Friday, December 30, 2011

Year In Summation Meme

What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?

Got an e-Reader. Worked as a blogger for the Times Union.

Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn't really make them and I probably won't this year.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Raquel, Amanda, Kim. Aww yeah, baby palooza.

Did anyone close to you die?

No, thank God.

What countries did you visit?

None. I barely even went out of the state I was so broke-sauce.

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

More travel. That is the mega deficit in my life.

What date(s) from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Nov. 17. Besides the fact that it was my birthday, it was the (presumably) first of many birthdays shared with both the BF and his mother.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Reading 115 new books. I am amazed at myself - the original goal was 75.

What was your biggest failure?

I don't think I really had one. Lots of minor ones, but nothing major.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

...Surprisingly, no!

What was the best thing you bought?

Bus tickets to see BFFL Candice in NYC.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Many people. But first and foremost Jesse, because he actually knows me at this point and still enjoys my company. SMDH.

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Besides the customers that I have some days? No one, really.

Where did most of your money go?

Rent, student loan repayment program.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Seeing my BFFL Candice 2x in one year. Seriously? That never happens. EVER.

What songs will always remind you of 2011?

I kiiiiiinda associate Carbon Leaf music with this year, bc when they played Alive at Five is when Jesse and I had our first date. Weaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaak I know.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. Thinner or fatter? Ugh, heavier again. I usually don't mind, but I hate buying new clothes.
iii. Richer or poorer? I think it's about even, actually.

What do you wish you'd done more of?

Travelling! Cleaning all of the things.

What do you wish you'd done less of?

Cleaning all of the things.

How did you spend Christmas?

Back home up north. My broski drove me up there and we watched Captain America, Thor, and X-Men:FC, and entertained two small children!

What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in 2011?

I dunno. I had a surprisingly unembarrassing year. Although I get all embarrassed talking about things relating to the BF.

Did you fall in love in 2011?

Yeah, I did. Dammit.

How many one-night stands?

LOL no.

What was your favourite TV program?

American Idol, even though I wanted to throttle the television.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

I rocked my dress pants and still the NY&C tops I've had for years; off work it was all jeans and my Patriots hoodie.

What kept you sane?


Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Nope. Someday I will update the hate list, which really consists of like 3 people eve.

What was the best book you read in 2011?

I would have to say Feed by Mira Grant. Despite being about Zombies, I can't get it out of my head and for good reason.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Everyone is gonna say Adele, but they're not wrong.

What did you want and get?

An e-Reader. before you get mad at me and say "what about a relationship?" Well, I didn't want one and i wasn't looking.

What did you want and not get?

A middling camera and a new bed, but I will, oh I will next year.

What was your favourite film of this year?

The Muppet Movie. Haters may hate.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

It was the first of the tri-birthday -- Jesse and his mom have my birthday as well. We went to see Immortals after breakfast at Cracker Barrel, then we bummed around the mall and bought books, and then had dinner at Cheesecake Factory with his parents and sister. Then there was cake, and we went to Wolff's for our birthday boots, which he finished and I did not. He then encountered the unlocked construction equipment on the way home. Hilarity ensued.

What three things would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More travel, more music, more time with friends.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Henry Cavill and Michael Buble and David Cook. AKA the usuals.

What political issue stirred you the most?

Women's rights, but really any social justice issue.

Who(m) did you miss?

Candice & Phil & Julie & Raquel and all the other denziens of the internet I love of everyone ever.

Who was the best new person you met?

uh Clearly Jesse. I guessssssssssssssss.

What is a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011?

That opening your heart to others isn't nearly as scary as you expect it to be, and that sometimes people come into our lives when you least expect it.

What quote can be used to sum up your year?


Friday, September 30, 2011

September books!

The #s represent the position read in year to date. I am closing in on my goal of 115 and and am contemplating upping it to 125. I want to see how October pans out before I do that.

76. Chicks Kick Butt, Rachel Caine and Kerri Hughes, Eds.

This short story collection of women writers with strong female characters was pretty darn good. It was a mix of authors I had read, others I wanted to read, and a third group that I had never heard of. My GoodReads synopsis (because I can't remember the story names at this point):

My favourite stories: "In Vino Veritas," Karen Chance; "Monsters," Lilith Saintcrow; "Nine-Tenths of the Law," Jenna Black; and "Monster Mash," Carole Nelson Douglas.

My interests definitely don't cover fey, necromancers, or nearly incomprehensible Norse mythology, so a few of these stories were less relevant to my sci-fi/urban fantasy interests. But you definitely can't go wrong with a bunch of kick-ass heroines.

77. Rosamund's Revenge, Madeleine Conway.
I had a great piece of luck picking Mario Vargas Llosa's book off the cheap books table at Christmas Tree Shop, but the last time I went it was covered in crappy romance novels. And I figured I would try one out to see if I was missing anything. At the very least I was hoping for a good old fashioned bodice ripping.

Well, Conway ripped something, but it wasn't a bodice. NO BODICES WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF THIS BOOK. I am disappoint. Anyway, it was a bad rip off of Pride and Prejudice.

78. The Lady Matador's Hotel, Cristina Garcia

Another entry in the magical realism genre and I absolutely loved it. Garcia uses an interesting story framing device -- it's told from the perspective of several characters at the hotel over the course of the week, as well as the local media in an unnamed city in Latin America. The conclusion is quite obvious, but it is well worth the read.

79. A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood

A man struggles to live life after his longtime lover's death. Also an interesting framing device -- positing us in as clear observers of the main character as almost a subject in an experiment, but watching him go through the motions of his life in a day.

80. Caesar's Women, Colleen McCullough

Book 4 in a series on Ancient Rome. McCullough posits that this story is really about the...errr...women around Caesar, but they are merely a framing device for the great man himself. And boy does she have a crush on him. It's very detail heavy -- I learned more about the Roman Republic in this book than I ever did in all the studying I did in Latin class and in the few history classes I took on Rome. If you can get through it, it's well worth it historically (even if Phil disputes her take on Marcus Tullius Cicero ;).

81. Living Dead in Dallas, Charlaine Harris.

What can I say? I really am enjoying these books. They are remarkably easy to get through and they're just like brain candy. Bits of problematic takes on race and sexuality crop up from time to time, so beware of that. And I can't get how all these supernatural people just find Sookie sooooooooo irresistible

82. Club Dead, Charlaine Harris

See #81.

83. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, Simon Winchester.

I learned many new words! The story was a bit thin to be stretched out like it was, but I also loved the historiography work he put in on it -- the history of dictionaries is something we kind of take for granted. And the impetus for the book was an interesting anecdote in the annals of history. (PS: Americans helped write the OED. Including a guy from Troy NY!)

84. A Palace in the Old Village, Tahar Ben Jelloun

A man moves his family from Morocco to France to earn a better life for them. As he reaches retirement age, he realizes that it may have been a mistake -- his family has become Frenchified and barely recognizes the heritage he tries to give them. It's an interesting look at a generation gap and the ideas of the parents versus those of the children.

