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Coal Miner's Daughter [06 Jan 2010|02:01pm]

This is one of my favorite passage's from Loretta Lynn's Coal Miner's Daughter, her account of growing up in Butcher Holler, KY. Enjoy!

"But Daddy had his own pet—a black snake that used to crawl up from the cracks in the floor. Every time we had dinner, Daddy would feed it. When Jay Lee was born, that black snake crawled right into the crib and curled up with Jay Lee. Daddy said that black snakes are harmless, which they are, but when he went to the mines, Mommy killed it with an ax because she just couldn’t stand the idea of a snake being in bed with Jay Lee. Daddy was mighty mad ‘cause he missed his black snake."

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Midnight Train to Georgia [28 Apr 2009|12:57am]
I know I post way too much, so I'll try to curb myself.

I'm leaving for Georgia on Wednesday (tomorrow?). My friend John, who helped me survive grad school, lives in Rome, about an hour northwest of Atlanta. We're both so close to be doing with our dissertations that we decided to get together, go to some libraries, and just work. I have a lot to do, but I think this is a good plan. When I talked to my dissertation director last week, I was hoping to set up a defense date, but he didn't want to--he wanted more theory (he always wants more damn theory!). So my goal this next week is to redo some of my intro to explain exactly why I'm not going abstract theory on this thing. Hopefully, he'll be satisfied. And as rewards, I've demanded a trip to Etowah Mounds (an Indian mound site) and John suggested the Puppetry Center, which we always meant to go to while at Auburn but never did.

Digression: Once, when I was looking for a book in Auburn's library, I stumbled across a book called Postmodern Puppetry. I probably should have spent some time looking through it, but I was somewhat horrified by the fact that someone wrote a whole book on a topic like that.

Ever start so many books that you despair of ever finishing any of them? I'm in that spot, with Francis Parkman's Oregon Trail, Stendhal's The Charterhouse of Parma, DH Lawrence's The Plumed Serpent, VS Naipaul's book on the colonial history of Trinidad (I can't remember the title), Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians, and a couple of books on Roswell for an upcoming roadtrip with my friend Mike all partially read. And none of this includes that ridiculously long pinnacle of modernism, Swann's Way, that I should have started already for a book group I'm part of now. And even that doesn't mention Vanity Fair, which I've been wanting to start since January. I need some help...and then there's always the reader's problem when traveling--how many books to take? And which ones?
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[10 Nov 2008|05:02pm]

Okay, this post may be exasperating, but I'm pretty exasperated myself. I joined facebook a few months ago, and ended up catching up with some people I used to know in my high school youth group. Seemed cool until election time neared. Then I began to realize not everyone who grows up fundamentalist becomes more rational and open-minded as time goes on--some stay really far on the right. Some facebook comments from the night of the election and in the days following:

"I'm wondering if Iran will bomb Israel during the inauguration or will they wait a week or two? God help us. We deserve what we get for electing this imbecile"

I will be clinging to both my God and my guns very tightly. In fact, I think we might need to go and buy a few more guns this weekend”

On the movie Body of Lies: “watching terrorists blow people up wasn't the best thing for me to watch the week that we elect someone who wants to make friends with Ahmadinejab”

"I'm in disbelief that we elected someone who refuses to put his hand over his heart and painted over the flag on his plane - people have died for that flag."

The troubling thing is that these quotes are from two girls I knew who went on to be pretty educated and who live in real, live cities--no backwoods, married-right-out-of-highschool deal. I hope I'm not verging on a rant here, but how hard is it to simply disagree with someone, vote for someone else, and not demonize the person you didn't vote for? How much more simplistic and reactionary can these comments get?

Oh, and [info]lbangs? Two of these quotes are from someone who attended OBU!

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Urban Exploring [07 Jul 2008|03:25pm]
[ mood | grave ]

 Not much going on, except that I am now thirty-three years old. The age Christ is supposed to have died. Don't know exactly why I brought it up, except it sounds sort of profound and forboding. Borders sent me a 25% off coupon for my birthday (how sweet!), and I went and bought myself a novel by Graham Greene, an author I really like (The Power and the Glory is one of my favorite novels). 

