Another year-end list.

I can’t help myself. I’m going to list all the books I read. You don’t have to read it, but it might give you some ammo for giving me a hard time about bad stuff I read.

Items with a * were read for book club, thereby rendering them unavailable for teasing since I didn’t choose them.

Here we go! Continue reading

Christmas

I came to the conclusion today that part of the joy of giving is not just in watching someone open the gift. It is also in telling them the story of the gift. It’s the story of how my brother heard I didn’t have a Crock Pot with a timer on it, and he wondered how such a thing is possible, so he bought me a new Crock Pot. It’s the story of how my sisters couldn’t decide which Disney Princess cape to get for my daughter, but eventually decided on the blue one with white faux fur trim. It’s the story of how Michael really wanted to get me the black iDog, but he only found a single one in the entire city and it was white. And somehow, hearing the story of why the giver chose that particular gift, makes it that much more special. As much as I love gift cards, there just really can’t be a great story to go with a gift card.

The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

The Polysyllabic SpreeI can’t remember where I saw something that made me think I would like this book, but I decided to request it from the library. I was pleased to find it’s a series of essay Hornby wrote for the Believer magazine in 2003-4. He is really funny and says interesting things about what he’s reading. He also pokes a little fun at the editors of The Believer. They are the Polysyllaic Spree. The number of white-robed members of this committee changes every time it’s mentioned: 12, 99, 84. Whatever.

Self-Righteous Post

Unlike some other bloggers, I will not be taking a blog break over the holidays. I could say that this is because I am so dedicated to my tens of dedicated readers, but we all know that’s a load of horse hooey. It’s because I have no life and am not going anywhere very taxing this Christmas, and let’s face it. It’s not like I blog all that terribly often, anyway.

Today, I slept in a little. Then I got out and took a walk with my new iPod. Bliss! I made brunch when I got back, and then started the first of the 3-part process of making sugar cookies for Santa. My kids helped. We watched It’s Christmastime, Again, Charlie Brown together. I took a small nap. We did part 2 of the cookies. Then I napped again. Then we did part 3. Now the kids are engrossed in some new learning software we pulled out for the computer. Yay!

Tomorrow all hell will break loose in a big way. We start with a regular day of teaching 8th grade Sunday School and going to church. Then, we’ll hightail it over to the next town to have Christmas with Michael’s family. At 2:30, we’ll hightail it back because my kids really, really, really want to go to the children’s interactive Christmas Eve service at the church. Then I have to be at the next 2 grown up Christmas Eve services at 5:00 and 7:00 because the dancers I direct are dancing. I get a break from about 8:00 to about 10:00 to come home and get two wiggling, excited kids to bed (ha!). Then, I’m back up to the church so the girls can dance in the 11:00 service. I usually get home between 12:30 and 1:00.

On Monday, the kids will have us up at an ungodly hour to open presents. Then we’ll go to my parents’ house for their Christmas and a Christmas brunch. When we get home, I’ll cook our Christmas dinner. It’s going to be so much fun!

In a completely unrelated story: Michael shaved off his goatee and moustache today. (Not that any of you know what he looked like anyway, but this is news to me.) He’s gone from looking like a member of a hardcore thrash metal band, to a member of an early 90′s glam metal band, which is really more up my alley anyway. Think Nuno Bettancourt as opposed to James Hetfield.

Lambs of London by Peter Ackroyd

The Lambs of London: A NovelI found this book on the New Books Shelf at work and got it because someone on some blog somewhere raved about it.

So, it was a pretty good book. A pretty fast read. But it wasn’t really about Charles and Mary Lamb. It was more about her friend William Ireland, wasn’t it? And about how he forged a bunch of Shakespeare stuff because his father thought he would never amount to anything. I liked the end, though. Crazy people are always interesting.

