Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Café Hopping Round Two

My posts are completely out of order lately, but oh well. This one is definitely worth posting about.

A couple of weeks ago, Faith, Jake, and I decided to go café hopping again. Jake was apparently really jealous of the first trip that Faith and I went on, so we decided to let him tag along this time.

Our first stop was the Cocoa Bean. It's a cute little place that sells cupcakes, cocoa (obviously), Italian sodas, and frozen lemonades. We all tried different cupcakes. My lemon blueberry cupcake was divine. Seriously. So freaking good. My passion peach lemonade wasn't half bad either. Faith and Jake liked their cupcakes, too.

Our next stop was Eliane's French Bakery. This was a tip from my boss, and though they didn't have macarons like I wanted, my piece of peach cake was super yummy. It was a good thing Faith and Jake both speak French, though—the man who helped us barely spoke any English. I had no idea what was going on. But I got my cake, and it was good, so that's all that really matters, right?

Jake was having so much fun, can you tell? (He really was, I promise.)

Our third and final stop was the Chocolate. Jake really wanted to go, so Faith and I condescended to go again. Because it was such a difficult choice, you know. It was just as cute as the first time, and my lemon bar was delicious. Unfortunately, I couldn't finish it what with all of the other yummy things I had eaten that day.

I think they were going into a sugar coma.


It was a really fun trip. I think the next time we go café hopping, we're going to see what West Valley/Magna has to offer, since Faith is leaving me this summer, and I'll probably have to go up north to see her.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I have a lot to catch up on. My blogging skills have definitely been lacking lately. This is my attempt to catch up on at least a couple of the cool things I have done in the past month.

At the end of March, I went to see Sherwood at the Velour. Cora and I started the night by meeting Matt, Mandy, and Ethan at J Dawgs in Provo. Matt had heard that the guys in Sherwood really like J Dawgs and go there every time they play in Provo, so we thought we'd see if we could run into them. We did. The whole band was there with everybody else that they travel with. My nephew Ethan was running around like a crazy person, and everyone thought he was pretty cute. Which he is.

We headed to the venue for the show, and there were three bands before Sherwood. Three! It was crazy. Sherwood didn't come on until after 10:00. But it was so worth it! It was hands down the best Sherwood concert (heck, the best concert period) I've ever been to. It was a. maze. ing. Really and truly amazing. The crowd was so into the show, but they weren't being crazy and stupid. Everyone was just having fun, and it was great.

I didn't take a ton of pictures since it was concert number five for me.

There were so many good things about this show! I'll try not to gush since I still have another concert to talk about in this post, but there was one point where they broke into amazing a capella three-part harmony. They didn't even play a starting note. It was crazy cool. They also played a couple of songs that I have never heard live, which is always awesome after going to so many shows. Their last song of the night (well, before the encore) was "Party in the U.S.A." by Miley Cyrus. Dave (the one in the first picture) sang lead and crowd surfed. It was probably the funniest thing ever, though I still hate that song.

After the show, we talked to all of the band members and I got a t-shirt signed. I also got a drumstick from Joe, which was awesome. I've wanted one since the first show I went to. It still makes me happy to see it sitting on my bookshelf.

This past Tuesday, Faith and I went to see OK Go in Salt Lake. We were both a little nervous because it was at a 21 and over venue, and neither of us had been to one before, but everything was fine. Though there was a guy right behind us who was completely smashed. It was kind of funny.

We managed to get so close to the stage. We could have reached out and touched the lead guitarist. It was awesome. I have to get that close at the next Sherwood show. I just have to. 

It took forever for OK Go to come onstage, and the opening two bands   . . . well . . . sucked. Kind of a lot. And they were really loud, so that wasn't fun. Plus, there was this middle-aged man with this really impressive beer belly who was staking out a close place with his wife, and all through the opening acts, he kept looking at me and Faith. Creepy. I get the heebie jeebies just thinking about it.

Then OK Go came on, and it was pretty dang awesome. (Warning: picture overload ahead.)

The show was complete with a confetti cannon, light-up jackets, lasers, and light-up instruments. It was pretty ridiculous. If they hadn't actually been really good musicians (they sound just as good live as they do recorded), the gimmicks would have really bugged me, but instead, they were just fun. Damian, the lead singer, actually jumped down into the audience a couple of times. It was awesome.

At the end of the absolutely ridiculous four-song encore, the drummer came to the front of the stage and chucked his drum sticks out at the audience. I thought we would be too close to catch one, but one soared right over my head, and I caught it. But as I was bringing it in, this super awesome (feel the sarcasm) girl behind me grabbed the handle with both hands and wrenched it away from me. I was so mad, but I think I got something even better than a drumstick.

