Sunday, September 20, 2009

Like Water for Chocolate, Book 2 of Angie and Christie's Literature and Blogging Project

I'll do my best not to gush over this one.

This was the most interesting melding of a recipe book and fiction i've ever read. It was 12 recipes accompanied by the story of the somewhat-supernatural events in the life of Tita De La Garza.
Each story begins with a recipe, and unfolds during the directions to prepare it.

Tita was born to a woman, Mama Elena, who ruled her household with an iron fist. She was raised by the cook, Nacha, because Mama Elena couldn't breastfeed. Nacha raised Tita in the kitchen, passing on generations of recipes and general kitchen know-how, developing Tita into a marvelous cook in her own right.

Mama Elena had two other daughters before Tita, and it was Tita's fate, according to an ancient family tradition, never to marry and to stay with her mother to take care of her until she died.

Tita discovered this fate on the day her boyfriend, Pedro, came over to ask Mama Elena for her hand in marriage. Mama Elena instead offered her middle daughter, Rosaura, whom Pedro reluctantly accepted as his bride. "If i cannot marry the one i love, it is best to marry her sister, so that i can be near her always," he told his father, who chided him for his broken promise to Tita to love her forever.

Tita then proceeded to ruin her sister's wedding by cooking the wedding feast with tears and bitterness in her heart, which gave all of the guests a nasty case of food poisoning. Unfortunately, the feast also killed Nacha, who after eating the cake infused with Tita's tears, dies of the heartbreak Tita feels.

After that, unable to express her love any way except through the loving preparation of food, Tita and Pedro began their 22-year unconsummated love affair.

I loved this book. It had everything- food, romance, intrigue, unrequited love, prostitution, rebellious teenagers, and the purest form of hatred: the love of a daughter turned sour toward her overbearing, abusive mother.

The one thing i struggled with was the relationship between Pedro and Tita. After his marriage, Pedro continued to court Tita, when he should have released her to find her own happiness. She was never truly free to seek the love of someone who could love her back freely and openly, and the one time she did almost find that love, he treated her badly.

I disliked him for his hypocrisy. He couldn't bear the pain of seeing Tita with another man, though he had no problems with inflicting that very same pain on her by marrying her sister. I felt like if he couldn't bear to see her with someone else, he should've waited for Mama Elena to die.

I loved this book. You should read it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Language of Fear, Book 1.5 of Angie and Christie's Reading and Blogging Project

I'd like to start off by saying how annoyed i am with the fact that the blog categories can include something dumb like podcasts, but not one about books and literature. HINT, HINT, Tom!

Now, on to the book.

I called this book "1.5" because it didn't quite qualify as #2. I read about 2/3 of it, and put it down for good. It's a book of short stories that i suppose are intended as horror, but simply came off as repugnant to my less-than-delicate sensibilities. I felt like Mr. James' goal was to shock and offend his readers as much as humanly possible; bravo, Mr. James! *golf clap* Mission accomplished.

The first story was about a heroin addict who tried to sell his prostitute girlfriend's toddler for drugs. He almost succeeded, but his girlfriend went over to the drug dealer's abode and got her back. This story was the best one i read, and i had high hopes for the rest of the book.

From there, those hopes were dashed against such subjects as incest, to-the-death cage fighting, wife killing at a phone prostitute's behest (actually that story wasn't bad either), more incest, teen suicide, some more incest (wtf?!), and finally, a guy killing his own dog. The guy killing the dog was the last straw for me, and i had no interest in reading any more after that.

I wouldn't call myself easy to offend. I wouldn't call myself sensitive. However, i simply don't enjoy a read where i feel like the author's entire intent is to gross me out on some level (usually more than one). If this is your bag, then this book is for you!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Long, Rambling Story of the Midget Who Accosted Me At The Mall

I stood there, my hand still holding the door open
, knowing that no good could come of this. The Useless Hallway was empty, as usual, and i stepped inside, bracing myself for another round of fake smiles and enthusiasm in hopes of landing employment.

Once i felt sufficiently braced, and i made the decision to walk into the Den of Corporate Evil, i was momentarily distracted by the opening of a door i hadn't noticed before. It was a normal, innocuous looking white door that blended very well with the rest of the white wall; it was no wonder i hadn't noticed it.

