little_tristan: (Writer Snail)
The air in the house is so hot and dry, it's contributing to a new eye infection. Contributing because it's mostly my fault for rubbing it so compulsively the other night. Should have used the drops instead. Luckily I got a refill on the antibiotic/analgesic ointment last time and never opened it.

Mark worked Thursday through Saturday. They got almost everything done. I think they're going to finish this Saturday. But he got Sunday off. We watched Resident Evil on dvd. He'd never seen it before. Then I went to write and he joined me to watch streaming SPN on my computer.

It's the first time he's ever sat with me while I wrote. It's so happymaking that he's actually supportive enough to not comment on all the action-packed man-snuggling. He says he doesn't read over my shoulder, but he does.

He didn't like my calculating and posting the word count. He thinks competitive writing will interfere with what I do naturally. I told him if that was true, I would still be writing instead of posting the word count and playing FarmVille until the last episode finished. It's cute that he cares, but he doesn't understand. Sort of like when I'm hanging around watching him work. Except my work is more boring. There wasn't even any soldering.

Okay, I haven't really done anything else. I finished reading Scarlett Fever and now the library wants it back. But I want to keep it long enough to use it for quotes in the [profile] oddlittlecat discussion. Maybe I'll write my comments today.

The library wants Children of the Resistance, too, but I just started it. It's making me cry. Almost everything makes me cry right now. I'm not sure if it's seasonal or if it's just having my emotions so close to the surface while writing.

New stories are always like that. They come fresh from the emotional center of my brain and the door is wide open until it's finished. Well, a little longer. It's hard to get closed again. That's probably good. If it hadn't been open a crack for the rewrite of The Dancer, the new one wouldn't have been able to escape. It just made such a mess in there getting loose. Now I'm sobbing over Criminal Minds four times a day.

It's weird that I'm close to half-way through and still have no clue about the title. They should have told me by now. They keep whispering about a play on the word "Mass", as in the Catholic service, but I'm not listening. It's too predictable. Jimmy can do better. He's also suggested State of Grace, which has a nice romantic ring, but I still think he's being lazy.

I'm going to do some Christmas shopping and give him time to think.
little_tristan: (Books)
I forgot to turn my phone ringer back on after the concert Saturday. Goes to show how long it's been that I actually thought a ringing phone would be a distraction or something. Gunfire could easily have gone unnoticed by anyone more than four seats away.

So I didn't know Heather was calling all morning to tell me her son and the girl she babysits are both sick so she couldn't come over. I very much appreciate this. Being sick is the worst. If she doesn't get it, too, she'll be over Friday.

The dogs don't know it, but they'd be happy. Willow gets to stay inside and Ranger doesn't have to be on alert for the baby (who's almost THREE) trying to get off the couch. She knows he belongs there and is incredibly vigilant in her self-assigned duty.

Now I get to write all day. I'm very excited. Not only have I figured out what the ending is supposed to be, I think I'm onto a plausible way of getting there.

Plausible is one of my favorite words. It lets me write the most unlikely things without having to say it's a different universe than ours. A grand capacity to love and sacrifice should be probable. But I'll settle for plausible.

I also get to read. My Currently Reading stack is back to five. Or six. This morning I got back into Commandant of Auschwitz. I'm at the part where Hoess he explains how he wanted to run a clean, efficient camp full of healthy, well-fed prisoners who would be grateful and want to work hard in return.

It didn't work out for him (poor Hoess) because he was given incompetent and malicious underlings who refused to unlearn the cruelties they brought from other camp postings. And the young ones were no better, because they preferred to learn from the cruelest of the "old hands". So everyone ignored the poor misunderstood commandant, who was doing his best to accommodate his prisoners but simply couldn't be everywhere at once. The man literally begs for our sympathy, if not outright pity, for how hard he worked and how unappreciated he was.

I guess when you know you're going to get hung, there's no reason not to say whatever you want. It's a shame, though, that no one seems to have written a point by point historical breakdown of the claims he makes. One prisoner's brother did. A long footnote comments on all the inaccuracies written by Hoess about his "friendship" with the prisoner, who survived the camps and also read the book. They weren't friends.

It's going to be very hard to finish. But I still want to know.

Before bed I'll switch to Doug Adams.
little_tristan: (Books)
Identical twins Bruce and Brian Reimer were born in 1966, two happy and healthy babies with nice middle-class parents in Winnipeg. When they were eight months old, however, they developed a condition where their foreskins were healing over and blocking their urethrae, which caused painful urination. The fix was simple and easy: circumcision.
But sometimes simple isn't that easy after all... )
little_tristan: (Kindle)
This is a really aptly titled book, because I think Ann Heche might be crazy. She certainly was, and we have only her word that she's recovered her sanity, but she thought she was sane before, too. When she thought she was Jesus, when she was walking through the desert looking for the spaceship that was to take her to heaven--she was perfectly rational about all these things.

