Sunday, April 30, 2006

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo*

"Just about everything that happened to me that summer happened because of Winn-Dixie."

I finished reading Because of Winn-Dixie (a 2001 Newbery Honor Book) a couple of days ago, ironically right by my brother JP who was playing Silent Hill 4. We watched Silent Hill the movie just recently by the way - I was screaming in the theater. I started talking about Because of Winn-Dixie in my April 24 post. Because of Winn-Dixie is convincingly told in the disarming, charming, smart, and even insightful voice of the ten-year-old protagonist Opal. Because of Winn-Dixie is about Opal and her cool dog Winn-Dixie. It's mostly about Opal (the title made me think at first that the novel was mostly about Winn-Dixie) and about how she deals with being the new kid in town and the preacher's daughter, being abandoned by her mama when she was three, and having a daddy like "a turtle hiding inside its shell." This children's novel is also a lot about friendship =) and about how we shouldn't judge people.

Boy, children's literature sure is getting sophisticated. And I guess that is because children are more sophisticated now, or at least they are maturing faster now. The plot of Because of Winn-Dixie is definitely linear, but I don't think it follows the classic organic plot structure of conflict-complication-climax-denouement-resolution (which is a simple, straightforward kind of plot that is easier for children to grasp). I think the plot is also a "static" plot - all of the really important action is going on inside of the characters, especially the main character. In fact, I think it would be very interesting to do a psychological analysis of Opal/the novel.

And yes, I like the novel. I think it is a good summer read for children ages 8-10, but perfect for the ten-year-olds. =)

"There ain't no way you can hold on to something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it."


*also the author of the beautiful books The Tale of Despereaux (the 2004 Newbery Medal winner) and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Aside from being addicted to Starbucks, I am addicted to answering stuff like this

1. Where were you 1 hour ago?
same place (at work), same computer, with the same people (my boss and her administrative assistant)

2. Who will be your next kiss?
I am wondering the same thing.

3. What is the largest amount of money you spent in one store?
2, 500 pesos for a pair of Levis?

4. Is there anything pink within 10 feet of you?
my wallet

5. When is the last time you went to the mall?
last night

6. Are you wearing socks right now?
yes

7. When was the last time you drove out of town?
a couple of weeks ago I was in Rizal and Laguna [provinces near the Metro Manila area for those of you reading this in the States =)] with my family

8. Have you been to the movies in the last 5 days?
yes, last night I watched The Sentinel in a mall cineplex

9. What was the last thing you had to drink?
water

10. What are you wearing right now?
shirt and jeans - the usual

11. Do you wash your car or let the car wash do it?
What car?

12. Last fast food you ate?
Does popcorn from last night's movie watching count as fast food?

13. Where were you last week at this time?
same place, same computer, with the same people hahaha

14. Have you bought any clothing items in the last week?
Nope... I REALLY need new clothes.

15. When was the last time you ran?
When I was in college I think.

16. What's the last sporting event you watched?
A taekwondo thing with my brothers in it. =)

17. What is your favorite class?
English! (Duh.) Hahaha.

18. Your dream vacation?
Europe or NYC or Las Vegas!!! =) Or the beach! =)

19. Last person's house you were in?
I'm pretty sure Corinne's

20. What are you doing?
I'm doing THIS.

21. What's the last thing you ate?
a slice of chocolate mousse, mmmmmm =9

22. Do you miss anyone?
yes, I miss lots of people =(

23. Last play you saw?
I forgot the title. I watched it a couple of years ago and it was TERRIBLE.

24. What are your plans for tonight?
I think JP, Fuwannie Goo, and I are watching Silent Hill. =)

25. Ever go to camp?
Yes! =)

26. Were you an honor roll student in school?
yes

27. What do you want to know about the future?
Who will I marry?

28. Are you wearing any perfume or cologne?
no

29. Are you hungry?
no, I just had that chocolate mousse

30. Do you have a tan?
no, and I don't want one

31. How old do you want to be when you have kids?
28? 29?

32. Do you collect anything?
books, especially Newbery books and Beatrix Potter books

33. Last time you got stopped by a cop or pulled over?
Well my dad was pulled over several months ago and I was in the backseat...

34. Have you ever drank your soda from a straw?
yes

35. How do you like your drinks?
? It depends on what the drink is I guess.

36. Do you like hot sauce?
no, but I don't hate it either

37. Last time you took a shower?
this morning

38. Do you need to do laundry?
Hehe. I have someone to do the laundry for me. Hehehe.

39. What is your heritage?
Spanish-Filipino =)

40. Are you someone's best friend?
yes =)

41. Are you rich?
no

42. What do you think of the person who took this survey before you?
I LOVE my cousin Stephanie =)

I just realized that this particular survey doesn't reveal much about me. Oh well, did it, might as well post it.
Mmmmmm. A venti Starbucks caramel frappuccino with a shot of espresso is refreshing and even invigorating for a summer day in the Philippines. Next time I think I will ask for THREE shots of espresso. Hehehe.

