Feb
28
2008

Something I Missed in China

bya Gabrielle at 12:49 PM

When I lived in China, the one thing that I looked for as I perused the cities and very rarely ever found was water fountains.  I know the reason for this, but I’ve always been a fan of the fountain and the free access to unlimited gallons of water, especially if I’m thirsty.  In China though, the only places I ever found them were in the airports.  I found it funny that they had labels on them telling everyone that the water was safe to consume.  The one cool thing about the Chinese water fountain was that it produced cold water and hot boiling water, too.  It had two spouts.  I think it spat out hot water for the people that bought boxes or bowls of noodles.  There was a similar thing to a water fountain on the train from Hangzhou and Beijing, but it only produced scalding hot water.  Again, it was for the noodles, and not so much for drinking – unless, you wanted to make some tea.

Maybe one day I will be able to walk around China, whenever I make it back that is, and I’ll find the ever familiar silver contraption stuck to a wall somewhere other than an airport telling me it’s okay to wet my whistle.

On another note, work is still going well.  I’ve finally gotten in the habit of rolling out of bed at 6:30 a.m. and almost always wake up before my alarm tells me to.  Of course, this happens on the weekend, too.  I’m not quite sure how to tell my body it is Saturday or Sunday and that I don’t have to get up.

This weekend, I’ll take some pictures of the little garden that Phil and I have started.

Well, back to work, I guess.

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Feb
24
2008

Working Woman Part 2

bya Gabrielle at 11:34 AM

Well, I have now been at my new job for one week and three days. I’d say things are going pretty well. I’m starting to pick up on things and slowly, I am getting more responsibilities. This past Wednesday, I got to run a booth at the Career Fest job fair with two of my co-workers. It was pretty fun. From 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, I greeted students and told them about our website and how to use it. We were provided with a small breakfast, and a boxed lunch. It was pretty good, too. I was impressed. Because I had to shake a lot of hands, I made sure to keep slapping some antibacterial gel on.  I didn’t want to take a chance with all the germs I was probably touching. The only thing that sorta sucked was that my feet hurt toward the end.

This next Friday, I will have my benefit orientation. I’ll finally be able to sign up for health insurance, and I won’t have to worry so much about getting sick. I’ve been without insurance for a good long while now. Also, I’ll be able to start saving for retirement. I’ve never had a job that offered any type of retirement plans.

I wish I had something more exciting to write about, but other than working, I haven’t been doing a whole lot. I mean, I get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch some TV, and go to bed at 9:30 pm Monday through Friday. I don’t have a whole lot of time to get caught up in something blog worthy really.

This weekend though, Phil and I went to Lowes and bought the makings to plant some seeds for a little garden. We are going to try and grow some cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snow peas, green beans, green peppers, and cantaloupes on his patio. If we run out of room on his patio, we will just move them to Phil’s house where his Dad has a yearly garden. I sure hope that the seeds germinate. I haven’t had a garden since I was about 8 years old.

Well, if I want to enjoy what is left of my Sunday, I better get. I’ll try to think of something interesting to write soon. I know reading about me sitting in front of a computer all day can’t be exciting for you.

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Feb
23
2008

When Titans Collide

bya Gabrielle at 8:31 PM

Because I’m lazy, I’m going to post something I wrote for the Gamecock when I was in school instead of something current.

I had a friend that worked for the school paper. He knew that I was a horror fanatic and that I loved Freddy Krueger more than any childhood doll hiding in my closet. So, he came to me and asked if I would write a review for “Freddy VS Jason”, and I happily accepted. The following is what appeared in the paper. However, whoever edited it misspelled my name. They put an “E” on the end. Grr. That was how my professor’s name was spelled. People probably thought we were related and that I was advertising the class he taught. Hope you enjoy it.

