Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Giveaway

As I tripped over a stack of books in my living room floor, spilling a bowl of blue corn tortilla chips onto the carpet, I thought mid-fall, "Perhaps I have too many books." Also, OH SHIT MY CORN CHIPS, but mostly just the first one.

I don't really own too many books. It's more that I don't own enough shelves, or the wall space to accommodate them. Thus the floor stacks. And the counter stacks, and the nightstand stacks, and the refrigerator stacks (give me time).

I'll be putting a bunch of books up for sale on and for free on BookMooch later this week, but I thought I would give you guys first dibs. So if you see a book you want (limit one per person) in the list below, just leave a comment with your name and the title of the book. Please check that no one else has requested it already (first come, first serve). Then send me an email at scifibrarian (at) gmail (dot) com with your address and I'll mail it out.

Your book will probably come with other goodies too. Maybe a bookmark? Or some lulinternet stickers? This feather that just fell out of my pillow? The possibilities are endless.

Here you go:

When She Woke, by Hillary Jordan. Hardcover. My review here.

The Telling, by Ursula Le Guin. Hardcover. I unknowingly acquired two copies. Like I said, too many books.

The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits, by Lewis Carroll. Hardcover, illustrated -  a Melville House book. For the kiddies. Or the eccentric adult.

Us, by Michael Kimball. Paperback. My review here.

during my nervous breakdown i want to have a biographer present, by Brandon Scott Gorrell. Again, two copies. My review here.

I Have the Right to Destroy Myself, by Young-Ha Kim. Paperback. My review here.

Mr. Peanut, by Adam Ross. Paperback.

Sin City, by Frank Miller. Paperback. No comment. Okay, comment. I hated it. I'll take Alan Moore over Frank Miller any day. But maybe you'll like it!

I also have two extra copies of Artifice Magazine issue #4. I'll be glad to send one with the book you choose, or just the magazine by itself. A small little journal, but filled with incredible writing.

Anything not claimed by Tuesday, March 6th will be thrown to the rest of the internet.

Roger Ebert: Life Itself

I'm outsourcing my book reviewing! Not really. But below is a syndicated article written by a friend of mine, reviewing Roger Ebert's Life Itself: A Memoir.

This article is reprinted with permission from Movie Reviews by Dusty. You can find the original article HERE.

When hearing the name Roger Ebert, many people picture a short chubby man who argues about movies. Those who follow his work closely (like me) realize that he's also an accomplished writer who provides valuable insight on a range of topics including movies. With the publishing of "Life Itself" both casual viewers and loyal fans of Ebert get a extensive view of the man behind the image.

If you follow Roger's blog, you have a general idea of his health issues. He had cancerous tumors removed from glands in his neck a few years ago. The surgery was more extensive than had been predicted and required Ebert's lower jaw to be removed. After several failed attempts at reconstruction, he has resigned himself to accept his current status. He's no longer able to speak, eat, or drink.

While many people would retire or fall into depression, Ebert has remained active and arguably, is more productive than ever before. In my opinion, Ebert has had a surge of introspection due to his close encounters with mortality. I think the book says this too, but never in such a direct way. His online journal is constantly updated with personal stories and opinions while his following on Facebook and Twitter have never been better. He won the Webby "Person of the year" award in 2010 and was honored with a lifetime achievement award by that association. Though he's lost his voice, he's gained a powerful, inspirational voice in the virtual world.

"Life Itself" is a culmination of Ebert's personal journals. Many of the stories are actually reprinted directly from his blog. Other chapters contain interviews and essays he wrote earlier in his career. This may seem like a cheap way to make a book longer, but when read along with the new material one views the articles with a perspective that is otherwise impossible.

Before reading the book I never realized how well-read and well-traveled Mr. Ebert was. You wouldn't think a movie critic would have the time to bury himself in books. Yet, he does exactly that in both a literal and figurative way. There are so many books in his home office that he barely has room to open a door. With a bit of mortar you could build a life-size replica of the Empire State Building from Ebert's books.

