Sunday, November 28, 2010


We are still working on the house in the hopes we can move to some place larger. We currently, by code, have about 900 sq. Our basement and much of our bedroom is nonconforming. We are still putting a bit of work into the basement because while the ceiling clearance is about 2 inches shy of conforming, it's still a useful space.

Jason and I were discouraged to see that several houses are being listed for about 88% of what we hope to get for our place. I suspect some of the properties are rentals being dumped. Jason says our garage is going to be a big selling point, as we have a 2 car detached and many houses in our zipcode don't have garages at all, and most of the ones that do have 1 car. I am not sure that will make the entire difference. We do have newer vinyl siding and windows, making the place a little greener and also quieter.

I am so very sick of the construction. We have tools all over the place. We spend great wads of cash at home improvement stores. We fight and fight during the work. I cannot really start talking about how miserable working on the house makes me because a.) words fail me and b.) no one wants to hear that random babble of whining. I have come to believe that old houses are like casinos-- the house always wins. The House Always Wins.

We do have mad-equity due to our shorter term loan, so staying and enjoying the economic freedom is not off the list of possibilities. It's a first world sort of problem, not being able to sell your house for enough money to buy twice as much square footage. I wouldn't mind though having a kitchen where I could comfortably feed 8 to 12 people and a finished basement where the boys could have sleepovers.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Book 34: Medium Raw

I finished this some time ago and forgot to review it. I was only reminded of my lack of documentation because I had a sex dream about the author that was so shockingly filthy that I apologized to my husband the next day. I will not be blogging that.

Medium Raw is another installment from Anthony Bourdain. He has developed a better focus for his punk-rock rage and learned to apply compassion sparingly but appropriately. I both loved and hated his chapter on McDonalds. Well, I hated myself for the rather unpleasant amount of fast food I get for the kids. I have cut down though since we got a pizza place near us that always has cheese pizzas ready to go. I would dearly love to send my kids to uncle Tony's for a week so he could break them down. Picky little creeps.

Edited to add that this was in my drafts folder and I just never got around to posting it. Sigh. Rough year for writing.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Book 25 - Book 33

So about 2 months ago, I got a promotion at work so work got busier. Then J and I decided we have had enough with our tiny house of eternal improvements. Work has been frantic. Home has been full of drywall dust and decluttering. I have a few post-its on one of my two desks at home with some scribbly notes about the books I've read in July and August. I'll be damned if I can find them.

Here is a list extracted from my pisspoor memory:

Book 25: Surrender of a Siren by Tessa Dare. Grade C. Decided to forgo the 3rd in this set.
Book 26: Succubus Shadows, by Richelle Mead. Grade B-, time to wrap up the series, I think.
Book 27: Werewolf Smackdown, by Mario Acevedo. Grade B+, sort of a downer ending, but action packed.
Book 28: Mapping of Love and Death, by Jacqueline Winspear. Grade C+, just lacked a certain something in terms of the mystery, but the action in Maisie's life is good stuff in this one.
Book 29: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, by Alison Arngrim. Grade A-, so much fun to read. Arngrim has a great outlook on life despite some rough times. I admire her humor and her spirit a great deal.
Book 30: The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein. Grade B. It's a dog book and we all know how it ends in dog books. The last time I read a dog book, I had never had a dog before. Now I have Barkimedes and this was a hard, hard read. Sniff.
Book 31: Other People's Love Letters, edited by Bill Shapiro. Grade A- Some very touching letters, some painful, and some bugfuck crazies.
Book 32: Twice Tempted by a Rogue, Tessa Dare. Grade B-
Book 33: Three Nights With a Scoundrel, by Tessa Dare. Grade C-. Sort of dreadful, really.

So here it is, week 36 and I am 3 books behind schedule.

The house is nearly sellable though. I packed up an entire carload of books and took them to the Omaha Public Library. I have taken about 3/4 of a carload of clothes to the Goodwill. I need to continue to purge. Apparently, you have to make your house look like you have not outgrown it in order to sell it. The people who buy our house should be so lucky as to have their lives expand to overflowing like our life has. We came in as two people and three cats. Now we are four people, two cats, and a hobo-dog. (RIP Melee, you were a good kitty, in your way.) It will be hard to leave behind the house where we made our kids.

In the last 10 years, we have gutted and redone the kitchen and bath. We ripped out a lot of disgusting carpet and redid the wood flooring underneath. We did vinyl siding, insulation, and new windows on the house. Siding and a new roof on the garage. We are repairing a few areas of drywall, installing a new waste stack, hanging gutter heaters, and freshening up the paint. So if you know anyone in Benson looking for a starter home, they would be lucky to get the place.

Book 24: Sweater Quest

In this book Adrienne Martini knits a sweater by the Crazy Scottish Lady Who Sues People. I find it interesting which projects and yarns consume different knitters. I can certainly appreciate how much thought and work went into the design of this sweater but I find it unattractive and shapeless.

Martini has done a lot of research about The CSLWSP, fair isle knitting, wool, the Tudors, and Scotland. Of course, your average sweater project doesn't involve this much research. Generally, you rummage through the yarn store or your accumulated stash and then look at patterns on ravelry or in your favorite pattern book and then you knit it up. Martini had a book deal. Which is an ingenious way of writing off one's stash as a business expense. HATS OFF!

