Showing is boring and requires more thought and actual work! Just tell! Also symmetry is key to goodness and if you are asymmetrical you are ugly and therefore evil because evolution screwed up on you! Haha!

I paraphrase but do not exaggerate. That is something that comes up in the book.

Being that it is now quite late because Krispy and I didn't have a blog planned for today, and I just don't have it in me to write up an in-depth review, I'll just give you a partial summary of what happens in the book. Be warned that there are SPOILERS of a sort forthcoming—in the vein of it's a spoiler for Twilight that Edward is a vampire and vampires sparkle in the sun.

Meet Laurel: She's your average fifteen-and-a-half-year-old girl who's been homeschooled by her doctor-phobic hippie parents all her life and is now attending public high school. She literally lives on Sprite and fruit and vegetables.
One day Laurel discovers a tiny bump between her shoulder blades. She is horrified that it is a zit since she is beautiful and perfect and looks like a teenage model on TV and has never had a zit before in her life on her translucent skin and also her hair is magically delicious and doesn't require washing with shampoo because it just takes care of itrself and Laurel moves with the grace of a dancer despite never having taken lessons.

Where was I? Oh yes. The zit.
Laurel decides to wear her hair down and cover the hideous bump up with a shirt. But over the course of the next two or three days, the zit grows to the size of a golf ball.
Laurel does not show her parents because she knows that most things in the human body take care of themselves and go away on their own if you ignore them. When the weekend arrives (so by this point it's been three or four days) and the thing is now the size of a softball, she decides that if the bump's not gone by Monday, she'll tell her parents!

Sunday dawns and the bump is gone. But what is this that has taken its place?

Laurel naturally is horrified and decides that the first and most important thing to do is…hide the fact that she has a flower growing out of her back from her parents.


After stupid incredibly clich├ęd stuff occurs (i.e. chopping off the tip of a petal—eek! ow! hurty!—and taking it to her new boyfriend David because he has a microscope and is therefore a science nerd and can tell her what's going on, and he tells her it's a bit of flower because it has plant cells, and my brain is beginning to disintegrate right now from the horror of trying to coherently remember this), Laurel returns to the cabin in the woods where her family originally lived, frolics in the forest while her sweet-smelling blossom blows in the breeze, and runs into Tamani, who is a guy who we later find out has been stalking her ever since she was born.

Green-haired and generically hot Tamani tells Laurel the shocking, shocking truth:
Which incidentally is supposed to explain why she lives on Sprite and fruit and vegetables, because flowers in a vase of water with a spoonful of sugar added live longer, although I like to think that eating exclusively fruits and veggies makes Laurel a cannibal.

To explain the pollen thing, we have to jump ahead to Laurel's second meeting with Tamani. See, she was so shocked to find out she was a plant that first time that she ran off, and afterward noticed some gold dust on her wrist from where Tamani grabbed her. Next time she asks him about it—oooh, faerie dust!—only for him to explain no, that's not faerie dust, it's pollen.

Pollen.

Because males only produce pollen when they are around a female in bloom, and yes, he could have pollinated her—not that he would have, of course, oh no, which is why he told her that first time that he knew whose blossom his hands could get into and whose not. That wasn't just a disturbing metaphor. It was a literal description because faeries are plants and therefore reproduce by pollination. He could have pollinated her bloom, which would have produced a seed, which could be planted in the ground to grow into a baby faerie.

But don't worry, Tam tells Laurel, pollination is for reproduction but sex is for fun!


…okay, that's it. I didn't even get into the trainwreck of how David is super hot and super in love with Laurel for no particular reason and the "plot" concerning the faerie world of Avalon and how my medical student friend went LOLWHUT over the description of Laurel's father's treatment when he ends up in the hospital due to the nefarious never-explained scheming of the asymmetrically evil trolls and—

I can't stand it anymore.

Alz's Conclusion: Don't read Wings. Just—just don't. Please. Spare yourself. It's badly written stylistically and narratively, with a heroine who has all the pluck and strength and character of single sheet of bargain-brand tissue, and, and, and if you, like Krispy, downloaded this for free onto your Kindle, you might as well delete it and download something more worthwhile. Or even if you don't download anything else, that's fine. A lobotomy is preferable to Wings. At least then you'd be unable to read it.

10.07.2011

Photo Friday: NYC

I can't believe it's October already! I realized that my NYC vacation was exactly a month ago. ALREADY. Where is the time going?

In any case, here are the pics I promised.

DAY 1
Central Park


Belvedere Castle
Night 1:
1. Fashion's Night Out at Kiehl's Flagship Store where we spotted Kim from America's Next Top Model and actor Alan Cumming.


2. Karaoke in K-Town to ring in the sister's 21st birthday at midnight!


DAY 2
Night-time celebrations for the Sister's birthday at 230 Fifth, a rooftop bar/lounge. The Empire State Building was our backdrop.


With our gracious hostess
With the Birthday Girl!

