Friday, December 27, 2013

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 22

Recap: As Morgan and Tammy toured the facility, there was suddenly an emergency and for some reason everybody was conspiring to keep the Hamiltons from finding out about it. It might involve an old woman who is friends with Skye, but nobody will tell them anything. Who knows what's going on, now that this plot has gotten needlessly complicated and full of conspiracies?

Morgan and Tammy theorize about all the secrets of the clinic, making inquiries such as:
“Do you think it’s a coincidence that the locked room is next to the ER?”
Well, the alternative is that the Leontious designed a special "secret conspiracy room" next to the ER where secret patients could be stashed. Clearly the only logical explanation.

Tammy tells Morgan about the clinic and about Leontiou's dream of having a network of labs connected around the world, sharing information to help combat disease. Morgan is very cynical about this ever happening and rants for a bit about how people only care about money.

They then wonder who is running "this whole operation," and why, now that Doctor L. L. is dead. I don't know why this is a question. Clearly the answer is them, if they want it, and in the meantime I'd assume Dr. Rozak is in charge of day-to-day running and Lance or Doctor L. L.'s attorneys are in charge of monetary stuff. It's not like there's a secret puppet master keeping them from gaining control. They're being offered the whole thing and they're caught up in, "Yes, but who's in charge RIGHT NOW? Does it have anything to do with THE LOCKED DOOR?"

I'm really hazy on what this mystery even actually is. So far the signs of something weird are 1) they saw someone go into a room that is now locked and nobody will tell them who she was, and 2) they weren't allowed in the emergency room. And it's all somehow built in their minds into a giant conspiracy involving Doctor L. L.'s money and power.

They debate whether to force their way into some answers, but Tammy, for once, advocates being slightly less uncouth and aggressive:
“I think we should ask first. After all, they do need us. I can see why they would want both of us.” 
“What do you mean?” 
“There is no leadership.”
I dunno, I'd say things are running pretty dang well without the Leontious thus far. I have no idea what Tammy is basing this assumption on, but I think she's right that they might get further by politely asking, "Hey, if we're going to take over the clinic, can we get some more details?" before they go around yelling, "WE DESERVE ANSWERS!"
“Dr. Rozak showed me around the lab. It’s certainly high-tech, and all new since the big fire. They’re still waiting for more equipment to arrive. Dr. Leontiou obviously has spared no expense.”
"Well, aside from a second decontamination room door. And doors that stay closed even when they're not being controlled by computers. So I guess doors were the one thing he couldn't spare an expense for."

Morgan finally tells her about the reporter showing up on the island, and concluding by reiterating the ridiculous high stakes of the plot right now:
“That’s when Lance told me that Skye is the key to this entire thing. He said that if they don’t settle what happens to her life quickly, Greece will collapse, which could send a ripple effect throughout Europe, and possibly even the world.”
That's right, Hamiltons, if you don't adopt Skye, and soon, THE ENTIRE WORLD WILL COLLAPSE.

They casually wonder why this is the case but don't have any satisfactory answer because, well, there isn't one.
“How can she help? What possible power does she have?” 
Aside from butterfly summoning, professional piano playing, wheelchair teleporting, and making everyone like her despite being an awful person.
“She’s a remarkable young lady, but maybe it’s not just her. Maybe it’s us. Or you.” 
“Me? Why me?” Tammy took a breath, but it didn’t seem to help. 
“Perhaps it has something to do with your lab work.”
There are so many bizarre unconnected theories being thrown around here, I can't even follow them anymore. How would any of this have anything to do with Tammy's lab work? We don't even really know what it is, let alone how it could destroy or save the global economy.

Lance comes out, lets them know that a friend of Skye's passed away in the emergency room, and then basically begs Tammy to agree to work here so she can take over the lab.
“Dr. Leontiou was impressed with you. Your youth; your vigor; your experience.”
I know I'm always impressed with people's youth. How do all these people manage to be so dang YOUNG?

Lance confirms that "what [they] decide could determine the fate of the world," but, ya know, no pressure. He then takes off because the reporter is apparently making a fuss in his clinic prison room. Lance's response to this is to cheerfully joke about locking him in a dungeon. He tells the Hamiltons their choice is pretty easy and they should make it fast, then he leaves.

Tammy says she doesn't want to leave what she has in St. Paul, and Morgan asks her what she does have. Turns out the answer is nothing, because she doesn't say anything and they just think for awhile.

Next time: Probably another tour of the facilities. They haven't had enough of those yet.