85. Dead to the World, Charlaine Harris

See #81

86. Dead as a Doornail, Charlaine Harris

See #81

87. Rat Girl: A Memoir, Kristin Hersh

Hersh is the former lead singer for the band Throwing Muses. I knew of her from her solo efforts -- when I belonged to a Michael Penn fanlist on Yahoo groups, the members were raving about her, so I checked out her music. I saw her promoting the book on Twitter and during Borders' closing sale I picked it up. It's an unconventional memoir of an unconventional woman -- she started performing in bars at 14. During a year of her life in 1986 she ended up becoming diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and she had to struggle to adjust to that diagnosis. It's an interesting way of presenting a time in her life where she says she doesn't remember much of it.

88. The Second Duchess, Elizabeth Loupas.

You knew I couldn't stray from my historical fiction for long! This one is the story of Barbara of Austria, the second wife of Alfonso d'Este, grandson of Lucrezia Borgia. His first wife, Lucrezia de Medici died in strange circumstances and he is believed to be the cause. As she is learning the lay of her new land, Barbara also must deal with the rumours of her predecessor as well as dodge whoever may be trying to kill her too. Also told from the perspective of Lucrezia's ghost, it's an interesting murder mystery in Renaissance Italy.

89. Definitely Dead, Charlaine Harris

See #81

90. To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Christy English.

I am a sucker for all things Eleanor of Aquitaine. She's one of my favourite historical personages and I can't get enough takes on her personality, either fictionally or historically. This book delves into her early life -- her rise to power in Aquitaine and Poitou, and her marriage to King Louis of France. English does a pretty good job of keeping us on Eleanor's side -- my only critique is that she keeps Eleanor at a bit of a distance from us. Otherwise, I almost think it makes a great bookend to Alison Weir's "The Captive Queen," a novel of Eleanor and her second marriage to Henry II of England.

91. All Together Dead, Charlaine Harris

See #81, although I want more Sophie-Anne Leclerq. Just saying.

Monday, September 12, 2011

11 September

I usually like to write about the Chilean September 11, but I came across this amazing poem on Tumblr and thought it was important to share it with you. It's long, but I'm not cutting it.

Emmanuel Ortiz (born 1974)'s poem, Moment of Silence:

Before I start this poem, I’d like to ask you to join me

In a moment of silence

In honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon last September 11th.

I would also like to ask you

To offer up a moment of silence

For all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes,

For the victims in both Afghanistan and the U.S.

And if I could just add one more thing…

A full day of silence

For the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the hands of U.S.-backed Israeli forces over decades of occupation.

Six months of silence for the million and-a-half Iraqi people, mostly children, who have died of malnourishment or starvation as a result of an 11-year U.S. embargo against the country.

Before I begin this poem,

Two months of silence for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa,

Where homeland security made them aliens in their own country.

Nine months of silence for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,

Where death rained down and peeled back every layer of concrete, steel, earth and skin

And the survivors went on as if alive.

A year of silence for the millions of dead in Vietnam - a people, not a war - for those who know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel, their relatives’ bones buried in it, their babies born of it.

A year of silence for the dead in Cambodia and Laos, victims of a secret war … ssssshhhhh…. Say nothing … we don’t want them to learn that they are dead.

Two months of silence for the decades of dead in Colombia,

Whose names, like the corpses they once represented, have piled up and slipped off our tongues.

Before I begin this poem.

An hour of silence for El Salvador …

An afternoon of silence for Nicaragua …

Two days of silence for the Guatemaltecos …

None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years.

45 seconds of silence for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas

25 years of silence for the hundred million Africans who found their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could poke into the sky.

There will be no DNA testing or dental records to identify their remains.

And for those who were strung and swung from the heights of sycamore trees in the south, the north, the east, and the west…

100 years of silence…

For the hundreds of millions of indigenous peoples from this half of right here,

Whose land and lives were stolen,

In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Fallen Timbers, or the Trail of Tears.

Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the refrigerator of our consciousness …

So you want a moment of silence?

And we are all left speechless

Our tongues snatched from our mouths

Our eyes stapled shut

A moment of silence

And the poets have all been laid to rest

The drums disintegrating into dust.

Before I begin this poem,

You want a moment of silence

You mourn now as if the world will never be the same

And the rest of us hope to hell it won’t be.

Not like it always has been.

Because this is not a 9/11 poem.

This is a 9/10 poem,

It is a 9/9 poem,

9/8 poem,

A 9/7 poem

This is a 1492 poem.

This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written.

And if this is a 9/11 poem, then:

This is a September 11th poem for Chile, 1971.

This is a September 12th poem for Steven Biko in South Africa, 1977.

This is a September 13th poem for the brothers at Attica Prison, New York, 1971.

This is a September 14th poem for Somalia, 1992.

This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground in ashes

This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told

The 110 stories that history chose not to write in textbooks

The 110 stories that CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and Newsweek ignored.

This is a poem for interrupting this program.

And still you want a moment of silence for your dead?

We could give you lifetimes of empty:

The unmarked graves

The lost languages

The uprooted trees and histories

The dead stares on the faces of nameless children

Before I start this poem we could be silent forever

Or just long enough to hunger,

For the dust to bury us

And you would still ask us

For more of our silence.

If you want a moment of silence

Then stop the oil pumps

Turn off the engines and the televisions

Sink the cruise ships

Crash the stock markets

Unplug the marquee lights,

Delete the instant messages,

Derail the trains, the light rail transit.

If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window of Taco Bell,

And pay the workers for wages lost.

Tear down the liquor stores,

The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the Penthouses and the Playboys.

If you want a moment of silence,

Then take it

On Super Bowl Sunday,

The Fourth of July

During Dayton’s 13 hour sale

Or the next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful people have gathered.

You want a moment of silence

Then take it NOW,

Before this poem begins.

Here, in the echo of my voice,

In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand,

In the space between bodies in embrace,

Here is your silence.

Take it.

But take it all…Don’t cut in line.

Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime. But we,

Tonight we will keep right on singing…For our dead.

EMMANUEL ORTIZ, 11 Sep 2002.

(Link to the tumblr post I found it in.)

Saturday, September 03, 2011


Hello friends! I just finished another book, and I realized it's Sept 3! Time to talk about the books I read last month.

64. The King's Pleasure, Norah Lofts.

This was a historical Tudors novel written in the 1950s and boy does it show. The maligns on Anne Boleyn's physical character are present, and I felt that Lofts did a lot more telling than showing. I didn't like the foreshadowing usage. Read Anya Seton instead.

65. Feed, Mira Grant.

In the mid 21st Century, cancer and the common cold are cured, but unfortunately the side-effect was zombies. They're somewhat contained now, but the remaining human population no longer trusts its news media sources and is relying on bloggers for information. So Georgia and her brother Shaun get selected to cover a presidential campaign and end up in way over their heads.

Now I have such zombie fear as you've never seen. But I loved this book. Yes, there are zombie attacks, and they are scary. and the mysterious conspiracy isn't all that shocking. But the bond between brother and sister is really what drives the book.

66. Point Omega, Dom DeLillo.

I totally misinterpreted what this book was about. An aspiring filmmaker goes to the desert to seek out one of the masterminds behind the Iraq War and interview him. Instead he spends his time in the desert boring the hell out of the reader as he vaguely contemplates banging his host's daughter.

67. The Scarlet Lion, Elizabeth Chadwick.

A followup to "The Greatest Knight," continuing the Marshal family saga this time in the court of King John. A little repetitive at points, but I definitely enjoyed the story as much as I did TGK. If you're into medieval historical novels that really try to get it right, Chadwick is for you.

