Posted on July 7th, 2010 by annakjarzab
I went to see Eclipse this weekend. Because I’m a lady, and that’s what ladies do. Duh! Right? Wrong? Whatever. The point is, I paid $13 to see it in a theater instead of watching it illegally for free on my computer. And it was totally fine, just like the other movies. I felt like it was pretty close to the book, which is, I feel, one of the slight problems with the Twilight Saga movies. They’re so fixated on following the books closely that they don’t entirely fly on their own as creative endeavors. I feel like they’re a challenge, like they’re daring me to go ahead and compare it to the book and try to find fault. Which is annoying. Because first of all, I only read Eclipse once and I still maintain that if you can skip New Moon and Eclipse and still enjoy the basic arc of the Twilight story. So I don’t know that I think there’s anything remarkable or important about Eclipse as a book, and I certainly retained almost no details from it. And secondly, I just want to sit and eat some popcorn and enjoy a film, but also I want to be entertained by something new. It doesn’t all have to be new, it certainly shouldn’t be, but I’d appreciate it if some things were.
And the ways in which the movies do deviate are sort of absurd? Like how Chris Weitz put that scene where Edward gets thrown against the marble floor in the Volturi’s lair and his face cracks a little and at the time I was like, that’s not a thing, but then I was watching New Moon with director’s commentary and Weitz was like, “Yeah, that’s not a thing, but we thought it was cool,” and I thought, “Yes, that is cool, but CAN OF WORMS!” Which is basically why, in Eclipse, it’s like all the vampires have been submerged in liquid nitrogen? And you can just break their hands off? So what’s so hard about killing them, anyway, if you’re also a vampire? I mean, I get that a human wouldn’t have the strength to, say, smash a vampire’s head in, but if you’re also a vampire then you’re all set? You can totally do that? Weird. Wasn’t there a whole song and dance in Twilight about how hard vampires are to kill and it takes the whole Cullen clan to kill James and they have to decapitate and burn him immediately or else he regenerates something something something…I feel like we’re starting to lose our grip on logic, here. All because Weitz thought putting a crack in Edward’s face because he’s described as feeling like he’s made of marble was cool. Which it was! But now we have this:
INSERT GIF OF RILEY LOOKING AT HIS BROKEN-OFF HAND AND SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER HERE. I can’t find one. If you do, email me. For now, you get this:
Okay so ANYWAY. Also, remember how becoming a vampire makes you, like, INSANELY HOT? Then explain to me why Victoria and Riley’s army of vampires looks like an army of homeless people. I get that they are, indeed, homeless people who have been turned into vampires (right?), but they’re supposed to get hot. Why are they all so fugly? Even Bree Tanner, whose name I wouldn’t even know if Stephenie Meyer hadn’t released that book about her a few months ago, was sort of whatever. She’s a little girl. Not exactly someone who would lure me in so that she could feast on me. And she has lines! Hm.
After being a little outraged at the Victoria recast (only on principle), I’ve decided that I think Bryce Dallas Howard, however much I disliked her in Spiderman 3, works well. She’s…sexier, than Rachelle Lefevre? Or sexy in a different way? I just feel like, Rachelle Lefevre’s version of Victoria would not NEED Riley or his band of pirate hooker vampires…she’s pretty good at kicking ass and taking names herself. This new Victoria is weaker, and needier, and thus makes more sense for the story. Character inconsistency? Yes. But I don’t entirely believe that Edward could kill the Lefevre Victoria. She’s just too good at her job.
Is it too obvious to object to the random insertion of the Volturi in this movie? They’re not in the book. I’d say it’s pretty absurd for them to come all the way to freakin’ Forks, WA only to skulk on rooftops and generally not accomplish anything at all until the last scene when they rip a girl’s head off for no good reason, except that’s exactly what they do in Breaking Dawn except in that case you need to substitute “rip a girl’s head off” with “burn a girl at the stake” (spoiler) and replace “for no good reason” with “for being the worst.” But they still come into town and skulk around and use their freaky powers just for fun. I like the idea that the Volturi are just insane after all these years and do ridiculous melodramatic nonsense because the mood catches them. I just think it only works so many times, y’know?
