Sunday, 31 March 2013

Travel Series: U.S.A. part 5 (final)

By the end of my last Globetrotters post, U.S.A. part 4, we were in Oregon with family after a long trip across the country (Washington D.C. to Salem, OR). I forgot to mention, though, that we had had to do a bit of hitch-hiking to get there.

To get to Salem we got rides from the following folks:

  1. Two African American guys, one of whom asked, "You got black people in Australia?" We responded with, "Yes, the Aborigines! Ab-or-IJ-in-eez!"
  2. David, a publisher and poet who drove like a maniac but took us all the way to Portland
  3. "2 semi-weirdos", according to my travel diary, one of whom had emphysema (or maybe just sounded like it?). They took us right into Salem

A little bit of Salem, OR.
Once in Salem, Dad's fabulous Aunty Roma came to pick us up and that was the beginning of our brief stint of R&R. It was really nice hanging out with this part of my family I hadn't met before. I also learned some of my family history that I hadn't known before. Pretty soon though, it was time to get back on the road...

For yet more hitch-hiking.

It was kind of miserable for me as a 17-year-old, standing on the side of the road begging for a ride. It wasn't that I was scared of who would pick us up, though there was no doubt a vague element of that. It was more that I felt like a complete bum. Here is a little excerpt from my travel diary to illustrate how I was feeling:

"Hitchhiking. I imagine them saying, "Yeah right!" or "Fuck off!" or "Not on your nelly!" One guy up-yoursed me, and I felt like crying 'cos it was SO HUMILIATING." (April 8, 1998)

Dad is a born hitch-hiker! 

But we did meet some entertaining and generous people during our trek down the west coast of the U.S.A., for e.g.:

Me in the Christian truck.

  1. A guy in the shittiest car known to man (passenger side window covered in plastic and taped up, flapping noisily at high speed) who had rather strong opinions about the Clinton/Lewinsky affair of the day. "I don't care who Bill sleeps with, as long as he doesn't want to sleep with me, you know?" He took us to Ashland where his girlfriend and eight children lived.
  2. A born-again truck driver who played nothing but Christian music but also told funny stories. He said that when he was still a cop, his boss called him in one day and said, "Now look, you're really out of shape." He responded with, "Since when is 'round' not a shape?" He invited us to stay at his place, though when Dad asked if his wife would mind, he said, "I don't need to ask, it's MY house!"
  3. A middle-aged man who looked a little red-eyed, who it turned out was on his way to a good friend's funeral (the friend had committed suicide I think). He had the nicest car out of anyone we had hitch-hiked with, until San Francisco at least
  4. A young university student who took us all the way from Sacramento to the outskirts of San Francisco. He played good music and we thanked him for it as we parted ways.

By the time #4 dropped us off, we only had $20.00 left (still suffering from expired card/not-working-Visa problems), and…this is what happened next. Since I've written about it before, I figured I would just link back to that past entry. I'm pretty sure I've never showed off the moldy cheese photo before, though, so here it is:

Dad and the moldy cheese.

So, after that mighty adventure in San Fran, a member of my U.S. family flew me back to L.A. (SO. GRATEFUL.), while Dad hitch-hiked his way back down the Pacific Coast Highway (his preference). I spent my last few days in the U.S. relaxing, and one day I visited Disneyland. I also enjoyed the letters that had been waiting for me, including the one containing my shiny new NON-expired keycard!

Back in L.A., chillaxing.

With that, the mighty U.S.A. leg of the journey draws to a close. It really was an incredible experience, criss-crossing such an amazing country, and someday I wouldn't mind retracing my steps just to refresh my memory. No doubt things have changed since 1998, but wow, I'm sure it'd still be an incredible journey.

Next time I post for Globetrotters, I'll write about the next leg of the journey…England!

