Friday, January 16, 2009


Because I don’t have kids of my own, it’s important that I indoctrinate a love of the good things in my nieces and nephews. My two oldest are steps and they were too old to really change by the time I got there. In fact, last time I saw them they were making fun of me for having a Spider-Man antenna topper and a Hellboy dashboard saint on my car. Apparently, that’s not cool. But, despite my lack of input, those two are pretty cool on their own and read a lot of the same comics and listen to the same music as I do, so we can count them as successes, even if I had nothing to do with it.

The others…well, I still have some work to do there. My 16 year old niece is doing ok on her own. She’s a bit of a punk/goth/slacker and I am all right with that. She likes horror movies and Harry Potter and…Led Zeppelin…ok, that needs some work but you know, she’s 16 (sorry Janet, I just don’t love the Zep). She’s also from my husband’s side of the family so that explains a lot of deficiencies.

Now, a while back when the (now) 16 year old nephew was starting to read a lot for pleasure, I tried to pick out the books I had loved at his age. I gave him The Phantom Tollbooth, Trumpet of the Swan, stuff that I really liked at 9 or so. And he got it. I don’t know if he liked all the books, but he got the concept and I think he appreciated it. A few years later, we were talking about music and he was just starting to find his personal musical…feet. So I decided I would make him a cd of song that I liked and THOUGHT he would enjoy. Now, look, I do want to say that I very desperately want to be the “cool auntie”. I want him, and all the kids to say, “Oh wow, you like the Sex Pistols? That’s awesome!” but I don’t want to be the auntie that tries to hard to look cool and just looks foolish. I don’t want to be auntie mutton trying to dress as auntie lamb, as it were. So, right, I made him a cd, I tried to mix it up a bit, older newer, rock-ish, emo-ish, punk-ish. And he was…well…unimpressed. I don’t think he HATED it and hated me, I just didn’t hit the right buttons on that one. Here’s the playlist:

Crooked Teeth --Death Cab For Cutie
Hands Open--Snow Patrol
All Sparks--Editors
Gone Daddy Gone --Gnarls Barkley
Dance Like A Monkey--New York Dolls
Baby Goes to 11—Superdrag
Girlfriend--Matthew Sweet
World Shut Your Mouth--Julian Cope & The Teardrop Explodes
Spirit In The Sky--Norman Greenbaum
Mass Romantic--The New Pornographers
La Mer--Django Reinhardt
Slow Train--Lemon Jelly
Way To Blue--Nick Drake
Ballet Lane—Underworld
The Rainbow--Apples In Stereo
Eaten By The Monster Of Love—Sparks
Like Wow Wipeout--Hoodoo Gurus
(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding—
Elvis Costello & The Attractions
That Old Pair Of Jeans --Fatboy Slim
I Am Not Your Gameboy—Freezepop

You see where I was going though, right? Happy, appropriate, fun stuff that he may not hear otherwise.

So, this Christmas, the ten-year-old got an mp3 player. I gave him an iTunes gift card and made him a mix cd, again, trying to stay happy, fun and appropriate. I have yet to hear what he thinks but I know his dad liked a lot of it.

"Itchy And Scratchy" Main Title Theme--The Simpsons
Shining Star--Earth Wind & Fire
Land Of 1000 Dances--Wilson Pickett
Mr. Big Stuff --Jean Knight
Iko Iko --Cyndi Lauper
Mr. Blue Sky--Electric Light Orchestra
Here Comes My Baby--Cat Stevens
Beyond The Sea--Robbie
Big Yellow Taxi--Joni Mitchell
God Only Knows--Petra Haden
Minor Swing--Django Reinhardt
All Star--Smash Mouth
And We Danced—Hooters
Antmusic--Adam & The Ants
I Wanna Rock--Twisted Sister
Go--Apples In Stereo
Rock Me Amadeus--Falco
Like Wow Wipeout--Hoodoo Gurus
Rock Lobster--The B-52's
It’s Tricky--Run DMC
One Step Beyond—Madness
The Simpsons Main Title Theme

Yeah, there’s a little cross-over there. But you gotta try to get your favorites in, right?

