The Sunday Salon ~ Jane Austen and Henry III in a throw down… who’d win?

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Read.  Read read read read read.  and then Read some more.  Having been distracted by life and video games, it would seem that the end of the year has snuck up on me.. again.  This is very familiar.  It seems that I was racing to the end of the year last December, as well, only Second Life was my distractor then… World of Warcraft has done it this year (the facebook games don’t help, either).  But I think I’ll make the 75-book goal this year.  I’ve already read more this year than last.  I ended with 63 last year, but I’ve read 71 already, and with only eleven more days to go, I’m confident I’ll hit 75.

This week I finished three books ~

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is the fifth of the sixth Jane Austen novels.  Though it was written first, it was published, posthumously, next to last.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have to admit that it’s my new Austen favorite.  I crushed harder on Henry Tilney than I did on Mr. Darcy, and that’s saying something.  Tilney has a bit of an edge over Darcy… Henry is actually a nice person, as well as being funny and smart.  Darcy, while sweet in his private way, was a bit of an ass.  I guess that went along well with Elizabeth, since she liked to jump to conclusions and was a bit proud herself, but it did a little to put one off.  Of course, the ingenue.. the innocent, country flower.. who is a blank slate and, therefore, non-threatening to Tilney’s intellectual authority, ready and willing to be molded by him, which suits his fancy, I think. 

All in all, I enjoyed Austen’s wit and sarcasm, as well as her parody of Gothic novels of her day.

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar is a humorous walk through many schools of philosophy.  The authors, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, use jokes to illustrate what each school of thought is about.  Like with Teleology, the philosophy that all things exist for a purpose, one joke used to illustrate this is:

Mrs. Goldstein was walking down the street with her two grandchildren.  A friend stopped to ask her how old they were.  She replied, “The doctor is five and the lawyer is seven.”

I also finished my appointment read, Three to Get Deadly, the third book in the Stephanie Plum numbers series by Janet Evanovich.  I’d been missing Stephanie lately, so I picked this, the next in the series for me, up to read when I was away from home.  I learned an important lesson with it.  Just because a book can fit in your coat pocket doesn’t mean it’s a good appointment book.  By the time I’d gotten to the end of the book, I’d forgotten some of the beginning.  Also, it lost a bit of it’s momentum this way.  In the future, I think I’ll stick to short stories for appointment books.

I’ll write up real reviews for these books later this week… I hope.  I’ve already jumped into my next book, and I’m about 40 pages in it already.  Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert is the second of the Dune series.  I read the first book earlier this year, and I was in the mood for a good sci-fi book, so I picked this up.  I had forgotten how fascinating and fantastic the first book had been, and the second book is, so far, every bit as good.  It is also, however, as much a thinking book as the first.  My brain hurts after a while.   Trying to picture Edric, the fishy-humanoid Guildsman in his tank… picturing the Tleilaxu Face Dancer Scytale manipulate his physical body to be one form one second, then turn into the ghola version of Duncan Idaho (also a mind-bender of a thought), then back again… it’s all an exercising of my imagination muscles… both enjoyable and tiring at the same time.

Reading may be a little easier to do here… but I won’t guarantee it.  Sam, my oldest, has gone to her dad’s for the two-week vacation, and Gwen will go closer to Christmas day, but only stay gone for a week.  Maggie, however, will be here throughout, as her dad has moved back to town.  She’s happy about this, but it has it’s downside, too.  He’s here more, which means he’s nit-picking about my housekeeping more… which means less time to read.   And it means that he no longer needs to take her home with him to spend time, since he can see her whenever he wants. 

LOL.. the remainder of my reading may be Magic Treehouse books with Maggie.

I’ve been watching the Tudors, also.  I got hooked on it when I was sick with the flu last month.  I watched Seasons 1 and 2 straight through on Netflix’s Instant thing.  When the third season came out on DVD this past week, it was on the top of my queue.  I watched the first two discs last night, but I’ll have to wait for the third to come on Monday.  Watching it reminds me how we tend to judge history with modern day values.  Henry VIII was quite a tyrant through 21st century eyes, but was he all that bad or different in his own time-frame?  Sure, he had the north of England hung without trial for rebellion, but the Catholic Church had the Inquisition.  I suppose it all balances out.