When Titans Collide

by Gabrielle Cooke

In a clash of horror-industry titans, a reign of terror stretching over two decades has come to a carnage-filled climax on the big screen. After championing their genre with a combined total of more than 15 films, Freddy and Jason, two tenacious and seemingly undefeatable villains, have finally come together to face one another in the ultimate horror film showdown.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in the right corner, weighing in at 160 pounds with a record too terrifying to mention, from Springwood, Ohio, we have dream terrorist Freddy Krueger. And in the left corner, weighing in at a hefty 250 pounds with a history of slaughtering sexually driven teens, from Camp Crystal Lake, New Jersey, sits “Friday the 13th’s” silent but deadly stalker, Jason Voorhees.

Such an introduction is just one of the many images moviegoers have envisioned since New Line Cinema began advertising its new horror film “Freddy vs. Jason” a few months ago. But for thousands of horror fans out there, this match was likely imagined even before the first hint that these two might collide was revealed in 1993.

In “Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday,” Freddy’s signature glove reaches up and pulls Jason’s mask down to hell. Since that fated moment, fans have eagerly waited for such a film, yet the road to its debut has been paved with countless rumors and false hopes.

The film was delayed by many factors, namely the fact that the horror icons were owned by two different studios. New Line Cinema held the rights to Freddy, while Paramount Pictures laid claim to Jason. “Freddy vs. Jason” might have materialized a lot sooner if the two studios could have come to an agreement when “Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood” was made. The film was originally intended to include the long-awaited match-up. In 1992, New Line bought the rights to Jason and promptly made “Jason Goes to Hell,” where it slipped in a glimpse of what was to come.

In 1997, New Line officially proposed the idea, but the project was shelved for various reasons. After the release of “Jason X” in 2002, Bob Shaye, the president of New Line, confirmed that he had found the right script, written by David S. Goyer, and that filming would begin September 2002. The film was originally planned to be released on June 13, 2003, a Friday the 13th, but was pushed back to Aug. 15.

And so now, after all the hype, the anticipation, the fan frustration – is the film worth it? To some, yes. But before you hand over your $5.50, be aware that this film is not going to win any prestigious Hollywood awards. If you waltz into the theater expecting to be “moved,” besides the sudden jump in your seat, expect to be disappointed. One thing that should satisfy most moviegoers is the amount of blood and gore. Seemingly, there is not a single orifice of Freddy’s or Jason’s that does not ooze blood in this film.

The most popular question is, of course: Who is going to win, Freddy or Jason? And who else better to ask than the horror genre guru himself, USC professor Bill Cooke, who teaches the class 100 Years of the Horror Film.

“Fans of both Freddy and Jason are liable to come after me with finger blades and machetes if I don’t pick their favorite,” Cooke said. “While I always preferred the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ series to the ‘Friday the 13th’ series, I found myself pulling for the underdog Jason.”

And in the end, is Jason the victor? “I won’t give away the ending of ‘Freddy vs. Jason,’ but they found a way to satisfy both camps,” Cooke said.

If you are a horror fan and “Freddy vs. Jason” leaves you wanting more, you might want to sign up for Cooke’s class next spring.

“My goal is to present as complete a picture of the horror genre as I can – to cover, in roughly chronological order, the trends and the talent behind and in front of the cameras,” Cooke said.

The course was also offered last semester and became a student favorite.

In addition to teaching film studies courses, Cooke has written and directed two feature-length movies, “Campfire Tales” (1991) and “Freakshow” (1995). Both are available on DVD. Also, he is a regular contributing writer to “Video Watchdog,” the perfectionist’s guide to fantastic video.

Hopefully, “Freddy vs. Jason” will not be the last film for the feared duo we have all grown to love. Cultural icons like these two tend to slowly fade from the silver screen only to reappear when you think they are down and out for the count. And so the rumors and the waiting begin again. Maybe this time we won’t have to wait so long for round two.

Freddy VS Jason

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Feb
20
2008

Did You Really Just Say That?

bya Gabrielle at 8:28 PM

I’m tired, so I will make this quick and easy.