Crazy long music survey

LARGE music survey
Favorites – X the ones you like
DON’T LIE ON THIS ONE!! BE HONEST AND MARK WHATEVER YOU LIKE/LISTEN TO
The point is, if you have even one song by any of these artists on your ipod, mark X
As you know, there are a thousand more artists to put but I couldn’t possibly spend my time naming anymore than this. I was only able to put recognizable and known bands but it’s still pretty good. At first, I separated artists by genre but it got WAY too hard so I just listed them alphabetically.

And dude, it’s seriously long. Continue reading

Wikipedia Meme

From Being Me.

Rules:
1. Go to Wikipedia
2. In the search box, type your birth month and day (but not year)
3. Choose 3 events that happened on your birthday
4. Choose 2 important births and 1 interesting death
5. Post it!

Me (and JoanneMarie) = November 6.

Events:
1860: Abraham Lincoln elected to office.
1975: The Sex Pistols play their first concert.
2001: Winona Ryder convicted of shoplifting.

Births:
1970: Ethan Hawke
1972: Rebecca Romijn

Deaths:
1893: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Who’s next?

But Enough About Me by Jancee Dunn

But Enough About Me: A Jersey Girl\'s Unlikely Adventures Among the Absurdly Famous This was a fun book. In alternating chapters, Dunn gives tips on how to conduct an interview with fabulously famous people, and tells her life’s story. She is a Rolling Stone reporter and was a VJ on MTV2. The writing is really hilarious and she tells lots of fun anecdotes about interviews with famous people.

Holy Smokes! I’ve been tagged!

Thank you to Beth at BooksEtc.

5 things no one knows about me. I don’t think there are 5 things no one knows about me. Let’s see.

1. I really hate diet and exercise, but I also really hate being fat. What happened to those high school days when I could eat pizza, a kit kat and a coke everyday for lunch and still be rail thin?

2. I really like my job, but I hate going to work. I hate getting up and getting presentable and leaving the house. But once I’m there, it’s all good.

3. I am terrified that some horrible thing I’ve done as a parent will have my kids ending up in rehab.

4. I like the smell of bus exhaust. Not right up close or anything, but just, you know, busy city smell.

5. I play the piano (badly) for the church youth choir and I am certain I give the director high blood pressure because I miss notes, change tempo, and freeze up in performance. The only reason they still have me is because no one else will do it. sigh

So there you have it. 5 things people wish they still didn’t know about me.

Here’s a question.

So yesterday I had the heater repair man over to fix our heater. He came in, greeted the dog, and I showed him to the heater in question. Then I didn’t know what to do. Do I sit around in the room with no comfy chairs and watch him work (as if I have any idea what he’s doing)? Do I go away with my daughter to another part of the house? I really needed a nap, I almost fell asleep. I don’t want the guy to think I’m standing over him because I don’t trust him. I don’t want him to think I’m rude for not entertaining him while he is a guest in my house. I don’t want my daughter to be in his way.

What’s the protocol on this? Anyone?

Desolation Island by Patrick O’Brian

Desolation IslandI like to leave long gaps between reading these books because it is so enjoyable to remember how subtle O’Brian’s humor is. It’s so wonderful. If you aren’t paying attention, you might just miss that that paragraph is ironic.

So anyway, Aubrey and Maturin are off again. On a voyage to Botany Bay where they are to meet up with Captain Bligh (you remember him. The poor captain of the Bounty. The one all the sailors mutinied on. That’s the fella. He went on to Australia to be a Very Important Person.) And since they’re going to Australia anyway, how about taking along this prisoners we’re deporting? One of which is being transported for being an American spy. This interests Dr. Maturin very much because of his “moonlighting career”, if you know what I mean. If you don’t, you should read the series.

One complaint: you don’t even hear the name Desolation Island until the last 100 pages of the book when Jack decides to try to find it to fix a damaged ship. And at the end of the book, they’re not even off the Island. Oh, alright. I guess all the loose ends got tied up and the basic plot of the book got completed, but when the book starts out with the destination being Botany Bay, it doesn’t feel like it’s over until they get there. I know this is petty and unsportsmanlike. I know I should have figured out that Desolation Island is the REAL destination based on the title, regardless of what the plot says.

