Tag Archives: books

Sleep Talking 32: The Snake

I’m currently reading Augusten Burroughs’ A Wolf at the Table, which is a memoir about his father, and I know some people have had issues with the story because he starts with “memories” from when he’s a toddler, but you know what, I’m okay with that. But it’s a hard read, because all he wants is affection and love, and his mom has some problems with her mental health, and from what I can tell so far, his dad is insane and possibly dangerous. I keep telling Drew, “You have to be a loving father. You have to give him lots of attention.”

Anyway. I was reading last night, and then I turned off the light, and Drew said,

“Did that snake come to bed with you?”

I said, “What?!”

And he said, “The snake. On your shoulders.”

EXCUSE ME? Ew! And for the record, NO.

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Disney Project 2014: Treasure Planet

Movie: Treasure Planet

Release year: 2002

Yet another non-musical! I think I’ve seen this one time before, and it was in my adult life. However, we don’t own it, so I was delighted to find it was available for streaming on Netflix.

Treasure Planet: A retelling of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, but set in the future (?), on a planet where aliens come and go freely and space travel is the norm. Young Jim Hawkins wants to get out there and see the universe (and maybe find his dad who abandoned them when he was a kid?). When a turtle-looking alien delivers an orb-shaped treasure map to him before dying, he and his mother and this dog-faced professor barely manage to escape with their lives, heeding the words of the turtle, “Beware the cyborg.”

As far as I know, it’s a pretty faithful retelling of Treasure Island, although once I thought about it, my only knowledge of that book actually comes from the Alvin and the Chipmunks episode where Dave tells Alvin, Simon, and Theodore the story and they find themselves reenacting it. So I guess you could say I’m not super familiar with it. This did make me consider choosing Treasure Island for my book club, but I think I might just do that on my own. I like Stevenson’s other stuff so I think that this would be a fun read.

I’ll be honest though – I do miss the princess movies.

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Fun fact: This is my 500th blog post!!

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Halloween Reads: 2014

How many times does it take to make a tradition? Three? Well in that case, welcome to my annual “What To Read for Halloween” post. (See 2013 and 2012 here.) Don’t be scared, but there may be some spoOoOoOoky rereads…

(That doesn’t really make sense.)

Happy October! This is the only time of year I get excited about reading a certain genre to match the time of year. (Well, I also like chick lit during the summer.)

Here’s what I’m reading for Halloween this year!

a kiss before dyingA Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin. I have raved about him before. He’s amazing. This book is great for rereads. So much fun. Ira Levin. ❤ ❤ ❤

 

 

somethingwickedSomething Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. I haven’t read this one in a couple years but it’s PERFECT for Halloween, so I’m going for it.

 

 

haunting-hill-house-shirley-jacksonThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I was going to read this last year but spent the entire month getting through two epic Stephen King* books. I tried to make this year’s list a lot more manageable and I will put this one near the top of the list. Concise, creepy, and way better than the movie it spawned, The Haunting of Hill House has been known to keep me up at night in the past.

200px-DeathtrapPlayDeathtrap by Ira Levin. Speaking of manageable books, this one is actually a play. Nominated in 1978 for the Tony Award for Best Play, this play within a play has been done all over – and is actually being done this month at Center REPertory Company in Walnut Creek. Check it out!

 

GraveyardBook_01-1024X768The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. It comes highly recommended, and I’ve loved the Gaiman stuff I’ve read before. With a name like “The Graveyard Book,” it should be ideal for Halloweentime. Plus, it was only like $6 for the paperback on Amazon. Sold.

You may have noticed…I don’t have any Stephen King on this list! Shocking, I know, but it’s okay. There’s always next year! (Or November.)

Happy Halloween!

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The anti Christ-figure

Lately I’ve been obsessing over two TV dramas: House of Cards (which has two seasons out on Netflix and if you’re not watching it right now you should be) and Game of Thrones (which is in its fourth season on HBO and if you’re not watching it right now you should be).

They’re both political dramas, although Game of Thrones is set in a fantasy world while House of Cards is set in good old Washington, DC. Let me get one thing straight: I do not care about politics. I don’t understand most of politics. The very word “politics” is boring to me. But these two shows are not just about politics. They are about manipulation, psychology, and (best of all) psychosis. They are about bad people doing terrible things for their own gain, and yet we tune in over and over again because we JUST HAVE TO KNOW what’s going to happen next.

One of my favorite characters on Game of Thrones is Petyr Baelish, or Littlefinger. I recently referred to him as “the Frank Underwood of Westeros.” Frank Underwood is the main character on House of Cards. It had just occurred to me at that moment how similar they are.

anti-christ figures

Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and Lord Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen)

Both of these guys are ruthless. They both want all of the power, right now, and will do whatever it takes to get it. But they’re not rash – they both have well-thought out plans, complete with backup plans, and backup-backup plans. Often, you think they’ve been foiled, only to find out later that they were just playing the other characters like well-tuned instruments.

