Monday, December 28, 2009

Book 53: A Duty To The Dead

I believe this mystery was one of the NextReads recommendations I get by email from the Omaha Public Library. I highly recommend signing up for that from their website. You select the genres and each one gets a monthly email of recommended books. I save them for those times when I just don't know what I want to read.

A Duty to the Dead is by Charles Todd-- apparently a mother and son writing team. I cannot imagine such a thing. I am certain there would be insurmountable creative differences when I refused to include Jedis or Robots. The heroine of this mystery is Bess Crawford, a British Military nurse during WWI. Prior to the opening of the book, Bess had promised Arthur Graham that she would deliver his dying message to his brother-- a wrong must be set right. Bess has delayed in fulfilling this wish, but after the hospital ship she is on is sunk and she nearly dies, she realizes she has a duty to the dead.

Arthur's family is a trainwreck, a closed-mouth sort of trainwreck. There are three living brothers-- one who is unfeeling, one who has a clubfoot, and one locked in an asylum for the criminally insane. There is also a frosty stepmother and her nearly silent cousin. In setting right the wrongs, Bess has to dig around and pry quite a bit and naturally, the family sets up as many roadblocks as possible.

The pacing of this was quite good. There were some unexpected turns of events. I must say that I thought justice was poorly served on the family members. The ones left living ought to have paid more and the ones who paid with their lives ought to have paid less.

Bess's family also makes an appearance in the book-- her parents and her father's bat-man provide the appropriate contrast to the Graham family. At the same time, they are rounded enough to serve in future installments of the series. I may have to check out the other series by this duo-- the Ian Rutledge mysteries.

Book 52: When He Was Wicked

A reread of one of Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series. I find it refreshing that the characters are worried about run of the mill things like barrenness, malaria and dying in childbirth. None of the dangerious spy-based intrigue or hidden treasures or paranormal crap.

Tangentially, I finally saw the "Twilightized" cover of Wuthering Heights at the bookstore. It has a sticker that says "Edward and Bella's Favorite Book." Of Course It Is. It's Stalkers: Old School. Stupid Sexless Teen Morons.

The heroine of this book, Francesca, is a widow. The hero, Michael is her late husband's cousin, heir and BFF. He happens to have been secretly in love with Frannie for quite some time. He was immediately taken with such guilt at John's death that he went to India for six years and got malaria. So there is a certain amount of dithering between "John would want us to be happy. . ." "How could I do this to John." Fortunately, among all the mindfuckery there is some of the real stuff. A little veiled dirty talk, certainly nothing compared to the type of dirty talk one might find in actual porn.

Going forward, I am considering a Filth-O-Meter rating system. I shall have to get out my notepad and devise a system. I promise to test it rigorously. I shall devise a questionnaire for my Contractually Obligated Fuck Buddy. (He came up with that term, not me, for the record.)

So, I have made my goal of 52 books for the year, with three days to spare! I am quite close to finishing number 53-- probably later today. Numbers 54 and 55 are also well underway. I have cast aside number 56-- Gossip Girl. Wow, does it ever suck the big one. So, watch this space for a couple more book reviews this year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Book 51: The Mediator

I stumbled on this book through the ebooks selection with the Omaha Public Library. Meg Cabot writes some funny contemporary romance for grown ups and I decided to try this paranormal young adult series as some light reading to store on my laptop. The heroine of our series is a Mediator-- she sees ghosts and helps them resolve whatever is keeping them here in the material world. Her style of ghostly mediation is typical teenager-- reckless, oblivious to danger, a little lacking in subtlety.

Suze has just moved to California from New York after her mom (a widow) remarries a carpenter with three sons. Not a lot of character development in these four guys or Suze's mom. Suze isn't so happy to leave her best friend and her hometown. Thankfully she is about 87% less of a whiner about it than Bella F. Swan. Suze's new house is an old place and her new room has a young, male hottie in it. I fear we are being set up for the ridiculous sexless teen romance in future books. So realistic!

Suze is also enrolled in co-ed Catholic school. I am interested to see if there is any theology in other books and if it is remotely accurate. Turns out that there is an older priest teaching at the school who has the same gift as Susannah. Sadly, Susannah has not yet gotten smart enough to take advice from a grown up. Maybe in book 2.

The big Mediator conflict here is that Suze has only gotten into the school because a girl blew her brains out over Christmas break. She's not too happy to see that she has a replacement. Things rapidly spiral out of control due primarily to Susannah thinking she knows better than the experienced mediator. Sigh. Teenagers.

Book 50: Undead Kama Sutra

Half the fun of reading the Felix Gomez books in public is how distasteful the titles are to Twilight Fans. I can't wait to pick up Jailbait Zombies at the library. In this book, Felix is sent by both a dead client and the Araneum (like Godfathers, only bitier) to investigate and eliminate an alien menace. His leads take him to Florida where he meets up again with, Carmen a vamp with a ravenous appetite.

Carmen joins him on the investigation because her Chalice (aka snackfood) has gone missing while looking into some of the same strange circumstances. Carmen's side project is that she is researching (and doing some field work) on a Kama Sutra which restores psychic energies and may help Vampires be more human. Felix finds that Carmen has discovered a venomous spider whose bite returns the color to their skin and allows them to move more freely during the day-- temporarily at least. Some great action sequences and an ending of mixed results. I do like that these books have that hardboiled mentality about them-- the mystery is solved but it has left an indelible mark on Felix.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Book 49: Tempt Me At Twilight

This was a grade C book. Maybe a grade B-. The hero was pretty much a dick, and I don't quite get what the heroine saw in him at all. The big 'danger-conflict' was rather contrived, almost as if it was cobbled into the story as an afterthought. I finished this a week ago and haven't really worked up the enthusiasm to write anything about it. It was an ok bathtub read, but it never made me late for work.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Commercials Which Must Be Stopped

Kit Kat-- the one with the VILE, DISGUSTING chewing noises. Nasty. I can no longer face the kit kat, even the rare dark chocolate kit kat, without a shudder of revulsion.

This PSA:

Not just "NO" but "FUCK NO!" I want a present for Christmas, not an invasive scrape in my ladybusiness. If you must celebrate the festive season by honoring my ladybusiness then go for something buzzy.

Anything with the plastic Burger King Stalker. God, he's creepy.

The Lexus December to Remember Series. First of all, the sales for these are run every year. That makes it December As Usual. Secondly, who buys a car for someone? I have preferences! I despise the drive, look, and seats of my husband's car and I cannot imagine what he would come home with if allowed to select a car for me.

All the diamond crap. Shouldn't they show the real reason men buy women jewelry? You know, he pulls out the box and she hits her knees. Goods for Services. That's not very Christmassy.

The new one for splashless clorox. A woman wears a dress that probably requires a corset while pouring bleach into a pyrex measuring cup. Then the announcer calls the product liberating. This makes me want to build a bleach based incendiary device.

Any commercial that mocks nerds. I am looking at you Mac Guy. You can piss right off. And I consider the guy playing the PC to be a traitor to his nerdly people.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Go Me!

Wow, I just posted that blank. I clicked too soon. I know, it happens to lots of bloggers. We can try again in 30 minutes.

I wanted to catalog some of the things I've learned this year. In reverse order:

I learned the Norwegian Purl this week during a run of Three Snowdays. I'm still quite slow at it, but I think it may become my preferred purl method.

I learned to purl without twisting my stitches. (Yes, I didn't realize I was twisting my purls until now. It's hard to be left handed. Many, many 'teachers' believe the solution to all my knitting problems is for me to just knit right handed. Those bitches can suck it.)

I learned to use a cable needle when I did a spiral rib!

I made a hat!

I learned I prefer 2 circulars to DPNs.

I blocked!

I kitchenered. Yuck. Do not love.

I did applied i-cord bind off!

I learned to pick up and knit stitches!

I learned to knit a flat piece in the round!

I learned to bind off and cast on in the middle of projects!

I learned the crochet cast on!

I learned the long-tail cast on! I was using an e-wrap until this year. Sad, but true.

I learned short rows!

Professionally, financially, and personally this year has been hard and long and unpleasant. Many times, the only thing I have felt successful at has been knitting. So in that way, it has keep me from getting drawn into a downward spiral. Thanks be to yarn.

Also, I am pretty sure I will not be reading 4 books in the next 21 days before the end of the year. I am not quitting, but I am ok with not making the goal. I did at least learn to quit before finishing books that are neither enjoyable nor educational.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Book 48: American On Purpose

I am not much for late night television. Mainly because I am very much for sleep. Especially in quantities that can be described as 'adequate'. I have seen a few clips of Craig Ferguson on YouTube but I will probably never be a regular viewer. I saw a bit of stand up a couple of months ago and he mentioned his book. I promptly put it on hold at the library. As a Scott, he should appreciate my thrift.