His travels began at an early age. Roger enrolled in a college program that allowed him to spend time in South Africa. He also spends an entire chapter describing every step he ever took in London. There are similar fond recollections of Venice and Cannes. He has truly been a world traveler for his entire life.

The personal details revealed in this book are a testament to courage. Many reviewers have mentioned the passage where Roger describes losing his virginity to a South African prostitute, but it's the emotional disclosures that really impacted me. He talks at length about his alcoholism and its effect on his relationships, many that could have lead to marriage. Though he's never had children, he conveys a great desire to have them. He admits to sending money to a woman claiming to bear an illegitimate child of his. He's not gullible, but has a strong subconscious desire to be a father. Those paternal instincts have been at least partially fulfilled by his full acceptance into his wife's family. His wife is black and Ebert gives us his honest opinions about what it's like to marry into a black family. He refers to them as if they were blood relatives and you get the sense that he also thinks of them that way also.

Ebert's interviews with celebrites are considered some of the best. His style is unique and uninvasive. When he visits with someone like Robert Mitchum, it's truly a visit. He simply spends time with his subject and writes down every action they take along with every word they speak. This allows them to speak on their own terms which usually yields surprising results. He laments that his loss of speech has taken his ability to have a real conversation with people he admires. Though he is content in his current condition, he still desires to have intimate conversations with the current crop of movie stars like he did in his prime.

His celebrity profiles are excellent, but my favorite chapter is a profile of one of Ebert's friends. The man called Billy "Silver Dollar" Baxter turns out to be a bigger character than any movie star. Roger met him at Cannes where "Silver Dollar" was king. He was a beloved figure at the Cannes Film Festival even though he never called anyone by their name and never tipped more than a dollar. This chapter is a reprint from one of Roger's journal entries, but it absolutely belongs in the book. It exemplifies the unique writing style for which Ebert is known. Because it's a online journal entry I can link to it HERE. Consider it an excerpt.

"Life Itself" begins with Ebert's birth and ends in the current year, never sparing a detail. I'm not sure what else you can expect from a memoir. Even though I was already a fan, I found that Roger Ebert's life has a depth of character that most lives will never attain. If you didn't admire him before, you might after reading "Life Itself". If you already admired him, you will do so even more.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Oscar Snubs of 2011

It's my blog and I can talk about movies if I want to.

The Oscars are only a few days away. Normally I would be incredibly excited; the Academy Awards are my Super Bowl, after all.

But this go around, the excitement isn't there. I was severely disappointed with the nominations this year. It wasn't a particularly spectacular, mind-blowing year for film, but there were still plenty of gems. The Academy apparently didn't dig deep enough to find them. Or more likely, they were found, tossed aside, and the loudest, most obvious pieces of fool's gold were chosen instead.

The Best Picture catgory this year is full of feel-good, cliche-ridden, emotional wank fests. War Horse? Really? It was like Spielberg was trying to parody himself. Oh look it's the horse that brings opposing soldiers together and it saves the farm and it's going to save this blind kid and oh here's a dying child. Whenever I watch "horse films" I always imagine the horses being like "fuck this shit" while the humans paw all over them. What I'd really like to watch is a horse movie where the horse is just like a complete asshole. He's completely uninspiring and every person he comes in contact with has a worse life because of him. Call it something like "My Mortal Enemy Flicka."

[EDIT: I'd like to add as a disclaimer that I haven't yet seen Hugo, so please don't take this as an outright complaint against all the nominees. I'm not saying they're all horrible films. I just feel like they're all safe picks, with the exception of Tree of Life.]

There were some Oscar snubs this year of fairly popular films like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Both of which I thought were good films, but not necessarily Oscar-worthy. And there are lesser-known films (which I haven't seen yet) that the Academy has been criticized for excluding, like Melancholia, Shame, and We Need to Talk About Kevin.

But this is a list of films I HAVE seen this year that I felt were unjustly denied nominations.

