Sunday, March 30, 2014

March Favorites

1) The Lord of the Rings Elven Leaf Brooch - Do you know for how long I've been fascinated with leaf jewelry because of this brooch? Do you know for how long the idea of having the actual piece from Weta was simply a fantasy? At long, long last, I have this beautiful brooch in my possession, complete with its little bag made of the same wool material as the cloaks in the movie. Although, naturally, I prefer the brooch as a pin, it comes with a silver chain so that you can also wear it as a necklace--which does make it easier to wear more often.

2) Grantham Breakfast Blend Tea - It isn't that I'm obsessed with Downton Abbey; it's just that, once I started collecting the show's teas, I couldn't stop. My latest addition is a blend of black tea and ginger. The label suggests adding milk, and I do find that I like it better with a splash of almond to mellow out the ginger some. I do, however, generally like it more as an afternoon or mid-morning tea than as a breakfast one.

3) Bracelets - Now that Spring is here and I'm in short sleeves much of the time, I'm trying to remember to adorn my wrists. My handy bracelet holder is an old copper candlestick I didn't have any other use for. You can see some of my beaded bracelets, green and brown leather, wooden, and the Hillywood Show one on top.

4) Doctor Who - I shouldn't be allowed to investigate anymore franchises. I really shouldn't. I don't know how much more capacity I have: every time I get into something, I have to really get into it. I made my way through the new seasons; now I'm on the classic episodes. I seem to have acquired two books, one DVD, and too many packs of Jammie Dodgers (I had never even heard of these before, then I saw them at World Market just at the time when I was watching Matt Smith's doctor bring them into the script at every turn).

5) Antonio Melani Vest - I wear a vest now. Vests are cool. No, you know I've liked vests for a long time; it's just that the vest I have, while it's the best I was able to find for a long time, has a looser fit than what I ideally wanted (probably because it's a size big). So imagine my joy at casually finding a size 0, black, Antonio Melani vest on the sale rack. Perfection. Side note: I am always amused that my two favorite Dillard's brands are Antonio Melani and Chelsea & Violent (M.S.S.P is also good)--and I frequently wear them together. I've worn this vest, for instance, over my green lace dress.

6) Cholula Hot Sauce - There was a time when I was eating tortilla chips and hot sauce every day. I would just crave the flavors and never want to stop; it was good snacking for moving through classwork.  Now I have rediscovered why this hot sauce was my favorite. Valentino and Tabasco and everything else, they just don't taste the same. To each their own.

7) Antonio Melani Flip-Flops - I've resigned myself to getting a new pair of medium-quality, plain sandals for daily use during the warmer months (aka. about half the year). Starfish aren't my favorite, but the gold color is neutral and I found these on sale a few months ago when last summer was winding down, so they work.

8) The Illustrated Jane Eyre - I stalked this copy of one of my two favorite books (the other being The Lord of the Rings, of course) for a while, trying to decide whether or not I liked Dame Darcy's illustrations. Now I suppose I've decided that I find their gothic turbulence compelling and partially fascinating, whether or not I like the style. You don't have to know whether or not you like something to like looking at it, right? And it had been a while since I'd picked up another edition of Jane Eyre.

9) Tocca Florence Soap - Since Florence is my choice of Tocca perfumes, I also ended up with the Tocca Florence soap at some point. Its leafy, golden wrapping is beautiful, as is the mermaid design on the soap mold. While the scent is more perfumey than the perfume itself, the soap is so silky soft and smooth that I think I do forgive it.

10) Tootsie Fruit Rolls - I turned away from these in the Christmas aisle a couple months ago, so I couldn't resist them again among the Easter candies. You don't usually see the fruit version of Tootsie Rolls, and yet I find them such an interesting candy. Vanilla is the best flavor, then cherry. Even orange, lime, and lemon are nice. They all have the perfect blend of artificial flavorings that they just taste like whimsy and nostalgia. These and Smarties are like the best candies ever. I'm so strange.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Empire Striketh Back with a Fury

So last October I read William Shakespeare's Star Wars and loved the concept of combining Shakespearean style with Star Wars. Now Ian Doescher is back with the sequel, William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back. Let's just take a moment to appreciate that title and this Yoda-adorned book jacket.

