The holidays are always a pretty low-key and kind of drawn-out affair at the Murkworks. As happens every year, Housemate Paul went to Virginia to see his family; thus, we held off the house gift exchange until he returned. Mostly, the holidays for Dara and me meant a relaxing vacation that nonetheless also involved working on music (on Dara’s behalf) and working on Bone Walker (on mine).
That said, Paul’s back now and we DID have our house gift exchange! Also on hand for the festivities were longstanding house pal Mimi as well as visiting guest Cygnet. There was tasty handmade chocolate given by Cygnet from a chocolatier she likes! And Meems gave me the third season of Due South, which I still need to get caught up on! (Seriously, you guys, I’m behind on so many things I should be watching.)
BUT! The two biggest coolest things were from Paul and Dara. For Paul’s gift, I present a bit of backstory! Back in 2007, some of y’all may recall, we went to Japan for Worldcon and had ourselves an Awesome Vacation of Awesomeness. One of the things we noticed while we were over there, though, was that Kit Kats in Japan come in approximately eight hundred and thirty-seven flavors. Way, WAY more than you ever see in the States. It got to the point where I kept ducking into corner convenience stores just to see what flavors of Kit Kat they were carrying. Which is, in fact, a Thing there–different stores having different flavors!
So for this year’s gift exchange, Paul gave me a big ol’ gift box from Japan full of different Kit Kat flavors! It’s laid out like an Advent calendar (only, y’know, totally wrong religion and all), with little windows you can punch open to find out what flavor of Kit Kat is inside. The one I tried last night was Citrus Golden Blend and I swear it tasted like an orange creamsicle. SO TASTY. It is probably for the best that these are not available in the States. Because I would be buying ALL OF THEM.
Behold the pics of tasty goodness!
And if that wasn’t awesome enough? Dara TOTALLY warmed my heart with what she had made for me. She got a Faerie Blood cover, printed on really good paper, matted and framed for me. Sniff. <3 And now this lovely, lovely thing is hanging right by the couch where I usually do all my writing! When we do the Bone Walker cover, that’ll be joining it as well! Check it out!
I’ve got to say, two weeks of just hanging out at home has been one of the nicest vacations I’ve had for a while. It hasn’t been fancy or exciting or expensive, but it sure has been relaxing. The last few times I’ve had this much time at home have been surgery recovery–and by comparison, this has been more like the Longest Weekend Ever. All things considered, an excellent way to round out 2010.
In brief, here’s what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks:
Saw and enjoyed both Tron: Legacy and Tangled. Both were quite pretty, and while T: L had less plot than one might have liked, it actually had more plot and emotional weight to it than the first one did. And I say this as a fan of the first one, which I rewatched during this downtime, too! As for Tangled, I liked it more than I expected it would, given my prior fear that it’d screw up my favorite fairy tale. It was Disney by the numbers, but then, Disney does do awfully catchy numbers.
Did Longest Night with , in which we did what seems to be becoming my yearly tradition of rewatching The Lord of the Rings. We are sure you’ve noticed by now that the sun did, in fact, come back up.
Speaking of Solstice, and Christmas by extension, I didn’t really want much loot this year thanks to having gotten the Awesome Guitar of Awesomeness. But a few lovely bits of loot were had nonetheless! Most notably, Dara gave me a really clever little capo that lets you capo individual strings and therefore simulate different tunings. I also got Peter Jackson’s King Kong on Blu-Ray from , Matt Smith’s just-concluded series of Doctor Who from , a B&N ebook card from , a lovely hardbound copy of a Norwegian graphic novel from , and the obligatory pile of stocking stuffer candy.
The Thursday before Christmas, Dara and I went downtown and spent a lovely afternoon at Ummelina, the spa on 4th. We did their two-person Pacific Rim package, and mmmm relaxing. This was redeeming the gift card I got Dara back in April for her birthday, since we’d decided that “while I am on vacation” was an excellent time to do so. After the spa, I did a lightning-quick raid on the marketboys, catching them JUST as they were closing up shop and surprising them by my arrival. They looked pleased to see me! Or at least pleased to sell me literally last-minute raspberries. ;)
Christmas Day itself was fairly quiet. Dara and I went back downtown for the aforementioned viewing of Tangled, and afterwards had Chinese at a place downtown we hadn’t tried before. We didn’t care for the place much, but they were awfully overworked that night so we couldn’t quite hold it against them. And the food, while mediocre, was revived by Dara later for two more meals’ worth of nomming. So it was a win in the end.
Have been doing a lot of trying to fill out all the achievements on Plants Vs. Zombies, as well as trying to play through the new levels in Angry Birds. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.
The high point of Christmas Day was definitely the Doctor Who Christmas Special, and big kudos to BBC America for having actually broadcast it in a timely fashion and uncut, as I previously posted!
Also as previously posted, Dara and I had an almost impromptu totally blottoed viewing of “Spock’s Brain”!