68. The Wars of the Roses, Alison Weir.

Another Weir compendium, this time about the historical roots and how the Wars of the Roses came about. It gets complicated especially toward the end when names are repeated apace. Thank goodness for the genealogical trees at the back of the book.

69. Daughters of Rome, Kate Quinn

A prequel of sorts to "Mistress of Rome," Quinn takes us to the year of Three Emperors by telling us the story through the lives of 4 women all named Cornelia. She continues her themes of having at least one woman in the story bed a strapping man who is a prisoner or in dire straits but is incredibly handsome and amazing. It is damned good reading, although a bit predictable.

70. Classic Stories 1: R is for Rocket & Golden Apples, Ray Bradbury.

Bradbury's writing always fuels in me a nostalgia for the space race age. The stories are ridiculously outdated, but they are nice to read in a "look how they saw this coming" sort of way. There are some of my favourite pieces in here including "The Long Rain."

71. Hungry: A Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition, and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves, Crystal Renn (TW: eating disorders)

Renn is a plus-sized model who overcame an eating disorder trying to remain at a size 0 in order to stay in the world of modelling. She is funny, very interested in the statistics and reasons for disordered eating. This was an easy and good read, but I wish the editors had done a better job -- it's riddled with errors and bad transitions.

72. Christ Stopped at Eboli, Carlo Levi

Levi was exiled to an impoverished region in the mountains of Italy for a sentence of three years. He spent one in Eboli, and wrote a journal of his experiences. It is an incredible look at a place neglected by time and government. Keeping in mind that Levi is a bit sexist and classist, it is nonetheless a unique look at a place and time gone unmentioned in most of history, Italian or otherwise.

73. Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal.

A science fiction book set in a Regency-esque England. It tries to be Pride and Prejudice, but it was more like The Wayward Muse and merely bored me. The magick in the world was a minor plot point that could have been excised. I was mostly whelmed by this book.

74. Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris.

Okay NOW I see what all the hype is about. Everyone and their mom watches True Blood (except me and Phil). But seriously? Sookie Stackhouse is funny, interesting, and I really enjoyed this book! It was a quick little story and I look forward to the rest of the series.

75. Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul

Haters gonna hate. Some of the tales in here were really good looks at the contestants' views of the process, others were great looks at back stage workers knowing how they got the show to be the way it was, and others were just there.

I've read 3 more books in September so far, but you'll just have to wait til Oct to see what they are. Tell me what you're reading! I have to pick a new book to start, but since I cleaned up again at the Borders' closeout sale, I have plenty of choices!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lament to Borders

I moved to Albany in August 2006. This will be the 5th year I have lived here on the 23rd. I took my last few remaining bucks and headed for Crossgates Mall to find a job one of the first days I was here. I wandered up and down and I saw that there was a darkened bookstore waiting to open -- I vaguely wondered if it was the same store I had applied for a few months back but ultimately didn't get hired for.

A week later, it opened. I started working at the store across the hall from it, New York & Company. As a result, I spent a lot of time inside. I tried many things to save myself money, but I could never resist the bargain books. Or the ridiculous amounts of coupons I would get.

I know I was known on sight by the booksellers, even if they didn't know my name. One of the shift supervisors always knew I worked in the mall, even when I moved over to Colonie Center. It was nice -- I always was able to go in, browse, and just be left alone with the books.

When Borders instituted their paid rewards program, I was the first to jump on it. I don't regret that decision in the least. I always felt far more comfortable in Borders than in any other bookstore, and the Crossgates Mall bookstore more than any other one -- even the one back home. I never felt the same spirit of camaraderie that I did there with Barnes and Noble, Chapters, you name it.

Borders is closing its doors now, and it is so weird, because like I said, it came here at the same time I did. We ventured into Albany at the same time. That's why losing my bookstore, even if it is a chain, hurts. And I have worked liquidation sales before (I worked for Ames at the time they closed) so I know what the booksellers are going through.

I went there today, and I didn't expect the ridiculous amounts of people wandering through. I didn't feel comfortable, and while I left with a bag full of books as per usual, I didn't find it as relaxing as I usually do. I don't know really what I expected -- the scavengers come out to play and panic when a liquidation sale is announced. There are plenty of books, and at 10% off, it's not the greatest deal. I'm very grateful to Borders for letting me still use my member discount until Aug 5, which is why I did buy a couple more books than I usually do.

When Borders finally closes in September, I will try to dip my toes into the bookstore waters again. But I don't think I'll have that odd sense of kinship with it. It's like a door closing on my story of Albany.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

If you're gonna cry history, use the logic.

Okay so I don't know if y'all recall me talking about how Chile exhumed Salvador Allende's remains to determine if he died from self-inflicted gunshots or not.

Well, the inquest resolved the other day and they said it was suicide.

Okay, sure, I can accept this. I went looking for an English language source on the story (gee I don't know why the US news doesn't find this important) and I found this article: The Left's Big Lie on Allende. Yeah, I don't know why I clicked either.

The first line led me to write this post.
History: President Salvador Allende of Chile really did commit suicide in 1973, an inquest concluded on Tuesday. Now will the Left stop saying the U.S. and Chile's army did him in?

History is correct. He did kill himself, according to the inquest. Wanna know why he did it? Because the US Funded coup -- tanks, munitions, guns, ammunition, paid off soldiers and generals were storming the presidential palace to kill him and over throw his government. So, yes President Allende took his own life. But not because he wanted to do so. I'm fairly certain he didn't wake up that morning and say "hey friends, I'm gonna kill myself, k bye." Clearly he tried to defend the LEGALLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT that the military should have been supporting and at the last desperate moment, when he could no longer salvage even his own life, he took his.

So no, US. We are not off the hook for Allende's (and those of the thousands of desaparacidos that followed) death. Good try though.

Monday, July 04, 2011

June books

I am 1% ahead of my pace for the year -- trying to read 100 books this year. Here are June's:

47. Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World's First Computer, Jo Marchand.

Marchand tells the history of the Antikythera device -- a forgotten artifact discovered at the turn of the century by sponge divers. She goes back through the history of the historians trying to solve the case, and it's an interesting look. It's very obvious that she's a magazine writer -- the transitions are jarring, and the language is a bit off, but it was well worth the dollar I paid for it. However, all the math did give me some headaches.

48. Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy, Sarah Bradford.

Clearly my love for the television series The Borgias led me to this, but it was definitely well worth the read. Very academic. Bradford digs Lucrezia out of the dungheap of history, and like Alison Weir did with Isabelle of France and Eleanor of Aquitaine, helps repair her reputation using good scholarship.

49. Speaking of Weir... Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Alison Weir.

Okay, remember how much I didn't really like Innocent Traitor and The Lady Elizabeth? Forget them. Weir finds her voice in Eleanor. Maybe she's better at writing middle-aged women, because this look at Eleanor's turbulent life with her second husband just worked better. I didn't want it to end.

50. The Greatest Knight, Elizabeth Chadwick.

Heh, I was on a definite Middle Ages kick. This book novelizes the life of William Marshal, the stalwart man who rose from humble origins to the confidence of Queen Eleanor and her sons. This too was a very good read. I finally liked a historical fiction book about a time period that I know well. You should be impressed.

51. Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain, Portia de Rossi.

de Rossi is brutally honest about her struggle with anorexia and bulimia. She writes with humour and grace about subjects that were clearly difficult for her to discuss with anyone -- going about her job and hating herself every single day for who she was pretending to be. I found this book mesmerising. Clearly there are trigger warnings for eating disorders in this book.

52. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

This book I definitely need a re-read, but I liked it! Marquez pretty much leads the magical realism "genre", and I love books with that sort of trope. I see now why Isabel Allende gets compared to him, not only for being a South American writer -- the story of a family through several generations through an entire book. I still think The House of the Spirits is better, but I respect this one.

Right now I am reading the 4th book in the Parasol Protectorate Series, Heartless. This book is by Gail Carriger.

This meme is based on books read so far this year.

favourite book: Hunting Eichmann, Neal Bascomb.
This was un-putdownable -- gripping and intriguing even though we knew the outcome.

most powerful book: Shake Hands with the Devil, Romeo Dallaire.
Oh god, where to begin. This is Dallaire's memoir of the Rwanda genocide in 1994. Simply stunning.

brilliantly funny Esperanza's Box of Saints, Maria Amparo Escandon.
This seemed like a particularly predictable prose, but Esperanza's journey is comedic without being pratfallish and is consistently entertaining.

best ache-y, heart-breaking, tear-jerker read: We'll go with fiction only in this one: Jellicoe Road, Melina Marchetta.
If you haven't read this, you need to do so.

most beautiful story Ash, Malinda Lo.
The love story in this book is simply spellbinding.

delicious rainy day comfort read Better Part of Darkness, Kelly Gay.
This urban fantasy is a quick, fun, entertaining read. Charlie's awesome.

adrenalin-fuelled, unputdownable award: I wasn't going to duplicate, but Hunting Eichmann defintely fits here. I kept putting it down and picking it back up over and over.

the beautiful prose award: The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield.
Oh my gosh, this was deceptively simple and yet well-written.

most atmospheric and vivid setting: A Northern Light, Jennifer Donnelly.
Turn of the century rural New York town. She does my land justice :)

i-so-want-to-go-there award: Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman.
I don't even really like Gaiman all that much and I loved Neverwhere.

most original and imaginative: Body of Work, Christine Montross.
Montross writes of her time in medical school -- the hours spent with her cadaver Eve, and contemplating all that is implied with a cadaver.

best under-appreciated, hidden gem book A Little Bit Wicked, Kristin Chenoweth.
A cute book, a lot of chuckles, and a bit of sweetness and light. Just like I imagine Ms Chenoweth to be like.

i-had-no-idea-i-would-love this-so award: Captive Queen, Alison Weir.
Weir's fiction has always been problematic to me, but her latest effort blew me away. She did well!

most haunting story: Jellicoe Road, Melina Marchetta.
Read it!

outside my comfort zone but gosh how i loved it: Blue Nude, Elizabeth Rosner.
I didn't think I would find the story of an Israeli model and a German painter interesting -- I usually don't like "arty" books. But this was a page-turner.

series that i'm loving: Charlie Madigan series (Kelly Gay). there are only 2 books so far, and I liked both of them a lot. Urban fantasy set in Atlanta, with a single mom cop character.

most memorable voice award Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters.
Nan has stuck with me even now, months after I finished the book.

completely awesome premise award: The Chess Machine, Robert Lohr.
A midget, a chess-playing machine (shaped like a Turk), murder, mayhem, and 18th century politics.

would make the best movie Definitely the Charlie Madigan series.

want to re-read already: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I just finished it, but I definitely want to re-read this. I think it's one of those books that requires re-reads.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Book reviews - April and May

Okay here are April & May's books/reviews:

and the shadows took him, Daniel Chacon.
A young Hispanic boy lives his childhood as he is moved from California to Oregon while his father struggles to become a respectable middle class man in a very white town. This was really good. The characters popped out - they weren't cliches, and their fights and frustrations felt real. It was a bit predictable in parts, but I couldn't stop turning pages on this one.

A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages, Kristin Chenoweth
this book turned me into a bit of a stan for her. It reads just like how I think she would speak, despite having a ghostwriter. There's a surprise visit by Mister Writer (aka Aaron Sorkin) in the book. Their romance is really the reason why I picked it up. I lent this out to my coworker Jess who reminds me a lot of her.

Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters.
This is a novel set in Victorian England, following the career of Nan King, a young woman who falls in love with a performer who appears in men's clothing. She follows her off to London, and ends up on an odyssey of love, sex, and politics. I don't think all the foreshadowing was necessary, but I found this a genuinely enjoyable book. It tugged at my heartstrings a little bit.

Working for the Devil, Lilith Saintcrow.
I picked this up for the cover art alone, and tried to read it in March. It didn't grab my attention so I set it aside. Picked it up again a few weeks back and I found it more intriguing. I liked that Danny was a tough chick who kept insisting that she didn't need any help -- she comes to realize that she needs to let others inside at other points. I did see the twist at the end coming, but it didn't make it any less poignant. I will probably continue the series.

Sixty One Nails, Mike Shevdon
Claiming to be "Neverwhere for a new generation," I picked it up. I was not impressed. Sure, it turned pages, but the Gary Stu narrator couldn't be interested in a woman who wasn't stunning looking -- she shapeshifts to match his ideal of beauty. I was more interested in the world building, which was pretty well done. But stick with Neverwhere if you want a really good "wrong side of the tracks" fantasy story.

Bury Me Deep, Megan Abbott
One of my favourite books this year, actually. This is a novel set in Arizona in the 1930s. A small town girl moves with her troubled doctor husband to Arizona. While he leaves her to go practice medicine on miners in Mexico, she ends up with some wild friends and embarks on an affair with a prominent town leader. Somehow it goes awry and she ends up in the middle of a giant mess. Incredibly chilling and frightening.

Naamah's Curse, Jacqueline Carey
I love her worldbuilding, but I can't help to draw parallels to her other big heroine, Phedre. I know, I have to stop, they're not the same person. Moirin is a pretty plucky heroine, but I don't know if I'm a big fan of the follow the man all around the known world in order to be reunited" theme, but I do enjoy how Moirin basically convinces everyone ever to sleep with her by merely existing.

Telex from Cuba, Rachel Kershner
I didn't think I would get along with this at first. I had to look up "telex" and it's a slightly more advanced form of telegraphing, and a prior take on fax machines. They're still in use today, according to Wiki. But this is the story of several American families in Cuba -- working for the fruit companies and the mining companies that were robbing the Cubans blind. It was an interesting look at the women and children of the American execs who are forced to play nice with the other white people on the island because they are isolated. I didn't really care for the French terrorist/Cuban escort section (her name was Rachel K). But overall, I definitely found this book very interesting.

Blue Nude, Elizabeth Rosner
Rosner is from Schenectady NY, which is why I ended up picking this up after I set it down a few times. It's the story of two foreigners - Danzig, an art professor who has lost his interest in painting, and Merav, an Israeli artist's model who was in their Army in her youth. Rosner writes about painting and modelling, but it's about the fallout from World War II, even a few generations removed, for people of Europe and Israel. Very worthwile read.

Jellicoe Road, Melina Marchetta.
GO. Read this book. You will not be disappointed. I can't adequately describe this book without spoilerizing it, so go.

