Saturday, February 27, 2010

a post in three parts.

I can't do sparkledong font anymore because of Edward Cullen. Like everything in life, it's Twilight's fault.

Anyway since it's almost the end of the month and I just finished a book I figured it was time for my monthly book reviews. I read a lot, but this was aided by sitting home waiting for the electricians to repair my hizzouse.

(These are not in the order I read them in, they're in the order I pulled from the stack of books I read this time out).

04) The Unprofessionals, Julie Hecht.

This is the story of a middle aged woman who lives in Mass and her friendship with a drug addict teenager. It sounded interesting, but I didn't think so while reading it. The main characters are never named, which is a nice touch, but once I got to the part about the rich white kid becoming a heroin addict and his out-of-touch-on-purpose confidant who has to have the same Armani white linen skirt or something, I couldn't take it. I get that it was supposed to be esoteric and a commentary on life for the upper middle class, but it just screamed FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS and I didn't find it funny or interesting in the least.

05) Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone, Jenni Ferrari-Adler, ed.

This? Was simply amazing. A collection of short stories about something I know all too well -- cooking dinner for yourself. Highlights included Jeremy Jackson's "Beans and Me", Phoebe Nobles' "Asparagus Superhero," Courtney Eldridge's "Thanks, but No Thanks." There's a lot more in here that are really good but if I kept going I'd list all but one or two. The two I didn't care for were both along the same lines -- that everything was much better when they were married and no longer single, and everything was amazing once they didn't have to cook by themselves anymore. But other than that all these essays were well written. A must have for anyone who has ever cooked for themselves or tried to. I still can't believe this was only a dollar. It's worth more than that. I can't recommend this enough.

06) Ottoman Empire & Islamic Tradition, Norman Itzkowitz.

This book I was assigned for a class -- Abby might remember because I think she was in that class with me, with Professor Church. I know we had to read only small sections, and I didn't remember any of it when I came across it a couple months ago. This book isn't really designed to be read just for funzies, you definitely need to take this in for discussions and read alongside other books on the subject. It's densely packed into those few pages. Definitely not for the Ottoman n00b.

I found that book I swore I left in Genevieve's car, but didn't. It got put in a bag of books and I found it when I was moving stuff around.

07) A Dangerous Friend, Ward Just.
Set during the Vietnam war, a young man leaves his family behind in search of a higher calling in Vietnam. Sydney, a political scientist, goes there to "help," but ends up finding out that the conflict has a lot more dimensions to it than it appears on American newscasts.

This was a bit slow to get into, but once I did, I wanted to know more about what happened. I think Just could have skipped the bit at the beginning with the non-involved narrator, and jumped right to Sydney's situation. Once the action gets moving, when he saves Dede in the marketplace, the book takes on a more poignant note. If you're interested in the Vietnam War at all this is a good book to read, but if you're not into a book that is mostly about male characters who sit around and smoke a lot, this really might not be your shindig.

08) Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story, Steve Hodel

For those of you unawares, the Black Dahlia was a young woman named Elizabeth Short who was brutally murdered in Los Angeles in 1947. Officially her case remains unsolved, but Hodel discovered her actual murderer's identity.

This is as much a biography of Hodel and his family as it is about Short and her demise. It's an entirely fascinating look at that time in history and how it represents women, as well as how a murderer with the right connections could get away with a whole spree of murders and hide it until after his death. Hodel, a former homicide detective, does the story justice. Since I'm a Forensic Files junkie, I found this book fascinating, but I think it's really good for its candid discussion of the double standards of 1940s-50s Los Angeles.

09) Birds Without Wings, Louis de Berniers.

The author of Corelli's Mandolin, de Berniers produces a prequel of sorts. Setting this one in Turkey/the Ottoman empire at the verge of World War I, he introduces us to a village of both Muslims and Christians who live together in a sort of harmony. Using a generation of children and the biography of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, he shows the effects that irridentism and war had on this small town, a microscopic version of the rest of the country.