(Chapter 23.)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Collection of Christmas Memories

Merry Christmas, everyone. Here is a brief collection of some of my favorite Christmas memories in honor of the holiday.

- Dollar Tree Christmas shopping with the family. I've written some about that in this previous blog, so I won't expand much... but this is one of my very favorite Christmas traditions. Every year, it's a mystery what we'll receive. I've gotten everything from Hawaiian leis to wax lips to enormous plastic candy canes.

- Advent calendars. As a kid, even if I remembered exactly what it said behind the little door from last year, it was somehow still exciting to get to open it again and read it.

- The time we came home to find that our church had chosen us, as a larger and not-very-financially-well-off family, to surprise with a large amount of gifts and toys. I got more gifts that year than I ever had, but it wasn't about the items themselves as much as it was being overwhelmed by our church family's generosity.

- The year almost every single one of my siblings decided to make a pipe cleaner octopus to hang on the tree.

- Christmas Eve services at our church. Especially the ones with some sort of candlelight vigil. I remember always being afraid I would end up with burning wax dripped on my fingers, but if I let myself relax, I could truly feel a sense of the sacred, as the church filled with whatever hymn or carol was chosen in the soft glow of the candlelight.

- Caroling at nursing homes and hospitals with my youth group. Walking up and down the halls singing old and new favorites and hearing the people around us join in made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

- Performing New Life's "Christmas Cheerifier" skit, all about a pastor who hires a group of carol singers to burst into song at the first sign of a possible carol segue. "In the past week, I've had four speeding tickets, three sick grandparents, two flat tires..." "AND A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE!"

- Singing and dancing in Huntington's Christmas revue two years in a row. Others may have gotten sick of the constant holiday cheer, but I loved putting on my Christmasy red shirt and white scarf and starting off the show with "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and "Sleigh Ride."

- Driving around with Josh Herndon and Sarah looking for pretty Christmas lights. When we found ones we loved, we pulled into their driveway, knocked on their door, presented them with a bag of Christmas cookies and told them we loved their lights.

- Spending my first Christmas with Jacob last year. We weren't married yet, only engaged, but having him join my family and me for our holiday season simply felt like the most natural thing ever.

May this holiday season create good memories for all of you.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 21

Recap: The crazy reporter from the fancy hotel somehow made it to the island and is part of a liberal communist plot to bring down the entire world economy so they can make a one-world government by telling people Doctor L. L. is dead. Also, Skye has a secret about all this or something and might be able to save the day. Stuff is getting weird here, folks.

We pick up this chapter with Tammy's getting apparently yet another tour of the clinic. All she's done since she's gotten here is play with Skye and tour the clinic, so I'm not sure what there is left to see, but she's off to look it all over again. This time, they start with Dr. Rozak's office.
Tammy’s attention was immediately drawn to three large monitors on the wall. . . . Tammy was amazed by the technology around them. “What is all this?” 
“I’m checking the updated medical information on my patients. They’re monitored twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. All results come into my office using our new computer system.” 
“You’re kidding me.” She filled her lungs, keeping her focus.
Like at the hotel, I feel like Tammy should not be quite as overwhelmed by how amazing this technology is. The set up consists of several monitors and a computer, and a stream of medical information on patients. Isn't that kind of how hospitals work, a lot of the time? People are hooked up to monitors to measure things, and surely these days those things are recorded digitally and are probably visible in real time from another room. This doesn't feel that high-tech to me. But Tammy is so astonished, she literally has to try and remember to breathe.

What kind of clinic do they run where they can't get real-time patient monitoring, but they have an unsolicited video chat option on their website?

Dr. Rozak pulls up information on a patient named Tiffany to show Tammy how the system works. Then we learn that these three monitors are being horribly utilized. The first monitor shows all the patients' names, and if you click on them, you can pull up their full file. The second one loops through each of the patients' files, pausing on each for a minute, to give you updated minute-to-minute information on them. It also alerts you about sudden changes in patient condition, like seizures. This seems a little redundant. There should just be an option on the second monitor to look at anyone's file you want at any time (and then return to the loop) instead of having an entire monitor that is essentially a list of names.

And the third monitor?
“You access the search engine on the third monitor. We’re connected to ten other clinics, twenty-four hours a day, including Leontiou’s Costa Rica lab. I can download any information I need at any time to help my patients.”
The Leontious decided it was absolutely vitally important to have an entire monitor devoted to a search engine. Which is not even being accessed most of the time. Have these people not heard of using windows and tabs? Much more efficient than having a separate monitor for every single program you might need to use at some point.
“All I have to do is put in the name of a certain disease. Let’s type ‘Batten’ here. Instantly, every letter or resource with the word ‘Batten’ in it will be displayed.” 
“That’s impressive!”
Thing #526 Tammy is disproportionately impressed by: search engines.

