My favorite game store in the whole world has been nominated for America’s Favorite Game Store at Goodman Games. Please click here and then click on the image that looks like the one below to cast your vote for Game Depot (Tempe, AZ).

A few months ago I wrote about a PSA I saw at the movie, and later saw on TV and heard on the radio. I posted what I thought would be a more effective PSA. In light of recent talk of the Swine Flu pandemic, I have to marvel at the coincidental timing. A few months ago everyone and her sister started reading Twilight, and now a decendent of the very same flu that almost took our Edward has once again reared its ugly head.

Show of hands. How many of you wished for Spanish Influenza so Carlisle would come save you?

The Face of Influenza 1918-present.

The Face of Influenza 1918-present.

 

In other news, the folks that brought you Pandemic (one of my favorite games) are about to come out with an expansion. One of the new cards is an Epidemic card for a Virulent Strain. Even if you have eradicated a disease, it comes back. Some of the other cards are posted online. We played with them Saturday. It was kind of creepy how Mexico City kept popping up and kicking our asses. We ended up losing. Sure, we could blame Kyle, the Murderer of Luck, but what if it was the Swine Flu? I mean does anyone else think the virus on the box looks like Swine Flu?

            

(Images thanks to BoardGameGeek.com and CDC.gov)

May 1. May Day. Time for the kids to dance around May poles in school. I always thought that was fun. I could use some fun. Maybe my gamer friends will be up for a bonfire and a dance around a May pole. For the Celts, Beltane. The beginning of summer. A time of purification, transition, and hope. That sums my life at this moment up pretty well. On a side note, Beltane is supposed to be a time when the spirits are close. If any of them are reading this blog, it would be sweet if they could help me find a job. Thanks!

Yes, you read that right. Bella Skywalker. This could only be a Random post, right? For those of you who don’t know, Random is my Unicorn friend–that mythical beast know as the man who reads Twilight. Out of the blue, this is how the texting started this evening, as if there had never been an interuption in last night’s text conversation.

Random: Finished New Moon today. Edward has confirmed that he’s a retard.

Me: You’re retarded! 🙂

Random: When you are over 100 years old and make Romeo look like a guy who knows how to make a plan work, that is truly special.

Me: You’re reading too much into it. That says a lot coming from me. He’s no more or less retarded than Romeo.

Random: Romeo is the king of dumb. And Edward is in his class at the very least.

(Agreed, but romance can make one stupid, especially boys.)

Random: And Bella is so typical. Although I expect that is the attraction for the target reader. She’s annoying as the heroine.

(Bella is typical in some ways which makes her relatable to a lot of readers. She a-typical in others whichs gives her the feeling of being special we all want. I relate to her in a big way, so I guess I’m annoying.)

Random: Then again, my favorite protagonists come from Ayn Rand and Isaac Asimov, so typical is not my cup of tea.

(Yeah, Random, I know you’re shocked, but I haven’t read any Rand and the Asimov I read was an excerpt or short story way back in the day. We read so many so close together in that class that I don’t remember what was his. As always, “It’s on the list.”)

Random: New Moon will make a horrible movie with Bella whining more than a Skywalker.

(Bella hurts on the inside but she suffers in silence. As a movie we shouldn’t be so “in her head”. Maybe it won’t come off so whiney to you.)

The texts were coming fast and furious while I was trying to find some paper to print my resume on. I couldn’t get a word in so I’ve added my thoughts in ( ).

I sat there dumbfounded at the Skywalker remark when my phone rang. I just started laughing. Apparently Random’s hatred for all things Twilight could not longer be contained in text. Rather than forgetting the books altogether, he needed to get vocal. I was still laughing when I answered. The first thing I heard was, “Bella Skywalker.” It had the ring of an epithet. I just laughed. Typical. Trying to get under my skin, deriding two of my favorite things at once: Twilight and Star Wars. And two of my favorite characters, too. Luke and Bella are the ones I relate to. Way to push my buttons, Random.

