Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Time!

I hope those of you in the U.S. are enjoying eating ALL THE FOOD. Those of you not in the U.S. should also try eating all the food as all the food is delicious.
As with previous years, I've wandered down south for the holiday* where the internet access is slim, but the puppy access is high so it's a pretty good trade-off. I'd apologize in advance for being around to read and comment on everyone's blog, except I have been pretty bad about that in general. Which I AM sorry for and I'm trying to get better about. Anyway, Thanksgiving.
Bookish things I am thankful for:
1. Time to read: My long commute may suck a LOT but it at least gives me an opportunity to read. Or sometimes not read if I feel like listening to music but the point is I have a bunch of time to read which is nice.
2. Means to buy books: I certainly do not have ALL THE MONEY but I do have enough to cover my bills with some leftover for books. I think I need to make the effort to use the library so some of that leftover can go somewhere other than books, but it's nice that I have the option.
3. This blog: I may not have all the time I used to to keep up with this blog, but I still heart it and I'm still making the effort to be here as often as I can.
4. The people I met cos of this blog: You people (and if you're reading this you can pretty much guarantee you're one of these people) are the reason I'm still writing this blog. I love the readalongs and minithons and general meeting-and-talking-to people who have become great friends.

I know there are more things but I won't continue listing them. There are important things to get to
Hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving/day of eating lots of food and lots to be thankful for.

*And unfortunately, as with previous years, Tom is staying up here because of work. Would-be-robbers should take note the house will not be empty so no funny business.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The mischief began modestly enough

Back in October I got an email from Meghan at Little Brown that said basically Alice recommended that I might like this book that dealt with creativity and awesome things and dinosaurs and OF COURSE I was up for that! (I told Meghan she should probably mention dinosaurs and Alice in all pitches.) A week or so later I got not only the book What The Dinosaurs Did Last Night by Refe and Susan Tuma, but also a couple of my own mischievous dinosaurs and a box of art supplies.
Refe and Susan are parents of 4 small children who one day received a box of hand-me-down toys. Included in the haul were a bunch of plastic dinosaurs. One day Susan set a couple of the dinosaurs out around the kids' bathroom, not thinking too much of it. At least until the next morning when the kids dragged their parents into the bathroom to show them how the dinosaurs came to life. From that point Refe and Susan decided every night the dinosaurs would come to life again. And again. And again, every night in November. And then they took pictures of it and now it's here in this book.

If they just set the dinosaurs up around the house, that would be one thing. But Refe and Susan are COMMITTED to this game and the dinosaurs DESTROY things. Break plates. Smash windows. SPRAY PAINT THE WALLS. Kudos to them for going whole hog when it comes to these dinosaurs.

It's a cute book and it's clear the Tumas are super creative. Hopefully they'll keep dinovember going. I had a TON of these plastic dino toys when I was little, so there's lots of nostalgia here.

As I mentioned, along with the the book, Little Brown sent along a couple dinosaurs and art supplies so we could set up our own dino stories. I do not have the level of commitment the Tumas have to actually destroy any of my things or parts of my home. Instead of destroying my house, I do have a bunch of pictures showing the courtship between these two because I'm an adult and this is what I spent my time doing. You know, before I had the dinosaurs act as my espresso guards.

Gotta work up the nerve to ask Bronti out
First date: coffee & books.
Adventure date. LOOK AT THAT ROCK!
Fancy dinner, popping the question
Wedding day! (with Mr. Met)
Yup. I'm an adult.

Gif rating:

Title quote from page 3

Tuma, Refe and Susan. What The Dinosaurs Did Last Night. Little Brown, 2014.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Time To Minithon!

Once again it is time to take part in a mini readathon hosted by the lovely Tika at Reading the Bricks!
For those of us with too much to do/far too lazy to read for 24 hours, we have the minithon which is yes, about reading but MOSTLY about snacks and excuses for why our choices count as mini (the more ridiculous the better).

I was planning on getting things figured out/making up excuses this morning because of course I did no planning ahead of time. But then that didn't quite work out.