Last week, my friend John came for a few days from Georgia, and first thing we did was go to see Howard Hughes' grave, in an old cemetery shaded by massive live oaks near downtown Houston. We joked that we should have left a small jar of urine as a tribute, but alas, we had no jars. Gene Tierney, who was married to Hughes and played the title role in Laura, is buried nearby. To cap off the night, we had to rewatch The Aviator, right? I think I enjoyed even more the second time.

Once we went to one cemetery we got interested in finding some others, so we ended up (with help from my friend Chris) tracking down Olivewood Cemetery, the first cemetery for freed blacks in Houston. It had been abandoned for many years and only recently have volunteers cleared out some of the brush, so it's not easy to find. But find it we did--on the south bank of a bayou, behind a grocery supply warehouse. Many of the stones were fallen over and broken due to trees and shrubs growing up everywhere, but many of the stones we could read dated back to the 1860s--one minister's grave read that he was "Murdered in Dallas" back in the 1890s. I hope the committment to clean up the site perseveres.

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Heaven Is a Police State? [24 Jun 2008|10:42pm]
[ mood | happenin' ]

I rarely remember my dreams, but this morning I woke up and realized that in one part of my dream that I woke up from, I was printing bumper stickers that said "HEAVEN IS A POLICE STATE." I was printing them by the thousands and somehow convinced I would sell every single one. I remember I was really angry as I was printing them--whatever the slogan meant, I absolutely believed it.

I saw The Happening tonight--oh man, is it bad... I'm someone who even liked Signs and The Village, but this was just too much. Stilted acting, bad dialogue, in-your-face "moral"--yuck! A great environment-gets-revenge can be made (and has, Hitchcock's The Birds), but this was definitely not it. I felt embarrassed watching it. That sound you heard was me being one of the last to jump off the Shyamalan bandwagon...

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[17 Jun 2008|01:58pm]
[ mood | noirish ]

 Well, I spent yesterday help a good friend and his wife pack up their Penske truck, so they could move to South Carolina. Sigh. Ironically, most of my close friends I've only met because we live in such a transient society--either they or I or both have moved somewhere where we met--but I also hate the fact that this same type of society means I don't live in the same town as any of them. Phone calls are good, e-mail is okay, and visits are great, but I really hate that I rarely see my friends. 

On a less self-pitying note, I had a bang-up dissertation weekend, writing over six pages! Still a ways to go, but every page gets me closer, and I'm right at 175 pages total. And to think, I used to dread the 7-10 page research papers I was assigned as an undergrad. 

I also took breaks this weekend watching two of the neo-noirs of John Dahl: Red Rock West and The Last Seduction. They both hold up really well, but it's almost criminal that almost no one has seen Red Rock West (at least The Last Seduction got some attention).

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The Final Post--Forever? [18 May 2008|11:10pm]
[ mood | ghastly ]

 Okay, it has definitely been too long since a post. 

Tomorrow my friend Mike comes to visit, and Tuesday morning we are getting up and driving into the heart of East Texas (a place Col. Kurtz might find himself comfortable in) to visit a couple of small towns supposedly full of haunted sites. Yes, it may be silly, but when you live in one of the most generic suburbs in the galaxy, trips like this feel like a pilgrimage to Mecca. For those of my livejournal friends who live in Oklahoma (all two of you), you may be interested to know that erstwhile Okie Karen Silkwood, fatally poisoned by mean ol' nuclear plant owners, is buried in East Texas. Legend has it that she received such a dose of radiation that her grave glows at night. I don't remember that in the Cher-Meryl Streep film! I don't know if we'll get around to her grave though. We will go, however, to a small town called Jefferson, once a rollicking, prosperous riverboat town in the late 19th century until Shreveport put it out of business. Many people got killed there, and so today the economy is at least partly based on all the ghosts just wandering around. 

If we don't return, goodbye.

If I do return, maybe I'll finally get going again on my dissertation...

