Thursday, August 28, 2014

Oedipus: A Summary

Every once in awhile I will entertain myself by retelling a story, usually something Shakespeare or the like, in essentially the same language/style I use to write this blog. Because I'm a giant nerd, in case you were unaware. Now I want to write a post but I also don't want to think to much (aka write a review, which believe it or not I do put thought into) and while I have wedding photos now, I haven't scanned them just yet so I can't write that post. Or I suppose I COULD but yeah, I'm not going to.* Instead, you get to enjoy my retelling of Oedipus because that's what I was telling myself while I walked from my office to the subway.**

Once upon a time, there was a King and Queen of Thebes. They had a baby and were like "Look what we made. We're terrific and I'm sure nothing terrible could come of this. Hey oracle, why don't you come over and tell us how awesome our baby is and great everything is going to be." And the oracle said "Yeah, yeah, great ki...No, wait. This one is definitely going to murder you. And then marry your wife. Well, that's a bummer. Good luck with that."
Odds are he was killed cos I assume kings and queens of ancient times were all about shooting the messenger. 300 was pretty much a documentary, right?

King Laius and Queen Jocasta are all "Well. Shit. We should do something to thwart this." You'd think, as the kid is growing up, Jocasta makes extra sure she doesn't marry him, which would seem fairly easy if she were to keep him around, but Laius was (understandably) more worried about the whole murder thing, so it was decided the kid's gotta go. But being not thoroughly terrible people, they couldn't bring themselves to do the kid in, so they give the kid to a servant to do their dirty work. The servant is also not thoroughly terrible and can't murder the kid. But he's sort of terrible as he binds/pins/nails the baby's feet together for...reasons, I guess? I mean, it's an infant. What was it going to do? Run off?
A real threat
Maybe not the brightest servant. Anyway, he leaves him on a mountain figuring that oughta do it, which isn't really that unreasonable of an assumption.

BUT some shepherds were wandering that mountainside (servant probably could have picked somewhere more secluded) and found the kid and brought him to King Polybus and Queen Merope who really wanted kids but couldn't have them. Then they named the kid Oedipus, aka "swollen foot" after the fact that his foot was all fucked up because of the whole binds/pins/nails thing which
Who names their kid after its physical deformity? It's probably for the best that they couldn't have kids or else Oedipus might have ended up with siblings "Dumbo ears" and "Weirdly tiny hands" which I'm sure would have sounded fancy in ancient Greek, but still not an excuse.

Oedipus grew up fairly normal so good on him until one day a random drunk guy calls him a "bastard" which super pisses him off, but not at the drunk guy. Not just at the drunk guy, anyway. He goes to check with his parents who are very "Whaaa? No. You are totally our kid by birth. We had the whole labor on video, but this asshole taped over it or else we would absolutely show you that. Now why don't you go out and play, ol' club foot?" Then he decides to go talk to an oracle and just happens to get the same one Laius and Jocasta talked to who tells Oedipus "You're totally going to kill your dad and marry your mom" which, again, I could see who the whole "kill your dad" thing might happen even if you don't want/mean for it to, but the "marrying your mom" thing seems easier to avoid. However, Oedipus doesn't trust himself and decides to leave Corinth and head over to Thebes cos that place seems pretty neat.

On the way there Oedipus comes to a fork in the road where it just so happens that King Laius is in the area as well. The two of them fight over who has the right-of-way because road rage is far more ancient than I would have otherwise assumed and Oedipus kills Laius. Given the whole prophecy that he CLEARLY believes, seeing that he left Corinth to prevent it from coming true, you'd think he'd be more careful when it comes to killing people that are roughly "dad" age, but Oedipus isn't that bright.

Oedipus makes his way to Thebes, which is guarded by the Sphinx who asks people a riddle and if they get it right they can enter Thebes and if they get it wrong they get killed. Could someone please explain what's so awesome about Thebes that it's worth probably getting eaten by a mythical creature just to get in? Oedipus is all for the challenge and answers the Sphinx's riddle correctly and he gets to enter Thebes! Yay, I guess!

Creon (Jocasta's brother) says whoever answers the Sphinx's riddle correctly and frees the city of her terror (I guess no one in the city tried to answer her riddle cos it seemed like she was only attacking new people coming into the city, but given Laius was wandering outside the city, I guess she doesn't really care if you leave. No riddle there.) gets to marry Jocasta who was recently widowed. Super recently, as a matter of fact. There isn't really anything about how long Oedipus's journey from Corinth to Thebes is, or how far he was into said journey when he murdered Laius, but it seems like not THAT much time has gone by. Aren't they still in mourning over their lost king? Do they even know he's dead or is he just missing?
Sounds like they all wanted Laius out of the way.

