Bling it on: some (pretty) gift ideas

2 04 2012

Hullo readers!

Did you all have a good weekend? Have fun? Take time to relax? Do something for yourself or others? Whether it was leisure time or tending to admin/ cleaning/ humdrum activities, I hope that you’re all ready for the new week… and a new month.

So my birthday is coming up on Sunday. I’m still not sure exactly what we’ll be doing, although (1) I’d really love a birthday cake/cupcake/some sort of confectionary with a candle stuck in it and (2) a cup of tea to start my morning off with… even though I know I’m usually up before my Significant Other and will thus end up making my own tea 😉

Birthdays are a great occasion to show your appreciation for special people in your life, which is why I love buying gifts (in general). The only ‘worrying’ factor when it comes to birthdays is deciding on what to get the other person. Gift cards come in handy, but it’s nice to know what that person’s interests are so that you can buy something the recipient will be genuinely pleased to receive.

That being the case, I’ve decided to share some trinkets that someone such as myself would love to receive:

I enjoy baking, which is why this bracelet *cue lame pun* is CHARM-ing

Not sure if this ring will ward off kitchen disasters or if it'd serve as a bad omen/ warning...

Nothing says 'domestic goddess' like wearing a bottle of cleaning liquid around your neck

Bring out your inner sexy librarian/ hipster with this ring

Some days you cannot help wishing for a bit of immortality... Harry Potter readers will recognize this as the sign of the Deathly Hallows

More Harry Potter love with the trademark lightning bolt scar ❤

Last Harry Potter pic: golden snitch bracelet

While I wait for THE HUNGER GAMES film to be released here in SA, these earrings can help to psyche me up some more

The couple who builds/plays together, stays together! I'm pretty sure my husband would want to turn it into another gadget by adding some buttons and switches...

These earrings are the closest I'll ever get to being a (mad) scientist

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Message Sessions III

27 03 2012

Dear Department of Home Affairs

You better send me my new ID soon. The fact that you misprinted my ID and never let me know about it doesn’t put you in my good books… not to mention the inconvenience of having to fill in the forms again and getting that annoying black ink all over my fingers for prints. You better not mess up again, or there’ll be hell to pay. Why can’t you just get your sh*t together?!

Fed up,

A hard-working tax payer (likely helping to pay your salary!)

– – –

Dear movie people who determined the release dates of films

I read THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy at the beginning of last year and have been eagerly anticipating the release of the first film since then. However, for some or other reason, it only starts showing in South Africa on the 13th of April!! Now I have to try and avoid reading people’s tweets, reviews, memes et cetera for the next two and a half weeks. I don’t know why the release dates for films as greatly anticipated as this one need to differ from country to country (read: for us not living in the US), but just know that you have really ticked me off. And then you wonder why so many people download pirated versions of films…

Disdainfully,

An annoyed filmgoer

– – –

Dear writers of dystopian novels

I love you. There’s no better way of putting it.

Warm regards,

An avid reader

– – –

Dear work/job

Thanks for not accumulating while I was away for the last week and a half. It’s nice to think that all the e-mails I came back to this morning were only general updates/admin and the like. Now if only we could arrange for a salary increase with the new contract I received this morning… I don’t particularly want to be jobless from the 1st of April, but I also feel all the hard work I put in is worth more than I’m getting. Don’t worry – I’m sure we’ll work something out. I think I’ll go crazy if I have to sit at home, unemployed, with nothing to do with my time… unless I start a little home bakery… or the whole book review blog idea picks up.

Gratefully,

Obsessive-compulsive workaholic

– – –

Dear Significant Other

Thanks for the few ‘lunch dates’ while I was on leave, for helping me download books to read, for making me laugh when I felt bored/depressed/listless, for watching CONAN THE ADVENTURER with me (and enjoying it!)… and for just being you. Oh, and for reinstalling/fixing my laptop – you always know best *haha*

Oodles of love,

Me xxx

– – –

Dear Mr Awesplendmarkable

Thank you sooo much for sending me your latest novel a while ago – I read it in a day and LOVED it (I’ve told you that already but it’s worth repeating). If I were a publisher, I’d definitely snatch you up! Thanks also for being such a great friend and for letting me be one of the first people to immerse myself in (and comment on) your works of fiction. It’s much more fun than schools publishing. You ROCK!!