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Quiz: Unfinished Novels [31 Jan 2008|12:29am]
[ mood | quizzical ]

 First of all, a quiz. I am reading a novel, Weir of Hermiston, that was left unfinished at the time of its author's death. That got me thinking about other notable unfinished novels. I'll list some I came up with, and you guys see if you can tell me who wrote them--cool?

1. Weir of Hermiston
2. Sanditon
3. The Love of the Last Tycoon/F. Scott Fitzgerald
4. The Castle/Franz Kafka
5. The Mystery of Edwin Drood/Charles Dickens
6. The Garden of Eden
7. No. 44 (alternate title: The Mysterious Stranger)
8. Answered Prayers
9. The Ivory Tower
10. Juneteenth/Ralph Ellison
11. The Original of Laura

Most of these were left unfinished by the author's death, but in at least a couple of cases, the author abandoned the work years earlier. In all cases but one, the work was published posthumously, but in one case, the fate of the novel is still uncertain--the estate may destroy it because of the author's wishes. Any books I'm overlooking?


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Bookmongers, Unite! [27 Aug 2007|10:21am]
[ mood | pleasantly anxious ]

Today, phase two of "Operation Live at Home and Finish Dissertation" begins--instead of subbing this coming year, I start a job at a local bookstore! I believe this will be a lot less stressful and exhausting. I'm not sure exactly what my responsibilities will be, but apparently employees rotate among the coffee shop, books, and magazines. In my interview I told them I was pretty knowledgable about books, and I guess they believed me;)

Wish me luck!

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Interview by lilbrigid [22 Aug 2007|08:49pm]
Okay, here goes:

1. What's your earliest childhood memory? How old were you? I recall my mom opening our pantry door when I was perhaps three and seeing a bunch of baby mice come running out when she swept a broom around at the back (she must have known they were there). They ran in different directions, under the refrigerator or stove. I cried about them getting lost, but my mom assured me they would all find each other and their mommy outside and find a new home. Actually, I still hope they did.

2. Who do you like for president right now? If you are unimpressed by the choices, what kind of person do you wish was running? Why? Obama seems intriguing, but I'll see how he holds up for the next fifteen months (or maybe six, if he's unlucky). A couple of years ago, I would have said McCain because he seemed so free from partisan control, but his charisma and appeal has dried up for some reason. I would love to see someone who didn't have to pander to the extreme right or left in order to win the nomination--won't happen though.

3. What is your best quality? Wow! This one reminds me of all the ridiculous self-glorifying essays I had to write with grad school applications;) I would say I can be empathetic (or just extremely sympathetic?). I also don't keep grudges, although at times I wish I could...

4. What movie have you seen more than any other? What's the reason? Probably either Ferris Bueller's Day Off or Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. I started loving these movies when I was younger, and while I don't watch either all that often now, both still have witty and intelligent scripts and good acting (even Keanu!). I particularly love the history jokes in Bill and Ted's.

5. Of your family members, with whom are you the closest? Who are you the most and least like? I'm closest to my mom, who I'm most like. We're both on the shy side, sensitive, and have a warped sense of humor. I'm least like my dad, who I consider judgmental and insensitive. Unfortunately, living at home has made me lose even more respect for him. But we get along all right, I guess.
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Navel Gazing about Journals [02 Aug 2007|11:48am]
I wonder what other people's experiences are with continuing journals, whether online or written?

Once in awhile I might go a month or two with no posts on livejournal, but for the most part, I'm pleasantly surprised with myself that I've kept up with this for over two years. Sometimes, I have to plan ahead and ecide what I'm going to post on the next day because I'm so good at spontaneously spinning out tales of my day. Other times, I have to make myself post because I know if I let myself go too long, it will be difficult to get going again. And, of course, I'm happy later that I made myself post. Interestingly, I've found that even posting short entries regularly helps me stay in the groove of writing in other ways, even dissertation stuff.