I talk to a lot of people about my year and three day experience in China.  And as you can expect, people usually have a ton of questions to ask.   Sometimes, these questions fall under the category of  “neverbeen” questions.  And if you want to have a better understanding of what I mean by that, click on the link.  Ryan will tell you everything you need to know.

I’ve been asked a lot of questions since I have been back, but I think the one that tops the list is the one you’ll read below.  I mean, it is like the candles on the cake.  Lit candles at that.

“What language do they speak in China?”

I looked at her with a blank stare for a second, thinking that she must be joshing me, but she was serious.  Then a light bulb went off.

“Oh.  Chinese I guess, huh?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Chinese.”

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Feb
17
2008

8:30 to 5:00

bya Gabrielle at 12:42 PM

It is amazing how sitting at a desk from 8:30 in the morning to 5:00 in the afternoon can make you tired, but it does. I’m sure I’ll get used to it in a while. It has been a while since I have gotten up early in the morning, day after day. That is why I haven’t posted in a while. Plus, I haven’t had anything that interesting to write about.

I’m enjoying my job, though. There are a lot of things I need to learn, but once I do, I think my job will be fairly easy. In the last three days, I have been reviewing some applications and trying to figure out who qualifies and who doesn’t and why. I’ve also been building an Excel sheet for all of the positions that are currently open and which ones have been closed or filled. Other than that, I haven’t been doing a whole lot, but I am sure that that will change as soon as I get into the swing of things.

You should see my office. It’s HUGE! I took a picture of it on my cell phone, but the quality of that picture is not very good. One day, I will have to take my camera in and get a better one. I never imagined that I would have an office so large. I have three windows, too. Now, I just need to decorate it. My walls are bare and white. People keep poking their heads in and asking when I am going to put stuff up.

I’m also working with a bunch of wonderful people. They are all very nice and have been very welcoming. And, the best part about them – they are all very understanding.

Well, I should go. I have somethings things I want to get done before my bed time – which needs to be somewhere between 9:30 and 10:00 if I want to feel well rested when my alarm goes off at 6:30. I’ll try posting something more interesting soon.

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Feb
12
2008

A Story From The Past: The Camping Trip From Hell

bya Gabrielle at 10:08 PM

In an email, a fellow blogger, Reg (AKA Dogbait), mentioned a place that I haven’t thought of in a good long while. This place was the Outer Banks. I went there the summer before I started my freshman year at the University of South Carolina – if my memory servers me correctly. It seemed like a good place to go camping, so me and few of my friends packed up the essentials and off we went. Below is the account of that camping trip. It is one, if not the first, paper I wrote in college. So, if you hate it, blame it on my lack of experience or something. Reading back through it, I noticed I left out that I got pink eye in the end and that while standing on a really big sand dune that eats cities, we got chased by a wall of water. It was a rapidly moving thunderstorm. Apparently, it was moving faster than we were because we all got drenched.

Well, I better get to bed. I start work tomorrow, and I want to be bright eyed and bushy tailed. I’ll fill you in on the happenings of my first day soon.

The Camping Trip From Hell

Waking up at 5:00 A.M. is not easy, especially when the back up alarm is a schizoid cat, who is eager to eat. At the time it seemed that those problems were going to be the worst part of the trip, but in truth, it was only the beginning and trivial compared to what I would endure. So, promptly after my alarm clock went off, and my cat pounced on my face, I rolled out of bed and stumbled down the hallway. My bags had already been packed the night before, so all I had to do was throw on some comfortable clothes and wait for my ride. Right on time, a red Lumina pulled up into my driveway and I attempted to cram myself where Jonathan, Mandy, and Yanni already hogged the space of the crowded car. Seconds later, my camping trip to Nags Head, North Carolina began.