But. Whatever her mental state might be, she wrote a hell of a great book. It centers mostly around the subject of her childhood of hyper-religion, sex abuse and denial. Her father was a shadowy figure in his children's lives, always jetting off to work in New York at jobs that he never explained and that never brought in any money. Even his wife was clueless as to how he was buying the plane tickets. Well, he wasn't. His gay lovers were paying his way and his wife's cluelessness is pretty obviously deliberate. She doesn't take Anne to a doctor when she's an infant and breaks out with herpes on her face, nor does she attach any particular importance to the "diaper rash" that's so severe she can no longer actually wear diapers. She's a good Christian wife who obeys her husband without question, no matter what. Even when one of her daughters dies, apparently. It's just one of those things.
Cut for possibly triggering descriptions of child abuse )
little_tristan: (Kindle)
I went into this book expecting to love it. Seriously. It's the memoir of a female Marine who served in Mortuary Affairs, processing the dead and preparing them for the journey home. I was impressed by the review on NPR and ran right out to buy it (figuratively speaking--I ordered it for Booker).

But it has problems. First, Ms. Goodell isn't a writer. She had a co-author, which probably helped, but she doesn't know how to tell a story. It's repetitive in many places, and at the same time she also tends to refer to technical things for the entire book and then doesn't explain what they mean until three quarters of the way through. There are a lot of setups to what promise to be good stories, like the chapter on the additional strains on female Marines that ends by saying one responded by committing suicide, that never materialize. As she'd already told the story of a male Marine who blew his brains out, I naturally expected the next chapter to open with the story of the woman, but it doesn't. She's never mentioned again.

There are really only a couple chapters that deal with the specifics of Mortuary Affairs, which is the premise of the book. These contain some extremely gruesome details, and I'll never be able to look at the Dover pictures in the same way again (hint: what you think is in those boxes is probably not. It's probably something way worse than you can even imagine--unless you've read this book). But in a way it's like she's glossing over that. It reads less like a Mortuary Affairs Marine who happens to be female, and much more like a female Marine who happens to work in Mortuary Affairs. She expresses a great deal of bitterness toward the Marines in general, based on how she was treated as a woman, and disappointment in the service's failure to live up to her expectations. This is interesting and certainly worthy of a much longer book of its own, but it's not what this book is supposed to be about. The final 20% is the story of her post-Iraq life at home, her PTSD and abusive Marine boyfriend, and eventual return to college. Again, interesting and worthwhile, but not what was promised. There was also a disturbing lack of closure, in that she still seems to be involved with the boyfriend (after fleeing halfway across the country on two separate occasions to escape him), and doesn't really seem to have gotten her shit together at all.

But maybe that's the actual point of the book. Maybe she set out to write about processing the dead and shattered into the story that she ended up telling because it's the only story she can tell. Maybe the scattered incoherency with which she writes at times is simply the best she could do, and maybe that's ultimately all that matters. She tried to tell us what broke her, but in the end, all she could say was that she's broken.
little_tristan: (Kindle)
Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy's Journey to Becoming a Big Kid by Simon Pegg )

Devil's Knot by Mara Leveritt )

Dave Barry Talks Back by Dave Barry )

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides )

I also read Microserfs by Douglas Coupland for the third time in 18 months and still adore it (although the Kindle version is riddled with typos, some quite serious, like rendering the thought provoking new word interiority as inferiority; however, I recently got an email saying that there was a newly repaired edition of the single volume Lord of the Rings set that I bought months ago, and it downloaded for free the next time I connected, replacing the error-laden first copy--so, because Microserfs is brand new and they were rushing to get it out, I have hope that user complaints will get us a fixed edition soon). Wow, that was a long sentence. Sorry.
little_tristan: (Quincy Sad Phone Call)
Ever since my mom died, I've been--different. I've always talked too much, but now I say really personal things to complete strangers in person, rather than just online. And whenever I do, I think of something I've read a dozen times, a passage from If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? by Erma Bombeck. Most of us have been in Erma's place. Now I'm in the opposite role. Thank you all for listening.
I'll bet it's cold... )
little_tristan: (Emergency! Johnny facepalm)
For some reason, I really dig on this stuff. At least the earlier books, before Ann got all weird and repetitive. Anyway, Bitter Harvest is the true story of Deb Green: genius, medical doctor, dangerous psychotic. She's a lot like the women Denis Leary dates on Rescue Me--a frighteningly possessive wife and mother who doesn't want her husband, Michael, but doesn't want anyone else to have him, and sees her children solely as extensions of herself, there to show the world what a great person she is.

