Sunday, August 17, 2014

You Know Summer is Dying Down When...

...when you see school supplies getting reduced down to 60 cents each.  Today is the last day before most of the kids in my town go back to school.  I certainly am glad to have gone to school when I did because I cannot imagine going back to school in mid-August.   For me back in the day, mid-August was the end of summer and school began either before or after Labor Day.  And once school gets underway, the supplies will be reduced even more and it will be time for the Halloween merchandise to be stocked.  

Which reminds me.  I recently applied [but did not hear from ;( ] the temporary Halloween retailer Spirit Halloween. Many of you know that these are the temporary Halloween stores that take over some storefront that's been empty for some time.  I have the misfortune of living in a town that usually does not get one of these stores.  We had one in 1999, but it did not return thereafter.  So imagine my surprise when I went to their online application and saw a listing for Spirit Halloween in my hometown, a town with very little to do, something any resident will attest to, including myself.   I had to wonder if this was for real.  At the end of June,  Staples (which came to Hollister in 2000) closed down its store in our little town.  The Spirit store website said it would be opening in the building where  Staples had been.  I seemed hard to believe that we would be getting a Spirit store and I wondered if it was really going to happen.  Last weekend, however, I drove past the building and saw the Spirit "coming soon" signs in the building's windows.

It may only be temporary, but this will give this building some use for a while, until something permanent can be found.  Any amount of use is better than none at all.  And it will be good for our town to have this store. I love going to these stores and in the past when I worked in the next town over, I'd always be going to the store in that town since I was already there.  I no longer work in Gilroy as of June 2013, so last year I trekked over to yet another nearby town, Salinas, to see their Spirit store. I'm so glad I won't have to do that this year!  It'll be right in my hometown.  I've been so excited since hearing that we would be getting this store and will be going as early as possible when it opens in September.   This will be great.  I hope to find a great costume here.  I have no idea yet what to be and have only done some browsing for ideas. But there is still time.

As I said, my town hasn't had one of these stores since 1999.  Spirit will have some competition in this small town, however.   But  I know the selection will be better here than at Target, which only gets a small number of costumes.  I've bough costumes at Kmart in the past. They get a lot more than Target does. Every week, the prices on costumes at Kmart get reduced as the witching hour approaches.  Last year, they had several prisoner costumes for sale that no one seemed to be buying. Rite Aid has very few costumes for sale, most of which aren't very good.  Walgreens came to our town last year, but did not open until mid-November, so this year will be their first Halloween sale.  Don't yet know what they will have.  I expect to see all this merchandise arriving during Labor Day week.

Can't wait to see the store open and will be blogging about it more when it does.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Reading Challenges Progress So Far

My blog seems to be about my reading challenges lately.  But I don't want to have to keep more than one blog so whatever I want to write about will be only this blog.  For those who've been following my reading here is how I stand on my challenges as the year is more than half over and as this month comes to an end.

So far I've completed seven challenges, as you can see from my Reading Challenge Addict post. I often think I might go over on some, but in some cases I decided to call them complete after reaching the level I'd chosen.  

Finished the Following:

What's in a Name. This one only had five categories, though a sixth one was added later.  The host said however, that those who completed the original five categories before seeing the sixth one could call the challenge complete.  This was my first completed challenge.

Southern Literature Reading.  I finished this one in early April.  This one had a four-book max, one for each of the four levels.   I chose Level 4, because I was sure I could read four books from this genre.  And I succeeded in doing so.

Dive Into Poetry Challenge.  I picked the second level (4-6 books). As much as I like reading poetry,  I decided to call it complete after reading five books with all the other challenges I'd signed up for. In some cases I decide not to try to go over my chosen level.

Harlem Renaissance Challenge.  The first level is 1 to 5 books.  I had a hard time finding books for this one, but did find four of them. This one getting lost among all the others I'd signed up for, so I decided to call it complete after finishing the four books I'd chosen for this one.

Postal Challenge.  Originally, I signed up for Level one, four postal-themed books.  But I ended up reading more than four, so I bumped up to the second level, eight such books.  I chose not to go up anymore levels.  Another success.

Newbery Reading Challenge.  Most of the challenges I joined between November and January, but some I came into later such as this one which I joined on March 1.  The levels on this one are based on points rather than on a number of books--a different number of points each given for a Newbery winner, a Newbery Honor and a Caldecott winner.  I maxed out the first level, and though I'd love to read more Newbery and Caldecott books, I need to concentrate on my other challenges, so I'll be calling this a success.  I'll definitely be back next year for this one.

Fairy Tales Retold. Another one I got into late, at the end of May.  The second level was 4 to 6 books. I chose that one because I found more than three books that fit this challenge.  Again, in order to concentrate on other challenges I need to work on, I decided to call this complete after five books.  I liked this one, though, so I'll be back next year.