See, this week commuting has been super annoying, and it came to a head yesterday morning. I was heading towards the subway when I saw the people in front of me start to run. So I start to run because shit, the train is here. But there were too many people moving WAY too slowly and by the time I got to the bottom of the stairs, the doors closed. As I was cursing that, the strap to my laptop bag broke. WEeeeeee.
You, sir, are an asshole
Tom and I spent this morning looking for a laptop bag and FUN FACT, apparently no one uses these anymore? Or at least those that do either like A) really ugly bags or B) super expensive (and still ugly and not super practical) bags. So this morning was a bust both in bag acquiring and 'thon planning. So let's see what I can manage now.

For snacks, I haven't really made it that far. I still have leftover Halloween candy* and those are tinier than full size candy bars, so probably that. I'm thinking of making some sweet potato chips which are much smaller than whole sweet potatoes so, mini. I also made myself an espresso which is in a teeny cup. MOAR MINI. Other food...I'll come up with something.
Mmm caffeine
I have my reading nook made up with the most COZY BLANKET EVER. I also have the new coffee table which I still love (cos fancy TV tray) despite the fact that it tried to hobble me. I realize none of that is mini BUT I have a couple mini-dinosaur mascots so, mini.

As for reading (oh yeah. THAT) I'm thinking I'm going to finish listening to the audiobook Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs which is about a bunch of things you can do to be the HEALTHIEST PERSON IN THE WORLD and some of that is to lose weight and thus become smaller, so.

Then there's What The Dinosaurs Did Last Night by Refe and Susan Tuma and it's children's book and children are little people.

Then lastly I'll probably keep making my way through The Collector by John Fowles, which is about a crazy person that kidnaps this girl and keeps her in a little room. Again little. I am so good that this.


UPDATE: Minithon is completed.
I managed to finish Drop Dead Healthy and I think audiobooks are the way to go for these 'thons cos then I can be on Twitter and whatnot WHILE STILL reading.

I also finished What The Dinosaurs Did Last Night but given that book is 90% pictures (more if you don't count the intro in the beginning, but you should probably read that intro) perhaps not that impressive. BUT STILL, 2 books down! I'll have a post about that book soon, along with the collection of pictures I took with the caffeine guards.

I read a bit more of The Collector and might do some more later but for now I'm done.

Snacks were had. Some snacks. Some candy, some cake, some sweet potato chips (the kitchen still smells like fried), some eggs (little pre-chickens), and plenty of caffeine. Tom has come home so now it's time to figure out dinner (MOAR FOOD) and I guess stop laying on the couch for awhile.

Thank you again Tika for hosting this minithon. As usual, lots of fun and there was even some reading done!

*BTW for those of you who won soap I AM SO SORRY I haven't sent it out yet. I have no excuse other than I'm stupidly lazy. BUT you'll be getting a bunch of Halloween candy as well. And if I take that much longer to make it to the post office, prob some more treats. I'm sorry.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hyperbole is alright

HaHA I bet you thought I was going to say something hyperbolic there. You'd only be mostly right, since that was the original plan.

Anyway, it's been awhile since I shared a PBS Idea Channel video and also I don't have anything else to write about (except, you know, several reviews I should probably get to) so hey, why share the video titled LITERALLY OUR MOST AMAZING EPISODE EVER!!!

For those of you who haven't watched it (yet) it is about our (meaning us denizens of the interwebs) use hyperbole pretty much all the time and what happens if you need to talk about something that is actually THE BEST THING EVER.

I was trying to come up with something clever to say here but I got nothing. I was thinking well I agree with what's said here and I use hyperbole ALL THE TIME and perhaps I should stop doing that. Then I thought about it some more and I'm good. I'm good with my hyperbole, at least right now. I agree with everything in this video. I think he makes good points and I'm sure at some point I'll change. Or the general internet culture/language will change. I just follow the crowd. But the point is, I needed a post and here's a video you guys should watch.


Monday, November 17, 2014

"Can we go back and start over?" "How far back?"

