Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pithy observations

1. There is no dignified, let alone graceful, way to exit the back of a mini-van as an adult. Once you are too tall to stand upright in it and walk out you proceed into the realm of comedy.

2. Knee highs are the single most unattractive article of clothing that is regularly worn. Sure, sock garters are seriously dorky, but really, who actually wears those? And don't say panty hose because have you seen some of the styles in the Victoria's Secret catalog? Oh my! No, it is the knee high that wins the most unattractive award.

3. I wish there was a way to fast forward hair growth. I am currently trying to grow out the previously mentioned pixie cut and it is taking forever! And what is worse, there is the danger of developing a slight mullet. Alas and alack.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

5 by 5

Five Things that I am really tired of:

1. Hot weather. It is almost Halloween, and the temperatures in the afternoons here are in the 80s. It's not like I live in Miami! Let it be fall good and proper, and not just in the mornings. Please!

2. Cooking for one. This is maddening. Even if you cut recipes in half it still makes too much. Fresh fruit and other produce tends to go bad before it can be eaten. So aggravating.

3. Mosquitoes. This goes along with the hot weather. They are a scourge. If I could keep a bat house I would, but they aren't allowed in the city limits. The Old Farmer's Almanac has promised a cold, severe winter. Bring it on and kill these nasty things.

4. Tooting your own horn. I know, I know, this isn't supposed to be a bad thing. But it always feels weird to me, and sadly it has become a necessity where I work.

5. Election campaigns. Why oh why isn't it November yet? I'm so sick of both sides getting up and talking crap. They are all dishonest and overly ambitious. That's why they are politicians. It goes with the territory. The trick is to find the one who is the least dishonest. We desperately need campaign reform that prevents them from a lot of what they do in ads. Makes me sick.

5 things I am enjoying right now.

1. Dillard's. I don't know if this is true at every Dillard's, but the last few times I have been shopping there it has been a wonderful experience. The staff in all of the departments I visited were very helpful and I found a lot of things that I really liked. They even have call buttons in the dressing rooms. It was a lot like the way I imagine shopping in the 50's was, when customer service actually existed.

2. The woman's magazine Lucky. Most magazines that focus on fashion and style are filled with things that normal people cannot possibly afford. Lucky is different. Sure, there are some high end items in each article, but there is a much wider ranges of prices. What's more, they feature clothing that you can actually wear. They also have a whole section in the back of the magazine with the Lucky deal's. These are products or companies that will give you a discount on select merchandise online if you put in the codes from the section. And every issue comes with a sheet of page tabs so that you can mark what you like. How fun!

3.Pushing Daisies. I will admit to having missed the first two episodes of this season because I was watching Bones which airs at the same time. However, thanks to baseball, I was able to watch last night and I was reminded of how much I enjoy that show and how adorable Lee Pace is. Must get my Tivo working!

4. Progressive Dinner. To be fair, it really isn't a "progressive" dinner since we don't advance from house to house. It's more of a communal dinner, but that sounds funny. Recently, a group of my friends started having dinner together once a month. We pick a theme and each party prepares part of the meal. It is a lot of fun, and hopefully we will be able to continue with it. Food prices get a little scary.

5. Pandora. For those of you who don't know Pandora is an online radio station that allows you to heavily tailor the type of music that is played. I absolutely love it and I have found a lot of really cool music through it. It has a few problems; occasionally a song will stop and skip to the next one, and you can't replay a song, and of course, not everything is in their music library. But it is free and totally worthwhile. So thanks Squirrel for telling me about it!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Onward to London! (or rather Vancouver)

Yes, despite the fact that during the closing ceremonies of the Beijing games they passed the Olympics onto London, the next Olympic games will be the winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. I'm still not sure how I feel about having the winter Olympics moved to a different year. Yes, it is nice to spread it out, but were the 1994 games truly an Olympics when an Olympiad had not passed since the previous games? It's a puzzle.
For those who don't know, or couldn't guess, I thoroughly enjoy the Olympics. I like to see the sports that aren't televised when there isn't an Olympics going on, or that aren't shown much during the "off" years. Overall I found the Beijing Olympics to be very well done, and with the exception of the horrible murder that kicked them off, one of the least scandal filled Olympics in my life time.
There were many things to applaud about the Olympics this year. Very few doping incidents. Only one or two incidents of suspect scoring. Records set left and right. Great weather and beautiful scenery. But being me, I can't help but notice a few things that could stand some improvement.

