Friday, January 30, 2009

A Shameful Admission

There's something about myself that I rarely admit to anyone. The only reason I will admit it here is because the idea that others read this blog is highly abstract to me. So what is this shameful secret of mine? Well, it's that I sometimes read trashy magazines and novels, such as Cosmo, tabloids, and the occasional harlequin romance. And in a deliciously disdainful way, I even like them.

Which is why, when all this "Twilight" furor swept up, I needed to check it out. Secretly, of course. Santa, having detected this interest, left me a copy in my stocking, which I devoured in a matter of days.

Sadly, though, like all holiday overeating, the experience left me feeling bloated and dissatisfied.

Now, let me preface this opinion of Twilight by explaining that vampire mythology and I have a long history. It began in 1992 with Bram Stoker's Dracula, then moved onto the gloomy, sultry Anne Rice chronicles. I jumped on the Buffy bandwagon (and was on Team Spike, pre-season-5), and loved the lesser-known "Vampire Diaries" by LJ Smith. Vampire mythology gave me hope throughout puberty that somewhere, somewhere, there might be men of higher quality than the awkward, ungroomed, phallocentric teenage fare filling high schools with their noise and stink.

And even though I've now met and married my own sophisticated and intelligent knight of pale complexion, vampires still occupy a fond place in my heart. Which is why I positively LOVED the first half of Twilight, where Bella and Edward were still enigmas to one another. However, the second half, in which the two become boyfriend and girlfriend, left a bad taste in my mouth.

Edward is just plain MEAN. Despite "loving" Bella, he rarely says anything nice to her at all. He perpetually scolds her whenever she shows evidence of thinking for herself, making him shockingly controlling. He threatens her, stalks her, watches her sleep, and follows her every move, and yet somehow all that is supposed to be romantic. How on earth can this character be considered a heart-throb?

Bella is not much better. Despite being well-read, she does not show much signs of actual intelligence, confidence, or any interesting traits whatsoever. After reading 500 pages, all I know about her is that she's brunette, clumsy, and easily manipulated. Worse still, it seems that that's all she knows (or cares to know) about herself. Granted, a nondescript character has the advantages of becoming a chameleon to match any reader… but there simply has to come a point where Bella stops being a manifestation of everyone -- thereby making her no-one -- and starts being herself. If that ever happens, it doesn't happen in 500 pages. :-P

Their "love" is also disappointing. The only basis explained for his affection for her is her smell, and his inability to read her mind. If it had been any other girl who smelled so "deliciously", or whose mind he could not read, he would have not cared a bit for Bella. That kind of replaceability is not the basis of love, I'm afraid. In turn, the basis for Bella's love towards Edward is betrayed by the adjectives she chooses throughout the whole book -- synonyms for beauty, exclusively.

Now, I have actually met, in real life, men who are so obscenely beautiful, you can't help but think that they're visiting from some Gattaca dimension. Two come to mind; in both cases, their beauty becomes only a backdrop to the far more fascinating stories of who they are -- whether they paradoxically shy and deeply uninteresting, or whether they are surprisingly sweet and shockingly balanced. See? They just became more interesting already.

But Bella, despite "loving" Edward, never looks further to see what makes him interesting -- all she ever articulates is his beauty, his likeness to statues, models, etc. (And frankly, I've seen statues with more depth of personality.) But that's probably better, in some ways, because Edward's moodiness and borderline emotional abuse spell out that, beneath the sparkly surface, he's a bonafide jerk.

More than the characters or story, I am most disturbed by the vast popularity of this book. Now don't get me wrong -- I am the last person on Earth who will denounce saucy fiction about infatuation -- but I am seriously bothered by the prospect of young women absorbing the message that love is supposed to be co-dependent, shallow and abusive. :-P

Anyhoo, for the three of you who may still be reading, I'll plug a Twilight-esque book I'm enjoying, a manga called Fruits Basket. Same formula: young girl with no present parental figures falls in with mysterious not-quite-human family harbouring a big secret, scintillating love triangle follows shortly thereafter. Fruits Basket features kinship based on kindness, on reaching out to those who are isolated. And plus, there's no Mormon propaganda in it. ;-) Check out your local library and give it a read!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Arrival

Hello, Nala! Isn't she a cutie?

