Monthly Archives: August 2012

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

At this point, dear readers, we should all be very familiar with the Wicked Witch of the West. You know, the green one. That mean lady with the pointy nose and chin that wanted to take Dorothy’s beautiful ruby (or silver) slippers. I was first introduced to her in 1991, when my Aunt Jo (who is very adept in makeup) went as the WWW for Halloween and scared me so badly I hid under my grandma’s kitchen table. I still haven’t forgotten the pea green face and the terrible cackle.

“I’m melting! I’m melting! Oh, what a world!”  

In Gregory Maguire’s much acclaimed Wicked (on which the famous musical is based) we finally get to hear the witch’s side of the story. In fact, Dorothy (that little shoe-snatching swine) doesn’t even come in until the very last couple of chapters. We learn that “Elphaba” has lived and loved just like the rest of us and not only is she iron-willed in her convictions, she’s also not abnormally malicious. She simply has the power to think very hard and sometimes bad things happen to her enemies. Oh… The people who would be injured if that were the case…

But, I digress.

Wicked was quite a bit more politically-based than I ever had anticipated, almost to a point where I couldn’t tolerate it. Everything was about different races and their territories, power struggles, Animal (with a capital ‘A’) rights, political double-dealing, and intrigue. But even my description of it makes it sound more interesting than it really was. It was, actually, not that wicked. In fact, it was kinda boring.

(It surprised me that Wicked was only written in 1990, because Maguire’s prose and dialogue read much much older.)

In the beginning of the story, when Elphaba came out green–born to two noticeably not green parents–it was obviously a bit of a shock. Things moved along quickly and her very immoral mother paired with her religiously zealous father made quite an interesting duo. But after her teenage years spent at a girl’s boarding college, the plot slowed down substantially. I mean… I enjoyed going “Oh hey! That’s Glinda the Good Witch” or “Oh hey! That’s how the flying monkeys got started!” but it wasn’t nearly enough to carry the whole book.

If I’m going to read about the WWW, I expect dastardly deeds and malicious acts. And fine, she’s not all that dastardly. I expect some dirty sex scenes at least! What really made her bad? I don’t get it. She was a silent nun under a vow of silence for seven years! Give me a break!

2 pointy black hats of 5

(Oh, and coincidentally, the Kindle file I read also contained The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I didn’t really care for that either. So sue me!)

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Geektastic edited by Holly Black & Cecil Castellucci

Now, you might be thinking, Chelsea? A geek? A nerd? She’s tall and blonde and looks like everything geeks stand against.  

And you would be wrong.

I am a geek because I read everything I can get my hands on. I attend every Renaissance Festival I can, and have even been known to dress up on occasion. I own a mermaid tail that I actually swim in. I played World of Warcraft for three years straight (for the Horde!) and a small part of my heart will be forever dedicated to Tauren hunters. I can recite full passages from Harry Potter, gone to Platform 9 3/4, and visited HP World at Islands of Adventures.  And I have a Quidditch jersey and a Gryffindor scarf–even though Pottermore has sorted me into the Ravenclaw House. I have seen all the Star Wars AND all the Lord of the Rings–not to mention read all the way from The Hobbit to The Return of the King. I own a pair of vampire fangs and a set of elf ears. Thanks to my dear friends (who are very far away from me at the moment, but not forgotten) Wendy, Bret, Annie, Stephan, and Mike–I know the difference between chaotic neutral and chaotic good. (And thanks to Wendy especially, I know which qualities make a great Dungeon Master).

In short, I am a geek.

And proudly so.

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd is definitely one of the more entertaining anthologies I’ve read in awhile. I’ve been busy touring around the Pip Pip Cheerio countryside, so it was nice to be able to pick up short stories and put them down just as quickly. I really liked that all types of geeks were represented within the stories. Trekkies, Hans Solo-Wannabes, Elvish Linguists, Gamer Geeks, Sci-Fi Nerds, Comic Book fans, Super Hero Worshippers, D&D Villians, Video Game Addicts, Old Horror Film Buffs and all their ilk. Basically all of my friends are well-represented.

As in all anthologies, there are some stories that are the cornerstones of the book, while the others sag a little in the middle. This is no exception to that rule, but still definitely worth it to those of us who can finish the phrase, “You remind me of the babe…”

3 of 5 mint-condition comics


Ely Cathedral 8-19-12

This past weekend Jason took me about a half hour away to the largest cathedral in the area–Ely Cathedral–so named after the island it used to stand on (before it was dredged and drained) being surrounded by eel infested water. (Anyone else reminded of the Princess Bride? Shrieking eels? Eh, eh?) The eel fishing industry was a large part of the commerce in the area back in the day. Now it’s surrounded instead by much more pleasant (and hopefully much less slimy) buildings, houses, and farmland.