These are the ones I've completed so far. Others I'm in, I plan to keep open all year, or read as many as I can or try to finish the level I'd signed up for. Some have a specific number of books and some of these I'm nearly done with.  Glad to have some done already with more time to concentrate on others.  Will see how many more challenges I get done next month.  I did really get addicted to reading challenges!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Five Years Ago This Week

This week will mark five years since the celebrity death streak that occurred in late June/early July 2009.   As all of you remember it was the week of Michael Jackson's death. But it started on June 23, 2009, with the death of Ed McMahon. He was best known as Johnny Carson's sidekick on The Tonight Show from 1962 to 1992,  as well as a pitchman for Publishers Clearing House, host of Star Search (the American Idol of the 1980s), and co-host with  Dick Clark of  TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes.   Next came the death of Farrah Fawcett, a first-season cast member of Charlie's Angels,  just several hours before (and several miles away from where Fawcett had died) the world learned of Jackson going into a coma. His death naturally overshadowed that of Fawcett, and 80s music fans were devastated.  His records began to sell out on Internet sites and at used record stores and other store that sell CDs and DVDs.  His death was the most hyped out of the three.

I remember exactly what I was doing that day.  It was a Thursday and I had just come home from work and was on Facebook and Twitter.  Naturally Jackson's death was all over both sites.  And on the even news I happened to watch that night.  After worked the following day, I passed by the USA Today kiosk near CVS Pharmacy and I'm sure you can guess what was n the front page.   The next day I stopped at Barnes and Noble and as I entered the movies and music section there was a display of Jackson's work, naturally. His death was still on everyone's mind, but it didn't stop the media from covering other celebrity deaths that followed.

The following Sunday, June 28,  I looked on Twitter and saw OxiClean as a trending topic. I wondered why that was, and a click on the link revealed why.   My mom then called and I suddenly I asked the following:

"Did you hear who just died?"
"Yes. Michael Jackson."
"No, I mean just now."
"No, who?"
"The man who did the commercials for OxiClean."

That man was Billy Mays.  I did not know his name at first, and I still refer to him as "the OxiClean guy."  I then posted this as my Facebook status that day,  saying that "Now the OxiClean pitchman has died. Three deaths last week, will there be two more this week?"  One friend responded "I loved Billy Mays!  His commercials always made me want to buy his stuff."  I then pointed out that the OxiClean guy was the same age was Michael Jackson, a fact that no one seems to have known.  I've asked many people if they knew that fact and every one of them has said no, they did not  know that fact.   Mays was a little over a month older than Jackson.  An obit for the OxiClean guy appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle the following day along with that for another celebrity I did not had died that weekend as well. (I kept and still have this section of that edition of the paper) And one the day after that, yet another I didn't know about either.   Unfortunately, the two celebrities in this case were not high-profile ones like McMahon, Fawcett, Jackson or Mays, and thus their deaths were not Twitter-ed  about, limited only to obits in major metropolitan newspapers such as that one.  Those two were 50s actress and singer Gale Storm (star of the 1950s sitcom My Little Margie)  and impressionist/comedian Fred Travalena.   And as June turned to July, the death streak continued, with actor Karl Malden and NFL star Steve McNair.  Those two celebs got more hype than did Storm and Travalena.  Many will remember Malden's commercials for  American Express, urging viewers to "Don't leave home without

This is as much as I want to say about this, but I just had to say something because I know the "five years later" spots on the news and the Internet will be inevitable in the coming week, especially about Michael Jackson.  In fact, here is once such article already.

A few days after the first four deaths, I was on a costume website's discussion group (which has long since been deleted from the site). I had stumbled onto this article from  Several people said they could see people as Jackson for Halloween that year but less so as Fawcett. I then asked, "How about the Oxiclean guy?" And someone replied "I can't imagine anyone being the oxy clean guy (sic)."  I then saw this link on that same site.  I remember wishing I were a guy then. I so would have been the Oxiclean guy for Halloween that year.  And FYI, I did not see one person that year as either Jackson, Fawcett or the Oxiclean guy, though I did come across a guy at a local temporary Halloween store, who was waiting in line as I entered the store. He announced that he was going to be Michael Jackson.  I then saw a fake beard at the store that looked like the one Billy Mays had. I so would have used that beard.

Do you remember what you were doing that day?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Definitely summertime...

Already summer, though the official start date is actually June 21, this coming Saturday.  Still hard to believe it's that time already.  The year always seems to start slow,  then it goes by fast.  The weather in my area definitely says it's summer.  Expect to see the fireworks stands popping up in the parking lots at Safeway and such in about a week or two.  The 4th of July is on a Friday this year, meaning you can expect a lot of fireworks going off well into the night, more than when the holiday falls on a weekday.

Just a few thoughts for now. Happy summer everyone!