While I really enjoyed the first installment, this second book was, I believe, even better. Possibly much, much better. All of the seamlessness of combining the two worlds remained and was also amplified. Where in the first book I sometimes could tell that the dialogue was being taken from the movie (which, of course, it is), here it always felt so natural--as if its existence could have just as easily started in this book rather than in the movie, as if the movie's dialogue was based on the book's. Everything was so coherent. Extra flourishes, descriptions, and metaphors made the text glow that familiar sense of drama. 

And that's the thing, too. Once again, Ian Doescher reminds us of how like a dramatic play is the Star Wars trilogy. His combination with these books works because characters, themes, plot, even setting, all flow according to a recognizable, treasured tradition. This second volume plays all of that up, letting us see what the characters are thinking at certain moments, foreshadowing what is to come, and pondering the symbolism of certain events or conflicts. Much of it is beautiful language, really--I know there are still direct references to Shakespeare, but I found myself recognizing less of them in here than in the first book. So instead I was left, blissfully, forgetting about Shakespeare in favor of a Shakespearean-flavored Star Wars drama. 

I also started to realize that these books are written so that they could actually be performed as plays. How interesting that would be . . . 

I look forward to the third installment, and perhaps also the prequel trilogy while we're at it?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Jane Eyre & Pygmalion

It's been almost a year since I saved this topic as a draft. That's what I do when I have an idea for a post: I put the topic in the title of a post, save it, and then add in the content later. And since March was the month that I defended my honors thesis last year, it's fitting that it is in March that I return to the concept that came up during that time.

I focused, in my thesis, mainly on the three main couples in Charlotte Brontë's The Professor, Jane Eyre, and Villette. I drew comparisons among the novels through character and theme, providing commentary about the different aims that each book provided as part of a distinct part of Charlotte Brontë's life. And one of the subjects that came up during the defense was the way in which Rochester attempts to create Jane, and how she resists the separate identity he tries to place on her. I argued that this is why she had to leave him: their relationship, at first, was not on equal grounds; later, however, they are both independent and can therefore start a real relationship.

But at the earlier point, Rochester tries to pour money on Jane with clothes and jewelry that she refuses. He tries to pretend that she appreciates this use of money and the status that could come with marrying him. But she doesn't. Even when she was still planning to marry him, this side of things always made her uncomfortable. So one of my professors brought up this idea of how Rochester is trying to create Jane's character in a Pygmalion-like way. That can be either Pygmalion the myth or the play. It doesn't really matter: they're both the story of a man forming a woman's identity, whether it is a sculptor forming a statue or a linguist teaching a flower girl pronunciation and manners.

What's interesting about whichever version of creating identity is the gray area. On one hand, if a man is helping a woman to adapt her character in a significant and positive way, then that can be a good thing. It is when he is overpowering who she is or not acknowledging that she is her own person that things start to go wrong. Think about Jane. Rochester, in his overbearing and rough way, did give Jane attention as a person. He listened to her opinions and sought her company. He was one of the few people to do that, so he helped her on her journey toward independence. But when he ignores her or anything she says in favor of what he is thinking or doing, then he crosses a line. His inability to understand her reluctance to accept expensive gifts has greater significance. And when Mrs. Rochester is revealed and he still offers to stay with Jane, he is showing that he is still being selfish in this relationship and that he does not yet understand Jane's moral sensibility that is the very center of her identity.

Rochester does not succeed in creating Jane--and thank goodness he did not. Instead, she took only the positive influence from him and literally fled to avoid any negative influence. And in the end, they were reunited not as Pygmalion and Galatea or Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle but as two separate, independent people who choose to be together. After all, that's why Higgins and Eliza didn't end up together in the play: he did create her and continued to view her as simply the flower girl he had taught the rules of society. She never quite proved herself independent of him and his teaching/creating--except when she left to marry Freddy. That's what I love about Jane Eyre: it is the story of independence because Jane leaves Rochester at that earlier point, but it is also a bit of a fantasy story because she is able to return to him in the end.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Klondike: Mint Chocolate Chip Candy

How old was I? Maybe twelve? I'm not sure. I remember bringing Klondike bars to this tiny little square with a small park area and eating the ice cream on the swings during the twilight hour. Chocolate-dipped ice cream, mild weather, and a quiet setting. Because I don't have Klondike bars all that often, this memory has remained one of my associations with them.