I would highly recommend that the confused spouses, domestic partners, coworkers and general acquaintances of the yarn obsessed pick this up. It will help you understand your knitterly loved one.

Book 23: Ten Things I Love About You

I've lost my notes on this one. It is rather telling that without them, I am hard pressed to write a review. Very lukewarm reaction all around from me. I normally like Quinn's books because they don't have a lot of life threatening danger in them and the characters have sort of normal neuroses and petty quarrels. I read this while sick-- which I was for about two weeks. Also, while there are no library stickers on this book, I don't remember buying it. So I am not sure how it got in my hands.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Book 22: Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs

I was home sick for a bit this week and turned to some light reading when my head was too hurty to knit. In two days, I didn't even complete 2 rounds on the Pinwheel! So I picked out of my library stack this book by Molly Harper. The heroine is Jane Jameson (no, not like the porn star: JANE), a recently unemployed librarian whose severance package was a gift certificate to Shenanigans. That's just harsh. Unlike Electric Lemonades and Mudslides. She drinks away her severance, and climbs into her clunker only to have it break down on the side of the road. After Jane gets out to walk, she is mistaken for a deer by a road hunting driver who is even drunker than she. And along comes the mysterious guy from the bar, offering a cure for what ails her. I am deeply disappointed that Gabriel, our vampire hero, would drink at Shenanigans. Or any brass-and-fern place where the staff wears Pieces of Flair.

Jane rises 3 days later with the Unholy Thirst and no clear picture of what has happened to her. She is in different clothes and Gabriel's bed. Naturally, she freaks and runs to her home. Her ancestral home has a name and the sort of Southern Gothic charm that is probably not as common in the actual South as it is in the Fictional South. Everyone in books lives in spacious, charming old places that drip in moss instead of big old places that are hot as hell in the summer and leaky in the rainy season. When Jane gets home she finds her BFF, Zeb and almost feeds off of him.

Thankfully, Gabriel is a little stalkery-- he follows her home, rescues Zeb, tells a cautionary tale and then wipes Zeb's memory on the way home. MAN, I wish I could wipe peoples' memories. Or boost my own. Either way. Oh, and vampires have a variety of ancillary powers here. Strength, speed, heightened senses, blah blah blah. The set up of the vampire code in each series is a bit tedious. Fortunately, Jane has the Welcoming Committee basket, with a guide book even. And Jane has a roommate-- the ghost of her kooky grandmother. So, let's see we have Neophyte Vampire, Broody Sire Vampire, Naive Human Sidekick, Kooky Ghost. Don't worry, meddlesome family and surprise Werewolf will be along before you know it.

So Jane begins to settle in to her new life. She hangs out with Missy, the matchy matching realtor vampire. She meets a nice volunteer donor named Andrea. Jane even goes to Walmart where she gets some super sunblock, synthetic blood, and super vampire vitamins. She debates whether or not to come out to her family. Yes, this book takes place in a world where Vampires are Out. Meh.

It soon becomes obvious though that someone is out to get Jane. She fights with a guy in a bar and he ends up dead. Someone scrawls mean stuff on her car. Everyone thinks she's sleeping with Dick Cheney. Not that Dick Cheney. The Vampire Dick Cheney. No, the one with the gambling problem, the inappropriate banter, and the thirst for blood. Turns out that Dick was a buddy of Gabriel's back in the day. Gabriel was turned and then cast aside by his family. Several years later, a vampire turned Dick so that he'd be assured of being paid back on a gambling debt. Frankly, I find Dick more interesting than Gabriel. I am a big fan of inappropriate banter.

Jane's worsening reputation finally gets her called up before the Vampire Skull and Bones Club. When her enemy is unmasked, it's not a big surprise, and the reason was sort of boring and pedestrian. The Fight to the Death is pretty funny though. Since this is a series, you know Jane wins, right? She also comes out to her family with mixed results.

I am told by my coworker, who is an expert in the vampire contemporary, that there are 3 books in this series. I think that is about enough time to spend on these characters. I will probably check out the others eventually. However, since I haven't finished the Bloody trilogy about the Nazi-vamps, don't hold your breath waiting for more reviews. This was a light read, and pretty funny. Not a lot of sex, but it was umm. . . avidly described. I wouldn't go so far as to call it graphic.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book 21: Ghosty Men

Franz Lidz has intertwined the stories of the Collyer Brothers and his uncles. The Collyer brothers, Langley and Homer were New York City's most famous hoarders. The whole Collyer family had moved into Harlem in 1909-- right at the end of the housing boom there. Their father, Dr. Collyer moved out, or was crowded out and left to their own devices the bothers and their mother went Hoarder Wild.

When Homer was found dead in their home in 1947, over 130 tons of rubbish surrounded him. His younger brother, Langley, was nowhere to be found. The boys had long been media curiosities and rewards were offered by the major papers of New York City. Sixteen days after Homer was found, a workman removing garbage found the body of Langley. He had been pinned and smothered under a booby-trapped pile of junk.