Dr. Rozak then leaves the Amazing Technical Office and takes Tammy to meet the patients. Morgan and Skye catch up to her but don't tell her anything about Skye's adventure with the reporter who tried to kidnap her. They meet Tiffany, the girl Tammy saw on the screen. She's clearly very sick.
“How much time do you think she has?” Tammy asked, concern written on her face. 
“Two months ago, she would have had more time,” Dr. Rozak added.
...Well, yes. That is how time works.

They allude vaguely to "computer problems" and "hacking" that apparently has done something to shorten this girl's lifespan further. Are they treating this disease... digitally?

(I was complaining about this in RinkChat as I wrote and got this possible answer: "Somebody hacked into a machine she was hooked up to? Or someone hacked into her and changed her lifespan. SHE WAS AN ANDROID ALL ALONG.")

Morgan, Tammy, and Dr. Rozak leave Skye alone to talk to Tiffany, although Tiffany is in the late stages of the disease and is not necessarily coherent of what's around here. Tammy laments that this is sad (which it is).
“My understanding is in the last stage of Batten, dementia sets in, and it’s just a matter of time until her body shuts down.”
My main complaint here is "my understanding is..." as if she's not sure she knows what she's talking about. She gave an entire lecture on this at Doctor L. L.'s convention, surely she is confident that she knows the basic progression of the disease. She's hardly an amateur.

Dr. Rozak raves about Skye and how kind she is to all the patients. She has apparently sat with a lot of them as they died, singing and quoting Scripture to them. This is indeed very sweet of Skye, but this conversation awkwardly segues into how Skye is also awesome because she is also tidy.

Also, there's a secret door they saw an old lady being wheeled into the other day, but nobody will tell them what it is or why it's locked, and then Dr. Rozak has to go to the emergency room. He leaves, Lance leaves, and Morgan and Tammy apparently decide there's a conspiracy in the emergency room.
“I’m going to get some answers right now,” Tammy blurted. Before Morgan could respond, she darted toward the emergency room.
...Couldn't it just be, ya know, an emergency? What makes them think that what they're keeping from them is in the emergency room instead of being the secretive locked door? But apparently there is an emergency room conspiracy, because nobody will let them in. All she can see is that they're working on a patient who might be an adult, and Skye gets to go in, but they don't.

The guards escort them out of the emergency room area, citing an emergency, and then he dumps them in the dining room with this odd exhortation:
“Please enjoy something to eat. This is not your run-of-the-mill cafeteria food. We have a professional chef who prepares the food, nothing but the best.”
They've been here like three days. They've eaten here multiple times. Why are they suddenly getting a travel guide intro to the world of the dining room? I have no idea.

To be continued next time with more conspiracy! I hope.

(Chapter 22.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Gift-Buying Guide For People In Your Life Who Are Kind of Like Me

How's that for a helpful title? I figured with the holiday season at hand (and me testing out my new Amazon Associates connection on my blog - *shrug* pretending I can monetize my writing is nice) I could post some awesome gift-buying suggestions for people who are... kind of like me. I admit, this started off just as a list of Cool Stuff I Own, but then I thought of a couple Cool Things I Don't Own But Should and figured they were worth including as well.

I have sorted them by category, so you can go right to what you want.

Theater Stuff
  • Shrek the Musical. This is one of the ones I don't own, but fully intend to purchase it for myself in the near future. It's a filmed version of the Broadway musical starring the original cast.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Because anyone who likes musicals, Joss Whedon, or awesome things in general should own it. But especially people who like musicals. If you get the DVD, you also get the musical commentary "Commentary!" which is nearly as enjoyable as the movie itself.
  • Much Ado About Nothing. More Joss Whedony theater goodness. This is a solid production of one of Shakespeare's best-known comedies. It looks gorgeous, the language sounds gorgeous, and Nathan Fillion wins everything in his few short appearances.
  • Last Five Years / 2013 O.B.C.R. I own this one but haven't listened to it much yet... but giving anyone songs by Jason Robert Brown Christmas is a good way to tell them you love them. Alternatively, you can get someone the original 2002 cast with Norbert Leo Butz and Sherie Rene Scott, which I do love, but I figured I'd showcase something a little newer here.
  • A Digital Theatre gift certificate. Digital Theatre is an incredible website with several filmed theatrical productions for rent or purchase. I personally own the David Tennant/Catherine Tate Much Ado About Nothing and love it, but they also have for sale productions of shows like All My Sons, Into the Woods, Swan Lake, La Traviata, and more. 
Movie & TV Stuff
Cool Books
  • Fluxx. Just about any incarnation will do, but I've specifically played Star Fluxx and Cthulhu Fluxx, and they're both so much fun. It's a card game where the rules change frequently during gameplay, so you have to stay on your toes to win. It's also easy to play with just two people, so you don't have to gather a huge group to enjoy the game.
  • Pandemic. A cooperative strategy game where you try to eliminate four contagious diseases before they spread and wipe out the world. Notoriously difficult, but if everyone works together you can save the world!
  • Cards Against Humanity. I don't own this one yet either, but it's been on my list for awhile of "games I should probably get." It's kind of like a darker, less family-friendly (but much funnier) version of Apples to Apples.
Cool Clothes

