Showing posts with label musings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label musings. Show all posts

19 November 2016

Heterosexual Privilege; Or, Let's Stay Focused on the Cheese, Please

Usually, I just don't talk about my sexuality because, frankly, it's not all that interesting. The bears at my bird feeders are interesting. The Ann Cleeves novel I just finished was interesting. The chocolate orange bundt cake recipe I can't stop thinking about is interesting.

But, ohhhh, when I'm sitting in a classroom, ostensibly learning about cheese, and the instructor and several students start talking about how they can't stand a local openly gay television news anchor because he's "so gay, gay, GAY" about everything. They don't talk about how straight they are. Why does he keep bringing gay into everything.

That's when I want to say something about heterosexual privilege.

Unless I were to introduce myself to them as a bisexual, most people -- especially if I've referred to The Husband at any point in prior conversation -- would assume I was straight. Because, for most people, society is coded straight. The baseline for humanity is straight.

And you can either let straight people go along thinking that, or you can out yourself (over and over and over again ... and it can get damn tiring). Straight people don't have to make that choice. They are free to act straight all the time -- talking openly about their relationships and families -- and their straightness goes completely unnoticed. They never have to worry about being the only straight person in a cheese class, for example, because it never occurs to them that is even a possibility.

But the openly gay television news anchor? The most casual mention of his husband is going to draw attention. And if he talks about his spouse as often as I talk about mine then, BAM, he's waving his gayness all over the place and is Just. Too. Gay.

But I didn't want to start something. I just wanted to learn about cheese. So I kept my mouth shut. But the experience keeps nagging at me, so here I am, throwing words down and hoping to make sense out of a tangle of feelings.

05 November 2016

I'm Finally A Real Grown-Up Woman?

I'm 40 today which, to me, means I am finally A Real Grown-Up Woman. I have accrued enough years that I've become, in my head, grown-up by default. This probably seems weird and nonsensical to you, because you don't suffer from weird age-related identity issues, but it's a surprising relief to me.

Since leaving college, I frequently felt as if I was floundering around being Not A Real Grown-Up Woman. Like many of my age-mates, I did an undergraduate program and then moved onto grad school before starting a career -- acquiring a spouse, a mortgage, and various retirement accounts along the way. All suitably Real Grown-Up Things, right? But, ring-a-ding-ding, no kids. (And, no, I have never been so far gone in cat-love as to call those four-legged beasties my "children").

Let me be clear. I never wanted a child. But. I felt as if my friends with children (or who were trying for kids) had stepped into The Accepted Template For (Heteronormative) Adulthood and I was some kind sham. (Is this a problem shared by childless married men? Do they look at their male fiends becoming dads and think "I'm not properly an adult?").

But now I'm forty. No-one seriously expects me to have kids now, right? I'm officially in the Geeky Cat Lady subset of Real Grown-Up Woman? So break out the Hobnobs and the merlot. Let's get this unending Real Grown-Up party started.

18 June 2016

My Completely Random & Probably Overly-Optimistic Post-Surgery Reading List

I'm going into the hospital for surgery Monday and I'll probably be there for five days, then home recuperating for ten(ish) weeks. So I've been amassing reading materials. And padding out my library hold list. And stuffing my Amazon cart for when I run out of library things ... as if that is likely to happen.

Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, I hope to be pretty out of it (and totes comfy) for the first day or two, so I'm thinking of packing just a few "light" graphic novels like the first few volume's of Chi's Sweet Home as just-in-case reads. And then, when my brain is fully functioning and needs distracting from my body's new reality (who stole my asshole? fml), I have this lovely list of totally random, but appealing titles to keep me going:

  • Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam
  • The Cry of the Owl by Patricia Highsmith
  • Desert of the Heart by Jane Rule
  • Ei8ht, Volume 1: Outcast by Rafael Albuquerque et al
  • Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld w/ illus. by Joe Sumner
  • The Feminist Utopia Project: Fifty-seven Visions of a Wildly Better Future edited by Alexandra Brodsky & Rachel Kauder Nalebuff
  • The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig
  • Groot by Jeff Loveness w/ illus. by Brian Kesinger
  • Half World by Hiromi Goto w/ illus. by Jillian Tamaki
  • The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded by Jim Ottaviani w/ illus. by Leland Purvis
  • In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
  • Kaptara, Volume 1: Fear Not, Tiny Alien by Chip Zdarsky et al
  • Life list: A Woman's Quest for the World's Most Amazing Birds by Olivia Gentile
  • Notorious Victoria: The Life of Victoria Woodhull, Uncensored by Mary Gabriel
  • Paper Girls, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan et al
  • A Silent Voice, Volume 1 by Yoshitoki Oima [translation & lettering by Steven LeCroy]
  • Small g: A Summer Idyll by Patricia Highsmith
  • Snuff by Terry Pratchett
  • You Deserve a Drink: Boozy Misadventures & Tales of Debauchery by Mamrie Hart

11 June 2016

Everything Will Probably Be Okay

Saw one of my doctors yesterday and he was not thrilled by my abrupt spike in blood pressure -- numbers higher than we'd seen in two years -- so he had me do a self-assessment and it's obvious my stress levels need to come way the fuck down. That's not exactly what he said, but that's definitely the gist of it.