The first thing is not so much the Olympics themselves, but rather how NBC shows them. The coverage this year was a mixture of taped and late night live action. But instead of showing us finals of events that had been taped they instead showed us round after round of qualifying of taped events, or the entire men's marathon because it was live. What? Qualifying heats should only be shown if something unusual happens: someone who is a predicted medal contender doesn't qualify, someone gets hurt, or a record is broken. That sort of thing. The first week of coverage was much better than the second. I don't know what needs to be done to get them to move out of their box like thinking. Ah well.

Age Limits. Much ado was made over the suspected age requirement violations of the Chinese women's gymnasts. I think both the FIG and the IOC handled that badly, but if a government is willing to cheat (and I'm not saying that China did, although it looks like) you can't really prove it. Age violations are nothing new. The Soviet block countries did it all the time in the 1980s. I'm not condoning it. I disagree with the age limit rule, but a rule is a rule and everyone should have to abide by it. I'm sure the Russians would have loved to have Alina Mustafina on their team this year. What I really have a problem with is the age limit is only in place for women's gymnastics. If it isn't safe for a 14 year old girl to do acrobatic tricks, it isn't safe for a 14 year old boy to launch himself head first off the equivalent of a three story building. Yet, that is okay. If there is going to be a minimum age for one sport then that should be the rule for all sports. Personally, I think if you are good enough to make it onto an Olympic team at the age of 14 more power to you. Fourteen seems old enough to me.

Tie Breakers. I can understand why the IOC implemented tie-breakers for judged sports. The medals aren't cheap to make and a host country shouldn't have to stock up on them in case the judges are wishy washy. I don't even mind breaking a tie based on execution score in gymnastics. The person who did their routine the cleanest should come out on top. However, if two, or more, people have the same difficulty score and execution score the tie should stand. You don't move on to an additional decimal point, or re-average their scores or any other stupidness. In 2000 during the men's 50 meter freestyle event there was a tie for the gold medal and it stood. They allow ties during round robin play in soccer and other sports. With the new scoring system in gymnastics it is very rare for two people to receive the same score when they have the same difficulty level and execution score. Let the tie stand.

Road racing. This is either a team sport or individual. A country with more depth shouldn't be allowed to have it's lesser athletes go out hard in order to tire out the competition and then drop out themselves so that their countryman can win. That's totally unfair.

Limiting qualifiers. Ages ago, in order the level the playing field in certain sports they restricted the number of athletes each country could send, or have advance to finals, so that the strongest countries couldn't dominate. Well, with the exception on China in diving and men's gymnastics, the field is darn close to level. Or as level as any playing field can be given the differences in population, coaching, and resources between countries. The Olympics should be about the best competing against the best. Shouldn't there be an footnote for someone who medals in a event when the person with the third fastest posted time can't compete because he or she has two teammates faster than him or her on Olympic trial day? Sure, I wanted someone to beat the Soviets or Romanians or East Germans but not because those teams were handicapped. This is a rule that needs to be scrapped ASAP.

Dropping Baseball and Softball. The premiere international competition for these sports was the Olympics. And they are dropped? What the? And tennis, whose entire season is international events, remains? Why? Oh yes, because the Cubans and the Americans were too good. They didn't get rid of men's gymnastics when Japan won five in a row. They didn't get rid of women's gymnastics when the Soviets won 10 of the 11 contested bewteen 1952 and 1992. (The only one they didn't win was 1984 when they boycotted) It's ridiculous.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ack! It's almost September and I'm only at 45!

I take part in a 50 book challenge on Shelfari, and while the group bills itself at 50 books you can make your own challenge whatever you want. I had done 61 last year and so I set myself a loftier goal of at least 75. I would be reading more, except, the Olympics have me entranced at night, although not right now as NBC has been totally blowing the programming during the taped portion. Show us finals! Not qualifying rounds unless something major happens! But I digress. (There will be an Olympic blog at the conclusion of the games btw.)
I would really like to read 100 books this year, but I don't know if I can achieve it. I shall do my best though and see what I can accomplish. If anyone has any book suggestions please let me know!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Martha Brockenbrough just doesn't get it

I read an article by the aforementioned Martha Brockenbrough (aka Cinemama, no I am not making that up) that questioned the value of the Twilight series. I would say debated the merits of the series, but that isn't what she achieved. I don't have a problem with people not enjoying the same books I do (although at times I do question their taste depending on what book they don't like) because reading is a deeply personal thing and not everyone enjoys everything. But I have a serious problem with Ms. Brockenbrough's article and arguments.