But I get it, they had to include Dakota Fanning in the script because contracts or whatever.
Okay, actually, I just read the Wikipedia description of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner and now apparently the Volturi DO show up? Of course, the convo they have with Victoria in Bree doesn’t actually happen in the movie. They just…decide to let her try to wipe out the Cullens? Because: entertainment? Or am I totally misremembering Eclipse? Absolutely possible.
And what was UP with Jasper’s hair and accent? I can’t even choose which one I was offended by the most. If vampires don’t ever change, does their hair really grow? I mean, I get the continuity from the Civil War to now, but what about those intervening two movies when he didn’t have lady hair? Am I wrong? I’m not wrong. Also, Jackson Rathbone, that accent–woof! Though, to be fair, I found this moment pretty damn cute:
You see, I love the Cullens, and I wish we had more moments of them being cute in their cutey-cute couples. You don’t even get any sense of Rosalie and Emmett as a couple in the movies! It’s very annoying to me.
Whatevs, it was a movie. It was okay. I liked going with my friends to see it, that’s the best part for me. You know, when my roommate and her friend and I were standing in line while our other friends went to Duane Reade to buy toilet paper (multitaskers), we were cracking up because there were a bunch of dudes there with their girlfriends, and it wasn’t like, oh, waah, I have to go see this dumb vampire movie because my girlfriend’s making me, it’s like, “COME ON BABY, WE GOTTA GET GOOD SEATS!” They were totally into it. And the girlfriends are looking at us like, “WTF, we didn’t even invite them.”
Wasn’t this a good review? Totally worth reading? If you made it to the end, I salute you.
Posted on April 5th, 2009 by admin
Welcome! One assumes you didn’t reach this page by accident, that you kind of already know what you’re getting into, but if not let me quickly explain: my name is Anna Jarzab and this is my website. I’m a young adult author and my first novel, a mystery set in Northern California called All Unquiet Things, is available from Delacorte, an imprint of Random House. My second novel, The Opposite of Hallelujah, is also now available! My third novel, Tandem, which is the first in a trilogy, came out in fall 2013. The sequel, Tether, will be out in the spring of 2015.
If you’re interested in learning more about my books, click here. If you’re wondering just who the heck I am or how I pronounce my weird last name, click here. If you’re thinking, “How come so many dolls?”, click here. If you’re like, “This girl seems really fun and interesting and to tide me over until I can get to the store to buy one of her books I’d like to read her thoughts about writing and toilet paper and Twilight“, well then have I got the blog for you! To be honest, though, I mostly blog on Tumblr now.
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Posted on December 4th, 2008 by Anna Jarzab
I just got an email from my friend Katie, who I sometimes mention on this blog, NOT THAT SHE EVER LEAVES COMMENTS OR ANYTHING I MEAN REALLY. It went a little something like this:
Posted on November 25th, 2008 by Anna Jarzab
There are a lot of things I don’t like about living in New York, and if you asked me I could list them off to you by memory. Like how sometimes it’s the early morning and you’re on the train headed to work and you’ve finally gotten a seat and then suddenly a voice comes over the loud speaker and says that the local train you’re on, the one you ride EVERY MORNING, for some reason (it’s always “train traffic,” the vaguest explanation ever) is going to start going express from 72nd to Chambers. Because your office isn’t anywhere near an express stop, you have to get off, and wait on the other end of the platform for yet another local train to take you to work. This might not seem like a big deal in the context of, like, a global financial crisis or anything, but it is very, very annoying and, really, the last thing you need. The MTA is whackadoo today, people. I guess they’re just practicing their incompetence for the holidays.
BUT, there are some things I love about New York. Central Park. Dallas BBQ. Cupcakes. Convenient public transportation (MOST of the time). And, once a year, at that magical time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, THE CHARMIN BATHROOMS.
For those of you who don’t know, last year Charmin (the toilet paper people) opened a giant public restroom in Times Square. This place is amazing. It’s two stories and there’s, like, 20 private bathrooms. When I say “private” I mean that it’s as if you’re using the powder room in your parents’ house–they’re real rooms with doors that have knobs, not stalls. The lighting is fantastic, it’s perfectly spotless inside, you have your own sink, and six different kinds of toilet paper to choose from (they like you to vote on your favorite type after you’re finished with your business, and then you get coupons!).