Flying out of L.A.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

A to Z, house moving and NOT writing

Hi all! I know it's been a while since I posted (for me, by my usual standards), and I think it's because I'm a bit preoccupied right now with a few different things:

  1. I put an offer on a villa/mini house/thingy (I've seen it referred to as all these things and more), and am now waiting for settlement
    • I have 5 years' worth of accumulated "stuff" to sort through ahead of a potential early May move
      • I'm digitising all my old paperwork that I don't need to keep in paper form
      • I'm trying to figure out what furniture/other stuff to take with me and what to leave
  2. We have also been in a bit of chaos at work, but for the most part except for unpleasantness related to ongoing renovations happening around us, all that has calmed down.

The result of the above is that:

  1. I haven't actually written a new word or revised an old one during March
  2. I don't have an A to Z theme picked out yet (got a few ideas but nothing has seized me)

Thankfully, I'm not all that stressed about any of the above. I am very happy that it's almost the Easter long weekend and I will get a few more days than usual over the weekend to hang out at home chillaxing (and "sorting", of course). I have stocked up on junk food and wine, and I've got my DVDs all lined up too. heh. But I think this post probably explains my absence and the fact that I still haven't got through visiting all the participants of the top 10 movies blogfest, let alone the other blogfests/hops I've participated in lately.

I still intend to get all that done, as well as getting back to all my creative stuff...and deciding once and for all on an A to Z theme. Obviously the A to Z is the most pressing, but other than that I might just keep meandering for a while longer.

It's kind of nice, actually!

Anyway, I hope everyone has a very safe and happy Easter holiday. :) I think I'll be posting once more before March ends, with my latest travel post, but as of April you'll be seeing me a lot!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Review: Jane Austen's MANSFIELD PARK

For March's book review I thought I'd mention that I recently read Mansfield Park, I'm pretty sure for the first time. I say "pretty sure" because I have seen the BBC miniseries (I think it was a miniseries...) and my memory was possibly getting confused between that and the read. Anyway... I only gave it 3 out of 5 stars, and here's why:

Firstly, it lost a point because it's less awesome than P&P, Persuasion and others. And a second point was lost because Fanny and Edmund, the romantic couple of the story, are first cousins. Ew. ;) Still, I did enjoy the read even if the book I was carting around was really heavy and I couldn't wait to be done with the read due to said heaviness.

Perhaps my lack of adoration for this story isn't helped by the fact that the BBC thing I saw was quite dated, and could hardly compare with the Firth/Ehle combo in P&P (LOVE!). Edmund is a really lovely love interest, though of course the fact that he wants to be a priest doesn't endear him to me all that much. I do think Edmund and Fanny are perfect for each other, but then maybe it's only reasonable since they share FAMILY TRAITS due to being CLOSELY RELATED. Again, ew.

But moving on. ;)

In between watching the TV version and reading the book, I had forgotten some things about the storyline, things I don't even remember seeing in the TV version. Namely I forgot all about the attentions Mr Crawford paid to Fanny, and also about all the trouble Fanny's cousins Maria & Julia got into. Particularly Maria. The main things I remember of the TV version are the part where they are rehearsing for the play, and the part where Fanny Price is really timid and uninteresting as a character. I liked the book version of her better than the TV version (especially at moments when she was getting a bit annoyed - hey, animation!), but she's still not nearly as interesting as other Austen heroines.

So there you go. 3 stars.

Monday, 18 March 2013

My top 10 movies - in no particular order!

Today is the Top 10 Movies countdown hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and these are my top 10 movies (of the moment anyway, who knows how I'll feel tomorrow?). They're in no particular order 'cause there's no way I could pick one single #1 favourite.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure - this movie takes me back to childhood. It's so cheesy and silly but it's also totally bodacious, dude, and though I hardly ever watch it anymore, I still smirk with delight anytime I see it in my DVD collection. Gotta love Miss of Arc and "Bob" Genghis Khan.