A Northern Light, Jennifer Donnelly
You guys, a book was set in my home region! No, I'm serious! This one is simply amazing and made me cry. Set at the turn of the century, a young girl has dreams of going to college and learns a new word of a day to keep her mind limber. But life in the North Woods isn't always that simple and she has to decide between her ambitions and her family.

Best quote:
"Why did little towns in Herkimer County never get a mention in anyone's book? Why was it always other places and other lives that mattered?"

This made me nearly cry. I've always felt this way, and it's part of why I bought this book -- it's set near my home, and I can feel the story -- I can smell it, I can taste it, I can feel the heartbreak, and I know that even though it's set 100 years ago, it's still the same.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Exhuming the 1970s American Foreign Policy

I've spent many a September 11 reminiscing about the heavy handed US policies of the 1970s. When I was in university, I worked on researching the coup d'etat in Chile which happened to take place on 11 September 1973. I find the parallels and the meaning behind both days to be something worth examining.

It is telling though, how little American media and Americans nowadays at a whole know or care about Latin American affairs if they don't directly affect our supply of oil or kill our kids, or emigrate illegally (see Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico). This wasn't always so. See in the 1970s, the idea of having a dictatorship that was BFFs with our goverment was far more palatable than a legally elected socialist regime. So the US got into helping fund coups and pretty much endorsing crimes against humanity in parts of Latin America.

Salvador Allende was a physician who championed socialist ethos. His election was fraught with controversy but was won fair and square. The US tried to intervene secretly even before he was inaugurated, and his three years in the office were completely undermined by boycotts and other nasty tricks the CIA used to try to force his hand.

Allende didnt' back down, and on 11 September 1973, the military revolted. Led by Agustin Pinochet (for whom there is, presumably, a nice spot in hell somewhere), they stormed the Presidential Palace (La Moneda) and in the ensuing firefight, Allende was killed. The official story was that he committed suicide, but many who knew him doubted he would have done so.

In January, the Chilean government announced that it had exhumed Allende's body to put to rest whether he killed himself or he was assassinated. (Even if he killed himself, he was still assassinated, clearly.)

I found this article earlier today only in Spanish, and it's telling that the first English link Google came up with for me was from a non-American source. (And the only reason I have the Spanish-language articles is because I added a section on Google News for Chilean news services.)

As I went looking for an article in English for this post, I found also that Nathaniel Davis, the ambassador to Chile in the 1970s, recently died. He was famous for saying that the US wasn't really involved in the coup and the machinations to bring down Allende, but de-classified documents released by the CIA at the beginning of the decade showed otherwise. As the ambassador, Davis may not have known what they were up to, but he was responsible for the safety of Charles Horman, the journalist who went missing in Chile and was one of the desaparacidos - thousands of disappeared people who were ultimately murdered by Pinochet and his regime.

I am curious to see what the results are of this autopsy. If it was a murder, instead of a suicide, does it make that much difference to the people of Chile who were murdered by the thousands after his death? I'd like to think it would bring renewed war criminal charges against people like Henry Kissenger, but I won't hold my breath.

Monday, May 16, 2011

what in the wide wide world of sports is this

It was a bit of a weird day at work, not gonna lie. I opened up the gates and the usual mall-walkers filed in for their routine touch everything and not buy a damned thing spiel (my favourite is seeing how many of them ignore me or just answer my "Hi How are you," with a "just looking" growl). Then two minutes later a lady walks in with a return.

Then as I process that return, a line forms behind her with four other people, all wanting returns.

My boss came back from the bank then and panicked a bit. Then I had the lady who paid for a 135 order with two 100 bills and all the change that I had just gotten was wiped completely out.

Things settled down after that though and we recovered nicely monetarily wise, which was a+++.

My boss went in search of stickers for our board, and I was talking to the other associate, when I heard someone knock over our sign and mumble something. So I walked up to the front of the store and saw one guy standing while two other dudes were on the ground on top of this guy telling him to get on the ground while they cuffed him. It apparently took two tries and the guy lost his hat, money, and shoe in the melee.

The presumably plainclothes cops (because they weren't wearing uniforms) then asked the fellow who was standing to open his jacket and checked to see if he'd stolen anything too. I'm guessing, but uncertain that the cuffed buddy was caught stealing sneakers from Champs, and they caught up with him after a brief chase and a collision with my sign.


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Books of March

Hello friends, it's that time again where I tell you what I read and how I liked it. March was a good month for me because I powered through 8 books AND took a day off from reading. I'm ahead by 3 books on my pace of 100 for the year, so I'm super stoked.

First up was Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, Romeo Dallaire.

This was a difficult book. Coming on the heels of Hunting Eichmann, it was a bitter pill to swallow. The initiatives put in place to keep another Holocaust from happening were completely neglected in Rwanda, because the timing was bad. Dallaire was the chief of the UN Mission there, and he reports the red tape, the inhumane and nearly indescribable torment and sheer scale of awfulness that humans can do to each other. Simply chilling and a very, very important book. It made me rage at my own government -- the US, France, The UK, and Belgium take their share of blame from Dallaire's book -- it was, as I said, a difficult book. I think everyone should read it, but keep in mind it is a very difficult story to get through.

So after that I had a hard time deciding what to read next, and since the show was starting a week from the day I finished SHWT, I decided on A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin (who is on Livejournal, but I don't know his username. It's probably something like his name or some such.) Anyway, I only got my feet wet in fantasy by reading a Renaissance-inspired world (the Kushiel series) and GoT is set in a medieval-esque world, so that helped me get into it a little bit. And when informed me that the book was vaguely based on The Wars of the Roses, it snapped into place a little bit more for me and helped my enjoyment of the first book. There is however, trigger warnings for incest (which helpfully discovered for me beforehand). I have yet to watch the show but I think I will, and read the next book at the very least.

The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield, has long been at the top of my To Read list. And I found it on a bargain rack at Borders so I picked it up. SO GLAD I DID. It opened with a heroine researching into a life of someone else, much like that horrid Pink Carnation book, so I side-eyed it but continued on anyway. I was rewarded with a book about memory, love, loss, and a mystery that wraps itself up into a nice, tidy ending. It was a little too convenient, but very enjoyable nonetheless. I kept turning pages and alternately not wanting the book to end.

On the same trip that I picked up that book, I also got Three Days to Dead, by Kelly Meding. The blurb on the back cover embedded itself in my brain -- a bounty hunter wakes up in the body of another woman on an autopsy table and has three days to solve her murder. It was a good concept, but it was slow and boring in its execution. If the author had twisted the tale in different directions, or hadn't made the supposed love interest into a boring, wooden character who would risk everything ever for the Mary Sue I mean main character, it would have worked. There are more books in the series, but I won't be continuing it, tyvm.

Then I got out one of my dollar books to kill an evening: Podkayne of Mars, by Robert Heinlein. NB: I had known of Heinlein, and only that he was one of the Sci-Fi Gods (authors that people revere for leading the heyday of SF works) but never had read anything of his.

Nor will I again -- this sexist piece of garbage was about a I think 16 year old girl, but the "saviour" of the book was her eleven year old brother who of course was better at everything than her. I just wanted to punch this book in the face several times.

I decided Finding Nouf (by Zoe Ferraris) would be a good palate cleanser. This is a murder mystery set in Saudi Arabia -- one of the wealthiest men in the country's daughter is found murdered in the desert, pregnant at 16 and unmarried. A friend of the family and a female medical examiner take on the case of trying to find out who killed her, working within the confines of their society's laws and regulations. It's an interesting look at a place I don't read a lot about, and while I didn't love it, I think I'd read the rest of the series too.