Lidz's four uncles were varying flavors of crazy. Obsessive compulsive, paranoid, agoraphobic. I found it unsettling that Lidz dismisses the seriousness of their conditions and is further dismissive of pharmaceuticals to help treat those conditions. Not just unsettling: irresponsible, judgeworthy, crazy in its own way. He's pretty clearly reshaping their problems in a way that makes it tolerable for him to remember his uncles. People don't collect suitcases full of baggies because it makes them happy. They don't hoard shoelaces because it brings them joy. People hoard and keep and collect and squirrel away stuff, meaningless stuff because it helps them push away anxiety. It dampens a fire of misery that springs up out of smoke and nothing and mixed up brain chemistry instead of from some explainable event. If there was just an event, time would heal it, right? But this soup of crazy that afflicts people may as well be left under the pillow by the monster under the bed. And it's my second-hand understanding that long stays in asylums are not like relaxing vacations.

It's called Mentally ILL, not Mentally Awesome. And another thing! Pharmaceuticals are not the easy way out, or a way of making eccentrics conform. For FUCKS SAKE! They don't even make you feel high! If you're lucky, maybe there is a med that works for you. Maybe they make you feel like getting out of bed in the morning is not an insurmountable task with no conceivable reward. Suddenly, you could be able to be out in the world. Maybe the right pill will keep your brain from spinning out anxieties in the middle of the night like tops run by a monkey on crack.

So, if you read this book, or another book or see a movie where mental illness is sort of shrugged off as quirkiness (I could start a list here, but I won't. You're welcome.)I hope you SNORT DERISIVELY at that crap. Because it's not fun like a collection of vintage hats. It pretty much sucks.

Round and Round She Goes

I'm knitting another pinwheel blanket. I just love the way these things look. Babies-- ROUND. Baby Blankets-- MYSTERIOUSLY RECTANGULAR. There is not much difference between a Pi Shawl and a Pinwheel. They are both more based on guidelines than rules. Very good for knitters who like to improvise, who don't like to follow patterns or who can't read patterns.

Last year I made a pinwheel in Knit Picks Swish Bulky, about 650 grams of yarn total. There were stripes of increasing widths alternating in melon and cypress green. I had 12 evenly spaced increase stitches (yarn-overs) in the even rows. I bound it off with an applied i-cord. That bind off about killed me. It took several hours only to end with a kitchener stitch.* Pinwheel 2009 was a bit ripply when done, but blocked out as flat as central Nebraska. The yarn did shed a lot in the first wash. The only pictures of it are on someone else's facebook page, because I'm a tool. I may bogart one for flickr. I am curious how the blanket has endured baby's first year and have sent an email for more info.

I am making the Pinwheel 2010 of Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn, which is worsted weight, using about 22 ounces of yarn. I chose the Autumn Stripes colorway, because it goes with Baby T's crib set. It is hard to find a machine washable striping colorway in heavier yarn. I just cannot face the number of stitches a sock-weight blanket would require. No. Way. I started with 8 evenly spaced increases (also yarn-overs), right before some white stitch markers, in the even rows. On the non-increasing rows, I knitted the yarn-overs to twist them. (For me, this is through the front leg, for conventional knitters it would be through the backleg). This creates a nice ridge for the increases without as much of a hole as a yarn-over knitted in the usual way. Then after 24 increase rows, I added 4 more but on the odd rows, between every other pair of white markers, these marked with green. After 18 of those increase rows, I added 4 more between the unsplit pairs of white markers, these marked with blue markers. So now there are 8 increases in each row. I thought this would help flatten the blanket. Since it is acrylic, I don't want to have to steam block. (Bawk! Bawk!)I may modify the modifications next time. I would keep all the increases on the even rows so that I could sail through the odd rows. I would go from 8 increases to 12 increases sooner so that my move to 16 was a little more balanced. However, my big modification for next time is that I am going to make a super long i-cord and then pick up and knit in an inward spiral. I have an aversion to eternal bind-offs.

However, I have another entire skein of yarn to go on this blanket before I dive into another blanket. The baby is due in 6 weeks and I think if I keep on with a round a night, I shall be ok. Granted, a round on this thing is now almost an hour long process. I will NOT be doing another i-cord bind off. Probably a crochet bind off. I am deeply irritated by the fact that in 4 skeins thus far I have found FIVE KNOTS. That is some poor QA at the Hobby Lobby Factory.

*You know how many good tutorials there are for left handed kitchener? Not many. Most of the tutorials start out with my most hated phrase in ALL OF KNITTING. "Since Knitting is Two Handed, Left Handed Knitters Should Consider Learning to Knit Right Handed." One day, when I've had too much to drink, I will really go to town on my hatred of that mentality and all the teachers and designers who say that. Bitches. The lot of them!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Book 20: Sleepless At Midnight

I barely finished this book. There was a prodigious lot of skimming. The heroine was in a perpetual downward spiral of low self-esteem. The hero, despite being on the lookout for both buried treasure and an heiress wife, just couldn't stop himself from having his way with the heroine. A Major Violator of the Campsite Rule. It was too bad the villain had to monologue at the end. I'd have found that ending happier.