So, let me ask you, what were your favorites at 10 and 14? Would you have liked getting a cd mix (or cassette mix…or gramophone mix) from your auntie? What would she have put on it? I’m thinking mine would have had some Barry Manilow and Anne Murray, but I could be wrong.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


The only movie I saw over the holidays…actually, the only movie I have seen in forever was Frost/Nixon. I was persuaded to see it by my BFF although I did slip in one “OH hey, we could go see Twilight!” just to to make the effort, but no, it was Frost/Nixon or nothing so…ok. Hey look, I have a deep fondness for Michael Sheen. He’s cute. He’s a good actor. That’s pretty much enough. But I also really like Frank Langella. I think he is kind of a forgotten actor. When I mention him people always say “Frank Who?” but then you mention a few movies he’s been in and “Oh yeeeeeeah, him.”

He is, in fact, my first Dracula (I am totally going to market that as a new toy. MY FIRST DRACULA by Fisher Price!). Before him I was only aware of the Bela Lugosi verision which is a good one, I don’t mean to dismiss him since he is THE movie Dracula (who is nothing like *shudder* Nosferatu), but the 1970 something version was my favorite for many years…may still be. And Langella gets the sexy vamp, unlike the wonderful Gary Oldman who…let’s just assume it was someone else’s idea, ok? Annnnnyway…yes, frank Langella. AMAZING. Brilliant as Nixon. And this movie is basically two guys talking. A talking head movie, as it were. So I found myself concentrating on his face a lot. I couldn’t decide if he was wearing prosthetics or not, I couldn’t quite picture the details of his face to know. Turns out, he was. I know there were jowl prosthetics and I think there was a bit of a nose involved as well. I am not totally convinced that there weren’t earlobe add-ons too…they struck me as not quite right for his face. I’ve been pouring over pictures of him trying to tell.

Because this was basically an endless series of close-ups, I finally understood why all the actors these days are worrying about high definition tv. It struck home when I noticed that both Kevin Bacon and Michael Sheen have pierced ears. Not a big deal except I doubt that the people they were playing had pierced ears. For me, this isn’t a big deal but it does open a small can of worms for actors. If I noticed holes in ears in a movie, what am I going to notice on a high def televison. I hear the prOn actors are the most worried. Can’t really blame them.

So, not really a review but I did rather enjoy Frost/Nixon, much to my surprise. I went in expecting nothing and came out thinking, “Hmmm, better than I imagined.” The two phrases that do chase around my mind though are “ham-fisted” and “heavy-handed" which, yes, do pretty much mean the same thing. Some of the direction and writing took away from my pleasure in the acting. But I also go in with a bias of not loving Ron Howards’ direction, so you know, if you dig his other stuff, you won’t be bothered. Hmmm…I just went back to look at his directorial credits and I do like some stuff. Splash, Night Shift. Parenthood, but…yeah, I think it’s fair to call him heavy-handed. And I will never be able to forgive him for How the Grinch Stole Christmas, never.

Now I am off to much worse pursuits. The husband is going out of town so I have moved terrible romantic comedies to the top of the queue. I don’t expect Mama Mia to be good but hey, Colin Firth, Stellan Skaaaaarsgaaaaaaaaard and Pierce Brosnan? Singing ABBA? Yeah, not gonna miss that. I even got a bottle of sparking sake to make it go down easier. I’ll let you know how that works for me.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


And now…looking back…I kept a record of all the books I read in 2008 and my intention was to write little reviews of them. I did write reviews for a few of them but then I got lazy and I decided just to make notes on the rest. Then I got lazier and I decided to just make notes on a few. It was a very vampire filled year so…you know…just a little more than skin deep, I suppose. I didn’t read as much as I would have liked (and for the record, I only list novels, not novellas, short stories or comic books) so there was some more reading, but still less than I wanted. Maybe this year…