The book is a pretty straight forward autobiographical thing. It is refreshingly free of excuse making. He's certainly fucked up a lot over the years but he does not blame anyone but himself. Also blessedly devoid of navel gazing and hand wringing. God I hate that shit.

Ferguson over and over expresses gratitude and bemusement that so many people have been so good to him over the years. It was especially sweet to read of how much he clearly loved his parents, and thought them genuinely good people.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Book 47: Succubus Heat

The 4th Succubus book is much of the same-- demonic politics, sex, coffee, sex, unrequited love, sex, moral ambiguity, sex, and books, now with cats. I like most of those things. At the end of the previous installment, Seth and Georgina broke up-- she didn't want to have sex and drain his life force, she was afraid of him growing old and dying. Oh, and then he started screwing someone else and gave the whole lame ass line about how he didn't mean to and it just happened. That line is now, and always will be, total horseshit.

Fresh from her breakup with Seth, Georgina's attitude is so bad that she is put into timeout by her demonic boss. In other words, Jerome sends her to Vancouver as a spy for a rival demon, Cedric. While Georgina is on her evil commute, Jerome is summoned. With his powers bound, all of Jerome's minions are stripped of their abilities. It's an interesting plot twist that allows Georgina and Seth to finally boff like bunnies. Dirty, dirty bunnies. Even though Seth has a girlfriend. And Georgina has a boyfriend. Between mattress dances, Georgina has to do some snooping around to find out who bound Jerome, so she can free him before Hell appoints a new Evil Boss. Better the devil you know, I guess. I did call the binder, by the way. EARLY. It was not quite as apparent at whose behest that was done.

I did enjoy this book, but my enthusiasm is definitely waning for the series. I would like to see this limited to 7 books. Seven is a nice symbolic sort of number. There have been hints all along that Georgina, despite her deal with the devil, can some how be redeemed. I am a big believer in redemption, so I would like to see that happen. In all the Faustian, Soul Selling stories I've read or seen, the deal is presented as final. I don't buy it. I don't buy "Once Saved, Always Saved" and I don't buy the flip side of that either. So THERE.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Final Stretch

There are 5 weeks left to the year and I have 6 books left to read. As I am taking the last week of the year off from work, I would say I have a 70% chance of completing the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge. This has probably been the year I have thought the most about what I am reading, what I have read, and what I am going to read. My brain is full. I do happen to have 6 books out from the library so if I don't make it, it's not for lack of books.

This year, I have at last learned to set aside sucky books! That only took 33 years from when I learned to read. I have felt a certain pull to read only books I might then find worth writing about. This is not a normal consideration. I think I am about done with the endless parade of series in the genre fiction I read. It is damn hard to find mystery novels, particularly period mystery novels. I am partial to the first half of the twentieth century.

I have decided to really ruthlessly weed out my shelves. There are a lot of books in there I felt I ought to read as they are classics or would improve my mind. I just don't have the space for things I ought to read. Or for things I'll never read again. Or for things the public library has. I shall probably drop the culled titles at the library for their fundraiser. It's easier than dealing with trading them at used bookstores. My house is just not getting any bigger and the chaos is pretty out of control.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Book 46: Six Suspects

Vicky Rai had it coming to him. He's a corrupt, rich playboy who has escaped justice on more than one occasion. When this novel opens, he has just been shot at a party he threw to celebrate his acquittal on murder charges, charges he escaped by exploiting a corrupt system. The police find six suspects-- six attendants with guns at the party. The opening chapter is told by a journalist who has vowed to find the truth. No one should commit murder without paying the price.

The novel tracks each of the Six Suspect through the circumstances and choices that brought them there. Fate is capricious and unkind in this book. The pacing though is great. I was up much later than usual on a couple of nights due to this book. There is just not a good place to stop until you hit the end of a character's path.

I did not whole-heartedly enjoy the book. The American character, Larry, was poorly drawn. His poor grammar is supposed to show he's ignorant, but the errors Larry makes are not consistent and a couple of the words he uses are distinctly English instead of Texan. Maybe it's a translation problem. Additionally, Larry is so painfully stupid that it really strains belief. The character possessed by the ghost of Ghandi was more believable. Well, until a twist on that at the end that was off-key.

I did call the culprit in the book a lot sooner than if it were truly a crime story. This is really more of a social commentary.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Book 45: Manhunting

Normally, I like Jennifer Cruisie. She writes some of the only funny contemporary romances out there. Also? No Goddamn Vampires. Yay. This one. . . meh. I think there was just too much attention to career angst. She's in mergers and acquisitions at daddy's firm, but longs for the days when she was just a small business consultant. Apparently she has a metric assload of money. He used to be an accountant or some such but started a hotel with his brother but he's finally getting bored in his semi-retirement. He manages the groundskeepers for the golf course. It's all first world bullshit. These are not problems I relate to. Somehow, I doubt anyone is writing romance novels featuring software testers on the brink of being outsourced. There's a bunch of really ridiculous feeeeeeeeelings stuff about baggage from past relationships. Not nearly enough sex. Also there is fishing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book 44: Don't Get Too Comfortable

David Rakoff has compiled some thoughtful essays in here. There are also snide essays and funny essays. On the Snark-O-Meter I would nestle him between Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris. I liked the essay about his visit to Martha Stewart Omnimedia the best of them all. The Log Cabin Republican essay was also a good one, though not as thoughtful as when Joel Derfner went to Ex-Gay Camp. I really, really found the fashion essay to be a mean spirited and boring drag. Not that kind of drag.

I finished this book over 2 weeks ago and just didn't feel like blogging about it. I think that writing is taking the fun out of reading. IT'S LIKE HOMEWORK. Only I won't get a degree when I'm done.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Book 43: Ghosts of Belfast

Sooner or later, everyone pays. In Ghosts of Belfast, by Stuart Neville, Gerry Fegan is haunted by twelve ghosts. All of them died at Gerry's hands, when he fought as a terrorist for Irish independence. He has been followed by them for years. The ghosts, all of them, dog Gerry's steps and keep him from sleep. When he drinks himself down, they plague his dreams. Gerry tries first to help the mother of one of his victims by revealing where her son's body is hidden. The boy is not appeased. After many long years, the ghosts have settled on a payment-- Gerry must kill the men whose orders he followed.

The pacing of this book is taut. The time line of it all skips back and forth from present to past. I am glad to say that Neville does it in a way that keeps the story clear. I actually spent 2 hours in the bath with it today because I couldn't bring myself to set it down. There is a little side romance, which I suppose is thrown into all the hard boiled books for some reason or another-- draw in the lady-readers? Humanize the protagonist? I don't find the later reason necessary, for the record. Neville has drawn a complex character who is both human and inhuman. Gerry has enough pangs of conscience without this need to be protective of Marie and her daughter. He lost his mother's love and fell away from faith due to his dealings in murder. The conclusion of this one was pitch perfect. The lone spoiler was on the flyleaf-- "This book is the first in a series." That is about as necessary as Hamlet Part Two.

For my international readers,(hahahahahah!) this is published in the UK and Australia under The Twelve. It is also reviewed by Adrian McKinty in his blog, which is linked in the sidebar. I thought I had certainly read of it first at his blog, however, since he just reviewed it last week and I had a hold on this at the library I now have no idea where I first heard of this book. Too bad really, I owe someone a thanks.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Book 42: X-Rated Bloodsuckers

Another installment in the Felix Gomez Vampire Detective series. NO SPARKLING ALLOWED! Felix is a badass. I like that about him. He does his usual ass kicking in this book.

Felix goes out to LA to investigate the murder of a porn star at the behest of her best friend (another porn star). He is also sent on a secret mission by his Vampire Overlords to make sure there is no overt collusion between vamps and humans. The pacing was brisk. Interspersed among the many action scenes, Felix is really grappling with what it costs him to be a Vampire and the kinds of relationships from which he is cut off. There are a couple of fun minor characters. Happily they don't all get killed off either. While I am a bit tired of the whole vampire romance series thing that seems to be going around, I do like this series. It's not maudlin about the blood sucking. Felix does not angst about his immortal soul. He is playing the hand he's been dealt. Like a grown up instead of a 17 year old drama king.

Spoiler Alert:

I found the very last part of the book a bit unsatisfying. Much like the Baker Street Letters, there is a big finish about 30 pages before the end of the book. Personally, I prefer that mystery novels get wrapped up promptly after shit blows up or vampires get staked and left to shrivel in the sun. It seemed crass and somewhat materialistic in the book as well as BSL that the big show was a real estate-money making scam and the loss of human life was an afterthought. A fictional bait and switch.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Book 41: Soulless

There is a certain Steampunk Sensibility about this book, the first in a series. Lots of gadgety things and Victorian science. Question: Does anyone write stand alone novels in the fantasy or mystery genres? Everything has to be a series.