I'm having surgery in nine days. Nine. Days. Nine. A completion proctocolectomy which basically means that the rectal remnants I retained after my partial proctocolectomy for ulcerative colitis way back in 1998 are coming out. Do they absolutely need to come out rightnowthisminute? Probably not. But I am at an increased risk for several cancers, I already have a history of fistulas, and I'm simply tired of the day-to-day care (and worry) I'm spending on a part of me that doesn't have a useful function, anymore. My rectum is currently about as useful as an appendix ... which I don't have, because it came out during the partial proctocolectomy.

I've been slowly but steadily headed toward this surgery for months now ... so I ought to have had plenty of time to get over myself and not succumb to anxiety or stress myself out. I've done the research. I've had a bunch of tests. I've spoken with my surgeon repeatedly about what could happen during the surgery. I thought I was pretty chill about the whole thing.

And then I thought about all the lists I've been making for myself -- things to get done at work and home before I go under the knife. Things to read. Things to cook. Things to clean. Things to reorganize. Things to buy. So. Many. Things. It's clear I've simply channeled my surgery anxiety away into every other part of my life. Hooray.

So. I'm having surgery. Big, kinda scary surgery. Bad things could happen. However:
  1. My surgeon knows what she's about.
  2. I am currently in good health.
  3. My hospital has acceptable ratings for the things I care about.
Everything will probably be okay.

Everything will probably be okay.

And, for the love of god, stop writing lists.

30 May 2016


I guess we should talk about the elephant in the room, which is ... what have I done to this blog? For a few years now, I’ve maintained two thematically separate blogs -- Stuff & Nonsense (books) and Savory Tart (food) -- because I thought that’s what I was "supposed to do." For years, I’d had one home-grown, home-hosted blog where I talked about everything and anything I fancied. But then I READ THINGS ABOUT BLOGGING. Which, I now know, was a silly thing for a dyed-in-the-wool hobbyist to do.

Well-meaning “better blogging” articles suggested my blog should have one unique focus or theme, that generalized lifestyle blogs were passé and no-one would ever read my (mediocre) blog if I kept going as I was going. Of course, my principle error was in believing I wanted to popularize my blog and get better stats by attracting more readers ... when I'd only ever written for my own highly personal lolz. But, still, I was very "OMG, I need two blogs" and hied myself off to BlogSpot.

I tried to do all the "right" things -- I participated in weekly memes, monthly challenges, and the like. I did product reviews, tried to maintain a regular blogging schedule, worked at making my blogs attractive. In late 2014, I took what felt like a big step and registered the domain, because "real bloggers" don't use BlogSpot. I also started a Facebook Page for Savory Tart around that time, because I thought I needed one of those.

That was, taken altogether, just too much. Too many balls to juggle. Too many plates to spin. I've felt increasingly UGH about everything blog-related over the past year and I don't want to feel UGH about blogging. So I'm paring down -- no Savory Tart and no Facebook Page. Twitter only when it's amusing. No regular memes or challenges, except when they're genuinely interesting. And only this one blog, which will remain an entirely pleasant diversion. I do enough unfun real world things as it is. Why should my hobbies include anything that does not make me wholly happy?

tl;dr ... I started out blogging about whatever interested me and that's what I'm going back to. Book talk and cooking adventures will continue, but you can also expect more cat pictures and complaints about gardening.

12 January 2015

Holding Up The Books

I've been rearranging our books. The graphics had occupied our living room shelves since we moved in, but while the collection had continued to expand, the amount of shelf space had (coincidentally) shrunk and now we have far more books than space.

Meanwhile, we've been buying less and less nonfiction with each passing year as The Husband only reads poker books and pretty much everything I want to read (excluding some queer and feminist history) is available though my library consortium or state-wide interlibrary loan system. So the nonfiction shelves had lots of empty space.

Nonfiction in their new home with enough room for expansion (& Swarovski)

The answer was obvious, no? Swap the collections -- graphics moved into the library/den and nonfiction moved into the living room. Everyone ended up with just the right amount of space. Huzzah. (And the swap only took something like six months of thinking about plus two days to actually move materials).

Graphics in their new home with plenty of width, but maybe not enough height?

And it works. Mostly. Except the graphics kept falling over because they needed bookends. Our fiction and nonfiction collections are held up by fairly sturdy low-profile black wire bookends, but I knew those weren't going to hold up the graphics. I needed something sturdy and heavy ... something like a brick.