Let me be perfectly frank. I think romance novels are escapist fantasy, and that is what the Twilight series ultimately is; a paranormal young adult romance. I also happen to think that there is a place for romance novels. Sure, there is an awful lot of tripe in the genre, but then again, there is an awful lot of junk published across the board. I don't think that the Twilight series, however much I enjoy it, is a paragon of great literature, but it is darn good and certainly entertaining. So here is the rub.

There are many reasons for me to disagree with Ms. Brockenbrough. She claims that she enjoys the books and in fact has read the first three installments twice. But despite her enjoyment of the books she does not want her daughters to read them. This in my view, qualifies her as a hypocrite. Despite her purported familiarity with the texts she filled her article with factual errors. I can think of four of the top of my head, which is pretty shabby for a two page article where a portion of it was written by someone else. She also calls the books creams puffs and yet fails to offer a single suggestion of books that are "better." But never mind all of those factors. The purpose of this post is not to dissect her writing capabilities or take her to task for these failings. Ms. Brockenbrough does have one valid point. Edward and Bella's relationship is unequal, not just because of their biology (Edward is a vampire after all) but because of their financial status (the Cullens are loaded). This is a fairly typical trait of romance novels, it creates an internal level of tension that the couple has to deal with. It is not unique to Twilight. This imbalance bothers Ms. Brockenbrough immensely though, because in her eyes, it makes Bella a weak character.

This conclusion is faulty. Yes, she is physically weaker than supernatural beings, she is human after all, and comparing her to Hermione is an apples to oranges comparison. (So is comparing her to Buffy as one responder did on the message boards because Buffy was also not a strictly human girl). Writing Bella off for being human is unfair, and discrediting her for not bringing anything to her relationship with Edward demonstrates an absence of thought on the part of the reader. Bella is a hugely humanizing influence on Edward and his family. She is a loyal friend and daughter, intelligent, brave, and frequently makes very mature and difficult decisions. She also accepts the consequences of her justified "bad behavior" without complaint. But this is apparently not good enough for Cinemama. She thinks Bella sets a bad example for teenage girls. She sees no reason for Edward or Jacob (a werewolf)to be interested in this human girl accept that it brings out the hero complex in them. Please.

What is more dangerous? A story where a normal girl gets an extraordinary guy? Or a story where an extraordinary girl gets an extraordinary guy? How is the Twilight series any more dangerous or unrealistic than Pride & Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre and the like? All three of these books feature unequal relationships where the female is in the inferior societal position. Where is the bile for Jane Austen and the Brontes? Oh wait, those books are literature whereas the Twilight series is young adult fluff. (I cannot abide a double standard).

Why do so many feminists espouse this concept that any female who does not adhere to their ideals is somehow not just inferior, but dangerous? Ms. Brockenbrough just loves Hermione, waxes poetic about her virtues, but completely disregards her short comings. (And she does have them. That's why she is a complex character). Reading about Hermione will empower young girls according to Ms. Brockenbrough. Reading about Bella, on the other hand, will cause teenage girls everywhere to sit around waiting for a boy to bite them on their neck. Thank you so much Ms. Brockenbrough, for insulting the entire female population. Do people not realize, that when you criticize entertainment for "giving girls the wrong idea" (not factual errors mind you, or promoting genuinely dangerous behaviors, but more abstract concepts) that you are implying that girls are too stupid to make critical judgments about their lives? Do they seriously think that a perfectly well-adjusted girl is going to watch Grease and think "that's it! I'll compromise myself to fit in with his friends!"? And if a young woman isn't well-adjusted it has to do with way more than a fondness for romance novels or musicals. (Notice that no one gets up in arms over My Fair Lady because Eliza changes for the better). No one says these things about Batman. Think how absurd they would sound if they went around saying things like "Bruce Wayne is a psychologically damaged character and young men shouldn't be exposed to this sort of thing, or they will emulate him."