I have to admit to a bit of cheating.  I had forgotten which wife Henry took after Jane, so I watched this video.  Now the rest of this season’s lost all suspense for me! 

Happy Reading and have a safe and Merry Christmas, everyone!

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TSS ~ If Cats Ruled the World… oh, wait… they do. Nevermind.

This week has turned out to be the week of cats.  I finally got my review of Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper written and posted, then realized I’d forgotten the video clip I had wanted to tack on it.  A couple days ago, Maggie introduced me to an adorable website that also has an app for facebook (I spend entirely TOO much time on facebook lately) called FooPets, offering virtual cats and dogs (really kittens and puppies, perpetually) that you can feed, water, play with and even dress up and enter into fashion shows, as well as become a virtual breeder.  Now I have a virtual pet of my kitty-baby-son who passed away about 8 years ago, as well as a virtual one of our kitty-boy Dabu.  And then, to put the hairball frosting on the tuna cake, an adorable creamy orange tabby kitten followed us home from the grocery store and decided we were his people… no matter how much I screamed NO MORE CATS! 

So, first up… the forgotten Homer video 🙂

Some people don’t want to read animal books for fear the beloved pet will meet an unhappy end.  These people were no doubt scarred by books like Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller, and The Yearling as children, and have vowed to never read a depressing pet book again.  For those people, as well as those curious to see and hear Gwen and Homer… like me… I had planned on putting the following video clip at the end of the review, as is my normal thing.  But being a bit out of practice, I totally forgot.  Better late than never 🙂

Able to leap tall bookcases! Catches flies mid-buzz! Yet the feline hero of HOMER’S ODYSSEY is blind, and this is his inspirational love story that completely changed the life of author Gwen Cooper.

Oh, and a new one I hadn’t seen before…  Gwen reading a passage from the book while Homer really gets into the gift of catnip 🙂

When Maggie came home the other day announcing she had just adopted a new kitten, I immediately boomed an emphatic NO!  She quickly chimed in that it wasn’t a real cat, but a virtual one found on a website her friend had shown her while they surfed on the computer farm at the library.  We sat down at my computer and she showed FooPets.  You’re greeted at once by the soft, furry face with big, hopeful eyes waiting to be loved and fed.

You can interact with your pet, feed and give him water, pet and play with him.  You can also take him shopping and buy him clothing and enter him in fashion shows.  And you can make him a her if you so prefer.  Maggie’s pet is a grey tabby named Laya (her own real-life cat is a grey tabby named Leia, but she couldn’t spell it 😉 )  This one is my FooKitten named Rambo.  Here he is dressed and ready for a fashion show.

Honestly, only a virtual cat would allow someone to dress him that way…

And all of that led up to the short-lived stance against taking in any new pets.  I mean, honestly… we already have 2 cats and a dog and 3 children.  Isn’t that enough animals?  I had told the girls months ago that as the pets died off, I would NOT be replacing them.  I’m tired of buying pet food and cleaning up the after effects of the pet food.  Tired of rewashing clothing because a cat enjoyed the comfort of the full laundry basket.  Tired of hairballs on book covers and seat cushions… do you know how much work you have to do to get cat vom out of upholstery? 

Then Thursday night, as Mags and I walked home from the grocery store, we happened to cross paths with a creamy-orange tabby cat.  Being the ever-loving animal lovers, we put down our bags and gave him a few appreciative strokes and some warm, cooing words, then set off for home.  Maggie updated me every few houses that the kitten (about 4 months old) was still following us, had crossed two streets and was continuing to follow us, and then all evening she informed me that he was still on our front porch.  To which I immediately resounded “NO, we’re NOT keeping him!”

When bedtime came, I kept having to yell at them to go to sleep everytime I heard the front door creak open.  Sometime around 11:30, Maggie whined that she couldn’t sleep because the poor kitty was crying (I never heard him) and it was cold outside.  Genuine tears of concern ran down her tired cheeks.  I told her to put on a CD and turn the volume up.  The cat was NOT staying. 