There is a merchandise counter (I picked up a nice comfy Charmin t-shirt last year…which reminds me, I need to find that thing), sledding bears you can have your picture taken with (OH WE DID), charming and friendly personnel, pre-stamped postcards you can send to your friends and family (most of my peeps threw them out because they thought they were junk mail, but it’s the thought that counts, and the postcard also has a coupon), and a dance video they play on a loop which is catchy, but awesomely so. They have people outside dressed like toilets saying things like, “You know you gotta go!” but not in an annoyingly heckling manner like some of the other sales people yelling at you in Times Square.
I have some pictures of us at the Charmin Bathrooms last year, but I just checked and, yup, I look awful in them. Hopefully this year I’ll be more photogenic. Until then…
Posted on October 9th, 2008 by Anna Jarzab
Blurgh. Yesterday? Such a FAIL day. Nothing appeared to be going my way. I have to admit, I don’t really get in a funk that often. I mean, things bother me all the time–people being stupid on the subway, long lines at the bank, emails telling my bank account has dipped below $50 a week before payday–but I never seem to get down about them for too long. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m grumpy all the time, but I don’t feel like I am. Usually, I feel like, if you asked me to rate my life on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being THE WORST and 10 being TOTALLY AWESOME, I would probably put myself in the 5-6-7-8 range on an average day. Which isn’t too shabby.
But yesterday, oh my, for some reason, even though the things that happened weren’t that big of a deal, I just got so down about it.
First, my iPod is broken. Actually, it’s been broken for about a year now. I distinctly remember the headphone jack starting to crap out when I was in California last October on an extended unemployment holiday. I was taking my dog, Val, for a walk and then the audio on my iPod started going in and out. I thought it was the headphones, which were those cheap gummy kind JVC makes in a frillion different jelly bean colors that I hated that I ended up buying AGAIN about six months ago because they were $10, so I threw them out. It was not the headphones. It was the audio jack on the iPod. Eventually, it just settled on being broken so that I couldn’t hear out of the right headphone. That’s the way it’s been for a year until a few weeks ago, when it started getting crappy again, this time in both ears, and I’ve had to really jam the headphones in there to even get any sound out and I have to carry it very carefully so that the audio doesn’t kaput on me.
Okay, broken iPod. So, I let the Internet convince me that I could fix the problem myself–just order a new headphone jack/hold switch online, pop open the iPod, install the new jack, problem solved. NOT SO, my friends, not so.
A. Who knew an iPod was so damn hard to open? It’s a Herculean task. My friend Sunil finally got it open with the help of about three of those green “non-marring pry tools” they sent me (i.e. little green plastic things that are supposed to help you open it but have no leverage because they are made out of soft plastic that is supposed to not damage your iPod but instead prevents them from doing their job).
B. Immediately when we opened the iPod, two tiny black screws fell out. I would later discover that those screws are supposed to hold in the audio jack. So, who wants to be that my problem isn’t the jack, it’s the fact that the screws had come undone? But I bought the new jack, you know I was going to use it.
C. Trying to replace your iPod’s screen (like my friend Mary did herself) is one thing; futzing around with the intestines of your iPod is probs not a good idea for a rank amateur. I don’t THINK I caused any damage, but there’s really no way of knowing. I followed the instructions, that’s all I can say.
D. I got the headphone jack removed and went to put the new one in and…it’s defective! Excitement. On the 30G iPod video 5G, the headphone jack and hold switch come in one piece, so you have to replace them together. Fine, whatever, except the one I had ordered didn’t come with a hold switch. So I couldn’t even fix the iPod yesterday and it’s sitting in my desk drawer at work in pieces and that made me feel really pathetic and small for some reason. The place I ordered it from promised to ship me a new one yesterday, but I probably won’t get it until tomorrow.
Okay, so if that wasn’t FAIL enough, I went home and decided to make some pasta for dinner. Except that I have a very tiny kitchen, so my strainer, which has a long handle like a saucepan instead of two handles, one on each side, like a reasonable strainer, sits on my stove in a frying pan when it’s not in use. I was boiling water right in front of the strainer and the metal handle got too close to the steam rising up from the boiling water and of course, because it is METAL, it heated up and so when I went to pick up the strainer to put it over the sink of course it was very very hot and I burned my hand. I ALWAYS DO THIS WHY WON’T I LEARN. Man.
