Vulcan’s Peak

Archive for the 'books' category

More prosaic news: planning, books, and other links

August 24, 2008 3:52 pm

I just discovered the previous post while going through a handful of never-finished drafts.  It dates from a few months ago (thus the subway reference), but decided to put it up for those of you who enjoy navel-gazing.

This post is the one with the actual news.  The job search is actually yielding a few leads, for one.  I don’t want to say too much yet, but I had an interview on Thursday (at very short notice) that went all right, and I have one with other people on Monday, and I’ve got high hopes for that one, too.  So more on those next week, I hope.

The other ongoing project lumbers forward as well.  After some deliberation, I ordered a wedding dress last Tuesday, so that should wander into town in mid-October.  It is, of course, gorgeous, in an understated way.  🙂  So now we’re making lists and plotting maps:  possible restaurants for the reception that would be close to the botanical garden where we’re having the wedding, possible hotels that would be close to the reception.  Things we might want to register for and stores at which we’d want to register for them.  What color dress to tell my long-suffering college roommate that she ought to buy.  Supposedly, I should have strong feelings about colors like sea foam or pale peach, but all I’m coming up with is “How about some nice blue or green or purple?”  (Sorry, hon…)

At any rate, things are moving forward.  Some friends gave me a guide to wedding planning published by the folks at TheKnot.com, which has been helpful because it has checklists and timelines and all sorts of details.  But I’ve also gotten a lot of sanity from a book called The Anti-Bride’s Guide, which has the refreshing attitude that perhaps you don’t care to wear a massive fairy-princess dress and do the chicken dance at the local country club.  Which means that I would be scandalously outcast among the characters of Somebody Is Going to Die if Lilly Beth Doesn’t Catch That Bouquet, a hilarious collection of anecdotes about  weddings in a particular part of the South — a birthday gift from the aforementioned long-suffering college roommate.

Speaking of books, this morning I finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (long titles seem to be the theme of the week) and enjoyed it immensely.  As Pug can tell you, when I started it, I made some faces and gave him some weird looks — the narrator is on the unconventional side, and cover blurbs that raved about the book did so by comparing it to books and authors I don’t care for.  But I’m happy to say that I kept reading, and in the end, I think the reviewer’s comparisons were misleading at best.  I haven’t read The Sound and the Fury specifically, but I think she merely meant that this book is written in a stream of consciousness style similar to what Faulkner used.  And I think she’s off the mark in invoking The Catcher in the Rye.  Yes, both books are first person accounts of teenage boys who feel isolated from society, but where Holden Caufield feels isolated because he’s a cynical, self-absorbed little prig, this narrator, Christopher, feel isolated because he’s… autistic, perhaps, or something like that — we’re never told, and I’m no expert.  But he’s brilliant, earnest, and observant; and life as he sees it is simultaneously fascinating and awkward.  In the end, it’s a book about discovery and self-empowerment.  What do the reviewers know, anyway?

Also recommended, in a lowbrow humor sort of way:  LOLBush at the Olympics.  LOLcat English sometimes makes me twitch, but it seems appropriate here.  Gotta love the Brits.

And if anyone needs a Serenity fix, I came across this a few days ago:  a brief interlude, comic-style, called “The Other Half.”

Four (maybe five) unrelated topics

August 4, 2008 4:17 pm

Some can almost be called news!  All things I’ve found interesting in the past week.

— Impressive, disturbing, and a dark sort of tribute to American capitalism:  we present the Wal-Mart virus.

— By this point, I think most of you have seen Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.  (And if not, it’s still available on iTunes; DVD to come out sometime soon.)  Shockingly, Pug and I thought it was fantastic, and still go about humming about freeze rays and Bad Horse.  Goodness knows it got a ton of media coverage, but I offer a couple of my favorites:  The Dr. Horrible oral history, because it amuses me, and the NPR piece, because I’m impressed that they picked it up.