Over the eight-hour course of our journey we all took a turn at the wheel and only stopped occasionally for gas, a quick snack and a bathroom break. Although the drive was long, it seemed to pass somewhat quickly, and before I knew it we had arrived in a town I had only heard of. It was beautiful outside. Classic white puffy clouds were spread over the bright blue sky. It was almost picture perfect day until the wind started. This was no casual breeze. Instead, it was quick, harsh, and almost seemed to find pleasure in blowing our tents down the beach. Frantically, we all tried to catch our tents and find a way to keep the tied to the ground, but the loose sand prevented any progress. It took all our bags of clothes, boxes of food and lots of sand to keep them weighted down, but still the wind taunted us.

The rest of our first day was spent driving around town, walking the beach, and attempting to find a restaurant we could all agree on. We concluded our day learning about the stars at Jockey’s Ridge. Although dark clouds had begun to move in and the wind had increased the park ranger nevertheless continued his lecture on the stars above.

“Now if you place you hand up against the sky you can tell the distance between certain stars,” the park ranger said through the roar of the wind. As Jonathan, Mandy, Yanni and I lifted our hands toward the sky, we were able to observe the lightening in the distance. This prompted us to abandon the amateur astrology class immediately and run to our car. We quickly sped back to our campsite as the gloomy clouds crept closer. As we approached our tents, the headlights of the car allowed us a quick view of the destruction. It was obviously fate – the wind had won. Thankfully, the tents were still there, but just blown over.

We fought the wind for sometime until each tent stood proud. The race to beat the rain was victorious. Every item was strategically placed to avoid moisture and to support the frame of each tent. Exhausted, it was time for some much needed sleep. As our heads hit our pillows, the wind instantly began to lessen and the threatening thunder clouds crept back out to sea. All work put forth into preparing for a horrible storm was almost pointless. As we drifted off to sleep, the sky opened up with millions of stars and the cool summer night was at a rare desirable temperature.

The next morning we all woke up to a beautiful day and decided to drive down to Hatteras. It is rumored that the best waves are there and that people from all over the world travel to Hatteras just to get a thrill of a lifetime. So, after a speedy cold shower, the four of us piled back into the Lumina for another afternoon drive. About an hour later, we reached our destination and by the looks of it, so had everyone elses. It was a short stretch of beach crammed with families and several experienced surfers. Once we found a place to lay our stuff, we joined the numerous people in the untamed waters of the Atlantic.

The surf was rough, and I was constantly fighting to hold my own against the current. Jonathan and Yanni had gone out further to catch larger waves while Mandy was sun bathing on the beach. It seemed to me that the harder I tried to swim back to the shore, the stronger the force became, pulling me closer to the pillars of a rundown dock. At first, I was not worried. I believed that I could fight my way back to a point where my feed could touch ground, but even when they did, I was still being dragged out to sea.

“Jonathan! Yanni! I need your help!” I yelled as I gulped sea water. “Jonathan!” I began to panic as I was pulled even closer to the dock. My legs were getting tired and my stomach churned with fear.

“Swim parallel,” Jonathan said. Moments before I collided with the jagged dock, Jonathan put his arms around my waist and attempted to haul me in. “If you kick, the current will take us both out. Get a hold of yourself.” Just as Jonathan and I reached land, I could see the lifeguards walking our way.

“We were about to come get you, but we saw the you were okay,” one of the lifeguards said. I simply nodded my head, and went to sleep on my towel. When I woke about and hour later, Mandy pointed out a nearby storm that looked like it was not going to pass. Just as we got in the car and started back to our campsite, the rain began to fall, gently at first, and then in angry bursts. By the time we made it back to our tents, a river had formed under them. We sent Yanni to inspect and he returned with a solemn face.

“Everything is water logged,” he said. In an attempt to wait out the storm, we drove toward downtown Nags Head only to find the whole island was in a blackout. All of tehe businesses were closed and traffic was backed up for miles. Listening to a radio broadcast we found out that flash floods were either imminent or occurring and that anyone is low lying areas should evacuate. The first thing to pop into our minds was that our tents were bound to wash away and that the river had probably grown into a lake by now. Once again we rushed back to our tents and this time we found ourselves in the middle of an evacuation. We were told by the park ranger that it would not be safe to stay there for the night.

