- Fizzy Thoughts: February 2009

Me and Chuckie

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I licked Chuck Norris in line at the bank because I think I need some serious help.

I know, you're thinking "well, this proves it...softdrink really is crazy."

But go check out Florinda's post to join the craziness and understand why I'm closer to Chuck Norris than I ever wanted to be. It's too funny!


Weekly Geeks 2009-07

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

This week we're interviewing characters!

Many of us have had an opportunity to interview an author, mostly through email, but perhaps even on the phone or in person. In fact, many of you have become experts at author interviews. So this week, let's pretend that we can get in contact with one of our favorite characters and interview them. What would you ask Mr. Darcy if you could send him an email. What would his answers be like? What would you say if you could just call up Liesel or Rudy from The Book Thief and ask them anything? How would they answer your questions? What if you could invite Jo March or Anne Shirley to lunch, what would the conversation be like?

Most of my favorite characters are a little peeved with me, because I tend to boot them out the door the moment I'm finished with them. However, Elmo sent us this little book for Valentine's Day, so I was pretty sure he'd respond to an invitation to join me for cookies and a little chat.

Hi Elmo. Thanks for stopping by. Would you like a cookie?

Oh, yes please! Elmo loves cookies!

Now I know that Sesame Street has been on a bit of a health kick lately and cookies have been categorized as a sometimes food. How is that working out for you?

Mmmmph. Urp. Excuse Elmo. Well, it is kinda hard to find cookies on the Street these days, but Elmo has ways. Elmo can't really go into details, though. Umm, can Elmo have another cookie?

Okay, here you go. Hey, thanks for the Valentine book. That was really cute. You know, you're really prolific. Lots of books, lots of movies, the tv show. Guest appearances. How do you find time for Elmo?


Prolific. It means you're busy making lots of things, like books and movies.

Oh. Well, Elmo's got people. And Elmo will tell Softdrink a little secret. Elmo hired Mr. Ghostwriter for the books. But that Kevin Clash, he keeps Elmo real busy. Sometimes, Elmo just wants to kick it and go to Disneyland, you know? But Elmo's just about the best actor Elmo knows, and Elmo also has a duty to Elmo's fans. Elmo takes Elmo's responsibilities very seriously. Would you like Elmo's autograph?

Sure, you can sign my book. Thanks! So, tell us. How's the rest of the Sesame Street gang?

Well, Elmo and Elmo's best friend Zoe just got back from a road trip in Zoe's little pink convertible. Big Bird wanted to go, but he's way too big for Zoe's car, so it was just Elmo and Zoe. Zoe took Elmo down to Florida to visit Elmo's parents. And then Elmo and Zoe went to Disney World and saw Mickey and Minnie and Snow White and the dwarves and Cinderella and Pluto and Goofy. Yeah, good times.

But Elmo hasn't seen much of Kermie lately. That pig keeps Kermit away from the gang. That makes Elmo kinda sad. But Abbie Cadabby's real good at cheering Elmo up.

Got a girlfriend yet?

Softdrink! Elmo's only three and a half.

Sorry. So tell us Elmo, what's your favorite movie?

Napoleon Dynamite. Can Elmo have some chapstick? Elmo's lips hurt real bad. Hee hee hee hee hee hee. That movie cracks Elmo up. Plus, Elmo digs Napolean's hair. It's kinda like Elmo's. Only Elmo's much handsomer.

How about books? Do you have a favorite book?

Elmo's Valentine, My Life as A Furry Red Monster, Elmo Loves You, The Best of Elmo, Elmo's Animal Adventures, Elmo's Potty Time, Elmo's...

Okay, we get the idea. Thanks. How about school? Are you going to school? Do you have a favorite subject?

Softdrink! Elmo just said Elmo's only three and a half. Elmo doesn't go to school yet! But Elmo does have a tutor who comes to the set to work with Elmo on Elmo's numbers and the alphabet. Elmo can sing the alphabet! Wanna hear? A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, Peeeeeeeeeeee, Q,R ,S T, U, V, W, X, Y and Zeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Come on, Softdrink! Sing with Elmo!

Thanks, Elmo, but I think I'll sit this round out.

Party pooper. India Arie sang with Elmo. So did the Goo Goo Dolls. And Andrea Bocelli. And Feist. But, will Softdrink? Nooooooooooo. Hey, can Elmo have another cookie?

How many have you had?

Hey, Softdrink's not the boss of Elmo.

Uh-oh, I think it's getting close to nap time.

Elmo's a famous celebrity, Elmo doesn't have to take naps. Softdrink can't make Elmo!!

Looks like it's time to wrap this up. Say good-bye, Elmo.

Good-bye, Elmo.

Psssst. Elmo here. Don't forget...Elmo loves you!