The Lion King is probably still my favourite Disney movie, though I love most of them. But The Lion King has real sentimental value for me. I saw it in high school and quickly became obsessed. The irony is that my friends and I were more obsessed with this little movie they showed before the feature. It was about a little sheepish lion called Lambert. We sang the Lambert song more than any actual Lion King song.

Robin Hood: Men in Tights
stars Cary Elwes, and I had to pick at least one movie he was in from my two favourites (the other being The Princess Bride). I opted for this one because it's another silly yet awesome one. But of course j'adore the other as well, with equal fervour. Men in Tights is another that never fails to give me a giggle, whether I'm actually watching it or not.

Blade Runner is a classic that I was first exposed to in high school days, when I studied it in English class. Later during university I was again able to study it, and I even wrote about it in my honours thesis. I think it's just a classic view of a very dingy, depressing future that nonetheless makes me wish I could be alive to see that future unfold. ;)

Cast Away
 stars Tom Hanks and, more importantly, a very special volleyball a.k.a. my beloved Wilson. I love this movie because it's dramatic and inspiring but also because it's not utterly swamped down with swells of dramatic music. In fact, the whole time Hanks's character is on the island there is no music, and this actually has a profound and unique effect. I think it's a really well done movie. And I still love Wilson.

The Wedding Singer
probably doesn't need any defense as a choice. But let's just say I love the '80s, and this wasn't even made in the '80s, but it did the '80s oh so much justice. This movie is made of pure genius and it doesn't hurt that the soundtrack rocks too. Plus, Billy Idol's in it!

Jurassic Park is another movie I first saw in high school - my entire year went on an excursion to Underwater World (I think) and finished the day off with a movie. My friends and I sat in the very front row (which, you know, sucked, but it didn't make the movie suck) and I remember being so excited to see this groundbreaking new movie with its purported amazing special effects. Well, watching the movie now, it still looks damn good - better than a lot of CGI crap I've seen.

28 Days
- no, I don't mean the zombie one, I really do mean the Sandra Bullock one. I have watched this movie over and over again and it always makes me cry at the same parts. I won't give spoilers away but suffice to say it's not a typical Bullock rom com or action flick. I guess it could be seen more as a work of women's fiction? I dunno. But I do know it's one of my faves.

The Sixth Sense is one of those movies that once you've seen it the first time, you're never going to be able to watch it the same way again, due to the gasp-worthy twist near the end. So really it's a one-time deal. And yet I have watched it numerous times and I still think it's amazing. I love Bruce Willis's role in that it's so unlike any of his other stuff that I've seen. And though now whenever I hear Haley Joel Osment's name I think of Supernatural (heh), I still think he was incredible in the movie too. He put the Harry Potter kids to shame. ;)

 also stars Sandra Bullock of course, and Keanu Reeves (yeah, I like the guy - so sue me!) and I just reckon it's a super sexy exhilarating ride. It's definitely a movie I can watch and re-watch, though I do tend to give it myself a good amount of time between viewings. This one never gets old for me.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Got Green? blog o'Hop 2.0 - I'm just in time!

It's 11:41pm here in Western Australia, so I'm just in time to participate in Mark Koopmans's fun Oirish-themed blog (o')hop mach ii.

First off, I'll link back to last year's entry, where I talked about how I'd never visited Ireland before but would soon be in that very country. I later followed up with a description of what Ireland was like in comparison to what I'd expected (at Mark's suggestion). Turns out I actually had visited Ireland prior to 2012, back in 1980 as a ten-week-old baby. But I have much clearer memories of 2012's visit. hehe. My mum did tell me that I fell off a table somewhere at ten weeks old, though. No wonder I turned out so weird!