For years, I wished I could also keep a traditional written journal, but I had no ability to do that--I am certainly not the "Dear Diary" type, writing my reflections and /or feelings down, but I eventually found a method that worked for me. I have two different journals right now, each focused on a different type of entry. One is a travel journal, and I take it along when I visit friends or even go on day trips to see something interesting. I've kept this journal for over two years as well, and I already enjoy flipping back through it to remember all the details of some great trips. The other journal is my journal of the weird, mysterious, and conspiratorial. Sometimes it overlaps with the travel journal, as when I wrote about my trip to see lbangs in my travel journal, but then wrote an in-depth entry on the Heavener Runestone in my other journal. I also write out synopses and impressions of books about pseudo-historical or pseudo-scientific works, since I often use that kind of stuff when I teach composition classes. One of the last entries in my journal of the strange was my memories of witnessing an "exorcism" when I was a freshman in college. I con't want to forget anything that happened that night, partly because I'm still not sure what happened or whether I even believe in possession. All I can say is it was one of the most terrifying things I've ever experienced.

I also love sports, as you may have picked up on, especially the Houston Astros, but also Auburn Tigers football, but most of the people I know on livejournal aren't much into sports, so I usually refrain from posting much in that vein. But last week, I discovered that sportingnews.com lets users sign up for sports-themed blogs, so I went ahead and set one up. Of course, since I don't rant and rave like some sports fans, mine could very easily get lost in the shuffle there, but I have really enjoyed my first two posts, getting to write about something I don't normally feel free to write on.

So, does anyone else have multiple journals or blogs for different interests or types of writing?
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Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun [30 Jul 2007|12:45pm]
Saw Sunshine yesterday. Hmm, what to say? Well, first of all I love the Alien template: a small crew, deep in space on a ship, getting a distress signal. Sadly, Sunshine doesn't do much with the promising situation. As long as the film seemed episodic, with the crew periodically discussing chances of success and fear of dying, tending the flourishing garden (nice nod to Silent Running), and talking to the computer, Icarus ("Mother," anyone?), it held together well and was engrossing. Ironically, only when the film finally tries to focus on one plot element, exciting as it is supposed to be, does the film fall apart. By the end, I was reminded of another child of Alien that ended so disappointingly: Event Horizon. Danny Boyle even could have had Sam Neill play the guy with a god complex--it would have seemed a reprise.

One of my favorite Astros, Morgan Ensberg, was designated for assignment yesterday, meaning he will be released in the next week or so. He has not been a productive player for the last season and a half, so no real surprise, but everything I ever read on him stressed what a great guy and teammate he was, with much of his humble attitude coming from a terrifying incident several years ago in which he was tied up and held at gunpoint by two robbers at his spring training motel. In a perfect world guys like Ensberg would be the ones to always succeed, instead of monsters from the id like Barry Bonds, but, alas, life doesn't work that way. I wish Morgan luck. Judging by the way his teammates sought him out to say goodbye, I believe they wish him luck as well.
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Wedded Bliss and Other Tales... [25 Jul 2007|09:51pm]
Laura and William, my sister and brother-in-law finally got back in yesterday, and I helped them move into their new apartment, which wasn't too difficult considering they have no furniture! I did offer to loan them my bed and sofa, which have been in my storage unit collecting dust, so that may kill two birds with one stone--they won't have to shell out for furniture right now and my stuff isn't moldering away. They also bought a new Toyota Yaris tonight and came by in it--pretty snazzy and futuristic. 

I applied for a job at a small, local hardware store today. Sounds crazy, I know, but it's close, the people who work there seem really laid back, and it doesn't involve worrying about whether the class I sub for is full of cool kids of future delinquents. They sounded like the job was mine if I wanted it, but it wouldn't start until mid-August, after the summer kids have gone back to school. In the meantime, I don't know if it is the right way to go. It is full-time, so it leaves less time for dissertation, but I need to make some extra money to pay off the exorbitant out-of-state tuition bill for Auburn I still have from last fall. I could also go the temp route. Sigh. Any insights?
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Harboring Delusions [23 Jul 2007|11:19am]

Good news: I emailed my third chapter to my committee chair last week. Less good news: I already realize several places that need to be revised, and this before I've gotten any feedback! Well, at least it's easier to revise than to write from nothing.