And then–you guys, this is not over, the FAILing–I was cleaning a wine glass and it broke because it’s from IKEA and made from glass as thin as fairy wings, apparently, and a jagged shard sliced up my hand. And I was bleeding so much and had to put on several Band-Aids, one-handed, to cover the cut up and after I’d doused it in anti-bacterial wash (Band-Aid makes a really great ouch-free kind, BTW) and afixed all the bandages I just wanted to sit down on the floor of my bedroom and cry and cry and cry.
But I didn’t. I went into the kitchen, threw away the wine glass, took the trash out, went to the store to buy toilet paper because we were out, came home and called a friend to share this EDoF. Seriously, she answered the phone and it all came tumbling out, “My iPod’s broken and I burned myself making dinner and I sliced my hand open on a broken wine glass…and I can’t figure out what comes next in my new book!”
And it is thus that I discovered my real problem.
Posted on July 29th, 2009 by annakjarzab
I realize that it’s been a while since I talked about my current works in progress, and that’s probably because I’m a little bit stalled. I’m not panicking, because A.) it is fruitless and B.) I don’t expect to be stalled much longer. I think what’s been happening is that between all the traveling to California, weddings, graduations, friend and family visits, trivia, work and work-related shenanigans, and putting the finishing touches on AUT, plus life maintenance such as grocery shopping and laundry (el oh el as if I’ve done laundry) and assorted errands, I just haven’t had the time, and when I’ve had the time I haven’t had the energy, to write.
I also realize that I meant to put up a post about my trip to California in June, when I visited the semi-ghost towns up near Sacramento, and I never did that. Now would be a good time, I think, considering that it was all research for GR.
Here’s the thing about my writing this summer. I have about three projects that I’m actively thinking about/working on, albeit in the small spurts that I’ve been able to fit in to my schedule. One is “big”, in the sense that it’s probably going to be on the long-ish side (and considering that my YA debut is going to be 352 pages, you might want to adjust your definition of “long-ish” in this situation), and that it’s what I’m calling a quasi-post-apocalyptic pseudo-mystery. It’s sort of a thriller, too. It’s crazytown, basically, and I’ve been referring to it as GR.
Then there are two “smaller” books in that they are going to be shorter (probably shorter than AUT, although maybe not, who knows). One of them is a family-type drama, and one of them is a comedy (by my definition, at least–you should know that I consider MB a comedy, and it’s about a boy who goes missing and has the word “murder” in the title, so…). The family-type drama doesn’t have a name (well, I have one for it, but it’s ridiculous and I’m a little embarrassed of it, so here I will call it “Fluffy”), and the comedy has a tentative name that is pretty boring so here I will call it “Lancelot.” I probably won’t be talking about either of these much, to be honest, because they’re not that hard, they just require time at the computer and a steady hand.
GR, however, is the bane of my existence. There are these moments in writing where you know what you want the end product to look like, and you know what you have so far, and there is such a huge gulf between those two things that you think you’ll never get across it. It’s so discouraging. Right now, I’m 80 pages into GR and just verging on the start of the action, which is a PROBLEM, and also the story itself is losing steam. I had a hard time building an outline for GR, so I decided to write up to the point where my outline stopped and then try again, because I have beats I want to hit, ideas for scenes, the end, and a good grasp of the character arcs, but I don’t have a sure-fire plan as such. This morning I think I might have thought of a way to accelerate the action, and some pieces seem to have fallen into place because of that, so that’s good progress. I have a long weekend starting tomorrow, so I should be able to get at least some serious thinking done, if not any actual work.
But whatever! Vacation pictures. For whatever reason I’m pretty protective of GR, so while these pictures and explanations might give you an idea of what I’m doing with it, I’m not going to be explicit about how the places and things I show fit into the story–you’ll just have to guess. And wait.