Some Fun Facts About Elmo:

Full name: Elmo Monster
Scientific name: Furrius childus
Age: 3 1/2 years
Birthday: February 3
Favorite song: "Elmo's Song"
Favorite quote: "Elmo loves you!"
Best friend: Zoe
Pet: Dorothy the Goldfish
Favorite food: pizza
Favorite fruit: banana
Favorite game: tag
Favorite sports: Rollerblading, miniature golf
Favorite hobbies: playing piano, tap dancing
Dislikes: Brussels sprouts
Awards: Won the longest giggle award on the Golden Grover Awards

Facts taken from
this article, where you can learn even more about Elmo.


Teaser Tuesday

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

“Is it real?” a scabby boy blurted out, unable to contain himself any longer.
The wing of the story-teller unfolded and gave a single beat before furling itself again inside the cloak.

From Company of Liars, by Karen Maitland


Happiness is...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Melissa tagged me for the Six Things meme. Thanks Melissa! You must have known that I'm feeling less than inspired by the book reviews that need to be written. :-)

The rules: Link to the person who tagged you. Post six things that make you happy along with these rules. Then tag six others (letting them know, of course). Let the person who tagged you know when your entry is complete.

Six things that make for a happy Softdrink:

1. A good book.
2. A day off with no chores, no places to be, and #1.
3. Homemade (by my mom) chocolate chip cookies.
4. Having a fun vacation planned.
5. Going out to lunch on Friday with Rochelle and Jannine (and anyone else). This is pretty much the highlight of the work week.
6. Going out to dinner with Hamburger. Even if it is just Lolo's.

I'm pretty sure most of you have done this. Maybe not the SlowTrav group, though...so if you're a Slow Traveler and you're reading this...tag!


Sunday Salon

I just finished Reading in the Dark. No the power isn't out. That's the book...Reading in the Dark. And I don't know what to say about it. Other than Fool, which I totally blasted this week, I've been pretty ambivalent about writing reviews lately. Maybe it's because most of the books I've been reading have just been mediocre? Which is a bummer, because I'm definitely not inspired to gush about them. Or tear them apart. Books that fall into this category of mediocrity include Mrs. Dalloway (and I don't care who the author is, you can't make me like her), Giovanni's Room (actually, I liked this one, but I still don't know what to say) and a boy of good breeding (although I do have thoughts about what would have made this one more interesting...hmmm, maybe I should write that review after all).

Back to Giovanni's Room, a book by James Baldwin. This is a book I had never heard of until I stumbled across it on a Black History table at B&N earlier this month. Did you know February is Black History Month? Of course, you could argue that Black History is a huge portion of American History, and that if American History was actually taught in a more comprehensive, less "America is just peachy" style, we wouldn't need a Black History Month. Or a Women's History Month.

So. Giovanni's Room. It has a white protagonist. In fact, all of the characters are white. Seems an odd choice, then, for a table meant to celebrate black history. Maybe they were too afraid to make a table for GLBTQI (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex) history? Because Giovanni's Room focuses on the narrator's struggles with sexuality and alienation.

As usual, I'm rambling. Maybe I should just go and attempt to finish some of these write-ups? It's either that, or stare at the bookshelves hoping that the next book that I pick up will knock my socks off.


Taking the me out of meme

Friday, February 20, 2009

This is a fun meme that's going around. Since I've been neglectful about the Friday book closet thing, I'm going to challenge you to answer a few of the questions. First person to get an answer (to any of the questions...you don't have to guess them all...this way we can potentially have multiple winners) gets to choose a book from the closet. There are five questions scattered throughout the meme...I'll give away a book for each correct answer. Good luck!

What are your middle names?
Mine is Lora. Hamburger is named after a famous (but not necessarily one you'll immediately think of) painter, although it's spelled differently.

How long have you been together?
Take a guess.

How long did you know each other before you started dating?
We were friends for a few months, then HB graduated from college and moved away for about 4 months. When he came back to the Central Coast we started dating.

Who asked whom out?
I have no clue.

How old are each of you?
39 and 42. I will always be younger, and I'm petty enough to remind him of that.

Whose siblings do you see the most?
Neither really. We see my bro and his sis whenever we get together with our mom's for dinner or lunch or whatever.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
I can't think of one.

Did you go to the same school?
We went to the same college (and even had the same major), but we didn't meet until a few months before he graduated.

Are you from the same home town?
No, but for most of our childhoods we lived about 30 miles from each other. His high school regularly kicked my high school's ass in football.

Who is smarter?
HB will say I am, but we're smart in different ways. He's definitely got more practical skills. I'm the nerd.

Who is the most sensitive?
Neither really, although I cry over books and movies.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
Lolo's, the local Mexican restaurant.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
I don't know, you tell me. We've been there four times.

Who has the craziest exes?

Who has the worst temper?
We are both pretty mellow, although the neighbor's barking dogs will make HB go ballistic much faster than me.

Who does the cooking?
Mostly me, but if I buy the right ingredients he'll cook a meal or two. And he's perfectly happy making himself a sandwich for dinner.