The cathedral itself was massive and we decided to take a guided tour to the very tallest tower. Of course, it wasn’t until after we’d paid the fee and begun the tour that our guide kindly informed us about how no foundation was built underneath the floors and the cathedral itself has sunk quite a bit. This causes “problems” for them because the east wing of the cathedral had collapsed several hundred years ago, and major reconstructive work had to be done relatively recently because the tower was sinking, leaning, and crumbling. Great.

We proceeded to climb 218 crumbly, slick, narrow, steep, claustrophobic stairs to the top. Seriously, the Stair Master’s got nothing on this… Not to mention you’re crammed in there like sardines with 15 strangers just praying nobody has to fart. It was not even funny. Plus, all the while, the guide is reiterating about how things have fallen apart over time blah blah blah. When we were stopped at a point, Jason grabbed a stone to wiggle it to be funny–AND IT ACTUALLY SHIFTED. Like, not a loose brick or anything, it was part of the wall. Gahhh. I punched him and told him to quit it. Leave it to us to collapse a thousand year old church…

But finally we made it to the top in one piece and we could see for literally 20 miles around. It was gorgeous and totally worth it.

Yep… That’s the tower.

This one was creepily realistic…

The stained glass made pretty patterns on the floor 🙂

This was a memorial stone for a (very fertile) couple’s deceased children. You can read one section that says “Also 22 of their children died from 8 to 12 months old.” 22! Sheesh! It’s a wonder the mother survived that!

The ceiling that took 20 years to paint.

The view from the tower was spectacular!

Heights are worse for us tall people…

 It’s a gargoyle 🙂

It was that awkward gray-brightness outside and super windy at the top. We were scurrying around like rats trying not to get blown off the side!

 


Quote of the Day: Robert Pattinson

“If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2am clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are…You deserve a girl who can give you the most colourful life imaginable. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.”

-Robert Pattinson


Our Trip to London :) 8-11-12

London was an amazing city. Amazingly busy that is. With the tail-end of the Olympics going on while we were there, literally hundreds of thousands of people bustled around us all day. It was a bit overwhelming. We were lucky enough to get to see SO MUCH in one day, thanks to the extremely convenient tube system London has. For next to no money you can rocket around the city all day, seeing things miles apart with ease. And sparing your poor feet–although tube or not, it didn’t much matter after 12 hours there. Wear you walking shoes, my friends!

King’s Cross Station was our first stop! As you saw in a previous post, I was dead-set on finding Platform 9 3/4 🙂

Inside King’s Cross I made a beeline for this little pastry shop called “Patisserie Valerie.” Jason and I both have hunger-induced rage problems, and after nit-picking each other like little bitches on the entire train ride from Epping, I realized it was time for some much needed breakfast.

This fruit tart will forever go down in history as “The Fruit Tart that Saved Jason from Terrible Physical Injury at the Claws of his Girlfriend Chelsea.”

On the tube!

Finally coming above land in the middle of the city. Cue David Bowie singing “Down in the Underground…” (The Labyrinth, duh!)

I found Sasquatch at Picadilly Circus! Hahah

Buckingham Palace! They were NOT letting anyone in, and you can’t see it but there were thousands and thousands of people outside the gates watching the “sprint-running” Olympic event.

If you look closely there at the bottom, you can see one of the guards 🙂

The gates were extremely ornate

Sprint walking is the silliest-looking sport I’ve ever seen. It looks like they have pooped their pants and are shuffling QUICKLY to find an emergency bathroom!

Big Ben!

The London Eye. We decided to skip riding it, because it would’ve cost us $60 American! Blegh

Westminster Abbey, so cool!

The South Bank Lion

Be prepared to hear this like, 827 times if you’re riding the tube…

Frozen yogurt cafe I really wanted to try but didn’t get a chance to. I ❤ Pinkberry at home.

We ate at a cute little Mexican grill in the city.

There were sex shops EVERYWHERE and we accidently wandered into the gay district. Hahah. Of course we had to explore! 😉

See how crowded it was?!

Went to the HUGE Nike store! How did they know?

This really neat clothing store, Top Shop, had little three little shoppettes inside. One for cupcakes, one for candy, and one for frozen yogurt. Genius, I say! Of course women want that!

