I Kissed a Weasel, and I Liked It:

 

Well, not quite.

Because I don’t know how many *other* people have kissed
Her Juanitaness,
and I didn’t want Jenny to think that I’m weird or gross
or possibly hitting on her taxidermy.

But Juanita and I did cry out to the heavens together:

 

OH THE HUMANITY!

 

LauraJane kept her distance, sensible girl:

 

 

I can’t believe I even considered skipping this
(realized I triple-booked myself for last night,
with handbalancing class, The Bloggess,
and an art show in Culver City),

because Jenny?

Is amazing.

And funny.

And down to earth.
And willing to admit her frailties and fears.

I love her for that.

Oh, that's Soleil Moon Frye wearing the Loubies on the right. Punky Brewster barely comes up to my elbow, y'all.

 

I don't know if you can see them well, but The Bloggess is wearing a necklace with fuzzy rabbit scrotum. Which apparently is singular, like "Moose".

 

The Bloggess suffers from anxiety, depression, and RA,
among other things,
so seeing a woman who was probably in pain for the entire two and a half hours
that she talked, answered questions, signed books, and gave hugs
just be so present with grace and a ridiculously well-endowed sense of humor?

I admire Jenny Lawson more than ever.

Lady,
you are my heroine.

Thank you.

 

Wonderful woman. Thanks for letting me hug you.

 

(Also,
Knock, knock, Motherfucker)

There was this amazing moment during the panel where *everyone* was holding up a chicken of one sort or another. We sincerely regretted *not* bringing Laura's Chicken Hat and Purse Twin Set.

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Thingity Thing Things:

 
 

Seriously, why is this not lounging on my desk as we speak?

GLURG.

 

(I am also planning on whipping up a fresh mint sweet tea rum spiked drink of de-li-ci-ousness this week.)
 
(you know, because I can.)

 

I survived the Los Angeles Salsa Congress…
by the thin suede of my dance shoes,
but still,
I survived.

There may have been a very teary and slightly hysterical phone call to The Boyo
regarding the verysmallandhardlynoticeable mistake that
happened during our routine, because I?

Am a perfectionist.

Never thought I was.

But I TOTALLY AM.

I would post a video for all y’all,
but alas,
the folks running the Congress are also a bit money-grubby,
and wouldn’t allow filming in order to force attendees
to buy *their* video of the event.

BOO.

 

I also finished a couple of books this week–
nothing near my normal rate of reading whilst-being-unemployed,
but it was nice to dig myself into good books,
even for five minutes at a time.

I still have mixed feelings for this book...

I picked up “House of Sand and Fog” at the wickedly fabulous
Altadena Library Book Sale because one of my favorite professors loves the film.

The book is modeled on the Greek tragedy–
events that occur happen because of tragic flaws
within each of the main characters,
and Col. Behrani certainly fits the mold of a great person experiencing a reversal of fortune.

Additionally,
the events of the novel build up slowly,
inexorably,
and as the reader,
I felt absolutely helpless in the face of it all.

Not a comfortable read, by any means,
but a beautiful one.

 

I was very surprised to realize that I *hadn’t* read this book.
It reminded me a great deal of “Brave New World”,
but it has a far more hopeful ending–
which I sincerely appreciate in a dystopian novel.

I loved the entire conceit of a world built without cultural memory or emotion,
and I especially loved that the world had no color–
only The Receiver could see color, hear music, and remember events long past.

The obvious twist probably isn’t so obvious when reading
this at 10 or 12 years old–alas for reading YA lit as an adult!–
but it did not affect my enjoyment of the novel.

 

It’s been a wild last couple of months, y’all.
I’m glad to be done with Lack of Weekends.

It’s time to get back on that Lazy Saturday Train…
maybe this Saturday will involve a walk in the sunshine.
Or reading at the beach.
Or hiking with the Corgi and The Boyo.
Or lounging about,
sipping some of that Sangria Slushied goodness.

It is good to be done.

More Bookity Books:

But probably without blurbs.
Because it is late.
And I am le tired.

Finished:

Julian, Gore Vidal

Bor.ing. I need to find out why Vidal chose to write this way,
instead of in the far more interesting and engrossing fashion of “I, Claudius”,
or most other historical narratives.
I mean, if Julian was that much of a dull turd of a Roman Emperor,
…maybe Vidal was a stickler for authenticity?

Atonement, Ian McEwan

Got considerably better in the second half of the novel.
I found the actual atoning to be both satisfying and poignant.
It’s still a rather detached story in many ways,
but I’m okay with that as a style when it comes to books set in a time of war
(Corelli’s Mandolin, for example, also does this at certain points)–
it’s accurate.

Master & Commander, Patrick O’Brian

Still needed that naval dictionary.
But loved the book overall, in spite of that.
O’Brian manages to make his readers feel like they are a part
of the sea, sky, ropes, flying jib, watches in the night,
even if they don’t know a belaying pin from a poop deck.
Jack Aubrey is a great character–
so flawed, so wonderful.
I wanted him to succeed, even though he is a rake and a scoundrel–
takes a good writer to do that.