This was, as usual, a masterpiece. de Berniers is a wonderful writer who has the gift of making a village come to life, with its odd inhabitants and everything. This book differs from Corelli's Mandolin by using a larger cast, but maintains the trick of having each chapter narrated by a different character, intercut by a famous historical figure. The only thing I found to be annoying was when de Berniers accidentally (I'd like to think so anyway) switched from contemporary to present time in the same sentence. The book didn't need the present day interjunction and all it did was take me out of the book for a minute. But that's one chapter, and if that's the only quibble I have with the book then I got lucky. HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

10) Between the Bridge and the River, Craig Ferguson.

Y'all know Craig as the host of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. And he's a very hilarious man on television. This holds true for his writing, because this book is disturbingly weird and hilarious. I love books where characters weave in and out of the book and all end up connected together (this is also incidentally why I love Lost). Two Scottish childhood buddies and two Southern brothers end up going through a crazy trip though life, Europe, and the United States. It's definitely a good read, but there's no way I can explain what happens in it.

11) The Bronze Horseman, Paullina Simons.

Whatever you do, I want you to read this book. I'm not even kidding. Before I even get into what it's about I just want to say how moving and wonderful this book is. I actually burst into tears at a few points, it was just so intense. And I found out it's part of a trilogy, which makes me apprehensive.

The story opens in pre-siege of Leningrad World War II. It follows a young 17 year old who is lost in dreams of Mother Russia and doing what is best for her family when one day her world is shaken by a soldier who helps her get groceries for her family. The story follows them and their trials as they get through the horrific siege of Leningrad. I seriously cannot endorse this book enough. No, go out and get it RIGHT NOW, you will not be disappointed, Phil and Ash. ;)
This is probably good enough to be my third favourite book of all time, which is an amazing endorsement because #1 & #2 have been sealed for years. (#1: Count of Monte Cristo #2 The House of the Spirits).

I just want to say thank you to everyone who has said such wonderful things in my last posts. You've all been wonderful and helpful and I appreciate each and everyone of you ♥.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

american Idol

Todrick Hall --Since U Been Gone (Kelly Clarkson)
-spoken word intro
-completely different version. Not my favourite genre but I can respect. Not a lot of punch to it though. What, Randy? You tell them to do a different version of a song, but then you get mad when they do?

Aaron Kelly - Here Comes Goodbye (Rascal Flatts)
If I don’t watch him I’m not annoyed by him. Pretty good song

Jermaine Sellers - Get Here (Olida(?) Adams)
I’m bored. Next?

Tim Urban - Apologize (One Republic)
Hmm, a little copy-cat esque. Oh ouch, that was a bad high note. Damn, this song is not in his wheelhouse /randy. As long as he stays away from the high notes he’s good.

Joe Munoz (didn’t catch the song)
Why the scarf? Like this guy’s voice.
Did Ellen actually say anything? 5705

Tyler Grady - American Woman (The Guess Who)
Hell yeah Canadian band. Looks like he’s having fun with it; good stage presence. Not the best vocals, but I enjoyed it.

Lee Dewyze - Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol)
First to play an instrument. The guy’s wearing a Fatboy Slim tshirt, gotta give him some props. Ok, I’m down with this cover.

John Park - God Bless the Child
E-NUN-CI-ATE. GDI. I do like him a lot though. 5708 Best of the night, sry everyone else. Wow, they are h8ing on the guys. You can tell they’re pushing for a white chick to win the competition. To be fair, most of the dudes haven’t been that great so far.

Michael Lynche - This Love (Maroon 5)
Playing his guitar too. Don’t hate this. One of the better ones tonight. 5709

Alex Lambert - Wonderful World (James Morrison?)
Uh, this kid has a mullet. Also, yeah this kid doesn’t belong. Wow this is a copycat version of this song and it did not start out well. I can see the judges HATING it. Oh son, son that was a bad high note. “The Sir is silent,” YES Simon I LOVE YOU.