Anyway, it was still a funny, exciting, interesting book. I have yet to be disappointed in a book in this series; misleading plots and all.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention that this is book 2 for the From The Stacks challenge!

My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman

My Latest GrievanceI couldn’t resist. This book has been calling to me from the new books shelf at the library for days. I finally snagged it yesterday and stayed up until 2 am reading it (mostly because I was relatively sure schools and the library would be closed today for weather. I was right.)

The narrator is hilarious. She was raised in a dorm because her parents were houseparents for a dorm at a private girls college as well as professors in sociology and pscyhology. It’s the 70′s, and this 16 year old girl has her parents totally pegged. When she wants attention, she curls into the fetal position. She makes altruistic, non-judgmental statements to make them feel like they’ve done a good job parenting her. And she plays the “I thought we discussed everything together like equals” card whenever they don’t want to tell her something.

She finds out about her father’s first marriage just before the ex-wife turns up to be a housemother in another dorm on the same campus. The ex-wife is a grade A narcissist. Everything is about her, somehow. Even the weather is out to get her and only her. She has a fling with the president of the college, which ends disastrously, as is expected by everyone but her. She is a real piece of work.

I am officially a fan of Elinor Lipman. I know I’ve only read 2 of her books, but I just chose them at random and I don’t think they are her most celebrated work. I will not be averse to staying up late reading some more.

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them If you want to know the basic information in this book, here it is: If you want to write better, look to better writers to learn how. Especially Chekhov. If you want to hear it said better, read the book.

I’m not looking to be a writer. I just read the book because someone else said they liked it. I know, I know. Huge sheep. Anyway, I do like Prose’s voice. I may actually read some of her fiction, now.

Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal by David Konow

Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal This book gave me book hangover. I put on some Metallica and stayed up til 2 am reading this book. Michael called it headbanger’s ball my way.

Konow starts with Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, KISS, and moves forward. It started getting really interesting for me at about 1984, bcause that’s about the time my personal music consciousness kicked in. I remember a lot of what he was talking about. Of course, I was so young that I didn’t actually get all the gory details described here. Good to know those things. For example, I didn’t know Axl Rose showed us the psycho as early as the Appetite for Destruction tour when he refused to go onstage until a certain time because his psychics told him that was when the stars were in alignment and he would perform well. Sheesh!

The end is very depressing, but we all know how it turned out. I feel bad for all those guys with their huge egos that suddenly didn’t have anyone to stroke them. Here’s what’s interesting: Metallica comes out smelling like a rose, here. They’re so supportive of everyone and the least egotistical. So how do you explain Some Kind of Monster? I haven’t seen it, but isn’t it just a big therapy session full of egos? Whatever. The book didn’t make me like the music any less, unfortunately for those around me.

The Things That Matter by Edward Mendelson

The Things That Matter: What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say About the Stages of Life Lookie! Lookie! I finally finished another book. Sadly, it’s not for my From the Stacks Challenge. This one came from the library.

Anyway, Mendelson has chosen 7 books that say particular things about 7 stages of life. The seven books are:
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley – representing birth
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte – representing childhood.
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte – representing growth
Middlemarch – George Eliot – representing marriage.
Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Wolf – representing love.
To the Lighthouse – Virginia Wolf – representing parenthood
Between the Acts – Virginia Wolf – representing the future.

Mendelson says some interesting things. I’m not sure I agree with everything he stated, but it was definitely an interesting way of looking at things. It definitely got bogged down there in the Middlemarch section and I nearly gave it up. I was certain the Wolf stuff would be beyond me, but I actually quite enjoyed those parts. I’m not sure, though, that he completely justified having 3 Virginia Wolf books on the list.

I’m not sorry I read it. I am still mulling it over and probably will for awhile.

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Jude the Obscure (Barnes & Noble Classics)It took me months to get through the first half of this book. I finished the second half yesterday. When it finally picked up, it really went for it.