In the middle of the pouring rain, we tried to collect all of our belongings and throw them into the car. Still, an obstacle stood in our way. Out of no where came a swarm of enormous hungry mosquitoes. They attacked us from head to toe and in our mad search for long pants and sweaters they had us for supper. Screaming and throwing our clothes on we appeared to have escaped the mosquitoes by getting in the car. There was dead silence for a moment until Jonathan turned on the over head light. Inside the car were at least forty mosquitoes.

In unison, we all screamed, “AHHHHHH!” The four of us swatted at them, but more seemed to appear. Jonathan in a rush accelerated the car and rolle down the windows to get the mosquitoes out, but instead more just flew in. As we drove back into town looking for a place to stay, we could still see a few flying about the car.

Our budget was small and trying to find a motel for four looked impossible, until we came to an old motel named London Inn. There we were able to get a warm place to sleep and enjoy a much needed shower. All of our clothes were drenched. Even the ones we wore were soaked. As I packed my bag before I went to bed, I separated my wet clothes from my mildly dry ones.

On the morning of our last day in Nags Head, the weather did not change much. The rain continued to fall and just as we ordered lunch from Taco Bell, the power went out again. The power surge erased all of the stored orders on the computer and forced everyone to reorder their meals. After acquiring our food, we spend the rest of the day waiting our the storm, but it never did go anywhere. So, as night fell, we decided that our trip was over and that is was time to go home. Just as we left so did the rain.

Driving until 5:00 A.M. is not easy, especially when your contacts have stiffened over your eyes and your feel disoriented. Jonathan dropped off Yanni and Mandy first, and then me. As I walked into my house that morning, I found that the clothes I was wearing were still damp and that my hair was no even brushed. The thoughts of what I been through echoed through my mind. Somehow, I had survived and learned how to better prepare more for any future camping trips. Walking down the hall I could hear my mother’s voice.

“Honey, is that you?” I opened her door and peered in. “How was it?” She had been forewarned by Jonathan’s mother that were returning in the wee hours for some curious reason.

With a half smile on my face, I replied, “Jonathan is an Eagle Scout, and he said it was the worst camping trip he had ever been on. Jonathan says it was the camping trip from hell.”

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Feb
11
2008

Some Things Just Sound Wrong

bya Gabrielle at 10:33 PM

On our latest trip to Walmart, Phil and I found ourselves standing in the light bulb section. Phil looked at me and asked, “Do you see a cheap three way?”

I started laughing.  It took Phil a few seconds to figure out why what he said was so funny. He looked at me and said, “You are such a pervert.”

We looked around for a bit, but couldn’t find one of those newer bulbs that can last several years with a three way function. I hate it when I can’t find things, so I went in search of a Walmart employee. In my mind, I could imagine me bringing an employee back, him/her looking for one, finding it, but it not having a price. This would of course lead the employee to asking someone this question.

“Could you please do a price check on a three way for me?”

Phil’s right. I am a pervert, but I know you laughed, too.  So, does that make you a pervert,too?  :)

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Feb
08
2008

Working Woman

bya Gabrielle at 6:33 PM

Well, the question of when I will start working can finally be answered.  After many applications and interviews, I will finally be an employee of the University of South Carolina beginning Wednesday, February 13, 2008.

My first pay day is supposed to be that Friday, the 15th, but I don’t know if that will actually happen.  I know they pay you for what you’ve worked, so maybe I will get two days worth of cash in my pocket.  God knows I need it.  Heh.

I guess my days of sleeping till noon and staying up till 3 am are over.  I’ve got to go join the working force now. :)

I’ll take a picture of my office for you once I get settled in.  That’s right.  I actually have an office.  No cubical life for me. Yippy!  And the office is big, too, with a huge window.