Talk about an incredible performance by Elizabeth Olsen. Olsen playes Martha, an escapee from a dangerous cult who seeks refuge at her sister's house. While refusing to discuss her experience, the tension between the siblings steadily grows. Meanwhile, Martha has difficulty separating reality from her dreams, and by the end, so is the audience. I love films that play with the audience's perception of time and reality, and this one turned out the be a mind-bender, though it wasn't advertised as such. Disturbing and a bit creepy, it was nonetheless fantastic.

Nominations it should have received:

Elizabeth Olsen for Best Actress

Nominations it actually received: zero.

I love it when a smart, unique action film comes along. Hanna doesn't sport a particularly original storyline -- telling the story of a child hidden and raised in the wilderness to become a warrior -- the film makes up for it in great characterization in the protagonist, played by Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones). Hanna is a fierce fighter, confronted by new experiences, new acquaintances, and a world harsher than the frozen tundra where she was raised. If you're tired of action films filled with CGI, constant slow-motion kung fu, and female action stars in leather, you should check this one out. And if you like it, you should also get your hands on a copy of Chocolate, a Thai film directed by Prachya Pinkaew, featuring an autistic girl as the ass-kicking heroine. The fighting scenes in both of these films are phenomenal, and are shot in longer takes, such as in Oldboy. No epilepsy-inducing strobe editing here.

Nominations it should have received:

Best Score. Hanna has an excellent score written by the Chemical Brothers (sample). Most scores aren't noticeable, but this definitely was. Another film's score that should have been nominated is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, arranged by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor (sample). I thought it would be a shoe-in, after the Fincher/Ross/Reznor success last year with The Social Network. Instead, The Artist (sample) and War Horse (sample) are nominated in this category. Fun fact: both scores made me want to run out of the theater screaming. I love John Williams, but this wasn't his shining moment. And he's nominated twice this year, also for The Adventures of Tintin. He's like the Meryl Streep of film scoring.

Then again, I've never trusted the Academy on the film score category, since Clint Mansell has never been nominated in it. unacceptable. Have you heard the soundtracks to Moon or The Fountain? Requiem for a Dream or Black Swan? Just, the best. And do you know how long it took to retrieve all the links in the last two paragraphs? Like 15 minutes. You're welcome.

Nominations it actually received: zero.

I went into the theater not wearing eye makeup, knowing I would bawl my eyes out. And I did. Loosely based on the real life experience of screenwriter Will Reiser and friend Seth Rogen, it portrays a young man's struggle with cancer, and how he and his family deal with the situation. The way the film deals with death felt incredibly real. Death isn't falling on your knees and yelling into the sky "NOOOOO!!!" (cue montage). It's on a hospital bed, saying goodbye to your loved ones, knowing it may be the last time you see them -- a 50/50 shot that you'll never be in this world again (cue me and my friend blubbering in the theater).

Nominations it should have received:

Best Original Screenplay by Will Reiser. It packs just the right amount of humor and empathy, without it becoming an exercise in emotional masturbation (cough warhorse cough).

Best Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. An all-around great performance. The fact that he isn't nominated makes me want to kick George Clooney in his handsome face.

Nominations it actually received: zero. I actually went back and checked this like three times to be sure. That's how surprised I am that it wasn't nominated for anything.

I wasn't as blown away by this film as I hoped I would be, given the rave reviews and recommendations from its fans. But I was still impressed. It had a unique style and pacing, and the soundtrack was wonderful. The protagonist reminded me a lot of Leon from Luc Besson's The Professional, since both are silent, moralistic men working in immoral professions. And I'll have you know it only took me ~45 minutes into it to realize the title was a double entendre. I are a college graduate.

Nominations it should have received:

Most supporters of the film are upset that Ryan Gosling didn't get a Best Actor nomination. But I don't think there was quite enough to his role to warrant one. He was even better in Lars and the Real Girl. I would go more along the lines of Best Editing. The scene when the Driver kisses Carey Mulligan in the elevator in slow motion? Perfect.

Nominations it actually received: Best Sound Editing. If you say so. Wouldn't call myself an expert on this category.