Signed

Your biggest fan… 😉

– – –

Dear life

Get yourself on track. I know I’ve been joking about having a mid-twenties crisis, what with the boredom and listlessness I endured while on leave, but that was probably to be expected after working hard for an extended period of time and then finding myself with no obligations and nothing to do. Let’s think about what we want to achieve in the year to come and take better care of ourselves (i.e. let the exercise regime & development of new interests begin!)

Tough love,

Yourself

– – –

Dear narcissistic people

You may think you’re amazing now; you may get away with being rude and obnoxious all the time, throw tantrums to get want you want, and only contact others when you want something… This, however, will not always be the case. Just know: your day will come. That whole “do unto others” saying has been around for ages, and it holds a lot of truth. I am not someone who gets angry often, but I am really close to giving one or two people a piece of my mind. Your distorted view on the world (and everyone who isn’t as marvellous as you believe yourself to be) is going to come back to punch you hard in the face someday…

Definitely not sincerely yours,

Unimpressed & edgy

– – –

Dear coffee

Stop smelling so good. I just might give up all restraint and fall back into your aromatic (proverbial) arms… which, after 27 java-free months, likely wouldn’t be the best idea.

Tempted,

An ex-coffee drinker

– – –

Dear daily headaches

Stop torturing me! You just seem to be getting increasingly worse, and I deal with it, but we both know this isn’t normal.

Quit it,

Un-amused





Readers unite!

20 10 2011

I am so incredibly excited.

Why, you ask?

Because we’ve started a book club on Facebook!!

Okay, I suppose you need me to back it up just a little bit. Here’s the backstory:

At the beginning of the year (January/ February), I read the HUNGER GAMES trilogy – which I loved, of course. As the year progressed, I went on to read a lot of other books – and I mean a lot – but kept wondering how the film adaptation of the first book would turn out. I wasn’t all too happy to see who they cast for some of the parts, since they didn’t fit the descriptions in the book (don’t you just hate it when they choose someone who doesn’t even have the right hair colour?), but when I saw some pictures from the work-in-progress on IMDB, I started to think that perhaps they could pull it off. It’s amazing what a dye job, haircut and make-up can do…

Anyway, back to my story. I shared a link to the IMDB page with photos on my Facebook, and then a friend that went to university with me started chatting to me about the series and books in general. From that point on (probably at the start of September) we’ve been sharing and recommending books we enjoyed. She told me about the CHAOS WALKING trilogy, which I enjoyed just as much as the HUNGER GAMES (didn’t really like the ending, though), so I told her about the MAZE RUNNER trilogy – the final book came out a few days ago, making my timing for reading them perfect 🙂

You’ll note that all the aforementioned trilogies are dystopian novels (see my blog entry about it here), yet do not despair: we’ve shared other recommendations, as well. If you’re into light reads that include mystery and baking, you can try the Hannah Swensen Mysteries series by Joanne Fluke. If you still want a bit of mystery/ a ‘detective story’ and bring in the newspaper industry – and cats, don’t forget cats! – you can turn your attention to The Cat Who… series. My friend, Ms. Booklover, has introduced me to the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher – a cross between detective stories and wizards. To quote Wikipedia (and yes, I am going to do it, even though it isn’t always a reliable source), the series is pretty much “Dirty Harry Potter”… get it? Dirty Harry + Harry Potter (a hard-core detective and plenty of wizardry)? Ah, forget it.

Okay, one  more recommendation, then I’ll shut my trap. If any of you liked THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, I’d give THE WASP FACTORY by Iain M. Banks a read. It’s odd, interesting, destructive… Not everyone’s cup of tea. I won’t take offense if you read a few pages and then discard it. As long as you’re reading and engaging with the wonderful world of words, it makes me extremely happy. I’ve always have a great fondness for books, which is why I am glad to be sharing the experience with others… and to be able to do that. Not a lot of people have or make time for reading; others simply say that they don’t like to read *tsk-tsk* Where would we be without literacy? Without imagination, some form of escape?