Being addicted to Starbucks is a disturbing and EXPENSIVE thing. =(

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Memes

Celebrity

Who is your favorite celebrity and why? If you aren't much into celebrity watching, why is that?

My favorite celebrities are Natalie Portman and Alicia Keys, because they are beautiful, talented, and intelligent. =) I find celebrity watching fun, entertaining, and sometimes even educational. =)

In your opinion, if six celebrities could win the following awards, who would win: Most Beautiful (inside and out), Most Idiotic, Most Shallow, Most Generous, Least Likely to be Remembered in 20 years, Most Temperamental?

Most Beautiful (inside and out): Natalie Portman and Alicia Keys
Most Idiotic: There are too many idiots in Hollywood.
Most Shallow: There are too many shallow people in Hollywood.
Most Generous: Oprah
Least Likely to be Remembered in 20 years: All those new boy bands. See? I don't even know their names. I'm just vaguely aware that there are some new boy bands out there.
Most Temperamental: Russell Crowe and the other celebrities who beat up photographers

List one other made up award and who you would give it to:

Biggest Dick Award (I mean this in the very negative way.): Tom Cruise, I hate him.

Do you think that society's fascination with celebrity is justified? Explain.

Yes, society's FASCINATION with celebrity is justified. These celebrities entertain us for a living and their lives also entertain us. We celebrity watch for fun and for entertainment. It's also to keep up with popular culture, which isn't a bad thing, it can actually be a good thing. =) But society's OBSESSION with celebrity is NOT justified. There are some people out there who need to get a life and let the celebrities have their own.

Are there any celebrities you would want to meet in person? Why would you want to meet them?

I would like to meet any celebrity whose work I admire. =) I would like to congratulate them on their good work! =)

Is there any celebrity who might actually make you swoon if you met them?

Paul Walker would make me swoon. His smile makes me melt!

What do you think about the way celebrities are hounded by paparazzi and gossip magazines?

The paparazzi and gossip magazines should stop being violent and too intrusive. Respect the privacy of the celebrities. There IS such a thing as TOO MUCH.


List Making

10 happy thoughts:

1-rain
2-JP (my brother)
3-Brian (my brother)
4-Kuya Martin (my brother)
5-Isaac (one of my best friends)
6-books
7-movies to watch =)
8-people reading and liking my blog (I hope this is true.)
9-reading the archives of www.themutteringmuse.com
10-cousins =)

9 of your favorite things:

1-books
2-reading
3-fantasy literature
4-children's literature
5-interesting people
6-Starbucks
7-pizza
8-breakfast
9-watching movies (This list isn't long enough for me. I want to keep on listing my favorite things!)

8 reasons to _____ (fill in the blank):

8 reasons to smile

1-best friendships
2-friendships
3-siblings
4-cousins
5-music
6-movies
7-books/literature
8-blogs

7 things you would like to receive as gifts:

1-books
2-jewelry (especially earrings and diamonds)
3-books
4-clothes
5-books
6-money
7-books

6 people you know who would be interesting fictional characters:

1-my mom (perfect for a soap opera)
2-my dad (perfect for a soap opera)
3-?
4-?
5-?
6-?

5 addictions:

1-books/reading
2-pizza
3-Starbucks
4-sweeties
5-the Internet

4 dream jobs:

1-teaching fantasy and/or children's literature
2-food/restuarant writer/critic
3-model scout
4-getting paid to read hehehe

3 wishes you would make if you found a magical genie in a lamp:

1-an all-expense paid two month vacation in Europe with my best friend CY
2-an all-expense paid month long vacation on the beach with my family and relatives
3-lots and lots of pocket money to support the first two wishes =)

2 places you would like to visit:

1-Italy
2-New York City (This list isn't long enough either. Let me cheat by adding my hometown Las Vegas.)

1 memory that comes to mind:

1-I had spent time with my cousins Stephanie and Sabrina when we were all living in Metro Manila. Then my family moved to the US. I saw Stephanie and Sabrina again several years later when they moved to Las Vegas too. When we were "reunited" they were fresh from a bath and I couldn't tell them apart. They looked like twins to me. I had to ask, "Which one is Stephanie and which one is Sabrina?"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cold chocolate chip banana bread from Starbucks is yummy. =9 Cafe Tortoni and tableya cake from Cordillera Coffee is not yummy (I don't know if they are not yummy because they are really not yummy, or because they are just not my type of yummy, or because the service was bad and that ruined my experience in Cordillera Coffee).

Monday, April 24, 2006

Winn-Dixie and Honey-Vanilla Latte

Last night (my younger brother) JP and I were in Starbucks (Katipunan branch of course). JP was re-copying his notes from his Math 14 (summer) class and drinking a chocolate afogato. (He re-copies his notes to study/review and to make sure he has neat notes. Yuck - I hate math. Well, so does JP, but he's stuck with it for now.) I was reading Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo*, a Newbery Honor Book for the year 2001, and drinking a honey-vanilla latte (and writing this post actually hehe).