Who is the neat-freak?
Me, no doubt about it.

Who is more stubborn?
About what? I'm more patient, so I'll stick with something longer...that's sort of like being stubborn.

Who hogs the bed?
Neither. We both stick to our own sides. We even have separate covers, because we don't share well.

Who wakes up earlier?
Hamburger, and you should be able to tell me why. Actually, there are two possible answers here.

Where was your first date?
If I can't remember who asked who out, do you really think I'll remember this? As friends, we went for a bike ride. As a date, it might have been dinner at This Ol' House, a local restaurant that is no more.

Who is more jealous?
Not an issue.

How long did it take to get serious?
After the friend period, not long at all.

Who eats more?
Depends on the time of day. Me in the morning and for lunch, HB at the end of the day, especially when it comes time for his post-dinner snack.

Who does the laundry?
We each do our own, because our laundry doesn't hang out together. As both a construction worker and a guy who likes to work on motorcycles, HB can get beyond grungy.

Who’s better with the computer?

Who drives when you are together?
Usually me, because we're in my car. HB has a work truck and a surf van, neither which are good around town or as long distance vehicles. Final question, what is the name of the surf van?


Another annoyance

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I saw this article (and I use the term article loosely here) on MSN today, and while I know we've all had the Kindle discussion, there are other things about the article that annoy me. Namely, the author.

What the hell kind of question is "why do you hate books?" And is it really necessary to continuously refer to those of us who don't care to read books on a Kindle (or even a computer) as Luddites (which she failed to capitalize, as one of the commenters pointed out)? And I don't care if the author was trying to be tongue-in-cheek, or clever, or whatever...it didn't work.

In other news, if you're following the Tour of California, today they were in my neck of the woods. Actually, a bit north, so I didn't see any cyclists, but my county is on tv.



Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Christopher Moore
February 2009
297 fuck-filled pages

I've already bagged on Christopher Moore, but I'm about to do it some more. Because is there anything worse than when a favorite author goes horribly astray?

Plus, I'm pissed that I spent money for this crap.

Oh, and warning...there will be some cursing. Because it's hard to review a book filled with cursing without tossing in a few swears yourself.

I was really looking forward to Fool, because it's a take-off of King Lear, and I thought that Moore's interpretation of Shakespeare was bound to be hysterical. I mean, look what he did to Jesus (Lamb, in case you're unfamiliar with the Moore pantheon...and I know pantheon is the wrong word, but it just sounds so good).

But no. Instead, we have a book that insults women, gays, the French, the English and pretty much anything else that can be insulted (witches, ghosts, the Church, the poor trees who get bonked by Fool's apprentice). It's dialogue is a bad combination of Austin Powers (think shaggalicious), teenage boys talking about sex, and made-up words. Oft-repeated made-up words. If we took out all the references to the fucking French (because every time the word French appears it's prefaced with fucking) and sex, the book would be about 100 pages long.

And yes, I know it's supposed to be a farce. But page after page of crude and insulting language does not a farce make. It's doesn't even make a book. It makes crap.

And I'm the Fool, since I actually read the damn thing.



Monday, February 16, 2009

Mary Roach
292 pages

Okay, this book is not for everyone. If you have a weak stomach, consider bodies sacred things, or even don't want to laugh about either death or what our bodies do after death, than this book is not for you. This review is also not for you, because it's going to be darn hard to review this book without being both as gross and as snarky as the book.

First, a few side notes. I have a pretty realistic view of death. And a lack of any beliefs about what happens after death. And I come from a family with both a sarcastic sense of humor and a tradition of cremation. All this to say that this book didn't offend me in the least. In fact, I'm guessing Mary Roach would fit right into our family.

Also, for all the snarkiness, this really is a fascinating book. I can't picture a better approach for a book that takes on a topic that can potentially be touchy. Despite the sarcasm, the author does have respect for the dead, and that also comes through in the writing.

So what does a book about dead bodies talk about? Well, here you go...a very brief synopsis of what is discussed:

Chapter One: A Head Is A Terrible Thing to Waste
In which the author observes a group of plastic surgeons taking a refresher class in face lifts. Their test subjects? Heads. Dead heads. With no bodies attached.

Chapter Two: Crimes of Anatomy
The disgusting, gruesome, crime-ridden history of the study of anatomy. Did I mention disgusting? Note to future readers of this book: don't read this book during your lunch break. Also, interesting fact: during the 1700's it was possible to pay your tuition with dead bodies.

Chapter Three: Life After Death
How bodies decay. Also not a pleasant lunchtime reading experience. Because somewhere there is a field strewn with decomposing bodies being studied by scientists. Also, embalming is discussed. Interesting fact: the father of embalming (Thomas Holmes) went insane. He also requested he not be embalmed after his death.

Chapter Four: Dead Man Driving
Just what it sounds like - (dead) human crash test dummies. If it makes you feel any better, there are also people who have volunteered to be (live) human crash test dummies.