Now I have ten minutes of March 15th left, so I better get on with today's entry! I wanted to mention that in Australia, St Paddy's Day is a fairly huge deal. We throw big parties over here and there is a lot of drinking and obnoxious behaviour (so very Aussie of us). Australia also has a big Irish population, with more and more immigrating every year. So those guys are out in full force on their national day. So, yeah, it's a big party night here...which may explain why I'll be happy as a pig in mud on Sunday night, at home alone. :)

Happy St Paddy's Day for Sunday everyone!! And now that there are nine minutes left of March 15th, I'm off to brush my teeth and get some sleep!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

National Wormhole Day(s) Bloghop - the gig(s) I wish I'd seen

Yesterday and today, Laura Eno, Stephen Tremp and Luanne Smith have been/are hosting the National Wormhole Day Bloghop, which celebrates Albert Einstein's birthday (March 14th). The requirements of the hop are this:

...Take a moment to tell the world a few moments, and in 100 words more or less, what you would do if you had a two-way ticket to traverse a wormhole. This is my way of getting people excited about all the amazing stuff on the horizon that we as a race are on the cusp of discovering!

You know, I'm not all that fussed about time travel or "doing things over", or changing the course of history. So I think what I would most love to do would be to go back in time to one of the earliest Smashing Pumpkins concerts. And by earliest I mean pre-Gish (which was their debut album), when they were playing all those old groovy songs like "There it Goes", "My Eternity". I'd love to see a show where they played "Love (old)" and "Psychodelic", too, though I'm not sure they ever actually played those ones live. But really the show I'd love to see is the one where they played "Alabaster". Yes, please.

Monday, 11 March 2013

[O&AM] I...hate the sun (though I know I need it)

"Out & About Me" is a monthly blog series in which I tell you guys a bit more about me. I'll focus on a particular topic each month, and let you all get to know me a bit better than you already do.

Today I'm going to talk about the weather. I know a lot of you will have received comments from me over the years about how I hate summer, and I've also mentioned it in this blog now and then. But today I am focusing entirely on the weather and my sheer hatred of (the Australian) summer. I'll admit I don't mind a bit of Norwegian summer, what with its dramatic rainclouds overhead and the threat of a shower or two. Yeah, that's what I saw in Norway back in 2004, and the friend I was having lunch with that day indicated it was quite typical of that part of the country in summer (it was actually fairly reminiscent of a Western Australian winter). But the Australian summer is a different beast.

A friend from the US recently posted a link to this story on my Facebook page, about how in some parts of Australia it's so hot they had to add a new colour to the weather map - purple for the extreme heat of up to 54° c (129° f). Thankfully where I live it gets nowhere near that revolting sort of temperature (max temps tend to be around 43° c = 109.4 f). I live on the coast, and we get the sea breeze in the afternoons (called the Fremantle Doctor). But on days when that precious breeze fails to arrive, everything pretty much sucks around here. I always comfort myself with the fact that some people in the world have it worse than us, hot weather-wise.

I do have better reasons to hate the sun than most - I am susceptible to skin cancer and have already had a few cut out of my face. Not only is it physically and emotionally traumatic to go under the knife like that, but it's costly as well. And yet I know that the sun is life-giving, and that I need it to survive! Thankfully I recently got my Vitamin D checked and, surprisingly to myself and all who know me, my levels were within the healthy range. I guess around here you can't help but get some sun exposure no matter how hard you try to avoid it. It bounces off the ground and the walls and the leaves, no doubt, and finds you even in your shadiest hidey hole. ;)

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Last year's A-to-Z TBR list - an update

It's not too long until the A-to-Z challenge kicks off, and I still have no clue what I'll be doing this year. I could wing it, as I did one year, but that was a bit scary, even if it was fun. I'm going to reflect on last year's challenge, when I put up an A-to-Z of books from my GoodReads TBR. I'm going to update you all on my progress in getting through that list:

I've read these:

I haven't yet read these:

  • Zod Wallop
  • You Dropped a Blonde on Me
  • Xs
  • The War of the Worlds (I own this)
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
  • The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • The Tempest
  • The Silmarillion
  • Queen of Sorcery
  • The Neverending Story
  • The Mermaid's Mirror (I own this)
  • Legend
  • The Keeping Place (I own this, but don't own book I'm not reading any of this series yet)
  • Jacob's Room
  • In Cold Blood
  • The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray
  • Guilty Pleasures (I own this)
  • The Fathomless Caves
  • The Earthsea Quartet (I own this)
  • Death on the Nile
  • The Beggar's Opera (this is on its way to me in the mail!)
  • The Anatomy of Wings (I own this)

Dude, I've got a long way to go!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Launching the OVERCOMING ADVERSITY anthology!