Yes, the media does influence us, but more often than not it is subtly, a slow permeation if you will. But instead of criticizing the media for the sexualization of pre-teens and teenagers, the glorification of trashy behavior, and the promotion of the self-serving sense of entitlement that is so prevalent in today's society, Ms. Brockenbrough chooses to dump on a popular series of books because the heroine isn't "tough" enough. How is that helpful? Women having been worrying about adhering to their society's ideals for millennia. This is nothing new. Putting down a character who is very much like your average teenage girl only makes it worse. Because what Ms. Brockenbrough has just said in her article is that the girls in this world who relate more to Bella than Hermione aren't good enough as they are and that it doesn't make sense to her that a guy would be interested in a girl like that. And frankly, I do not hold with that. That attitude, especially in another woman, a mother, and one would gather from her sentiments someone who considers herself to be a feminist, is far more damaging and dangerous than any romance novel could ever be.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reflecting on the shelves

I was just re-reading some of my previous posts (there's that introspective streak again! that, and I'm also a bit bored) and feel compelled to comment on earlier statements.
1)If you want an opportunity to read fairly non-stop book yourself a transcontinental flight. Not only will you have ample opportunity to read on the flight, but with layovers, delays and arriving well in advance for your departure time you will have a ton of time to read. This is especially true if your flight gets canceled due to mechanical failure and you have to wait for five hours for the next flight they could get you on. Thus, during my trip to Anaheim for the ALA conference I was able to read nine books. Unfortunately, most of them were not already on my aforementioned reading list and thus I didn't really make progress there, but it was still enjoyable.
2)My recent visit with my sister means I spent a lot of time with my adorable nephew. He is currently on a Thomas the Tank Engine kick. Nay, obsession. It isn't a bad show, but there aren't that many episodes in rotation and he wants to watch them again and again and again. I must say that I prefer Alec Baldwin's narration to whomever currently does (or last did) it. Is Thomas even still in production? I don't know, and some genius has block IMDB on this computer. (Finks!) And it tickles me to hear the Bambino say "troublesome trucks" as he has that little boy speech impediment. Sometimes though, I wonder if the writers for the show have gotten confused. The plot seems to be moving towards one moral and then switches gears rather quickly. Odd.
3)When I mentioned that my natural resting state was "serious and introspective" I didn't think about the fact that it might come across that I take myself seriously. I really don't. It's just that when you come across me, whether I am working, or reading or whatever, I wear a serious expression on my face. Unless, of course, what I am reading or watching or what have you is funny, in which case you will probably think I am a nutter.
4)Being thought of as a nutter is par for the course for me. It runs in the family you see. Or rather, it runs on my dad's side of the family. (That reminds me, I never did the companion post to the female side of the family tree. I really should tell you about great-uncle Hugh. He's really a post in and of himself though.) My mother's family had to work too hard to indulge in eccentricity and quirk. Of course, one branch of hers was wild in a different way. Ah family. It is a brave person who ventures to join my family. For some, it is quite a good fit. Others, not so much. If you can't handle exuberance, don't bother with us.
5)Voracious craw (used in Step into my stream) is part of an ever growing lexicon between yours truly and Mockingbird. With some concentration we could have an entire conversation that no one would understand but us. It's an amusing prospect, and one that we will have to try out one day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Feeling philosophical

I recently engaged in an interesting conversation with an old friend. He commented that Love in the Time of Cholera was a must read and we proceeded to try and come up with a list of "must reads." He contributed more titles than I did for one reason. I don't think of anything as being a "must" read for everyone, just "should" read. It's different if we are getting specific about a person's likes and interests, then I can give you short lists of must reads on a topic or in a given genre. But overall, for everyone? The only book I can think of as being close to a "must read" is To Kill a Mockingbird.
So naturally, as my normal state of rest is serious and introspective, this made me think about whether or not I had any "musts" in other areas. Again, not so much, although more than with books.
1. Learn to read.
2. Learn to cook at least one really good meal.
3. Develop a life long hobby.
4. Be passionate about something.
5. Learn to swim.
The last one is tricky, because one could argue that if you live somewhere where there is no place to swim (like a desert) or where the temperature prevents swimming (like the Arctic Circle) that it is irrelevant. Perhaps. But nevertheless, having that skill in your repertoire even if you never need it, is better than the other way around.
I thought about adding learning to drive, but that isn't as vital as the other things. Learning to drive is definitely a "should," as is learn to type. Although that is almost a must in this day and age.
Hmm...I hadn't really thought about how to end this post. I've been sort of a mental jumble lately. I think it is because of all the traveling I've done recently (having gone to California for the ALA national conference) and then to visit my sister. It could also be the end of the fiscal year crunch and corresponding chaos I've been wading through. It could be that I currently have the outlook that the community I am living in is slowly chipping away at my soul. I don't know. Maybe all of these things.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Of book lists, and other things