Okay, so first of all, this is apropos of nothing, but my sister graduated from high school:
Fun facts: the last time I was sitting in that pavilion (at the Alameda County Fairgrounds) I was there to see a Björn Again concert. True story! Also, that blue dress I’m wearing, I wore that to every single event this summer: two weddings, two graduations, plus a bonus BEA! It’s getting a workout, but it’s cute so that’s okay.
Earlier that day, my mom and I had gone to the Winchester Mystery House, for my research purposes. I took so many pictures and videos that I can’t possibly post them all here, but trust me, this place is awesome. This was my third time going, and I had just as much fun as I did the first time. We took the big tour, which is the Mansion Tour plus the Behind the Scenes tour, plus the Garden Tour, although that’s free and self-guided. The only thing we didn’t do was the Winchester Firearms Museum, which I plan to go back and do over Christmas. If you’re ever in the Bay Area, believe me, the Winchester Mystery House is totally worth it and fun for the whole family.
BUT: It is not scary. You should see the billboards that are up on all the freeways in Northern California, they’ve got, like, skulls and crossbones on them and give you the impression that the WMH is a haunted house, but it’s not. They’ve got their ghost stories, of course, all old houses have them, but for the most part it’s just a really weird place. Sarah Winchester moved west from Connecticut in 1884, after the death of her only child, Annie, in infancy and her husband from tuberculosis. Back then, San Jose was a total farming community, so she purchased 162 acres of land, most of which was orchards, and an eight-room farmhouse, which she built upon for the next 38 years–twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to the tune of $5.5 million, which in today’s money would be about $70 million. ON A HOUSE. A house that was worthless after she died, because the eccentricity and, in some ways, impracticality of its design, its size, and the massive amounts of money it cost to keep it up made it unlivable for anyone who wasn’t Sarah Winchester. And even SHE had other homes.
The house from the front, facing Winchester Blvd.
Now, there are all sorts of stories about what Sarah Winchester did or didn’t believe, why she built the house the way she did, who she was, etc., but the truth was that she was very private and left behind no written account of her intentions with regards to the house–no letters, no journals, not even blueprints. They say she moved to San Jose because a medium in Boston told her to. Supposedly she believed herself to be haunted by the ghosts of those killed by the Winchester rifle, and the Boston medium told her that if she were to go west and build a house without ceasing, she would never die. Sarah could afford to do this because she was, like, a gazillionaire. Truly. She inherited $20 million after the death of her husband–and this was before there was income tax, so she got to keep it all–and 50% ownership of the Winchester Repeating Arms company, which provided a $1,000 a day allowance. That’s still a lot of money! Back then it was a huge fortune.
Stairs to the ceiling
Anyway, so she built this house, all day, every day, for almost forty years. She did eventually die, though, because obviously eternal life is bullshit. The house is crazytown because there are no blueprints and never were–she used to sketch out plans for rooms on napkins and scraps of paper and just hand them to her foreman. That’s why the place is a virtual maze, with stairways that lead to ceilings, cabinets that are one inch deep, chimneys that stop a foot before the roof, winding corridors, six kitchens, thirteen bathrooms, two basements, forty-seven fireplaces, and much more.
The Room Where Mrs. Winchester Died, or the Deadroom
A door leading out from the seance room–into the kitchen sink, a flight below.
Okay, like all good rich Victorian ladies, Sarah Winchester was something of a spiritualist, purportedly anyway. She had an interest in contacting the dead, which is understandable given the losses she suffered, and had a seance room built in her house for expressly that purpose, but there’s really no proof that she ever actually had seances in there. It’s kind of small. It does, however, have that weird door that leads to nothing but a short drop and a sudden stop, if you will. There’s a lot of things like that in the house. I don’t know what happened to the photos I took of the seance room, that one seems to be the only one I have at the moment. Hm.
The north conservatory
The thing about Mrs. Winchester was that she was also something of a tech buff. I mean, she didn’t have an iPod or anything (although Apple’s headquarters aren’t very far away from the Mystery House–COINCIDENCE?! Definitely), but she liked cutting edge stuff. The conservatory pictured above has a slanted floor made of removable wood panels; when the wood is taken off, there is a second floor made of some kind of metal (tin?). This allows the plants to be watered and the unused water to fall to the floor, where it flows down the slant and into a container to be used again, in the conservatory or elsewhere. Go green! The conservatory also has an elevator, one of three on the property, which, as you might imagine, is a bit unusual for the Victorian age.