Anyway, so now Jocasta and Oedipus are married because women are door prizes, obv.
Also, again, they BOTH know the whole prophecy is that they will marry their mom/son so you'd THINK they'd keep their paramours out of those age ranges. Or maybe they'd be sitting around the fire drinking wine and get to talking about their past and "OMG you went to visit an oracle too? What'd he tell you? Because he told me I would kill my dad and marry my mom! Crazy, right? Anyway, what'd your oracle say?"

They don't do that cos OF COURSE NOT and instead get married and do the nasty at least 4 times cos Oedipus ends up with 4 kids/siblings. Ew.

Many years go by and suddenly a plague of infertility hits Thebes because sure, why not punish everyone cos of a few dumbasses. Also not sure why the plague took so long to hit but odds are the gods were busy/drunk earlier. I assume this wasn't Zeus doing the plaguing either, since he is into some weird kinky stuff and I assume this wouldn't bother him too much. Actually, that's a good question. Which of the gods was annoyed by this incest cos in general, that does not super seem like a thing they had an issue with. Oedipus tries to figure out how to stop the plague and Creon visits another oracle and really, stop that. This oracle says the plague will stop when Laius's killer is brought to justice but doesn't bring up the fact that apparently YEARS have gone by and no explanation why the plague suddenly started up. Lotta holes in their story, I'm saying.

Oedipus is going around sounding like a jackass yelling about how he's going to catch the killer and...awkward. Creon calls another oracle in cos these guys are just all over the place to tell them who killed Laius. This oracle doesn't want to tell anyone that it was the guy currently yelling in his face that he needs to know how the killer is, but at some point you can't help but tell the guy "you did it. And you've been screwing your mom. So maybe get out of my face." He also mentions something about how Oedipus should be ashamed cos he doesn't know who his real parents are, which should really fall behind the whole "killed your dad/screwing your mom" thing, at least in my mind. Ancient Greece had messed up priorities.

Eventually Jocasta figures out what's going on. Oedipus doesn't because he's sort of a dumbass. Jocasta goes to hang herself because ew ew eww. Oedipus FINALLY figures out what's going on (after like the 6th person spells it out to him), finds Jocasta hanging there, and stabs his eyes out. And then we get my favorite joke from History of the World


*This Sunday? Possibly! Likely, even!
** I am often lost in my own world while walking, and I'll randomly find I've been laughing/muttering to myself. I'd be more self-conscious about this, but I am never the weirdest person on the block (thank you, NYC) so it really doesn't matter.
*** I know there are some versions where Laius does this and then immediately leaves him on a hill. Others where they give him to a servant who does the binding. Whatever. Either way, what's the point of binding a baby if you're just going to leave him on a mountain. It's a BABY.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Nick Davenant had far too much past

It's been almost 2 months since I read Bee Ridgway's The River of No Return and I really shouldn't let that much time go between reading and reviewing. Whoops. Not that I didn't have a good excuse, cos I did. It's more I shouldn't let that much time go because then I forgot things about the book which may not make for the most helpful review.

I've had this book on my radar for awhile now, ever since AliceMegs, Raych, and Rayna all had excellent things to say about it. So naturally it took me like 6 months to pick it up because I'm a brat like that.

Nicholas Falcott is a Marquess in London circa 1815 when those were a thing, until he's almost killed on a battlefield and flung forward in time. Which is convenient when the other options is "be killed" so that worked out nicely. He's met by a group called The Guild (that's not ominous or anything) who picks up these people who jump forward in time, because this is a thing that happens. They tell him they'll help him out, give him money and all he has to do is uphold Guild rules:
There Is No Return.
There Is No Return.
Tell No One.
Uphold the Rules.
He adapts to the future and things are going well until the Guild shows up and SURPRISE those first two rules about how you can never go back or more like guidelines and you can totally go back and no only that but Nick, you have to go back.

There's another group called the Ofan that want to do...something with time-travel that the Guild is not a fan of and there's a problem in the future with time doubling back on itself and other ominous time-travel, world-destroying stuff and Nick needs to seduce Ofan people and figure out what they're up to so the future can be saved. This does involve some awkward moments as he explains to his family where he's been for the past few years. (Amnesia in Spain. Obviously.)