Books Read 2008
Fool Moon-Jim Butcher
The Stupidest Angel-Christopher Moore
Twilight-Stephanie Meyer
The Half-Moon Detective Agency-Eion Coufler
Tall, Dark, and Dead- Tate Hallaway

Clearly January’s books had a supernatural theme running through them. Fool Moon is the second in the Harry Dresden series from Jim Butcher and it was a fun read. I love the character and Butcher adds such nice touches to the story (Dresden has amazing magical powers but they short circuit modern technology, so simple things like email and cell phone calls just don’t work for him. It’s a nice little bit that can certainly heighten the tension of story when you know the hero just can’t call for help or download a file that will contain the info he needs). If you like mysteries and supernatural series, check the Dresden Files books out. And if you happen to catch the series running on sci-fi, that was kind of fun too. Sorry it’s gone.

The Christopher Moore I have read has been hit or miss for me. I loved Lamb but was less enthralled by Bloodsucking Fiends. The Stupidest Angel falls somewhere in the middle. I didn’t dislike it, but it was maybe a little to slapstick for my tastes. Moore does seem to enjoy himself though and his characters are memorable and silly (in a fun way).

Twilight is the first in a series of young adult novels. This one was pretty standard girl loves vampire fare. I didn’t find anything that offended me in it, but nothing grabbed me enough to make me want to continue the story either. I guess I am not the target market on this one though. (Hmmm...well, this was written before all the big Twilight boom this year. It was popular at the time I wrote this but I didn't yet know about HOW big it was or would get. I still think it was pretty boring and I am quite the fan of crappy vampire stories, so...)

The Half-Moon Detective Agency is another Y.A. novel (I know, I have to start reading big kid books!). I am particularly fond of Eoin Colfer, For some reason I feel like he writes like a kid. Rather, he’s got the right mindset to write for a super intelligent kid. I am fond of his Artemis Fowl series but this book, which I suspect will spawn it’s own series was more…fun. It made me laugh out loud while I was reading it and that doesn’t happen all that often. I don’t really know how to put into word the giddiness I felt reading this book and I don’t even know how to tell you WHY I felt that way but it just worked for me, the language, the style, the character development. And finally I see a writer who understands how kids use technology. Books are only just starting to make use of text messages and instant messages and the like in a way that seems natural. Colfer gets that and uses it to great advantage. If you are 8-13 and a looking for a very entertaining mystery novel, this is it. If you are…much older…read this and see if you don’t feel like this guy just gets how a kid’s brain works.

Well, I guess that this would not be the time to deny my fondness for vampire stories. Don’t know what it is, although I do know it’s not that I find them sexy. In fact, I tend to really dislike any stories that make vampires overtly sexual. I get the whole penetration thing, I get the whole blood thing, let’s get to the interesting stuff, eh? But that said, I really do enjoy the Tate Hallaway books.

The Bleeding Dusk-Colleen Gleason
Cakes and Ale-W. Somerset Maughm
Grave Peril-Jim Butcher
Kiki Strike and the Shadow City-Kirsten Miller-Oh hey, wow. I got a real kick out of this YA novel and I will certainly pick up more from this author.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan-Lisa See-I am sorry, I can not really describe how little I liked this book. My mother passed it on to me and I read it because she did but…I should really know better, she did, after all, ask me to read all ten billion pages of The Corrections before confessing that she didn’t like it either. Anyway, a number of years ago we saw a museum…thing…about Lisa See’s family and loved it. The book…not so much.
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels- I love Jasper Fford. If only for that extra eff.
Dead Sexy-Tate Hallaway

Anonymous Rex-Eric Garcia This book kind of took me by surprise. It really sounds ridiculous when you try to explain it (Dinosaurs exist alongside people, hide themselves in people suits and eat herbs) but it worked. It was far more entertaining that I could have expected.