Next up was Amalia's Tale: A Poor Peasant, an Ambitious Attorney, and a Fight for Justice, by David Kertzer. This is a case study of a woman from rural Italy who worked as a wet nurse for a foundling home. When she contracted syphilis, she did what was an unexpected thing at the time -- she contacted a lawyer, who just happened to be looking for a case to make his name. He sues the foundling home on her behalf, and finds out that this was a common practice and many women had been given syphilis from infants who were too young to show signs of the disease before being "farmed out" to these mothers. It's a good look at a time period and a place that normally go unnoticed by historians.

Finally, I read The Other Queen, by Phillipa Gregory. I had been wanting to read this for a while and nearly bought it off the bargain rack but when I was cleaning I found I already had purchased it at Christmastime. Whoops. Anyway, this was Gregory's interpretation of Mary, Queen of Scots and her imprisonment in England after she fled there for sanctuary from Scotland. Gregory used the same tri-partite structure that she did in The Boleyn Inheritance but here it just falls flat and turns repetitive -- she has the three characters replay nearly every scene from their POV and it's so boring. The chapters are a page to a page and a half at some points, and it's just frustrating. Not worth the read.

I haven't started a new book yet. Back in January I started a collection of short stories mostly set in Nova Scotia by Alistair Macleod, and tonight I read four more of them, but I haven't picked up a new tome yet. We'll see how it goes though.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

You must be this tall to ride the internet.

Apparently everyone who interacts with me on the internet expects me to be shorter. It confounds me. I'm a tall-ish lady -- aided by ridic long legs and a 5'7.5" frame who wears heeled shoes all the time. Is it because I'm above average height for a woman? I met a few people at a Times Union Bloggers meeting and one gentleman said he expected me to be shorter, because my username was ALLCAPSDOOM. Compensating for height with caps? I dunno.

He's not the first -- I know that Phil is always confounded at my height whenever we see each other IRL. I'm a tall-ish lady, people.

Strangest thing just happened: I was typing up this entry and the lamp went out. I flicked on the humidifier because it was closer and the light went back on. It was very strange. I sorted it out though -- the lamp wasn't plugged in as tightly as it should be, and I also had Netty plugged into that outlet. So as I move the netbook about I was flicking the light off and on. However it doesn't explain why the light blew in my ceiling fan earlier and now the fan won't even run on that. Weird. I think it's just busted, but I won't worry about it today -- I gotta clean my room out before I let anyone in to look at it.

Monday, February 28, 2011


I only read three books this month, which pales to the 11 I read last month. To be fair, one of them was 750 pages and took all my time up. I spent the rest of the month working on mailing out books too, although I have had rubbish luck with my copy of Suite Francaise. I listed it before and forgot to mail it so the request expired. So I relisted it when I did my book cataloging and someone snatched it up.

Today I got a message in my inbox stating that she got the envelope that it was in, but no book. I know that I sealed it up properly, because I was doing five other packages at the time and sealed them after writing the contents on the outsides of the envelopes. So I emailed GoodReads to ask what they can do for us. I hate to lose books, and I hope we get this resolved amicably. I've shipped almost 40 other books and this is my first incident, so I guess that's good.

So onto the books I read:

Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Murder of Lord Darnley, Alison Weir.
So many of you know that I'm in love with anything Ms Weir writes, correct? This is the 750 page monstrosity that she explains right up front requires that much pagination because you have to take in the scope of the conspiracy and all the players involved, and you need all the backstory. And she's not wrong. The problem is that Mary herself isn't as compelling a figure as Elizabeth or Isabella or Eleanor, and after 400 pages of Mary making the wrong decisions at the worst possible times you kind of get tired of her. Weir tries gamely to make her interesting, but I was quite happy to get to the end of this one. This is definitely a requirement if you want to read all of Weir's books, but don't make this your starting point by any means.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Lauren Willig.

Oh my lord. This was miserable. I wanted to punch everyone and everything in it. It read like a sitcom set in the turn of the 18th century, but stocked with modern characters wearing fancy dresses. The cartoonish proposal scene was beyond criminal, and the entire "present day" scenario made me want to puke. Self-insert characters never fare well. And apparently there's a whole freaking series of these books. Hell to the no.

Playing with the Enemy: A Baseball Prodigy, a World War, and the Long Journey Home, Gary W. Moore.

This is the story of Gene Moore, a phenom prospect signed by the Dodgers just prior to World War II. He played baseball for the Navy during the war and ended his career in a meaningless game against German POWs he had taught to play. His son writes the book and right away it turned me a bit off to find out that Gary Moore's job was as a motivational speaker. The dialogue in the book would fit into any self-help book, and it's slightly exaggerated. But as you ease into the book, it becomes more and more interesting, and You find the story far easier to swallow. I'll admit it, this book brought me near to tears a couple of times.
The subject matter is close to my own researches -- my senior thesis for my BA was on baseball during WWII. I wish this book had been out then.

Currently reading local author Jedediah Berry's "The Manual of Detection." (If you consider he was born in the Hudson Valley somewhere and currently lives in Northampton MA, then yes he is local.)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I should forget my book more often.

So I went to work yesterday and I forgot my book and I can't be without one, that would be scandalous. So I had to get coffee (that's required by Act 1434 of my Bloodstream) and I searched the "Bargain" books at B&N. Borders has mad cheaper books, that's for sure.

I got Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates bc I had seen her on The Daily Show years back and remembered she was funny. This book is about the Puritan origin mythos of America, and her investigation into it. And within the first 25 pages I was cracking up left, right, and center. Tonight though, less than halfway into the book, I found the winning line:

"If Nancy Drew were trying to get to the bottom of Winthrop's petty rivalry with Deputy Governor Thomas Dudley, the book might be titled The Mystery of the Pretentious Wainscotting. What happened was, the assistants had agreed to build a fortified new town across the Charles River from Boston, which, per New England's usual creativity with naming things, they called "New Town." (It would eventually be renamed Cambridge, after they founded a university there. Because whatelse would men who attended England's Cambridge University name a university town?)"

This book is precisely what I would write if I wrote history books. Complete with sarcasm and pop culture references. It's like she hacked my brain. Or rather, I hacked hers.

Also, can we talk about the repeat names in New England. New York, you are no exception either. Duplicate town names make the baby AJ cry. (Try to find another Gouverneur. I DARE YOU.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oh for the hate of Bieber...

American Idol -- New Orleans!

Uhoh, this can't bode well. He's crying real hard and making a damned fool of himself. Thanks, Idol. Maybe they're going to be a lot meaner this time out? Let us see.
Why are we playing Mississippi Queen for ohhh bc it's on the Mississippi. Despite it being in Louisiana.
Wow. Uh JLo isn't sparkling but she definitely went ridic blonde.
I don't think we need a clip of Ryan failing at speaking French though. Let's get to the auditions.