It works out nicely that back in the past is a woman named Julia Percy. Her grandfather had a way with time travel but he's gone and now there's just her evil cousin who is busy being evil. In between trying to figure out what the Ofan is up to, what the true intentions of the Guild are, and saving the future, Julia and Nick have plenty of sexytimes.

There's nothing BAD about this book. The characters are well-drawn, it's an interesting time travel story, it's well-written. But overall I was sort on the book. There's nothing to dislike about it and I certainly don't regret reading it. I may even pick up the sequel considering this book ends on a cliff-hanger and if I want to know what happens with pretty much anything, I'm going to need to read the next book. But I was expecting to looooooooove this book and unfortunately I did not. I liked it. It entertained me at the time. And I mostly forgot about it once I put the book down.

BUT, if this sounds like your type of thing, you should check out those other review.s You should probably check out those reviews anyway because they are very good and funny and yeah.

GIF rating:

Title quote from page 10, location 192

Ridgway, Bee. The River of No Return. Plume, 2013. Kindle

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Six Degrees of Separation: Gone Girl

Kayleigh introduced me to a new bookish meme, 6 degrees of separation. The rules are below, but since I had a little trouble reading them, here are the basics:

Emma and/or Annabella will pick a book and then you have connect that book to...OK, so I just realized there isn't actually a goal you're aiming to get to in the 6 degrees. So just find 5 other books and how they link together

This month (since Kayleigh told me and I found a past 6 degrees that confirm this is a monthly deal which is why this isn't actually late THANK YOU VERY MUCH) the book is Gone Girl. So. Let's do this thing.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is a thriller, about terrible people, that it seems like everyone and their mother has read.* So naturally I didn't read this for awhile because I'm a pain in the ass. Hey, you know what's another HUGE book that took me forever to pick up and try, even though I really enjoyed it once I did?

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. And guess what! There are a bunch of terrible people in there too, so double connection. Epic story of epicness and people either being terrible, or just merely doing terrible things to one another, but for lots of REASONS. I've only read the first 2 books of the series. I intend to continue but the books are SO LONG that I need to psych myself up into being in that world for a long time. What's another super long book with a billion characters to try to keep track of?

Under the Dome by Stephen King. It's a King story and sure, it involves supernatural stuff, but that's not where the horror comes from. The dome is the catalyst for people to rise to the occasion or fall to pieces or be raging douchebags. Hey look, more terrible people. The book makes you consider that even if there are malevolent forces fucking with us, aren't people the truly terrible ones? What's another book that leads you to consider are people horrible to the core?

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Kevin perpetrated a shooting at his school. Like the Columbine guys. Actually Kevin is pretty upset with those two, since they staged their attack not long after his and really stole his thunder. We learn the story of what happened through his mother Eva's letters. But of course, Eva may not necessarily be the most reliable narrator. You know what book also features an unreliable narrator (and real asshole?)

American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis.  The unreliable narrator, Patrick Bateman. He's in murders and executions. Or is it mergers and acquisitions? That's what everyone seems to hear. Is everyone just wrapped up in their own world not paying any attention to Patrick? Or is Patrick the one in his own world? I don't have a link for this book. Because I haven't reviewed the book here. Because I read it before I started my blog. And SCREW YOU if you think I'm re-reading it so I can review it. NO. No. No. No. Want to know another book that grossed me out, not quite to American Psycho levels, but close?

Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates. Are you looking for a book from a psycho's point of view full of graphic violence including a transorbital lobotomy? No, because OMG WHO WOULD BE LOOKING FOR THAT? Too bad, you found it anyway. Quentin is trying to make himself a sex slave, Jeffrey Dahmer-style and he is also the first person narrator. So you get to spend lots of time in his head as he does terrible things and justifies all the murders. And he's terrible.

So there we go! From Gone Girl to Zombie and all terrible people. So I guess I found a general theme among the connections.

*As I thought this I realized that wait, I don't think my mother has read this. But I think she'd really enjoy it. So I called her to tell her this. Back to the post!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Yeah, I'm kind of a lone wolf type

Now that I got my Kindle all charged, I was going to start this post saying it had been too long since I'd read a Wendig. Then I remembered I had read The Blue Blazes in May. And I finished this book in June. BUT it has been awhile since I read the first book in the Miriam Black series Blackbirds so there you go. Either way, TIME FOR MORE MIRIAM/WENDIG.