By 3:30 in the morning, when I was couldn’t sleep because I knew that poor baby kitty was cold and hungry, I went to the door and opened it to see if he was still there.  He was lying on the table on the porch, curled up tightly to keep warm, and didn’t even offer to slip in through the door crack.  It was as if he was saying it was enough to just dwell on our porch… to expect a place inside was too much to hope for.

I picked him up and carried him in and cuddled in my bed with him.  I’m worse than the kids.  LOL… I have no spine.  My will power was no match to this:

We’ve already named him Kyon-Kyon after the Fruits Basket character, Kyo.  He’s very loving and friendly, hisses a little at the dog and at Leia, but oddly enough gets on well with Dabu, who’s also a male… go figure.  And there just seems to be this gratitude that rolls off of him whenever you pet him, like he’s thankful to have a warm home and a family that loves him.  He’s a Thanksgiving kitty 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

The Sunday Salon ~ In THIS Corner, Wearing the Blue Trunks…

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And now for a mostly video Sunday Salon… Well, we did read Fruits Basket, volumes 1 and 2 this week… So now for some fun stuff.

We went for a walk out in the gorgeous day yesterday… it was a little on the warmish side, but not too bad.  We decided to go to Hardee’s for supper and took Missy with us…

Right now, Missy is sitting by me in her bed with her ears cocked up and a very excited look on her face (and a tail that’s going 30 miles a minute 😉 

On a normal walk to Hardee’s, we walk the main streets, but with Missy in tow, we have to walk down what we call Ex-Lax Alley.  There are about 6 or 7 dogs in the yards on that alley, and Missy gets so excited that she never makes it out without… erm, “Paying the TOLL.” 

Missy’s very interested down there in her bed… I should cam her when one of these vids are on.  The dog in the next vid, I think, is a boxer or a pit.  He’s gotten out a couple times and is fairly good natured.  I still pick up Missy and carry her when he gets out, though.  Nice doggy though he may be, she’d still just make a two-bite brownie for him!

and the next video is a group of dogs that Missy USED to be friends with…. apparently they’ve had words and are now Frenemies or something…

It was surprising to me that they were no longer doggy-pals.  She’s either getting crotchety in her old age (all of 4, I think) or the dogs just don’t like her no  more, but she’s running out of pals!  Just the Jack Russell next door, named Spike, and that’s it.  Poor sad lonely friendless Missy 😦

LOL.. and NOW, as we were almost to Hardee’s, I was telling Maggie about how many views Missy’s videos have gotten compared to theirs… a fact that she firmly believes is Gwen watching them 500 times.  I joke around with Maggie, who’s the youngest, that Missy is, IN FACT, my baby and that the dog is my favorite “child.”  Maggie always play-fights with me and Missy when I say it, and this time Gwen had to chime in with her two-cents.  Maggie gave it back to her with interest! (It’s all play and fun, btw, no one got hurt).

And then we made it to Hardee’s, got our food and went home.  The End.  LOL.. I did have a vid of Missy getting her food, but my messy dining room was visible in the background so I deleted it.  She loved her food, though, and ate it with great relish.

And now… off to make supper.  Maggie has requested Meatloaf.  Yum!

Sunday Salon ~ Settling down… Maybe…

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Oh man… Today our church had services outside and then a picnic and fun and games after.  Gwen, my 15-year-old, entered the watermelon eating contest and came in second.  She at an entire melon and hasn’t felt up to much eating since.. lol.  Cotton candy, snow cones, hillbilly golf (no idea what that is), three-legged races, sack races and so much more.  All told, we were out on the blacktop in the unhindered sunshine for about 3 hours, and went home hot, FULL, and ready for fellowshippin’ with Pastor Pillow and Sister Sheets!  Not long ago, after scratching my forehead, I f0und my skin to be rather warm and sensitive.  My arms are a warm pinky color, but my face is a shiny red sunburn. yay.  Guess I’ll be tearing into the aloe plant in a bit 😉

I finally got the bookmarks from my old computer and put them on here.  The kids are being good little troupers and not complaining about the lack of internet.  Someone suggested I get a router to plug into the modem, and then plug my and their computers into it.  I hope it’s not terrible expensive, I’m already a desk and 25-foot cable into it.