Ok, I had to admit Luke is a bit whiney: “But I was going to Toshi Station to pick up some power converters!” I didn’t read Bella as whiney though. I read her as strong. She knows what she wants and when she doesn’t get it she fights for it. She gets angry, petulant. He asserted that stamping your foot and demanding your way is just the teen version of whiney. He might have a point. But doesn’t that make the character more believable? Bella is flawed. That doesn’t mean the writing is flawed, just the opposite in my opinion.

He liked Carlisle. He relates to him most. I suppose I would have guessed that. In fact I think I did guess that once. I believe I made Random take the survey once upon a time, and predicted that he would be Carlisle. He thinks that the vampires being invincible superheroes is ridiculous, and that they should be running the world, not keeping the secret. The Volturi he thought were kind of cool. I had to admit that I never saw the point of keeping the secret even without the Volturi, as humans can’t harm vampires. But I try to let that sort of thing go. It’s fiction.

So we talked some shop, talked about the vibe at the company I no longer work for, but then we were right back to New Moon. He thought it was boring. He thought Edward was retarded. He was frustrated that Bella was going to be ok and then everything freaked out again. Basically everything I loved about the book, he hated. No big shock there.

I think the people who dislike the Twilight saga are the people who go into it expecting a vampire story. It’s a love story that just happens to have vampires and werewolves. As a friend of mine put it, it’s Vampire 90210.

We talked about the upcoming movie too. He’s convinced it will suck. He knows from the last two month’s worth of obsessing that I have my worries. If they stay true to the book, he thinks, there will be a opening scene, then a whiney birthday, a paper cut, a bit more whining, then a really long boring part in the middle, followed by about 15 minutes in Italy, and a rushed happy ending. I think that sounds about right, except that as they are actually shooting in Italy I think they plan on getting their money’s worth. If anything is going to be rushed it’s going to be the long months that Edward is gone (Random’s “really long boring part in the middle”). If they are going to screw with anything it’s going to be the beauty of Bella and Jacob’s relationship. I think they’re going to rush us back to Edward/Robert Pattinson. It’ll be tricky not having the Heart-ThRob in most of the movie.

No one I worked with recently got me like Random did. We like a lot of the same things. It is typically frustrating talking to him about geek stuff though, because we rarely agree even about the stuff we both like. No matter how frustrating, it’s always good for a laugh though. Today’s big laugh was Random saying, “If Edward had an alignment it would be Chaotic Dumb.” Thanks, Random, I needed that. I hope you had fun storming the castle tonight. And I certainly hope the Pandemic bugs didn’t get you down.

Well it’s my birthday too! The best birthday gift is that it’s cloudy today. Cloudy days in Phoenix are hard to come by, a rare treat. So it’s my birthday, and it’s cloudy, and still no Edward Cullen. I don’t think he’s coming. LOL! Yes, I joke.

What else did I get for my birthday? Well, my friend Greg bought me an improptu gift, not knowing it was my birthday, but I’ll call it a birthday gift all the same. It’s a bracelet made of these funky, spikey, latex beads. God-awful, but fun. The beads look like viruses, which he why he got it for me. He knows of my love of the game Pandemic, so he got me a Pandemic bracelet. So we played yesterday and won, thanks to the good luck of the Pandemic bracelet. Thanks, Greg, for the gift and the good game.

I made Old Man Bobby wait until today to give me my gift, or I would have nothing to look forward to on my birthday but laundry. Ugh. So I just opened my gift. He did well. His Mom said he’d been very observant to pick out such thoughtful gifts. I couldn’t resist teasing that stalkers are usually pretty observant. Yes, I joke about that, too. Yeah, yeah, yeah, so what did he get me? He got me Dead Until Dark, the first Sookie Stackhouse novel. He also got me some CDs: Sara Bareilles’s Little Voice and Paramore’s Riot! Well done, Old Man. And thanks again for taking me to see Twilight, for the fourth time, just because it was my birthday. Thank you.

Some things started seeping into my brain. I kept thinking about how the movie was given a low budget before the fan base exploded. While I don’t condone doing a movie with effects you can’t afford to do properly, I do understand financial woes and not being able to do what you really want to do. I thought that there had to have been things that were frustrating for Catherine Hardwicke. I still don’t think she and I see Twilight the same way, but does that mean it was a horrible movie? I started to doubt.