Gabby Girl is so happy right now.  Life is starting to get back on track.  It’s about time.

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Feb
08
2008

Slow Times at University High

bya Gabrielle at 12:01 AM

Ugh.

I have a job. I do. I just don’t know when my first day on that job will be. I was initially told that I was going to start on February 1st. Then that date got pushed back to a possible 6th start. Yesterday, I was informed that all of the paper work was in order and was being passed(mailed rather) down the line. The person I was speaking to on the phone said as soon as that was all taken care of, then I could start. But she didn’t give me a date. All she said was that she would give me a call and let me know.

Ugh

Oh, the title of the post is referring to what used to be a high school on USC’s campus. At least that was what I was told once. The school was of course called University High School. It closed down a long, long time ago.

Frustrated

The reason why I can’t bite beef jerky anymore.

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Feb
07
2008

Once Upon a Time in China Part 4: The Story of a Dog

bya Gabrielle at 7:00 AM

If you know me just a little bit, you should know how I feel about man’s best friend and why. I never really wrote about it on this blog, and I sorta wish that I had. It would have made this blog a bit more interesting, I think. For those of you who have no idea how I feel about dogs and why – here is a one sentence explanation why.

I worked at Bermex for 8 months as a meter reader, and every day a dog tried to eat/kill me.

Meter Reader

When I tell people I willingly ate dog in China, people tend to think I am crazy, sick, or both, but it never stops them from asking how dogs tastes. When dog was placed on my dinner plate in China, all I could think was, “Revenge! It is mine!!”

I’m not exaggerating. And if for some reason you think I am, stop what you are doing, find out who handles gas and/or electric meter reading in your area, apply, get hired, and if you last one month – I’ll applaud you. What? Did you think I was going to give you a prize or something.

Anyway, I digress. This post is supposed to be about China and a dog. This story is short, but sweet.

One night, in Shenyang, Phil and I were walking back to our apartment from a restaurant where we had just had dinner. It was still very cold at this time. A lot of the snow and ice from the worst winter storm in 50 years was still piled in places. It made walking a bit hazardous. On several occasions, I nearly busted my white American ass.

While we were walking, we noticed a little dog was following not to far behind us. This is not a to uncommon occurrence in China. Dogs walk around like they are people all the time – even looking both ways before they cross the street. Sounds strange, but I’ve seen them do it. It wasn’t any special kind of breed. It looked like a mutt to me.

The little dog followed us several blocks down the street until we got to the entrance to our apartment. Of all the places we lived in China, this place had the fanciest entrance – a revolving door. Such luxury, huh? Hehe. When we got to this door, I looked back at the little dog, and told him goodbye. I often talk to animals, even though they can’t understand me. Phil thinks I am nuts. He stopped behind us and watched as we stepped in and pushed the door.

I kid you not, as soon as the next available space got back to him, he stepped in and followed us into the lobby. I looked down at him and said, “Your not supposed to be in here. Get back outside.”

Revolving Door

Our fancy revolving door looked a little like this, except that it wasn’t all swirly like that.

The dog looked at me, barked once or twice, and sat down. I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I felt partially responsible that he was sitting in the lobby. I did speak to him, after all. The “security guard” didn’t seem to mind that a dog was chilling in his lobby. Thinking about it now, he may have been taking a nap.

I tried coaxing the dog outside, but he wasn’t budging. If the market right next to the apartment hadn’t been closed, I would have tempted him with something tasty. Nothing I did worked. The dog just continued to look up at me. If possible, I would say he had a confused look on his face.

A few minutes later, a man pushed his way through the revolving door. The man looked over at us and said something in Chinese, probably, “Come along little doggy.” The immediately perked and started following through the lobby. The guy opened the door to the security office and the dog followed in right after him.

I guess the dog knew where he was going after all. He was just waiting for his owner to show up.

Phil and I laughed all the way up to our unlucky 14th floor. You really had to be there to see it.

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