Now Klondike has paired with Flix Candy to make these candy versions of the ice cream. Thing is, I usually only have the plain, original flavor, and the candies come in Mint Chocolate Chip and Caramel. Mint Chocolate Chip sounded more like ice cream to me than Caramel, so I went with that.

Opening up the wrapper, the chocolate smells suspiciously like York Peppermint Patties. Instead of being just one or two Klondike bar-shaped candies, there are four small squares, which further reinforces the peppermint patty comparison, even if they are squares instead of circles. I suppose it's also all similar to the ice cream truffles Godiva released a couple years ago. 

The chocolate coating is fairly thin, and it is suspicious (or is humorous the word?) because it is called a "dark chocolate flavored coating." Why use dark chocolate when you can flavor an oily goo with dark chocolate flavoring instead? The minty inside looks like the peanut butter center of a Reese's cup: they both have a dry, crumbly sort of look to them. But whatever it is made out of, it's designed to melt in your mouth, evoking melting ice cream. It's a rather nice effect. 

There is peppermint oil (really, artificial peppermint is pathetic), so there is a strong enough minty taste. It isn't wholly fresh, but I wasn't expecting it to be. Everything is all very sweet, as if this were an ice cream bar. I don't know if such a candy is worth the two dollars I got it for, but it's the concept that's fun. A Klondike bar that's a candy instead of an ice cream. Why not? At least it admits it's candy--and even admits that it doesn't have dark chocolate. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Jeannie the Doctor

Spring, March in particular, always seems to be the time when I discover new shows. I might watch a new show at any time during the year, but it's always at this time that I find the ones I get absorbed into. This year it's been Doctor Who, last year it was Once Upon a Time, the year before it was Primeval, then Harry Potter (which isn't a TV show, but watching all the movies as a sequence is sort of like watching a show), and in 2010 it was I Dream of Jeannie.

While I was watching Doctor Who, I found myself comparing certain elements to I Dream of Jeannie. All of this varies greatly depending on which doctor or which companion is on the screen at the moment. But let me go through the general idea.

Jeannie lives in and sometimes even travels in her bottle, which has become a symbol of her character and of the show, just like the TARDIS. (For the record, I prefer the bottle: though the TARDIS is great, it's just so blue.) Jeannie is magical; though the Doctor is not, he does have magical-like characteristics because he is "clever," uses science from another world, and regenerates every so often. Likewise, they're both off-kilter from the rest of (our) society. They dress different, they talk different, they get bored by everyday life.

Jeannie has Tony, whom she is always trying to awe and amaze with gifts and travel. The Doctor acts similarly around his companions ("No one is around to see me being clever"); he likes to show off the universe to them. The big difference, of course, is that Jeannie is trying to woo Major Nelson, while any extra feelings that come about between the Doctor and one of his companions are never planned--or entirely wanted. But when a relationship does develop, in either show, it is very sweet--despite the fact that it, in a way, goes against the entire show. People still complain that Jeannie and Major Nelson were married in the last season (I don't), and the Doctor and Rose could only be together with the plot-invention of a clone and a parallel universe.

Both shows, I think, win in their mixture of the regular world and the sci-fi/fantasy world. We see regular things and places, but we also adventure into history and either magic or space. The horizons grow, and the characters are constantly trying to keep a fix on reality and to keep everything organized.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Doctor Lives

The most important thing I have learned from finally watching Doctor Who is that, as I had suspected, it is, after all, nothing like my beloved Primeval--though the two sound similar in summary, their dynamics are completely different.

And, ha, ha, no, that is not really the most important thing I have gotten out of the experience. It's quite shameful, really, that I drifted through nine years of this franchise in one month. But I couldn't help it. In Season 1 (2005, that is), I felt lukewarm at first; by the end I was getting drawn in. And then along came David Tennant and I was completely absorbed by the show and never wanted to stop watching. So, yes, I can say that I am becoming, at long last, a bit of a fan of this show, this show that people have been telling me for a while now that I should watch. It's just that it's difficult to jump into something that you know is so iconic: you know there are so many opinions about it already and so it's hard to just sit and casually watch. But you know what I've found so nice about Doctor Who is everything that, as a whole, it offers. It has comedy, drama, adventure, mystery, fantasy. If you're ever not the fondest of a particular character (or even a particular doctor) or plot element, you know that this is only one element.