Friday, May 30, 2014

2014 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge

And now this one too.  I've already read two witch books this year, so I decided to join this one. I'd like to read more books like this, so this was a good one to join.  I'll go for the first level, but may go over.  It's only five months till Halloween, so I'll be looking for more witch books to read between now and then.   To sign up,  visit Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf.  Details copied from the blog, below:

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the 2012 & 2013 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenges! I hope you all had as much fun as I did! Welcome to the 2014 Challenge!!
  • Low commitment…you can sign up to read just ONE book as an INITIATE!!!
  • Participants who choose to link up reviews will be entered for the end of year prize!!
Challenge Rules:
  • This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2014 – Dec 31, 2014. I will be posting a place to link up a sign-up post (below), reviews and a wrap-up post. (Note: You do not have to review the books to participate, but only those who link up reviews will be entered for the prize)
  • Grab the reading challenge button (code & button below) and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. You do not have to be a book blogger to participate- you could track your progress and post reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc.
  • Any full length book that includes a witch as a main character or includes major witchcraft elements counts. They may be fiction or non-fiction. However, they should not be reference books which are not read cover to cover-I will leave this to your discretion.
  • Books can be any format (bound, eBook, audio).
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  • When you sign up in the linky put the direct link to your post about joining the 2014 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge, not just a link to your blog.
  • You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  • Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2014, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  • Have some Witchy Good Fun !!!

The Levels:

Initiate: Read 1 – 5 Witchy Books
Maiden: Read 6 – 10 Witchy Books
Mother: Read 11 – 15 Witchy Books
Crone: Read 16 – 20 Witchy Books

The Prize:

Witchy book of choice up to $10 from The Book Depository!
Participants who have officially signed up by linking up a sign-up post declaring their level will be given one entry for every review they link up. The more reviews you write and link up, the more entries in the contest! Link up your reviews on that month’s Review Link Up Post. Winner will be chosen on Jan 11th 2015 to give everyone a chance to link up their end of year reviews. All Challenge Posts can be accessed from my menu bar under my header!

Here is what Im reading for this one:

Fairy Tales Retold Challenge 2014

Now that I've got three challenges completed (and am getting near to completing some of the others), I decided to try a few more, including this one.  I decided to try for the second level, even though this is a new one to me.  I already know a few books I can read for this one.  Sign up for this one here.   Details copied from the blog below:

It’s here! The 2014 Fairy Tales Retold Reading Challenge is back in it’s third year! This year has been rough and I almost decided not to host it this year, but everything worked out! I’m looking forward to hosting the challenge this coming year, and I hope you guys all
Here are the details:
  • The challenge starts on January 1st 2014, and ends December 31st 2014
  • The goal of the read-a-thon is to read as many fairy tale retellings as possible.
  • There will be six different levels to aim for in this challenge:
    • Poor Cobbler: 1-3 books
    • Devilish Wolf: 4-6 books
      • Lady in Waiting: 7-9 books
      • Mountain Troll: 10-12 books
      • Evil Enchantress: 13-15 books
      • Monstrous Dragon: 16+ books
    • This challenge is only for Young Adult and Middle Grade retellings. No adult or children’s books count towards this challenge.
    • Because of confusion in the past, this year only straight retellings of fairy tales will count. No fairy tale-ish books, and no mythological or classic retellings.
    • Single novellas do not count towards this challenge, however a compilation of novellas or short stories can count towards this challenge.
    • Have fun and spread the word!
    I’ve tried to compile as thorough a list as possible of eligible books for this challenge, which can be found here. If you can think of any book(s) that may be missing, don’t hesitate to let me know!
    If you have any other questions or concerns, you can comment, email, or tweet, and I’ll do my best to get back to you.
    ***UPDATES 12/24/13***
    It has been decided that instead of monthly link-ups, there will be quarterly link-ups, which will take place in March, June, September, and December. All those who link up their reviews (whether they be from blogs, Goodreads, Amazon, etc.,) will be able to enter a giveaway, which will most likely feature an assortment of old and new releases!

    Here is what I am reading for this one:

    1. Cinder--Marissa Meyer
    2. Scarlet-Marissa Meyer
    3. Cinderella 2000--Mavis Jukes
    4. Ella Enchanted--Gail Carson Levine
    5. Fairest--Gail Carson Levine

    Monday, May 26, 2014

    Feeling Like Summer

    Hello, I haven't been on the blog for almost two moths now, so I decided to post something--at least one thing--for this soon-to-be ending month.  It's really bright and sunny today making it feel like summer is upon us, which of course it is. Still only doing temporary work and hoping for more work as the year goes on.  No other plans for the summer as of yet.  I have several fans on right now as I don't have air conditioning.  It can get really hot.

    What does everyone have planned for this summer?  Can't believe it's already here--well most people consider Memorial Day weekend as the start of summer.