Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer Reading 2011!

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and for me, that always feels like the start of summer.
I want to wear flip flops and drink outdoors.
And I’m ready to start my summer reading list. What’s that? I’m and adult and don’t have one? That’s weird…then what is this!?

My goal is to read 10 books before Labor Day. I feel this is totally do-able, particularly if (more than) half the books are just for fun.
1.       A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, which won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (Boo-yah!)
2.       The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, a memoir
3.       American Pastoral by Philip Roth, a novel (PR is the best.)
4.       To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, an award-winning “comic science fiction novel”
5.       The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, supposedly phenomenal non-fiction work
6.       Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, idyllic children’s adventure book
7.       Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, which I’ve been meaning to read for years
8.       A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire Book #4
9.       Forever by Maggie Stiefvater, like Twilight but well-written?
10.   Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris, Sookie Stackhouse Book #11 (Seriously, stop judging me.)
So, yeah, I’ve got some trashy, fun choices on there, but they’re counteracted by the quality books, right? Right??
Do you have any summer reading goals, or is it just me? Let me know if you decide to read any of these too, and we can discuss!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Read It and Weep

It was only a matter of time. Sales of e-books have surpassed sales of their print counterparts. Some say this is a travesty for the written word, while others champion the advance of technology; I choose to remain undecided.
I don’t have an e-reader (or a smartphone—I gotta save my dollars, people!), but I am not 100% against them. I can see their benefit regarding the environment and might even want one were I in the kind of job that caused me to travel a lot or that involved me taking mass transit to work.
However, as an editor, I probably spend 8–9 hours every day reading from a computer screen, so when I choose to read for pleasure, I’d rather not increase that accumulated screen time. And I know that people say that the way the e-reader screens are backlit, they are much easier on the eyes than reading from the computer. But I say, “They may not be as bad as a computer, but they are not yet as good as paper,” so I may just have to wait it out.
Additionally, I’m a big library fan, so I still get the majority of the books I read for free at my local branch. Not being able to get books for free was a huge con on my mental pro/con list of getting an e-reader, BUT THEN, when searching for the new book recently put out by one of my all-time favorite crime writers, I saw that it was ONLY available for checkout in electronic form. OMG! The library is more ahead of the times than I am. It is sad when you are outpaced by something widely suspected to be an anachronism.
Where do you come in on this issue? Am I secretly the only person with hang-ups about this?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Death Cab

The new Death Cab for Cutie album, Codes and Keys, is currently streaming on I’ve always really liked their music, not only because of their catchy melodies and beats, but also because I really like lead singer Ben Gibbard’s voice. It’s just so pleasant!

Anyway, you should definitely check out the album here sometime in the next week or so.
My favorite songs were the titular track, “Codes and Keys,” and “Stay Young, Go Dancing.”

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mormon Jamz

On the blog today, I’m going to talk about the soundtrack of a new musical, BUT, before you non-musical fans exit out of the post right now, hear me out: it is literally one of the funniest things I have ever heard.
AMAZING QUOTE: “Wow! So the Bible is actually a trilogy and the Book of Mormon is Return of the Jedi?!
I’m interested!”
The show is The Book of Mormon, and I have been looking forward to its release since I first heard about it a year or so ago. Written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (of South Park fame) in collaboration with Robert Lopez, who cowrote the score for the hilarious  Avenue Q, the story follows two young Mormon missionaries on their journey to convert the inhabitants of a Ugandan village beset with AIDS. The naïveté and seemingly endless optimism of the missionaries is perfect for musical theater and really reminded me of the classic Rogers & Hammerstein musicals like The Sound of Music and The King and I.
Additionally, the music is all well-written and catchy. I’ve had “The All-American Prophet” stuck in my head for days. If you saw South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, then you know how these guys can turn the silliest subjects into singable yet hilarious songs (e.g., “Blame Canada”, “What Would Brian Boitano Do?”, and “Kyle’s Mom’s a Bitch”; also “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” from Avenue Q). For example, one of the missionaries has a “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream”, during which he encounters an accusatory Jesus:
Jesus: “You blamed your brother for eating the donut, and now you walk out on your mission companion? You’re a dick.”

Kevin: “I can’t believe Jesus called me a dick!”
I think my favorite thing about this exchange is that Jesus inexplicably speaks with a Baltimore accent.
Strangely, I learned a lot about Mormonism from the soundtrack. Since the missionaries are prosthelytizing, they sing a lot about the history of the church/what Mormons believe, specifically in the song, “I Believe”:
“I believe that God lives on a planet called Kolob/
I believe that Jesus has his own planet as well/
And I believe that the
Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri!”
You can’t make this stuff up.
But despite the fact this show is set to sweep the Tonys, I can’t see it touring in Atlanta; it’s a pretty conservative crowd down here. I’ll have to try to make it to up NYC to see this one.