As a final plug, I wanted to mention my good friend Erika's Etsy shop. She makes nerdy T-shirts, pillows, travel cups, and more. Lots of stuff from various fandoms such as Doctor Who, IT Crowd, Magic: The Gathering, Portal, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and The Big Bang Theory. The products are creative and good quality, so if you're looking for something a little off the beaten path, head over her way and buy some stuff!

So there. Good luck with all your holiday shopping. If you have friends who are kind of like me with their interests, you now have an idea of some cool things they might like! Of course, if they're too much like me, they might own all this already. And if that's the case I should probably be friends with them. Mostly so they'll let me borrow the stuff I don't own yet so I can read it/watch it/play it.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 20

Recap: The Hamiltons are spending a few days touring the Leontious' island to find out if they want to adopt Skye and take over the clinic. The Leontious' maid, Maya, threatened Morgan if he hurt Skye. Also, did I forget to mention Skye is perfect?

Morgan and Tammy wake up the next morning to find that Skye has sleepwalked into their bed, along with Teddy the cat. They tickle her for awhile, and "soon the room filled with the aroma of bacon," which makes it sound like Skye is some sort of odorizer that releases a bacon scent when you tickle her, but really it just means Maya's cooking breakfast downstairs, which Skye is VERY excited about.

Tammy is supposed to meet with Dr. Rozak to tour the clinic (which I'm pretty sure is all they've been doing the last 2-3 days, but whatever, tour on) so Morgan and Skye decide to go to the beach.
“Go ahead, you and Skye head to the beach. Lance will catch up to you.” 
“How will he know how to find me?” 
Maya shrugged her shoulders. “You’ll be with Skye. That’s how he’ll find you.”
Skye is loud, says hi to everyone she sees, and lures butterflies. She will indeed be pretty easy to track down.

Skye says she wants to leave in 15 minutes, and then we get this exchange, which I think is supposed to be cheerful joking but it's just kind of awkward and plays like there's genuine tension in the house and that Maya really likes pushing Morgan's buttons. (Well, to be fair though, who wouldn't? He gets aggravated so dang easily!)
“She wasn’t kidding. Skye likes to be on time, so now it’s fourteen minutes,” Maya said, gazing pointedly at the kitchen clock. 
“Tick-tock, tick-tock,” Maya droned, and Tammy joined in. 
“Oh, for crying out loud!” Morgan snapped. “Can’t a man enjoy his coffee in the morning?” He walked toward the stairs.
“Thirteen minutes,” Maya joked, as Tammy continued with, “Tick-tock, tick-tock.” 
With a theatrically nasty look, Morgan darted up the stairs by twos. 
When they heard the door slam, the women high-fived, laughing.
"Yay! We've succeeded in annoying him! Now Skye can take over doing that the rest of the day!"

They're not kidding, though. Morgan goes to take a shower and shave, and Skye pounds on the bathroom door being all, "HURRY UP, I WANT TO GO TO THE BEACH RIGHT NOW!" She really is an incredibly impatient child. So impatient, in fact, that when he finishes shaving and goes downstairs, she lectures him on how he's six minutes late and if he were late like that to a job, he could get fired. (In case he didn't get that analogy, she also points out that if he were six minutes late to play in a Wimbledon tennis match, he would have to forfeit.)

Yes, Skye, please lecture the adults on how to respect other people's time. Let's start by pointing out that you could also get fired for going to your boss' house in the middle of the night and early every morning to wake him up and demand that he spend time with you. But apparently that's totally OK, because you're nine and bouncy-haired.