Chapter Five: Beyond the Black Box
Plane crashes and what dead bodies can tell us about the crashes. La la la la la la...not reading this chapter. I like to travel too much, and I prefer to not think about plane crashes. This is also why I never made it past the first episode of Lost.

Chapter Six: The Cadaver Who Joined the Army
The study of how bullets and bombs...ummm, do what bullets and bombs do to human flesh. Interesting fact: there is such a thing as ballistic gelatin, which is made from the same gross stuff as regular gelatin. As a footnote (yes, there are lots of footnotes) says "other products made with cow-bone-and-pigskin-based gelatin include marshmallows, nougat-type candy bar fillings, liquorice, Gummi Bears, caramels, sports drinks, butter, ice cream, vitamin gel caps, suppositories, and that distasteful whitish peel on the outside of salamis. What I'm getting at here is that if you're going to worry about mad cow disease, you probably have more to worry about than you thought. And that if there's any danger, which I like to think there isn't, we're all doomed, so relax and have another Snickers."

Chapter Seven: Holy Cadaver
The various attempts that have been made to reenact the crucifixion of Jesus.

Chapter Eight: How to Know If You're Dead
The history of defining death, and the search for the soul.

Chapter Nine: Just A Head
Head transplants. Seriously. Although not human heads...more like monkey and dog heads. There's a lot of ewww in this chapter, too. And the next one.

Chapter Ten: Eat Me
It's too close to dinner time to go into detail. In short, all the different parts of the body that have been prescribed to cure what ails you. The author brings up an excellent point that the thought of ingesting many of these things would make a person sick, which probably helped to cure a few of the ailments.

Chapter Eleven: Out of the Fire, Into the Compost Bin
Alternatives to cremation and burial. In particular, the idea of freeze drying a body, shattering it into small bits, and then composting the remains. This is a very serious proposal, by a Swedish biologist/environmentalist. Although I'm guessing it's got a ways to go before Americans embrace the idea.

Chapter Twelve: Remains of the Author
In which Mary Roach divulges what will be done with her body after she dies. It might surprise you.


Sunday Salon - a movie, a book and Facebook

Sunday, February 15, 2009

This afternoon I went to the movies with my mom to see Slumdog Millionaire. Which was excellent. However, the previews seemed an odd choice. They showed trailers for both Watchmen and Wolverine. The woman behind me was not amused...just as the second preview ended she said, "Okay, let's see something real." Granted, I was finding the previews an odd preface to Slumdog Millionaire, but hello? You're at the movies. Nothing is real.

Oh, and note to the older gentleman a few seats back...turn up your hearing aid! Just because you can't hear what's going on and need your wife to repeat the lines, doesn't mean the rest of us want an instant replay.

Oh sorry...am I supposed to be talking about books? Okay then, let's talk about Fool. This is Christopher Moore's latest, and let me tell you...this was a big mistake for Monsieur Moore. Whopping. Fucking huge, in fact, to borrow some of his vocabulary. Because while I'm going to finish the book, and there are sections that are amusing, and while I like the f word probably more than the average reader, this book is turning into one giant fuck-fest. And I mean that in a number of ways that I won't elaborate on. Additionally, even though it's the Middle Ages, the debasement of women is wearing very, verry, verrry thin. I'm starting to feel like Moore phoned this one in. And that he feels like his fame gives him a certain amount of liberty when it comes to insulting people and filling the pages with references to sex.

Finally, in a moment of weakness, I joined Facebook. So far, I have one friend (the same person who talked me into this madness). Anyone out there need another friend? Because Facebook-wise, I look like a total loser. And please, let's just ignore any other ways I might appear to be a loser.


Weekly Geeks 2009-06

Saturday, February 14, 2009

For this week's edition of Weekly Geeks, we're going to take a closer look at character names. What are some of your favorite character names? Go to Google or a baby name site like this one or this one, and look up a favorite character's name. What does their name mean? Do you think the meaning fits the character? Why or why not?If you'd like, look up your own name as well and share the meaning.

I'm going to start with my own name, Jill. Depending on where you look, there are various meanings assigned. Some say it is just a shortened form of Jillian, which is derived from Julian, which means downy-bearded. Other sources say it comes from Latin and means either youthful or sweetheart. For obvious reasons, I prefer that second definition, particularly the youthful part. Namespedia even has an interesting story:

The name Jill has a very long history dating so far back that researchers are unable to pinpoint it's exact emersion into the world. It is believed to have started however as a form of currency. Back in the B.C. days a form of currency in circulation was called a 'gil.' It was kinda like our small change is today. Larger currency was known as a 'jack.' The story goes that the popular children's nursery rhyme, Jack and Jill, originated when a king and his economy were doing very well, the values of the jacks and gils were rising (Jack and Jill went up the hill). Unfortunately the people were struck by a plague that left everyone short of drinkable water (to fetch a pail of water) with the death of thousands the economy suffered (Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.)

