“Two-legged Animal” has moved to twoleggedanimal.wordpress.com
Not bad, huh?
“Two-legged Animal” has moved to twoleggedanimal.wordpress.com
Not bad, huh?
A. Age: 26
B. Bed size: Queen, which is only big enough when Eric and I are alternating.
C. Chore that you hate: Anything Eric bothers me about… which is everything.
D. Dogs: Just my Georges. I had to abandon Frankie and Maggie when I moved out of my parents’ house.
E. Essential start to your day: No shit, I have to check Ript first thing every morning before getting ready for work.
F. Favorite color: Black, white and scarlet.
G. Gold or Silver: Silver.
H. Height: 5’6″-ish
I. Instruments you play: Let me put it this way: my proudest musical moment was playing Weezer’s “The Sweater Song” on the drums. Yes it’s really that bad.
J. Job title: Teacher/Starving Artist
K. Kids: No, thank you, and not any time soon. If ever.
L. Live: D.C.
M. Mother’s name: Ann. Poof to you.
N. Nicknames: Kodiak and Mer, and I suppose Chucklenuts has caught on lately.
O. Overnight hospital stays: I don’t think I’ve ever done it – not even for eye surgery if I remember correctly.
P. Pet peeves: People who don’t know the difference between being polite and outright hypocrisy.
Q. Quote from a movie: “PACK my SUITCASE?!”
R. Right or left handed: Right.
S. Siblings: Jeremy.
U. Underwear: Cozy and soft.
V. Vegetable you hate: Carrots. How do seemingly normal people eat those things?
W. What makes you run late: Feeling crappy. Are there other reasons?
X. X-Rays you’ve had: My finger and my shoulder.
Y. Yummy food that you make: Lasagna and roasted pears, but that’s pretty much all I make.
Z. Zoo animal: Sloth bear! Duh.
Borders’ closing is a double-edged sword. I am a hair away from striking up a candlelight vigil but, at the same time, LITERARY FICTION IS 90% OFF. Below are the purchases I made today. If you need me, I can be found rolling naked in a pile of the following books:
Total Number of Books: 24
Total Cost (Full Price): $480
Total Paid: $48
Life is good.
I’m teaching a new class this year – did I mention that I teach high school English Language Learners? – and I did about half the reading for this class over the course of Labor Day weekend. (The students return to school tomorrow.) I found myself in the fortunate position of being able to, more or less, design my own class and choose the books the class would read. After this weekend refresher on these books, I’m convinced a did a pretty good job choosing them.
I first read A Wrinkle in Time when I was 10 years old. Other than liking it now, the only thing I really remember about the story was the crazy lady (Mrs Whatsit, as it turns out) demonstrating how they move through time and space (tesser) with an ant and a wrinkle in her skirt. Turns out the book is much better at 26 than it was at 10.
Full of allusions to The Tempest, it’s the story of Meg, who accidentally embarks on an intergalactic mission with her baby brother and an acquaintance from school, aided by three… women? Along the way, Meg finds her long-lost scientist father, battles an evil universe-wide threat to civilization everywhere, and has to get philosophical in an attempt to save her brother from the clutches of IT. As soon as I finished the book, I dropped everything, hit Amazon, and ordered the box set of five.
Next and strategically placed on my list of required reading was When You Reach Me. Turns out this is the best book I’ve read in a long, long time. I don’t even remember how I happened upon it, I had never read it before, I only knew that it borrowed heavily from A Wrinkle in Time… which is not even actually true. It’s more like the book is one big allusion to A Wrinkle in Time, and SO effectively executed. I don’t believe you would have had to have read AWiT to appreciate this book, but I can’t imagine it having the same impact otherwise.
This story is an eerie mystery up to the end. Miranda (The Tempest? Hello?) – in the midst of personal relationship struggles that affect her mother, her stepfather-to-be-… maybe, her ex-best friend, her current sort-of friend, a snobby girl she hates, a cute guy she works with, a crazy homeless man, a racist boss, and a school thug – begins finding notes addressed to her, hidden in unlikely places. The notes beg her to tell a story she doesn’t know yet and give it to she doesn’t know who, because the sender is trying to save the life of Miranda’s friend. But who? And how? And what does telling a story have to do with this? The ending is profound and unshakeable. I don’t know how I’m going to be able to keep it together and not ruin the ending for my students!
Just this morning I finished reading The Willoughbys by the queen of YA literature herself, Lois Lowry. This book was deeply satisfying in a completely different way. A spoof of children’s literature, the story centers around the Willoughby family: Tim, who is the bossy eldest, Barnaby A and B who are twins and cannot be told apart even by family and must share a sweater, and Jane who doesn’t count for much because she’s a girl. Their parents don’t care much for them, but it’s okay because they don’t care much for their parents, either. They would be better off as orphans, like in “old-fashioned” children’s stories, so they come up with a plan to get rid of their parents just as their parents have come up with a plan to get rid of them. The story comes complete with a baby left on a doorstep, a long out-of-work chocolate manufacturer, a maid who knows just what to do, and the Swiss Alps.
The book is absolutely hysterical. I would imagine it’s a nice read for readers of this level, but I can’t help but believe that Lowry was addressing a more mature audience with this book. Frequent and explained allusions to Little Women, Heidi, Mary Poppins, James and the Giant Peach, and many, many other children’s/YA books provide lots of laughs. Children’s literature doesn’t get much more “postmodern” than this.
I don’t remember why I bought the book, but it must have been some kind of deal. Despite the sudden popularity of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy some time ago, I wasn’t really intending to read it. But people kept talking about it and I saw that there were film adaptations that actually looked kind of cool. In light of these circumstances, I certainly would have made this purchase with a few dollars knocked off.