My friend Martin, who now lives in Pennsylvania, came down with his wife and two daughters (including my god-daughter, Elspeth) for a couple of weeks because his sister was having a baby. Last Monday, we took time to take a trip down to Corpus Christi for the day. We drove along Shoreline Drive, taking in the bay. We accidently drove onto the Naval Air Station, where we were lectured sternly by the guard at the gate, and I was told to hand over my license for examination. We stopped and watched skaters at a skate park on the beach, who were listening to Sublime--it seemed eerily SoCal. We ate seafood at a recommended seafood joint called Snoopy's, literally located on a mud flat a few feet above the bay and almost directly under the huge causeway over to Padre Island (don't expect this place to survive the next hurricane). We discovered Whataburger's national headquarters. And we capped the day, by going to a Corpus Christi Hooks game; they are the AA affiliate of my beloved Astros. They play in the three-year old Whataburger Field, which is located with a spectacular view of the Harbor Bridge leaping up over the right field fence. The bridge is so high because it spans part of the port, and two times during the game, huge tankers glided by just yards away from the park. 

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Hodge Podge [08 Jul 2007|06:02pm]
Usually, when I haven't posted in awhile, I feel all this pressure to post something lengthy and impressive, as if I'll make up for all the weeks (or months) I've missed. That way lies madness, so this will be short and hopefully sweet...

My sister's wedding in Chicago on June 30 went really well. She was beautiful, and the ceremony was too. This is about the seventh or eighth time I've been to Chicago, and I love it more every time I go. Maybe I'll say more about what I did another time, but suffice it to say, I walked a lot and rode the "L" a little. Oh, and I had Chicago-style pizza one night, and tapas another. Wow!

My third chapter is behind schedule (I wanted it done late May/early June), but I just need to insert some quotes and do a first revision, and I'll be sending it off to my committee chair. This means I'm roughly 60% done!

28 Weeks Later made me motion sick. I think it was good, but I literally had my head down and eyes closed for much of it...

Frank Norris's McTeague is a great novel. The Pit, Norris's last novel, is not as great, but it definitely has some moments.

I also developed photos from a recent trip exploring a mysterious runestone in the SE corner of a neighboring state. If I get around to it, I will send doubles of them to a certain friend of mine who may have accompanied me;)

I like The Runaways. "Cherry Bomb" was just the beginning.
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Embrace the Gnome! [05 May 2007|08:02pm]
[ mood | my spidey sense is tingling ]

Did you enjoy Cinco de Mayo, mis amigos? I saw a Cinco de Mayo program at the elementary school yesterday that explained it all--the climactic scene, with the Mexicans armed with sticks and brooms fighting off the heavily armed French, was pretty good. The students who got to be French soldiers really got into the dramatic wielding of swords, even though they were routed and had to flee the stage...

I also went to the multiplex this morning to catch a four-dollar special matinee of Spiderman 3. The 10:00 showing was already sold out by 9:30, when I got there, so I got a ticket for the 10:30 show and had a great time. I've felt like the wave of superhero movies has had its ups (the X-Men films) and its downs (last summer's chemistry-less Superman Returns) but Spiderman 3 ranks with the best. The story and characters were strong, and the movie actually drew me in emotionally, which I was surprised by. Highly recommended.

My mom's birthday is coming up this week (yes, she has the "birthday-too-close-to-Christmas" syndrome, only with Mother's Day), and I got her a Garden Gnome. Yes, you read that right. A Garden Gnome. Before you criticize me for not getting her a bracelet or earrings or something, let me explain. I admit that I'm not sure she will love it, but she does love lava lamps, plasma lamps, all sorts of novelty items like that, so I'm going out on a limb and branching out with my gifts (boy, those two metaphors worked well together!). Besides, she doesn't get very excited by jewelry and perfume. So give me points for creativity, okay?

One last note: the gnome reminds me of trolls and how they were considered eveil/demonic by certain Christians I grew up with. When I was an undergraduate at Mary Hardin-Baylor (a Southern Baptist institution), one girl I knew refused to enter her room one day until her roommate got rid of the trolls she had just received from home and had set up around the room. Satanic influence and all that. The roommate ended up throwing them away. I mean, they were ugly as sin, but I'm not sure that means they are sin!