Jude is this working class regular guy with a dream of graduating from Christminster college and becoming a clergyman. Well, he accidentally gets sidetracked from this plan by a woman. And not a particularly nice woman at that. She is mean and critical and she finally leaves for Australia with her parents. Jude gets back on track to his original goal and moves to Christminster as a cathedral stone mason. There he meets his cousin Sue. He, of course, falls madly in love with her. She.. not so much.
Continue reading

2 books down!

Book by Book: Notes on Reading and LifeBook by Book by Michael Dirda. I don’t think I really understood most of this. It was pretty philosophical, and I’m ill. We all saw this coming, didn’t we. When Adrienne can’t say no to anyone, she runs and runs and runs until she bites the dust. I’m currently biting said dust in the form of an inner ear infection which makes me very dizzy. The good thing is, I can still read a bit before the dizziness puts me to sleep. This could explain why I only got this out of this book: Reading is an important part of life and should be used to enhance life, but should not replace experiencing life.

Duty and Desire: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman (Fitzwilliam Darcy Gentleman)I also finished my first book in the From the Stack Winter Challenge. Duty and Desire by Pamela Aidan is quite good. My library system turns up its nose at this series because it thinks it is fan fiction, but it is wrong. The three volumes of this series (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman is the series title) coincide with the three volumes of Pride and Prejudice, only they are told from the perspective of Mr. Darcy. We see what Darcy was doing and thinking. This second one takes place between when Mr. Darcy leaves Netherfield in November and when he goes to visit Lady Catherine in Kent in the spring. He goes to the castle of a friend for a house party where strange things ensue. It is a bit of an homage to Austen’s Northanger Abbey which is a satire on Gothic romances. I think it is well-researched and well-written. I can’t wait for number 3 to come out in January.

From the Stacks

Baaa Baaaa. I’m a sheep. I’m going to join everyone else in the From The Stacks Winter Challenge at Overdue Books. I will get a button up when I figure out how (read: when Michael does it for me).

The idea is to read 5 books that are already on your shelves that you’ve been meaning to read, but just haven’t got to yet. No substituting because you found a great deal at the bookstore. And no fair counting the public library shelves as your personal stacks. It started Nov. 1 and runs till Jan 31. Plenty of time there. I think.

So here’s my list:

Duty and Desire by Pamela Aidan – because I’m already reading it.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (because I may be the last person in the free world to read it.)

The Mauritius Command by Patrick O’Brian (unless I’ve already read that one, in which case I’ll read the next one, whatever that is).

Good day. Bad day.

Yesterday was a good day. It was my birthday, and my coworkers made me feel special all day long. Not to mention the Officer Hottie sighting. I didn’t have to cook dinner. I ordered pizza. I took my daughter to the grocery store and it wasn’t horribly crowded like it usually is on Monday nights. I order myself some birthday presents.

Today was not so good. The dog got me up at 5 am. Then, she got everyone else up, too. She was whining and trotting through the house acting worried. We followed her around. Whenever we went in the den, she’d wag her tail at us. Finally Michael realized that the pilot light on the heater had gone out, but that the heater was still blowing. We turned it off and went back to bed. For about 5 minutes before Michael’s alarm went off. sigh.

Michael got ready for work, but when he went out to his car, it wouldn’t start. It also couldn’t be jumped. Totally dead. He had to buy a battery (and a carbon monoxide detector for the house because we hate to rely on the dog too often). He finally got on to work, and I went to Physical Therapy. This could be a worse thing. It’s not painful, it just takes almost 2 hours every time. I had to get a slow leak fixed in my tire, and a new battery in my watch. My lovely day off was mostly spent running errands. I went to the bookstore to spend my gift certificate, but I couldn’t find a single thing I wanted. I was there for an hour and bought nothing. I’m like an animal off my feed. I had a terrible headache so I went to Target and bought sunglasses to replace the ones I scratched on the retreat. If I hadn’t started dinner in the crock pot before I left this morning, I’m sure we would have eaten P B & J for dinner. My sister did call me tonight for my birthday call. That was nice.

Anyway, my headache is still hanging around so I’m going to call this day done. I sure hope tomorrow is passable.