After her husband, who is also a doctor, but not psychotic, and apparently not as bright as his wife, leaves her, she sets their house on fire so she and the kids will have to stay with him. Being kind of gullible in the relationship department, he buys a McMansion in the posh part of town and they try to be a family again. But Deb's still nuts and Michael now has a girlfriend, so it doesn't last. When he says he's leaving for good this time, she serves him one last meal that tastes just a little bit off. Thus beginning a months-long odyssey of hospitalizations, funny tasting meals, iffy diagnosis, and, ultimately, heart and brain surgery for septic abscesses. But the surgeries come later. After she sets the new house on fire, apparently under the mistaken belief that what worked once will work again. The difference? The second time around, Michael already had proof that she'd been poisoning him, and two of their three children died in the fire. Neighbors would testify that she didn't put any actual effort into saving the one that lived, although she would take the credit during the police interviews.

It's a fascinating look into one woman's insanity and obsession, that lets me pity the husband while also thinking that he's really an incredible moron. Poor bugger never really had a chance. Although he did have a better shot at survival than his kids.
little_tristan: (Books)
A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

Pickets and Dead Men by Bree Loewen. Not generally a big fan of outdoor adventures, but this ended up making my Top Ten Books of 2010. Really a great account of one woman's struggle to succeed in a fascinating job she loved.
little_tristan: (Books)
Wow, have I been remiss. Not only have I only completed four books since my last review post, I haven't, well, reviewed them. Only a couple of them are relevant, but here goes:

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein )

Thinner by Steven King )

IT by Stephen King )

Love in the Driest Season by Neely Tucker )
little_tristan: (Books)
From [livejournal.com profile] book_memes:

What book are you currently reading?
1. Needful Things by Stephen King
2. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
3. The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner

How far in are you?
1. About 1/5
2. 1/5
3. 1/3

What's it about?
1. A new business opens in a small New England town, everyone likes the proprietor, people buy cool stuff, and hell on earth ensues.
2. Jean Valjean is released from prison, makes a new life for himself, and is brutally punished for it.
3. This one's kinda self-explanatory. But it's an interesting look at the small details that made up Lincoln's complex view of the potential roles of blacks in American society. Watching him gradually back away from the concept of Colonization as the ultimate solution is itself worth the price of admission.

Are you enjoying it?
1. As always. (It's a long-time favorite.)
2. Very much! Even more than expected, in fact!
3. A little dry and slow in spots, but overall, yes. Still best in small doses, liberally mixed with other books.
little_tristan: (Look it Up)
Books that were completed in 2010, though some were begun in 2009.

Sounds Like Teen Spirit by Timothy English ★★★

What We Do Is Secret by Thorn Kief Hillsbery ★★★★★

Microserfs by Douglas Coupland ★★★★★

Christine by Stephen King ★★★★

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett ★★★

Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland ★★★★★

All Families Are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland ★★

Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland ★★★

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers ★★★★★

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan ★★★★
That's only the beginning! )
little_tristan: (Look it Up)
I have to review this book as a kind of warning to others who might be interested in the life of Jerry Lee. If you want a biography of the man, this isn't it. I got it because it was pretty much the only one available for Kindle, and the Amazon reviews were decent. The thing is, this is a book entirely about the music. Or music in general. The author spends a lot of time talking about his own concert going experiences, as well as rock vs. country battles, label debates, The Beatles, and German history. It's sort of like a Chuck Klosterman book, only not funny. And whatever the subject of his books--history of heavy metal, rock and roll suicides, interviews with famous people--you always know it's essentially about Chuck Klosterman. I guess I know that about Joe Bonomo now, too. Shame he's not as entertaining.

The bulk of the book is spent analyzing every track on every album released by Jerry Lee, filling page after page with fascinating (not) details about how the 60's re-recordings of the 50's tracks aren't as good as the originals. The author does as much name dropping as he can, and fills a lot of space with repetitious descriptions of every live show he can find a recording of, but there's really not enough here to make a book. Maybe a really good magazine article, but not a book. Ten percent of which, btw, is source credits, author thanks, index, etc.