Book 19: Goddess of the Hunt

After Book 18, I went right to the library and got this Tessa Dare title. I liked this one even more than the previous entry. This is the first of the Goddess Trilogy. On the whole a better name. The kids were with me at the library and in fact I had to bribe them to go, as they were totally in the middle of a level on Lego Batman for the Wii. I bribed them with Sonic. My idea of a great summer day: Giant Coke with Lime, Trashy Book, Low Pollen Count, Gentle Breeze. A Regency Great Summer Day: HOUSE PARTY IN THE COUNTRY! With ladies seeking husbands and gentlemen seeking fortunes. Also, there are picnics, walks to the village to look at bonnets and/or ribbons, hunting, and sometimes people get caught in the rain and are forced to make out shamelessly in gameskeepers' cottages.

Our heroine is Lucy Waltham. She's a bit of a hoyden as she has been allowed to run wild by her brother since the death of their parents, where run wild equals fishing and jaunting about outside. She's decided that she is going to marry her brother's friend, Toby, but that she needs to hone her feminine wiles in order to prey upon him properly. Naturally, she hones them on some other unsuspecting fool. Our unsuspecting fool-- sorry, hero! Our hero is Jeremy Trescott, Earl of Kendall. He's another of her brother's friends. Lucy sneaks into Jeremy's room in the middle of the night and hones him mildly. He promptly scolds her as he knows that Toby intends to marry, Sophia of the Giant Dowry. He's all discombobulated. As we all know, from our extensive reading of the genre, discombobulation is the first sign of True Luv. It is often mistaken for agitation.

The next day, the gentleman have a little discussion about What Is To Be Done. Henry, Lucy's brother, encourages Jeremy to flirt with Lucy in order to distract her while Toby snares his heiress. And so, they distract each other's brains out. Naturally, this is a massive violation of the Dude Code, whereby one may not bone a buddy's sister.

Sophia, it turns out, is a lot of fun. Lucy can't help but like her. There's no Chick Code, in case you are wondering. Mean girls often tell nice girls there is a Chick Code. They are only doing that to snatch a guy right out from under you. And then they are invariably mean to him too. I digress. In the absence of a Chick Code, Lucy keeps honing her wiles on Jeremy, and trying to make Toby jealous. Toby keeps dragging his feet about getting engaged to Sophia because he likes being in demand.

Naturally, Lucy backs herself into a corner with the wiles and suchlike. WHAM! Compromised! Parson's Noose! At this point, Henry starts acting like a cross between a concerned older brother and a garden variety jerky older brother. There is some fighting with Jeremy but in the end, the wedding happens and they are off to Jeremy's family home. Cue ominous music. Jeremy had an unhappy childhood. He wasn't supposed to be the heir, but his older brother died. His mother was a big old crazy drama queen and his dad was a first rate asshole. Oh, and all the tenants hate the family. So Lucy and Jeremy have to work their way through the pile of whackadoodle to get to the happy ending part. Naturally, the very end of the book contains the lead in to the next book-- Sophia has jilted Toby and R U N N O F T! That book comes out in a couple more weeks.

Book 18: One Dance With a Duke

It's always a Duke, isn't it? So rarely One Dance With an Accountant. Sorry, accountants. I'm sure you're lovely. This book is the first in the execrably named Stud Club series. This is the first pick for the Smart Bitches summer reading club, which I inexpertly linked in the sidebar. (I can haz tek support?) Overall, I quite liked the story, but the hook for the series as a whole is sort of lame. But what do I know? I don't follow sports of any era.

The Duke in of the title is Spencer, who wants to get full ownership of a particular horse. He has cultivated an air of mystery about himself. The heroine is Amelia D'Orsay, a noble lady of genteel poverty, presumed to be on the shelf. OF COURSE. She's nearly twenty or somesuch nonsense.

Where was I? The Stud Club. Oh yes, there is a horse, Osiris, that was originally owned by a group of friends, and they each had a token signifying their share. The tokens could only be won and lost in games of chance, never sold or gifted. The horse has excellent bloodlines, and only token holders may breed him against their mares. Spencer wants to be the exclusive owner for mysterious reasons to be revealed later. Spencer has managed to win 6 of them in games of chance. In the last match, one of the unlucky gamesters at the table was Amelia's wastrel brother. Wastrel is Regency Speak for LOSER. He drinks too much and gambles excessively because of his tortured, tortured soul.

One of the 4 other token holders was killed after a boxing match in a dodgy neighborhood. One token holder feels responsible because he had ditched him. The other toke holder thinks Spencer offed the dead one. Spencer and Amelia get backed into the parson's noose. Every one is worried about the dead guy's deaf sister. After the wedding, the newly married strangers go off to rusticate in the country. Amelia hates riding horses. Spencer's teenaged ward hates Amelia. Spencer hates the other token holders. Jack needs more money. Spencer's other horse is ill tempered and moody. It goes on and on and on. I don't even remember who killed the dead guy!

The romance part of the story was good. Spark, humor, gradually coming to understand each other. A little ripping off of the clothes. Just too many threads in this one in order to plot out general direction of the other 3 books. It seemed to me that because this is the first of a series, another character in the book pretty much had to die. Besides the dead guy at the opener.