Now we will commence on the inclusion of, possibly, some spoilers up to the current episode, The Time of the Doctor.

What I think bothered me most about the first couple of episodes was the attitude toward humanity. I may be a pessimist in some things, but I choose to be an optimist in others, and so I don't like to dwell on negative perspectives. I was bothered by what I thought was just humanity-bashing. But then that changed, and I realized it was just one particular moment. The perspective changed to admiration of humanity's diligence, perseverance, and hope. And I liked that.

Has anything else in existence ever used time travel so well as Doctor Who? This show creates a wonderful spiral of cause and effect, then and now, moments both endless and forever over. And then, of course, time travel gives the opportunity to go anywhere, to do anything. There are historical episodes and sci-fi episodes, psychological and adventurous. The possibilities are endless. So here is what I mean about the show "as a whole." Maybe I didn't care too much for the Agatha Christie episode because I'm not a mystery person. But I loved all the drama in episodes like "Journey's End."

Which brings me to the next point. The Doctor, the Doctor, it's all about the Doctor. The Doctor is a great creation, ever so much better than any superhero. He becomes representative about so much of what society considers. He saves, he regrets, he forms friendships, he is fascinated by everything, he is excited to explore everything, he loves overcoming danger. And he is an exploration of identity: with every new actor, he becomes a new person while still staying himself. Even though it's heartbreaking every time he changes, it's such an interesting exploration of personality, habits, and such.

Before I ever even began watching, David Tennant was bound to be my favorite doctor. That was just always inevitable. He plays that ridiculous comedy that reminds me of Henry Higgins (in the play version of Pygmalion that I saw a few years ago), and yet he is also dramatic and hopelessly tragic like John Keats or someone like that. The energy plus the expression of sorrow, both in one character; love it. And he wears a long coat.

Because I liked the tenth doctor, I also really liked him with Rose--thank goodness for the way they at least gave them the "Journey's End" conclusion. I was so happy to see Rose reappear . . . When Matt Smith came along, he played more straight comedy. So for his episodes, the dramatic side went more to Amy and Rory, and their story is also concluded nicely. I used to think Walter Hartright from The Woman in White was the sweetest, most gentlemanly, steadfast, good, and honest male character in fiction. Rory, who always stood by Amy's side, reminds me quite a bit of him. Especially today, when fiction likes to explore the gray areas of a character, it's nice to simply see a good person portrayed.

It's ridiculous to try and react to nine years in one post. It would have been better to post about each season, but I was too busy watching, you see? Let me just say that "The Day of the Doctor" was one of the best things ever, not least because David Tennant was in it but also because it had that winning mix of comedy, drama, nostalgia, hope, and mixed timelines.

Through Netflix, Hulu Plus (I hate Hulu Plus, by the way), iTunes, and one DVD, I have managed to watch all of these newer episodes. Everyone told me I could start with the new series, instead of trying to start with the old episodes first, and it did seem much easier to start with the new ones. But I usually like to start at the beginning, and it feels so strange now to have started in the middle. So I will have to keep my temporary Hulu Plus subscription (yes, I am unhappy about this) and muddle back and forth between Hulu and Netflix, watching and watching and trying not to be driven crazy by the missing episodes. I wonder how long it will take me?

(Oh, yes, and thank you to The Hillywood Show for announcing that your next parody subject will be Doctor Who, as that announcement was what finally drove me to start watching.)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Chuao: Honeycomb

No, a honeycomb chocolate bar does not mean that there is bee-made honeycomb in it. Honeycomb, if you're like me a few years ago and haven't heard of it yet, is a sugary and crumbly, toffee-like candy. The air holes mimic the spaces in a honeycomb, as the sweet taste mimics the taste of honey. But the Honeycomb bar from Chuao Chocolatier does in fact use honey, instead of simply mimicking it. 