Also, since my desk has been covered with stacks of books, which all went onto my bed when I took out the old computer and put in the new one, making sleep nigh impossible that night (especially since Mags had crawled in my bed while I was working), I finally broke down and got a new bookcase… a HALF bookcase, I don’t intend on filling it… nope, no way… nuh uh!  But, within 24 hours, it had been claimed by someone else.

Wait, THAT'S not on my TBR pile!

Wait, THAT'S not on my TBR pile!

Well, I’m hoping for a better week of reading and looking forward to maybe settling back down into a routine, again.  I’m also wondering if maybe I should go through Mt. TBR and being honest with myself, “Am I really ever going to read this?”  Especially if it’s something I know a lot of people have wishlisted.  I’ve already found a home for The Audacity of Hope, which I got last year along with McCain’s book with the plan of doing a post of opposing candidates.  Honestly, I’m not going to read it now, and BM had 199 people wanting it, so it’s going on to a new TBR pile.  Maybe they’ll read it, lol.

I’ve come to a point in having too many books *gasp, clutch pearls!  That’s blasphemy!* where I’ve bought or mooched books I already had, and, if I never got another book, it’d take me at least 3 or 4 years to get through them all.   I should unsubscribe to Shelf-Awareness… lol… but I’d just go to the website.  Too many books and NOT ENOUGH TIME!

K, so now I’ve come to the point in the post to announce the winner of the Something Beyond Greatness giveaway 🙂  And that winner is:  sdechantal!  Congratulations, if you’ll send me your address, I’ll get that out in the mail to you next week 🙂

and now, a video of MY OWN 😀  YaY!  I love my computer, I can now share my pics and vids from my new camera!  This is my dog, Missy.  She’s a Rat Terrier, and her favorite thing in the world is Hardee’s.  Can you guess what her LEAST favorite thing is?

and while watching the vid here, Missy started getting excited and prancing around.  She thought I was saying these things, NOW, to her… LOL….

TSS ~ Birthdays are Challenging for a Jane Austen Spaz!

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K, so I started doing a Jane-a-thon last year, fully intent on reading all Jane Austen’s books, straight through, in order of publication.  I made it through Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and Mansfield Park with no trouble…. then came Emma, and I hit a wall.  She was so dense and droning and hard to read… even harder to like any of the characters except Mr. Knightly and Miss Taylor… and I lost steam.  I did finally finish Emma a couple weeks ago, but I’m thinking I need a shot of something to get back on track with it all.

So….

I’ve joined 65 other people in joining Stephanie’s Written Word‘s Everything Austen ChallengeIt’s my first book challenge, other than LibraryThing’s 50 and 75 book challenges, and I’m excited to be doing it 🙂

The challenge runs from July 1st, 2009 to January 1st, 2010, and in that six months, I need to do at least six Austen related things, either reading books by her, books about her, books about the characters she wrote or watching movies of the same ilk.  Six Austen-related things will be easy for me…  the hard part will be not doing them all in July out of excitement. 😀

 So my six Austen-themed things are:

  1. Read Northanger Abbey, it’s up next on the Jane-a-thon anyway.
  2. Read Persuasion, which will complete my Jane-a-thon.
  3. Read Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon, which are all by Jane Austen.
  4. Read The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, which has been on my TBR list for awhile, but I’ve been waiting to finish the novels first.
  5. Read Austenland by Shannon Hale, also a long waiter on Mt. TBR.
  6. Read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I spazzed out about when I saw it on the shelf at Walmart.