If you asked me to name my favorite film of all time I would laugh in your face. But ask by year and chances are I could answer. And my favorite film of 2011 was Young Adult. I felt like it was criminally underrated, and hasn't been coming up at all in the "best of" conversations. This is a shame.

Directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, the same team behind Juno, it's a character and dialogue-driven film that lives up to their previous collaboration. Marketed as a comedy, it turns out to be a pretty dark film; it's anything but quirky.

Following her divorce, YA fiction writer Mavis Gary returns to her small hometown to steal back her married high school flame. Stuck in a perpetual fantasy land, Mavis is delusional and refuses to accept reality: that she is no longer the prom queen, and that "true love" doesn't always conquer all. Or possibly even exist. It's pretty dark and a bit depressing, without a feel-good ending, which is probably why audiences didn't flock to it like they would, say, Slumdog Millionaire.

Nominations it should have received:

Best Original Screenplay, Diablo Cody. I thought Cody's writing was marvelous. The characters, the dialogue -- let's all just forget Jennifer's Body and focus on the two brilliant pieces she has put forward.

Best Actress, Charlize Theron. It can't be easy playing such a despicable and pathetic character, and still manage to make the audience identify and eventually feel sorry for her.

Possibly a Best Supporting Actor for Patton Oswalt. I admit I'm a bit biased here since I love Patton. But he showed off his serious acting chops in his role as "hate crime" Matt, the loser in high school (and afterwards) who becomes the voice of reason for Mavis.

I can't wait to see this film again when it's released on DVD mid-March. It was the little things that all together made it spectacular. The fact that in high school she was given the "Best Hair" award, and now she wears a wig. The manicure scenes that show the development of her character, and her change of tactics (black when she's on the offense, clear when she's ready to come clean, etc). The KenTacoHut (the combination KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut). Matt's sister yelling from the kitchen about ranch dressing... it is a comedy too.

My beef with the Academy

A report came out a few days ago that revealed the members who vote on the Oscars are overwhelmingly white and male. Specifically, the group is 94% white, and 77% are men. That is nowhere near an accurate representation of the audiences who watch movies -- or even the people who make them. So is it any surprise that of the nine Best Picture nominees, only ONE features a female lead character? The Help. It's also the only film featuring a lead who is a person of color. Not just lead, come to think of it -- persons of color are almost entirely absent from the scripts of the other eight nominees; unless you count the "savages" in The Artist, and I don't think you want to do that. The Help has come under a lot of scrutiny itself for its portrayal of black women and racism in the 1960s (I won't be jumping into that), so its nomination probably feels bittersweet to many. Such as when Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture in 1989, while Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing wasn't even nominated. Guess which one you will actually watch in a respectable film class. Regardless of what you think about The Help (I liked it, and I feel like I've been apologizing for liking it ever since), you have to agree that Viola Davis' performance was spell bounding, and I will be crossing my fingers for her Sunday night.

So why do the nominations this year feel so old and stale? Probably because old, stale people are voting for them. With the exception of Tree of Life, the Best Picture noms are exercises in old-fashioned filmmaking. In the case of The Artist, very old-fashioned. I have such a love/hate relationship with the Oscars. On one hand I love to see great films get recognition, where otherwise only those making $100 million plus get any notice. On the other hand films like Crash, Braveheart, and Shakespeare in Love (and nearly The Blindside one year, god help us all) end up winning the top prize. Ten-year-old me loved Braveheart. But the Academy's voter pool shouldn't be made up of ten-year-old me's.

I'll still be watching Sunday night, probably cursing up a storm and throwing things at the tv. I'll be cheering for Emmanuel Lubezki to win Best Cinematography for Tree of Life, Jean Dujardin for Best Actor in The Artist, and Midnight in Paris for pretty much anything. I'll look for Jack Nicholson in the front row wearing sunglasses, and will be sad when he isn't there. I'll probably be laughing at whatever Billy Crystal is saying, and praying he comes back next year.

Then I'll pick up a book, read it in its entirety, and share what I thought about it on this blog. HAHHAHHAAAAHHAHA. Sure.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ann Patchett and Colbert on bookstores

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Ann Patchett
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

I love the end. Don't think I've ever seen Colbert speechless before.