— The fourth book in the Twilight series, which has been enjoying popularity among those inclined towards YA vampire-romances, came out this weekend to Potter-like midnight release parties.  I know that at least a couple of you have read the books and enjoyed them — and that at least a couple of you have read the books and offered your critiques on them.  I haven’t read any of them, but I thought this Salon article offered what seems to me like some particularly insightful commentary on them.  (And while we’re at Salon, the same writer had some worthwhile notes on Harry Potter 7.  Naturally, it’s an article from a year ago, but I just finished re-reading Deathly Hallows, so I enjoyed that one as well.  I think she’s pretty fair about Rowling’s strengths and weaknesses.)

— And Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (remember A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich ?) passed away this weekend.

Later: Woah!  They’re making a Gatchaman movie?  Carmen, did we know about this?  I don’t really expect this to be what you would call… good, but Cartoon Network ran a dubbed version called G-Force that my brothers and I enjoyed when I was nine or ten, so it might get a few nostalgia points.

Well, now that’s six unrelated topics.  Or five.  Oh well; the title sounds better as it is.

Lamb

January 30, 2008 9:26 pm

Since she sent it here, I didn’t get to show it off at home…but now that I’ve finished reading it, I would like to recommend to you my Christmas present from Poke: Lamb, by Christopher Moore. (So thank you, Poke — and happy birthday!)

Moore, for note, is also one of the three wonderful author people who answered all my silly questions about author blogs last semester.

Now, the most obvious comparison is to Monty Python’s Life of Brian, but I’m not going to make it. I’ve seen Life of Brian, but at the time, it was late at night, we were trying to keep the volume down, and consequently I couldn’t hear very well. This only added to a common Python problem, which I will call “Wait, are you still playing the same character?”

Lamb is good fun, though. It’s definitely R rated, but Moore’s smartest decision in his portrayal of Jesus (called Joshua here. Think of Avenue Q: “Remember guys, Jesus was…Jewish”) is in giving him a wisecracking sidekick. Levi, called Biff, is our narrator and is not a bad sort of person, just deeply flawed. With Biff around to hold grudges, curse like a sailor, and chase skirts all over Asia, Joshua can be good without being boringly perfect. Moore gives him enough faults to make him interesting and human, which, as I understand it, is part of the point of Jesus, anyway. Being human.

In that spirit, Moore sets about telling a story that doesn’t leave large chronological gaps as the gospels — what did happen in those thirty-odd years between his birth and his ministry.

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Lists

January 10, 2008 12:05 am

Things I thought about doing this evening, but didn’t:
-Doing laundry.
-Cooking something new for dinner to provide a break from the leftovers from last weekend. (Don’t get me wrong, I adore leftovers and plan for them. But variety ain’t a bad thing either…)
-Napping.
-Finishing The Grand Tour by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. Sequel to a book subtitled The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, so you see where the attraction is. At least in part — Wrede is singlehandedly responsible for some of my best-loved (and most often lent out) books in middle and high school (like these and this and this one and its sequel and even this one, which I borrowed from Elf and later found a used bookstore copy).
-Finishing two letters (Only managed one.)

Events I’ve planned to blog about in the last month, but didn’t:
-The writer’s strike.
-The rally in Harvard Square for the writers’ strike, which I didn’t take time off work to go to, but my roommate did and got to meet Joss Whedon. Actually, I did too, briefly, because he was signing stuff at a little sci-fi bookstore after the rally and was still there when I got off work. It was pretty awesome.
The Golden Compass and the brouhaha that the Christian right managed to create around it. I highly recommend the book, by the way, very highly. The movie is a pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours but is not an acceptable substitute.
-Mitt Romney’s speech about why his religion shouldn’t matter to his presidential campaign. I didn’t see the speech, I just read about it and meant to read a transcript, but haven’t. If he continues to look like a contender, I’ll get around to it eventually. He worries me, and I can’t put my finger on why, except to be flip and say that he looks like the evil Mayor from season 3 of Buffy. (Source. Not my cleverness; though I think the whole list is hilarious.)
Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress. A fun and funny YA adventure — and its author was one of three who were fantastically nice about letting me ask them questions for a paper I was writing on author blogs. Definitely another recommended read.