If you love to read, feel free to post books you enjoyed in the comments section (which should be at the bottom of this blog entry). You can also share books you have started – perhaps a few times – and just cannot seem to finish/ get ‘into’. I’m always looking for new books to read…

Yip, pretty excited about sharing book recommendations with friends. Pretty darn much.

Readers unite!!! 😀

[PS: Do I even have to say that I recommend each and every work by the literary master writer Stephen King? No, I didn’t think so.]





Dystopian delight

26 09 2011

 

Warning: this will most likely end up being a lengthy blog entry.

I have come to the realization that I take infinite joy in reading dystopian novel(la)s.

[Or should that be ‘novel(la)s that explore a dystopian society/ state/ world’?]

NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR by George Orwell; THE LONG WALK and THE RUNNING MAN by Richard Bachman (actually Stephen King); the HUNGER GAMES trilogy by Suzanne Collins; the CHAOS WALKING trilogy by Patrick Ness; THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner… the list goes on and on.

‘Joy’ in the opening sentence of this blog entry – quick, go read it again, since I’ve probably distracted you with the list of book titles! – seems to be an ironic word to choose, since people who live in said societies rarely know joy, living in the awful future times and circumstances as they do…

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, what is this Dystopia I speak of, you ask?

You probably all know the word ‘Utopia’, which refers to an ideal world or kind of paradise. Greek: eu (good) + topos (place). Compare this to the Greek dys, meaning “bad”/ “ill”, and you’ll see that Dystopia is the complete opposite of Utopia. In fact, I’ve read that it is regarded as “the evil twin” of Utopia.

In a dystopian setting, you usually deal with a society that lives within a social control system – a system under which they are oppressed, controlled, and living in fear of saying a word of protest against the corrupt ruling government. There is great suffering, pessimism and uniformity – the people of those times being manipulated to serve the purposes of those in power, often becoming indistinct through strict presiding regulations. Bubbling far below the surface, there is talk of a revolt, or rising up against the oppressors and building a new society.

Brutality is implemented for amusement; survival a daily hope. Friends are pitted against each other, sometimes having to take sides to ‘ensure’ their continued existing – more of the disturbing sort of amusement that those in power revel in. What could be better than spinning fine threads of false hope, then tangling everyone up in the web of deceit and resulting difficult choices?

Take THE HUNGER GAMES, for example: where the Capitol selects two young people (one male, one female) in each District to compete in what can be seen as ‘the most dangerous game’ – an arena where your survival depends on being the last person not killed. How do you kill other innocent people? How do you kill someone from your own district?? How do you keep from being killed, yourself, having to depend on your own skills to procure food, water, weapons? And all this while the entire world watches your every move, sees every killing, every hardship… and are glad that it isn’t them in there.

Because that’s how the government works: keeping you in captivating horror, making you believe that this is how the world should be and that you are powerless to stop them. The social norms set in these times might be disturbing and cruel, yet the people have been brainwashed to believe that it should be so.

Of course, propaganda also comes into play, making people believe that the government/ state is just, that things are how they should be, that they are being taken care of and that all rules must be obeyed without question…

Queue the hero/ heroin of the story to take a stand, to not give in, to survive and rise up and renew hope for a better world and sometimes even unwillingly rally others to join in the fight.

All of that said, why would anyone enjoy reading these types of books?

Is it because we want to see good triumph over evil? Do we take pleasure in seeing those misusing power get their comeuppance? Are we glad that at least we do not live in such extremely oppressive times? Or is it because we can feel a spark of ‘recognition’ in what is being written – that we can, to a certain degree, relate to what is said?