Skye runs ahead of him and when he finally catches up to her, she asks if he and Tammy are going to get divorced. He reassures her they're not, but that they have one major issue to work through. She asks if it's that they can't have kids, and he says yes.
“Well, have you prayed about it?” It was a typical, straight-to-the-point, Skye-kind of question. 
“Yes, we have.” 
“No, I mean really prayed about it?” 
Because obviously if God hasn't given them a child, they can't have really prayed about it. As she has done before, Skye here insinuates that they just haven't had enough faith yet, and therefore their sorrow and pain is entirely their fault. Morgan admits they haven't really prayed about it, and Skye lectures him on why they should do it while she plays with a butterfly that once again is drawn to her saccharine sweetness.

Morgan is, understandably, done with this topic, so he asks to see some cave Skye was excited about. Turns out the cave is an escape passage dug by POWs when they were imprisoned here during World War II, but they all drowned when the tide came in. She tells this story matter-of-factly, as well as sharing a story that Aristotle drowned himself around here because he couldn't figure out why the tide came in so often. (It's probably because ATLANTIS IS HERE.) Also a ghost story about how the one POW who didn't die, died on the island 40 years later to the day because one of the drowned men grabbed his leg from his grave and tripped him while he was walking around.

This is an extremely morbid couple of pages, and very creepy to hear a child calmly reciting, although Morgan is just amazed at how much like a tour guide Skye sounds.

Morgan decides to explore the tunnel, and as he does so, a strange man shows up on the beach, wet and bleeding, and claims he's a friend of Doctor L. L. and needs to see him immediately.
Without missing a beat, Skye growled, “You don’t know my father. I don’t trust you.”
"I only instantly trust strangers who don't know my father when I'm on a cruise ship."

The man says he thinks the Leontious are probably dead and grabs Skye to try to make her give him more information. She yells for Morgan, who shows back up and hits the guy on the head with some driftwood. Turns out he's the evil liberal reporter from the hotel.
Unhindered by his injury, or the conversation, the reporter interrupted, “Why does she call you Dad, Dr. Hamilton? I see a front page story here.” He held his hand in the air, pretending to write. “Billionaire Father is dead, but Dad is alive.”
Worst headline ever.

Fortunately, Lance the Tennis Player and two armed guards show up right at this moment and haul the reporter off to, um... clinic jail, where he'll be held for a couple days before they ship him back to Athens. Lance explains the reporter's there for political reasons, and he and Morgan send Skye away for a little bit so they can talk politics.

Turns out the reporter is an evil communist advocating for a one-world government, and they're hoping to leak the story about Doctor L. L. in a way that will topple the Greek economy, and then the European, and then the rest of the world. Skye is somehow really connected to this, as she's set up to receive the Leontiou fortune, but Lance won't tell Morgan how that is likely to help much of anything, instead saying it's up to Skye to tell Morgan the rest of the story that he is "not at liberty to release."

Not only can Skye charm dolphins and butterflies, play piano and sit on piano benches like a pro, speak a trillion languages, discover comets, and make everyone think she's charming when she's not, but she is apparently the only thing standing between the world and complete global collapse.

Mary Sue to the rescue!

(Chapter 21.)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Jungle Book: The Movie Novelization, by Hannah (Approximately Age 7)

Recently my sister sent me a collection of stories she wrote when she was about ten years old, and it got me thinking about some of the gems from my collection. I was avidly writing stories as soon as I could read (and telling them even before that), and I had an extensive vocabulary, although rather an odd sense of when to use my big grown-up words.

One of my very favorite things I ever wrote was this, which was the beginning of a novel version of the animated Jungle Book movie. I'm not sure I was aware at this point that the movie itself was based on a novel or whether I thought that I could do better or just thought it would be a fun thing to write, but I definitely expanded on some characters and added some personalities...

So, without further ado, here is 7-year-old me telling you the story of, like, the first 3 minutes of The Jungle Book. (It initially had no paragraph breaks - I have added some in for readability.)

* * *

Once there was a golden, green, beautiful jungle. On calm days, it was a day for the wild beasts. If it was a stormy day, they looked forward to after the storm.

One day, a panther climbed back and forth between the lovely limbs. His black coat was as shiny as a new black shoe. His name was Bugeera, and he was responsible for a great many things. It was this day a new responsibility was found. He was leaping from tree to tree, not paying attention at first to the sound from the grassy bottom of the jungle. He was on a hunt for deer meat, a kind many of his kind loved.