Cross Bones- Kathy Reichs I’d been wanting to read one of the temperance Brennan novels for a while and I did enjoy this. Very different from the TV series “bones” though, so if you are reading it for that…don’t. Still, I enjoyed it and may pick up another eventually.
Wire in the Blood- Val McDermid-Another book I wanted to read due to having seen a tv show. But you know what? It works here. Good book, good tv show. And I guess I was also influenced by an article I read some time ago where Ian Rankin put his foot into it by saying women, especially lesbians, were more bloodthirsty writers than men. Val McDermud, a lesbian and a woman (heh), had a bit to say about that. And I’m gonna toss this quote in just because I think sums it up pretty well

“I’ll tell you what pisses me off more than almost anything: when people say, ‘As a woman, how do you feel about writing on violence?’ Have you ever heard a male crime writer being asked, ‘As a man, how do you feel about writing about violence?’
“There’s a profound disassociation, it seems to me; as if somehow it’s wrong for us to be writing about violence against women, as though somehow we need permission to write about violence against women.”

Romancing the Dead-Tate Hallaway
When Twilight Burns-Colleen Gleason
The Good Fairies of New York-Martin Millar
Summer Knight-Jim Butcher

My Name Is Will: A Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare-Jess Winfield- Written by a former co-worker of my husband. I felt like I should support the cause.
Any Given Doomsday- Lori Handeland-Preview copy that I got by asking for it on some website. It was…not my cup of tea. Yeah…let’s just be polite and say that.
Northanger Abbey-Jane Austen-Oh hey, I read this with an on-line read along and I really, really enjoyed it, which was cool because I feel like this is the hardest Jane Austen book to like and that there is a lot going on under the surface that goes missing. In fact, I enjoyed this so much that I was inspired to purchase some of the gothic horror novels mentioned in the story. I am currently reading The Mysteries of Udolpho which is one of the books that is repeatedly mentioned.

Roo’d Joshua Klein-this was a Daily Lit read that…I think I read an intereview with Joshua Klein about it. It was entertaining.
Making Money-Terry Pratchett-I am sad about Terry Pratchett’s not so recent diagnosis of a rare and specific type of Alzheimers. It makes me wonder what’s in store for his series of novels and how far he writes ahead. But I feel some amount of relief in the memory that even if he were never to write another word, he will have left quite a legacy behind. But I hope he keeps writing.
Death Masks-Jim Butcher
The Thin Man-Dashiell Hammett I don’t know if I had ever read a Dashiell Hammet book before. I kind of think I read part of the Maltese Falcon, but I don’t remember. I love the Thin Man movies and while the book doesn’t quite match the fun of Willam Powell and Myrna Loy’s version, it clearly defined the concept and for that I am greatful.

Well, I'm almost done my first book of 2009 and it's another supernatural...I think I need to move on to something different. Back to Midnight's Children, I guess.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Getting back to normal here..slowly. I had a nice Christmas visit with my family, a safe and uneventful trip back and now I am here..raring to…yeah…not so much. But hey, it’s a new year and there are new things to do and…sleep. I slept plenty at my mom’s house. Yeah, I know that the EMFs from that electric blanket are bad for me but man do I love a cozy bed! And it’s really cold in my room, so it’s kind of necessary.

New Year’s Eve was spent showering, kissing the cat at midnight and going to bed. The husband represented at a party that I would have liked to attend but just couldn’t. Too exhausted (got in from east coast at 10:30 pm).

Oh and hey, the new year has started off nicely in a different way. I made it into my first etsy treasury. That is, for those not in the know, a “curated” selection of items that the curator finds particularly interesting. My bee cards were listed in a bee themed treasury. The cards were originally designed last year as Valentines and are still available in the shop. They are…well…kind of goofy. I have a fondness for bees and puns so…you know..there you go.

OH! For those of you playing along, a NEW DOCTOR has been named. I have seen him in a few things but at this point, I don’t really have an opinion on him. I was pulling for an older doctor but what do I know? If you've seen the Phillip Pullman adaptations done for the BBC starring Billie was called something like The Ruby in the Smoke, then you've seen Matthew Smith. He was fine. He's a stage actor primarily and he's 26 years old. So...there you go. We'll see.