The person who opened the door, on the other hand, was not normal or innocuous at all. It was a midget with the worst duck's ass hair do i'd ever seen in my life! In case you don't know what duck's ass hair looks like, let me provide you with a visual:


This guy's hair was greasier, and had an obnoxious little tail dangling from the bottom in a spiral. The whole thing was really just a particularly clever, but completely ineffective comb-over. Or maybe it was effective. After all, i was completely absorbed by the hideousness of the remaining hair, which distracted me from the bald spot it was designed to hide.

He turned to look at me, and his face lit up like the Marshall Fields Christmas tree. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt that was opened up down to his hairy navel, displaying some gold chains that were busy tangling themselves up in a very fine chest-lawn. He smiled a wide smile at me. . . and it was the icing on the cupcake that was this little man. His mouth was full of yellowish brown teeth that jutted out at the most unimaginable angles, with one single, solitary straight tooth encased in gold.

He was generously ignoring what i can only imagine was a cross between a horrified and fascinated look on my face.

"Hello, my friend!" he greeted me, "Would you be interested in taking a market survey?"

I took a minute to marshal my expression and smile back at him. I mean, i know staring is impolite and all, but this guy HAD to be used to it. He was dealing with my unintentional rudeness like a pro. I took another minute to realize he'd asked me a question, and was patiently waiting for an answer. Yup, this guy was definitely used to it.

I told him i didn't have time, as i had to be at work in a few hours, and was here to apply for jobs. He assured me it'd only take about ten minutes of my time, and that i'd get twenty bucks for completing the survey. I had to think about it. I really needed the money, but i really needed a job, too. But what's ten minutes out of my day? And, more importantly, how do you say 'no' to a midget with a duck's ass comb over?!

When you get down to it, the answer is simple: You don't. I followed him through the innocuous door in the Useless Hallway.

We emerged unscathed into a brightly-lit, windowless office. We walked through the office and through another doorway that led into what appeared to be a conference room. There were two other people seated at the long, rectangular table, pencils and forms spread out before them. There was an empty place in front of another pencil and set of forms, and the midget gestured toward the seat. I sat.

At the head of the table was one of those TV-VCR combos, and the midget informed us that he would play a series of commercials for us, and then stop the tape so that we could answer one section of questions. The line of questioning was one of those Which Commercial Was Most Memorable sort of things, and as it turns out, the market survey was being given by Olive Garden.

The midget then put in another tape, and told us to watch a series of Olive Garden commercials and fill out the rest of the questions. From the other office, we heard a door slam, and a high, screeching voice.


A look of irritation crossed Jerome's features and he hit play on the VCR before excusing himself into the next room. One of the guys i was left in the room looked at me with barely suppressed mirth.

"Jerome??" he said, incredulity and snickers escaping his clenched teeth.

"Yeah, i had him pegged for a Leeroy or something," the other guy chortled. It made me wonder if there was even an appropriate name available for a duck's ass combover-wearing midget.

From the next room, angry murmurs escalated into muffled shouting. The muffled shouting rapidly evolved into full-fledged shouting; the midget and the unseen woman were having it out in the next room. I felt a pang of sympathy for Jerome, being harangued almost-publicly by this harpy-voiced woman. I wouldn't even want to be harangued privately by a voice like that.

The tape ended, and i supplied answers to questions i couldn't even focus on, not that it would have mattered since i didn't hear a word of the commercials anyway. It's hard enough to resist the urge to flip away from a commercial on a normal day; when there's a shouting-death-match happening between Jerome the Midget and Harpy Voice next door. . . well. You understand.

As the battle raged on, the three of us sat there looking uncomfortably at one another.

"Should we interrupt them?" the Snickering Man asked. The Chortling Man coughed one of those fake attention-getting coughs as Jerome re-entered the room, smiling as though nothing at all were wrong. He collected our questionnaires, collected our names, and then handed out twenty dollar bills to us. We began to shuffle out of the office.

I felt something tug on the sleeve of my shirt, and i turned around to see Jerome standing there, watching the other two guys leave. As soon as they were out of sight, he slipped an envelope into my hand, winked at me, and turned me loose. I strode out of the office, glancing over at Harpy Voice, who looked exactly like she sounded. I smiled wanly at her and she scowled at me in return. I tried to bolt for the door without looking like i was trying to bolt for the door.