This was the first Tessa Dare book I've read, and I did actually go ahead and grab another title by her from the library.

I read this one as an Ebook that I downloaded from in the Adobe digital editions pdf format. I read ebooks on a Dell Mini 10. The reading quality is not at all taxing to my really terrible eyes. (Dry, old, at a computer for far too many hours per work day.) The price was a bit higher than Amazon, but the book club has a rebate going on for participants which edges them out on price by the end of it all. Download was just as easy as the ebooks I get from the Omaha Public Library. All Romance has a much bigger selection of the really, really smutty ebooks than Amazon does. I wish they had a little better cross referencing. I am not sure how to say this without really, really putting too much out there. You can't adequately search for nuances of sexual proclivities besides orientation. Some Stuff I Don't Care To Read. At the same time, a tag cloud on a site that sells erotica would probably be pretty funny. Especially when you factor in the terrible spelling of others. What the hell is throbbingpens?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Book 17: Lessons In French

Laura Kinsale's historicals are fun to read. The character of the bull was a bit dry though. Actually, being as I am from Nebraska, I really get enough cattle talk without it in my relaxation reading. The heroine has a bit of a boring shame spiral going on. I am a little tired of that old thing. Yes, she has freckles and red hair. B F D. She also has a crapzillion dollars-- of course no man could possibly really love her. Blah blah blah, yadda, yadda.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I want to believe

I have somehow gotten a desk that has more UFOs than Area 51. I am currently working on swatching lace up all over the place, plus a baby blanket, a dog bandana, a couple dishrags, another hedgie, and and the scarf left unfinished from Ravelympics. Since Lent is over and I just got my tax refund, I wanted to find something to bind it off. I looked at 3 places and nothing really struck my fancy, so I am going to thread a lifeline in and then rip it back 2 rows and use that yarn plus the yardage that is still wound off to do the picot bind-off.

I am, quite honestly psyched out by the loveliness and the cost of two sparkly, costly yarns in my stash. Tilli Tomas sequined silk lace and Dream in Color Starry. I know the sequined lace will be a huge pain to frog if I bork it up. Hence the littering of lace swatches all over the house. Turns out that since I am a left-handed-continental-mirror knitter that my k2tog leans to the right just like a righty. My ssk and psso though? Completely buggered. I have been looking at videos all over the place in order figure out the mechanics of my mistake. This morning I think I may have gotten it right. Instead of Slip 1, Knit 1, Pass Slipped Stich Over I am trying now to Knit 1, Return to needle, Slip next stitch over purlwise. I need to practice more until it feels natural, but it looks like the picture.

I bought a couple of small lace stitch pattern books yesterday at The Empire of Fundies-- Hobby Lobby. For a bunch of Jesus Freaks, they sure treat their customers like crap. You can't return books there at all because you 'might have copied them all'. Normally, I buy knitting books from bookstores for this very reason. They don't treat me like I might have stolen from them. I rec'd 2 knitting books from HL for Christmas that were not to my liking and I am stuck with them.

This brings me to another thought, a criticism of Ravelry, really. I love Ravelry, but I am in general opposed to heavy handed moderation of internet communities. Rav does not allow negative feedback on their board for any yarn shops or such like (well, except for chain stores because, Big Business is Eeeeevil.) Because of this, all positive feedback is suspect. Suppose a store has 4 people who love it all over Ravelry. How then are you to know that 5 people really, really hate it? It's like the Fox News of Yarn.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book 16: Mister Impossible

A Loretta Chase novel recommended by the Smart Bitches (see the blogroll). I finished this some time ago. It was a fun regency romance. I tend to gravitate all my historical reading to that particular era. I don't really have anything to add on this you can't read from the Bitches. I just needed to keep my count somewhat on target.

Book 15: Not Quite A Lady

Another Loretta Chase, also recommended by the Bitches! In Not Quite a Lady, the heroine's secret, shameful past is actually a secret and shameful. I really liked the ending of this book. I have another couple of Chase books on my library queue for summer reading.

Book 14: Home is Where the Wine Is

Crazy Aunt Purl has another funny, philosophical memoir for us. It is not just a rehashing of the blog. There is new material in here. There are also patterns though I haven't done any of them yet. She has a lot of stories about reentering the dating scene. I would strongly encourage anyone wanting to read this book to read "Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair" first. Or the archives of her blog. The context is good. CAP has some good dating and travel stories in here. If you have ever wanted to travel by yourself, her stories of doing so are great-- practically propaganda for the solo act.

Book 13: The Living Dead

Zombie Short Story anthology! The stories range from tragic, to terrifying, to NOT ACTUALLY CONTAINING REAL ZOMBIES. I resent the addition of metaphorical zombies and people just talking about their contingency plan. The bulk of the stories were good, don't mistake me. However, this ginormous book could have been a reasonable size if about 4 of the stories were left out. The opening story "This Year's Class Picture" was great-- the story of a lone teacher and her zombified charges. Also worth the read was "Malthusian's Zombie" which is creepy enough for a beginner to the zombie genre but not over the top gross. There are a lot of big names of horror in here and some smaller names, so this anthology would also be good to pick up for ideas of authors you may want to try.