So, the protagonist has no soul and is Italian. The premise of this series is that Vampires and Werewolves have an excess of soul, allowing them to survive the initial transformation and live on and on. Alexia, the heroine, having no soul is preternatural, rather than supernatural. Her touch allows her to suppress the supernaturality (sure that's a word) of Vampires and Werewolves.

The love interest/guy who initially irritates Alexia is a werewolf and also works for the supernatural regulatory branch of Queen Victoria's regime. There is a whole lot of exposition around systems of government and self rule among the Supernatural Set. Hives, packs, blah blah y blah.

I spent much of the book having theological sort of pangs about poor Alexia's lack of a future. You know, in the very, very long term. I don't care for this idea of the human soul being measurable and that there are inequalities of soul among us. I am just religious enough to believe that we are endowed with a soul by our Creator, and that it lives on after our bodies crap out. I also believe in fairness and that while this world is full of unfairness that the next world will not have such a thing. God: The Creator of the Even Steven.

I have no artistic objection to the book, but I just don't think the series is for me.

Book 40: The Baker Street Letters

The protagonist was a wanker, the plot was disorganized. Didn't care enough to write a proper review.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I can't make an umlaut

Here is Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Part. Is the magic in the notes? Or is it in the pauses? I cannot decide.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009


If my math is correct, that is how many stitches this Big Pinwheel Blanket will contain. I am not including the kitchener stitches I plan to use to graft the ends of the applied i-chord bind off, as they are more sewn than knit. Again, more math here, but I am about 22,000 stitches into this thing. It's looking like I'll have used about 650 grams of Swish Bulky in Cypress and Honeydew.

I've mostly used the plain pinwheel pattern from Ravelry-- cast on 6 stitches, join and in round two K1 M1 to end. Round 3 and all other odd rounds, k. Every even row, knit while increasing by 12 stitches per row with evenly spaced YOs. The Ravelry examples used more cast on stitches. I didn't like the hole that left in the center of the blanket. There were also fewer increases in the alternate rows-- 7, 8, 10. I just like 12, because it's half of my favorite number, 24.

Swish Bulky is a fantastic yarn. It is pretty easy on my hands so far. The knit picks interchangeable harmony needles are smooth without excessive slickness. The cables are a dream-- thin and flexible. They are also really pretty needles. I still like looking at them after Twenty Two Thousand Stitches!

I have gotten quite behind in the reading due to this 'little' project. I have not been knitting much else besides it. I am probably not going to make it for the 52 books challenge unless I lay off the knitting a bit.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I Will Be Seeing Fewer Movies In the Future

Because everyone who signed the Free Polanski petition is Dead to Me. They are sympathetic to the plight of an admitted child rapist, who has spent 30 years evading justice.

Just because the victim doesn't want further media attention does not mean that the law should be disregarded. The victim having been left unattended by her mother does not in any way mitigate his guilt. Roman Polanski is a fugitive child rapist. That is not excused by making good movies, or having a tragic past.



From Salon: . . .Roman Polanski instructed her to get into a jacuzzi naked, refused to take her home when she begged to go, began kissing her even though she said no and asked him to stop; performed cunnilingus on her as she said no and asked him to stop; put his penis in her vagina as she said no and asked him to stop; asked if he could penetrate her anally, to which she replied, "No," then went ahead and did it anyway, until he had an orgasm.

Even if you think a 13 yr old can give meaninful consent to a rich, powerful man in his 40s this girl did NOT give consent.

He pled guilty to avoid more serious charges. His admission of guilt also includes acknowledgement that the judge may accept the plea without accepting the sentencing recommendation.

From George Orwell's 'Notes on Dali': If Shakespeare returned to the earth to-morrow, and if it were found that his favourite recreation was raping little girls in railway carriages, we should not tell him to go ahead with it on the ground that he might write another King Lear.

A Repulsive Quote from the Fugitive Child Rapist: "If I had killed somebody, it wouldn't have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But...fucking, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to fuck young girls. Juries want to fuck young girls. Everyone wants to fuck young girls!"

Really? 13 yr olds? Who are drugged and still saying 'No'? I think not.

The Dead To Me List is here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Book 39: What Happens In London

The romance of this novel was fun. Just enough initial dislike that Olivia and Harry could still have provoking discussions later. I must say, not nearly enough of the sex though.

I think Quinn should stick to the non-intrigue sort of book. Forget the spies and return to the straightforward Regency. The pacing of the intrigue was uneven and the whole villain bait and switch was just off somehow. The Russian prince was sure a dick though, regardless.

The hero's sidekick was a hoot, which means he gets the next book, natch. I don't like this trend where each book is an audition for the next in a series. It's like unauthorized multitasking. Why does it have to be a series anyhow?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book 38: Evil For Evil

The latest Billy Boyle installment. This time, Billy is looking for some BFGs stolen from a base in Ireland. The MI5 think that it's the IRA and that the IRA is going to team up with the Nazis to distract the English. The main conflict in this one is loyalty-- is Billy going to complete the assignment given to him by the US government or will he look out for the interests of the IRA? If I weren't completely exhausted, I would really dwell on this. It was well played.

The most emotionally compelling part of the book was not even any of the action of this story. Instead, Billy recounts the letter that was pinned to his grandfather's coat when he came over to the US as a boy. Terrible to think of English soldiers guarding the docks as other food grown in Ireland during the potato blight was sent away, leaving people to starve. The blight was from God, the famine was from the Crown.

The hidden relationship between two of the linked characters was telegraphed rather early. Additionally, I thought some of the ending was too neat and tidy-- there were a couple of characters who died, out of nowhere, instead of having a more conventional, prison based comeuppance.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Book 37: The Crack In The Lens

Otto and Gustav are back deducifyin'. . . and this time, it's personal. I have really enjoyed the Holmes on the Range series by Steve Hockensmith. Otto and Gustav (Big Red and Ole Red, respectively) have a believable brotherly dynamic. They fight slightly less than the brothers I'm raising. In this installment Gustav drags Otto back to Texas. He is ready to solve the murder of Gertie, a Soiled Dove whom he had loved and lost to a killer who has dodged justice.

The small town of San Marco has gotten religion, and the whorehouse has moved right outside of city limits. This allows Otto and Gustav to get the city and county sheriffs after them. Actually, pretty much everyone in town comes after them. There are a lot of near misses for the brothers and there is sufficient collateral damage-- confined to them what had it comin'.

I am pleased to report that I didn't peg the killer until Ole Red did. I didn't think it was the first suspect they latched on. I was certain it was going to be someone else and I was pleased to be wrong, as that character seemed harmless enough.

What is troubling, is that this book ends in such a way that I fear it may be the end of the trail for Gustav and Otto. Gustav may be permanently disabled, or worse yet, about to become a goat farmer. I think Otto has a long way to go as a character-- he's pretty much the dimmer version of Watson, and a loudmouthed blowhard to boot. I wouldn't mind him growing up a bit. Gustav seems fully formed, but he's the better deducifier of the two, so I don't see that Otto could take on work without him. I admit, I hope the boys hit the trail again.

I just read Hockensmith's blog, which led me to some other book blog where that blogger was quite dismissive of poor ole Steve. That other book blogger has a stick up the pooper, by the way, so I won't be linking. Be a good little googler and find it for yourself. I do not think mystery novels are the same thing over and over-- even though they very nearly always end with a killer being caught. I just like the movement From Chaos To Order, so very different from how my house runs. People kill for a variety of reasons in a variety of ways and they slip up and get caught in others. The language and rhythms vary for each series and some puzzles are hard to solve, some are a good ride along the words. I guess I don't feel the need to Read Important Books. Or Impress People With My SmartyPants. Actually, I'm not wearing pants most of the time when I write this blog. Freedom From the Tyranny of PANTS!

Cheer up Hockensmith, you may not be Einstein, but neither was Mother Theresa. It is possible to bring joy to people using practically no brains at all. Not that I think these books are brainless or that Hockensmith is a dimwit. There are themes in those books of loyalty, justice, the importance of family, persistence, hard work. I have come to value these things as much as intelligence. They also have humor, which I value as one of the best uses of intelligence. In my experience (such as it is) humor keeps the intelligent going, it fuels persistence when spirits lag and enthusiasm and hope wane. If not for my (often inappropriate, vulgar, and black) sense of humor I am not sure what would have become of me over the last few years.