Bonus points will be:

  1. Watching Northanger Abbey
  2. Watching Persuasion
  3. Watching The Jane Austen Book Club
  4. and any other Austen-themed thing I come across 😀

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And since I’m being such a joiner, I think I’ll go ahead and join the War Through the Generations World War II Reading Challenge.  Since it’s running from January 1st, 2009 to December 31st, 2009, I can count books I’ve read since the challenge began.  Pretty easy, really… only 5 books and I’ve read two already.

My list for the WWII Reading Challenge:

  1. The Zookeeper’s Wifeby Diane Ackerman
  2. The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies
  3. The True Story of Hansel & Gretel by Louise Murphy
  4. Stones From the Riverby Ursula Hegi
  5. The Secret Holocaust Diaries:  The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister by Nonna Bannister, Denise George, Carolyn Tomlin
  6. Sarah’s Keyby Tatiana de Rosnay
  7. The Readerby Bernhard Schlink
  8. The Pianist:  The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945by Wladyslaw Szpilman
  9. Number the Starsby Lois Lowry
  10. Night by Elie Wiesel
  11. Guernica by Dave Boling
  12. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  13. The Boy in the Striped Pajamasby John Boyne

These are the WWII-related books on the WWII Reading Challenge list that I have on Mt. TBR.  I’ve already read The Book Thiefby Markus Zusak and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, so I only have 3 to go for the 5 book challenge, and I’ll probably do more. 

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2009 ARC Reading Challenge

2009 ARC Reading Challenge

As they say, “In for a penny, in for a pound,” so I’m going to add one more challenge to my book-challenge-lovefestI’ve got going.  So Many Books, So Little Time is hosting an ARC Reading Challenge.  I know I need to get it in gear with my ARC-alanche pile threatening to cave in… and poor Missy’s bed is just below the stacks, she’ll be crushed!

So, to save my dog and get motivated to get on the stick with these, I’m joining the 2009 ARC Reading Challenge.  For this challenge I am suppose to list all my ARCs and review books (done that on the ARC-alanche pageof Mt. TBR’s inventory), and read 12 of them.  Coolness 🙂

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And other tidbits of info….

  • Tomorrow, June 29th, is my birthday, so yay me!  LOL… 
  • In the Shadow of Mt. TBR is a little over a year old, June 16, 2008 was my first post. 
  • Monday is my stop for the Something Beyond Greatness blog tour, and I’ve got an extra copy to give away, so make sure to sign up for a chance to win.  I’ll have a daily post for you to comment on for an extra entry, too.

Have a great Sunday, everyone! 🙂

TSS ~ Half-done Is NOT Well-begun

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Oh, how I wish I were a speed reader with photographic memory, that way I could zip through all those lovely books and then digest them later!  Or, that I had clones, each with a feed into my own brain, so that I could read all the blogs and comment on them, read all the books and write their reviews, get all the house work done and cook and walk the dog and….. *sigh* and just the other million and one things I would do, meanwhile I would lay back and receive the feed and process it all.

But, alas… it is just little ol’ me.

But li’l ol’ me did manage to get a lot done this week.  I figured out how to work Google Reader, but I’ve promptly forgot to CHECK IT EVERYDAY… now I’m scared to look at how many new posts will be waiting.  I finished Emmaby Jane Austen… finally… and I’ve started the review, but I just don’t know exactly what I want to say or how I feel, so it sits in the drafts pile, waiting.  The Cable modem had a malfunction and I was without internet for about 26 hours, so in the absence of my feed (addiction), I managed to read Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay (have yet to start the review), get about 2/3 the way through The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, and get a good start on The 19th Wifeby David Ebershoff, but had to set aside Of Bees and Mistby Erick Setiawan until after the blog tour books since they take precedence as they have specific dates to post.

I got on the stick and started sorting clothes for keepers, winter clothes, Goodwill and trash, and now my kitchen table is covered with laundry, the job half done, so now we can’t eat at the table.  We just kinda disperse to which ever cave, er, I mean “room”, we prefer to huddle in front of TV or monitor or book while consuming our food.  It feels so separate and distant, I can’t see how people do that on a regular basis. 