Steven's chair is broken, and JLo has a futuristic outerspace outfit on.
Vocal teachers always do well in audition rounds but they do not do so well in Hollywood or in the Top ten -- see Anwar Robinson, and any number of failed contestants in Hollywood Round.
Jordan Dorsey is really adorable though. "I teach piano." "So you play the piano?" No shit, Randy. GJ.
Okay, are we going to waste the WHOLE hour on unnecessary crap? Oh I like this guy. I love Steve lipsynching to the song. Oh JLo went Gaga for this outfit -- not pointed padded crazy but Bows on the shoulders.
Maybe he can break the curse -- he was really spectacular. And he has an excellent cheerful personality.

Oh good, more really annoying horrible contestants. And Ryan doing his worst to promote Nawlins.
Wow she is loud.
Also, is JLo's outfit one shoulder? WTF.
Sarah and Steven are bonding over their giant lips. UGH vibrato. She sounds like all the other women on the radio these days, so I bet she'll do well.
"You had me sold from the second you laid eyes on me." Steven. Wow.

Oh a ship builder you say. And he is so well dressed. Um HI. /shallow -- Jovany
oh dear. This guy Idolizes Marc Anthony? Oh dear. And he's going to strip for her. WHY.
I am however, a sucker for anyone who sings competently in a foreign languages. Wow, Randy -- be incredibly stupid and ask Jennifer about the Latino singer. Of course she knows all the Latino singers ever.
OH No. So we have found this season's Casey James? Also I didn't need to see Randy Jackson's treasure trail. AT ALL. THank you Idol. I think.
Wow Seacrest, way to insist upon seeing a woman undressed. You are a douche. Also, I love that Jovany's family had signs for him.

Wait a minute, why did Louisiana get all this STOP IT RYAN SEACREST WITH YOUR FAKE FRENCH.
"So Coach, did you ever paddle his ass?" -Steven.
Let's see if Jacqueline can actually sing or if she's just gonna use her connections to get in.
Actually, yes. A little shrieky, but not too bad. Also, singing the Pretenders is awesome.

Brett Lowenstern is "different -- a red apple in a pile of green apples." Oh it's a message promo. It's saccharine and gag-inducing, and since they are doing such a well made promo pimping package, he's likely to go through. Wow. Steven is the greatest thing to happen to this panel EVER. He really can sing, so damn. I think he's one to watch too.
Well how am I going to be surprised if you show Steven telling us how awesome he is? Good cutting, Idol.

Gabriel Franks has nice hair. I seriously doubt he's the next American Idol. He is failing at his number. OH dear lord he's going to sing Bad Romance. Oh and the handclaps. I'm a little afraid that they WILL send him through.
How is he uh not going crazy? I haven't seen any meltdowns and screaming about how they are meant to be in Hollywood. What is this?
Thank you boat, for saving us from listening to dude.
Alex Itardo -- he is another Idol Camp person. Oh no, Proud Mary. Let's see -- this tends to get destroyed. And yet another hack attempt at it. Find Treynce and JHud doing this one instead.

Jacee Badeaux is fifteen. Let's see if he unleashes the Bieber. He'll sing Otis Redding. he sings it competently but there's no soul in it. I mean to be fair this is the auditions and I am a little annoyed that they dropped the age limit instead of raising it again.
Okay, so the pimp machine is out in full force. Sweeping dramatic music and there's a sob story coming. I'm guessing she's no Angela Martin coming up.
PS Can we talk about how much Angela would have schooled everyone last season? And now she can't compete anymore bc she hit the age limit?

Paris Tassin has a baby who is disabled. So she's singing for her. Singing Carrie Underwood, and the pimping pays off, she's a wonderful singer. And JLo is a crying mess. Full disclosure: I may have gotten a little choked up. SHUT UP.
Oh man if she can do better than this I am looking forward to it.

Milwaukee time!

Wow, Randy you fail at Aerosmith. If he was playing a Journey song, would you have figured it out?
Guys, why is there a statue of the Fonz in Milwaukee? And gross, someone got Gokey on my screen.
"slap that baby on the ass and call it Christmas." Steven. I think this season of Idol is a winner just for Steven's quotes and singing ad libs.
Oh, Scotty McCreery has a package, so he's going to Hollywood. And he can pitch. Wow, that is a really good country voice. But will he be able to handle the theme weeks? Remember Josh Gracin's debacle with disco week in Season 2.
Really, really really really really LOVE Steven Tyler right now.
Oh and he's a polite gentleman too! Shaking the judges' hands and thanking them for the opportunity.
Oh so we get the crazy fan montages next. Ugh, Hollywood week now, please. Aww, JHud singing Feeling Good for the WW commercials. She's just missing the E and T for her EGOT. Get her on telly stat.

Joe Rupka is going to "kick this thing straight to the moon." Great. The next Ryan Seacrest? Somehow I doubt he will be making his own record and playing it on the radio. Ugh. Did we need to exploit Jennifer again? And he's going to ruin "The Longest Time" by Billy Joel. Oh, that's not ominous -- "Do you sing?" "No, I'm tone deaf." - Joe's mother or grandmother.

15yr old Emma Henry gets to drive to her audition. Is that allowed? NY's age limit is 16, and 18 on Long Island, if I'm not mistaken. What is with her hair? And uh, STOP it with the making me feel old, Idol contestants. "I was five when Kelly won." Like last season's Colorado contestant, she sounds light and fluffy like Lily, and they almost have matching hair. Is there a requirement that Colorado contestants have crazy whitish hair?
Please tell me they tell her that she needs more work and won't go through this year but she should try again next year. Yes, JLo. Look, kid you are FIFTEEN. There is next year and a lot of time for you to get better. Ugh, Randy, don't do it. Oh drag in the sob story.
"dawg's gonna turn into a pussycat now."
Ugh Randy caved. And of course the soaring music. Expect the inevitable Hollywood week flameout.

Guys, I can't even with this trainwreck montage. Why do we need to see horrible singers beg for their musical lives? It is not going to end well for anyone.
"If Gaga were here, she'd go running out of the room screaming, 'What have I done'?" - Randy
I have never heard of Summerfest before. How is it the biggest music festival?
Sob story time, complete with video of her workplace -- she's going to Hollywood. Let's see if she'll be as good as the hype?
Naima Adedapo backs up the talk and the giant earrings. I look forward to seeing her.
"You can call me late for dinner and I'd still love you. But not lunch." -Steven

Why is that guy holding a six foot toothbrush?
Poor JLo -- hers was autotuned, and that auditioner was not.
Jerome Bell is a bar mitzvah singer. Let's see how well this works. He's shouty, but not bad. Steven should approve of the yelling.


It's Bieber time.
Thia Magia singing "Chasing Pavements," and it's a little rough but I like her voice. It's distinctive and different.
Oh good, a montage of fifteen year olds. And a Taylor Swift backing track. GREAT. Let's see how quickly they all melt down in Hollywood week. I'm such an optimist.

SHUT UP SEACREST.Now we get our screamers that they've been "promising" all episode.
Oh, A Civil War Reenactor. This wil end well. "NO. He's not a hippie. Hippies believe in SEX." Nathaniel Jones signs "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." The only person who should be singing while wearing a Civil War uniform is Corb Lund. NO EXCEPTIONS.
Okay Harvard Lady, shut up and get on with it. Molly DeWolf Swensen, I guess, but we're gonna call her Harvard Lady bc I can't remember that many names right now.
Randy, you pointd out that she was a Harvard student and that she works for the White House. And then you ask where she's been? Good job, genius.

Really? Can we just skip past all the haters and sob stories?