So, with all the analytic discussion over which recording of Breathless was the best, there really wasn't a lot of time or space to actually tell Lewis's life story, which was what I wanted. He tells us that Lewis married his cousin Myra, possibly the single best known fact of Jerry Lee's life, and then mentions her maybe three or four more times. There's a line about "increasing violence at home", but I've no idea what he was referring to. Then, after a hundred or so pages about live shows and The Rolling Stones, there's a paragraph about the deaths of Jerry Lee's fifth and sixth wives. There's no mention at all of numbers 2-4, or however many there were after #6. I've always kind of wanted to know how long his marriage to Myra lasted, how many kids they had, that kind of thing. But this wasn't the book for that. There should be a word for biographies that aren't actually about people so I could have saved my $10. I think I'll just look him up on Wiki and see if that doesn't cover it. Too bad I didn't do that first.
little_tristan: (Books)
Dogs; your favourite fictional canine. Leader, from James Garfield's Follow My Leader
Effortless, a book that you flew through. Chuck Klosterman IV by Chuck Klosterman
Charisma; the last character to win you over. Onyesonwu, of Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death
Emphatically no! A book that has been recommended to you that you really don’t want to read. Don't keep track of books I'm not going to read
Misogyny; the last book with attitudes to women that made you grind your teeth. The Shining by Stephen King (Yes, it took me this long to notice.)
Brown study; the last book that made you melancholy. The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty
Eagerness; the last book you ran out to buy. Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found by John Bonomo
Residue; the last book that you couldn’t shake off. World War Z by Max Brooks (Multiple reads, always takes weeks to recover.:)
little_tristan: (Fatboy Come and Get It)
Pansy Division is possibly the first (maybe the second) popular gay punk-type band. Author Jon Ginoli grew up a fan of punk and rock, which he defines rather narrowly, and music was the main focus of his life. Though long suspecting he was gay, it was the gay lifestyle music that kept him from being sure. If gay people only listened to disco and had to worship Judy Garland, then he obviously wasn't gay. (This is fascinating to me, really. I want to have sex with men, which for a man defines "being gay", but the music sucks so I better go keep dating girls. Is that how that works?)

This is a recurring theme throughout the book, which is ostensibly the history of his life and of the band. But mostly it's replacing one set of judgments with another. After being outraged by fellow gays saying that he wasn't really gay because he liked Bob Dylan, he goes on to make it clear that one can't be a Pansy Division fan (or a proper homosexual) if one also likes Bon Jovie (who are apparently the equivalent of satan) or Oasis (not really sure what the problem with them was). Even playing at Planet Hollywood was a mistake because there were signed Bon Jovie and Spin Doctors guitars on the walls. And for all the times he insists on the importance of punk music and attitude, he even complains about kids coming to their shows in punk clothes because, "that's not our lifestyle". So the fans have to dress according to the band's lifestyle? WTF does that even mean? Basically, for all his talk about rising above stereotypes and insisting everyone just be themselves, in the end he's just like the establishment, defining by his own standards what people should be.

Other than that, it's a pretty fun read. The best parts are the diary entries from their tours with Green Day, who really took Pansy Division under their wing and supported them when they were new to the road. Even to the point of forcing them on venues, promoters and fans who didn't want anything to do with a band that specialized in NC-17 PWP fanfic worthy lyrics. (We're the buttfuckers of rock and roll/we want to sock it to your hole, for instance.) There were a number of shows they wouldn't have been able to play had Green Day not refused to play, too. But their other tours were less successful, and Ginoli doesn't do a good job of not being bitter about that. When they weren't chosen to tour with Smashmouth and 3rd Eye Blind, that turned out to be a good thing because both bands sucked and, ha ha, the band they did choose released one album and vanished without a trace. Basically, every band who didn't do whatever he wanted at the time, or who had a more enthusiastic crowd at a double billed show, had crap lyrics, couldn't play their instruments and/or were overly commercial, anyway. Basically, everyone who isn't PD, Green Day, or an all-lesbian band, sucks.

So it was entertaining, but I wish I hadn't read it because I love Pd's music so much and now I have very little liking or respect for Ginoli. It's the same problem I have with all music writers, really: they insist on labeling everything for the sake of excluding. You can't listen to this because it's not that; you can't like these because they aren't those. It's all about image and lifestyle with no room for mixtures of taste. I may have bought all their albums and DVDs, and told all my friends to do the same, but if Jon Ginoli was aware of the contents of my CD collection, he wouldn't want me at his shows and I wish I didn't know that.
little_tristan: (Books)
Book meme from [livejournal.com profile] catyah!

1. Favorite childhood book?
Summer Secrets by Dianne Glaser

2. What are you reading right now?
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None (They all came in this week.:)

4. Bad book habit?
Buying everything that sounds interesting. I have at least 500 books I really intend to read, and another 200 or so reference and text books that may or may not ever be used.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Their Eyes Were Watching God
The Enemy by Charlie Higson
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorator
More book stuff here... )
little_tristan: (Books)
Overall, this is a thorough and interesting book, and some of the explanations of how the severe weather formed were fascinating (until it got too pedantic). But a lot of the geographical background felt redundant to me, having already read Laura Ingalls Wilder's On the Banks of Plum Creek and The Long Winter so many times. (For the cattle baron years, James Michener's fictional but impeccably researchedCentennial has much more detail and makes a rich, deeply layered story of it.) Laskin's descriptions of prairie fires, grasshopper plagues and, of course, blizzards, don't add anything for those who have read first-hand accounts, or even really good fiction. With the similarities piling up, the absence of any mention of Mrs. Wilder and her books became more conspicuous with every page. Conspicuous enough that around page 55, I checked the index to see if she was going to be mentioned at all.
Click here for the yes or no... )

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