I've had a few Chuao bars before, but it usually isn't a brand I feel particularly drawn toward. Maybe it's the name. Maybe it's the packaging. Maybe it's even the flavors. Yet despite this almost-apathy, I have general good thoughts toward Chuao. I was looking at a Vosges bar before I saw this one, then thought, oh, I'll get the Chuao bar, Chuao is better than Vosges, right? Maybe. But I am rambling. 

I find myself interested in one of the little logos on the back of the wrapper (no card box for this $4 bar, though most bars over $2 have one). It proclaims that this is "ethically sourced cacao." You see, I would often find myself explaining to people that a chocolate bar need not necessarily have a Fair Trade stamp in order to be fair trade/ethical. The Fair Trade system isn't perfect, and often chocolatiers who really care about the quality of their cocoa and work with the cacao farmers are going to be seeing that everyone is getting their due, even if they don't get their chocolate bars marked out with all the fancy labels. So I find it interesting that Chuao has included this separate label to let consumers know that they're paying attention to the ethical side. 

As you can see, this is a beautiful bar of chocolate. It's a solid rectangle molded with the images of cacao beans and Chuao's label on top. The closest design I can think of was the setting of cacao vines on the old Starbucks chocolate bars. On the back of the bar, the finish is bumpy from all the little bits of honeycomb. These are set all around the chocolate and have a light yellow, honey color. The chocolate, which is 60% cocoa, is darker and less red than it appears in the pictures. It has a similar, marshmallow-like aroma to the Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Lover's Bar, just in a much lighter version. 

I would tend to picture honey more with milk chocolate than with dark, sort of like in a Toblerone bar. But then that's why this is a fairly light dark chocolate at 60%. It doesn't have any bitterness to it, but it also isn't boring because it is accented by all that honeycomb. And what, as I have hinted, makes this honeycomb chocolate bar better than the one or two others I've had is that the honeycomb does contain honey and therefore does taste somewhat of honey. It's a light enough taste that you aren't overwhelmed by richness, yet the richness (paired with the dark, instead of milk chocolate) plays as much part as does the sweetness. So Chuao has taken the idea of honey chocolate and brought it away from the candy aisle and into the chocolate arena. 

It's a sweet dark chocolate, but a sophisticated approach to sweetness. It's very pleasant. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

My Colors

Sometimes I look in my closet to find my color palette. Although I have been buying a greater variety of colors, I think mainly the colors I have are cream, brown, gray, and green. The colors of the earth.

I have a very hard time wearing red, pink, or orange. I don't like bright, attention-drawing colors--or frilly, girly colors. So you won't find very much purple, either. And I realize that my color palette carries on to more than just my wardrobe and to more than just colors.

In college, someone I was still getting to know said she thought I would be a Jane Austen girl--to which I quickly proclaimed that, oh, no, I think Jane Austen is boring and political and I prefer the emotion and connection to nature that I find in Charlotte Brontë. If I liked Jane Austen for the socio-political side, I would be okay with wearing red or purple. If I liked her for the romantic, movie-adaptation side, I would definitely wear pink. But instead I like Charlotte, so I wear simple grey like her heroines do, or neutral grays and greens.

Usually green has meant my military green jackets, but I have recently started adding a couple of brighter green items--just because green is becoming my signature color. But the brightness has taken some getting used to. No lime green. I, traditionally, prefer the green of adventure: certain shades of green used to remind me of Narnia and Middle-earth. It is simultaneously a color of imagination and of the natural world. If I can pair green with brown, I become like a tree. And brown does add a neutral side to green, taking away brightness (like a pair of silly green tights with a simple brown or grey dress).

So I am soft--but not frilly/girly. I wear lipstick more often than high heels; I wear boots more often than pink. But I am not tough, either. I wear plenty of jewelry, not tattoos; I have two pairs of green tights but no fishnets. I am not homespun or dainty; I am not bold and forceful. Instead, I wear a garment of calm with the accessories of devotion and fervor. I am not fluid like the water or strong like the rock; I am steadfast and watchful and cautious as the earth. With the colors cream, brown, grey, and green.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Frankenstein in Wonderland

Anybody else watching Once Upon a Time in Wonderland? As the show returns for the second half of its season, I'm starting to get disappointed. It had a good start, but now I feel like it's outlasting its potential--and like it doesn't have much of anything to do with the themes and such of Alice in Wonderland, anyway.