These novels are set in the future for a reason: they look at social trends we are currently living in, then take them to the extreme, thus serving as a sort of warning by showing us the ‘what would happen if’ situations (i.e. the horrifying consequences and ramifications that today’s world and technologies could have on the future – always with the worst case scenario depictions…)

These books want us to be voyeuristic, to see what could happen to society by injecting bits of the familiar and building it up to uncomfortable proportions. You know how they say familiarity breeds contempt? That’s pretty much what’s happening here.

I could probably make this blog entry run on forever if I start talking about how wonderful I think the HUNGER GAMES trilogy is, how scary it would be to take part THE LONG WALK (mental breakdown practically assured), how I wish things could have turned out differently at the end of the CHAOS WALKING trilogy… but that can wait for another day. I think I’ve loaded your minds with enough noise… errr, ‘information’ to make you not want to think about society and our own corrupt governments (fat chance of that) for quite some time.

But I hope I’ve also interested you in these types of novel(la)s. If I can get more people reading, it will be reward enough for me 🙂

Oh, and did I mention how these types of novels often have an ending where issues are unresolved or you don’t feel satisfied with how things turned out/ are left unexplained/ just don’t ‘feel’ right to you?

Yeah, that’s always lots of fun.





Scattered Brainings XIV

31 08 2011

* Old school video games are awesome. We didn’t play a lot (our SEGA machine had Alex Kidd in Miracle World built in), but my limited ‘experience’ won’t stop me from having fun… even though it probably accounts for why I get my behind kicked when playing against my Significant Other. That, plus the fact that he has been gaming for many a year.

* Finding new things to do is fun. I might not be very good, but my Significant Other and I are having a blast playing video games… which makes two and a half hours disappear each time, somehow… We also bought a Monopoly board on Monday – the South African version – and might start making mosaics/ building small things. Having to teach me all these things (excluding the mosaics) probably ties in with that “Love is patient” line.

* It’s ‘scary’ to realize how much you have in common with someone you find a tad annoying and, yes, sometimes overwhelming. Betty Bright drinks green tea, loves cats, doesn’t like rugby… and believes that the two of us think alike. Really?! This coming from someone who thinks she can do everything / knows best and whose species is most likely extinct already. [Sorry, couldn’t resist an age-related joke!]

* Sometimes I think I should either opt for the book or the film version thereof and not both. Just by looking at the cast for the first PERCY JACKSON film – along with what I heard about it from various sources – I immediately knew that I should steer clear. I had the same feeling when I read up on the cast for THE HUNGER GAMES. Yet, in this case, I am willing to wait it out and let the film decide it for me.

* Baking is awesome. What makes it even more meaningful for me (childhood memories aside) is how much people appreciate something as seemingly insignificant as a cookie or two with their morning coffee/tea. I brought some of the cookies I baked on Sunday to work yesterday, and my co-workers were delighted 🙂

* Speaking of which, when our Publishing Manager came to thank me for the cookies, she said that she didn’t see me as ‘domesticated’. This does not make sense to me… unless I am actually a household pet or something *laugh* I think she meant she didn’t see me as the domestic type, and not as someone who isn’t house-bred.

* Why are people so curious? I’m convinced that motorists are the people with the most curiosity. Just look at the excruciatingly slow pace of traffic when an accident has occurred, or when a truck has pulled over, and how immediately after you pass the vehicle(s) things go quicker. And why? Because everyone was staring and turning to look at what happened. Ogling should be a (criminal) offence.

* The fragrance of the air freshener cans in our Ladies Room at work is called “Baby Caress”. I find this highly unsettling…

How do YOU know what baby would taste like, kitteh? Also, with the air freshener: does it smell like dirty diapers and spit (like babies do), or is it the powdered, clean, 'new human' (baby) scent that's enticing...? *shudder*

* In just under a week, three or four people’s fathers have passed away (said people work for OUP). This makes me appreciate the fact that I still have my dad even more… and also makes me worry about his safety/ health/ longevity. Three deaths related to the (people in our) workplace is kind of eerie.

* I was having such a dull day at work yesterday that I actually started jotting down my brainings for today’s post. Talk about being constructive!