Other conveniences include steam and forced-air heating, indoor toilets and plumbing (including a hot shower), push-button gas lights, and a call system that allowed Mrs. Winchester to summon her servants to any part of the mansion from any part of the mansion. Pretty cool, if I do say so myself.
So you know how before I was mentioning that Mrs. Winchester would just build a room on to the existing exterior wall? Well, here’s proof. This is the unfinished second ballroom (Second! Ballroom! Because she needed two! To entertain the guests she didn’t even have!)–the walls hadn’t gone up at the time of her death–and you can see how the walls of the ballroom were being built right smack up against the outside, covering up a window and the old paint job and everything. This is one of the reasons why the house is so freakin’ weird. It’s also one of the reasons it survived (for the most part) two extreme earthquakes, because half of it is built on a de facto floating foundation, because all the rooms were built separately. That provided enough sway for the house to stay upright. Science!
Speaking of ballrooms, here’s the finished one:
Okay, this room is the best. First of all, it was built almost completely without nails. Second of all, it has a vault in it, hidden behind a wooden door, so heavy that it required its own foundation–and when it was opened upon Mrs. Winchester’s death, it was found to contain locks of hair from her daughter and husband, and their obituaries. That’s it. The silver chandelier came from Germany, with twelve candle holders. Mrs. Winchester, who was rumored to have a superstition about the number thirteen and scattered the number around the house (the thirteenth bathroom has thirteen windows in it, for example), had a thirteenth candle holder added. It looks terrible; as you can see in this larger picture, it’s lopsided. WHOOPS!
The stained glass windows each have a quote from a Shakespeare play on them. “Wide unclasp the the tables of their thoughts,” says the left-hand window (Troilus and Cressida, IV:5:60); “These same thoughts people this little world,” says the right-hand window (Richard III, V:5:9). What did they mean to Mrs. Winchester? Hell if I know. But they must have meant something to her. This guy has a theory, though, and it makes sense to me.
The grand ballroom cost $9,000 at a time when a whole house could be built for >$1,000. This was the point when my mom shook her head and said, “If she had to spend all of that money, why didn’t she just give it to charity?” The answer, of course, is that she did–she gave lots of her money away. But my mom has a point. What a colossal waste, and furthermore, if she really did believe building forever would make her live forever, what complete selfishness. HOWEVER. Now the house belongs to posterity, and we can walk through it and marvel at it and deconstruct it as a physical expression of one person’s psychology, and that is amazing.
Okay, I could show you a million more pictures and talk forever about this house, because it’s the coolest, but I won’t. As it is this post is super long; I’ll do another installment to talk about the semi-ghost towns we visited.
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Posted on April 11th, 2009 by annakjarzab
Get super to fix faulty toilet in apartment (I’m starting to think this will never happen)
Go to gym
“Help” Cambria and Nikki move
Buy wrapping paper and card for Cambria’s birthday
Make reservations at Josie’s NYC for Cambria’s birthday dinner
Get ready for birthday dinner
Finish Nikki’s Easter basket
Pack bag for the Casa de CP (this is what I’ve decided to call Nikki and Cambria’s new place) just in case I’m too tired to go home after birthday shenanigans; include Chi, camera, and a pack of playing cards
Pick up cupcakes at Crumbs (there’s one down the street from their house! Those ladies have all the luck)
Wrap Cambria’s birthday gift
Wow, I felt really productive until I made this list. Thanks to the wonders of melatonin, I woke up fully rested at 8:15 AM. There was actually a moment during the two hours I spent guarding the moving truck outside Nikki and Cambria’s new apartment (in the freezing rain–don’t try this at home, kids!) when I thought, “I can’t believe it’s only 3:30. I feel like I’ve done so much today!” Duh. Because you didn’t wake up at noon.
*The movers had parked it in a No Standing Anytime zone, but a squad car drove by at least twice and didn’t say anything. Cambria was like, “That’s what I like: lenient law enforcement.” And I said, “Not lenient–apathetic.” That’s less good.