Book 36: A Duke Of Her Own

I find it difficult to believe that the hero and heroine were so damn stupid. Gideon, the first love who spurned Eleanor was a big prettyboy wuss. Further, it was pretty obvious to me that Lisette was BugFuckCrazy and that Villiers didn't see it sooner just did not ring true. I didn't really care for the scene of Extreme Pug Violence where she showed her true colors. Poor little dog.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


It's not 'rediculous' it's ridiculous. Twice today I saw threads on Ravelry with the same error. Pls Stp.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Larfs and Tunez

Straight Outa Scotland. I had multiple LOLs. However, I also had multiple wines.

I love this song and video:

Two Weeks - Grizzly Bear from Gabe Askew on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Book 35: Bloody Good

Imagine if the Germans had used Vampires as secret spies in WWII, such is the premise of Bloody Good. This is the first installment in the series from Georgia Evans. I started seeing ads for this book as sidebars on the Smart Bitches website, and I think on Crazy Aunt Purl's site as well. I read a sample chapter and the next thing I knew, I was preordering a copy from the fine folks of Amazon.

The town of Brytewood lies along an energy line and so Other folk (Pixies, Shifters, Whathaveyou) are drawn to the place. Brytewood also happens to be the very spot where the Nazis have launched a small invading force of undead. Thank goodness we are not dealing with Sparkly Brooding Emo Vampires. These German blood suckers are devoid of nonsense and romance. They are also plotting to double cross the Nazis, eventually, but only one character is in on that-- Bela, a fairy held by the Nazis as a Remote Vampire Listening Device.

In the other corner is a varied Paranormal Home Guard-- Alice and her Grandmother, Helen, are Pixie. Alice doesn't believe in Pixies or Other until she accidentally uses her powers, about 2/3 in. Meanwhile, her grandmother is a bit of a Character, sort of Marplish. Sergeant Pendragon is a dragon. There is also a were-vixen and another, more local vampire of moral neutrality. Along for the ride is poor, regular Peter-- a conscientious objector sent to work as a medical assistant. Alice and Peter have the whole 'first we hate each other, then we rip each others' pants off' thing going on.

The battle of this book is clearly a warm up for more of the series. I have the next two books already. As I just finished this in the bath this morning, I can't really tell you anything about the rest of the series. There were a lot of threads cast out in this book and either they will be neatly woven together or they won't. I'd go so far as to say that I can't really make a definitive call on how much I liked this book until I've gotten further in the series. At this point, they are calling it a trilogy, but since the first 3 books don't even crack past 1940, this one could be extended.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Book 34: The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

This book made me crave Chinese food relentlessly. Even now, I would probably stab you for some noodles. Also, I approve of substituting a lucky number for a middle name. All my middle name is used for is an expression of parental disapproval. Anna Marie. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles was written by Jennifer 8. Lee. Let's just get something out of the way: Chinese Food As Americans Eat It Is Not Authentic. Shrug. I don't care about authentic; I only care about delicious. I sort of figured that General Tso's Chicken was as Chinese as I am. Incidentally, Meatballs are about exactly as Italian as I am: 1/4. The math on that is too complex for a mere blog entry.

I was surprised to learn the origins of the fortune cookie. I sort of assumed they were something that Chinese immigrants in this country developed. But no! I don't want to spoil it for you. . . that's what wikipedia is for. The specific restaurant in NYC that gave us delivery is highlighted. THANK YOU FOR THAT. I love it so much when hot, delicious food comes to my very door.

More somber are the details of what it takes for Chinese to come to this country and how hard they work in all those restaurants all over the country. Long hours, no days off. There is a pretty sad case outlined, of parents whose children were taken by the state because of the demands of the restaurant. (I would use names and places, but the book was due back at the library today and I am not prone to taking notes while reading.) Chinese parents who come to this country to give their children a better life sacrifice so much, including their relationships with their children. Lee is very compassionate to the parents who show love through sacrifice rather than through the sort of affirmation that is more commonly valued in the US.

The amount of travel that went into this book is baffling! There is a single chapter dedicated to The Best Chinese Restaurant In The World that must have cost about 15K just for the flights. That doesn't count the domestic travel: tracking the restaurants where people cracked open cookies with winning powerball numbers, or the trips to fortune cookie bakeries or soy sauce breweries. I would love to know more about the travel budget for this book.

I did find the structure of the book somewhat meandering. It is not too long, but it is not direct. However, other than hoping to impose my own organizational system on it, I wouldn't change it. Interesting, educational, not overly taxing on the mind. Much like the Discovery Channel of Books.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Book 33: This Duchess Of Mine

This one tries my resolve re: being unashamed of my reading materials. Look, I have to go with something that won't break my heart if it goes into the tub. There is just one character left to be covered in this series, and I had to read this one in order to read that one.

Jemma and Whatsisname have spent much of their marriage estranged and this is the tale of them patching things up. Admirable premise. The success of it all hangs on the well timed discovery of digitalis allowing Elias (Elijah? Something along those lines, can't be arsed) to live long enough to stop being such a stick in the mud. In the first novel of this series, we learned that Jemma and E--- were estranged after she caught him boning his mistress in his office at the house of Lords. Apparently, he wasn't cheating because he wanted to, but so he wouldn't look bad in front of the other aristos. There is a convoluted explanation of how his dad was found dead with a couple hookers and some fetishy stuff so the hero needed a single, boring lover to prove that he was a normal, studly Duke. WTF-ever. I mean. REALLY.

Book 32: Mistress

Oh so bad. So very bad. Unlike my previous Amanda Quick Re-read, this one didn't stand up to time. Maybe I was high when I read it the first time? Huge holes in the plot, through which one might drive a carriage. Dumbassery on the part of the heroine, who should surely have gotten killed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book 31: Two Guys Read Jane Austen

It's been some time since I read Pride and Prejudice or Mansfield Park-- the two Austen books read by The 2 Guys. If you have a passing familiarity with those novels, you could follow along with their correspondence. Steve Chandler and Terrence Hill are lifelong friends who have also read Moby Dick together and the obituaries. The letters read more like Applied Literature than literary criticism. I think that if anyone ever again asks me what good an English degree is I will refrain from beating them to death with my Norton Anthology and instead recommend they read this book. First of all, it will save me a bundle on bail money, secondly, they will certainly thank me for it. There is a lot of wisdom in here-- the kind of good judgment that rises from the ashes of bad judgment.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


So today, my dad and the boys outvoted me and we went to see G-Force. It. Was. Bad. They blew the budget on celebrity voices and there was not money left to get talent for the human characters. They could have used a little charisma in the human villain and the guy who trained the special agent rodents. Nicholas Cage is reusing the voice he did in Peggy Sue Got Married. Shudder.

The script was pretty lame. I can only remember one original (sort of) funny line in the whole thing. The other attempts at humor were based on the hope that if guinea pigs repeated the quotable lines from other action movies it would be some sort of hoot.

Unfortunately, I must also report that 20 Grand Theater in Omaha is now onto the Pepsi products. Yech. I wish more places would set up the fountain to dispense soda water. I would pay the crazy theater price for water with bubbles.

Book: 30 The Return of the Earl

I suppose this was supposed to be suspenseful- Is Christian the Earl or isn't he? Who framed Christians father and got them sent to an Australian Penal Colony? Will Julianne ever give it up? Eh, this one was not so entertaining. The book went on for quite a while, with a lot of dithering around and not much in the way of action. Not much in the way of action either, IYKWIMAITYD

Friday, July 24, 2009

A True IM-- where names have been changed

My Workspouse[2:12 PM]:
I just finished clearing out the fridge.
Spice, Mamma [2:12 PM]:
find any of my stuff in it?
My Workspouse[2:12 PM]:
I found relish that had a best by date of Oct 2007
My Workspouse[2:13 PM]:
A frozen can of beer with a 2006 date on it
My Workspouse[2:13 PM]:
A frozen Pibb with a 2007 date on it.
My Workspouse[2:14 PM]:
The yogert only had month dates one them, but they were behind the Pibb
My Workspouse[2:14 PM]:
First time its been cleared since you left over here
My Workspouse[2:14 PM]:
Its still not clean
My Workspouse[2:14 PM]:
But it is empty
My Workspouse[2:15 PM]:
and thawing
Spice, Mamma [2:15 PM]:
that is disgusting
Spice, Mamma [2:16 PM]:
did I come over in 2006 or 2007
Spice, Mamma [2:16 PM]:
My Workspouse[2:16 PM]:
yes it is. I finally got tired of the mess. I asked who it all belonged to. The response I got, "We have a Fridge!?!?!"
Spice, Mamma [2:17 PM]:
so three years?

I can't believe someone could work here for this long and not touch that beer.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Comments are back on


If You Go Carryin' Pictures of Chairman Mao

OMG Rockband: Beatles

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Past Performance Is Not A Guarantee of Future Returns

I certainly have a lot to say this week. Don't take this as a sign that I will write regularly.

I never did hear back from the person who posted about Karma on Craigslist. I suppose it is too much to hope for that they were overwhelmed by a tidal wave of awesome. My karma remains much the same.