Book 12: Coyote

This is the opener of a SF series on space exploration by Allen Steel. I read a short excerpt of this online and then felt compelled to get the full length novel. Imagine a future where the US has busted up into 4 nations. The South has all the rednecks and of course, they are persecuting the intellectuals and other dissidents. So what do the intellectuals do? (edited 5/1 for clarity) They steal a billion dollar space exploration vehicle, go into cryosleep, and wake up a couple hundred years later on a Strange New World-- Coyote, one of the moons of a distant planet. They set about building homes and lives and civilization. The 200 yr old teenagers grow up. And then, eventually, another ship shows up.

This book was very well written. The characters were great and the whole pioneer spirit was woven into the new future. I was not sure where the political parallels were going until the very end. I really approved of the final resolution. And that's all I want to say, because I would rather say too little of the book than too much.

There are other books in the series, and I expect they will be scattered throughout my summer.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Book 11: Lord Loss

Darren Shan's opening novel for this Demonata series makes the Vampire's Assistant series look like the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. Shortly into the book Grubb Grady loses his family when they are slaughtered by a demon named Lord Loss. He descends into nightmares, madness and grief. His Uncle Dervish comes for him and they retreat to the old family estate. This is the opener in a series. I don't think I have the stones for it. It's just too bleak. And I am on a non-bleak-self-medicating-books sort of kick. I actually finished this months ago and didn't even want to review it. I didn't dislike it, and I do think it's a good offering in the arena of tween-fantasy. It's just . . . not for me.

Book 10: A Girl's Guide To Vampires

Katie MacAlister writes some funny books in the contemporary arena. One of my coworkers gave me this one because she is all about the paranormal. This one was funny but the plot was sort of all over the place. Vampires, serial killers, crazy witches. My real peeve with the book was the hero's propensity for calling the heroine "baby". I hate that shit. The ending is pretty clearly a set up for a series. Sigh. It's all about the branding and the series I suppose. I don't know if I want to read the others in this particular series, but I may check out MacAlister's steampunk books. I do love the weird vintage engineering.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Book 9: Playing With Fire

Belle Jamison is a young woman with no career to speak of, practically no social life, and only 1 living relative who depends on her for material support. Clearly, what such a woman needs is uncontrollable superpowers, an idiot sidekick, and a hot boyfriend with a LOT of baggage. Fortunately, the scenes of Belle acting like a total moron are evenly spaced by two of my favorite things: sex and ass-kicking. It's a C-level book. On a beach I would have loved it. Before and after work during some truly awe-inspiring levels of PMS, meh.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Agony of Defeat

A heartbreaking loss in the 2010 Winter Knitting Games.

First, I didn't swatch, because swatches lie anyway. So I got about 60% done and decided the body of the scarf, done in stockinette, was too tight, and I needed a garter stitch border as well as a bigger needle. So I frogged it mercilessly during a conference call at work.

My next attempt had a bit too much garter along the lace side edge after the increases. I ripped it out a second time, but was only about 10% along that time.

I was not sure I'd have enough yarn, so I thought I'd alternate rows with a 3rd skein I had of the yarn from a different dyelot. Alternating rows is supposed to work! The internet says so! The internet lies. Froggy Frog Froggerson.

I was about 40% into it again, and realized I had an entire garter stitch row about 4 inches below where I was. RIPPIT, RIPPIT.

Today, I started the lace border and I ended up ripping it out and restarting it because I had buggered the increases.

Finally, FINALLY I got the lace edge as I like it but it is apparent I do not have enough yarn for a picot bind off and I don't think it will look right with a straight bind off. So the Scawl (Scarf-Shawl) is going to hang about on the 60 inch circular needle until I can get some black yarn so I can knit a border all around and then do the picot bind off.

Did I mention I gave up buying yarn and books for Lent. Oh yes, I did. I thought I'd give the savings to charity. Looks like I will actually be giving it to Charlie's Dentist. Darth Vader costume. Cape-related accident. You get the idea.

Book 8: The Ten Word Game

I learned a new word! The style of this narrative is picaresque. Other books in this style are Don Juan, Tom Jones, and presumably, Diary of a Man Whore.

The single named protagonist of this is Lovejoy. Apparently there are a gajillion novels in the series and this just happens to be the one I picked up. Lovejoy is a 'divvy', a diviner who can feel it in his body if he is in the presence of a genuine antique vs a fraud. It doesn't sound like a pleasant experience. I don't know either, how this is supposed to work in London where so many of the buildings are older than most everything in Nebraska, for instance.

There are a lot of characters in this book-- more characters than intrigue I am sorry to say. And of course, Lovejoy boinks all of the women. He's one of those annoying men who says they love all women when really it's that they love having sex with all women and don't actually love any specific woman. I find this sort of man supremely irritating. Shocking, right? I sort of suspect a little of the Unreliable Narrator in that all the women he meets really want to have it off with him. He's not eloquent and he seems to eat like a pig. Since the earliest book came out in 1977, it's not like he's in his prime or anything. Do you suppose when he drops trou' that the Old Man Smell emanates from his junk?