It seems that no matter how many books I read a year my overall reading list never gets any smaller. It's not quite to the point where for every book I read I add two to the list, but almost. Part of this is a natural outcropping of my job description. As a technical services librarian I am in charge of collection development, which means browsing through catalogs and reading book reviews on a regular, if not daily, basis. And as a person with a wide range of interests it is inevitable that many of the books I select for purchase here at work wind up on my reading list.
Part of it is also because I belong to a book club, and inevitably there are a number of books that make it onto my list from our yearly slate that I would never have thought to pick up. Some of these are great, like Shadowdivers, and others are not so much, like Refuge. Naturally, I am quite pleased when a handful of books that were already on my list make the cut, but as we are limited to recommending two apiece, and only pick nine books for the year, a large portion selected aren't on my list.
Part of it is also that I enjoy a number of series, and for most of them there is a new book each year, or if (joy of joys!), I discover an established series, there is a large influx of books to the list.
Ultimately though, the reason my reading list never gets any smaller, is that there is not enough time to just read non-stop. And to get through my 200 plus list of books to read would necessitate non-stop reading. But where is the fun in that? When something you enjoy becomes a chore it ceases to bring pleasure. This is part of the reason why even avid readers lose interest in recreational reading in high school and college, because of the sheer amount of reading for school. The last thing most people would want to do after slogging through A Tale of Two Cities is to curl up with another book.
This line of thought made me think back to those years of my life and examine the other reasons my book consumption tapered off. Besides the fact that reading was too much like school, I had a very hard time finding anything to read. This isn't to say that good books didn't exist at the time (I'm not that old!), but simply that I couldn't find them in the vast public library of my youth. It seemed to me that everything for teenagers was a "problem novel" (gag!) and that so many of the books for adults were too "adult" (boring and/or violent). The resources that exist today that enable me to find so many of the great books I've read recently and/or purchased for my place of employment were not available then.
There was a time of course, in college, when I felt compelled to try and make myself more "well-read." Despite the vast number of books that I have read, and my familiarity with famous authors and their works, I don't consider myself particularly well-read. This is not to say that I read crap, on the contrary, I think I have a very good mix of some well done fluff and good, current, popular fiction and non-fiction. But if you compare my reading lists (both the I have read and want to read) with something like 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die I perform fairly poorly. And honestly, that doesn't bother me all that much. I don't like the idea of reading something because I am supposed to. I read something if I enjoy it. And now that I am not in school I have the luxury of saying "screw it" if I am not liking a book. (Of course, I occasionally did that in school too, to varying degrees of success). There is no martyred reader award. No one is keeping score. If one of your goals in life is to read all 1,001 titles in that aforementioned book then more power to you. I wish you the best of luck. But it's not for me.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Brought to you by the letter "A"

My sister has a two year old son whom I adore. Consequently I have become very familiar with children's television. Children's entertainment is BIG business these days, but sadly that has not produced really high quality programs. Don't get me wrong, it isn't a wasteland by any means. There are actually a number of shows that I would watch without the bambino's company. Charlie and Lola for instance, or Jack's Big Music Show. I even enjoy the Wiggles, but that's mainly because of Anthony. Umm....wait, where was I going with this? Oh yes. However, there seems to be the general impression from most children's entertainment producers that super bright colors, loud music and dialogue, and psychedelic backdrops or characters are all you need for a program. Seriously, some of the characters look like they were dreamed up by someone on a bad acid trip. And even stalwarts of my youth have been compromised by this trend. Sesame Street is really just Elmo these days. And what is up with teaching Cookie Monster that cookies are a sometime food? I hate to criticize the longest running children's program, but wouldn't it be better if the kids were doing something active instead of watching t.v. if you are that concerned about childhood obesity? And yes, cookies are a sometime food, but that's the point of Cookie Monster. He's our collective childhood Id, devouring cookies at the expense of everything else and missing out on the other great things out there. Focus on that lesson, which is so beautifully demonstrated in Bread and Jam for Frances, instead changing the integrity of a beloved character for the sake of political correctness. But I digress. For those who are interested because they have little ones in their immediate or extended family here is my list of the best kids programs.
1. Classic Sesame Street (available on DVD)
2. The Wiggles
3. Jack's Big Music Show
4. Charlie and Lola
5. Handy Manny (an enjoyable alternative for learning Spanish to Dora the Explorer)
6. It's a Big, Big World
7. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Step into my stream