I am going to start tagging all book posts with the 52books tag.

Adrian McKinty. His first novel, Dead I Well May Be, was my favorite read of 2006. Yes, it came out in 2004, but I don't get out much. I cannot recall how I came across it. He has a nice blog entry today about how his book was endorsed by Frank McCourt. About the book-- a great tale of violent revenge which is also laced with creative profanity and garnished with a wee bit of sex.

Regarding the late Frank McCourt-- Angela's Ashes is perhaps the saddest family story I've read since Jude the Obscure. (Because we are to meny.) Frank's first book about his youth is packed with a lot of tragedy. Proceed with caution.

Not So G8 Akshully

I own about 1 gajillion books and over the last decade I have gotten squeezed out of more than half of all available shelf space in my house. As a result, I have about 8 boxes of books that I periodically rummage through looking for one single tome. You know how that ends? I only sometimes find that book but I always find at least 2 other relevant to my reading mood. I am reading Two Guys Read Jane Austen (funny and wise) and wanted to pull out my favorite Austen: Sense and Sensibility. Instead I found Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park. Also, a volume of letters between Austen and her sister. There are still a couple of boxes to look through and several nooks where I have stacked books. What I really need to do is go through the whole whizbang with someone along to hold my hand and be stern with me while I purge. It would help if it was someone suitably burly who would cart them down to the trunk of my car. I wonder if Clooney is available?

Oh, and I have to meet with my boss's-boss's-boss's-boss today. This means a shirt with a collar, and not swearing. Great.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Something Happy From the News

Famous Woodstock Couple Still Rockin'. Actually, my parents also got married in 1969 and are still together.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Book 29: Scandal

So, after the last disastrous offering by Amanda Quick I felt compelled to go back and read one of her earlier works. Yes, I liked her before she was popular, I'm just as annoying as most of the people who like The Smiths, REM, and U2. Yay, me!

Scandal came out in 1991, but I read it in 1993. In my college dorm room. It was a pretty great year actually. I also recall that my boyfriend at the time mocked my reading materials. Who's laughing now? Really?

Incidentally, in order to read this book again, I had to go to a used book store to find a copy. I missed closing time at Mary's Used Books on Maple and went to Half Price Books on Center. I am sorry to report that I forgot the name of the store long enough to ask some buttmunch working there how much the book would be. "Umm. Half Price Books." What a cock! You think he acts like a dick to people in the philosophy section? I should have put the Evil Eye on him.

Let's agree not to make fun of people for what they read, even the Left Behind books.

The nice thing about historical romance novels is that it takes a long, long time for them to read as dated since they start out that way already. The other nice thing is that you don't have to read tedious descriptions of people's jobs since the heroines and heroes are pretty much all the idle rich. Really, the last thing I want interspersed among the clinches is talk of spreadsheets.

The book holds up: I did still enjoy it. The heroine (Emily) was smarter than I remembered. I fear I can no longer read a romance novel without the terms used by the Smart Bitches website bouncing around my head. We have a clear case of The Magic Hoo-Hoo in here. The hero (Simon) realizing he is in looooooooooove because of the fantastic nookie. I have not found this particular talent to be of much use in Real Life. Thank God I can get by on brains, I guess.

I had forgotten what a useless twerp Emily's father was. Actually, I remembered more about the descriptions of dresses than I did of the secondary characters. I'd forgotten most of the tertiary ones entirely. (I sort of look forward to dementia, when everything old is new again. I hope my eyesight holds out.)

The story is evenly paced-- a lot of times (edited to add-- in this genre, not this particular novel) there is too much exposition or an ending that is too rushed. The conclusion satisfactory. I was pleased that Emily's father didn't suddenly reform and become noble. He wasn't an outright villain, but he was pretty much unchanged at the end, and that was believable.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the (Craigslist) Forum

In the artist section, looking for ideas on repurposing a few things I saw the word "KARMA"

This is what the listing said.



You opened it. So you must believe in it too, Something good will happen to you between 12:00 PM - 9:00 PM tomorrow, it could happen anywhere or any time. You will fix your relationship problems for the next 2 years. Maybe it was someone you once loved (or still do) and can't get them out of your mind, or money or something you lost,or just someone just gives you a helping hand. re-post this in another city within the next five minutes. You will get the shock of your life tomorrow, I believe I hope you do too, karma is good what do you have to lose? You never know when the Ride is Over,So Hold on,Enjoy the Ride,& Make it Count.

Yeah, I'll keep you posted. Actually, I sort of want to email the poster and find out if any karmic changes came of that posting. I sort of suspect the hand of karma is slow and imprecise.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Book 28: I'll Never Be French (No Matter What I Do)

This is a nice little memoir by an author you probably don't know, Mark Greenside. Mark Greenside went to Brittany for a summer in 1991, for a woman. The relationship did not survive the summer, but happily, we are not subjected to the details of that. His neighbor, Mme. P, convinced him to buy a house and so Greenside made a long term, legally binding commitment to Brittany-- the End of the Earth, or the Beginning, depending on whether you ask in French or in Breton. This is American BoHo version of A Year in Provence. Better than the PoMo version would be, I'd wager. Where Mayle had endless pages of food and wine and olive oil, Mark Greenside is more about navigating relationships with his new neighbors. Where Mayle's book was all head, Greenside balances the head with the heart. It is not confessional in tone, there is no awkward oversharing. You have me for that.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thursday Link

One Squirrel, One Cup. Can we agree to let turns of that phrase die?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tangled Lace-weight

What do you do with the tangled lace-weight?
What do you do with the tangled lace-weight?
What do you do with the tangled lace-weight
Early in the evenin'?

Scream at the dog who chased the boy-o!
Scream at the dog who chased the boy-o!
Scream at the dog who chased the boy-o
Right into the yarn swift!

Cram it in a bag and drink some red wine!
Cram it in a bag and drink some red wine!
Cram it in a bag and drink some red wine!
Early in the evenin'!

That’s what we’ll do with the tangled lace-weight,
That’s what we’ll do with the tangled lace-weight,
That’s what we’ll do with the tangled lace-weight,
Early in the evenin'?

Sigh. I spent a stupid amount of money on 2 hanks of Orenburg Lace by Cherry Tree Hill from an individual on Ravelry. When I got it, it seemed suspicious. A little googling revealed that the label didn't match those displayed on the Cherry Tree website-- wrong type of paper. I was had. I put the yarn in the closet to think about what to do.

Some time ago, I decided I would salvage the situation by plying the 2 shades together-- chocolate brown and a true red. Only the swift got knocked over by Chas the Spaz and Barkimedes. I tossed the whole thing in the closet and decided I would untangle it later, at my leisure.

Today I decided to toss the whole mess into a plastic bag and use the swift for some hanks of Swish Bulky. So now I have a big mess in a ziplock gallon bag. I should toss it in the garbage, but I keep thinking maybe I will have an outbreak of extreme patience. Please stop laughing.

Also, I've started and frogged a pinwheel blanket 3 times today. Luckily it is a mere 7 stitch cast on. I am about to frog it again. I couldn't figure out why the damned thing won't lie flat. I forgot to KNIT THE EVEN ROWS WITH NO YARN OVERS. Fricking DUH.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Book 27: Blood Alone

My favorite of my vacation reads! (Though I still have 4 more days and hope to knock out another book) This may be the best of the Billy Boyle books yet. This time, Billy comes to in Sicily with amnesia. I know! I normally despise the literary device of amnesia. James Benn does a stellar job though.

Billy is on a mission for Uncle Ike, rather than in Sicily to solve a mystery. He has a yellow silk handkerchief and must find out who gave it to him, why he was given it, and to whom he is supposed to deliver it. Meanwhile, people keep either getting killed or trying to kill him and there is a war going on. Italians are surrendering right and left, but the Fascist Government is still deeply in denial. Billy figures it all out, but he also figures out who he is, and what he's really made of.

I don't know what else I can say about this book that won't be a spoiler. I do hope that ultimately, when World War II is over, that Billy can have some Cold War adventures with Ike and Kaz and Harding.

Book 26: Midsummer Moon

This book comes highly recommended by the Smart Bitches. I will warn you, it is very long, even by historical romance standards. Also, it is jam packed with historical science-- even more esoteric than the regular science. I liked the science though. And as I was on vacation the length was not an issue. The heroine was pretty much a total dork, which should be right up my alley. However. . .remember Shine? Yeah, the romance in Midsummer Moon was about as hot as the one in Shine.

The hero was not very interesting or appealing. I recall he had a ridiculously long name but I don't recall what the hell it was. Rather high-handed fellow, with some sort of government involvement that was never properly explained but which was apparently ESSENTIAL to the defeat of Bonaparte.