Casey James - Heaven (Bryan Adams)
What is it with the 80s hairdoes? They’re hairDON’Ts. This guy does a pretty good Bryan Adams but needs to lose some of the vibrato. I’m over the Kara lust thing because it’s getting OLD. Nice burn though, Simon. “I don’t care what this cougar thinks of you.”
Andrew Garcia - Sugar We’re Going Down (Fall Out Boy)
OH GODDAMN YES. I love this. Also his glasses. Favourite of the night.

Voted for: Andrew, John, Michael, Joe.

Who I think should be eliminated: Alex Lambert, Tim Urban.
Who I think WILL be eliminated: Joe Munoz, Alex Lambert.

Also, this is my 100th post on this blog. HOORAY!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

idol in the house!

I really really don't care, I love American Idol. And in true to form style I'm recapping tonight's performances and choosing my two for elimination. And I'm trying to break my Idol curse by voting for five contestants. They simply can't eliminate ALL of them.

So I'll just note that this is the Flower Power Edition of Billboard Charts week. Which basically means any song EVER. And most of the girls were wearing flowers in their hair. Also, much to Laurie's dismay, three contestants chose poorly Beatles songs. So yes, I will be posting the videos as I can find them. Beware!

SO first we had Ms Invisible Paige Miles. She chose the Canadian band (right?) Free's "All Right Now."
My notes (which got shorter or nonexistent as the show went on):
-soft opening
-tendency to oversing
-bad sign when i think it needs MOAR backup singers*
Simon may be right -- song selection. No, Kara. Shut up. Yeah, she killed it. In the wrong way.

2) Ashley Rodriguez - With Happy by Leona Lewis.
Good choice, let's pick a song by one of Simon's Protegées. Awesome. I liked the version of the song, a little more subtle. Loved her whole look. Just feel like sh needs to not eat the microphone when she sings. A lot of her consonants got spit into the mic. Also, I'm not sure I buy the Mariah/Leona comparision, Kara. (Most of this recap will be SHUT UP KARA)

3) Janell Wheeler - What About Love, Heart.
First off, it's hard to do Heart after Carrie Underwood pwned "Alone" in Season 5. Also my initial thought was that she was wearing a toga. Alas, her outfit was merely a one shoulder top and leggings. You know how I feel about leggings. A few bum notes, and the neding was baaaad. Also, Kara said something stupid and I forgot to write it down.

4) Lilly Scott - Fix it All, The Beatles.
I don't know this song but Lilly was amazing. All my notes said was "LOVE THIS GIRL <3." Yes, I literally drew a less than sign and a 3.

5) Katelyn Epperly - Oh Darling, The Beatles.
1985 called. It really wants its outfit back. And its hair. Also a bit surreal watching someone born in like 1990 sing a song from 1969 wearing something from 1985. She was really loud. Also, Kara, lets not throw stones. If Katelyn goes without makeup, I feel you should as well.

6) Haeley Vaughn - I Wanna Hold Your Hand, The Beatles.
PS. Anyone else remember Janae Castine? Season 3 contestant who wouldn't go away? I'm hoping that is not the case with this girl.

7) Lacey Brown - Landslide, Fleetwood Mac.
She is missing part of her shirt. Also this was like torturing cats. At this point I wrote that I liked that no one was arguing with the judges. Jesus, how short IS Ryan?

8) Michelle Delamour - Fallin', Alicia Keys.
Loved it, loved her, loved it. Fearless. Hate for backup singers. Also, Kara, how can she be commercial AND unique?

9) Didi Benami - The Way I Am, Ingrid Michaelson.
Is she wearing a carpet? Boring. Also, I wrote "Nice burn, Simon," but I don't remember who he was burning.

10) Siobhan Magnus - Wicked Game, Chris Isaak
I love this song, it's one of my all time favourite songs. But let me back up and wonder how someone doesn't know what a DARK HORSE is. Really? Do they not teach English or History anymore? Anyway, I loved her cover and I'd buy that single from iTunes if I used iTunes.

11) Crystal Bowersox - Hand in my Pocket Alanis Morissette.
ALl I wrote was "really really. Lose the harmonica?" But I love her. Also I still can't see what's wrong with her teeth. Love this woman. If you haven't already I think you should watch her cover of "Natural Woman" from Hollywood week.