Exactly like a brick.

Enter Lindsay and Michelle of The Gnaked Gnome, crafters of beautiful decorated brick bookends. I bought two ready-made bookends -- Wonder Woman and Iron Man -- plus custom bookends of Aquaman and She-Hulk. I cannot tell you how much I adore these bookends. Being brick, they're extremely sturdy and there's simply no way -- except, maybe, with help from a cat -- my books aren't going to stay upright. Each brick is fully decorated with no exposed bits, which means I can rotate them around as a please to show off, say, the spine or back cover when I tire of the front. Not that I'm ever going to tire of them, mind you.

(I do have to wonder what the postie thought as she schlepped the box of bookends up the driveway to my door ... "gosh! This thing is heavy as a box of bricks!")

21 November 2014

Thoughts About Where I Get Books & Why

I had a conversation with a friend recently about how much, if at all, customer reviews on sites like Amazon influence the purchase of books and what we're looking for when we read a customer review. And that conversation quickly got my mind wandering off on a tangent, thinking about something I'd never really considered -- that I don't browse online bookstores the way I do physical bookstores and, thanks to the Internet and libraries, I don't really browse bookstores either. I'm generally there to buy a specific object. Huh. Has The Internet (and libraries) "ruined" book shopping for me?

My library consortium is large -- more than thirty libraries currently belong -- with fairly generous lending practices. While some pesky libraries are rather stingy (shame on you for not being team players!) about lending their materials, by and large, I can get whatever I want through the consortium. And if I can't get material through the consortium, the state-wide inter-library loan system is available to me. I place a special request and within two weeks (more or less) the item is in my hands!

When I was growing up, my town library was (and still, I am told, is) quite small and underwhelming so my mother would take me to the library in a neighboring town. It was certainly bigger, but nothing like what is available to me now. I used to have to buy books at shops because there was no other way of getting what I wanted and, because there was no Internet or book journals to tell me about books I might like, I spent a lot of time at the library and bookstores browsing for what I might want to read next. And, of course, I was limited to what was available to me locally.

Now, of course, information about new or forthcoming (or simply old and fascinating books) is constantly flowing over and around me. I can't help but be influenced by it. And, yes, I have a slightly unfair professional advantage -- as a librarian who does a lot of collection development I have developed a good eye for spotting interesting stuff -- but quite a lot of the bookish information I receive still comes from my own personal interests. I don't need to pay attention to Amazon(etc) reviews because I already know all about the book and I'm only at Amazon(etc) because I can't get the book through my library consortium or inter-library loan system and STILL want to read it. Or it's one of the few authors I love so much I feel I must buy their works, regardless of how easy it would be to get them from the library.

(Anyway, regarding the Facebook conversation, we decided customer reviews don't really influence us at all and a longer customer review is even less likely to influence us than a shorter one ... because we don't go to Amazon(etc) for "proper long" reviews. We want ratings and succinct reviews of 100-150 words. But mostly we're there to buy a book we already know we want, customer reviews be damned).

15 August 2014

Boston Comic Con, We Loved You

We went to Boston Comic Con, because that's what nerds do when they're at a loss as to how to best celebrate their fifteenth wedding anniversary. An impersonal convention center packed to the rafters with artists and sweaty fans is clearly the most romantic option.

Well, maybe not romantic, but AWESOME.

Dementedly happy people are determined to have fun.

I'm calling Boston Comic Con our first proper con. We'd done the inaugural New England Webcomics Weekend in 2009, but that was a tiny thing, and ConnectiCon in 2011, but that wasn't nearly as big or as much fun as we hoped. So, yeah, based on bigness and levels of fun, Boston is our first con.

We drove up Friday, with plenty of stops along the way as we weren't hitting the Con until Saturday and wanted to be both well-rested and totally chillaxed before arriving. So we stopped for photo ops with a giant missile mock-up at Goddard Park in Auburn, continued on to Helen's Bakery Shop in Worcester for Bismark pastries (as close to cream cakes as a British person can get here), then ate those pastries at Bancroft Tower before walking amongst the wildflowers at Garden in the Woods.

So we were totally mellow when we drove into Boston ... and then WHY DID NO-ONE WARN US ABOUT THE TRAFFIC TUNNELS OF TERROR? But, hey, we eventually escaped the tunnels, found our hotel, and ambled along the Boston Harborwalk before dining on beautiful steaks and then heading on to the convention center to swap our tickets for wristbands.

Saturday dawned bright and beautiful. When we scooted, a little behind schedule, over to the convention center we saw alarmingly large masses of costumed people waiting to buy tickets. Happily, as we had our wristbands on, we were able to swan right in. And the Con was fabulous at 10:30 in the morning! I ran around like a crazed fangirl, getting signatures from all my favorite artists and writers, and generally gushed at them about how awesome they are.