I also thought about the crappy theater I saw the movie in. I hold a grudge against this theater for ruining Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for me. OotP is my favorite of the HP books. When Arthur was getting attacked by the snake suddenly the film stopped and the house lights came up. No theater employee came in to explain. We sat there, stunned. The film came back and the light dimmed once again. When the DA were learning Patronuses the film stopped again. The house lights came back on again, and this time there was an employee waiting in the exit. He came in and said something lame like, “Sorry, we just have to do this. It’ll be a few minutes.” He never explained what This was, or why This had to be done. He certainly didn’t offer any compensation. And he certainly didn’t hang around to hear customer complaints. Nor did his co-workers. Nor did his boss. It was a ghost town when we walked out of the theater.

So as I was thinking about the theater, I thought about how during the battle of the ballet studio in Twilight the sound system made a really annoying buzzing sound that drown out all other sound for a few seconds about 4 times. I thought couldn’t it be possible that this theater sucks in much more subtle ways? Say maybe the picture is ever so slightly out of focus. You might not notice it, but maybe it makes a certain sparkly special effect look worse than it really is. Like I said, I started to doubt my original assessment of the film. Regardless, I think I’ll push for a different venue next time I’m in town for a midnight movie.

I also considered the emotional climate of the theater. I know, that sounds very Jasper of me, but I felt disappointment and anger all around me, most notably from my cousin sitting to my right. I thought the movie was a little weird to begin with, sure, but I was enjoying myself. I thought that the scene when Edward first catches Bella’s scent was well done, until I started hearing groans all around. Sure I thought the fan blowing Bella’s hair was a little over-done, but Edward’s reaction was pretty much as I pictured. Feeling and hearing the crowd’s reaction, though, I started to pick things apart. Suddenly I noticed the music was annoying, and it was downhill from there.

So, when Old Man Bobby asked me what I wanted to do when we were done gaming on Saturday I said, “See Twilight?” He’s a good man for taking me after I made him read my blog. He’s glad I insisted. He enjoyed the movie. It’s not the best movie he’s ever seen, and he does see what I mean about a lot of my complaints, but he liked it. I liked it better a second time, I must admit. Today I read an article that said many people are seeing it again and deciding it’s better than they thought.

Knowing what I already didn’t like about the film, I could focus on more positive things, like the chemistry between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. They didn’t make as much use of it as they might have, but there was more there than I originally thought. I still wish that there was more conversation between Edward and Bella, but there were a few more scenes in which you knew they were talking and getting to know each other than I originally thought.

There’s lots I still don’t like. I could go on and on, but I won’t. The point of this post is that I really did enjoy it more the second time. Catherine Hardwicke and I just see Twilight differently I suppose. I would have grounded it more in reality. I would have used real light. I would have spent the money on clothes befitting Cullens and the right Volvo (I’m assuming that’s not just a loaner anyway). I would have demanded dialog closer to what was written (or that certain lines not be ad-libbed, whatever the case may be). For example, I would have left the line, “I hear voices in my head, and you think you’re the freak,” instead of changing it to, “I can hear people’s thoughts and you think there’s something wrong with your brain,” or whatever Edward ended up saying. I would have also demanded more Cullen time, made those characters more real. The added scenes showing the bad guys killing around Forks was necessary to show the real danger, but the cooking for Bella scene, the flying through the trees, and the field trip scene were not necessary–not at the expense of important scenes from the book which were left out like the blood lab scene, and a real Bella’s Lullaby scene.

Apparently I do want to go on and on, but it’s bed time. What I really want to say is that Catherine Hardwicke might be able to do New Moon, but I’m skeptical. She won’t be able to rely on a certain character to make it all work. It’s going to be a much harder movie. I think a new director might still be in order, but I’m kind of curious about how she would do it.

The Macy’s Parade is over. The cheeseball is chilling in the fridge. The turkey is in the oven. The Holidays are officially upon us. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I for one have much to be thankful for. Highest on the list is my Uncle J. He made it through his surgery beautifully yesterday and is on the mend. They will have him up and walking around today–amazing!