I have a reason for blathering on about my own name, when we're supposed to be focusing on characters. Since no favorite characters immediately popped into my mind, I decided to use a couple of the characters from my current favorite author, Charles de Lint. Last week I read Dreams Underfoot, and this week I bought Tapping the Dream Tree. Two of the recurring characters in de Lint's stories are Jilly and Geordie. So see, I wasn't being all self-absorbed. I was really talking about a character. (Okay, so I was talking about myself, too.)

Jilly is definitely youthful in de Lint's stories. Although she is mature and has seen a lot, her appearance is somewhat childlike and I think her open-mindedness keeps her young.

As for Geordie (and hallelujah that de Lint didn't name him Jack), it's derived from George, which means farmer. Since that doesn't exactly work for Geordie the character, we can stretch it and think of St. George, the patron saint of England, who fought the dragon. Hmmm, okay, so that works a bit better for our Geordie.

Finally, going back to the name Jilly. Or more particularly, characters that you share a name with. I honestly never thought about the fact that Jilly and I shared a name until I started to think about this post. I think because I read so much I've started to disassociate character's names from people I know with the same name. How about you...do you think about this when you're reading a book with a character who has the same name as yourself, or your significant other, or your mom/dad/brother/sister, or your best friend, or even that kid from high school that you thought was a total jerk?


Practical Magic

Practical Magic
Alice Hoffman
First published June 1996
304 pages

I’m going to cheat and give you the summary from Barnes and Noble:

From Publishers Weekly

Her 11th novel is Hoffman's best since Illumination Night. Again a scrim of magic lies gently over her fictional world, in which lilacs bloom riotously in July, a lovesick boy's elbows sizzle on a diner countertop and a toad expectorates a silver ring. The real and the magical worlds are almost seamlessly mixed here, the humor is sharper than in previous books, the characters' eccentricities grow credibly out of their past experiences and the poignant lessons they learn reverberate against the reader's heartstrings, stroked by Hoffman's lyrical prose. The Owens women have been witches for several generations. Orphaned Sally and Gillian Owens, raised by their spinster aunts in a spooky old house, grow up observing desperate women buying love potions in the kitchen and vow never to commit their hearts to passion. Fate, of course, intervenes. Steady, conscientious Sally marries, has two daughters and is widowed early. Impulsive, seductive Gillian goes through three divorces before she arrives at Sally's house with a dead body in her car. Meanwhile, Sally's daughters, replicas of their mother and their aunt, experience their own sexual awakenings. The inevitability of love and the torment and bliss of men and women gripped by desire is Hoffman's theme here, and she plays those variations with a new emphasis on sex scenes-there's plenty of steamy detail and a pervasive use of the f-word. The dialogue is always on target, particularly the squabbling between siblings, and, as usual, weather plays a portentous role.
This was a nice, enjoyable bit of magical realism. Hoffman is a great entertainer, and if you don’t take it seriously, this is a fun read.


the ultimate word problem

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hamburger is a General Contractor, which means he works with some colorful characters. Today, one of the tile guys showed up at the job site all excited because he had just figured out something that had evidently been bugging him for 20 years:

How many joints are smoked in Bob Marley's song "Smoke Two Joints?"

I'm serious here. He figured it out to be 18 joints. (Two in the am, two in the afternoon, two in the pm, plus the two he smokes both before and after he smokes two.)

After I finished laughing hysterically at Hamburger's story, I just had to do a little Google research to see if his math skills were at all hindered by his obvious extracurricular activities. I found this post (at a surfing website, of course), which also factors in the two in time of peace and war, plus the two before and after, for a grand total of 24. He also has an excellent point about infinite progression, but I'm not going there.

However, there's also a line about smoking in the car, and when playing a video game, so my final answer is 36.

And this just goes to show, math can be relevant to your daily life.


Church of the Dog

Church of the Dog
Kaya McLaren
240 pages

This book was too New Age-y for my taste. I initially liked the story, but Mara, the main character, was a bit too “your aura is murky let’s dream together and pray to the angels and all will be well” for me. Okay, I’m oversimplifying, but you get the idea.

The story has four narrators: Mara, Edith, Earl and Daniel. Mara is an art teacher. New to Three Rivers, she instantly adopts a pig (to save it from slaughter) and moves into an old bunkhouse on Edith and Earl’s ranch. Despite their differences, Mara and Earl bond over broken fences and dance lessons, as Mara also discretely shrinks Earls tumor (because she can do stuff like that). Mara and Edith bond over saunas (because one of the first things Mara did was build a sauna) and bread baking (she also built a brick oven). Mara is intuitive, creative, and mystical. Frankly, she started to bug the shit out of me. She even started to work her magic on Edith and Earl’s grandson, Daniel, who was formerly estranged from his grandparents.

In short, hippie Mara arrives in conservative Three Rivers and spreads love and tolerance and vegetarianism all around. And everyone lives (or dies) happily ever after.