Hopefully, I didn't freak anyone out. In my head, I'm always "Be cool, be cool. Say something smart about their work" and then I say something ridiculous or can't remember the name of the character I would like drawn in my book. Danielle Corsetto was really nice about it, saying a lot of people can't remember Clarice's name, but if I could have slunk away somewhere to die then I would have.

Unfortunately, the convention center was getting pretty packed and there were limited spaces to slink to. We tried standing in line for the Image Comics Panel, but after twenty minutes decided I needed fresh air more than panels and skived off outside with a bunch of sweaty cosplayers. Then we came back inside, joined the massive queue for Queer Comics Panel ... and was turned away just as we reached the door. There was no room left, unfortunately. As a general thing, that's awesome -- That many people interested in queer comics? Fab! -- but it sucked on a deeply personal level.

So I comforted myself by hunting down Gail Simone's table and getting her to sign my copy of Killer Princesses, because Gail Simone is the bomb and I have the BIGGEST bookish crush on her (I know we both have other people in our lives, but surely we could run away for a weekend and talk about her writing?)

Unsurprisingly, I returned from Boston Comic Con with quite pile of loot, but that's a post in its own right and will have to wait for another day.

29 June 2014

Shirking, Guilt, & Not-Blogging

I've been away from here for a while and OH MY GODS THE GUILT I FEEL. Which is ridiculous, really, but there it is. I feel guilty when I neglect my hobbies and yet a hobby is supposed to be something I do in my leisure time for my own pleasure. If I have no leisure time or the leisure time I do have is taken up with other hobbies that should be fine. I should not find myself twitching when it's once again Tuesday and I haven't done a Top Ten post or it's Wednesday and I have no non-food pics to be Wordless with. And I certainly shouldn't be feeling depressed and guilty because it's been weeks since I posted about a book (or even read a book that wasn't work-related). But I do. Oh, THE FEELS.

It's not as if I don't have a perfectly adequate excuse. I've been super busy with work, darlings, with totally awesome projects like building a TARDIS-shaped Awesome Box, organizing a Whovian social, and doing tons of social media for my library system. Also, I had to lead the June book discussion and, you know, that is apparently the best way to get me to stop reading. Full stop. (Who thought it was a good idea for me to host a library book discussion? Do I look like someone capable of a leading fifteen elderly ladies in a measured and thoughtful discussion of literary work?)

Every time I picked up a novel that wasn't The Beekeeper's Apprentice, I felt both guilty and increasingly agitated -- as if I was back in high school, having spent the weekend shirking my chemistry assignment for an essay on The Scarlet Letter (totes 'd this novel) -- and had a great deal of trouble getting into (and staying) in the novel. Frequently, it seemed the harder I tried to focus on the novel, the more slippery my focus became. One afternoon, quite without knowing how it happened, I went from reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice, to putting holds on eight books about gardening for bees and other pollinators!

And now I have to get those read, too. And design and plant a garden. Because I have time for that. Surely.

Of course, every time I picked up The Beekeeper's Apprentice, I was extremely aware I was not reading it for my own pleasure but out of obligation. I would be expected to discuss the novel Rationally. Like an Educated Person. With an understanding of Plot and Theme and Metaphor and crapcrapcrap ... the pressure I put on myself. Pointlessly.

Book Discussion went fine. Sympathetic minds met in great harmony and accord. Excellent questions were raised. Well argued opinions given. And everyone agreed the resolution to the Miss Donleavy affair was pure bollocks. So, yay! A success!

And now I can go back to reading books for my own pleasure! Although, since everyone seemed to have such a good time, it's not unlikely I will be asked to lead another one in the fall. Pah. Months away. Plenty of time to read those twenty-three library books quick-stepping toward their due dates.

02 January 2014

Failing At Reading Challenges; Or, I Said I'd Do What Now?

It occurs to me I was registered for two reading challenges in 2013 and I see, as I foretold last January, I did indeed start out strong with regular posts and then petered out after a few months. At least, that was so with the 2013 Graphic Novel Challenge.

I didn't read anything for the E-book Challenge. Which isn't to say I haven't been reading things on my Kindle. I just never wrote them up to count them against the challenge and now it is too late. Also, I've added about 20 new titles to my Kindle since starting the Challenge so am in even worse straits. Surprise.

Books I actually read for the 2013 Graphic Novel Challenge:
  1. Dawn of the Arcana, Volume One
  2. Twin Spica, Volume One
  3. Twin Spica, Volume Two
  4. Lola: A Ghost Story
  5. Adventure Time with Fiona & Cake, Issue One
  6. The Drops of God, Volume One
  7. Chi's Sweet Home, Volume Eight
  8. Yotsuba&!, Volume One
  9. Polly & the Pirates, Volume Two
  10. Ignition City
  11. Three Shadows
That's eleven out of twenty-four. Fabulous. Simply fabulous.