It took me a long time to pick up Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I have no idea why but this seems to be a thing I do with all of her books. I know it's going to be AMAZING but I don't pick it up right away. Or maybe "so I don't pick it up right away." Perhaps I'm holding onto it as a "I know I'm going to love this so when I'm in a slump I'll have something to read that will suck me in." You'd think I'd know since it should be as easy as asking myself, but myself doesn't really know why it does what it does. I think it was Meg's review that finally made go "I need this in my life now" and thus I began.

Unlike her previous books (Attachments, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl) Landline isn't about new love. It's about worn in love. It's about a couple that has been together for years. They've gone through the first glances, the first kisses, the butterflies. Now they've been married for 15 years, have 2 kids, and the butterflies aren't really there. It's not that they don't love each other anymore, but when Georgie decides to stay in L.A. and work on a pilot for her dream show instead of going with Neal and the girls to Nebraska for Christmas, well, is love enough?

But something strange happens. While staying at her mom's Georgie finds she can talk to past-Neal using an old yellow landline phone at her mom's house. The Neal from when he and Georgie were early in their relationship, still in college. Can talking to past-Neal help her fix the problems with present-Neal? Should she?

The tone here is closer to that of E&P, more serious, less fluff, but don't think that means it's missing Rowell's humor and banter. I love Rowell's style.
Neal didn't take Georgie's breath away. Maybe the opposite. But that was okay - that was really good, actually, to be near someone who filled your lungs with air.
Seth and Scotty brainstormed. Georgie brain-hurricaned.
And the banter! Have I mentioned the banter?
When were you smiling? No one in your family smiles. You're a dynasty of wasted dimples.
"You didn't make me go," he said.
"You can't
make me do anything - I'm an adult. And I'm much stronger than you."
"Upper body strength isn't everything; I have wiles."

"Not really."

"Yes, I do. I'm a woman. Women have wiles."
And I haven't even mentioned all of the other characters. Georgie's writing partner, Seth, her mom, her sister, her kids. They're full characters who feel like they exist outside of Georgie and Neal's story.

I loved this book. Obviously. It's Rowell and I expected to love it and of course she didn't disappoint. I've given up trying to rank her books. I love them all, don't make me choose. If you haven't read
any of her stuff yet, I encourage you to reconsider your life choices and rectify this problem. Landline isn't a bad place to start.

Gif rating:

Title quote from page 127

Rowell, Rainbow. Landline. St. Martin's Press, 2014. Kindle

Friday, November 14, 2014

Come along with me, in search of Dr. Seuss

I was hoping to have another review to post this week, but clearly that didn't happen. A couple late nights, a broken toe*, and here we are, with only one review. BUT THEN Alice wrote a post about Andrea Martin aka Aunt Vuola in My Big Fat Greek Wedding which made me think of Dr. Seuss (for reasons) and I decided I wanted to write about that! And now here we are.

I loooooved Dr. Seuss. I love him now. When I was little TBS used to do a month dedicated to Dr. Seuss, which mainly meant they'd show a bunch of the cartoons made from his work. Among the cartoons was this movie, In Search of Dr. Seuss.

In Search of Dr. Seuss is sort of a documentary. I mean it is in the sense that it is about the life of Dr. Seuss. BUT it's still about Dr. Seuss so how much sense would it make to have a documentary about the guy be very serious and dry? No sense at all, is the answer. Or something that rhymes and also includes a made up animal is actually the right answer but I'm not nearly as clever as Seuss so I can't come up with that.

In the documentary/movie Kathy Najimy plays a reporter looking to get the inside scoop on Dr. Seuss so she goes to this crazy house and meets this sorta creepy guy (Matt Frewer) who tries to get rid of her. She sees this book and creepy guy starts freaking out when she goes to open it (yet he doesn't actually move to stop her so...) Once she opens it, she's sucked into this Seussian world and that creepy guy is now a sort of creepy Cat in the Hat (but 1000x less creepy than Mike Meyers CitH)
I'd trust him with children
and they go on this journey exploring Seuss's life, told mostly by his characters. It answers important questions like:

What if we had Eileen Brennan play an adult Cindy Lou Who (with a little bit of PTSD) reminiscing about the Grinch?
How awesome would it be to have Robin Williams read the Cat in the Hat to a couple small children?
Why don't we tell the story of Yertle the Turtle via gospel choir AND ALSO rap?
Why not, indeed?
WHO ELSE IS IN THIS? You're asking yourself? WELL
Patrick Stewart
Christopher Lloyd
Billy Crystal
Howie Mandel
Andrea Vuola
David Paymer
This guy

Obviously, this is the best thing ever. Would you like to watch it? It's on YouTube (naturally, and with Spanish subtitles so, bonus?) so there you go. Enjoy. Now I'm going to go sing that intro song for awhile.

*Have I mentioned that I'm basically a human disaster? The short story is I wanted to put together this new coffee table we got and while doing so I dropped one of the (very heavy) legs on my toe. I cried and yelled for about 10 min, wrapped my toe in a tissue (cos of course I cut it also), finished putting the table together, made dinner, then sat on the couch admiring the table and icing my foot. It's all sorts of pretty colors now. The toe, that is. The table does not change colors. I band-aided the toe to its neighbor to keep it from moving around too much, and otherwise I'm pathetically limping around.The broken toe goes well with the stitches on my head.**
**I had this NON-SERIOUS bump thing removed after having it for a gazillion years. The stitches weren't an accident, but that hasn't stopped me from whining about them.

Monday, November 10, 2014

What is the most villainous move on the market?

I keep checking my drafts folder thinking "Maybe I was smart and started a post about this book around the time I finished it, so I have something to work off of now." And every time I check I am disappointed that there's nothing there. I also continue to NOT start a post about whatever book I just recently read, thus continuing the cycle. Hooray, responsibility.

At some point I was wandering around my local bookstore thinking about how I would change the layout and looking for something new to read when I stumbled on Chuck Klosterman's book I Wear The Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) and I thought "Why not".

I read his Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs a while ago (pre-blog) and I think I read Fargo Rock City around that time as well, but I can't really remember which doesn't say much for that book. It does, however, serve as a good reason for me to keep this blog up so I can, you know, remember what I read. Anyway, I haven't read any books from Klosterman in awhile BUT I do read the guy regularly cos at some point he took over writing the NYTimes Magazine column "The Ethicist" and while I read embarrassingly little of the newspaper (despite the fact that it's delivered every weekend AND comes with an online subscription so I could read it ALL THE TIME) I always read his column. So I figured this would be an entertaining option.

Klosterman talks about the concept of villains in pop culture and what that says about us. How villains may be evil, but they're also the character people seem to like the best. He talks about the thin line between vigilantes and criminals a la Death Wish and the guy, Bernhard Goetz, who did his own version of Death Wish. He talks about 80s hair bands and 90s gangsta rap, how terrible we collectively were to Monica Lewinsky and not Bill Clinton, and what a successful dick Perez Hilton is.

Here's what Klosterman says the book is. Or rather, what it isn't:
And most notably, [this book] will not be a repetitive argument that insists every bad person is not-so-bad and every good person is not-so-good.  Rational people already understand that this is how the world is. But if you are not-so-rational - if there are certain characters you simply refuse to think about in a manner that isn't 100 percent negative or 100 percent positive - parts of this book will (midly) offend you. It will make you angry, and you will find yourself trying to intellectually discount arguments that you might naturally make about other people. This is what happen whenever the things we feel and the things we know refuse to align in the way we're conditioned to pretend.
Here's the thing. Much like his other two books, I honestly can't remember much about this one. I know I'm behind on my reviewing but it hasn't been that long, yet I can't remember any details of this book.  And I read Bad Feminist longer ago, and yet I remembered enough of that one. I do remember vague feelings while reading it: entertaining but kinda pretentious. Even looking at the titles of the essays isn't bringing back any memories, although skimming through random pages is helping. And It's making me think "Hey, this sounds good! I bet I'd like this" before I remember that "yes, I've read this. Supposedly."