There are a good many side characters to keep straight. The mother of the hero popped in so late in the story I had to go back, as I imagined she had died. Turns out that was the hero's first wife. Actually, the enormous cast of characters reminds me somewhat of Bleak House. The child characters were particularly shallowly drawn. Least annoying minor character would have to be the nameless animal sidekick: a hedgehog.

There is a thing in books I refer to as King Syndrome-- it comes of an editor who is too timid with Ye Olde Red Pen. See Also: The Stand.

Book 25: Love, Mom: Poignant, Goofy, Brilliant Messages from Home

Wow, are these 'authors' in for a shock when they have kids. The only writing they did for the book was a bunch of snotty asides before each section and a few toss-away chapterlets. The best parts of the book are the emails, sent by mothers all over the internet. Skip the book, hit the website.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Speaking of Swish

I got some Swish Bulky yarn from Knit Picks. It truly is lovely. Plump and squishy, super-soft! I am going to make a pinwheel blanket for a baby due in Boston in October. First, I just need to turn the hanks into center pull balls.

The cord to my camera remains At Large. Too bad, as I have knocked a couple more dishcloths out of the park. Who wouldn't want to see my first mitered squares? Who?

I think I'm about stocked on sugar and cream for a lifetime. There has been some 'stash enhancement' thanks to a sale at Michaels-- $1 a ball! There was also a printable coupon for Hobby Lobby, 40% off one of those giant afghan kits. So I've added (Holy Shit, I just did the math) 5.8 POUNDS of cotton to my stash. Again I say "Holy Shit."

Book 24: Swish

I reserved Swish from the library so that I could read it, pick my favorite part, and thus gain access to the author's Super Secret Blog. So I went to the OPL website and put it on hold. Reader, I was not first in line! I had to wait.

As I read Swish, I keep thinking 'This is my favorite part.' And then 'Oh, THIS is my favorite part.' "No wait, it's this part.' Plus, I'm learning all sorts of things about sex that I've wondered about for years. And by sex, I mean gay sex. (I know about the straight type, more or less.)

The cover has been changed and a forward added by Sir! Elton! John! I may need to buy it so I can read that. The cover I picked up from the library elicited some eye widening from the librarian. Sorry, Ms. Jones.

I am still not sure what was my favorite part. The themes of longing and belonging are in every chapter and the contrast of those two feelings is what made it speak to me. I'd recommend the chapters "On Camp Camp" and "On Musical Theater". The former for the description of the final promenade at Camp. The later for discussion of Asah and Bara, the two words for Creation in Hebrew.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book 23: Lord of Scoundrels

Now that I've admitted I like Romance Novels I will probably review more of them. Which means I will have a chance at whipping through the 52 books in 52 weeks thing. I tend to read them pretty quickly.

I selected this one because the Smart Bitches recommend Loretta Chase very highly. I haven't been reading as much romance as usual, and I was kinda jonesing for something escapist that didn't have vampires or zombies in it. This book exceeded my expectations. I will say that my favorite part (outside of the sheets) was when the heroine SHOT the hero. She Shot Him! He sort of had it coming, and it certainly helped adjust his attitude. And I do not recommend this as a method of bring men around to appropriate behavior in real life. Mostly.

The heroine, Jessica, is independent and capable without crossing over into the sort of goofy recklessness that often leads the heroines of historicals to do one of 2 things. The first is Don Trousers and Try to Pass as a Man Which Just Makes the Hero Wonder If He Is Gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that. And frankly, it's one of the plot devices I can't get enough of. It's like finding out Santa Claus is real, and that he delivers massive orgasms to naughty, naughty girls. The second is Rush Into Something Dangerous Without A Pistol and Get Kidnapped and Then Rescued. Not such a fan of that.

Jess not only does not get kidnapped, she beats the crap out of a guy. And the hero, Sebastian, has to pull her off of him! So awesome. Again, I do not endorse people beating the crap out of home intruders. But since I am about the size of The Lollipop Guild, I live vicariously. I like an ass kicking heroine.

There were a couple of minor plot lines in this that were sort of dropped and hastily resumed. The ending felt a little rushed on account of that.

Maybe if I hadn't been rushing myself, I would not have dropped it into the bathtub. Oh yes, I read in the tub and my proclivity for accidentally dropping books into the drink is the strongest argument I know against the kindle. If I dropped a kindle in the tub, I would lose my mind I'd be so enraged with myself.

Book 22: Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches Guide to Romance Novels

I say it loud "I'm a bitch and I'm proud." Typically I don't shout from the rooftops the same way when discussing my reading materials. I read romance novels, bunches and bunches of them. I am particularly fond of Regency Romances. I like the contemporary romances only if they are funny. So there, now it's out here for the whole internet to know. Well, my librarians at Benson Branch know.

Candy and Sarah can be found blogging here. They have a vast array of reviews, spanning all the subgenres of romance, searchable by grade. That isn't really the point of this particular book. It is not the romance version of Nancy Pearl's Book Lust. This book is funnier, for starters. Oh Lord, is it funny. If you were here, I would read you passages until you gasped with laughter. That's what I did to my husband the day after I started reading it. However, if you were here, I'd have to wear pants. In discussing different trends and customs of the genre, they do provide great examples of books that illustrate what they're talking about. You can get some good recommendations but nothing like the bonanza of the website.

They also break things down by Old Skool and New Skool romance. In a nutshell-- the chicks are feistier and the men are less brutal in the new skool. They have an erudite examination of the loathsome trend wherein the hero rapes the heroine in romances in the old skool and they still get the HAE. I dislike old skool romance because of that very thing. I would have to say that my fondness for the genre developed in around 1990, when the old skool was fading away, still there were a few authors who were big then that I never could like because of that very thing.

They have a few tidy responses to the accusation that Romance is Formulaic. Ever read a mystery novel where the bad guy gets away with it and no one cares? Yeah, not very many of those. There is also some discussion of the online community comprised of authors and fans. Really interesting.

I will say that the layout was a bit confusing, with blurblets interspersed with the actual text but not clearly delineated. And there are some very silly games in here. Not the Romance Mad Libs-- those are awesome.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Like The Bee

I am busy, busy, busy. Like the Bee. But not that annoying one in the allergy commercial. More Like This One. God, how I love Bessie. She's AWSHUM!!

I should get badges in general hausfrauery, overtime, and knitting dishrags. I've knitted up 3 more of them. I think I learned a lot from my mistakes in these. Well, I also learned that I am really bad at counting. I need to dig up the camera and take pictures. I am almost done with a keyhole scarf as well.

In the realm of books, I am part way into 2 right now and nearing completion on them. Still behind in the challenge. Sigh. Soon though it will be too hot to run around as much and reading should pick back up for a couple months.

Work is work is work is work. The only things I can count on there is overload, training contractors (which I'm not great at).

In other news, I get to drive My Husband's Subaru this week! My car is parked at his shop while he is out of town this week. He figured if one car has to be poised for theft, it should be mine-- it's worth less and has more equity. I sincerely doubt someone is going to steal Desmond the Bratmobile. It's domestic, stick shift, 4 door, with 2 car seats in it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Book 21: Which Brings Me To You

Another Epistolary! Jane and John meet at a wedding, get naked, and decide to put the brakes on that and get to know each other with letters. I was dismayed that the letters were restricted to confessions about their mishaps in love. I am not a big fan of confession of that nature. (All for the Papist Version!)

There is so much more to a person's life and history than just the love stuff. Also, in the words of Adam Corolla and Dr. Drew: More Mystery, Less History.

The letters though are quite funny. There were a few episodes of snorting, which invariably lead to my husband requesting I read to him what just happened, which he has no reference for, so it's not that funny to him. It takes the whole book to appreciate some of the humor in this. Just as it takes my whole history to appreciate some of the humor in me.

Some of the confessional letters are so real that they are cringeworthy. And some of the confessions are the kinds of things you don't confess! JUST REPRESS. Jesus, when I say "You need to filter" that is a bad, bad sign.

I found the ending somewhat lacking. I finished the book on Saturday and here I am writing the review Tuesday night. I can't put my finger on it. I do think that the two crazy kids in here got a bit too worked up and overthought themselves. (Overthinking, underacting-- classic Hamlet Syndrome) It wasn't that the ending wasn't real. It was just. . . unsatisfying. There was a lot of stuff crammed in there, stuff that would have maybe played out well on film but not so well on the page.

I do recommend this based just on the hotness of the opening not-quite-sex-scene. Plus the time John's Cock Wrote The Letter.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Seeing Connections Where There Are None

There was a movie I saw once, I think called Pi, where a guy got so awesome at math from studying the Torah that he could sense every pattern on earth.  It drove him to self-trepanation. My takeaway from the movie?  The Torah wouldn't fit on a floppy. This is why I should start shopping for a dremel of my own.