Once i was safely back out in the real world, i decided not to go applying for jobs in that mall after all. I exited the mall through the door i entered, suppressing an irrational fear that i wouldn't be able to find my car. Remembering the envelope, i opened it up and found $75 worth of Olive Garden gift cards inside. I recalled my earlier feeling that no good could come of my visit here today, and was happy, for a change, to be wrong.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Longer-Than-Necessary Prelude To The Story Of The Midget Who Accosted Me At The Mall

First, i feel the need to disclaim- I do NOT frequent malls. In fact, when i find myself faced with the undeniable necessity of going to one, i need days of mental preparation. The over-aggressive middle-aisle-kiosk salesfolk; the snotty teenagers with the shrill, ear-rupturing laughs; the oblivious Me People who walk against the flow of traffic; dodging the power walkers who will NOT stop or slow down on account of my unhappy ass. . . they all make me want to torch the building once i've concluded my sordid business.

But there was a point in time when i needed a second job, and i was desperate enough to seek employment in the vast Temples of Capitalism. After weeks of railing against the dire financial straits that required such an unthinkable act, i put on some khakis and a polo shirt (two of my least favourite things to wear in the world- polo shirt material is SO itchy!) and made my circuit of the three area malls.

After spending most of the day looking like a complete tool in my khaki-and-polo attire, requesting applications in two malls, i realized that i did not belong to the demographic desired by any mall retailer. I wasn't goth enough to work at Hot Topic, i didn't have enough tattoos or piercings to work at Spencers or any of the eclectic shoe stores or the music stores, i wasn't old or conservative-looking enough to work at any of the knick-knack shops, i wasn't thin or pretty enough to work at the lingerie stores or the thin-people clothing stores, i wasn't fat enough to work at the plus size stores, and my desire for medical benefits pretty much ruled out every restaurant in the food court. Needless, to say, i was feeling more than a little dejected when i entered the third and final shopping Hell.

I should have known something was going to happen to me when i was driving around the parking lot, looking for the Sears. For some reason, i have an OCD need to park near and enter a mall through Sears, but this mall did not have one. Instead, i parked near the Dillards, and entered through one of those doors at the end of one of those hallways with nothing but benches, vending machines, and lighted free-standing advertisement obelisks. Those hallways always made me feel kind of uneasy- they're always abandoned, no matter how packed the place is, and they don't really serve any purpose. Teenagers don't even hide down them to make out on the benches; it's like they sense the wrongness of the meaningless hallways, too.

But what was i going to do? THERE WAS NO SEARS! It was an unnatural, disfigured mall i was steeling myself to enter, against my better judgment.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Random Snippets

I went to put the cap on my marker when he stopped me.

"Wait," he said to me, reaching for the marker in my hand. I pulled the cap back off for him and held it up so he could see it better. He grinned and pulled the cap off of his marker to reveal a nib that was at least an inch longer than mine.

"Oh, great, now i have size issues," i harumphed at him.



"I don't know, Scott! Jesus! And how are those two questions even related?"

A moment of tense silence ensues, and everyone bursts out laughing.


He grasped my hair and yanked my head back. A gasp of fear escaped my lips as his eyes probed, and then saw right through me. His stony expression melted slightly, confusion beginning to colour his pallor.

"Just a little taste then. I have to know, i have to taste," he murmured as his fangs protruded. I went limp in his arms. There was nothing left to fear. He slowly bent his face down to mine, and he began smelling me behind my ears. Then down to my neck and up my chin to my lips. He touched his fangs to my lips ever-so gently.

"Just a little taste," he assured me again, and i felt the smallest pricking in my lower lip as he carried out his promise. He retracted his fangs like a cat sheathing its claws and began to lick my lips, and then to kiss me deeply.


I dialed the number to bring the elevator up from the secret basement. I knew they were monitoring, and that when i did this, i would confirm their suspicions. But i had no choice. I had to get away, and where else could i go?


I felt it eating its way through me, the burning, gnawing pain in my stomach broadcasting its progress. I fell to my knees, clutching my stomach, thinking that this isn't how it was supposed to be.