I've always wanted to visit Patchett's bookstore in Nashville. But an 8 hour drive could take me so many other places...I'd rather go in another direction than towards Tennessee. I even have the option anyway. There's $7.24 in my checking account. Here's to possibly affording a ham sandwich for lunch!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

one more thing

In defense of print books

I defended ebooks. Now I'll defend what probably doesn't need much defending...yet. Regardless, I'm going to whip out my list of complaints and rant like Andy Rooney calling IT support.

1. Value

When you buy a print book, you buy a thing that actually exists. It has value. Without electricity, it is still there. In the motion picture 2012 starring John Cusack, when the world ended there was apparently only one book left or something, and it was a print book. And it was written by John Cusack.

Print books are covered by the right of first sale. Once you buy it, you can do anything you want with it (other than copy it and distribute those copies). You can give it away. You can sell it for $1. You can sell it for $1,000,000. You can wear it as a hat. You can tear out its pages and line a litter box. You can buy it for a public library and an unlimited number of people can check it out and read it. Unless they read it with cheeto fingers, and then you have to buy a replacement copy. But you can buy that copy used, thanks to the right of first sale.

That giant book you see above is a copy of Audubon's Birds of America, and it's one of the most expensive books in the world. In 2000 it sold for $11.5 million.

2. Bookstores

There's no crying in baseball, and there are no ebooks in bookstores.

Once upon a time there existed places where you could browse for real life things, and then buy them in real life. CUH-RAZY I know. Sure the clerks were a bit snooty; particularly when you bought anything where the author's name was in larger font than the title. But then you climbed up one of those rolling ladders, glided along like Belle (holding back the urge to burst into song), and found a rare hardback copy of The Mouse and His Child that you loved as a kid, and you squeal a little bit (and not because it's about mice).

My favorite bookstore, Ram's Head Books, is closing. After 48 years. Now there are zero independent bookstores selling new books within 50 miles of Roanoke. They had an incredible collection, and I never, not once, went inside without buying something. Sorry if I'm a bit sore over it.

A few ideas on how this can stop happening:

Indie bookstores can survive. But they'll have to change tactics. Practically every book that has ever been printed is available for purchase online. And chances are it's cheap. If you try to stock every title imaginable, you will fail. If you stock only bestsellers, you will fail. If a reader knows what they want, they can (and will) buy it online, or at Barnes and Noble. Instead, stock what they didn't know they wanted. Make walking into your store an experience of awe and surprise. Only stock the good stuff. Stock good authors -- people you've read. You know that "other customers bought" thing on Amazon? Emulate that. Also, it couldn't hurt to just make sure your store is attractive. Take some pointers from the 20 most beautiful bookstores in the world.

Bookstores aren't libraries and they shouldn't try to be. Book spines aren't interesting -- book covers are everything. Your customers are there to buy a physical object; so give them one! Buy gorgeous books: hardcovers with thick paper and slipcases. Autographed rare prints that weigh 20lbs. Coffee table books about coffee tables.

Take my most recent print book purchase, Matt Kish's Moby-Dick in Pictures. It's absolutely gorgeous. A book to own, no doubt. 552 original illustrations for all 552 pages of Moby Dick. You could buy it as an ebook. But I'm not sure why you would. Seems kind of greedy. This is a book you want to share with people. You want people to come in to your apartment, see it, and exclaim "wow, that is such a cool idea!" and then spend the next 45 minutes leafing through it. Then you're both late to go see The Descendants, but that's okay, because it turned out to be overrated anyway.

3. vintage is a thing right

analog is totally making a comeback. we can be hipster together and listen to some LPs while reading kerouac in paperback. i'll take some polaroids and we can pay for things at urban outfitters with pennies. this was purposely written in helvetica.

4. Turn on a dime

Now I'm going to pretend like I know what the hell I'm talking about.

Lets talk about ebook publishers and distributors. When they sell you an ebook, is it really yours? How easy would it be for them to take it back? Or decide not to sell it to you in the first place?