Heads up, that there might be some spoilers from Blackbirds here. But hey, look, Miriam is back so you already knew she was going to make it out of the first book. And further spoiler, there's a third Miriam book so yeah, she'll make it out of this one. So what I'm saying is any spoilers below are going to be fairly obvious ones, and ones you'd get if you read a basic summary of the book.*

Miriam is back again in Mockingbird still being herself. She still sees how a person is going to die when she touches them. She's still foul-mouthed, cynical, tough, hurt. Just the best. She's settled down with Louis, as best she can anyway. So, not that well at all. She's living in LBI, NJ (She never thought pine trees belonged at the beach but here they are. Of course, she never thought medical waste belonged at the beach either, but that's New Jersey for you) at a trailer park and working at a grocery store. Exciting stuff. She still hates her gift but at the same time she needs it. She NEEDS to be able to see how people are going to die. It's like an addiction.

Louis is trying to help her and actually gets her a job using her psychic abilities. Someone wants to know how they're going to bite it, Miriam can help. A teacher at a school for troubled girls thinks she might have cancer. Sure, she could go to a doctor and find out if she's sick, but that won't answer the question of if this possible disease will kill her and when. Miriam could help there. But of course, if that was all that happened the book would be very short. And boring.

Miriam is again put in the position where she sees how a death (or several) is supposed to happen and decides she's going to try to change fate. It's happened before. It could happen again.
She's a fate-changer, and fate has a funny way of pushing back hard. Real fucking hard.
As with the last book, there is a lot of violence here. And like last time, it doesn't feel gratuitous. It serves the story. Everything about this book is MORE than Blackbirds. More action, more suspense, more violence, more Miriam. And I enjoyed it more. It's a book you fly through because you HAVE to see what's going to happen. I will definitely be picking up the third Miriam Black book The Cormorant. Not sure when but it will happen.

Because it (sadly) happens so infrequently, kudos to Wendig for creating a strong female character. And not a strong female character that's actually just a dude character but with boobs. Not a female character that is just super tough and violent but not actually a fully formed character. An actual, strong female character. YAY Wendig.

Gif rating:

*ALSO there was an interesting PBS Idea Channel about spoilers and I haven't bugged you guys about watching this channel in awhile. So here you go.

Title quote from location 3406

Wendig, Chuck. Mockingbird. Angry Robot, 2013. Kindle.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I was going to write a review. That didn't happen

I fully intended to review Chuck Wendig's Mockingbird, which Goodreads tells me I finished almost 2 months ago. I opened up blogger, cracked my knuckles, grabbed my Kindle was dead. Dead dead. I've never seen the message "You literally have no batter left. What is the matter with you? Go charge this and don't even think about trying to turn it on for at least 30 minutes. Ass."
Thanks, Kindle
So here we are.

I am way behind on reviews. Probably cos of that whole wedding thing. But in an effort to make sure I don't get too far behind in reviews, even while I can't actually get that review written just yet, I figured I'd let you know what's at least on my radar for reviewing purposes.

Also here's a super quick review of each book based on what I remember without going back to look at anything:

Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig which I finished June 18 and remember it as being even better than Blackbirds. Suspenseful and kickass.

The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway which I finished June 28. I thought it was an interesting concept with some awkward random sex scenes. I remember it ended on a cliffhanger but can't totally remember what that cliffhanger was so, that's probably not a great sign.

The Martian by Andy Weir, finished July 6. OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK. I didn't know that would happen. I expected to like it, as I expect with pretty much all books I read. But I did not expect to love it so much. I already bought an extra copy (in hardback no less!) that I foisted on a friend.

One Summer by Bill Bryson which I finished July 30 and wow, there was a big gap in there where no reading got done. Well I guess I was reading How To Build A Girl. Anyway, this was very fun and typical Bryson. Who knew 3 months in America in 1927 were so busy? I've already been to the Roosevelt Field mall a couple times, although as yet I have been unable to locate the Lindbergh plaque.

Superfreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner which I finished for the second time on August 5. But HEY I reviewed this already and don't really have anything new to say. Fun book, they make really interesting points, and if you haven't already, I recommend their podcast.

I probably won't have a final review for How To Build A Girl but if you want to read all of the readalong posts, go for it. It was excellent and you should probably read it. Now. Right now. Go.

I will also have at least 1 (maybe more? I guess it depends on the photos I get) wedding post, at least 1 honeymoon post for you. LOOK AT EVERYTHING YOU HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD TO!