But isn't that how it usually is with Alice in Wonderland-inspired pieces? There are plenty of movies based directly on the book, then there are others that take greater liberties with the story. And then there are the movies that take away only a very vague inspiration. Something like Phoebe in Wonderland, for instance. And there are even more that take only something from the title. Hold onto that thought.

Back when I was in English 200, my professor explained the widespread influence of Frankenstein. I forget the wording she used, but she basically said that it's the most referenced book or the book that exists most in society's collective consciousness. Everybody's heard of Frankenstein, even if they don't know that he's the doctor and not the monster--though it seems to be usual these days for Frankenstein references to explain that difference. Whether it's a passing line, a costume, or some sort of adaptation, Frankenstein has had an influence. The wonderful questions about humanity, medicine, and the creation of life that exist within the book may not always be remembered, but the book still is in some form.

And isn't that how it's becoming with Alice in Wonderland? I think it's safe to say that the average person hasn't read Frankenstein (for the average college student, the percentage is probably different). I think perhaps a few more people have read at least parts of Alice in Wonderland, or adapted bits, or something. Maybe. I know I didn't read either book until college. But I think people are still more likely to be familiar with Alice from the old Disney animated version, or maybe another movie they grew up with, than because of the book itself. And yet there is something compelling in both Alice in Wonderland and Frankenstein that leads us to continue thinking about them and referencing them.

They're both books creating their own mythology. Frankenstein, as representative of an out of control monster. Alice in Wonderland, as representative of a world where everything has been turned on its head. The details may sometimes be forgotten, but the basic sense of each story continues on and on in form after form. And that's how stories live forever.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hammond's Candies: More S'mores

Hammond's, Hammond's, ah, Hammond's. I had much interest when these little chocolate bars started appearing. They have that old-fashioned, minimal, tasteful look to them that appealed to me. But then the more I tasted, the less interested I grew. The quality just wasn't matching up. Maybe, however, something simple and nostalgic and sweet like the More S'mores bar would change my mind?

As described, this bar is milk chocolate with marshamallow and graham. There are marshmallow pieces, graham cracker pieces, and natural and artificial marshmallow flavor added. So let's switch on the confection analyzer, leaving the chocolate analyzer, partially, behind. This is more of a chocolate candy bar than simply a chocolate bar. 

The marshmallow element reminds me of World Market's delicious Red Velvet bar, just a little less rich. Even World Market's milk chocolate was slightly better. With that said, however, a simple milk chocolate works for this bar because it's intended to be simple. It's the experience of s'mores within a bar. Both the marshmallow and graham cracker bits are very small, so they add only tiny little crunches to every bite. They're just the right size: any bigger and it would be too thick and crunchy, and any smaller and there would be no crunch. 

So you have a setting of milk chocolate topped with the vanilla, sugar, and almost caramel flavors of these two added elements. The soft crunch, plus the gentle sweetness, makes it addictive. 

It's a confection. But it doesn't pretend to be anything else, and it's a nice confection. So I think that, yes, I have found a Hammond's bar that works. A couple steps above grocery store candy bars, but still not a chocolate bar, the More S'mores bar is a pleasant little friend--if you're craving sweet and casual.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Me Since You: A Letter of Sorrow

It's been four years since, browsing through Barnes & Noble, I happened on Laura Wiess, who would quickly becomes one of the few modern authors I keep up with. I love her work for the heartbreaking emotion, the use of language and form, and the reminder that goodness, resolution, and love can arise out of all forms of sorrow and tragedy. 

Her fifth novel came out just a couple of weeks ago. Me Since You, as is usual with Laura Wiess's work, follows a teenage girl named Rowan. While the cover and title would imply life after a breakup, that is not in fact what the book is about. It's much more heartbreaking and, if I may, adult; despite the teenage heroines, I don't consider these books YA (neither does Barnes & Noble). 

What this book quickly becomes is a portrait of grief. You know how I've been talking about how good it is when fiction decides what it wants to do and does it without superfluous fluff? That's how this book is. In about 340 pages, it sticks to the same theme, the same characters, the same setting, and the same arc of emotion. It's straightforward. 