Enjoyable things that happened while I was home for Christmas:
-Two lovely Christmas dinners in one day.
-Going ice skating.
-Laughing at my brothers’ oddly decorated gingerbread cookies (One that stands out is a bell that B. frosted in white and spelled out “E.A. Poe” on the top in little chocolate sprinkles. (“Hear the sledges with the bells, silver bells, silver bells, what a world of merriment their melody foretells…” Yes, the poem gets darker; it is Poe.))
-Getting to hang out with Liz before her move and see Elf in the new digs.
-Teasing Mom for calling it a “white Christmas” when it hailed on Christmas morning.
-Beating my brothers at ping pong. Sometimes.
-Getting to show off my beautiful ring…did I mention that we got engaged?

Getting decorating ideas from a vampire show.

October 14, 2007 2:36 pm

Not usually recommended for those of us who identify as non-goth. However here’s an addition to my small collection of unusual bookcase designs (which includes the Sticklebook and the Sapien Bookshelf, both previously mentioned last February.) Watching the second episode of Moonlight, what particularly caught my eye was a detail of the main character’s apartment.

ML1 Ignore the brooding vampire in the foreground for a minute and check out the crosshatch-y bookcases at the left.
ML2 Here’s a closer look.

I imagine this wouldn’t hold as many books as a conventional bookcase of the same dimensions, but it is visually appealing and seems like a good way to group books into small-ish categories.

Bibliophile one-upsmanship

October 4, 2007 9:05 pm

Nothing brings out the old spirit of competition more than ‘I’ve read more books than you have’ memes. Pretty pathetic, really. Yet I do it anyway…

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Wait Til You Read Book Seven

July 25, 2007 9:35 pm

Ohhh, I cried.

And laughed. And cheered. And loved every minute of it.

What a fantastic send-off for Harry Potter. I found Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows entirely satisfactory and continue to be completely in love with all my favorite characters. Ms. Rowling has my heartfelt respect.

But following this cut lies a discussion of the people and plot of Deathly Hallows. If you don’t want to be spoiled, read no further!
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

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Dedicated to the friendly folks at B. Dalton

July 24, 2007 12:34 am

Why yes, I was at a bookstore at midnight last Friday. (Again.) How did you guess?

My dad and I had been planning to find a release party of some kind since I decided when I was going to come home this summer, so the only question (and not one we were quick to answer) was which bookstore to go to. We learned that B. Dalton in the mall would open at midnight only to sell the book; that all Books-a-Millionses were opening at 9p.m. with various festivities, etc. So we picked a Books-a-Million in town. At the last minute, Middle Brother decided he wanted to come too, and Youngest Brother suddenly caved in to peer pressure. We all caved a little more when my mother (who was not going) suggested that we should go in costume. I hadn’t been planning to, but we pulled out gowns from a couple of college graduations (mine and my cousin’s) and the accessories from a Harry Potter costume Mom made for one of the boys sometime in the last decade. We looked quite fetching.

HP7midnight1.jpg Youngest Brother’s choice of headgear reflects his personality and the back of his shirt has a Dumbledore quote about how music is a magic greater than anything taught at Hogwarts.

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In anticipation!

July 18, 2007 1:00 am

Just because I haven’t had an opportunity to use this on LJ…

book 7

Image credit: LJ user shannonsequitur.

LotR Puzzler

February 26, 2007 11:31 pm

Go to Car Talk’s website. (Yes, the flashy Rubix cubes are an eyesore, I’m sorry — but that’s Car Talk for you.).

Read or listen to this week’s puzzler. I am intrigued, but have no ideas yet. Do you?