I am thankful for my friends and family. They are fun, loving, and best of all supportive. I know I can count on you, and I hope you know you can count on me. I love you all.

I am thankful for my job. Sure, I complain a lot about it, but it’s hard work, so I suppose that is to be expected. I really am thankful to have a job, especially with today’s economy being what it is.

I am thankful for my hobbies. Gaming, writing, reading, and movies, have done their best to keep me sane, especially the last couple of years. That leads me to thank a few authors in particular, who have given me the means to escape when needed in the last few years: JK Rowling, the writers of such recent Star Wars novel series as the New Jedi Order Era and the Legacy of the Force Era, Andrew Davidson, and of course Stephenie Meyer. A special Thank You to the folks at The Game Depot, Arizona, my FLGS. If anyone has kept me sane (Yes, I know. I use the term lightly.) these last few years, it has been you. Thanks for keeping my hands busy and my mind occupied.

I know I have a lot more to be thankful for, but time is running short. There is dinner to be made. I’ll close with Old Man Bobby. I cannot say Thank You enough, for everything. For more Date Nights than I can count. For dealing with my many neuroses and putting up with my crap in general. For backrubs I never have to ask for. For endless games of Ask Me About My Book. For doing my bidding. And of course for all the stuff I shouldn’t mention in polite company. Thank you. I’m a lucky woman to have a “boyfiend” like you. Don’t tell anyone I said that though.

My Twilight Chronicles begin in LA, in the beginning of July. I was on my Pacesetter Award trip for work, and my friend Bryan kept pulling out this book called New Moon. I would not have pegged him as a reader. Turns out I was wrong about that, but the fact remains that this mohawked, pierced, tattooed gentleman with the chain on his pants was pulling out a book every chance he got just to read even two pages. Being a reader, I understand that when someone pulls out a book in public it’s a sign that their mind is really elsewhere right now, and they shouldn’t be disturbed. It could be dangerous, like waking a sleep-walker. As the days passed, I couldn’t contain my curiosity any longer. Besides, I was hot and miserable on our broken-down tour bus, and really needed a distraction. I crossed the line and asked what it was that had so captured his attention. He told me a little bit about it and I thought it sounded like something I’d like to read someday. He clearly had to get back to it, so that was that. I again wondered at the obsessive manner of his reading. Not even during the height of my Harry Potter Haze did I get that obsessed about reading.

Let me restate that. I have been obsessed about a great many writers’ universes over the years. I’m a geek with every fiber of my being. I’ve always been a reader, but a slow one. My attention span is quirky enough that I can’t sit and read for hours and hours. Four hours is about my limit, and I’ll probably break to get something to eat and move around a bit. I’ll think about the book obsessively in the meantime, even worrying about the characters as if they could somehow get into more trouble while I’m not looking, but to actually sit and read for hours and hours can be painful for me no matter how amazing and enthralling the story. So, while reading Harry Potter, and even the Star Wars: New Jedi Order series, I’d read for extended periods when I could, but life went on, albeit with me pondering the mysteries of the books like the obsessive fangirl I am.

So, vampires, werewolves, high school drama…Yeah, I’d be reading that. I just had to finish with my Boba Fettish first, and it would have to wait until after my extended vacation. Pacesetter first, then the family reunion. So fast forward to the family reunion. I had watched Bryan tear through New Moon and Eclipse on our three day trip, and what’s one of the first things cousin Anna says to me when we meet to go see Hancock? “So you’ve read Twilight, right?” The tone of her question stuck with me. It said to me that it was expected that I would have read this already, that it would be old news to me. Anna seemed very excited that she would be the one bringing this joy into my life. She started describing it and I said, “Hey wait, is one of the books called New Moon.” She said, “Yes, that’s it. Read it. You’re going to love Edward.” That was all that was said. I think she didn’t want to ruin anything for me. Anna, thank you for the introduction, but why, oh why, did you wait so long? I’d be mad at you, but I had an amazing time reading then books when I did…almost magical. In the future don’t assume I’ve already read something. I get obsessed with things and lose track of what’s going on in the outside world.