12) Katie Stevens - Feelin' Good, Michael Bublé.
Pedestrian and boring is what I wrote. The judges agreed, thought the song was too old for her.

So here are MY bottom two: Haeley and Lacey. They caused me the most physical pain. Who will actually be booted? Lacey & Paige. Paige's cause wasn't helped by the Idol sound people, who when they cued up the playback screwed up the sound and completely decimated Paige's recap and the first 2/3 of Ashley's. If Paige is booted, I'm certain that it played a role.

*Those of you new to my AI recaps must keep in mind that my hatred of Idol Backup Singers stretches back to the Season 2 Finale when they ruined Clay Aiken's perfectly fine cover of "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

My votes went to: Ashley, Lilly, Michelle, Siobhan, and Crystal.

Also, I desperately need a new keyboard. This one is dying and can't keep up with my typing anymore. I already injured my wrist smashing it because it moved too slowly.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Books, books, and more books!

I attended this today. Since it started at 1 and it's not even 2, you can figure out how well I felt it went.

I got there, then realized I needed money, so I ducked to CVS to get out some money, and came back. I wandered around and realized that most of the presses setting up there were for poetry, and that's just not my bag, baby. I like occasional poetry but to buy a whole book is kind of pushing it for me. So I wandered over to a press out of Kingston that had some real thick hardcovers. YES. This was the jackpot. Every single title he had was something I would read. I had to listen to a young St Rose student try to get a possible submission to this guy who would have none of it, as he said he was backed up by two years. I bought two of his books, since they were half price and one wasn't even out yet. (It'll be out in April!) Twenty bucks, which I thought was a pretty good deal.

I really came not only for the books and publishers but for the book swap that was advertised. I brought a whole bag of books to swap and I was dismayed to see that there was no swapping in sight. I ended up at the English Club table where they were doing a fundraiser: for a dollar you got to "fish" for a prize. If you got a blue square, you got a book. iIf you got a red square, it was a bag of like two swedish fish, and a literary quote. The green square was a five dollar gift certificate to a local bookstore. I got a blue square, so I picked out a book.

I thought about giving them the books I had brought to swap, but I think I'll do BookCrossing instead. Candice has been pimping it and I think it would be fun. My aunts do PaperbackSwap, though.

Anyway, I came home and I realized goddamn, I really do have piles of books all around my house. Even after I built the bookshelf and PUT books on it. So no more books for me for a while (You: Hahahahaha just wait til Borders does another $1 sale; Me: STFU, but you're right.)

Friday, February 19, 2010


So! I started watching the Olympics, which you can blame Nikki for.

Things that are awesome:
-Men's Figure Skating. Johnny Weir got robbed! ;) Evan Lysacek is a STUD. And I love that we've casted the Russians as villains again, which bodes well for my petition to host the Olympics in Lake Placid again.
-NORTH COUNTRY REPRESENT! We got a bronze medal out of Andrew Weibrecht, who is from Lake Placid. His mom and dad own the Mirror Lake Inn, which I remember seeing. Also, NORTH COUNTRY FUCK YEAH.
PS The chick from one of the ice dancing teams is from Kingston ON, which makes her almost kinda North Country since she claims citizenship here.
-I am seriously in love with Aksel Lund Svindal, the Norwegian skier who was incredibly adorable in his interview package and as he did his run down the slalom hill, and and he's just super adorable shut up ok.

What's up with all these fluid nationalities though? There was one chick in the ice dancing who is from the US but now is competing for Team Georgia despite never visiting the country. And two Americans who are competing for Japan in ice dancing as well. Very strange.

Anyway, I'm off to watch some more skeleton (LOVE IT).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

television television

I figured I'd do a scorecard of the shows I have been watching.