No challenges in 2014!

04 October 2013

Purging the Books (Say It Isn't So)

We're talking about (finally!) repainting our ground floor and that means moving furniture and other things, like books, out of the way. And that means it's a "great time" to cull our book collection to the point that it actually fits our shelves. The rest are going to the library's Friends sale.

Oh, it's necessary and I've been doing it in dribs and drabs pretty much since we moved in five years ago, but it's hard. I like books, you know. The Husband likes keeping things. Between the two of us, it's a wonder our house isn't filled to the rafters.

I keep putting books bags and then I find myself eyeballing the bags, thinking "hmm, I think I'd actually like to re-read The Once and Future King" or "maybe, I finally will read Gimpel the Fool." If I moved it, unread, from our old house in 2008 and I still haven't read it then it really should go. And if, for some mad reason, I really do finally want to read it then I will just borrow it from the library.

Culling our fiction isn't that hard, because I'd already removed a bunch of never-going-to-read-and-I-feel-so-guilty-about novels last spring in a sudden fit of housekeeping. No, the hard bit is purging the nonfiction. I'm probably never going to crack open Victorian Women Poets: An Anthology again and yet I can't part with it, because I have such fond memories of the course and the nun who taught it (also, Charlotte Mew is the bomb). Ditto all the feminist literary criticism and gender theory. Purging them feels too much like purging part of my self.

But, honestly, I'm never going to reread them. Plural Desires, you really should go. (Please note I've had no difficulty culling the texts I used in library school. There's no nostalgia there, just an awareness of cost and a certain annoyance over lack of relevancy).

Also, do I need three editions of Leaves of Grass? Probably not, but which one should I part with? The one I bought in high school and baptized with pool water one hot summer? The abridged pocket edition I bought in college, half drunk on Whitman? The exquisite 150th anniversary edition with its French flaps and foil-embossing that I just like to caress?

21 April 2013

Happy Birthday, Charlotte Bronte

"I would always rather be happy than dignified."

I added a little whatchamacallit to iCal that tells me which famous authors were born on a given day. It's dangerous, because it distracts me from the reading I'm supposed to be doing by sending me down The Rabbit Hole of Nostalgia ... "Charlotte Bronte's birthday? How long since I last read Jane Eyre? Should read it again! Where is my copy? How old is my copy? I was eleven? Eleven!"

To my surprise, I see I no longer own my much water-stained (too much reading in the bath) and worn childhood copy of Jane Eyre. It was a 1962 Campus Classic Scholastic edition (purchased in the late 80s) and it was simply ugly.

But it was mine and I loved the story between its covers with all the obsessive love only a eleven-year-old girl can bring to the table. I was totes in love with Jane/Helen. I didn't know what shipping was (did it even have a name, way back then?) but I shipped them hard. Oh, I still wanted Mr. Rochester to be around. All dark and unhandsome and grumbly. And let's not forget lovely Miss Temple! But it was Jane and Helen I built my Jane Eyre universe on. (Which is a bit ridiculous, considering how little Jane and Helen there is to the novel, and how hard I also crushed on Mr. Rochester ... I was eleven, I was in love with everything and everyone all the time, for pete's sake).

And now, I think I need to go forth and acquire a new copy of Jane Eyre and, maybe, her other novels because I've never actually read anything else by her. Oh, I meant to. But why read Shirley when Jane Eyre was a time-tested pleaser?

01 January 2013

Therefore, Be It RESOLVED

Too many books! Too. Many. Books. Toomanybooks. TOO MANY. Books for my birthday. Books for Christmas. Books unread from last year's birthday and Christmas. Incalculable free Kindle downloads. Half-forgotten Amazon pre-orders. A steady trickle of Kickstarter projects. And the library books! Oh, the library books.

Library cards are a gateway drug leading to rampant bibliophilia and book hoarding.

So I've signed up for two reading challenges to help me get through my enormous pile of unreads! Admittedly, I don't have the best record when it comes to reading challenges. I'll start out strong with regular posts and then peter out after a few months. Oh, I'll intend to catch up, but guilt and ennui will overrule the best of intentions and I'll fail so hard. However, neither of the challenges I'm signed up for require anything more strenuous than reading books and linking to my reviews, so ... success in 2013?

To the challenges!