No, that isn't a come on. You'll get the reference in a moment. Be patient!

So, as my good friend Mockingbird pointed out last night, I have been incredibly slack with this blog. This has been for a number of reasons. In the first place, I have been very busy at work and don't have a computer of my own at home. Secondly, when I have thought of topics for a post, they have all been four to five sentences at most, and by golly, when I post I want it to be more substantial than that. Thirdly, stress is still a fairly big companion of mine as of late, although it has gotten better. I've been incredibly scattered this past month or so. How scattered? Let me take you through all that ran through my head on my way to pick up my lunch last Thursday.

Singing along with whatever song is playing. "My god! Who would choose to own anything in that color, let alone a mammoth SUV? I don't think I have seen anything in that lurid and violent shade of orange." Shudder. Back to singing. "Hummers really are the most ostentatious of all SUVs." More singing. "Come on light! Change! I'm hungry!" Hit replay. "Hmm....I know people who live here with that last name. I wonder if their family owns the septic service on that port-o-potty?" "It is almost two o'clock! Why are there so many cars?" "Please oh please let there be a parking space around the corner. Success!" Make small talk with employees of restaurant. Scurry back to car, feeling like the Voracious Craw. Zipping along, singing again. "What is this Explorer's problem? Drive your car!" "So hungry!" "Nice! It isn't my fault that my lane was moving so slowly! It was the honking white SUV! Oh and look, both of you are students! You should thank your lucky stars that I don't have access to the license plate info! Grr." Mellow out. "Hey I think that's Kenny!" "Please, oh please let there be a parking space near the front! Success!" "Oh look it's Shane! I would pitch a piece of mulch at him, but he's in class." "Please oh please don't let anyone else be in the break room! I am victorious again! And what's on t.v.? Ace of Cakes! Sweet! I love Duff! Hmm...I have a large amount of suspect lettuce in this salad."

Well you get the idea. So how did you like your dip into my stream of consciousness?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

pop culture smackdown

Or, clearly SL has been watching too much t.v.

I've been a bit stressed as of late, and consequently have spent most of my free time vegging in front of the television. I realize that there are message boards expressly for this purpose, but frankly I don't care. Here goes.

Typically, I enjoy Project Runway, but I must protest the way the series ended this season. In the first place, Chris deserved to remain in the competition instead of Rami. Don't get me wrong, Rami is very talented and likable, but I find it disheartening that he was given so many chances to demonstrate another skill and style besides his beloved draping technique when others were eliminated for far smaller transgressions. Rami did a draped piece on almost every challenge, the candy and men's apparel challenges being the two examples that come to mind when he didn't do drape. He even did draping during the WWE challenge for pity's sake! But more important than this bias on the part of the judges, the final winner was wrong as well. Again, don't get me wrong, Christian is very talented, but Jillian should have won. Chris was eliminated for his work being too costumey and yet Christian wins with a collection that contains a dress made entirely out of feathers? What? Consistency please!!! Every single piece was an avant garde item. That was not the challenge!

We are all geared up in my family for the annual March madness of NCAA basketball, as are many others. Does it bother anyone else that despite the fact that it is called March madness that the tournament doesn't end until April? What with the pre-season tournaments and the post season these students have been playing since November. Is it any wonder that so many athletes bolt from college to the NBA before finishing their degrees?