He was returning with a fat deer, when he heard it. It was a soft sound, but- Bugeera could'nt describe it. He found out later the sound, a baby's crying and giggling. Bugeera climbed to a limb, lower than he usually would dare, and saw the child. It was a boy, or in the jungle, a man cub. He was the smallest thing, maybe abandoned by his mother, maybe fallen from a tree, maybe captured and dropped by a cruel man, but nevertheless, he was there.

Bugeera paid no attention at first, but then he looked again. His pity was appearing, and he thought, "I can not take care of this child! My wife and my two cubs are depending on me to take care of them! But- I know! Mrs. Wolf!" and he picked up the child, leaving the meat, and started in the dir- ection of the wolf pack.

The pack was, as usual, active and not at times. Meaty, Hunter and Gray Baby, the three boys, were learning how to hunt by there father, Rama. Carol, the daughter, and Dinny, the nurse, were cooking a stew for the meat.

Mrs. Wolf was the first to notice Bugeera. She smiled. "Rama, there is a visitor," she said, nodding in Bugeera's direction.

Rama looked, then ran to greet him. "My old chap, I have'nt seen you for months! What have you brought." He looked at the grass bundle Bugeera was carrying(he had wrapped the man cub up in leaves, so he should not freeze).

Bugeera said, "The lady is to decide," and wandered to Mrs. Wolf.

She said, "What, Bugeera?"

Bugeera slowly placed the bundle in front of her, and said, low, "A man cub. Yes, a man cub."

The pack stared at Bugeera like he was from Mars. Carol almost fell into the stew pot. Meaty, Hunter and Gray Baby started to spring on their father, forcing him half into the cave.

Mrs. Wolf said, "A man cub. That is a man cub? Why doesn't it have claws? Where is it's warm fur? I think that I shall throw this- " she got no further.

Rama roared, "Oh, honey! Why not examine him, and per- haps keep- him." he whispered.

* * *

And that's as far as I ever got.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 19

Recap: Skye's parents are dead but apparently she doesn't really care, she just wants to live with the Hamiltons, who haven't decided yet they're going to keep her. They're currently wandering around the island with their precious little Mary Sue.

Skye wants to show the Hamiltons her bedroom. As she enters, she yells at her cat (whose name, rather confusingly, is "Teddy"), and then her eyes "beam... with glee" as she shows off her room. Apparently she really, really likes her room.
She climbed on the bed and started jumping. “I don’t get to spend much time here anymore, but it’s still my very own room,” she squealed.
I honestly can't visualize any of the nine-year-olds I know doing this. This feels like five-year-old behavior to me. Also, this squealing and yelling has to stop. Indoor voices are nice.

She goes on to reveal she's been living at the clinic the past couple months. I have no idea why. Her home is clearly not far from the clinic. It's not like they couldn't use their money to hire someone to watch her and make sure she's taken care of even with her parents gone. Instead, she lives at the clinic and the doctors take care of her with the time they should be using to take care of their patients who are actually sick.

Then Skye makes them peanut butter sandwiches:
[Morgan] watched her lay out the bread neatly in a row on the counter. She evenly spread a thick layer of peanut butter on both slices of bread and then spread jelly on both. 
He thought it was cute the way she was concentrating so hard that her tongue stuck out of the corner of her mouth. It took everything he had not to break out laughing, especially when she licked off the knife before placing it in the dishwasher.

Seriously, two full paragraphs devoted to this? It feels uncomfortably like some sort of child chef erotica, and it just makes me feel a little icky.

(Also, why is licking the knife so hilarious? I totally do that. Who knew I was as funny as Skye?)

Skye prays before the meal, and, just like when she prayed before the cruise ship meal, Morgan and Tammy are so stunned by her prayer and its "honesty and passion" that they forget to eat. This is going to lead to a lot of awkward family meal times.

Her stunning prayer went like this, btw:
Jesus, we thank You for this food. Please bless it to our bodies. And Jesus, one more thing, please help my Mom and Dad stay here. I need them so much. And don’t forget that miracle I asked for. Thank you. I love You! Amen.
Again, a fairly generic prayer. I could understand if Morgan and Tammy were moved by her saying how much she needs them, but they're not - just by how honestly and passionately she talks to God. They used to identify as Christians, what the heck kind of prayers did they hear if this one was so passionate it literally stunned them?