Challenge the First: The 2013 Graphic Novel Reading Challenge! This challenge is being hosted by Nicola. I'm signed on for Advanced Level 2 of this challenge and am supposed to read 24 books, 12 of which need to come from these categories:
  1. manga: The Drops of God, Volume 1
  2. superhero: Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection
  3. classic adaptation: Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel
  4. memoir: Marzi: A Memoir
  5. fantasy: The Last Unicorn
  6. translated from a foreign language: Three Shadows
  7. a single-issue comic book:
  8. science-fiction: Ignition City, Volume 1
  9. crime or mystery: Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story
  10. fairytale or mythology: Fairy Quest: Outlaws
  11. children's book: Zita the Spacegirl, Book One: Far From Home
  12. anthology: No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics
  13. Womanthology
  14. Courtney Crumrin, Volume 1
  15. Fun Home
  16. Polly and the Pirates, Volume 2
  17. Unterzakhn
  18. Greek Street, Volume 1
  19. Greek Street, Volume 2
  20. Emma
  21. Road to Oz (preordered -- out April 2013)
  22. Tank Girl, Volume 1 (remastered edition)
  23. Chi's Sweet Home, Volume Whatever I'm On
  24. Underground
This challenge runs from 1/1 through 12/31. I'll tag each post "graphic novel challenge 2013" and I may or may not create a page for the challenge, grouping all the posts together. Click here to sign up and get more information on this challenge.

Challenge the Second: The 2013 Ebook Challenge, because I keep downloading free ebooks to my Kindle and then not reading them since there are so many interesting physical books right in front of me. This challenge is hosted by Workaday Reads. I'm attempting the "Floppy disk" level which means I'll read 5 e-books:
  1. Charlotte Collins: A Continuation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice by Jennifer Becton
  2. Ridiculous by D.L. Carter
  3. The Inconvenient Duchess by Christine Merrill
  4. The Exploits of Lydia by Angela Darcy
  5. One Thread Pulled: The Dance With Mr. Darcy by Diana J. Oaks
Challenge runs from 1/1 through 12/31. I'll tag each post "Ebook Challenge 2013" and, as with the above, I may or may not create a page blahblahblah. Click here to sign up and get more information on this challenge.

16 October 2012

Fun With Furniture Pads

So the little rubber feet on my MacBook Pro have been falling off one by one. I usually use my MacBook on my lap, not at a table, so don't really notice the loss except when I pick it up and carry it, open, around the house. Then my fingers invariably find the empty sockets and can't stop touching them.

New Feet For Old

I looked into replacing the feet, but my MacBook is old now and well out of warranty. Being a rebel (or simply parsimonious), I don't have AppleCare. Replacement feet cost $12.95 (+ shipping) for a set of four and installing them involves unscrewing the bottom of my MacBook case and doing things with adhesive. As I am to be trusted neither with screwdrivers nor with adhesive, I went the caveman DYI route and bought some felt furniture pads.

New Laptop Feets

While I was only missing two feet, I slapped the pads over all the feet (or empty sockets) for uniformity's sake. The back, which still had the original feet, is now slightly elevated above the front, but it doesn't bother me. I don't know if these feet will stay on, but they've survived the first week just fine. Anyway, at $5 for 48, I don't really care that much.

New Feet For Old

(I know this is a ridiculous thing to be proud of, but I can't help feeling mighty pleased with myself).

09 October 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Rewind

This week's Top 10 Tuesday is a rewind -- we pick a past topic that we've missed or want to repeat. I went with “Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes,” because it brings back fond memories of my nerdy girlhood when I would inscribe my favorite quotes in purple ink in a spiral notebook especially chosen for that purpose and carefully kept secret, because No-One Else Properly Appreciated Literature.

*pities her parents and teachers*
  1. “And he went on eating his marmalade as though everything were natural.”― Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
  2. “Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one's life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one's side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps ... perhaps ... love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath. ” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
  3. “Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.” ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
  4. “Roses are for love. Not silly sweet-hearts' love but the love that makes you and keeps you whole, love that gets you through the worst your life'll give you and that pours out of you when you're given the best instead.” ― Robin McKinley, Rose Daughter
  5. “She had always suffered from a vague restlessness, a longing for adventure that she told herself severely was the result of reading too many novels when she was a small child.” ― Robin McKinley, The Blue Sword
  6. “She should have done science, not spent all her time with her head in novels. Novels gave you a completely false idea about life, they told lies and they implied there were endings when in reality there were no endings, everything just went on and on and on.” — Kate Atkinson, Case Histories
  7. “The odd thing about people who had many books was how they always wanted more.” ― Patricia A. McKillip, The Bell at Sealey Head
  8. “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
  9. “We have a name for your disease. We call it a hyper-aesthetic one. You have been encouraged to over-indulge yourself in literature; and have inflamed your organs of fancy.” ― Sarah Waters, Fingersmith [bold is mine, because I just love that phrase so very much]
  10. “Words, he decided, were inadequate at best, impossible at worst. They meant too many things. Or they meant nothing at all.” ― Patricia A. McKillip, In The Forests of Serre

28 August 2012

All The Moonstones

Like any good fangirl, when I find something I like, I can’t help overdoing it. And so it goes with The Moonstone! It was not enough to have an ebook -- no, I needed a physical copy of my own. And then the audiobook. And two of the films. While I drew a line at the computer game, if I could find an excuse to cosplay a steampunk version of The Moonstone, I’d do that too!