Both of them have done (and will, I’m sure, continue to do) horrible things. Often, they’re doing these things to other characters who are genuinely likable. And yet…I still love both of these characters. I bafflingly, disproportionately, love them.

Is it just that I have a fondness for the character who somehow knows all, sees all, and masterminds all? For the guy who is always three steps ahead of the other guy, somehow even leading that other guy by the nose, making him think he’s making his own decisions, and then BOOM. Sorry, other guy.

I used to think I loved the Christ-figure – those Gandalfs, Dumbledores, and Aslans. They are also seemingly omniscient, and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the good of everyone. They are good guys, and they often come back to explain their sacrifice, to commend others for their sacrifices, and to bring the whole thing together in a happy (ish) ending.

Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen), Dumbledore, and Aslan

Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen), Aslan, and Dumbledore

Was it just that I hadn’t yet been introduced to the anti Christ-figure (not the “anti Christ”-figure, I want to be clear about that – just the anti- “Christ figure”) that I didn’t realize how much more interesting these characters could be? I mean, I cheered when the deceased Gandalf the Grey came back as Gandalf the White, sure I did, but was it really so surprising?

The good guy is more predictable than the bad guy. And the Christ-figure is the most predictable at all. We pretty much know the life lesson we’re going to learn from those guys. Stand up for your friends. Do unto others. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Love conquers all. Do the right thing. Stand your ground in the face of evil. Don’t give up on good. It’s kindergarten stuff at its core, whether you’re facing down the White Witch or the cyber bully or He Who Must Not Be Named.

The bad guys – the anti Christ-figures – are infinitely more interesting. What BS crazy thing are they going to do today in the name of getting one rung higher on the power ladder. They wouldn’t possibly – no one could – OMG DID YOU SEE THAT??

I never had that reaction to Aslan allowing Jadis to shave and humiliate him, I’ll tell you that.

So today I’m singing the praises of the guy who’s in control, the guy pulling the strings behind the curtain, the guy looking out for numero uno, even when it means stepping all over numeros dos through ciento. Because he’s keeping things interesting. Let’s give that guy a round of applause. (Just as long as he stays on our TV screens, fictional, and far away.)

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All 617 Tiny Little Pieces

I wouldn’t say I’m a neat freak. But I do like things to be organized. And complete.

That said, B has a variety of toys. Many of these toys come in sets. Like a set of 8 stacking cups, or 12 books…or 75 plastic food items. (I saw that at Target for $10 and had to get it for him.)

Sometimes we do a quick clean-up at night, and just kind of collect everything in his toy drawer unit. But sometimes I have to sit down and put things back into their actual sets (and sometime their actual boxes) and see if all the pieces are, in fact, there.

I do this with varying success.

photo (10)1. From the top…the 75-piece food set. Once we got it open, we realized how much, shall we say, brand influence there was on this set. There’s some Hamburger Helper and a Betty Crocker cake mix and some Progresso soup. I still really like this set though, although the last couple days when B has pulled this out and looked at me hopefully, I’ve surveyed the soup of other small toy pieces on the living room floor…and redirected his attention.

2. Wooden alphabet blocks. I love them so much. Although do NOT step on one, it is SO painful. I’m not even sure how many there are in the set, but I counted 40 back in the bag, which sounds right.

3. Noah’s Ark set. This isn’t even fair because they don’t all fit into the ark. So it’s tricky.

4. Disney baby animal books. As soon as B sees any of them in the box they come in, he has to dump them out. But he loves these books. I don’t know when was the last time I saw all 12 books together.

5. While I was assessing the various sets of toys, I spotted these blocks and went to see if all 13 were actually accounted for. Which was a mistake, because then B was like OH YEAH I LOVE THOSE BLOCKS WHY ARE THEY CONSOLIDATED IN THAT CARRYING COMPARTMENT.

6. I love this train. But I find the pieces everywhere. Lately I’ve started putting it all back together whenever I get a chance. I had finally, finally found the last pieces right before I took that picture – I was actually saying to Drew, “Hold him for a sec, just a sec, hold him back–” while I was trying to grab my phone and turn on the camera, while B was crawling maniacally playfully toward the train to reclaim the smokestack for his own.

This is just scratching the surface. If anyone ever tells you that your child will accumulate a lot of stuff…they’re not kidding. People cannot resist giving toys to kids. And I totally get it. But I think I will start looking for nice, 1-piece toys to give to my friends’ kids from now on.

On the other hand…this weekend he started picking up his Duplos from the ground and putting them BACK in the box…which could open up a whole new world for us.

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Filed under Baby, Children, Family, Humor, Love, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sentiment

10 Books That Are Important To Me

This thing was going around on Facebook, and One Classy Dame tagged me to do it, but I felt like it deserved slightly more space and thought than just a Facebook status or note.

Then I forgot about it for a month.

But I remembered. And so I thought I would share with you 10 books that have been important in my life.

Dollanganger01_FlowersInTheAttic1. Flowers in the Attic by VC Andrews. I found a copy of this book in my grandma’s house when I was about 9 years old, and it set me on a course of trashy romance novels, from which I’ve never fully recovered. I’m sure I would have turned out to be an entirely different person, had I not discovered these types of books. I certainly wouldn’t have been the sixth-grader who took them to school so my friends could also read the trashy parts. (Yikes.)

2. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery / Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Two wonderful books, particularly for young girls, written by excellent female writers. I was deep in my VC Andrews phase when my parents got me a copy of each of these books for Christmas, and I remember being vaguely disappointed. (I’m really sorry, Mom and Dad!) But then I read the books, and I liked them. I reread both of these books in 2013 and they’re even better than I remembered.

3. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. The first time I’ve ever liked a book and a movie adaptation, as separate things. It happens rarely…but it happens.

4. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Okay, this is kind of a long story but bear with me. When I was younger, we made a lot of movies. Not exactly home movies, because it wasn’t stuff like birthday parties and Christmas morning. We would make movies for class projects or just for fun. And I remember making some kind of movie, where I – as a middle schooler – was reading The Grapes of Wrath to my little brother, who was at that point maybe…10 years old? I have no idea what this was for. And we kept cutting away to show the clock ticking forward, and I’d be further in the book, and my brother would be more and more bored. And finally by the time I read the last lines, I think he was gone maybe? Or just asleep? I don’t remember. Anyway, at the time of making that movie, I tried to read The Grapes of Wrath, and I was SO BORED. Then, in my junior year of high school, we read it in my English class…and I loved it. I couldn’t understand why, just a few short years before, I hadn’t gotten into it. So, to me, this book is a solid representation of growing up and maturing.

5. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s held a spot on my favorite books list for the last, like, 15 years. Barbara Kingsolver offered me an eloquent way to express the feelings I was having about faith in high school. I printed out a quote from the book and had it stapled to my wall along with everything else in the world that I thought defined me. (The “it” in the first line is the Bible, by the way.)

photo (7)Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to not print in an artsy font.

6. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. My first exposure to nonfiction humor. Before that, I assumed “nonfiction” meant “history book” or “book on how to refinish a dresser.” David Sedaris, a gem in and of himself, opened up an entirely new world of reading to me.

7. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. The first time I ever cried while reading. You know what I’m talking about.

8. You’re Not You by Michelle Wildgen. I don’t know anyone else who’s read this book, and I don’t remember how I found it, but I’m obsessed with it. The writing is incredible, it’s gorgeous to read, you just know she labored over crafting every sentence. Plus, the plot is enthralling. (I actually just discovered there’s a movie coming out this year, with Emmy Rossum and Hilary Swank, and yes I’ll totally watch it.)

9. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth MD. I read a bunch of parenting books when I was pregnant, to prepare myself, and then I read a bunch of books on dealing with an infant, when I had an infant. This was the first book that I got partway into…and just had to toss out the window. There was so much BS in it, and I figured I had two choices: I could either throw it all away, or I could go crazy trying to follow all these rules to have the perfect child. This book represents my revelation that you read some books, you talk to some people, you do what works for you. And everything will be all right.

10. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. I know…it’s cheating. But these books (all seven of them) feel like family to me. Like, I know there are some minor plot holes. I know that some people have complaints about them. I know they’re totally overexposed. And I DON’T CARE. To me, they are perfect. I have all these memories: of reading The Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time and realizing this was something great; of sitting, waiting for the mail when the fifth book was coming out, and reading it all in a day; of Drew declaring his intention to read them all out loud to me once I was pregnant. (For the record, we are on the seventh book – it’s slower going now, but we’re still making progress.) These books are ingrained in my adolescent and adult life…and I’m proud of that.

HP collectionA set of hardcover for posterity; a set of paperback for actual reading; and some spares.

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Why I quit nanowrimo 2013

Okay. So, I realize that technically there are still 4 more days in November; and that if you can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it; and it’s not over until the fat lady sings, etc etc. But here’s the thing. I have some really good reasons for why I’ve decided to quit Nanowrimo this year.

1. Ultimately this is about fun. So when I’m having an adult temper tantrum because I “have” to write, then the purpose has been defeated. At least for me.

2. I guard my sleep jealously these days (since it’s still interrupted multiple times a night, and it’s always over by 7am at the latest). I’m not about to stay up until 2am writing, like I used to.

3. I thought I liked my story, until I got to a point that I was like, what the heck is this about. (Yes, I know that’s kind of the point of this whole thing.) But then I abandoned it midstream and switched to this YA novel idea. And it was downhill from there.

4. I also joined a dietbet this month, and I won that, so you know, you win some, you lose some.

5. When I started this, I was shooting for 25,000 words (the “real” goal is 50,000). I figured that 25,000 would still be impressive, especially with the other things I’ve had going on this month. And I made it to about 32,000 words. So I think that’s something to be proud of.

So…that’s that. Sorry, I hate when people just whine about how busy they are. But I’m not going to spend the next four days (and over Thanksgiving, even!) feeling guilty and stressed about this. There’s too much other stuff to pay attention to. Sorry, unfinished weird novel. I’ll read you over in a few months and see what’s salvageable. RIP.

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