The Real Housewives of New York City is hopeless addictive and not nearly as repulsive as the Real Housewives of Orange County. Yes, they both feature hopelessly rich women and their ridiculously opulent lives, but at least in the NYC series they are aware of the fact that they live a rarefied existence. And they all have jobs so they are at least earning some of the money they spend. You wouldn't catch one of these socialites doing a keg stand. That being said, Ramona really should listen to her daughter's fashion advice. That way she would go out looking sexy and classy, as opposed to looking cheap. I don't care if the top is Dolce & Gabbana, it looked like hooker wear.

Apparently, critics have taken Diablo Cody, the woman who penned Juno, to task over the dialogue, claiming that teenagers don't speak like that. Now, I haven't seen the movie, but I have seen enough clips of it to get the idea of how Juno speaks in the film, and I have one thing to say to all of those critics out there. Screw you. Just because the average teenager doesn't talk like that doesn't mean that no teenagers do. And furthermore, no one is ever as witty, or concise, or clever, or articulate as the characters in a movie (with the exception of Dorothy Parker). You flub your line in a film and they cry "cut!" and you do it over. In real life if you muff the delivery that's it. Dialogue in films and t.v. shows has to be better than what you hear at your local coffee shop or grocery store. That's why it is called entertainment. Newsflash here all you critics out there, no one looks like the people in movies either, not even the actors who were in the movie! They have makeup and lighting, and fantastic costuming, and editing to make them look fabulous. And we want them to look fabulous (unless the part calls for something else). So get over yourselves. I think what really bothers them is that someone who worked as a stripper was able to come up with such a great script.

Finally, I came to the realization that if I were a car I would most likely be a Volvo. This thought depresses me. Safe, reliable, dependable. Wonderful things for a car to be, and overall, not bad for a person. But I always thought I had more personality and dash than a Volvo. Not that I think I am a Bugatti or anything, but I had hoped I would be something with more swish in it than a Volvo. This isn't a slam against Volvos or Volvo owners, but in life, when people see you almost solely as being reliable and dependable, they take you for granted. And that really sucks. But perhaps I have just been watching too much Top Gear. Richard Hammond rocks!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

a surfeit of emotions

I have too many emotions. It's not that I think I have more than other people, or that mine are stronger, although in a lot of cases this is true. Truth be told, I really don't know what anyone else feels, nor do I particularly care if the emotional bouillabaisse I routinely find myself in is commonplace. I only know that I dislike it. It wearies me, and more and more I find myself wishing that I could turn a switch and stop the incessant flow of emotions that churn within, so that i may pass through life as indifferent and dispassionate as so many others.

Ordinarily I would find a statement such as this alarming. After all, a hallmark of sociopaths is that they are devoid of emotion. But the vast and relentless current of feelings I am subjected to day in and day out is slowly eroding me, and it hurts. It isn't that I wish to stop feeling altogether, but to be able to stop some would be heavenly. I feel as if there are tiny fissures all about me, leeching emotional ooze at every turn like radioactive waste, polluting everything. I simply cannot contain them all, and there seems to be nothing that I can do to stop it. I want so much to not care, to blithely ignore, to forget, to sail through life unruffled and undisturbed by the human condition. Placid. Serene. Not bouncing back and forth between vexed, bored, lonely, irate, sad, chagrined, and concerned, all within the same hour. (And that is just one example).

How glorious it would be to just not care-about a job well done (which produces stress, vexation, resentment, although occasionally it does produce satisfaction), the past (which produces regret, sorrow, longing and a dash of shame), the future (worry, worry and more worry), in short, any myriad number of things and people. How delightful it would be to never again experience the hand-clenching, gut wrenching, blood pounding jealousy that lurks like a tightly coiled viper deep within the recesses of my heart that strikes unexpectedly and as viciously as it ever did. I should not care, I hate that I care, when clearly so many people don't. It is an exercise in futility. But that seems to be my lot in life, to care about people and things disproportionately to their significance and/or worth.

And it would be nice, if just once, I could cry prettily, instead of with great heaving sobs that comically cause my dog to raise his head in alarm, and which leave me looking like a trainee clown who has failed her final in make-up application.

Monday, February 11, 2008

From the Shelves 8

I've had a hard time picking a book for this month. Should I go with a classic of African-American literature like Their Eyes Were Watching God? Or should I go with a tragic romance, like Possession? Nothing seemed right. And then it hit me. Since February is the "love" month (more on my disdain for that later) why not make it a mini list of the books I loved as a child? So here they are, in no particular order.