Lovejoy (seriously, is he a granola-gigolo?) has all sorts of quaint slang-- Making Smiles in the Lantern Hours. DONNEZ MOI UNE BREAK. The only worse euphemism for sex can be found on infertility bulletin boards: Baby-dancing. "The kids are staying overnight at my mother in law's so we are making smiles. Yeah, I am gonna babydance his brains out" No. Just. . . No.

The persona is bigger than the mystery, which doesn't make it much of a mystery.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Book 7: Darkest Hour

The 4th Mediator book. This time. . . it's personal! Suze's hot, ghostly roommate is the focus of this one. They are installing a hot tub and the digging unearths a box of letters that Jesse got from his fiancee, Maria de Silva, before he died. This brings Maria's ghost around and she is both stupid and angry. A delightful combination to be sure. Suze also meets a young kid who happens to be a mediator. You would think this would make her reevaluate her rather violent ghost busting methods, but not so much. It should be interesting to see if she ever grows up and learns to get along with the undead.

Curling is Not A Sport

In the Knitting Olympics. All that Stockinette was making a giant tube so I frogged the hell out of it. I was on a conference call where I'd have preferred to be ripping people verbally. Stupid Team Player. I tried a bit of seed stitch but I had trouble with the counting after increases. So, I am going to reknit on larger needles, with a garter stitch border.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book 6: Reunion

Another Mediator installment from Meg Cabot. Suze is sort of in a rut. She is clinging to her ass-kicking ways instead of MEDIATING. I think Fr. Dominic should have her look up the word in the dictionary. The 4 angry ghosts in this one are pretty much vapid jocks who have it in for the guy who caused their fatal crash. Unfortunately, that guy is a nerd and there is some antinerdism in this book. Do Not Want.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Book 5: The Vampire's Assistant

The second Darren Shan book. This one is Even More Gross and Scary! I am pretty sure my younger kid is going to love these some day. Darren is travelling around with Mister Crepsley, getting the hang of being half Vampire- half Human. He misses having friends so they meet back up with the Cirque du Freak so Darren can be friends with Snakeboy. Mister Crepsley is a pretty sympathetic character in this book. Again, there are a series of events spiralling out of control and leading ultimately to a pretty downer ending. From reading the prologue of the 3rd, looks like that will be more of the same. It's nice that the Vampire Lifestyle is not glamorized. Snicker. That must be so comforting for the type of Christian who thinks the Harry Potter books are Satanic Propaganda.

Book 4: The Ninth Key

This is the second of the Mediator books by Meg Cabot. Suze is looking into a local real estate big shot who may be a murderer. Or maybe he's a vampire. In any event, his son is a hottie mctottie. This one seemed like there was a lot going on in terms of the plot. Not in a complex way so much as in convoluted. It was still pretty funny though. I would like to see Cabot do a little more research though about the Catholic church if she is going to keep Suze in Catholic school.

Book 3: Cirque Du Freak: Living Nightmare

Darren Shan has written a series of Vampire novels for younger readers-- tweens? They are not quite for the young adult shelf. In this first one, the main character (also named Darren Shan) attends a Freak Show where he sees some amazing performances but also gets sucked into a chain of events that are beyond his control.

Darren and his buddy, Steve(?) attend, and after the show his buddy stays behind. He has seen and recognized that one of the freaks is an old Vampire (Mister Crepsley)he read about in a book. Darren stays behind because he is drawn to a magnificent performing spider, but seeing his friend confront Crepsley gives him ideas. Darren decides to come back later and steal the spider, leaving a note that says he will expose Crepsley if he comes after the spider. It's really true to the logic of a kid that age, to think they have the upper hand but have really not thought all the way through things. It is not as fun as you might think-- delivering that sort of smackdown to the short-thinking kid. Darren doesn't plan for the spider being poisonous. Nor does he plan for Mr. Crepsley being the only way to get anti-venom. Or for the payment he will have to make. Even after Darren makes good on his deal to Mister Crepsley, he tries to avoid the ultimate consequences of it.

The creepy factor of the book was greater than I had imagined a kids book would have. It's been a while since I read kids' books and the scary ones were not half as scary as the original forms of most fairy tales. The whole kids section at Books A Million (who has the biggest by far in the Omaha area) seems to be busting at the seams with fantasy, horror, and sci-fi books lately. I am eager to read more of it by other authors. I think the Sisters Grimm series is promising.

Book 2: My Life In France

I finished this one in the second week of January and I liked it so well I didn't want to review it. I don't wat to sell it too highly to others who might not overlook its shortcomings.

The food-- oh the food. Lovingly described in detail over and over. It's not a book for dieters. Too much suggestion. Too much tempation.

The storytelling is mostly linear with many, many tangents. It was a lot like talking to my Grandmother used to be. sniff Julia speaks warmly of those she loves and pretty plainly about those she did not. (Also like Grandma B.) Julia is lefty in her politics and describes her repeated clashes with her father over their differences. I feel for her-- it is often difficult with my dad who, like hers, can't just agree to disagree. She is somewhat circumspect about her husband, Paul's, government job and how they handled the McCarthyism and other Cold War challenges.

If you are thinking of writing a book, Julia's account may scar you for life. My GOD! She makes it seem like a total pain in the ass. Of course, she also had to hand type everything and send it by overseas mail.