Back in 2008, Amazon ruffled some feathers when they deleted copies of Orwell's 1984  and Animal Farm from customers' Kindles. Of all the books to delete. The copies were illegal because they were sold from an unauthorized publisher. So it wasn't some sort of Orwellian censorship of....Orwell. But what bothered people was the realization that Amazon could (and would) take away things you thought you owned. And they didn't have to break into your house to do it.

In Fahrenheit 451, teams of firemen had to locate, invade, and incinerate entire houses filled with illegal books. In the age of ebooks, it takes one button. Imagine George Jetson sitting at his job, pushing one button over and over. His finger slips, he hits the wrong button. Poof, the entire canon of Western literature is erased. George Jetson shrugs and goes for a jog on his outdoor treadmill.

And the money? Publishing is a business after all. The dime is the bottom line. And what's a better way of making money than selling someone a book they don't have to pay to print, the customer has to buy an expensive device in order to read (which constantly outdates itself and has to be replaced, and oh looka there, is manufactured by the same distributor who sold the book), isn't covered by first sale, can't be shared, sold, or transferred, and after all that, still charge the same price for it as a print book?

That's not a dime. That's a billion dollars.

But a billion isn't nearly enough, says Penguin, who recently withdrew their titles from Overdrive, a popular ebook platform for public libraries. Why? Because they're afraid it would ultimately affect their sales. Access to ebooks, they claim, is too easy for patrons. They're actually reading the literature we publish! For free! The horror! What is this, a publicly sponsored program to promote literacy, education, and information regardless of an individual's background or income? Sounds like socialism to me. We'll take our ebooks over here, thank you very much.

Funny thing about print books -- you can't pick and choose who you sell them to.Or suddenly change your mind and take them back.

My issue with ebooks is entirely over the ownership thing. You won't find me over in the corner stroking paperbacks and mumbling conspiracy theories about the FBI on the internet or anything. What I'm saying is when you buy an ebook you end up paying for the experience of reading it. Which is totally fine and wonderful and I do it too. But that experience, and not the ownership, should determine the pricing.

When I pay for the experience of seeing a movie in the theater, my $10 is paying every single person listed in the credits. Take, for example, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. 1,895 people listed in the credits. That's a half penny per person when I get my ticket. Really it's less since part of it goes to the theater. A fraction of a penny! Those greedy bastards. Next time I hear someone complain about expensive movie tickets I'm going to punch them in the wiener. Then when the movie is released on DVD, the price is higher. Because you're paying to permanently own that movie. On a thing that exists.

When you're paying for an experience, and not an item, the price should be reflected accordingly. Support the publisher and the asshole who wrote the book. But we shouldn't be paying for a printing press, shipping costs, and a bookstore front, when there aren't any. As of now, the prices haven't evened out, and publishers are making a killing off of selling thin air.

This has been a fairly grumpy defense, and I apologize. I promise I'm not a mad mountain woman living next to a Walden-esque pond, yelling at trees and debating with squirrels. I'll end on a light-hearted point.

If print books disappear, how will we make animated videos of books coming alive at night?

See also:
(From 1946 and 1938. So yeah, be prepared for profound racism.)

What would Sebastian steal from the store?


Possibly diet pills. Someone send Macaulay Culkin a pizza. Just make sure it's plain cheese.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Internet Lovelies

There's a librarian themed Ryan Gosling tumblr.

Through the long span of reading it and not reading it, just looking at it, or carrying it around, I kept thinking about art. It’s power, its lack of power, what it does to the hypercultured; I’d call most readers of this blog hypercultured. Does it blunt us to the real trauma around us? To the relationships and forms that are actually unavoidable? I wouldn’t be surprised. I do know that art really can “humanize” someone, in that it can make them really aware of other minds and ways of life, painfully & acutely aware, for the first time. It’s becoming harder to fight off the idea that art is best as a benign storehouse for excess energy, for ideas or behaviors that would normally be considered weird or offensive, and that, at its best and most beautiful, is contagious and hooks people into its practice and community, in order to grow itself as a form of human activity; but why fight this? In other words, art as/is the least harmful cultural node.
Ken Baumann on reading 2666, Link

Least harmful? Possibly. But there is this Flavorwire list of the most dangerous novels of all time.
The deep foundation of the US – so went my thinking – was not the comparatively recent 18th-century Enlightenment structures of the republic, with their talk of equality and their separation of church and state, but the heavy-handed theocracy of 17th-century Puritan New England, with its marked bias against women, which would need only the opportunity of a period of social chaos to reassert itself.