They finish eating, have a paragraph of continuing the tour, and then it's time to eat again, but this time in the clinic dining room with the sick girls.
Tammy was impressed with the workers. They appeared to be gentle and patient. She noticed they did not hurry the girls to finish their dinner.
Uh, what kind of terrible person works 24/7 with sick, disabled children and gets impatient with them for not eating fast enough? Was that what she was expecting? What kind of people have they hired at their clinic in St. Paul if this is enough to be impressive? This seems like the bare minimum of being a good worker, and surely the Leontious wouldn't hire anybody who was a jerk to the sick kids. Tammy continues to be surprised by basic acts of human decency and job competence.
Just then, Dr. Rozak broke in with an announcement. “Everyone, I have good news. Tonight we’re having a special showing of a new Disney movie.”

Dr. Rozak tells the Hamiltons they'll be staying in the Leontiou mansion so Skye can sleep in her own bed. Because, again, apparently NOBODY ELSE could sleep in their mansion. Just the special, special Hamiltons.

Skye's reaction to this, however, is somewhat odd, given how very much she loves her bedroom:
Skye peered down the hall, a sad smile played on her lips. She seemed a bit reluctant, but agreed. “I think that will be all right, at least, for tonight.”
Morgan is just as confused as I am by her just being sad, so clearly this is some kind of FORESHADOWING.

Skye drives them back to the house in a golf cart, to find that the Leontious' housekeeper, Maya, is back after a three-day visit to her family.
“I thought you worked on the cruise ship,” Morgan noted. 
“No, I’m the Leontiou’s housekeeper.”
Way to go, Morgan, paying attention to the in-depth conversation you had with her actually ON the cruise ship, where she talked about what it was like to take care of Skye at home. (And, no, that misplaced apostrophe in the second paragraph is not a typo on my part. The book consistently does that. A page or two ago it featured Dr. Rozak introducing people to "the Hamilton's.")
“We’re going to spend the night here,” Skye reported excitedly, clapping her hands. 
“That’s wonderful. It gets lonesome in this big house, and I’m happy to have some company.”
Then WHYYYYYYY has Skye not been allowed to stay there? I don't understand. I don't get it. I DON'T UNDERSTAND. Although it's nice to see Skye's two seconds of sadness at not being able to stay at the clinic is gone.

While Tammy and Skye go upstairs to bed, Morgan stays downstairs to have another conversation with Maya that he'll probably forget. Maya raves about Skye, revealing these marvelous facts: 1) she is tidy and 2) she painted her own bedroom. She then starts acting kind of cagey, like there's something she wants to tell Morgan but doesn't feel she should. Instead, she shares how she met the Leontious - her daughter was a patient at the clinic. Even after her daughter died, she continued working here because Skye Is Speshul.

Morgan goes upstairs as well and stops into Skye's room, where Tammy still is. They look at the ceiling for awhile, which is lit up by a constellation light of some sort. Skye tells them about the stars:
“That’s really a double cluster. It’s called NGC1850, and it’s located in the Magellanic cloud. I think that’s where heaven is.” 
“Wow! I’m impressed. You really know your stuff.” Morgan felt like he was listening to an astronomer, not a young child.
Yup, because astronomers always theorize about where heaven is.

Skye tells us her mother used to be a famous opera/Broadway singer, but she clearly didn't take very good care of her voice, because one morning "she woke up, and she couldn't hit many of the opera notes anymore." So she decided to be a scientist instead, and met Layland Leontiou. She says her mom used to sing her to sleep with songs from Phantom of the Opera all the time, which makes me visualize The Point of No Return as a lullaby and makes me giggle. They then talk about Trans-Siberian Orchestra for awhile in pretty specific detail.

Skye asks them to pray with her before they leave her room, but they don't want to, so they ask her to pray. This one must not be as stunningly honest and passionate though, because when she finishes, they just say good night and leave.

Morgan heads downstairs to say good night to Maya (he didn't do that before he went upstairs in the first place?). Maya offers him these pleasant parting thoughts:
“Don’t you dare hurt that child. Good night, Sir.”
He is, needless to say, a little taken aback by this, so he goes upstairs and sits in a chair by Skye's bed and watches her sleep, because THAT isn't a terrifying thing to do if you're a man who is not her father and has only spent a grand total of maybe 2 weeks with her.

He prays silently, although we're not told what he prays, and when he's finished, he hears a voice say, "Take care of them."

That's nice that God answered him out loud. Although it would have been way more fun on Rothdiener's part if he actually said, "If you build it, he will come."

(Chapter 20.)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Man Who Carried His Wife

HEY, I have a blog post for Wednesday! Someday I'll get back into the swing of actual blogging, but for now, this conversation happened in RinkChat and it made me laugh so hard I figured I should share it. Read on, those who appreciate snark.