I read about honey-vanilla latte on www.themutteringmuse.com, which by the way is my new favorite blog to read =), and started craving for it. I decided to "make" honey-vanilla latte using my friendly neighborhood Starbucks. (I looove Starbucks.) I ordered a caffe latte (grande) and told the barista to add vanilla flavor. Then I added two packets of that Knott's honey Starbucks has to the coffee. The result? The honey and vanilla flavors in the latte were subtle, so if you try this you might want to add more honey and/or more vanilla. I enjoyed drinking my honey-vanilla latte experiment. It tasted comforting and "toasty" [as in that warm "toasty" feeling - yes it tasted like that feeling =)]. The honey offered a nice different kind of sweetness for my coffee and I actually don't really like vanilla so I'm glad the vanilla flavor was subtle. Haha. =) The honey-vanilla latte also reminded me a bit of the toffee nut latte (which I like) Starbucks has during the Christmas season.

I'm curious about Starbucks' summer season specials of banana cream frappuccino (so that would basically be a banana milkshake I guess) and banana chocolate chip loaf (banana bread with chocolate chips?). I don't really like bananas either, but I'm still curious. Hehe. =) (JP and his Fuwannie Goo say the banana mocha frappuccino and banana caramel frappuccino are nothing special though.)

(*So far I think that the ten-year-old main character Opal is projecting herself onto her dog Winn-Dixie and it's a bit heart-breaking.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A summer tale of four sisters, two rabbits, and a very interesting boy*

I stayed up late last night to finish reading The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. =) It's a charming children's novel. =) It's perfect summer reading for a ten-year-old girl. The main characters, the Penderwick sisters, are aged 12, 11, 10, and 4. "The very interesting boy" (the Penderwicks' friend), also a main character, is 10 and he celebrates his 11th birthday in the story. So I think that the book is an appropriate read for girls aged 10-12, but I think it's BEST read by a TEN-year-old girl. =) An 11 or 12 year old might think the book is too "childish." The Penderwicks is a novel about youthful adventures and youthful honesty. =)

The synopsis given for The Penderwicks is: "On their summer vacation, four sisters discover a garden paradise, a lonely boy, and one truly awful grown-up. This is Jeanne's first book about the Penderwicks, who believe in truth and honor, yet can't seem to stay out of trouble." (from the official website of the author: www.jeannebirdsall.com)

And man, they weren't exaggerating about the main characters always getting into trouble. (I thought before reading that it was an exaggeration.) They got into trouble every chapter! And sometimes they would get into trouble twice in a chapter! The characterization in the novel was awesome. I'm definitely reading the next book about the Penderwick family. It's a family I love! =)

*By the way, the tale is also of a dog, a doting father, a clueless mother and her yucky boyfriend, a gardener, a housekeeper, and a tomato man.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Nothing happened, everything happened

"But just now they had missed, and the jet trails of the crisscrossing moments left an awkward vacuum in their wake."


Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins (the 2006 Newbery Medal winner) is an insightful and creative novel. It captures the feelings, the thoughts, and the doubts of teenagers - specifically fourteen-year-olds. I would give this book to a fourteen-year-old because he/she would be able to relate to the characters. Reading Criss Cross reminded me of what it was like to be a teenager/fourteen years old. All the doubts about myself. I can't believe I forgot! Now I don't doubt myself - my strengths, my capabilities, etc. I may doubt the world. I may doubt other people. But I don't doubt myself anymore. I should read this novel again when I have teenage kids so that I remember the sentiments and the tentativeness and wonderment of adolescence and know what my kids are going through. It's a good thing I read Criss Cross now. It re-opened my eyes. I have nieces and nephews to take care of. I honestly believe having read the novel will make me a better aunt and a better teacher (and in the future, a better mother).

Criss Cross is the sequel to All Alone in the Universe. I must read this! [I just ordered this from Fully Booked in Gateway! =)] And from what I gather from the ending of Criss Cross, there will probably (hopefully) be a third book. Yay! =)

Now I'm off to read a summer tale of four sisters, two rabbits, and a very interesting boy by Jeanne Birdsall. =) I love summer reading! =)

(To explain the title of this post: Criss Cross has an episodic plot, but its plot can also be considered a static plot because most of the action, or at least the significant action, in the plot is internal action - action WITHIN the characters.)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

This is so me! (in the sense that this is the type of pizza I usually order)

Cheese Pizza

Traditional and comforting.
You focus on living a quality life.
You're not easily impressed with novelty.
Yet, you easily impress others.

Very Accurate Test Results!

Your Ideal Relationship is Marriage

You've dated enough to know what you want.
And that's marriage - with the right person.
You're serious about settling down some time soon.
Even if you haven't met the person you want to get hitched to!

What Kind of Coffee Am I?

You Are a Soy Latte

At your best, you are: free spirited, down to earth, and relaxed

At your worst, you are: dogmatic and picky

You drink coffee when: you need a pick me up, and green tea isn't cutting it

Your caffeine addiction level: medium