Citius, Altius, Fortius

I'm knitting a worsted weight baktus-style scarf, with an added on ruffle (in a nonprincess sort of manner) for the 2010 Knitting Olympics. I am eager to cast on tonight during the opening ceremonies. For my training, I have knitted 3 more hats so far this year for the charity bin. I think I am getting a bit of the repetitive stress injury from the combination of computer work and knitting fun.

In other yarnly news, I have fallen behind in the picture taking of finished objects as well as the stash-logging at Ravelry. I did finally break down and get the interchangeable harmony wood needles from Knit Picks. They Are Fantastic. So much slicker and pointier than clover. I am tempted to take a pencil sharpener to my other bamboo needles.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First Finished Object

Needles: Size 6US, 2 circulars
Yarn: Lion Wool Ocean Blue Prints, about .75 skein

Pattern: Improvised (guess how this will end!)

Cast on 80, K1P1 ribbing for 6 rows
Row 7 *K2 m1 (120 stitches)
Rows 8 - 14 K
Place markers every 12 stitches to show where decreases go
Row 15 *K10, K2Tog 110 stitches remaining
Row 16 and all remaining even rows K
Row 17 *K9, K2Tog 100 stitches remaining
Row 19 *K8, K2Tog
Row 21 *K7, K2Tog
Row 23 *K6, K2Tog
Row 25 *K5, K2Tog (this is a good place to switch to DPNs, you should have 60 stitches left)
Row 27 *K4, K2Tog
Row 29 *K3, K2Tog
Row 31 *K2, K2Tog
Row 33 *K1, K2Tog
Row 35 *K2tog 10 stitches remaining
Row 37 *K2tog 5 stitches

What this produces is a child sized tam, atop a generously sized brim. Since I am not a child, this was something of a disappointment. Too feminine to be worn by either of my children. So, I will have to send FailTam to a charity that accepts all woolen items, like Afghans for Afghans perhaps. This was a test knit for my planned pattern for some Cash Vero and Dream in Color yarn. Now I know that I should perhaps K1, M1 right after the brim and do fewer than 10 decreases every other round to make the tam more of a slouchy plate. Furthermore, the brim ought to be knit on size 5 needles to create the level of snugness I like and keep a neater looking rib.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ganked from Wil Wheaton

OMG! Cupcakes! Decorated like games! For! The! Win!

Book 1: Jailbait Zombie

Book 1? Seriously? Ok, 2010. Whatever. I shall roll back the odometer. Pageometer? No, wait. Bibliodometer.

So Jailbait Zombie-- another fun read from Mario Acevedo. This time, Felix Gomez is hunting some persistent and un(super)naturally intelligent zombies to protect the secret of the supernatural from regular folks. Felix also has to find out who is reanimating these undead and eliminate them too. Should he fail in his mission, the Vampire Bosses will send his buddy to stake him and skin him. No pressure, Felix! Of course, there is some weird psychic-mojo stuff going around and giving him crazy visions. And then the Mob gets mixed up in it! I do not know how so many genres can be crammed into one book without making a big, hot mess. Still, this amalgam of genres is what really draws me to these books. They could go so horribly wrong, like Frankenstein! Yet they have thus far ended up like quilts. I hope to God that Acevedo doesn't overshoot the mark, like the Harry Dresden series did. After he saved the whole universe, it was all sort of a letdown.

Along for the ride with Felix is Phaedra. She is the (mortal) child of a mobster, living with the death sentence of a terminal illness and the changes in her brain have allowed her to see things she shouldn't. She is in on The Secret and the Vampire Overlord Council wants her eliminated as well. Phaedra wants Felix to turn her to a vampire, cheat her disease-- something he has not done before and is reluctant to do. Phaedra is a trainwreck of dysfunction and she ends up being even more crazy than I realized. The last few pages, oof. A little disturbing.

It's interesting that in the whole vampire genre, I've yet to read of a Vamp who is all gung ho and evangelical about the blood sucking thing. The rules of the fiction (as currently written) seem to dictate that the Vampire feel shame for what (s)he is. Usually when a vampire makes another, it is because of force, accident or some sort of tortuous loneliness. Usually, if it's done on a whim or as a joke or a trick, the character turning another into a vampire is Eeeeeeeeeeeevil. It's as if writers are ashamed of immortality. Interesting.

Also? Acevedo's picture on the back of the book? Muy guapo. Sigh.

In other Book News-- I am reading the Harry Potter books to my son and it is so awesome. There was a time I wasn't sure I would have kids and it is really so much better than I imagined. It's also a lot harder, but today I'm just inexplicably grateful for what I have. Augie has always been more like Jason than like me and to find things we can do together is really precious to me. For just a few minutes he is snuggled up to me with all these long, slight, spindly limbs of his and he doesn't want to be anywhere else.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


In 2010 I have a few modest goals:

1. Learn to Knit Lace and Socks
2. 52 books in 52 (more) weeks
3. Learn Visual Basic
4. Take the boys to swimming lessons
5. Go to Church at least twice a month
6. Do something movementy (let us not use the E word) 5 days a week

Friday, January 1, 2010

(Adjective) New Year!

I'm shooting for easy instead of happy.