Authors Talking

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Do you read any author’s blogs? If so, are you looking for information on their next project? On the author personally? Something else?

Unless any of you guys aren't telling me something, I don't have a single author's blog in my Google Reader. However...

I do occasionally stop by Karen Harrington's blog, Scobberlotch, because she participates in some of the weekly memes. And she likes the chickens. And she's a wonderful commenter.

Also, I check in on Neil Gaiman every once in awhile. Because, well, he's Gaiman.

And the other day I was at Jay Asher's blog (Thirteen Reasons Why) trying to pretend I wasn't being all stalkerish so I could find his email to ask him to sign a copy of his book for a giveaway for the Dewey's Books Reading Challenge. (By the way, he agreed (woo-hoo!)...we just have to work out the logistics. So if you're interested in trying to win a signed copy of the awesome Thirteen Reasons Why, you better join the Dewey's Books Challenge and stay tuned for next month's mini-challenge.)


Thank You, Jeeves & How Right You Are, Jeeves

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thank You, Jeeves
P.G. Wodehouse
first published 1934
audio book - 6 hours, 8 minutes

How Right You Are, Jeeves
P.G. Wodehouse
208 pages

I listened to Thank You, Jeeves and I read How Right You Are, Jeeves. And I must say, I’m quite proud of myself for introducing myself to Wodehouse in this way. Because I don’t think I would have fully appreciated the book if I didn’t have all those English voices in my head (oh, that sounds bad). I think to fully appreciate Jeeves and Wooster you need to be able to either hear or imagine the English accents.

Thank You, Jeeves and Right You Are, Jeeves are remarkably similar tales. Bertram Wooster, a well-off English gentleman, gets into a scrape and is simultaneously aided and abetted by his valet (the t is pronounced, by the way) Jeeves. Appearing in the stories are various friends, relatives and acquaintances with various ridiculous names.

While the stories are entertaining and the language is a hoot (I can get away with saying that when talking about Wodehouse), I’m not sure I could subsist on a steady diet of Wooster and Jeeves. The tales seem a bit formulaic. And besides, I’d probably start to talk like Wooster, which is to say I’d use even more clich├ęs than I already do.


Tuesday Teaser

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

Warning: grossness ahead!

Richardson came across a reference to anatomists cooking down human bones and fat into “into a substance like Spermaceti,” which they used to make candles and soap. Whether these were used in the anatomists’ homes or were given away as gifts were not noted, but between these and the gastric-juice-etched nameplates, it’s safe to say you really didn’t want your name on an anatomist’s Christmas gift list.

From Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach, p. 48.


Travel time

I saw this over at girasoli's blog. Since Brad recently pointed out my blog is way heavy on the books, I decided this would help in my quest for diversification. :-)

Your Travel Profile:

You Are Very Well Traveled in Western Europe (64%)

You Are Well Traveled in Southern Europe (53%)

You Are Well Traveled in the United Kingdom (50%)

You Are Well Traveled in the Western United States (47%)

You Are Somewhat Well Traveled in Eastern Europe (40%)

You Are Somewhat Well Traveled in the Northeastern United States (29%)

You Are Mostly Untraveled in Latin America (20%)

You Are Mostly Untraveled in the Southern United States (8%)

You Are Untraveled in Africa (0%)

You Are Untraveled in Asia (0%)

You Are Untraveled in Australia (0%)

You Are Untraveled in Canada (0%)

You Are Untraveled in New Zealand (0%)

You Are Untraveled in Scandinavia (0%)

You Are Untraveled in the Middle East (0%)

You Are Untraveled in the Midwestern United States (0%)

Looks like I need to plan a few trips to Canada and Scandanavia!


Weekly Geeks 2009-05

Monday, February 09, 2009

This week it's all about judging books by their covers! Pick a book--any book, really--and search out multiple book cover images for that book. They could span a decade or two (or more)...Or they could span several countries. Which cover is your favorite? Which one is your least favorite? Which one best 'captures' what the book is about?

Because I am (slowly) reading Anna Karenina, and also because I hate the cover of the edition I'm reading, I decided to see what all is out there.

This is my copy:

I actually had to show it to my friend Rochelle, because I couldn't figure out what it was! Once I had the thought of what it looked like (but also what I knew it couldn't be) in my head, I couldn't see anything else. Luckily, Rochelle recognized the knees in the picture. However, now I know why the book came with this obnoxious Oprah sash strategically placed:

This next cover isn't much better. Yes, yes Anna...we get it. You have cleavage. Now please put that shawl around you. Isn't it supposed to be cold in Russia?

I actually like this one, although it's clearly a modern picture. The dress is way too short for Anna's time. And she looks like she's in prison. But I like it.

Here's another non-English cover. It's different.

Here's Anna looking like an invalid:

And an audio book image. Couldn't they find a train that was a little more evocative of the age?