The cast album for the show will be available starting June 7.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Game of Thrones, Redux

I wanted to update you guys re: my progress in the George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series I mentioned a few weeks ago because several people have asked me if I like the books/show, and the answer is yes and a qualified yes.
The book series is awesome. Not since I read the second two Hunger Games books over Labor Day weekend have I been this anxious to just read and keep on reading. Stupid work/sleep/etc. for getting in the way! I’m currently on the third book, A Storm of Swords, and it is great. One thing that concerns me, though, is that of this seven-book series, only four have been published, so I’m clearly going to make it to the end of the road before the author is able to finish writing. However, as ASOS is 1128 pages (!) and a new book is slated to come out this July, I guess I’ll be okay through the end of the summer.  I remember feeling this same way after finishing the newest installment of Harry Potter and knowing it would literally be years before the next one came out. So frustrating!
I am also enjoying the show. It is staying 95% true to the books, and I feel like they did a great job casting it. I had even cast Peter Dinklage in my mind as the perfect Tyrion Lannister, a sarcastic dwarf from a noble family; but then again, how many well-known little person actors are there?
The thing that frustrates me about the show, though, is the same thing that frustrates me when any books I like are translated into another medium. Unfortunately, not everything carries over—particularly the innumerable details and insights into the characters you get from reading. So, while the show is entertaining, and I plan to keep watching it, it will never be as quality as the books. For those of you have neither seen the show nor read the books, I’ve heard it described as “if Playboy were to put on Lord of the Rings,” which in some ways is true, but I might add: “but classier.” Does that make sense? I never know.
If you’re watching the show, what do you think? For those who are watching but haven’t read, are you confused by all the characters? As the author has said, "What can I say? It's a BIG story, and a cast of thousands."

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In Honor of Mother's Day...

Are you familiar with the TLC show, I Didn't Know I was Pregnant? It's just like what you would think: Ladies are going about their business when they begin having sudden, intense pain, and seek medical assistance only to find out that they are, in fact, giving birth. After seeing the show, this became a major fear of mine, and whenever I got even mild indigestion, I immediately thought, "Oh my gosh. I didn't know I was pregnant." These fears could only be assuaged by the fact that this was a highly unlikely state of affairs and almost no one actually does not know that she is pregnant. Well, that all changed this week, when I heard that one of my friends was taken to the emergency room where she delivered a baby, and SHE HAD NOT KNOWN SHE WAS PREGNANT!!!

This friend ("Ladyfriend") had moved out West with her boyfriend ("Guyfriend") but was at her parents' house for a few weeks, packing up the rest of her things. Well, she woke up in the middle of the night with the worst pain in her life, saw that there was blood, and began screaming for her parents. They raced her to the hospital where the doctor told her she was delivering a baby, to which she said, "?!?"

So then, they had to call Guyfriend to fly in from out West, and he had to purchase one of those last-minute million dollar tickets (but it's totally worth it because he's about to be a surprise dad!). He's still en route while the baby was being delivered, so his mom sent him pix messages of his surprise baby girl from the delivery room (technology!).

Now, JP had seen Ladyfriend in March, and he said not only was she as skinny as ever, but they even had margaritas together! Apparently, she was on birth control the entire time and had only gained 5 lbs. over the past few months. (That baby also weighs 5 lbs., so I guess Ladyfriend doesn't have to worry about that.)

The thing that kills me the most about this tale is (surprisingly) not that she didn't know she was pregnant (apparently it happens often enough for them to make a show about it), but that giving birth is supposed to be one of the most painful things you could ever go through in life, and she had to go through it by surprise. That would be the scariest/worst thing ever!!!

Anyway, Lady, Guy, and Babyfriend are all happy and healthy now, and soon they will be Mr., Mrs., and Baby Friend. So I guess it all worked out? 

Happy Mother's Day, Ladyfriend!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mom-tastic Voyage

My mom's coming to visit me this Mother's Day, for the first time ever. I keep trying to come up with activities for us to do and places for us to go, but I think she'd have just as much fun just hanging out with me. So, with that thought in mind, I put together this momtastic playlist, just in time for Mother's Day. 

Oh, yeah. This is happening.

  1. "Slipping Through My Fingers" from Mamma Mia
  2. "Beauty Mark" by Rufus Wainwright
  3. "You'll Be in My Heart" by Phil Collins
  4. "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses
  5. "The I Love You Song" from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
  6. "Take Your Mama" by Scissor Sisters
  7. "Blues in the Night (My Mama Done Tol' Me) by Judy Garland
  8. "No One Loves You Any Better Than Your M-O-Double-M-Y" by John Lithgow

Also, this. It cracks me up, but I can hardly watch the whole thing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Boot Camp (and Carrot Cake)

I did my first boot camp last night. I thought I might die, but I lived to post another post. Actually, I must not have been working very hard because I’m not even sore today, just sleepy. *Sigh.* I mean, I was glad not to be walking bowlegged around the office this morning, but why spend that extra hour at the gym if I don’t even make it count, right?

Before I even went to the class, though, I came home from work super hungry and decided to have a snack. I knew there was about half a carrot cake sitting on the counter, and I felt like I should definitely eat something before I worked out, so I cut myself a piece. As soon as JP saw me, he said, “You don’t need to eat that cake right before you work out.”

“But I’m really hungry,” I whined.

“If you eat all that sugar right before a hard workout, you’re going to make yourself sick.”

Knowing he was probably right but very disappointed because I had been daydreaming about that cake all day AND didn’t really want to go to this class but knew I would feel guilty if I didn’t, I proceeded to throw a low-level tantrum. I stomped around the house for the next 30 minutes, sighing exaggeratedly and yelling up the stairs that the only reason I even go to the gym AT ALL is because he said I was a fatty magoo and is consistently hurting my feelings. (That is in no way true, but sometimes when I’m mad I like to throw out random accusations.)

Alas, being the completely reasonable adult he is, JP just ignored the four year old who had invaded his home and waited patiently for his 26-year-old fiancé to come back.

You might think this makes me really lucky—but wouldn’t I be luckier if I wasn’t such a nut?