Stardust, Neil Gaiman

One of my favorites of his.

Perfume, Patrick Süskind

Creepy–and so very Germanic.

The story centers around a man named Jean Baptiste Grenouille,
who is born without any smell.
Not any sense of smell–
but no smell, period.
Süskind paints Grenouille as an unnatural being;
one who is brought up without love,
and grows up without a moral compass.
He also has a preternatural sense of smell,
and becomes obsessed with making the perfect perfume–
for which he will commit any crime to form.

I love scents, and I love the art of perfume,
so I had an interest in this book from the outset,
which helps, I think.
There are several gross events,
particularly towards the conclusion
(which I felt failed to forward the narrative),
so reader beware.

The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett

Solid, grim, noir.
Good story, good prose.
If you’ve just seen the Bogart film,
give the book a read–
particularly if you can read it on a rainy day
in an old coffee shop.

Currently Reading:

Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollenstonecraft Shelley

Hugo Award Winners Short Story Collection, ed. Isaac Asimov

The Known World, Edward P. Jones

White Teeth, Zadie Smith

Thematic Essays from The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Art History, Various
ed: Knew I’d forget one!

The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje

 

I am totally this girl. ...Well. Except for the shy thing. And the enormous Anime boobs.

(26 27 books and counting for 2011, kids!)

More Book-ity-Books:

I was trying to remember what all I’ve read in January and February,
and I know I’m coming up short by two or five books.

But here’s what I’ve got so far,
with blurbs on the books that needed blurbing:

 

January:

Faithful Place, Tana French
A continuation of her Irish detective series (In the Woods, The Likeness),
French delves into the history of a secondary character–Frank Mackey–
from those novels.
Her prose is, per usual, well-crafted, but I found myself wishing for the authenticity of the female narrator in The Likeness instead.

We’ll Always Have Paris, Ray Bradbury

The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas

Best American Short Stories, 2007, ed. Stephen King
A fantastic collection. King knows how to pick compelling stories.
His introduction, which is actually a defense of the short story
as a lasting literary form, is pure genius.

Savvy, Ingrid Law
YA fiction, and quite enjoyable. The characters are true and sympathetic,
and the small romances that blossom in the narrative completely avoid schlock,
which is refreshing from a YA author.

Dust of 100 Dogs, A.S. King
Meh. A great initial idea–a young female pirate is cursed to live the life of
100 dogs before returning to her human form–
but the idea gets lost in repetition and tired, quasi-feminist rants.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender
So very lovely. And so very sad. The essential concept is that a young girl can detect emotions through food–
whatever the cook was feeling, she can sense it.
Which makes for awkward high-school lunches.

The Writing on my Forehead, Nafisa Haji

Unexpected Magic, Diana Wynne Jones
Her short stories were a bit of a letdown
after the magnificence that is Howl’s Moving Castle.

Best American Short Stories, 2002, ed. Sue Miller

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Safran Foer
Man, I dislike this genre.
It’s this dreadful combination of confessional, solipsistic over-sharing that sometimes feels like the author just slapped his LiveJournal into a bound book.

That said, there are moments of greatness. Foer has two parallel narratives running in this novel, and all the best bits are from the story of the protagonist’s grandparents. Through their marriage, they begin dividing up their home into sections of existence and nothing–their unwillingness to be open with each other is what leads eventually to their grandson wandering off on a ridiculous quest throughout New York, looking for an answer to why his father died in the WTC towers on 9/11.

The protagonist himself, a nine-year-old flea named Oskar, is a pompous twit,
and frankly, everything he does is boring.

That’s really all I can say about him.

Foer also thinks it’s clever to have pages and pages of numbers instead of text, as seen when the grandfather loses his ability to speak.
(that may have been interesting when Coupland did it in 1995’s Microserfs.
It’s just laziness now. )

Foer is liberal, elitist, Jewish-when-it’s-convenient, and boy, does it show;
the story is not about poor Oskar Schell and poor ignorant Americans
and how innocence is lost and we are all insignificant, alas!
It’s about Foer and his desire to be an Important Writer of Important Writings.

Raised by Manhattan Progressives, indeed.

(My opinion may be a bit controversial, but I promise, it ain’t just me:
Extremely Cloying , Terror Comes to Tiny Town )

February:

The Mermaid Chair, Sue Monk Kidd
Disappointing.

Magic for Marigold, LM Montgomery
Montgomery is my go-to for days when everything is bleak.

Boy, Roald Dahl
Remind me to never send my children to a British boarding school.

Horns, Joe Hill
Man, he has style.
Hill is always a compelling read, and like his dad, Stephen King, he manages to touch on philosophical/theological debates without preaching.
I don’t agree with the particular philosophy he presents (that good and evil are the two halves of a coin, or in this case, a person),
but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a good novel.

Currently Reading:

Julian, Gore Vidal
Interesting history. Floppy prose.
Seriously, if it takes me more than a month to read your 400 page novel,
you are doing something wrong.

Atonement, Ian McEwan
So far, not terribly impressed.

Master & Commander, Patrick O’Brian
I need a naval dictionary.
No, really.