Whoa...what do we have here? Dig those sideburns.

Hmmm, not bad...

In England, it's not about the cleavage, evidently it's all about the back. Ooooooh, and note the scary train.

Anna, Anna, Anna...this is not a good look for you. I think you need a new shade of lipstick.

Here we have the gothic look:

Hey, flowers again. And more cleavage.

Anna in a reflective moment. Whatcha thinkin' about, Anna?

And this one has a bit of a Russian look...maybe it's the hat?

And finally, the understated version, in which we get to use our imagination.

After looking at all those scary renderings of Anna, I think I like this last one the most. And its boring! My own copy remains my least favorite, simply because the knees do not look like knees. Although the profile shot with the lips is quite scary, too. Someone needs to design a cover that does Anna justice!

(Apologies if the spacing is off in this post...too many pictures and Blogger wigs out. And for once, I'm not going to fight it.)


Sunday Salon

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I blame it on the rain. And the cover art.

Saturday, I had errands to run. Which meant a trip into San Luis Obispo. Which therefore means a stop by the bookstore. Since it was raining, the errands were done, and I had nothing better to do, I was just cruising through various sections trying to find something different. Suddenly, this book caught my eye:

Floating people and a cool title...and an author whose name sounds like he should be writing 18th century French novels. I had to know more. Although I didn't end up buying this particular book, I did go home with Dreams Underfoot (also with a cool cover), which I spent most of the rest of the weekend reading.

Oh My God. How did I get to be 39 years old without having read a Charles de Lint book? (Actually, how did I get to be 39 period, but that's another post.) I spent a good deal of my teenage years reading science fantasy, but I never came across de Lint. Oh wait. Maybe that's because he wasn't published back then. Gads, I am getting old.

Okay, enough about age.

I wouldn't classify Charles de Lint as typical fantasy fare. Evidently, he gets major kudos for developing the genre of urban fantasy, but even if you've never met a fantasy book you liked I'd dare you not to like de Lint. He's mixing fantasy and folklore and urban grittiness and music and the message of being nice to your fellow man and tossing in a dash of punk. And it totally works. Because he's subtle. De Lint doesn't beat you over the head with faeries or important messages, but if you pay attention and look closely, they are there.

Don't believe me? Go read him for yourself.


Too Much Information?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Have you ever been put off an author’s books after reading a biography of them? Or the reverse - a biography has made you love an author more?

Well, I’ve certainly been put off of an author’s books after having read one of their books, but I usually don’t pay much attention to their biography. I will confess to boycotting Tom Cruise’s movies because I think he’s a total ass as a person, but as far as authors go, I can’t think of anyone.

James Frey certainly got a lot of flak after his true biography came out, but I wouldn’t let that stop me from reading his books. I just haven’t read any more of his books because they don’t interest me.

I love Christopher Moore because he’s funny (I can’t wait to read Fool), and I like him even more because he used to be a local and one of his books uses this area as a setting. But he could have never lived here and I still would like him.

Ann Coulter might qualify, but again, I just avoid her books because I have no interest in reading that crap. If she wrote amazing fiction, I might forgive her for her militant conservatism. Maybe. Since she’s not writing anything I’m interested in, I don’t really have to worry about it.

So….I guess my answer is no. And please don’t disillusion me and tell me that all my favorite authors are closet Nazis.


T time

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Trish, over at Hey Lady!, posted about all the O's she loves. Okay, ten of them. You see, there seems to be a letter meme running amok. All you have to do is ask for your letter, and voila...instant post topic. Trish assigned me the letter T. So here are ten T things that I love...

1. Travel – It just so happens that I posted about my love of travel the other day. With the exception of reading, it’s my favoritist thing. (Hamburger isn't a thing, he's a person, that would be why he's not in that list.)

2. Text – as in words on a page. You didn’t think I wouldn’t manage to somehow work reading or books into this list, did you?

3. Three-day weekends – I almost hate to say this, but I almost always have three-day weekends. That’s because I flex and work 4 ten hour days. I have Mondays off, and I love it!

4. Tarmac – When you’re leaving on a trip, the airport runway can be a beautiful thing.

5. Tea – green tea lattes, Irish breakfast tea, Tazo Calm tea, tea with scones and clotted cream…

6. Thames – the river that runs through London. I’m cheating a bit, because I love London and this is as close as I could come. Wait, I could have said the Tower of London. Also a wonderful place…if you ever have the chance to watch the Ceremony of the Keys at night, it’s an awesomely spooky thing to witness.

7. Thirties – of which I will only belong to for 76 more days. I’m really going to miss them.

8. TGIF – Actually, I never say TGIF, but again, I’m cheating a bit to get to the word Friday.

9. Thermostat – I lurve the thermostat in my house. And the one in my car. And the knob that is a cousin to the thermostat that turns on the little heater under my desk. Because I love to be warm.