After the show, Faith and I bought posters and stuck around to see if the band would come out. They never did, so after a few minutes, we decided to go out to my car, which was parked behind the venue. Little did we know that the tour van was there too. Damian was outside talking to a couple of people, so we went over there and chatted for a second. Tim, the bassist, came out too, so we got their autographs. The other members of the band had disappeared somewhere, apparently, but at least I got a couple of autographs. It was pretty sweet. I wanted to take pictures, but a little bit after we got out there, a bunch of people came and completely monopolized the guys' attention, and it was really late, so Faith and I decided to take off.

All in all, it was a really good show. I had tons of fun, though there were a couple of things that bugged me. The lead singer loved the F-bomb. It was only in maybe two songs, but he said it over and over in chatting with the audience. And then he decided to crack religion/polygamy jokes. Because we've never heard those before. It just got a little old. I was really glad their actual music was awesome, because otherwise I probably wouldn't have had any fun at all.

So to sum up, even though OK Go had more money to do more gimmicky things, I still liked Sherwood better. They're not foul mouthed (at least not on stage, and not in person as far as I can tell), they don't make fun of Utah's religion, and their music has no swearing in it at all. Plus, the atmosphere at the two venues was completely different. I much prefer the all-ages venues to the 21-and-over venues.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I still get really excited when I get to Deathly Hallows, probably because I've only read it four times now. (Ha, only, I know, but that's nothing compared to the 20+ times I've read the first four and the who knows how many times I've read all of my other favorite books.) That also means that I still get a little sad every time I finish it.

As was expected, as soon as I hit the chapter "Malfoy's Manor," I couldn't put the book down until I was forced to last night because it was late, I was tired, and I knew I would be up until at least four if I tried to finish the book. As it was, I still read probably 350 pages last night. Then the first thing I did this morning was finish the book.

Deathly Hallows gets the biggest declaration of love from me. I do indeed have a favorite Harry Potter book, and this is it. I love everything about this book—even the camping parts that so many people were bored by and upset with. It seemed to me that a lot of people held the same opinions that Ron yells at Harry right before he leaves: "We thought you knew what you were doing! We thought Dumbledore had told you what to do, we thought you had a real plan!" Which I thought was pretty ridiculous of people . . . every reader knew that Harry didn't know where the Horcruxes were. Did they expect him to figure it out right away? The camping scenes where nothing seems to happen made sense. It made the story more realistic, it made it plausible. Sure, Rowling could have let them figure it all out quickly and easily, but how lame would that have been? Very lame, in my opinion.

As you might have noticed, I'm all about realism, even in the entirely fictional Wizarding world. I know that witches and wizards don't exist and that Voldemort isn't real. But Rowling created rules for this world. There are things that can't be done or undone by magic; there are laws that must be followed, and because they're being followed by real characters, the fictional world is able to come to life. It's fabulous, and I love it.

And speaking of real characters, this is where I could go off on the brilliance of Snape's character . . . the fact that as a reader, you hate him because of his hatred of Harry, but you can't fully hate him because Dumbledore trusts him. And even though Snape appears to be a bad guy, and you feel justified, finally, in hating him, a part of you feels remorse because you don't want Snape to be a bad guy. You don't want Dumbledore to be wrong about him. Snape is probably one of my very favorite literary characters because he's so complex. It's wonderful.

Anyway, after that tangent, on to the lists, because I could sit here and write about this book all day if I allowed myself.

The Good: The way Rowling manages to take you through six books' worth of reminiscing in a few chapters, and continues to sneak those memories in throughout the book; Harry's last encounter with Uncle Vernon; Dudley's concern about Harry's welfare, and his gratitude: "I don't think you're a waste of space"; "Blimey, Dudley, did the dementors blow a different personality into you?"; everyone's willingness (well, minus Dung) to become a Harry doppelgänger; Ron and Hermione's actions in order to keep their families safe while they're off doing dangerous things with Harry; Harry, Ron, and Hermione getting the things they were left from Dumbledore; the happiness of Bill and Fleur's wedding (before they're attacked, of course); Hermione realizing that the locket had been in Grimmauld Place; Kreacher's story; Harry's kindness toward Kreacher; Griphook keeping quiet about the fake sword; Harry and Hermione visiting his parents' grave; the monument at Godric's Hollow; Snape's Patronus leading Harry to the sword; Ron saving Harry; Ron destroying the Horcrux; Hermione's anger at Ron when he returns (she's a girl—of course she's going to be mad—plus, it's pretty funny); Ron's story about the Deluminator; Ron's complete concern for Hermione's welfare at Malfoy's manor; Dobby coming and saving the day—I love that little elf; Harry deciding to go after Horcruxes and not Hallows; escaping Gringotts with the cup on the back of the dragon; Aberforth saving Harry from the Death Eaters; Neville—oh my gosh, everything about Neville; everyone in the Room of Requirement wanting to fight and help; Percy coming back (this always makes me cry); the Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff Houses standing up between Harry and the Slytherins (this also always makes me cry); Ron opening the Chamber of Secrets and Hermione destroying the cup; Hermione kissing Ron: "Is this the moment? OI! There's a war going on here!"; Harry realizing where the diadem is; Harry and Ron saving Malfoy—twice: "And that's the second time we've saved your life tonight, you two-faced bastard!"; Snape's story; Harry's willing sacrifice; the fact that Voldemort's haste to make himself stronger actually weakens him by keeping Harry alive; the one last explanation of everything from Dumbledore; Neville's defiance, pulling the sword from the Sorting Hat, and killing Nagini; Kreacher leading the house-elves (I cry here too); "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!"—the best mom moment ever (I laughed aloud the first time I read it); Harry being the master of the Elder Wand; Harry defeating Voldemort; Harry repairing his own wand; the epilogue.