1. The Ramona Books by Beverly Cleary (some more than others of course, but no series is equally strong for every book).
2. Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild (I read this so many times the pages of my copy are falling out).
3. Dancing Shoes, also by Streatfeild. (This one also has the pages falling out).
4. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. (My copy of this, that was inscribed by my mother, got ruined in our move to North Carolina. That year for my birthday she replaced it, complete with identical inscription. I burst into tears).
5. The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright. (This is the second book in a series of four and I just love it, and will re-read it now when I need a pick me up. I always wanted to be Miranda.)

I was a very girly girl when it came to reading material, but I loved playing with Legos, and the G.I. Joes and/or He-Man action figures that my friends (or their brothers owned). Odd child, that was me.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

a snapshot of time

The sun is shining today, though it is diffused by clouds that make the sky appear to be gray and white, as if suddenly we were living in a black and white movie. Or at least such is the case at this moment as I view the world outside through the picture window of my living room.

From here, wrapped up in an afghan to ward off the perpetual chill that afflicts this room of the house, I can almost delude myself into thinking that spring has arrived. Squirrels scamper about in the yard, song birds twitter, their happy tunes reaching me despite the absence of an open window, and daffodils have sprouted in a long neglected planter.

And yet, I know it is not spring. It is still winter. This thought saddens me, although the sun is brighter now. The warm white light makes me long for prisms to hang in the window so that rainbows can dance all over the room and tease my dog. And once again clouds obscure the sun, washing out the landscape.

Time has slipped away from me, and I must leave for work. The view from the window has already changed, as a patch of blue appears above the tree line. But my melancholy lingers, as it does every January. I wonder how long it will last.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A new year on the shelves

I'm cheating a bit today. Ordinarily I would have blogged much sooner about the new year and left my book recommendation for the month to a separate post but as my free time has been consumed by stage managing duties and household chores and work has been hectic with the start of a new semester this will be a two-fer. (And my god but that was a run on sentence! Eh.....cringe away English professors!)

The one saving grace of the month of January is the potential for snow days, and joys of joys we had one yesterday. I spent the day doing what you should do on a snow day: curling up with a good book and a cuddly dog under a blanket and only paying attention to the clock when I was looking for a specific television program. But snow days are a rare thing here and everything is virtually melted now. There are rumors that more winter precipitation will materialize tomorrow but I'm not holding my breath, although I will swing by the store and pick up a few needed items. I don't need to stock up on books as I have an ever growing stack waiting for me as it is.

One of the things I had been looking forward to in January was the publication of the second book in a delightful new series I discovered, but in a cruel and yet delightful twist of fate the book was published in December and I promptly devoured it. I now will have to wait until the end of the year for the third installment (crosses fingers that it will arrive by then). I only hope to find others books on my list to serve as appropriate diversions. What series is this that has inspired such anticipation? The Lady Julie Gray mysteries by Deanna Raybourn.

The first book in the series is Silent in the Grave and it contains what is probably the best opening lines of a book ever. "To say I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor." After reading the book I had to share that line with just about everyone and have thus committed it to memory. The second book in the series, Silent in the Sanctuary was every bit as good as the first, if not better. Set during the 1880's in London the star of the novels is the aforementioned Lady Julia Gray. She is not a professional investigator, nor a super-genius, although she is smart and inquisitive. This allows her to retain an air of believability and makes her much easy to relate to. The mistakes she makes when she is thrust into the world of murder investigation are the mistakes a real person would make, and the frustrations she faces while dealing with the stubborn and dashing Nicholas Brisbane are all too real as well. Both books are filled with witty dialogue, vibrant and interesting characters (both primary and secondary) with nary a whiff of a cipher, well paced plots that never override character development, oodles of details peppered throughout, and final reveals that make you say "oh my god of course!!! How did I not see that?!" I highly recommend both, but you must read them in order or else the mysteries in the first will be spoiled.

It is rare for me to find books for adults that are filled with characters that I would not only like to meet, but also who I would like to be friends with. I dearly wish that I could be friends with Lady Julia and her wonderfully eccentric family, The Marches. Granted, I might encounter some unpleasantness if I was friends with them, but I would never ever be bored.