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That's Right: Best. Sub. Ever. [01 May 2007|09:45am]
I've been subbing quite a bit the last couple of weeks, and I'm enjoying it more since I decided not to sub for the high school or middle school anymore--it's elementary all the way! I still encounter some trouble-makers (like the two third-graders yesterday who got in-school suspension for peeing in the bathroom sinks), but at least they don't act surly the way too many of the high schoolers do. Yesterday, another student informed me that when he grows up he will either be an architect or "in the service because I have the skills the service needs." Wha--?! Our military needs skills that third-graders possess? I was afraid to ask what these special "skills" could be. Best of all, last week, in a second-grade class, I even got several drawings from students that proclaimed me "Best Sub Ever!" Can I put that on my CV?

I've also managed to squeeze in a few movies--The Hoax (which I didn't like all that much), a revival of Clash of the Titans (as cheesy and enjoyable as I remembered), Meet the Robinsons (okay), and Disturbia (wow! I loved it!).

Disturbia had a few things going for it, besides a good story and likable characters--it had the goofy yet intelligent Asian sidekick in the tradition of Data from the Goonies and this piece of Dawson's Creek-like dialogue:
                Girl: You've been watching me? What did you see?
                Guy: I've seen you reading. And I don't mean Us Weekly--I mean substantial reading...
                Girl: That is either the sweetest or the creepiest thing I've ever heard. 
                (They kiss)

I mean, how can you not love that? Voyuerism and substantial reading?
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Don't Let the Wolf Out [14 Apr 2007|01:57pm]
[ mood | lupine ]

Occasionally my sister and I will watch a movie we loved watching over and over when we were kids. I can happily report that Ferris Bueller's Day Off, War Games, and Goonies are still great; Project X (Matthew Broderick and Helen Hunt save lab monkeys--remember?) is okay. But last night? Oh boy, we watched Teen Wolf, and let me tell you, it is atrocious. So low-budget, the soundtrack sounded like copyright-free synth cheese, and despite lasting only ninety minutes, it seemed to go on forever. Even the "car-surfing" scenes that I remembered from the controversy of several kids supposedly dying after trying it themselves, disappointed. For werewolves, I will stick to An American Werewolf in London and The Howling.

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Why Yes, It Is Early [11 Apr 2007|06:32am]
[ mood | coached ]

If I'm posting at 6:30 in the a.m., it can only mean one thing--substituting! Yes, today I will be one of the P.E. teachers for the elementary school. Last week, I worked one day in the gym, and it was strange to hear kids call me "Coach." I'm not the most athletic person in the world, but I kind of like being known (temporarily) as Coach.

My sister's fiancee was here this last weekend, and I hung out with them a little bit. We went to see 300, despite the fact that I argued for Grindhouse very persuasively. I'm glad I saw 300 though; it is very impressive visually, even if the plot leaves a lot to be desired. I was a little disappointed in the simplicity of the Spartans/freedom vs. Persians/slavery dichotomy (I was under the impression the Spartans weren't exactly, you know, free), and I kept imagining how it was the kind of film (race and violence mixed) that Hitler would have loved back in the day. But, hey, just because Hitler would have liked it, doesn't mean I can't, right?

And may I just say, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one excellent book...

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I Prefer Skybar to The Viper Room [03 Apr 2007|09:06am]
[ mood | sugary ]

Two weeks ago, lbangs emailed me for my address, but he cryptically never told me why; naturally, I have been wondering what might be coming my way ever since. And then Saturday, I opened the mailbox to find a package from none other than lj superstar lilbrigid! When I opened it, what should I find but one of the elusive but storied candy bars called "Skybar"? For those not in the know, Skybar consists of four segments, each hollow--here's where it gets crazy--and each filled with a different type of filling! Fudge, peanut, vanilla, and caramel make up the four delicious segments. I had never seen one in real life, so of course, I was excited--who wouldn't be? That evening, I determined to eat two of the segments and save two, so I had caramel and vanilla, and put the rest away; sadly, within the hour, I craved the other two segments, so I dug the Skybar back out and ate them...I have no remorse. Thanks guys, that was a fun gift;)

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