10. Trousers – Isn’t that a cool word? I love pants much more than I will ever love skirts or dresses.

Would you like to join in the fun? Leave me a comment requesting a letter, and I’ll get back to you with your homework assignment. All you have to do is talk about ten things that you love that start with that letter. Then, when people comment on your post, you assign them a letter, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah.


The Ha-Ha

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Ha-Ha
Dave King
340 pages

Howie went to war (Vietnam), got blown up, lost the ability to read and speak, endured years of therapy, went through a wild phase of drugs and misbehavior, then settled down to a quiet life as a handyman to nuns.

Then his friend (and former high school girlfriend) calls him one day for a favor. Normally, her favors are along the lines of fixing the screen door. This time, however, Sylvia is going into rehab and she wants Howie to take care of her son Ryan.

Luckily, Howie has roommates, and they rally to help him care for Ryan. Although care is a term I use loosely here. Sure Ryan is probably getting more attention than he did from his coked-up mom, but it's still pretty hit and miss, as Howie and Laurel and Nit and Nat (the roommates that Howie doesn't particularly care for) are pretty clueless.

However, before too long, Howie and Ryan (and Laurel and Nit and Nat) have formed a loose bond and their own version of family. A family that still has plenty of ups and downs.

And if you read this book, you will:
  • learn what a ha-ha is,
  • hopefully like it as much as I did,
  • and be able to write a much better review than I did.
Because I'm stopping now and going to bed. So I can get up in the morning and go to work. Of course, I'd much rather stay here and write more posts. But I need to earn money to buy more books to write more posts. It's a vicious circle.



Weekly Geeks 2009-04

Monday, February 02, 2009

This week's Weekly Geek is from Chris:

#1. What are you passionate about besides reading and blogging? For example, are you crafty (knitting, woodworking, scrapbooking, model building)? Do you cook? Into gaming (computer or board)? Sports (player or spectator)? Photography? Maybe you like geocaching, rock climbing? Or love attending events like renaissance fairs, concerts? Music? Dancing? You get the idea.
Tell us why you're passionate about it. Post photos of what you've made or of yourself doing whatever it is you love doing.

#2. Get us involved. Link to tutorials, recipes, Youtube videos, websites, fan sites, etc, anything that will help us learn more about your interest or how to do your hobby. Maybe you'd like to link to another hobbyist whose work you admire or tell us about a book or magazine related to your interest.

#3. Visit other Weekly Geeks. Link in your post to other Geeks who've peaked your interest in their passion. Or maybe you might find a fellow aficionado among us, link to them.

Let's talk about travel.

I love to go places, preferably places I've never been. Unfortunately, I like to go places far away, and I love to go for long periods of time. Since this can get expensive, and I have to work to finance these trips (not to mention books), the travel doesn't happen as much as I would like. But I have been able to take some marvelous trips in the past 5 years.

In 2005 I spent 3 weeks in London. This was my first overseas trip since I spent 3 months in London as a college student, followed by the summer backpacking across Europe with a Eurail pass.

In 2006 I went to Seattle and Victoria, British Columbia. I even wrote about my trip, in the form of a trip report for Slow Travel. This was my first solo trip, and I have to say, travelling alone is a blast.

In 2007 it was Italy for 4 weeks. I wrote a trip report for this one, too, so you can read all about my adventures here.

There was also a quick and cold trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin. I do believe I have a Green Bay tag, so you can click on it to read why Hamburger and I decided to risk frostbite for a trip to the frozen tundra.

And last year I went to Savannah. It was beautiful, although quite buggy.

There were also some Hawaii trips and reunions at Sunriver, Oregon mixed in there, as well.

Currently, I have no trips planned, which is a bit unusual. I might go to Croatia, but that wouldn't be until next year. And the economy needs to perk up a bit, otherwise my overseas travel buddies (my mom and the pseudo-in-laws (aka Hamburger's mom and her husband)) won't be able to go. My feet are getting a little itchy...today I went to the bookstore and stared at the books in the travel section.

My favorite travel site/resource is Slow Travel, a fantastic community of travellers who also like to meet up in person for great parties. In fact, I spent most of this past weekend with some of the group, at the third annual Slow Bowl, a weekend filled with great food, wine tasting and fun people. Slow Travel is all about slowing down...spending time in a vacation rental and soaking in the local culture, as opposed to the rushing around to see as much as you can during a short trip.

I also love buying guidebooks prior to a trip. My favorites are the Eyewitness Guides, because they have gorgeous color photographs of the places and sites. However, they weigh a frickin' ton, so I never take them with me on a trip. I do like to take the Access guides with me, though. I like how they focus on the individual neighborhoods of cities.

As for other Geeks, Nymeth talked about how difficult it is to juggle hobbies. I agree. Something always seems to suffer. Tasses is a scrapbooker, and one of the pages she features in her post just happens to have a pile of Eyewitness Guides. As far as travelling goes, I think I found a kindred spirit in Lou.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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