That doesn’t mean I was intending to read it any time soon, though. I still, unfortunately, have this horrible bias against genre fiction, mysteries and romance in particular, and I have plenty of books that I’ve yet to read that do no fall into either of these categories, unlike The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. So what made me read this as my last pleasure-read before beginning work (by which I mean beginning ten months of reading for work)?
Well, it’s kind of embarrassing.
I’m obsessed with RIPT. Like, completely obsessed. I am quite close to being three-ramens-a-day poor, but I am a frequent purchaser of RIPT T-shirts ever since the design of the day that was a semi-obscure “Home Alone” reference (“Keep the change, ya filthy animal!”). In the meantime, I’ve developed quite the collection of book shirts, and my goal has become to have enough book shirts to be able to wear a different one to work each casual Friday – probably more for my own amusement rather than my students’.
This was my justification when RIPT sold the “Salander’s Dragon” design. I was in a pickle, and with RIPT you only have 24 hours to make up your mind. Do I buy the shirt because it looks badass and it’s a book that’s supposed to be equally badass? Or do I not because, y’know, I haven’t actually read the book and that would make me a complete and total tool.
Best compromise: I ordered it and immediately picked up the book to read and hoped for the best.
The book was badass.
Well-written, thankyougod, and expertly paced. Most characters are mostly likable despite obvious flaws. Most flaws are believable and don’t tend to wander into the realm of hyperbole.
Without getting into the details, what interested me about the first installment of the “Girl Who” trilogy is what seemed to be Larsson’s portrayal of commerce: both sex and money as currency. A case involving disturbing sexual assault is paralleled with embezzling funds. Salander is unable to reconcile a relationship when sex is not used as a bargaining chip. Blomkvist’s sexual practices differ only in (arguable) lack of violence from a serial murderer/rapist, and are as widespread as Wennerstrom’s funds. In fact, I would want to argue that Salander’s final dealings with Wennerstrom’s funds portrays the ultimate conflation of the two when Salander, who has become walking sex at this point, leaves a wake of financial ruin behind her.
That’s a brief summary of what fascinated me about the book, but I would need pages and pages to prove it. I realize how scattered it sounds. The bottom line, though, is that, even if you’re a genre fiction snob, the book is fantastic. It’s the first true and well-written page-turner I’ve read in… maybe years?
It is worthwhile to say that I love the original “Fright Night” – I own a legitimate, non-pirated copy – and I have a big crush on Chris Sarandon even in his 69th year that not even Prince Humperdinck could ruin. He’s way better than Cary Elwes, anyway, who’s always been a little bit creepy – a little too blond, a little too blue-eyed, not to be trusted – and only recently found the role meant for him in the “Saw” movies.
But I digress.
Point being, I am a fan of the original, and seeing a modern reworking of an old favorite is always a dangerous prospect for any movie fan. Admittedly, upon seeing the commercials I was incredibly disheartened. I thought the only way a remake of “Fright Night” would work would be if it were redone in a campy, colorful manner… not a far stretch from the eighties themselves.
This, of course, begged the question of how to classify the original “Fright Night,” and Eric and I debated this heartily both before and after seeing the remake. I’m not old enough to have taken the original “Fright Night” very seriously. I was born the year it came out and only discovered it in college when I was clamoring for scary movies I hadn’t already seen multiple times. I loved it because it had the makings of a horror movie, but was rather, well, campy and colorful. I thought it was fun.
But when I saw the commercials for the remake, I complained to Eric that this new take on an old favorite seemed to take itself far too seriously. Eric insisted that, for 1985, the original was entirely serious. I still don’t know how to digest that; I’m a film lover, but far from a film buff. That made me consider the silliness of other movies meant to thrill in the eighties and I dare say I believe him now… Then again, I’m basing this on the likes of “Poltergeist” which I still think is god-awful despite being Eric’s favorite movie of the horror genre. (What-ever.)
So as the sands of genre are shifting underneath me, the question still remained: How do you remake a movie like “Fright Night” without completely destroying it? I decided to investigate and, as it turned out, the 2011 version seemed to answer that question even more directly than I had hoped…
(End Part I.)
So. Because The Guardian is trying to ruin me financially, it compiled a list of “The 100 greatest non-fiction books.” Like, ever. This, of course, resulted in me adding two more pages of nonfiction that I will be very enthusiastic about buying but have difficulty actually sitting down and reading to my Amazon wish list.
I found two more sites for poor book-lovers like me. Not that I have any shortage of books I’ve yet to read, but someday… when it’s me, the dog, a cardboard box and a library card, I’ll have to resort to Literature Project and especially Literature.org.
As a major bookworm but not even a big fantasy fan, even I know who Terry Pratchett is and am familiar with the unwavering love of his fans. He seemed to be a really sweet guy, too, when a friend met him at the National Book Festival a few years ago.
For this reason, it’s pretty heart-wrenching to read that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 60 (I didn’t know about that before) and now has the consent forms for assisted suicide. That’s terribly sad.
I have a couple of cool things I’ve found, but I didn’t want them to share a post with this news.
Two cute things I found recently, both of which speak to what a geek I can be.
This Procrastination Flowchart is super cute, and is also the story of my life at home, after work. Just ask Eric.
Next try TestColor. This is a little bit of what it had to say about me:
You are intellectual and intelligent, you wonder and you inquire before taking any action.
You are also strong-willed and active, your actions are determined by your own will, by the goals you settled for yourself, and by your need to act and to move forward.
Finally you are creative, you always have new ideas, and your inspiration comes from the inside.