Monday, August 11, 2014

I have to die - again. And again, the thought makes me very cheerful

This is it. The last How To Build A Girl post. I'm so sad to be leaving Johanna and our group but I'm also SO HAPPY I didn't have to force myself to stop reading this time. I could just race to the end. And it was lovely.
Thank you again Emily for hosting this readalong and Harper for giving her the opportunity and us the books. AND if you haven't already (which is silly, of course you have) pre-ordered the book, you can do that through this link right here. And support an indie bookstore, which of course you want to do.

One more detail. I have managed to catch a summer cold cos awesome. So if this post will likely make less sense than normal considering cold meds and general cold-fuzziness. Enjoy.

Now, to part 3

I was very happy the last section's message about sex wasn't all
I didn't actually think it would be, but after a lot of the comments that were going around last week I thought maaaaaaaybe I'd be wrong and Moran would bust out something about pregnancy or STD or whatnot. Which I mean, yes, are actual consequences of sex and things that do need to be taken seriously but I was SO SO happy it didn't come up and all of Johanna's sexy time didn't become some big warning that if you have sex you will get pregnant/get chlamydia and you will die.

I was also very happy to see that by the end when Johanna decides to drop some aspects of Dolly but keep other than the drinking and the sex made it on the keep list. Again because while these activities do have consequences and some of them serious that does not mean that need to be given up and hooray to Moran again.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Section 2 ended with Johanna realizing the problems with being so mean. But of course, change doesn't happen right away and she eventually finds that she's insulted about half of the indie rock scene. That certainly makes going to shows awkward and ends with her getting a drink thrown at her. Which leads to her doing speed in the bathroom with the other guys from the magazine. See what meanness gets you?

Then, because things have to continue to get worse before they get better, Johanna has some less-than-fun sex with Tony Rich. First is the light S&M that causes her more pain than fun because Tony Rich hasn't read up on the S&M rules and tips, like not smacking the same place twice. Then she starts questioning what Tony is to her. She thinks he might be falling in love with her but isn't really sure how to find out. I mean, you can't just ASK
Why people are white or in love. Both off-limits
Tony invites her to his parents' for the weekend, along with a bunch of friends so way to go with the mixed signals. Signals get clear later when it turns out Tony Rich is in love with an ex-girlfriend he also invited for the weekend. He's been having random sex with this girl and figured it wasn't a problem with Johanna considering all of her sexual adventuring. Which, honestly, isn't all that unreasonable. But of course this doesn't hurt Johanna less and in order to try to win her way back to top position, Johanna suggests a threesome.

Things do not go well. First, while getting ready for the threesome she overhears Tony's friends referring to her as his "bit of rough". THEN, after forcing herself to be OK with this, she goes down to find out they've started the threesome without her. But Johanna finally gets angry. She's not going to make herself OK with this.
And she realizes while she was worried if Tony was in love with her, she wasn't all that concerned with how she felt about him. What she decides is she wants to be with John Kite.

I'm so so happy Kite ended up being wonderful. I know we were all worried where that would go so hooray for Kite being wonderful and a real friend. Of course things are still not done being terrible for Johanna. While the two of them are very drunk at a zoo, she tells Kite that they have to have sex. She's worried she's ruined everything and Kite won't want to ever see her again after making that suggestion. She reads her latest review tearing apart a band and feels horrible about it. She doesn't know what to do and just knows her experiment as Dolly isn't making her happy and she starts cutting. Or really goes through one night of cutting herself and that is not to say it's not a serious thing but at least it isn't on-going.

At least she has Krissi to talk her out of this and almost necessitate the amputation of her arm but you know, details. This also prompts Johanna to remake herself again.

She stops hanging out with the old D&ME folks. She makes up with John Kite (who doesn't remember her proposition and tells her right now she's too young for him but maybe in the future), she gets her own place in London, good things.
Oh, and she finds out why the family's benefits got cut. It was her fault for leaving school early. She left school early to try to make enough money to help save the family and instead is the reason things got cut. I'm not quite sure why they didn't tell her (and tell her "HEY go back to school so we can get those back" but perhaps that wasn't an option) but there you go.

Things are looking good for Johanna. Not perfect. It's not like things are rainbows and stardust for her and her family, but they're definitely moving in the right direction. And so we leave Johanna as she starts her new, less-cynical life in London.

This book was wonderful. It was so fun and full of so much that teen girls aren't told enough. I don't think this book is going to make it on any school reading lists anytime soon, what with all of the sex and the wanking, but it should definitely be on recommended reading lists. Well, well done Moran.

Title quote from page 301

Moran, Caitlin. How To Build A Girl. Harper, 2014