DAY 3
Chill day sleeping in. Caught the Cal football game at The Australian (the official Cal bar); we won! Then hookah at night.


DAY 4
Museum-hopping Day! Up first, messing around at the Natural History Museum.


Actually, this is in Central Park. Romeo + Juliet.

Followed by The Met, where I saw a portrait of my darling.


Hey there, Hamilton!

DAY 5
Google + Hamilton = Day of EPIC WIN.

We went to Google's NYC offices. It was a cornucopia of continuous awesome - what with the utter cuteness of everything (themed meeting rooms! scooters!) and the delicious food! Once you work there, how do you ever leave?

Also, they have their own library, which includes digital touchscreen walls that allows you to select a book and read its summary.

Yes, that's a secret room behind bookcase.


Alexander Hamilton Memorial at beautiful Trinity Church on Broadway and Wall Street.

We meet again, Alexander!
DAY 6
Brunch at Alice's Tea Cup, then off to the Guggenheim.


The Guggs.

Down near Wall Street: my sister + the cube

DAY 7
First stop, Hamilton's house, The Grange. Second stop, Columbia University. Then it was shopping and lunch and then off to the airport!

The Grange, still being renovated!

Columbia University
Hamilton building

Shapely legs! This tidbit from Ron Chernow's  Hamilton biography!

Hope you enjoyed! I wish you all a happy dappy weekend, and I hope I haven't totally scared you off with my weirdness. Hah.

October Q4U: Are you dressing up for Halloween? If yes, what's your costume?

10.05.2011

Behind the Scenes of Boba4Evah & A Nudge

Some snippets of conversation from this weekend and these past few days. Take a peek if you dare!

Behind the Scenes of...

BOBA 4 EVAH (weekend)
Over boba (of course), while discussing unnamed book...

CONVO #1
Alz: But then she sees Guy 2 and like immediately is DRAWN to him even though they've spent all of 10 minutes together. And this in front of Guy 1!

Krispy: Well, that's because Guy 1 is Tofu. The other guy is all beautiful and mysterious. Tofu always gets the short end of the stick.**

Sophia: No, wait, in the Hunger Games, Tofu gets the advantage! Gale is Hot & Spicy and gets left behind.

Krispy: Oh yeah, Tofu does get the leg up in that one.

Alz: But Peeta's not that Tofu. He has more spice.

Krispy: He's SPICY TOFU!


CONVO #2
Sophia: So does she eat or does she just go sit in the sunlight?

The sister: Excuse me, I'm going to go photosynthesize.


Behind the scenes of...


A NUDGE (Tuesday)
At Krispy's house. Krispy is reading a scary book. Alz is reading something else on iPad.

CONVO #1
Krispy: Oh my god. THAT'S MESSED UP.

Alz: What?!

Krispy: So the MC is at this supposedly haunted house with these stupid jock types, and they're forcing him to the house. And he's like looking into the house, and this one jock hits him IN THE HEAD with a PLANK OF WOOD!

Alz: ...that's it?

Krispy: But isn't that messed up?! I mean, a PLANK OF WOOD aimed at his HEAD! Really?! That's so stupid and messed up and HE COULD HAVE KILLED HIM!

Alz: Krispy, you're reading this horror book. I thought someone got like cut in half or something! I mean, that's messed up - really, a board to the head?! - but I thought it was something a lot worse.

Krispy: Oooh, haha. Well, if a ghost had come and torn them to pieces, I'd be okay with that. Like it's expected. But plank of wood to the head of the New Kid in town just because you're kinda drunk and you don't like him is a little much. If the jocks had beaten him up, fine. That's just bullies being drunk and stupid. But this plank to the head? Were they TRYING TO KILL him?

Alz: Yeah, who aims at the head as a joke?! Maybe the knees or back or something.

Krispy: It's just so PREMEDITATED. They assaulted him!

Alz: It's the premeditation. We should blog about this.

(Yes, we're more outraged by the premeditated assault than supernatural murderous rages.)


CONVO #2
Krispy: So I think I'm going to blog about our Tofu/Hot&Spicy love triangle convo from this weekend. And about how Peeta is Spicy Tofu.

Alz: Well, you know, Gale is actually the Tofu because he's the childhood friend that doesn't get a lot of page-time.

Krispy: ... Augh, you're right! It's because Gale's personality isn't Tofu and Peeta's is! I thought there was something off about our comparison.

Alz: Either way, Peeta is still Spicy Tofu. Hey, should there be a spoiler warning for this?

Krispy: That he's Spicy Tofu???

---

And there's your peek behind the curtain. Hope you haven't been scared off.

In other news, Lori asked me and Sophia some questions as part of a reverse meme she ran on her blog last week. The questions are pretty awesome. Sophia & I will be vlogging the answers some time in the near future.

How do you like your tofu?


**This whole TOFU vs. HOT & SPICY analogy came from Alz's post "Let's Talk Love Triangle Dudes." See, we're not just talking crazy! Not completely anyway...