I made a rule for myself: I would not include anything that human beings had not already done in some other place or time, or for which the technology did not already exist. I did not wish to be accused of dark, twisted inventions, or of misrepresenting the human potential for deplorable behaviour. The group-activated hangings, the tearing apart of human beings, the clothing specific to castes and classes, the forced childbearing and the appropriation of the results, the children stolen by regimes and placed for upbringing with high-ranking officials, the forbidding of literacy, the denial of property rights: all had precedents, and many were to be found not in other cultures and religions, but within western society, and within the "Christian" tradition, itself.
Margaret Atwood on A Handmaid's Tale, Link

One day I'm going to spell "quince" in Scrabble. Until then I'll stick to the tried and true "qi".

MC Lars "Annabel Lee R.I.P." animated by "internet friend" John Sasser

Go to BetterWorldBook's Shop From Work sale and click the "Boss Button".

Graphic novelist Nate Powell answers the ShelfAwareness "Book Brahmin" questionnaire in an interesting way. I love his answers. A reader after my own heart.

Other updates:

- My laptop died so I bought a MacBook Pro. I'm scared of it and I feel like I'm supporting something evil. Like "the Empire" or something. And not the record store Empire.
- Driving home the other night I became momentarily convinced that I should drop everything and go back to school to become a screenwriter. I've never attempted to write a screenplay before. If I won the lottery I think I would try to write a screenplay and force someone to film it. How much would Tarantino cost.
- I've been reading nothing but trashy paperbacks and it's why I haven't had any quotes to share lately. Unless you want me to share passages with too many pronouns and descriptions of outfits in them. Sometimes I need to read bad things.
- My hair smells really good right now.
- Last weekend I went to a Tool concert. They're one of my favorite groups. I wrote my senior thesis while looping the album 10,000 Days. Someone commented that I didn't look like a Tool fan. Earlier in the week a patron refused to believe I wasn't a student. I still get carded at R movies. When in Best Buy, I'm typically followed by a trail of dudes in blue shirts who are convinced I don't know what I'm doing. One actually tried to talk me out of getting my DSLR last year. "Yeah this is a pretty advanced we got some pink ones over heeeeere...." I get called "sweetie" a lot. My appearance seems to be a constant source of disappointment to others. This isn't an emo moment. I just think it's funny that my baby face and gender will never allow me to be taken seriously outside of things to do with Miley Cyrus, sprinkles and rainbows.

Or it could be this cupcake shirt I'm wearing.

Monday, February 6, 2012

World Book Night 2012

You may or may not have seen the ad over here on the right ------->
I put up advertising World Book Night in the US.

It's a program where on April 23, 2012, thousands of book givers will hand out free copies of books to non- and light readers in their community. Each giver is given 20 copies of a particular book, which have been specially printed just for this occasion, free from the publisher. I just received a letter saying I've been approved as a giver, and I'll be handing out copies of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in April.

If you'd like to be a giver...there's still time! You have until midnight tonight (EST), February 6th, to fill out an application! They've extended the deadline, so I'm guessing they haven't had enough people apply. The application isn't hard, and you'll be doing a great service.

Plus, the list of books you can choose from to hand out are really great. The other 5 in the list I've read beside Immortal are I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Kindred, The Hunger Games, The Poisonwood Bible, The Namesake, and The Lovely Bones. Maybe one day I'll get into how Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible changed my life. Let's just say it's what made me decide to major in English and renounce 18 years of religious upbringing.