Chuck - I jumped into Season 3 after seeing some of S1 and none of S2. I love Casey and Captain Awesome. The rest of the cast is fun too. It was disconcerting for the first few episodes as Angie Harmon appeared and for some bizarre reason I couldn't remember her name, and then Brandon Routh apeared and I knew that name from somewhere (ps: He was Superman), but I was more distracted by how hot he is. Yeah, I said it.

Castle - High-larious as ever. Nathan Fillion remains the reason to watch the show with his gifted comedic and acting talents, and I'm warming up to Stana Katic. Ryan & Esposito always manage to come through with a few good jabs. This show, you don't really need any background for except that Nathan Fillion is absolutely ADORABLE.

Border Wars - I really think this humanizes those guys at the border that are all gruff and mean with you sometimes at the Canadian border. I believe that in order to be assigned to the Canadian border you have to spend at least some time on the Mexican one. It's an intense job, and one I would find extremely rewarding -- like the episode where they made a million dollar heroin bust.

Human Target - Finally watched the premiere and recognized the guest actress as being somewhere in the back of my head. (Look, I made a Six joke). Chi McBride, recently from the late great Pushing Daisies plays the same character here. And Jackie Earle Haley is some weird guy who helps out Mark Valley in his death defying stunts. The pacing's a little off, and I felt like a lot of it was forced, but we'll see how episode 2 fares.

V- Finally finished the fourth episode and I'm still hooked. I can't wait to see what happens to Joshua, although I am certain what is going to happen to Erika's son (I really can't remember his name). Also, I called Lisa as Anna's daughter. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, and I'm fairly certain I would watch Elizabeth Mitchell in anything*.

Psych - Of course they're sending Abigail to Uganda. Wouldn't want anything to come between Jules and Shawn, would they?. This show is still hilarious -- who cares if the cases don't make sense.

American Idol: I really can't figure out why Alex Lambert & Haeley Vaughan made the cut. I can tell you why Katelyn Epperly did -- Simon's tastes run to young blonde girls. This show made a mistake when it cut Thaddeus Johnson and Angela Martin. Alex is a washout, and Haeley yells every song she sings. STOP SHOVING HER DOWN MY THROAT, America!

I am feeling like I am forgetting something. I found that IFC is showing Arrested Development reruns. Since I don't have the DVDs this is the next best thing. I tape the BBC America news to get my world news fix.

*I really don't care for most blonde actresses and I can't put my finger on why but it seems like Ms Mitchell is the exception to that.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Tonight I'm working on the book. I'm just writing the ending, because I wasn't satisfied with the one I wrote this summer. I'm adding a bit more exposition, and explaining a few things I left untied. My plan is to print it out and put it in a binder so I can edit the paper copy. I'm super duper excited, because it's coming closer to being done. EEE So excited. I'll be able to move on to finishing the prequel and starting the sequel/prequel. (It makes sense in my head).

So today I got up and thought I had to work, and as I checked the bus schedule I noticed my handwritten worksched by the computer and it said nothing for Friday. Paranoid, I hopped the bus anyway and arrived to find no, I didn't have to work today. Whoops! I know that Tabby and Kathy got a good laugh out of me this AM. i don't mind. I went into Borders and came out with three more books. Shut up. I'm working my way through a really long book right now but I am really enjoying it except for one teensy tiny little thing that you'll see when I review it and four other books at the end of the month. But yeah Borders had dollar books again. There weren't many left of quality, but I picked out three and I think I will enjoy them.

So from there I hopped the bus to Colonie Ctr to see my buds at the other store and go to Christmas Tree Shop because I heart that place. Then I came home and I've been home ever since, yay me. That's my life.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

random shizzle

I've been doing the Two Hundred Situps thing for four weeks now and I love it. Tonight kicked my ass, because I did 42 sit-ups in a row and I had never done that before. I really feel that I'm getting something out of it. When I finish the regimen in another three weeks I plan on restarting it to get better at it.

Once the weather warms up (cold weather makes breathing difficult), I'm going to try doing the Couch to 5k thing. I thought that would make a nice edition to my sit-ups, as I need the cardio. In the meantime I'm just gonna keep up walking briskly around my neighborhood.