I guess if you see this sitting around, give it a try. If you're a fan of Klosterman, you'll probably like it. If you're not, it's not bad, just not really memorable. I may read it again at some point and at that time I'll update this if I come up with any new thoughts.

Gif rating:

Title quote from page 9

Klosterman, Chuck. I Wear The Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined). Scribner, 2013.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

October Reading Wrap-Up

How did October go for me? I honestly forgot that one month ended and a new one began and therefore I didn't get around to writing my wrap-up post till now. Good job, me. But now I've remembered that November is actually a different month (and by that I mean I'm finally getting around to reading blog posts and saw Kayleigh's wrap-up) which means it's time for me to tell you what I read last month! Hooray.

Number of books read
Misery by Stephen King
Maus II by Art Spiegelman
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
I'm Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Number of pages read

Percentage of fiction read
50% - whoa 1/2 non-fiction

Percentage of female authors
50% - BAM

Percentage of white authors
100% - sigh

Percentage of US authors
100% - double sigh

Percentage of ebooks

Percentage of rereads

Percentage of review books

Books written by decade
1950s - 25%
1980s - 25%
1990s - 25%
2010s - 25%

Books by genre
Horror - 50%
Graphic novel - 25%
Memoir - 25%

Look how even last month was! That's nuts. Except around white US people. That was pretty much status quo, which I really need to work on.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Change requires intent and effort

I should really catch up on my reviewing because I feel like every book I've been writing reviews for I read roughly a billion years ago. At this rate December is going to be FULL of horror story reviews.

Anyway, remember how awhile ago how people were reading and raving about Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay and how having a review around that time would have been really relevant? Yeah, I'm just getting to it now.

I'm not sure when I first heard about Roxane Gay's collection of essays, but I know a bunch of people with good taste were reading it and saying good things about it so at some point I saw a copy on sale at my local bookstore and decided I must have it. It was a good call.

As I pretty much literally just said, Bad Feminist is a collection of essays. Most of them deal with feminism. Actually, I guess all of them deal with it in varying degrees, some more overtly than others. Some are about how she's a bad feminist because she falls short of certain feminist values, others are about feminism and race, my favorite is about Gay's love of Scrabble. There are a bunch of pop culture references (Hunger Games, Gone Girl, Django Unchained) that I'm sure are going to date the book in the future but for now I enjoyed. The pop culture reference make difficult topics more accessible.

The book is split into 5 sections:
Me, which, duh, focuses on her with essays like "Typical First Year Professor" and "To Scratch, Claw, or Grope Clumsily or Frantically" (the Scrabble essay)
Gender & Sexuality, which is the longest section and has pieces like "How To Be Friends With Another Woman" and "Blurred Lines, Indeed"
Race & Entertainment, which has "The Solace of Preparing Fried Foods and Other Quaint Remembrances of 1960s Mississippi: Thoughts on The Help" and "The Morality of Tyler Perry"
 Politics, Gender, & Race with "The Politics of Respectability" and "A Tale of Two Profiles"
and finally Back to Me with Bad Feminist, Takes 1 & 2

She's tackling some serious topics, and while the essays aren't necessarily light-hearted (at least not all of them) they don't feel like you're being lectured to, or worse yelled at. Things don't feel hopeless and those pop culture references give you a way to think about and work with these ideas and a language that is easy to understand.

To the title. She calls herself a "bad feminist" saying:
I openly embrace the label of bad feminist. I do so because I am flawed and human. I am not terribly well versed in feminist history. I am not as well read in key feminist texts as I would like to be. I have certain...interests and personality traits and opinions that may not fall in line with mainstream feminism, but I am still a feminist. I cannot tell you how freeing it has been to accept this about myself.
Pretty much she is a feminist, if not a "Professional Feminist." So you know, she's an actual feminist instead of some idea of what one should be or has to be. Love it.

I wish I had this as an ebook (or I guess had it as well as an ebook) so I would have a bunch of quotes already highlighted to share with you. You should probably just read this.

Gif rating:

Title quote from page 172

Gay, Roxane. Bad Feminist. Harper Perennial, 2014.