Today's Connection-- Gauge Swatches are the QA of Knitting. 

I do QA for a living.  I also do my little swatches as soon as I get some yarn.  However, I got some superspecial hand-dyed yarn.  It's rayon-cotton-linen and I thought I'd do an open wrap in a seafoam stitch, lenghtwise.  (Cast-on 296 stitches! Cast-off 296 stitches! Pure madness.) So I did my swatch with some practice yarn.  I essentially went down my least favorite crazypath from work- Sub Standard Test Environment.  On Purpose!  I deserve a dopeslap for this.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

About That Last Book

I think I was disappointed for 2 reasons:

1 Edward Gorey did it first and better.
2 I don't think old people are creepy, but that author surely did.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Book 20: Shut Up You're Fine!

Instructive Poetry for Very, Very Bad Children

It's not often that I find something too disturbing. This would be a book of really fucked up poetry. With Drawings!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Things I Have Learned, In No Particular Order

Thinking about baseball to prolong sex only works if you understand baseball.

Talking about Zombie Penises during sex doesn't prolong it, it halts it.

The difference between 2 glasses of wine and 3 glasses of wine is Zombie Penises.

Book 19: I Am Legend

I will be honest, I picked this off my shelf because I am behind in the 52books in 52weeks challenge. I had. . . a quickie. I feel so cheap and dirty. And not in a good way! Week 20 concluded on Thursday (2 days ago) and I have just finished book 19. Partly sunny with a chance of FAIL.

I Am Legend is a hell of a dated read. It was written in 1954, but it takes place in the 70s. Vintage is the best descriptor for the attitudes about women and booze and nuclear war. That doesn't offend me. It's more that Matheson has a vision of the future without any projected ideas about social progress found in contemporary sci-fi. Somewhat jarring compared to the pansexual free-for-all of say, Heinlein.

So, a vampire plague has destroyed civilization and one man stands alone against the undead. What was his name again? Oh yeah! Robert Neville. I joke. Neville is referred to by name over and over and over again, despite there not really being any other humans left with whom you might confuse him. He's lost all but his identity and his will to live. The loneliness is so real that it's loud in my head. The description of feeding his daughter's body into the fire was pretty awful.

This is worth a read, if you haven't yet read it, as an exploration of loneliness and the worth of an inner life or some driving mission.

Book 18: The Perfect Poison

I started reading Amanda Quick's novels in college. They were confectionary escapes from the much more heavy stuff I read for my grades. Plucky heroines, grumpy heroes, a little intrigue and some sex. Occasionally, there was even humor.

It pains me to say that I think Quick and I must part ways. She's gotten into this Arcane Society rut and I don't even know how many of her last handful of novels were based on these paranormal and lovelorn goofballs. Even her contemporary novels, under the author's actual name, Jayne Ann Krentz revolve around the psychic thrillers. Except they aren't thrilling. They read like she's phoning it in. And so I phoned it in for about the last 50 pages-- when I used my speed reading techniques. That always feels like cheating, but that sucker was due back at OPL today.

The humor is gone, the sex is less interesting than the actual sex I have, and the intrigue is all about the stupid Founder's Formula Alchemy Blah Blah y Blah. I am reminded of how many series of genre fiction I've cast aside when they have Jumped the Shark.

Let Us Bow Our Heads For a Moment of Silence As I Present A List of Some of the Dead:

Piers Anthony's Xanth Books
Ann Rice's Vampire Books
The Anita Blake Series
The Dresden Files
The Gaslight Mysteries

Go in peace, to love and read the pulp.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Poke Out Your Mind's Eye

If I can't sleep, No One Can!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Book Summary

01/11/2009 Succubus Dreams
01/18/2009 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
01/24/2009 The Tales of Beedle the Bard
02/14/2009 Bad Jobs
02/23/2009 Coraline
03/01/2009 Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery
03/05/2009 Zombie Haiku
03/07/2009 Twilight
03/28/2009 Dewey
03/29/2009 Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles
04/04/2009 Dope Sick
04/06/2009 Nymphos of Rocky Flats
04/09/2009 A Face In the Window
04/11/2009 The Graveyard Book
04/12/2009 The First Wave: A Billy Boyle WW2 Mystery
04/20/2009 New Moon
05/03/2009 Among the Mad

Current Status: 17 books, 18 weeks. Sliding into Fail

Song and Dance

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Book 17: Among the Mad

The latest Maisie Dobbs book. I do like the 20th Century Historical Mystery. The fallout of WWI in London is detailed in each of them. Even when the cases are solved, there is a lot of residual sadness.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

On the Rag April

My finished object for April is a pair of matching cotton dishrags for my mother in law. I just did the bias-stockinette pattern with YO increases. My decreases are all goofy. I really wish the resources for left handed knitters were a little better. These don't even match!

On the plus side, most dishrag patterns are easy enough for mindless tv knitting. They are small enough to fit in my purse as well.

I used the Hobby Lobby brand "I Love This Cotton!" This stuff is way softer than Lily. It does have a tendency to fuzz out in the wash a bit. I think the stiffness of Lily cotton is what keeps a stockinette dishcloth from curling up like a roly-poly. So these are a little curled. I think the remainder of the skein I will use for another one with some other color. It's a very pretty color way.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Day

Hours of Sleep: 5, almost
Shots of Espresso: 5
Cokes: 2
Frozen Entrees Thrown in Trash in Disgust: 0.6
Spoons of Peanut Butter Eaten from Jar: 0
Forks of Peanut Butter: 3
F-Bombs Dropped: Unquantifiable at this time

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Funniest News Story All Month!

Mostly because it does not involve my children.

All Your Skeins Are Belong To Us

Das Leben der Anderen

Not Another German Movie!

The theme of this movie is Loneliness. Epic Loneliness. Wiesler, Christa-Marie, Georg, Jerska, Hauser, even the repulsive Minister of Arts. Mostly Wiesler. The moments when he is out in the world, trying to talk to associates and strangers are so stark that he almost seems slightly dessicated in them. He knows every tiny detail of The Lives of Others and they don't even know he is there, watching them, saving them, loving them. I suppose some would blame all those consequences on the oppressive regime of the BDR. I think it's an over-simplification.

Because of the lack of human, emotional connection between the characters, everything feels tightly wound in this movie. I was on the edge of my seat for a lot of it, and yet, there is not much in the way of actual violence.

I don't Sprechen the Deutch. I took it for a year in college, but it was at 7am and I was sick a lot that year. I find the sound of it vaguely soothing-- there is a lot of ach'ing and tchussing.

I must also applaud the German Cinema for making sex, plain old sex, which is so awesome, seem so unappealing. I have no idea how they do that. It's the worst magic trick ever!

I cannot, for the life of me, think of a single German Movie I've seen that hasn't been steeped in Epic Loneliness. Granted, I can only think of a handful of the titles:

La Femme Nikita
Bella Martha
Der Himmel über Berlin
Das schreckliche Mädchen

I need to find a German Comedy.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Stash Flash

I recorded my stash today, complete with photos. It's all on Ravelry. I still have a lot of the pictures on my camera. For some reason, they don't all go to the memory card. Where is the cable? Grrrr. One of the shots stuck on there is the Stash Flash-- all the yarn spread out on the futon in happy ziplock bags (take that moths!). I chucked the needle bucket on there as well.

I didn't ravelry-stash the yarn that's completely knitted up and out of my hands. Altogether, I have 115 skeins of yarn. That was rather more than I thought I had. Granted, they are all of differing sizes and prices. Around 1/3 of the total weight was given to me or purchased with gift certificates. I need to get cracking on knitting it.

I've been working on a series of little knits for April. Those which I finish this month I will post on the 30th.

Friday, April 24, 2009

As Cool As I Am

I did not shriek when my dog flushed a snake out of the flowerbed last night. I did not squeal when I stood there trying to get him to "LEAVE IT" and one slid across my bare foot. I did not scream when I bent down to pick up his tether in the dark and found I had a snake in my hand.

Suck it, bitches.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Book 16: New Moon

In which Isabella Swan is presented with a superior alternative and goes back to Ole Sparkle Fangs

Personally, I think Jacob Black, brand new werewolf is vastly superior to Edward. First of all, he is not 110 years old. Second, he is able to fix cars and motorcycles. Do I even need a third? Edward is cold and hard to the touch, what with being dead and all. Jacob runs hot on account of being a werewolf. Think of the long winter nights-- with Jacob you would never ever need to wear socks to bed again. Edward can't even sleep, either. Jacob eats food. Edward drinks blood. Makes for awkward dinner dates.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wow! It worked!

Emailing posts actually works The paragraph spacing is still weird though.