When I got home from vacation, I was still reading the Boba Fett books. I finished the day I got back actually, and resolved that I’d go get Twilight Friday. When I finish something I need a little time to “mourn the book”. Odd, I know, but I find I enjoy books much more if I get over the previous book first. So Friday, I had a date with Old Man Bobby, and he graciously agreed to take me to my favorite Borders. I had an inkling of what was to come, so I grabbed the first two books which were out in paperback. I didn’t see a paperback for Eclipse so I waited on that one until I found out when it was coming out. What? I like my books to match.

I was tired after a hard day’s work, so Bobby and I called it a night early in hopes that I’d make it out to Game Depot to game on time for once. When he was gone I thought, “I’ll read a few pages before bed.” A few pages turned into 60. How did I get to page 60 already? I gotta get to bed. I’m pretty sure I dreamed of a certain beautiful, bronze-haired vampire that night, but I’m not sure. I woke up in plenty of time to have a nice leisurely morning before going gaming. That might have been a mistake. I should have slept in until I had to shower and bolt out the door. Having time, I couldn’t resist picking up Twilight. I didn’t even turn on the TV. My TV is always on when I am home, except when I’m sleeping. I need the background noise. At noon, when I was already supposed to be at the store, I wrenched the book out of my hands and went to shower. Late again.

I was restless during the day. Gaming was fun, but my thoughts strayed, even though I’d had two solid weeks of no gaming and had been suffering withdrawals. Suddenly I had a new addiction. It turns out Twilight is exactly my brand of heroin. Twilighters, Twerds, Fanpires, and Twihards alike will know just what I mean. The next week was more of the same.

I’m not allowed to read at work no matter how slow the phones are, so I generally don’t bring a book. I couldn’t help myself though. I brought it and found that now I was the one sneaking a page or two whenever possible. When I couldn’t read, the book sat next to me as I sat there looking at it hungrily, leg bouncing. My co-workers were highly amused. Jo got the gist that I was obsessing about a book but hadn’t heard anything more than that. Knowing me, she stood up and asked, “Harry Potter or Twilight?” I answered. She smiled and said, “Ok so let me ask you a question.” As an out-of-the-closet-geek, I get nervous when people say that. It’s generally like a pop quiz. I just knew I was about to be stumped. It’s a constant fear, a hazard of the company I keep, I suppose. So I took a breath and said OK, and Jo asked, “Edward, or Jacob?” By this point it was about Wednesday and I was already, starting Eclipse. Even though I’d only just begun, I was almost finished with the saga as the world new it then, so I knew all about Edward VS Jacob. I blushed and found myself unable to answer quickly enough. Crystal giggled behind me and said, “Edward! She loves him!” More blushing. Turns out Jo is a Twilighter of the Team Jacob variety. Jacob’s a fine person. I can’t hold it against her. She doesn’t even like Edward though, so clearly she must be crazy.

At this point I think I must go back to previous statements about my obsessive fangirl nature. I discovered Fantasy and Sci-Fi early on in life. It started when I first saw the play Camelot. From then on I loved all things medieval. Knights, quests, damsels. It’s only a small hop from there to Unicorns and Dragons, and from there it’s all fantasy all the time. When I got over my fear of “big books”  and series (always the slow reader, they were too much pressure), I found Piers Anthony. The man’s prolific. I occupied me through my high school years, and most of college for that matter. Throughout college I kept hearing about Anne Rice and her vampires. They were on my list, if Piers would ever slow down. When the movie Interview with the Vampire came out, I left Piers and never looked back. You see, Edward is not my first vampire. Louis and I go way back. I was quite obsessed with Anne Rice’s vampires, especially Louis. Louis and I were together for a few years, but Anne decided to go in another direction, and he left me. No matter, a fangirl’s gotta do what a fangirl’s gotta do. I turned to Anne’s witch series, and from there slowly read everything she’d written (yes, everything, even those). I had other dalliances, which I’ve mentioned. Although, out of respect, I don’t count Harry Potter a dalliance. He saved me like Jacob saved Bella, truth be told (Thanks JK!). But that’s another story which I won’t tell here.

