Month: June 2012

Write Like the Wind (George R.R. Martin)

Hi guys!  I know I went away, I’ve been working on myself as a person (not really).

I wanted to give you a present on this hot Friday, which is a mere 69 (heh) days from Dragon*Con.  Yes,  it will soon be time for me to talk about Dragon*Con ALL THE TIME EVERY DAY. I bet you are so. excited.  I know I am.

Anyways, here is my present.  It just happened on the internet TODAY, so you can say that you were one of the first to see it:

Enjoy, and happy weekend!

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury died this week.  He was 91, so this doesn’t go against the natural order of things.  He lived a long, excellent life.  His stories touched a lot of people.  They touched me, so I’m pretty bummed about his death.

In the 4th grade I had a language arts teacher who everyone found charming because he’d let us have long recesses and would spend the class talking about civil war reenactments, but I found him insufferably boring because I actually wanted to, you know, read, and in the 4th grade I was pretty awkward and so recess was no fun for me.  I’d spend a lot of time in the back of the classroom, reading all the short stories in our 4th grade language arts book.  One story was called “All Summer in a Day,” and it was about a classroom on Venus.  The sun only emerged on Venus every seven years, and the story took place on the day when Venus would get two hours of sun.  No one in the classroom had ever see the sun, except for one little girl who was born on Earth.  The other classmates taunt her, make fun of her, and tell her that they don’t believe her stories of the sun looking like a shiny penny.  They lock her in a closet.  However, when the sun does emerge the kids run and play outside, forgetting all about the girl they locked in the closet.  After the sun vanishes, the kids realize what they have done, and their quiet remorse and general sense of overall disappointment as they let the little girl out of the closet is just devastating.  I read that story over and over.

One day I went home and I told my dad about this story, and my dad was all “Oh that’s by Ray Bradbury, he’s one of my favorite authors, you should read him.”  Which makes total sense, because in terms of literature and movies and fun things, my father introduced me to all the best, nerdy authors and films and that sort of thing.  My father also told me that Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles was one of his favorite books ever, so I figured I’d pick it up and check it out.

Cover of "The Martian Chronicles"
Cover of The Martian Chronicles

GUYSSS.  This is one of the most beautiful, devastating books ever written, and also the best book about alien invasion.  It is a collection of short stories involving the human colonization of Mars, and it is so beautiful, and I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but you should totally go read it RIGHT NOW. I reread The Martian Chronicles every few years, and I think it might be time for another go.

Of course I read Farenheit 451, in school I’m sure, and I’ve read other short stories of Bradbury’s, but The Martian Chronicles is really the book that is most BRADBURY to me.   The stories in that book stay with you, they resurface in your memory when you least expect it, and that’s the mark of a great story.  That’s the mark of a great storyteller.

So, rest in peace Mr. Bradbury.  Thanks for your great visions and stories, thanks for sharing them with us.

St Kitts: A Tour of the Island

St. Kitts is a small island, but there are enough things to do on it to fill a day, maybe two, of non-beach going activities.  The below excursions are only what we did on this trip to St. Kitts.  The first trip I took, in 2008, included a rainforest tour.  You can also go snorkeling, scuba diving, zip-lining, take a catamaran to Nevis, etc.  Since we were pretty content just sitting on the beach, we decided to limit our touring to some less strenuous activities.

We left our hotel around 9:30, in the capable hands of Arthur, our driver and guide for our time on St. Kitts.  Most of the cab drivers on St. Kitts double as tour guides.  They drive on the wrong side of the road in St. Kitts, and the roads aren’t the best, so I’d recommend getting a driver if you want to venture off site.

Arthur drove us through the main town of Basseterre (not the best, in my opinion).  Basseterre is also home to Port Zante, where the cruise ships dock.  Basseterre has a lot of old, historic structures, but in terms of a place to hang out there isn’t much for a tourist to do.  The main road stretches around the edges of the island, so you get some pretty incredible ocean views as you drive.

We stopped first at Brimstone Fortress, an 18th century fortress on the slopes of St. Kitts’ mountain, which offers a wide view of the sea.  This is St. Kitts’ main historic site, and it tells the story of how the island was passed back and forth between the British and the French (although it was mostly held by the British).  The fortress offers an interesting glimpse into 18th century life on the island, and also gives gorgeous views of the Caribbean and the island.  On a clear day you can see several islands from Brimstone Fortress, but it was a little cloudy, so we only saw Eustacia.

Make sure you wear sunscreen, I burned even with my SPF fifteen.  Of course I got zero color the rest of the trip, go figure.

Our next stop was at Romney Manor, home of Caribelle Batik.  The manor is situated up on the slopes of the mountains in the center of St. Kitts, and therefore in its own little rainforest basin.  The manor was, of course, an old sugar plantation, but now it is a craft site and shop for the batik industry. Batik is a fabric dying process involving lost wax, and you can achieve some gorgeous color and design combinations.


Caribbean (and other) food on St. Kitts

St. Kitts has an enormous variety of food, from amazing Caribbean beach shack fare to upscale French food.  Even though some of the restaurants are fancy, the atmosphere is still extremely casual–neither Jon nor my dad ever wore pants or close-toed shoes to dinner.  Here’s an overview of some of the great food we ate while on St. Kitts.

Our first night on the island we walked from our hotel, on the Atlantic side of Frigatte Bay, to the Caribbean side of the bay.  The Caribbean side has a row of beach shack restaurants, all serving casual Caribbean fare in the sand.  We went to Cathy‘s, where the food is grilled fresh right in front of you and the service is sloooowwww.  Extremely slow, think island time multiplied by three or four.  It was fine, we weren’t in a hurry, and the food was AMAZING but, man, slow.

So that’s Jon and me and then my parents, all at Cathy’s.  Waiting for our food.  And here’s some food:

Grilled jerk (mild jerk) chicken with Caribbean rice, fried plantains, a potato salad, vegetables, and a green salad.  And this is a grilled Caribbean lobster with a lot of garlic butter:

And it was all delicious.

We spent our Sunday on Cockleshell Beach, and had lunch at the Reggae Beach bar.  Once again, simple, but delicious, Caribbean food in a beach shack overlooking the ocean.  Reggae Beach bar is fun because it is festooned with collegiate banners from all over the states–including a few Gator flags. Go Gators.

So that’s my lunch: the top is chicken roti (basically a chicken burrito stuffed with curried chicken and vegetables), Caribbean rice and beans, a salad, some veggies, and more fried plantain.  Also 100% awesome.

Sunday night we went to Ciao, an Italian restaurant within walking distance of our hotel, for their Mother’s Day price fixe.  I had a lovely lobster and avocado salad that was artfully presented in a lobster shell, lobster ravioli in a vodka sauce, and some sort of Neapolitan ice cream dessert that had little jellied fruit pieces in it.  The lobster parts were the best–one can never have too much lobster!

And here is the family (minus my sister, who hadn’t gotten to St. Kitts yet) post dinner.

Monday we ate at the hotel and then hit up a sushi place near the hotel for dinner–sushi is sushi, so no pictures, but if you’re jonesing for sushi when you’re on St. Kitts, check out Rituals Sushi in Friagatte Bay.