The Bad: Hedwig's death; Mad-Eye falling; George's ear; Lupin's (understandable) cowardice, and his fight with Harry; everything about the Ministry; the Muggle-born Registration Commission, and the fact that Umbridge is over it; Yaxley seeing Grimmauld Place; Ron leaving—yes, I cried, and was so happy when Ron comes back fairly quickly and pretty awesomely; Harry's anger at Dumbledore; Xenophilius Lovegood trying to turn Harry in; Harry's obsession with the Hallows; Harry yelling Voldemort's name; Dobby's death (more crying); Griphook running away with Gryffindor's sword; Fred dying—I cry the hardest here—with tears running down my face; Lupin, Tonks, Colin Creevey, and all the other people who die (the battle pretty much has me in constant tears).

The Ugly: Mad-Eye's magical eye in Umbridge's office door; Voldemort placing Nagini in Bathilda Bagshot's body (ew, gross); Bellatrix Lestrange's obvious enjoyment of torturing Hermione; the way Snape dies and why.

And there you have it—the last of my Harry Potter posts. I hope you enjoyed them. And if you didn't, oh well. At least I enjoyed writing them.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I haven't been up to my usual blogging lately . . . two Harry Potter reviews in a row? Weird!

I am fully aware that I have said this of every HP book so far, but, I love Half-Blood Prince. It is probably my second favorite. The cover is by far my favorite—there's just something about the purple/green combo that I really like.

I absolutely love how this book is completely centered around the home front, Hogwarts. Every other book has been centered on what is going on outside of Hogwarts. In all of the other books, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are focused on trying to figure out what is going on outside of Hogwarts. There is always some ominous force at work that no one quite knows enough about. In Half-Blood Prince, however, we know exactly what is going on outside of Hogwarts. Voldemort is in the open, killing and terrorizing as usual. There is no mystery around that. No; the mystery is what's going on inside Hogwarts. Is Malfoy actually up to something? And if so, what?

I also love that life is sort of normal for Harry. Sure, his meetings with Dumbledore aren't exactly typical, but Harry is going to class, dealing with friend issues, and figuring out how to handle girls. I think that normalcy is what makes the attacks on Katie Bell and Ron, and Harry's attack on Malfoy, so startling. They are in stark contrast to the seemingly ordinary teenage lives the characters are living.

The Good: Dumbledore's visit to the Dursleys; Harry's trip to see Slughorn; the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes; Ginny taunting Zabini at the Slug Club; most things about Ginny—this girl is my hero; Harry winning the Felix Felicis; Hermione Confunding McLaggen; the lessons with Dumbledore—I think learning about Voldemort is absolutely fascinating; Harry "spiking" Ron's drink with lucky potion; Harry taking Luna to the Christmas party; Harry's conversation with Scrimgeour at the Burrow; Apparition lessons; Harry using Felix Felicis to get the memory from Slughorn—though this might have a lot to do with the movie, since that scene is so dang funny; Harry kissing Ginny—yes, I am a girl, and yes, I love this part—I had been waiting for it since book two (and, incidentally, I hated the way they did the kiss in the film; it was so lame! Harry and Ginny better have at least one good kiss in each of the book seven movies or I will be very upset); Malfoy Disarming Dumbledore (since it is such an essential part in book seven) and lowering his wand before the other Death Eaters joined him; Hermione and Ron's complete willingness to go with Harry to find the Horcruxes.

The Bad: Seeing Snape make the Unbreakable Vow (yes, even though I know he's a good[ish] guy); Snape becoming the D.A.D.A. teacher; Katie Bell touching the necklace; Ron getting poisoned—I almost had a heart attack the first time I read that part; McLaggen joining the Gryffindor Quidditch team and being so infuriating; Harry's obsession with Malfoy—I just hate how he almost lets it get the better of him; Harry attacking Malfoy with Sectumsepra—as much as I dislike Malfoy, I never wanted Harry to do him serious harm; Harry freaking out about the fact that Snape was the one who overheard the prophecy; seeing Dolores Umbridge at Dumbledore's funeral.

The Ugly: The mere idea of a Horcrux—using the murder of an innocent person to encase a part of the soul in an inanimate object is just creepy; the Inferi in the cave—I think Inferi are the scariest, creepiest, and most horrifying things Rowling came up with for Voldemort to use—if that's not evil, I don't know what is.