Maggie’s dad’s suffering the economic crunch, and this multiple-times Employee-of-the-Month-where-ever-he-goes will be outa a job as of Wednesday, the company he has worked for for six years is closing their doors.  So my coming weeks will involve helping him with unemployment paperwork, filling out job apps, looking up openings online and helping him talk to potential employers.  I do all of that because he’s Maggie’s daddy and if he gets a job here, then he’ll stay in the area and she’ll get to grow up as much with him as possible.  When he first found out about the closing, he talked about moving back to California with his parents.  Mags wanted me to let him live at our house, but I had to set her straight.

Me:  “Maggot, that’s NOT going to happen.”

Daddy’s Princess:  “Why not?  He can sleep on my top bunk.”

Me:  “Honey, if daddy were to move back in with us, it wouldn’t be long before you’d be an orphan because I’d be in jail for killing him”

Needless to say, he and I are great friends but we did not get along under the same roof AT ALL.  I enjoy our relationship now that I can tell Mr. Anal-Retentive to “Go home if you don’t like my messy house.”  The very things that I love and admire in him drove me insane when living together.

Yeah… As the sands through the hourglass, such is The Kool-Aid Mom’s life. 😀

The Sunday Salon ~ Peanut Butter on Strawberry Pop Tarts

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Just sitting in front of the computer on a darkening Sunday afternoon, “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” playing in the background.  I’m snacking on the last of the Strawberry Pop Tarts, cold and just out of the bag, with peanut butter.  I discovered the two go well together the other day when I was eating some peanut butter bread and pop tarts, alternating nibbles.  Maggie thinks it’s disgusting, but I don’t see how much difference there is between that and Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jelly Sandwiches.  What do you think?

So, I haven’t done much in the way of reading this weekend.  In all, I think I’ve read about 80 pages of Emma and 30 or so from Of Bees and Mist.  Instead, I’ve been watching movies.  Lots of movies.  And the whole of Stargate SG-1 season 3.  A few that I would absolutely recommend are:

Taken~ Liam Neeson is a retired “problem preventor” (something like a CIA op), who just wants to get to know his daughter, who’s grown up while he’s been away on one mission after another.  When she manages to manipulate him (with the help of her mother) into allowing her to go to Paris for the summer, it is against his better judgment.  Within hours of arriving, she is taken by human traffickers.  He makes the promise to one of them that he will find and kill them, then hops a plane to make good on his word.

Intense action and amazing mental work, Brian, the dad, borders on a superhero.  Nothing will stop his mission to rescue his daughter (played by Maggie Grace, who also played Shannon, the girl who slept with her brother, on LOST, but pulls it off surprisingly well… she plays a virgin with values, WOW!) Maggie really liked it, as she loves most father-daughter kinds of shows.  Even Netflix knew I’d like it, they guessed I’d give it 4.9 out of 5 stars.  I’d give it a 6 or 7 if I could, tbh.

Death at a Funeral~ British humor at it’s best. This movie was one OMG! Gaff after another.  Starring Rupert Graves and Alan Tudyk (Wash from Firefly and Watt in A Knight’s Tale), among others, it is just about the best comedy I’ve seen in a long time.  Definitely 5 out of 5 stars.

Great line from the movie,”Tea can do many things, Jane, but it can’t bring back the dead.”

And I seriously think Patty Blah-blah-bitch should be banished from the show.  I guess she really IS married to her perfect match.  Both are rabid thiefs. Bah… and Next to her, Janice should go. Her and her lips creep me out, badly.  But I do like Bruddah and Baby Baldwins.  Like my siblings and I, when we all get together, the world becomes a lot more fun for everyone. 🙂  Will be watching tomorrow to see if the Bratts will be allowed back in.

I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!

Tell me, if you were stuck in the jungle like that, and two of your camp-mates left for two days, then wanted back to come back into the camp to play, would you, who’ve been stuck with mosquitoes, bullet ants, and nothin’ but beans and rice to eat, allow them, who’ve had a couple good nights air-conditioned sleep in a hotel with a shower and room service, back into the camp so they can get a few more minutes of fame and money?

I know I wouldn’t.