Speaking of weird-- my mom found a poem my sister wrote about me when she was in 3rd grade. She was calling me weird and boring back when I was 10. Abandon all hope.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Emailing a Post

I am just trying this to see if emailing a post works. I seem to recall from my other blog that emailed posts have formatting issues, particularly surrounding paragraph returns.

Not much to report around Chez Spice. I am single spacing between paragraphs, using 10pt Arial, in green (for Spring, duh).

Children: Above average in looks, intelligence, humor, naughtiness, and defiance. Below average in eating and sleeping.

Spousal Unit: Grumpy.
Bathroom: Still In Progress. We have some insulation up and some durarock and greenboard.
Taxes: Not technically finished. Getting twice as much back from the Feds as we owe the stupid state of Nebraska.

Good Friday: Slacked around with the kids, and yet, there was peace. Oh how I love domestic peace. Sometimes I feel like I'm standing outside myself, snarking and judging my other self for the lengths I'll go to in order to have peace. Then I remember Blessed are the Peacemakers. Or is it the Peepmakers? I get confused a lot.

Holy Saturday: Dyed eggs with my parents, my siblings, and all associated offspring. Also, there was pizza and Rock Band on my brothers PS2. Umm, not so sure that my Holy Saturday was Particularly Holy.

Easter: A rash of good behavior at church, something akin to new life in Christ, for sure. Also, it takes about 4.5 lbs of milk chocolate to kill a dog the size of Barkimedes. That was a tremendous relief after he snitched some small, foil wrapped eggs from the kitchen table. Dinner with the in-laws.

Glitter Poop: Still gross.
Yarn: I finished a knitted dishcloth that looks more like a parallelogram than like a square. My mother-in-law likes it though, so I will give it to her. I frogged the sock I was making for Jason. The lefthandedness bit me again. My increases and decreases were slanting backwards and it was just making me bonkers. Need to finish a few things that are languishing on needles.

Books: Started the latest installment in the Maisie Dobbs series and the sequel to Twilight.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dear Internets

I love you and your crazy nerd ways.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Poetry Is Hard

Hard to read when you have a flatulent dog at your feet, a cat across the room in the litterbox and a 4 yr old with NO OFF BUTTON.

John Lithgow has put together a little poetry collection called The Poet's Corner. Arranged alphabetically. Of all things! I prefer a chronological sort of anthology. I like to see how the new forms come from the old and who just likes to break the rules and fuck shit up. Poetically speaking that is.

This is recommended as a parody of Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold:

Book 15: The First Wave

This is the second installment in the Billy Boyle series and another solid hit. This one takes place in North Africa, right before Ike's deal with Darlan. James Benn knows his history well enough that he doesn't spend too much of the book making sure that you know he knows it. Just enough historical back story to remind you he is a history teacher. Interesting information on the army's institutional sexism in WW2.

The first person narrative has a mixed tone-- Billy is hard boiled and naive at the same time. Like a swirl cone! Only Billy is not that cool. Billy's detecting process is one that I employ with puzzles. He thinks things over and over and over until suddenly he stops thinking for a minute and two unrelated things converge into an idea. Good Stuff, Young Billy.

Book 14: The Graveyard Book

I finished this book yesterday morning and haven't really thought of how to articulate my thoughts on it. I picked up The Graveyard Book on Friday at 3pm and I finished it at 8:30am Saturday. (I did sleep, but dinner was a slapdash affair.) Very compelling reading.

This is a novel length fairy tale about a boy raised by ghosts, in a graveyard, after his family is murdered by a mystery man. Neil Gaiman is really adept at fantasy writing in a way that feels more modern-- it lacks the moralizing of the Grimm Brothers but also the Everything Goes Morality of say, Heinlein.

His style is a bit more spartan than the genre usually goes. I really liked that Gaiman didn't have this elaborate architecture of his fictional world. I sometimes thought that if JK Rowling wasn't so intent on showing off her elaborate plans for the Potterverse that those books would have been a great deal shorter.

The origin of the mystery has an ambiguity that young adult books don't normally have, but this is not a set up for a series. Thank God-- I hate that feeling that most of an author's purpose in book 1 is to get me on the hook for a series that doesn't really have teeth. There is sound, final resolution and the gates of the graveyard are clearly closed for good.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Book 13: A Face In The Window

Really dreadful installment in the Home Repair is Homicide series. It's not a mystery, more of a thriller. I think I'm done with the series.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Parenting Win

I am pleased to announce that each of my children believe themselves to be my favorite. I RULE!!

Book 12: The Nymphos of Rocky Flats

At last, a BUTCH VAMPIRE! This book also had aliens, guns, gratuitous sex, and a muscle car. The plot was fast, but I do think the author telegraphed the 'twist' behind one of the characters. I will still pick up the second one in the series. I get the feeling this author will improve along the way.

I'm still looking for a good supernatural detective series. Harry Dresden sort of blew his wad when he saved the whole universe from the Summer Queen. Meh. Oh Harry, if only you'd never have hit the big time!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Book 11: Dope Sick

This is a young adult urban sci-fi book by Walter Dean Myers. The hero is Jeremy Dance, aka 'Lil J' is trapped in a hell of his own making and his own perceptions. He's a high school drop out with a little thing for heroin, a kid, and a mom who is pretty clearly depressed and an alcoholic. Now though, it's really hit the fan. Lil J is on the run from the cops after a drug deal went bad and his pal shot a cop.

Lil J takes refuge in an abandoned building where he meets a 'spooky' guy named Kelly. Lil J gets to watch his life on the TV in Kelly's place. Kelly wants him to figure out where it all went wrong and what he would change to get himself out of this mess.

I found this a pretty depressing story. The language is tough, but not an insult the grammatically correct. The ending was ambiguous enough that it might be a litmus test of whether your glass is half full or half empty. I thought it was exactly the ending it should have.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Other People's Potty

In the Middle of the Day the Drains Stopped Draining we had a Hijink Within a Hijink. It was gross. You've been warned.

Are you sure you can handle this? There is also a lot of swearing.


Jason had gone into Lowe's to buy a larger drain snake and I was waiting in the car with the children, feeding them fast food. Charlie suddenly pipes up that he needs to potty and Augs promptly replies he is not done eating yet. Stupid, stupid, stupid me. I put Charlie off for less than 4 minutes, but it was too long. The bathroom was at the back of Lowes (behind plumbing!). Naturally, Charlie refused to go into the ladies' with me. I sent both boys into the men's and lurked outside. After a few minutes, Augs came out.

"Where's Charlie?"

"He's not done yet."

"Well, you need to wait in there with him."

"Mom, Charlie has a little mess."

O RLY? "Is anyone in the men's room besides Charlie?"

"Well. . .no."

So I go in, and what do I see? Under the edge of the stall I see two Thomas the Tank Engine shoes, a pair of jeans, underpants (Spiderman), red jacket, and a teeny disgusting heiny. I also saw that he was standing in poo. It didn't seem that bad. But that was only because I couldn't see the other side of the toilet, or the toilet itself. I'm not going to lie, I gagged a little. I handed Augs my cell phone and said "Push 2, then push SEND. When your dad answers, tell him to come back here and that it is an emergency."

In walks a Lowe's Employee "Ma'am? You can't be in here, ma'am." For the love of Pete. I asked for paper towels and the goofball brought me the giant roll that goes in the dispenser. Ugh. OMG, so awful. How does a 30 lb kid make 10 lbs of poop? Poor dude hadn't quite made it onto the toilet and he'd gotten the seat, the side of the toilet, the floor, himself. Then he'd walked in something that I can only assume fell off his behind. I picked up what I could and had Jason come in and help clean up the floor. Charlie had it down his leg, on his behind, on his hands, on his feet, gotten it on his jeans, his jacket and his socks. His underpants were mystifyingly clean. I cleaned him up by standing him in the sink. I put his clothes in a bag, zipped my sweater on him (MOM! DIS IS A GIRL SWEATER! I AM A BOY!)

So then we start for home, to use the drain snake and I remark "Well, at least this happened here, where there is running water!" I am such a glass half full girl.

My husband, my partner for life, the father of my children says "At least it wasn't the women's room. That would be way grosser."

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"Well, there's bloody tampons and stuff in the women's room."

"Not laying around on the floor! In trash cans! Jesus! Are you saying menstrual blood is grosser than poop?"

"Yes! It's got diseases!"

"Are you kidding me?! Everyone has a load of bacteria in their colon! Poop has e coli! Menstrual blood only has diseases if a woman has an STD. Poop is always gross."

"Well, there are a lot of slutty women out there."

"Dude! Menstrual blood comes from the uterus. Where babies grow. YOU CAN'T GROW A BABY IN POOP!"

"Wow.. . . .. K. O. You win. There is no response to 'You can't grow a baby in poop."


And then the drain snake we had bought that night didn't even work.