Me: Ugh, this story is making its way around my Facebook with people being all, "This is the most romantic story of all time!"
Me: Snopes' final paragraph on it is great: "Is any of this a true story? With the authorship of the piece unknown we cannot authoritatively label the tale false, but we suspect that wives in the final throes of cancer who are confronted with adulterous husbands intent upon divorce likely don't get their spouses to agree to cart them around the house for a month, with the intent of dying on them before that time is up."
Goosey: Oh ugh
Leen: Hmm, never seen that one before.
Leen: That story, I mean.
Goosey: I was reading it thinking it was a nice story UNTIL she died, and I was like "Oh WHAT? This is not true. Ruined now."
Me: Haha, right? I was like, "OK, this is a little cheesy, but kind of sweet... Oh, wait, WHAT? Gah."
Goosey: Oh yeah, see? I like the original ending.
Me: Leen: I'm pretty sure I used to see it on MySpace.
Leen: Wow, that is old!
Leen: I don't know how I've missed it.
Me: Yeah. Heh.
Me: It still all rings very false to me, even the happy ending, but I understand people believing it's a true story. But that sudden death ending is just bizarre and reeks of 16-year-olds going, "NOW IT IS DEEP AND MEANINGFUL."
Goosey: Well no, not even that with the happy ending it was necessarily true, but with the sad ending it's just horribly manipulative.
Sam: Oh my gosh. That is the worst-written story ever.
Goosey: lol Sam
Sam: It's terrible even before the end, but that ending is so lame. You're right, it reads like a 16-year-old's idea of something shocking and profound, but really it's just manipulative artifice.
Goosey: yup
Me: Sam: Exactly.
Sam: With just a tiny bit of rewording here and there, I could put that on Pea Soup for the Cynic's Soul.
Goosey: haha dooo it
Me: It really does read like that.
Sam: Just need to strip out the moral at the end.
Leen: lol
Sam: "That evening, I arrived at home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, she was dead of cancer. THE END."
Goosey: LOL
Sam: There's a fine line between comedy and tragedy.
Goosey: A fine dotted line sometimes
iwpg: LOL
Sam: Haha, apparently in that snopes article they say that that's how the story WAS for a time.
Sam: The sad ending was added to the original, which was more upbeat, and it wasn't until some time after THAT that the cause of death and closing moral message were added.
Sam: That's awesome.
Sam: Exactly the sort of thing the Internet would do.
Goosey: hehehe
Leen: It kinda reminds me of a Hallmark movie, but Hallmark would put a happy twist on the ending.
Goosey: With another slight rewording you can turn it into a ghost story where she had already foudn out about his infidelity and killed herself, and came back as a ghost to haunt him into being faithful again.
Sam: hahaha
Sam: "You see, John, I died three months ago."
TalkingDog: ooooOOooooOoooOOooooooo
Goosey: " and he looked down as saw he was carrying a SKELETON AAAAAAHHHHHH!"
Goosey: Or he went mad with grief and hallucinated carrying her every day so he could make it up to her posthumously
Sam: Yeah, at the end Jane comes around to their house, intent on facing them both down once and for all, and she just sees him walking down the stairs with his empty arms stretched out in front of him.
Goosey: YES
Goosey: And then Jane either gets him committed and swears off married men, or she nurses him back to mental health and they get married.
Sam: No wait. He KILLS his wife, then fantasizes she's still alive, as some sort of way to fantasize a redemption for himself. So Jane comes around and sees him carrying his wife's DEAD BODY down the stairs.
Goosey: And then in the SEQUEL Jane is haunted to death by the ghost of the wife.
Goosey: Jane and her new boyfriend, who is a married man, but she doesn't know it.
Sam: Then it turns out that the couple's kid is actually a werewolf nazi.
Goosey: LOL LOL
Goosey: That's for Title: The Revenge
TalkingDog: With a heart of gold?
Goosey: TD: YES
Me: This is turning into the best film franchise of all time.
Sam: ACTUAL gold.
Goosey: Jilted: The Trilogy
Sam: The other characters find out and try to kill him for the priceless fortune inside him!
Sam: The movie poster tagline: "How do you drive a stake through a heart of gold?"
TalkingDog: That rules.
Goosey: And THEN in the 4th movie, which will come out nearly two decades after the others, HIS ghost comes back and rips the hearts out of them and everybody they love, and is finally taken down by a group of college freshman spending fall break in a cabin in the woods.
Goosey: Who are all having affairs with married people.
Goosey: With cancer.
Sam: I feel we've diverged somewhat from the text of the original story, while keeping true to the spirit of its message.