Back to the matter at hand. I could hardly believe how I was devouring these books. I could certainly relate to Edward’s reaction to Bella, as I wondered if somehow the pages of my books were impregnated with heroin. Nothing had ever effected me quite this way. I’d spent hours upon hours talking about and writing about my theories on what would happen to Harry Potter, but I could put the books down. I wasn’t staying up intil 1am when I had to be up at 5am. Sure Harry Potter is the first book I ever read a second time (well four times now), so that should give you an idea of how I felt about it, but I could put it down. I could not make myself put the Twilight books down!

I knew a new book was coming out, but I didn’t know when until I snuck online at work and checked it out. No, we’re not supposed to be on the internet either. So there you go, more evidence of my obsession. I was sneaking pages at work and willfully going online. It started innocently enough at first. We’re allowed to visit travel-related sites, being that we’re travel agents. I checked out Forks. Linda was more than happy to help me out, asking me questions. You’ll be happy to know that the population in Forks went up between 2000 and 2005, so the vampire population isn’t having a negative effect there. Anyway, I found out that Breaking Dawn was coming out that very Saturday! I’d broken down and bought the hardcover Eclipse, knowing I couldn’t hold out until April for the paperback. Would I finish in time for the release? I didn’t have a whole lot of time to read late in the week, so I wasn’t confident. I knew I’d pick up the book Saturday anyway.

Friday night I went out with my friend Erika to see The Dark Knight. We got out about 10pm, and she said, “Ok, come on, let’s check out Barnes & Noble. I know you want to.” She was with me at the midnight release of the last Harry Potter book. I think she was as curious about the spectacle, too. This was the first time I saw who my fellow fans were. I expected Team Jacob and Team Edward shirts. I expected to be raising the mean age by about 20 years, but I did not expect…emo. I definitely wasn’t expecting all that glitter and black eyeliner. I was a little disturbed at the thought of me as a 15-year-old Twerd, but I shook it off. I didn’t stay to get the book. I hadn’t finished Eclipse and was afraid of spoilers. Erika and I called it a night, and I went home…by way of my favorite Borders. I just had to see how their party was shaping up. It wasn’t any more crowded than B&N, neither party holding a candle to the Potter release. The t-shirt score was 8-2 in Edward’s favor by the end of the night, by the way.

The next day I was back, and buying Breaking Dawn. My favorite Borders cashier chatted me up as usual. He doesn’t remember from visit to visit, I’m sure. I think he just flirts with every geek girl he can. “Breaking Dawn,” he said, “I think I’ve heard of this one…wait, yes, I’ve sold 2000 copies today.” He went on to tell me about a shirt from the night before. A husband of a Twilighter was wearing a t-shirt that said “Team Jacob” on the front. On the back it said, “Because Edward stole my wife’s heart.” I laughed about that until Old Man Bobby asked me how much houses were going for in Forks. I answered too quickly, “There are four houses for sale, ranging from $125,000 to about $325,000.” Busted. He fully expects me to move to Forks any day now.

Old Man Bobby and I had had dinner and gone to a movie before getting the book, but it was early for a Saturday. We we got to the car he asked what I wanted to do now. I thought for a moment, not wanting to say it. He said, “I can just take you home so you can read. You are coming over tomorrow. Frankly I’m surprised you let me take you to a movie.” I thought he’d be mad, but he was really amused. Turns out he’s loving this. Well, of course, he is. He has something to tease me about. So take me home, he did, and did I ever read. I finished Eclipse at dawn. Naturally I couldn’t resist beginning Breaking Dawn at breaking dawn. Magic.

Once again, I’ve put off the real word in favor of Twilight. I need to get a move on. Old Man Bobby is one his way, and I’m not showered yet. I’ll write more about what I think of the actually story, characters, and writing later I imagine. I wasn’t ready to give Twilight up. I was completely obsessed and yet suddenly done with the books in a week and a half. What else could I do but start them over? I started Eclipse last night. Between reading this morning and this entry this afternoon, I’ve completely forgotten myself.