Also watched a lot of MST3K as I was seriously in the mood. Bought one of the DVD box sets we hadn’t owned before and watched all of those, as well as The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (PERFECT followup to “Spock’s Brain”) and Hercules Against the Moon Men via YouTube, streamed over the Blu-Ray player. (Which worked amazingly well, I might add, and way better than playing those same videos over any of the computers in the house would have done. Even given that it’s on the exact same network!)
Some light reading was done, and way less writing or editing than should have been (read: none to speak of).
Caught a cold, which was NOT so fun. But really, it didn’t change much of what I was doing anyway, except while I was shaking it off, I was doing the same things with added blankets, Nyquil, and sneezing. George was very, very happy to occupy my lap the whole time regardless.
And last night, we finished off the year with a lovely visit from Jenny as well as , , and their children, for consumption of homemade pizza, some more boozahol and snacks, and playing of Rock Band 3. Jenny stayed overnight with us so she wouldn’t have to drive all the way back to Issaquah with a bunch of drunk New Year’s Eve partiers out on icy roads, and we got up to have tasty breakfast cooked by Paul. A great way to finish off the old year, and start a new one, indeed.
So yeah. Feeling ready and rested if not tanned, and rather looking forward to getting back into the swing of normal things on Monday. Bring it on, 2011!
No matter what holiday you celebrate this time of year, I hope it’s going splendidly for you! If you’re with loved ones, may you have excellent food and presents; if you’re spending it alone, may you have something handy to pamper yourself, maybe good music or food or books.
If you are a writer, may your muse give you a present of the best possible words for the stories you want to tell.
And if like me you are a fan of Time Lords, may you enjoy the Doctor Who Christmas special airing tonight! Thank you, BBC America, for airing the new special here in the States in a timely fashion–and uncut as well! :D
and I are going out tonight to see Tangled at Pacific Place and then we’ll be looking for somewhere nice to have Chinese food for dinner! After that, we are totally all over the Doctor Who.
As is our custom at the Murkworks, we had our annual Homeless Waifs Thanksgiving Day Turkeyfest, and this time around we had a very respectable turnout of 16 people, including children. Much obliged to , , , , , , , , , and Mimi’s friend Chad who all showed up to make a wonderful evening. Callie brought her stepchildren with her as well and they were charming little tykes and very happy to play with the various toys we had around the living room.
has been spending the week with us as well, and we’ve been doing various low-key amusements since he’s had to be on call for work, which means he doesn’t have too much time free. We have, however, had quite a bit of fun attending both the Battlestar Galactica and Harry Potter exhibits downtown; last night, too, we saw the new Harry Potter movie.
Friday afternoon was exhibits day. We wandered downtown and had lunch at the Dick’s not far from Big Fish, as it turned out. It was really kind of weird actually getting that food in a sit-down restaurant. was amused by overhearing a nearby child asking another child, “Y’gonna drink that ketchup?”
From there we wandered over to the Seattle center to hit the exhibits. We tried Potter first, only to be told that we wouldn’t get in any earlier than 6:30. So we bought tickets for that time slot and hit the Battlestar exhibit instead.
The BSG exhibit was super-tiny, but what it had rocked. There were several excellent costumes from both the old and new series, an assortment of props, and interesting little snippets of videos spaced around the area. We were happy to see some of Starbuck’s stuff in particular, since Dara and I do miss our crazy TV girlfriend Kara, even now. ;) The big draw for this exhibit though was hands down the two Vipers and the Cylon raider, full size! took oodles of pictures. They’ll be going up for viewing soon enough, as soon as she figures out where to put them, I expect (her Flickr account is full).
Since we had time to kill, and since we hadn’t actually explored the Experience Music Project part of the building, we wandered around through the rest of the place as well. That was kind of neat, especially the display about indie music history in Seattle. The huge exhibit on Jimi Hendrix didn’t mean as much to me just because I have no background with his music; plus, I think I was a bit nonplussed by the huge sculpture of instruments in the lobby. I couldn’t help thinking gosh look at all those instruments that aren’t getting played, although they did look cool, I must admit. And apparently, the sculpture is set to play at certain times, though we didn’t catch that part.
, , and also wandered through the Science Fiction Museum. I’d been in there before so opted not to look at that part; I wanted to check the swag shops and get me a Battlestar shirt, and also just see what else they had for sale. All in all a good way to kill time.
The Potter exhibit was doing mad crazy business, as you might expect on a holiday weekend, the first weekend following the opening of a Potter movie as well. It too was smallish, although bigger than the BSG exhibit. And unlike with the BSG exhibit, pictures were not allowed.
There were a whole lot of lovely costumes from the various movies: school uniforms and casual clothes for Harry, Hermione, and Ron; various teachers’ robes; Quidditch uniforms; and a lot of the Yule finery from Goblet of Fire. Those were neat, but I liked the set pieces better, such as the furniture from the Gryffindor dorms, Hagrid’s hut, and the big wardrobe and giant jack in the box from Prisoner of Azkaban. And there were props galore, including a Gryffindor notice board, a whole heck of a lot of Quidditch-themed props, and more. Big, big props though for the full-size figures of Buckbeak the hippogryph and a couple of the centaurs.