The City of London is the smallest city in England. It’s actually within London and is only one square mile. It’s like a secret society!

How come every time you come around, my London London Bridge wanna go down? (Sorry, I had to…)

The London Bridge itself is actually rather a letdown, especially compared to this:

The Tower Bridge, made oh-so-famous by the Games this year.

Please ignore how absolutely hideous I look here. It was a long day, and at about this point we were both done…

And this is where I almost pissed my pants and was considering awkwardly peeing in an alleyway. The only thing that stopped me was the heavy foot traffic. There were no bathrooms to be found anywhere!

Phew! The end of a long but amazing day. Back at Epping Station (after mixing up trains and going MILES out of our way) and ready to head home.


Tiger’s Quest by Colleen Houck

Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan are at it again in the second installment of the Tiger’s Curse series by Colleen Houck. This time, K&R FINALLY realize their extreme love for one another and all of us girls can breathe a sigh of relief and bask in a few chapters of hearts-aflutter feel good times. BUT after Ren’s heart-breaking capture by Lokesh’s goons, Kelsey and Kishan are forced to go on quest numero dos together. (You didn’t think they’d live happily ever after that easily, did you, nubcake?) After she experiences terrible visions of the torture Ren is enduring on her behalf, the time crunch is on to find him before it’s too late.

And this book kills me, it kills me. The same way the Vampire Diaries show kills me. Cliff hangers galore and WHYYYYYYYY??? moments are sure to have you reaching for the calm-down pills. Especially towards the end once you realize what’s really going on. Stupid idiot tigers and their stupid idiot curses. 

This book was just as nail-bitingly good as the first in the series. Believe me.

Oh yeah, and there are super powers now!

I was pissed with the whole Ren-capture thing. It’s highly reminiscent of the Twilight series where in New Moon Edward is removed from the situation and feelings are allowed to blossom between the girl and the other point on the love triangle.

It makes me yell “NO” loudly and startle my boyfriend.

That being said, Kishan is a really nice guy. In fact, Houck is skilled enough in her writing to make a reader consider changing sides. That rarely happens to me, but in this situation I could definitely see it.

I’m glad Kelsey is much less of a vadge in her current adventures, because it makes the whole thing more bearable. I can’t stand the Oh, why me? This is terrible! What am I to do? puts-a-hand-to-forehead-and-faints-backwards-gracefully kind of crap women are expected to indulge in. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, kick-ass heroines are where it’s at.

Now where matters of the heart are concerned… That’s a little more complicated…

5 lightning bolts of 5


Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

I’m about to say something blasphemous. Mothers should draw the shades and cover their children’s eyes.

WHAT THE LIVING EFF WAS THIS GARBAGE?

No, I’m not talking about the book–never the book. The movie.

I know right now you’re thinking, But Chelsea, of course the movie was garbage. They always are compared to the book. What did you expect? And you would be right.

Except this book did not EXIST before the movie. Yep, you heard me right. It was based on a screenplay written by David Leslie Johnson, made for a movie directed by Catherine Hardwicke, based off of an idea of Leonardo DiCaprio’s. Talk about Inception… It’s a book inside a screenplay inside a movie inside an idea. What?

And that’s fine. But this is the last time I trust Catherine Hardwicke with a movie. I was willing to give her a chance even after she eff’d up the Twilight movie (“Hold on tight, spider monkey.” Really, Catherine? Really??) But now, the gloves are off.

Not only was the Red Riding Hood movie a spectacular cheese-fest of terrible, it also was ABSOLUTELY UNLIKE the book. And yeah, sure, the movie and the book are never the same–I get it. But this book was written FOR THE MOVIE and yet still, it was completely off the mark. Do you get what I’m saying?

Shouldn’t the book follow the movie pretty well, especially if it was created because of it? Is it just me?

Rant aside, the book was enjoyable. Blakley-Cartwright took what assuredly was a heinous script and added dark elegance and flowing prose to round it out. She used great imagery and was very creative with her descriptions. I appreciate her writing style, I really do. It was nothing like the classic fairy tale. RRH is not a retelling, it’s a re-imagining.

Now if only she could’ve sat in the director’s chair instead…

Verdict: Please for the love of all that is holy, do NOT watch the movie. Read the book instead and forget there ever was such a nightmare. And try not to think about the fact that the actors involved in this…thing…are getting paid more than you ever will. It’s a sad state of affairs.

4 big bad wolves of 5