Many Formats of The Moonstone

I bought the CreateSpace (an Amazon subsidiary) edition because the cover is so darn pretty and the price, 9.95 USD, was quite reasonable. Also, it’s a very straight-forward edition -- just the text of the novel with no scholarly prefaces to distract or disappoint. I don't know if all CreateSpace reprints are as attractive as The Moonstone, but if I need any more bog-standard classic reprints, I'll be checking them out.

It was slightly ridiculous to borrow the films as early as I did considering I couldn't watch them until the end of The Moonstone readalong. But I had them. Oh, my precious, I had them. And the readalong ends this week, so I know what I shall be doing this weekend -- snipping rag quilts and watching various versions of Sergeant Cuff come to the wrong/right conclusions.

There are several film versions of The Moonstone, but I’ve only been able to track down two. One, the 1996 BBC production with Greg Wise and Keeley Hawes, came through my library system. The other, the 1972 BBC production with Robin Ellis and Kathleen Byron, came from Netflix.

And, lastly, there’s the Tantor audiobook of The Moonstone I’m listening to in my car. It's read by James Langton and, while his Godfrey isn't as plummy as the Godfrey in my head, he does a good job with the others. Indeed, his Betteredge and Clack are spot-on.

14 August 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Romances That Would Make It

This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks us to list ten book romances do we think would make it in the Real World. I admit I had a hard time with this list, because it kept turning into “Fictional Relationships I Wish I Wasn’t Just Making Up In My Head” like Jane/Helen, Louisa/Jupe, etc.

My list is short three romances and full of the "friends to lovers" trope. I make no apologies as that is one of the very few romantic tropes I tolerate well:
  1. Anne & Gilbert, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne series (founded on friendship and a deep understanding of each other, I’d bet they’d make it)
  2. Betsy & Joe, Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy & Joe and Betsy’s Wedding (again, friendship and deep understanding)
  3. Bridget Jones & Mark Darcy, Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones: The End of Reason (because ... respect, understanding, tolerance, humor, yadda, yadda).
  4. Lancelot, Guinevere, & Arthur, Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D'Arthur (An open marriage and therapy would save them a lot of misery and I can imagine them happy in 2012)
  5. Margaret Hale & John Thornton, Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South (they balance/support/complement each other so well that it is hard to believe they couldn’t succeed in the real world)
  6. Nan Astley & Florence Banner, Sarah Waters’s Tipping the Velvet (friendship, understanding, empathy, blahblahblah, and a change in law/societal norms)
  7. Stephen Blackpool & Rachel, Charles Dickens's Hard Times (I want to believe they'd find real happiness today, in a world different from the one they were trapped in, but then the poor are always trod on, aren't they?)
Okay, that’s only seven but that’s the best I can do. Who are three more you think would make it?

31 July 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Switching Places

I'm jumping on the Top Ten Tuesday bandwagon to answer this week's question “What top ten characters would you switch places with for 24 hours?” Rightnowthisminute (because I can’t promise forever when the world is full of so many books I haven’t yet read and heroines I haven't encountered), these are my ten:
  1. Beauty from Robin McKinley’s Beauty, her first retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”
  2. Deanna Wolfe from Prodigal Summer (live in the woods, study wildlife, and have great sex? Yes, please!)
  3. Emma from the fantastic maid manga Emma
  4. Harry Crewe from The Blue Sword (The sword, the horse, the king!)
  5. Jane from Greenwitch (or Silver on the Tree, but then I would totally rewrite it so no-one forgets what happens and she/I get it on with Bran)
  6. Jill (aka Brangwen, Lyssa, Gweniver, Branoic, Morwen, Branna) from Katherine Kerr’s Deverry Cycle
  7. Jill Pole from the Chronicles of Narnia
  8. Laura Ingalls from By The Shores of Silver Lake or Little Town on the Prairie
  9. Miss Lavendar Lewis from Anne of Avonlea (she’s just such a lovely character and Echo Lodge is so delightful)
  10. Tiffany Aching from The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky

26 July 2012

Bunnicula Nostalgia

"Okay," he said, "this is it. I'm sorry I had to go this far, but if they'd listened, this wouldn't have been necessary." He dragged the steak across the floor and laid it across the inert bunny. Then with his paws, he began to hit the steak.
"Are you sure this what they mean, Chester?"
"Am I anywhere near his heart?" he asked.
"It's hard to tell," I said. "All I can really see are his nose and his ears. You know, he's really sort of cute."
Chester was getting that glint in his eyes again. He was pounding away at the steak, harder and harder.
I first encountered Howard, Chester, and the mysterious bun-bun in their midst at an elementary school book fair. Bunnicula's cover art immediately won me over and I remember rushing to the payment table to fork over my hard-won allowance as quickly as possible. Not for me the chose-your-own-adventure books are the smelly pens of multi-hued ink, no. I must have Bunnicula.