Today people came to look at our apartment. 4 dudes came by and I was all like, uh this is the living room, it's cool, whatever. I dunno, I never showed an apartment before.

I had to work tonight but my heart was over at the SLU-Union game. I never seem to make it to either Chowderfest or SLU hockey games down here. I need hockey back in my life. I need to make good on my promise to take Miss Chrissy to a hockey game, as she's never been to one. (Yes, be shocked and awed. I was.)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Books, books, and more books!

I'm numbering the ones I read this year to track how many books I devour. There is at least one that I read last year and never reviewed. Or if I did I forgot. So oh well. Here you go:

Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Laila Lalami.

This is a collection of related short stories by blogger Lalami and she is wonderful. The stories are set in Morocco and Spain, and deal with young Muslim women and men who come of age in a society that is at the mercy of Western influences and strong traditional ties.

Lalami wraps all these tales around a boat full of illegal immigrants crossing the Strait of Gibraltar to the promised land of Spain. It evoked memories of Cuban and Haitian refugees in Florida, and Mexican immigrants in the Southwest. She does a masterful job of giving these people both good and bad rationales for hopping on this barely watertight "boat." Keep in mind that not everyone gets their happy ending. Definitely a keeper though.

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008, ed: Dave Eggers intro: Judy Blume.

I picked this up because it was a dollar. And it turned out to be a really good pick. It's not just short stories; this includes articles that were written for Maxim, lists of the best Facebook groups that year (and yes I was already a member of most of them ;), and of course an intro written by the woman who wrote most of the books we read as kids: Judy BLume. I didn't even know she was still alive, but apparently so.

Marjorie Celona's "Y" is a cliffhanger of a story, which left me wanting more. One of the few times I read a short story and wanted her to turn it into a book.
J. Malcolm Garcia's "The White Train" is an article he had published in The Virginia Quarterly, and rightfully so. I went into it thinking it was a fiction story but it is a very moving, well written article on scrap metal collectors in Argentina.
Emily Raboteau's "Searching for Zion" is a fantastic look at what multiculturalism wrought: she details her struggle being an African-American Jewish woman in New Jersey, dealing with class issues as well.

1) An Island Like You, Judith Ortiz Cofer.
This one I had sitting around for years, ever since I saw Ms Ortiz Cofer do a reading at St. Lawrence. She impressed me enough to buy one of her books, and she autographed it for me. I kind of forgot about it for a while and then I was going through my books and rediscovered it.

Like Lalami's book, Cofer wraps her stories around each other -- a group of Puerto Rican teenagers in 1990s Paterson NJ. She writes both boys and girls, and does quite well with each. Nothing really stands out as better than anything else, but it's a quick, enjoyable read.

2) Work Shirts for Madmen, George Singleton.

I had such high hopes for this one. Singleton's book is about a metal sculptor who, after becoming deeply alcoholic loses most of his ability to work, and turns to ice scuplting. After a horrific run-in with the GOP convention, he is completely out of a job. His wife tries to save him by getting a commission for giant angel statues for Birmingham, AL.

This could have been so good. Instead, it was horrifically confusing and ridiculously stupid. I wanted to throw the book and never pick it up again. I persevered only because I wanted to see if Singleton could clarify everything in the end. I felt like I was drunk reading it and not in a good way.


3) A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick.

This book grabbed me by its back cover alone, and the front cover art is simply beautiful. It belies the horror that is to occur during this book. I could NOT put this one down. It is a little slow at the beginning, but totally worth it. Ralph orders a mail-order bride, and she is not exactly what he expected. In fact, she plans to kill him. But he has plans of his own, and it's so amazing how Goolrick twists everything around and manipulates his characters. The stark Wisconsin winter at the turn of the century is a major character in this book. Do NOT miss this book. This is definitely in my top fifteen books I've read easily.

I just found a bunch more books I haven't read yet, along with the ones I got for my birthday. This precludes the ones I picked up Saturday waiting for a ride. I should never be left alone in Borders, it is a bad bad move. ;)