Back in early February, a bunch of bloggers including myself participated in Nick Wilford's Overcoming Adversity bloghop. My little flash fiction piece "An End" is featured in the anthology, and I'm honoured to be included alongside such a great bunch of writers/bloggers, and to be helping out such a great cause. But for now I'll shut up and let Nick do the talking!

Cover art design by D.R. Cartwright.
Cover art concept by Ella Wilson.
[Overcoming Adversity is] a collection of seventy moving and uplifting original pieces - real life, flash fiction, and poetry - about battling against the odds and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. The contributors include Amazon bestselling authors Alex J. Cavanaugh and Kyra Lennon, and the cream of upcoming talent.

The anthology is part of a fundraising effort to send the editor's stepson, Andrew McNaughton, to a specialist college in England. Andrew has cerebral palsy, and is a remarkable young man with a promising future. However, the free further education options offered in his own country of Scotland will not challenge him and allow him to progress. In order to access the education he deserves, Andrew will have to pay exorbitant fees, thus creating a situation of discrimination.

Help us get Andrew to college by buying a book that runs the full gamut of human emotions, ultimately leaving you inspired and glad to be alive. Whatever struggles you are going through, our sincere hope is that this book will help.

Purchase the Anthology:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
+ add on Goodreads

Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction. When not writing he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something.

He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also co-running a campaign to get a dedicated specialist college built in Scotland. Visit him at

Friday, 1 March 2013

Back FROM the Future & Bloghop of Joy

There are two fun bloghops happening today, and I'm signed up for both of 'em. So without further ado, here goes. ;)

"The doorbell rings, [and] you go to the front door and cautiously swing it open. No one there. You cast your eyes to the ground [and] see a parcel addressed to you ... from you. You scoop it up and haul it inside, carefully prying it open. Inside is a shoebox -- sent from ten years in the future -- and it's filled with items you have sent yourself. What's in it?" - Nicki Elson

These are the things I would send myself from ten years in the future:

  • A letter from my (soon to be) home loan provider congratulating me on having managed by some miracle of determination to pay off my home loan in ten short years
  • A photo from the day I finally wed Mr. Billy Corgan (I've been "engaged" to the guy for decades now, despite his complete lack of knowledge of said arrangement)
  • The stubby end of a boarding pass for a rocket that went to the outskirts of Neptune (with me on it)
  • A ticket from a Type O Negative concert I went back in time just to see (RIP Peter Steele)
  • A picture of me with my first book contract and another of me at my first in-store appearance ;)

"All you have to do to be a part of this happy hop is sign up on the Linky List, and on March 1st, post your list of joy - with a minimum of five things that put a spring back in your step!" - Kyra Lennon & Clare Dugmore

Kyra and Clare are apparently depressed by winter and felt the need to focus on the warm fuzziness. Well, I say they can have all this warm and sweaty grossness we're getting here in Western Australia, and heck, they can keep it! So here are my cold and shiny points of Autumn cheer for ya:

  • I'm soon to buy my very first apartment, and I'm super excited!
  • This arvo I am going to catch up with an old friend (from Finland!) I haven't seen since 2004, since she's visiting my town
  • It's Friiiiiday!!
  • I have a little pad of post-its that are in the shape of a star - how cute!
  • This coming Monday I'm going to see Metallica for the very first time - woooo! :)
I could have mentioned much more obvious things, like my awesome family, friends, good health, living in a relatively free country, etc., but I thought I'd be a bit more frivolous.