Some months ago, while I was researching animal rescue shelters, I came across New Moon Rabbit Rescue. It's an Ottawa-based organization specializing in domesticated bunnies, and it operates through a network of foster homes... of which more are always needed.

Sometimes, ill-informed rabbit owners will release the bunny into the wild once they tire of the pet, thus condemning the poor animal to any number of horrible fates. Domesticated bunnies are not equipped to live outdoors like their wild cousins; they have no knowledge of how to find food or shelter, and they are more susceptible to parasites and disease. New Moon rescues these bunnies, nurtures them back to health, and resocializes the poor, scared creatures until the rabbit is ready for adoption.

Nala was found wandering around Vanier with another bunny, probably her son. Some weeks after being brought in, Nala's health took a sudden turn for the worse, and it looked like she could likely die. Luckily, swift medical intervention prevailed, and she is now happily hopping about. I am fostering her and keeping an eye on her health, eventually with the aim of getting her completely healthy and ready for a forever-home adoption.

Until then, we are spending time together, and she is slowly getting used to the new surroundings. I look forward to getting to know her better. :-)

Welcome, Nala!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

hung over blog


My head feels like it's been run over by a train, I've been spending most of the morning in the foetal position, and even water is not staying down. This is definitely the worst hangover I've had in years.

But why, given my state of unwellness, would I blog about this? Simple -- blogging is an excellent way to avoid cleaning up downstairs, which is riddled with half-full cups of alcohol, whose scent is most unwelcome to me right now.

So, instead, let me tell you about last night.

Last night was our official housewarming party, where we had an open-house-style soiree and invited basically everyone we know. There were not a ton of RSVPs, so I had no idea what to expect.

The day had had a dubious start. Being procrastinators, Dave and I had left ALL the cleaning until that day. (And of course, knowing the party would force us to clean, we'd been letting the house slide into filth-ridden chaos for the last week or two.) Aside from the fact that cleaning is an extremely nonfun activity, it is all the more exacerbated by the fact that cleaning is the one task at which Dave and I do not work well together AT ALL. It was a tense afternoon.

But, the house was gleaming with a full hour to spare, so the ensuing step of prepping party nibbles went much more smoothly. The glass of wine in my hand probably helped too. ;-)

The first guests to arrive were my former colleague, his wife, and their 7-month-old baby. It was great to see them, and their being at the party turned out to be excellent strategy -- as more people arrived, there were more people to pass the baby to, thereby giving mum and dad some time to enjoy the party. It didn't hurt that the kid was the smiliest, flirtiest baby I've ever come across, either.

The house filled up quite quickly, and then the party began in earnest. The music was excellent (thank you, "it's the rub"!), the turnout was fantastic (40 people?), and the booze was a-flowin'. Interspersed throughout the night were nickel-tours of the house, which everyone seemed to really like. The library (2nd bedroom) was a favourite, as it houses a wide array of books, graphic novels, comics, pictures, and action figures. There's even a Commodore64 monitor hooked up to a fully-funtional Super Nintendo, for those who love going old-school. ;-) Yay, vintage Mario Kart!

Anyhow, the evening was a success beyond even my hopes. We had a house full of fantastic people, many of whom had come significant distances to join the party. Everyone seemed to be having a great time, the food was highly complimented (especially the Grandpa Hume cookies), and the only beverage we ran out of was ginger ale. A jam session began in the basement around midnight, which then added a whole new dimension to the party.

Everything wound up at 5:30, after which Dave and I stayed up a bit longer to revel in how marvellously it all went.

It was about then, and on my seventh+ glass of wine, that I realized I'd forgotten to eat dinner. Hence the hangover. And the cigar probably didn't help either.

Well, the post is over... time to get cleaning. :-P Yay for fun parties! :-D