So JLo thinks that wearing a music note on her shirt makes her a real singer.
Haley Reinhart has Steven wrapped around her little finger. JLo is not impressed by her co-judges today. Does she have her "Serious Business" ponytail on today?

Tiwan Strong is a throwback and I like him. He's one to watch.
Things I should NEVER hear Ryan Seacrest say: "are you cramping?"

Steve Beghun is a CPA who has no friends. He is a wedding and funeral singer. He is a very nondescript fella. Excepting that voice. What is this
Wow, JLo's son and I had the same reaction to this guy. Also for someone who has no friends, he seems to have a bunch of people supporting him.

Vernika is the one we keep seeing on the commercial breaks leading to the cray cray. I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE this song. She probably has a good voice but it's a terrible song. "Half of these people can't sing better than me." Yeah, less than 1 percent of the singers are going through. And to the other contestants? I get that "you mad" but there is no reason to assault the cameramen.

Albert Rogers III is apparently a Barack Obama impersonator. Rough beginning and it's not getting any better. "It was like vanilla fudge from Eleanor Rigby." Aww, Steven, he's being the nice guy.
Student teacher Scott Dangerfield gets Steven to sing Janis Joplin. And he can sing too, so I'm okay with this. Oh dear, now we got the "million percent." Also, it's apparently the "unassuming" season.

Gee, I wonder if Mister I have a sob backstory (go ahead call me heartless) will make it to hollywood.
There are two of my dad? Although mine's a Giants fan. Megan Frazier.
Haha, Football went o
we're singing Bieber.
why are you doing this to my ears.
"you've had your country singers and your beatboxers. it's time for some opera." -Megan

Alli is a huge Aerosmith fan and loves STyler. NGL, I would totes want a hug from Steven.
Alyson Jados sings "Come Together," and rocks it out like Carly and Crystal. I think she's my favourite so far.
"You will have your turn in the barrell." -Steven.
Montage of people who we will see only briefly in Hollywood, and never again.
Chris Medina was trending on Twitter, so now we get to see why. He can sing, but I feel we saw better singers than him, but yeah, he's pretty good. I wonder if they'll exploit this like they did for Danny Gokey's late wife. /not cynical

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Addressing the controvery of judges, man. Wait, when did they announce this in front of a live studio audience? Was this at an audition site or was this at one of the tour shows?
JLo got turned into a Cullen. Her outfit is sparkling. A bit of a change in theme song, I've noticed. They actually added singers to it.

Remember they dropped the age limit to 15, in order to find Bieber clones. So uh, let's see what happens when we hear how awful these kids are. Between JLo and Steven Tyler, who has had the most botox there? Steven's looking for the next Janis Joplin. How will he deal with the Bieber fever? JLo -- stop being nice. LOLOLOLOL he has to reinforce that Jackson used to work with musicians bc all he says is "DAWG. It's HOT."

Seacrest, motivational speaker for hire.

OMG I think I love steven Tyler on this show. This is going to be AMAZING.
Interscope instead of 19. Ah, Simon, you win again.
Time to go to New York! Well, New Jersey once again. GROSS. Hey, that's Constantine Maroulis, season 4 5th place finisher and Rock of Ages mainstay! (Shut up, I once liked him.)

I kinda want JLo's skirt. Shut up. OH come on Hallelujah once again? SO over it. Okay so Rachel isn't bad, or as annoying as she was the last time. WHY IS JLO SO SPARKLY IS THIS A TREND
Caleb, a musician from NYC -- Steven likes him a lot. And sings backup. OH MY GOD THIS IS AMAZING. WHAT IS...I sell that shirt that Seacrest is wearing in my store.
Kenzie is trying too hard to sound sexy for a fifteen year old. And taking on Carrie Underwood is a tough trick, but she's not too awful. OH our first judges argument. SHE'S FIFTEEN SHE DOESN'T KNOW WHO THE OTHER TWO ARE!
Montage of people who we won't hear sing and are redshirts for hollywood week.
Achille is our first trainwreck. "Still a better singer than Amanda Palmer." -Laurie.
Awww, it's her first no! Poor Jennifer.
Tiffany loves JLo and Jersey hair. Will she make her cry tears of oh god you're so terrible or god you're so amazing? OH DEAR LORD. AWKWARD MOMENT NUMBER TWO.
Oh goodie, original songs. Did she really just play her chest? OH come on Randy, why would you go there? Wait, she can actually sing? And singing Celine, wow. If she stops crying, she will be really good. Oh, gee, I wonder who let them use the J Lo song? ;)
Montage of awful trainwrecks is go. What is with appealing to the women judges? Oh it's because they won't come out and say NO. Um, even her fingernails sparkle. JLo is the original Cullen.
Robbie is our first sob story. OH MY GOD HE WAS SEVEN WHEN THE SHOW STARTED I FEEL OLD. Oh he's going to do the Beatles. And he definitely has the talent. HOW DOES SHE KEEP SPARKLING?
did you just..."marinated on the vocals?" Randy. I know you needed to expand your vocab but uh. I don't even.

Can I nuke anyone who does the fist pump?
So Steven likes ogling women. Who knew.
Chris Cordeiro is an Eagle scout. Who surfs facebook during his videos. It is not going to end well. "My Way," poor Frankie's gonna be spinning in his grave. Uh, shades of John Stevens anyone? Ryan Seacrest should not say "give it to me" on camera. No.

buddy no1curr about your freaky nervous burping. Michael will be destroying "Proud Mary" by Tina and Ike Turner. "Make him stop." -JLo. STOP ENCOURAGING HIM, STEVEN.

Ashley is nearly local -- Springfield, MA. She works at a mall. ONE OF US ONE OF US. Are we serious with the BritBrit rn? I was expecting Britney but she sings something I don't know possibly from a musical. Showtune popstar? WHAT. JLo's gonna break and say yes. AAAND she did.

Uh oh, Sob Story Time. Well, it's a dramatic one at any rate. She's from Kosovo, and her family are refugees. A conflict most Americans aren't aware of. Melinda is really good though, so I am okay with the sob story.
DAY TWO of New Jersey Auditions, man.
Devin, the singing waitress. JLo is still sparkling. I don't get it. Here we go pimping the front runner. Keep an eye out.
Parade of trainwrecks, led by the singing surfer and the teacher duetting with the judges.

OH DEAR. That guy is chasing a bird -- your argument is invalid. Yojipop is bringing JPop to America. OH.

He is going to sing.
Party in the USA. He does have the moves tho. He should be on America's Next Best Dance Crew.
Cue Montage of everyone fucking up Party in the USA. If Miley can't sing it, what hope do we have? JK.
Brielle has a sob story of her own. Let's see if she has teh voice to match. She's already caught the tanning bug and hair colouring the kids are doing these days. She's okay. She'll be a front runner. STOP IT IDOL DON'T MANIPULATE ME INTO CRYING YOU JERKHOLES. I AM SUCH A SYMPATHY CRIER.
Travis is a high school kid. Sob story alert time. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that he does well.
What kind of phrasing is this? I like the tone, but I don't know if I like the rendition of the song.

tl;dr: JLo sparkles, Steven Tyler is alternately a comedian and a creepy pervy old man. A couple of pimped contestants. No Biebers, and fewer sob stories and train wrecks. Also, I think Phil hates me for life.