The Kite Runner

by Khaled Hosseini

You’ve all been anxiously waiting to hear what I thought, haven’t you? Well…I’m kind of undecided.

By the end of the first paragraph I was telling the Romgi that this was a really well-written book. On the whole, I love books that catch my attention so quickly, whether with the plot or the writing. By the end of the first chapter, I was hooked. The story was fascinating.

So why am I undecided? Good question. It isn’t because of the uncomfortable (and heartbreaking) much-talked-about rape scene. It isn’t because of the backdrop of Afghanistan politics and wartime. I’m not exactly sure what it’s from…when I finished reading I felt some emotion that seemed to be a combination of (but not the same as) depression, heartache, sadness, loneliness, sickness…I’ve been reading A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier at the same time, and maybe it just gave me too negative of a view of humanity.

I think that’s it — how am I supposed to save the world when the world is like The Kite Runner?

Still, despite that, I’d recommend it. Like I said, I’m torn!

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Is this a svithe?

L. Tom Perry, “Let Him Do it With Simplicity

Henry B. Eyring, “Remembrance and Gratitude

In Relief Society this Sunday we covered two talks from the most recent General Conference, only one of which I’ll mention here. It was Elder Perry’s talk about simplifying our lives. He discussed Thoreau’s time spent at Walden Pond and subsequent conclusion that we have only four basic needs: food, clothing, shelter, and fuel. Elder Perry pointed out that by focusing on these four needs we can relieve stress in our lives, since they are so basic and many of us are abundantly blessed with them.

I wanted to tie that in with part of Elder Eyring’s talk from 1989, where he stated that learning “how to control our wants” will in turn “increase our gratitude and generosity.” He gave the example of the small town of Orderville, Utah, which was established mainly by refugees from a nearby town that was destroyed. The refugees had nothing when they came to Orderville, so any prosperity they experienced ought to be enormous in comparison with their humble beginnings – yet the town members seldom seemed satisfied with what they had, even during times of great wealth. Elder Eyring said, “We so easily forget that we came into life with nothing.”

Very true – we came with nothing, and we require so little, but most of us have material and spiritual blessings far beyond what we really need (or maybe deserve). Instead of complaining about what we lack, this week in particular we should realize that we’ve been given infinitely more than the basic necessities. It really does seem like a time to give thanks.

(A svithe, through Sposita through Thmazing who has a site called The Weekly Svithe, is nicely defined at The Weekly Svithe. Check it out on the right-hand menu.)


Movies I love that Critics Hate

Every now and then there is a movie that I really enjoy. I think that it accomplishes whatever it was that it set out to do, and made me enjoy the journey. These movies are not always movies that critics enjoy, but you can’t always trust what critics say!

1. Stranger than Fiction
I love this movie. I may have a slightly rosy view of this flick because of when I saw it. The night I proposed to Roni, we were on our way to see this very movie. This is a movie about a guy who hears voices. Not just any voices though. This is a person narrating his life, as it happens. It turns out that a local author is writing a novel about a person who she believes is fictional, but who is very much real. I like this movie because it is not your typical Will Ferrell movie. It is (I think) a very original idea for a movie, and does a very good job at making the movie not only fun, but somehow believable.

What they gave it: D (67%)
What I give it: A

2. Secondhand Lions
Family movies are a tough sell. You have to make it interesting enough for kids, funny enough for the older kids, and entertaining enough for the adults. This is a movie that I feel does all of those things very well. It is sweet without being sappy, and I think it has a great story. This movie is about a young boy whose mother drops him off to live with his eccentric uncles for the summer. It has humor, adventure and just about everything in between. If you want a family movie, this is one I strongly recommend.

What they gave it: F (52%)
What I give it: A+

3. Alien Vs. Predator
Action movies. Are they supposed to have plot? Barely. Are they supposed to be believable? Not Really. Should they have aliens, or better yet, TWO types of aliens trying to kill each other?? Most definitely. This isn’t a great movie, but it is a great action movie. I don’t think you can blame an action movie for be an action movie. In all honesty, I enjoyed this movie more than I enjoyed Dark Knight.

What they gave it: F- (29%)
What I give it: A- (as an action movie)

Do you guys have any movies that should go on this list? Movies that you love, but critics hate? If you do, then leave a comment!


Misquoted

Yesterday in church the first speaker gave what I’m sure would have been a great talk had he not ruined his credibility in the first two sentences. The talk started something like this:

“Maybe I’m dating myself here, but there used to be a bunch of commercials with this dog named Scruff McGruff, who warned kids to stay away from crime.”

Everyone likes Scruff McGruff! And in fact, he’s still around, with his own website and even a blog.

Remember this guy?

Remember this guy?

The speaker continued, “Scruff McGruff said something at the end of every commercial that I think is really worth mentioning: ‘Knowing is half the battle.'”

You see the problem, right? Seriously, I thought everyone knew that it was the G.I. Joe cartoon that always ended with “Now we know, and knowing is half the battle!”

The real source of the quote.

The real source of the quote.

It doesn’t even make sense for Scruff McGruff to say that “Knowing is half the battle.” If you know what things are criminal, you can avoid doing them? I dunno. Seems shady to me.

Thanks, older brothers, for watching the G.I. Joe cartoon so that I could feel smug and superior during church yesterday!


More on Cup Pies

The first time we made cup pies, they were apple. Delicious. So delicious. We put a crumb topping on them (really simple – just flour, sugar, and butter), for extra tastiness. And we used a homemade piecrust, which turned out perfectly.