This of course leads nicely into talking about the movie. We did see Deathly Hallows last night, and since I never did get around to reading Book 7, now we’re getting into stretches of the story that are actually new to me (modulo the big best-known spoilers, which I am aware of at this point, yes). It was quite a bit different dealing with Harry, Hermione, and Ron outside the context of Hogwarts, and I rather liked that, even if the pacing of the movie could have used a bit of tweaking. Three words: too. Much. Camping.
(Paul in fact turned to us after the credits started rolling and said, “OH NO JOEL! CAMPING!”)
Dara noted and I agree with her that this is the first time that Voldemort and his followers really seem like a serious threat. The action scenes were certainly awesome, and I quite liked what we saw of the Malfoys and Bellatrix LeStrange. I must admit though that every time I see Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort I keep thinking “SAD MUPPET HAS NO NOSE!”
One more day of vacation tomorrow. We’re going to wander around Pike Place (and I am likely to do a fruit run with my marketboys), and then amble in the direction of I Heart for serious sushi goodness to send James home again on a tasty note.
I’m coming off a nice long vacation, thanks to my workplace having given the entire lot of us the week of Christmas off. This was as the cool kids say AWESOME, given that it meant that solarbird and I were able to have Longest Night without me having to take an extra day off for that. And that was a nice way indeed to fire off a relaxing break.
The weekend of the Solstice was pretty much given over to, aside from a special Solstice Murkjam (more on this in another post), a mighty rewatching of the entire extended edition Lord of the Rings trilogy. There are few movies I can happily watch over and over again, but these? Absolutely. Especially when Dara starts asking me questions about Middle-Earth lore and we get to Tolkiengeek. <3 Plus, this time around I started finally watching a lot of the copious extras in all three sets of discs, which I had never done despite owning these things for years now. I'm sure you all know by now, but yeah, lots of lovely stuff there and I've only barely scratched the surface of it all.
Did a lot of catchup of medical appointments during the week, and the highlight of that was getting to touch bases with both my endocs and say "by the way, I'm working on seriously trying to lose weight, just so you all know". In particular, wanted to check with the thyroid endoc to make sure I coordinate with him about how to reduce my T4 and T3 dosage as I drop pounds. I've already had to start tweaking my intake since I've dropped six pounds or so.
I dropped in on kathrynt to say hi in between some of those aforementioned medical appointments, and was treated to tea and a cookie and her delightful offspring informing us, when asked where her dump truck was, “it could be ANYWHERE!” Lillian continues to impress me with her smarts. This kid is going to be scary when she gets older. Hell, she’s kind of scary now!
Christmas itself was pleasantly low-key and featured first going out with mamishka to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie. Picoreview: big silly fun if you can buy that this was totally a fluffy, alternate-universe version of Holmes and Watson that didn’t bear too much resemblance to the canon versions. I did like many get a kick out of the chemistry between Holmes and Watson, and felt that poor Mary was sadly underused as a character, and that the actress playing Irene wasn’t quite up to the task of her own character’s awesomeness. But really, the thing I liked the most about the movie? The music. Especially the jigs during the action scenes and the take of “Rocky Road to Dublin”. I may have to buy the soundtrack on the strength of that alone.
Christmas evening, mamishka, darthhellokitty, and king_chiron all had dinner with us at the Murk and then we all watched the new Doctor Who, “The End of Time, Part 1”. Most definitely more on this in another post. There are rumblings of another group watch of Part 2 to come.
I closed out this past weekend with going, finally, with Dara to see 2012 before it finally vanishes out of the local theaters. We wound up having to catch it at the Alderwood Mall cinema, which was really kinda crazytalk since the place was swarming with after-Christmas shoppers and getting from our parking spot to the theater was a nerve-wracking exercise in dodging oncoming traffic. But we did manage to get there on time, and once we were actually settled in, despite being too close to the screen for comfort, we had a delightful time. I’m sure many of you already know this by now too, but yeah, this movie was awesomely bad. We’re talking epic levels of MSTable disaster pr0n, which is pretty much exactly what we were there for. Mutating neutrinos, baby!
Didn’t get a damn bit of writing or reading done, but on the whole, I didn’t really mind. I’ve been catching up on fixing broken stuff on this web site instead, and that sits well with me, since the long-undone tasks there were annoying me, and I found fixing those relaxing. I assure you all though that more writing and reading will be coming with the New Year.
And oh yes: with spazzkat coming home from Virginia on Sunday, we had our little house gift exchange. My nifty l00t: one box of Ninth Doctor DVDs (man, I do love Nine and Rose, I must say), one lovely tin of bath bombs from LUSH, one $50 Barnes and Noble gift card which I promptly spent on five new ebooks, and last but not least, this, which is pretty much the Best Possible Christmas Ornament to Give to Anna, Ever:
There’s a button on it that plays the Raiders March when you press it. spazzkat knows me very, very well. <3