I gobbled Bunnicula down in one sitting and then reread it over and over again. At some point, I must have figured out there were more books about Bunnicula out there in the world, waiting for me to read, because I clearly remember relentlessly begging my mother for an advance on my allowance and a trip to Little Professor so I purchase Howliday Inn.

Oh, I loved these books! And even now, as I reread them, the stories still hang together well and remain as funny, clever, and smart as I remember. The deadpan narration of Harold the dog, the wild accusations of Chester the cat, the Monroe family's amusing interactions, and simple silent adorabs of Bunnicula -- all these things make for an excellent read.

And there are four more books after The Celery Stalks At Midnight! How did I not know this? I guess, by the time Nighty Nightmare came out, I was already in junior high and well into a hardcore Dark is Rising bender I would not surface from until high school. Vampire bunnies might have lost their charm?

Well, that doesn't stop me from catching up with Bunnicula now. My library consortium has all the Bunnicula books on audio and I look forward meeting Howie again and seeing what new mischief Chester will get us into.

23 July 2012

Still Complaining About Hard Times

Yes, I’m still slogging my way through Hard Times. I’ve actually read further than I’ve listened to so I’ve been giving my eyes a rest this week while my ears catch up ... and, either way, the novel is one frustrating chunk of literature. There’s simply no charm to it. And precious little humor to relieve the novel’s horrible, depressing grind. To be honest, I’m not even sure the absurd bits are supposed to be humorous.

Mrs. Sparsit whizzing down the banisters? Probably supposed to funny:

She was a most wonderful woman for prowling about the house. How she got from story to story was a mystery beyond solution. A lady so decorous in herself, and so highly connected, was not to be suspected of dropping over the banisters or sliding down them, yet her extraordinary facility of locomotion suggested the wild idea. Another noticeable circumstance in Mrs. Sparsit was, that she was never hurried. She would shoot with consummate velocity from the roof to the hall, yet would be in full possession of her breath and dignity on the moment of her arrival there. Neither was she ever seen by human vision to go at a great pace.

Mrs. Sparsit wittering on about how Bitzer the Pale doesn’t snore so much as choke? I have no idea. I think it’s supposed to be funny, but it just makes me want to howl with annoyance. Bitzer could not possibly sound like a Dutch clock. And why does Mrs Sparsit have to be so round-about in her answer? It's a nice display of self-aggrandizement on her part, I'd guess:

“Mrs. Sparsit, ma’am, you say you have heard him snore?”
“Sir,” returned Mrs. Sparsit, “I cannot say that I have heard him precisely snore, and therefore must not make that statement. But on winter evenings, when he has fallen asleep at the table, I have heard him, what I should prefer to describe as partially choke. I have heard him on such occasions produce sounds of a nature similar to what may be sometimes heard in Dutch clocks. Not,” said Mrs. Sparsit, with a lofty sense of giving strict evidence, “that I would convey any imputation on his moral character. Far from it. I have always considered Bitzer a young man of the most upright principle; and to that I beg to bear my testimony.”

A Dutch clock sounds like this, by the way:

So, maybe Mrs Sparsit remains annoying, but the scene is funny in its absurdity. However, Mrs. Sparsit sneaking through the woods as she spies on Louisa? There's nothing about it that isn't sinister or creepy. She willingly sheds all the vestiges of propriety and class to skulk about in the rain, delighting in Louisa’s Terrible Downfall. She seems the very caricature of a wicked witch by the end -- half mad with triumph, covered in cobwebs and caterpillars, with mud all over her skirts, and thoroughly soaked by the rain. It’s quite over the top, even for Hard Times -- a novel that likes to hit every point as hard and as unsubtly as possible.

If it sounds like I’m picking on Mrs. Sparsit, it’s because I am. Ridiculous and wicked as she is, Mrs. Sparsit is the most comic character in Hard Times! No doubt, some may find nervy Mrs. Gradgrind humorous as well, but she’s not in the novel nearly as much as Mrs. Sparsit and seems to me more meant to be her husband’s foil -- all fluttery nerves to his strict facts -- than a comic character there to soften the novel’s deadening grind.

You know what Hard Times really needs? Lolcats! Or a drinking game. Or both. For every Hard Times lolcat you don’t find on the Internetz, take a drink. As there are no Hard Times lols, you'll soon be as drunk as Mrs. Blackpool.