Once again, I have to expound on the use of language. Every sentence flows naturally and also artistically; these are the words that Rowan would have used while also being words that sound beautiful on the page. It's sort of like a reverse love letter, being about grief and the slow journey toward recovery. And grief comes in steps: first there is a simple unpleasant matter, then a more tragic occurrence, and then the ultimate loss. When that loss hit, I became so very heavy trying to read this book. For that reason, that utmost sorrow, I didn't always find myself reading quickly. 

Having read now her five books, I would continue to recommend Laura Wiess if you're looking for some writing that will affect you and that won't lead to a simple, passive, casual read. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Darth Pan

This is a part of my wall right now:

Yes, I'm crazy; we all know this. While the copy of Peter Pan is meant to go along with my Disney crocodile that you can just see peeking up at the bottom of the picture, the book in fact looks like it is also pairing with my new Darth Vader. And in looking at the two together, I realized what a perfect pairing it is, after all.

You see, I consider Peter Pan one of the most tragic stories. Ever. It isn't just about the tragedy of having to grow up: there is also tragedy in Peter's ability to not grow up. In both sides, there is tragedy. It's tragic for Wendy to grow up in the end, and it's tragic for Peter never to grow up. Darth Vader's story is also almost entirely a tragedy. 

Like Peter, Anakin wanted to fight against the laws of nature. He sought eternal life because he was afraid of Padme dying, and he himself defied death when the Emperor made him part machine to keep him alive. In both cases, what was intended as a solution to tragedy became the tragedy itself--sort of like Peter's youth. 

Oh, yes, and both characters are hopelessly cocky and full of themselves. Anakin always sort of had that clash between youth and age, in a way. He was brilliant from a young age, which made him arrogant, which let him stay angry and fearful. Neither character exactly has a happy story. Ah, youth. The quest for imperishable youth and peace always seems to lead to evermore sorrow and chaos.

Monday, March 3, 2014

KitKat: Mint (Nestle)

This isn't so much a chocolate review as a chocolate reflection; then again, most of my reviews these days are probably more like reflections, anyway. I wasn't planning to post about this KitKat, snatched from one of those sets of ten or so that World Market sells. But the second wafer was just sitting there looking at me while I wondered why I didn't have any proper chocolate to review. So I started thinking about KitKats in general, and here we are. 

As you can see, I only photographed the green sleeve, minus the silver-wrapped wafers. In this variety, there are two wafer sticks in each sleeve. But have you caught on what's different about this particular KitKat yet, besides the green wrapper? It looks like Smaug has (I took these pictures against the pocket, 75th anniversary edition of The Hobbit. And please pronounce the "au" as "ow."). Yes, that's a Nestle symbol there because, in case you didn't already know, the U.S. is the only country where KitKats are made by Hershey's. How tragic. 

You see, I like KitKats. I like wafers and I like chocolate, so as chocolate candies go, I like the occasional KitKat. But more and more as time goes by, I like them less: the chocolate just isn't good. I try to ignore it, enjoying the casual crunchiness of the wafer, but I can't get it out of my mind that it's Hershey's. So buying KitKats at World Market is nice because you can get the imported, Nestle ones there (usually from the UK). The thing is, they usually don't have them in plain. It's usually either the big Crunchy bars or these packs of flavored ones. 

What's interesting about the Mint flavor is that it contains peppermint oils. Obviously not made by Hershey's, eh? So for a candy bar, the mint flavor is fairly fresh, although the milk chocolate (as opposed to dark) and mint combination may or may not be everyone's favorite. I sort of have mixed feelings about it. Mint tends to taste better in dark chocolate, yet I can't get over the fact that even this oh-so-normal, kind of cheap, Nestle chocolate tastes better than Hershey's milk chocolate. 

It isn't that I want to turn this into a bash Hershey's day; I just want to appreciate what I consider the true form of the KitKat. Like imagine if Palmer (that company that makes those horrible, compounded chocolate candies around Easter that I thought tasted good when I was seven) started making Hershey's Kisses. You wouldn't want that, right? So in a similar way, I like KitKat by Nestle more than Kitkat by Hershey's. Don't tell the Hershey's KitKat I had two days ago that I said that.