To save time and energy, we bought Pillsbury piecrusts this time. Here’s my verdict: while infintely easier, the Pillsbury crusts just don’t taste as good, and I did that math to calculate that 14 cup pies for $2.25/box of Pillsbury crusts doesn’t quite compare to 17 cup pies for $1.50/ingredients for homemade crust.

So here’s the recipe for you. I borrowed it from my cousin Jennifer, who was given the recipe by her mom. It really is easy as pie.

Pie Crust

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
1 egg
1/3 cup milk

Combine the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening. In a separate bowl, combine the egg and milk; add to the flour mixture. Stir until just moistened – do not overmix. Roll out on floured board. Makes 2 9″ piecrusts or about 18 cup piecrusts.

Enjoy!

P.S. I want a pastry cutter. And there are pictures of the cup pies now, in the original post. Yum.


Hogle Zoo 2008

For our nephew Brandon’s 2nd birthday, the Romgi and I thought it would be fun to spend a day at the zoo. Brandon is one of the most adorable little boys I know, and usually one of my favorite people to be around. This day at the zoo convinced me that I really, honestly, truly do not like kids.

At all.

It seemed like a good idea at the time to go on “Boo at the Zoo” day – the Saturday just before Halloween, when the zoo invites kids to come in costume and get candy at a bunch of different animal exhibits. We managed to find a parking spot after about 10 minutes and then entered the line to buy tickets. Somehow we ended up on the side of the ticket booth that had only one window open, and we stood for about 30-40 minutes slowly inching up towards the ticket window.

Brandon removed his costume after approximately 2.25 minutes in line.

We were almost up to the window, with only a few people ahead of us, when this guy at the front of the line decides that now is a good time to apply for a zoo membership. He spent a good 10 minutes filling out the paperwork. Why didn’t the cashier have him step aside to fill it out? I was really grouchy by that point. Really grouchy.

Brandon inside the zoo - no costume.

Brandon inside the zoo - no costume.

Swans and ducks are not exactly interesting first exhibits.

Swans and ducks aren't exactly interesting first exhibits.

Next were the Navajo sheep.

Next were the Navajo sheep.

Then we saw wild turkeys. What kind of zoo is this? And where is the candy?

Then we saw wild turkeys. What kind of zoo is this? These are animals I could see driving around Utah! And where is the candy? Oh - by that really long line.

Brandon did enjoy the monkey house, once we showed him where the monkeys were hiding.

Brandon did enjoy the monkey house, once we showed him where the monkeys were hiding.

Free candy (for a 20-minute wait in line) or an ice cream cone (for $3)? Not a difficult choice to make.

Free candy (for a 20-minute wait in line) or an ice cream cone (for $3)? Not a difficult choice to make. That is me in the background, being pregnant and grouchy.

Unsure why they had a bunch of cornstalks, unless it was for Halloween, but Brandon was happy hiding in them.

Unsure why they had a bunch of cornstalks, unless it was for Halloween, but Brandon was happy hiding in them. And the Romgi was happy taking pictures.

This is the gorilla exhibit, which had no gorillas - only a black cat. Quoi?

This is the gorilla exhibit, which had no gorillas - only a black cat. Quoi?

And this is me making Brandon cry. It wasn't on purpose.

And this is me making Brandon cry. It was not on purpose. Seriously.

No, believe me, I wasn't trying to make him cry!

I'm not a terrible person...really...

The Romgi gave Brandon candy to make me look even more like the bad guy. It calmed Brandon down, and we went on a train ride. So nice to sit down!

The Romgi gave Brandon candy to make me look even more like the bad guy. It calmed Brandon down, and we went on a train ride. So nice to sit for a few minutes!

The train ride took us through all the boring, non-animal parts of the zoo. Why are they showing us teepees?

The train ride took us through all the boring, non-animal parts of the zoo. Why are there teepees?

Ok, admittedly, the buffalo were kind of cool.

Ok, admittedly, the buffalo were kind of cool.

After that we took Brandon to the gift shop and let him pick out whatever he wanted. Of course, we only directed him towards budget-friendly items, but I’m sure he had fun grabbing things off the shelf. I would.

We did finally make it back to the car, about two and a half hours after we first got in line to buy tickets. Here’s the conclusion I came to: Roni needs more sleep before going on outings. A lot more. The Romgi had a good time, and Brandon apparently did too, and the further we get from the trip the more I think it might have actually been a tiny bit fun.

But I probably won’t be going back anytime soon.


Cup Pies

I’ll admit I was skeptical the first time (ok, the first hundred times) the Romgi told me about his idea for “cup pies” – which he described as being “like pies, but in a cup.” I insisted that they would basically be tarts. He said I was wrong. I said he was wrong. And so we never made cup pies.

…Until recently. Remember when we made apple pie at Quimberlee’s? They gave us a huge bag of apples to take home, and the Romgi really wanted to make little cup pies out of them.

Turns out he meant making them in cupcake tins, so they’d be cup-pies instead of cupcakes, and instead of tarts. Which actually seems to mean he was right. Not only that, I now concede that cup pies are a brilliant invention. Perfectly shaped, perfectly sized, they’re adorable, delicious, and fun to give to neighbors. We gave some to one of the other three couples in the duplex (divided into main floor and basement – we’re in the other basement section), and they ended up inviting us over for FHE this week. It was like having friends! …It was so cool!

Also, last week we went up to American Fork to gather walnuts that this lady didn’t want (I think she was allergic, and the tree came with the house). We got tons and tons…and finally got them husked and shelled, then chopped them up to make maple walnut cup pies. Tasty!!

So, the Romgi, this is my public statement that you were right and I was wrong.

Long live the cup pie.

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