Thursday, December 30, 2004

ancient history

i have some pretty entertaining stories about ancient artifacts, forgeries, and biblical studies/academic infighting, if anyone is interested. my former advisor is of course mentioned in the linked article--i have no love for the man, but the time he almost came to blows w/ another scholar in front of several thousand people at an academic conference was pretty awesome.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

art spiegelman

there's a strangely timed interview with art spiegelman in the onion today.

O: Obviously Maus is still on your mind, given that you still sometimes depict yourself as your Maus character. How do you look back on the series at this point?

AS: Oh, I'm very impressed with the guy who did that. [Laughs.]

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

ten good albums of 2004 (alphabetically)

arcade fire, funeral
erie choir, bad tsars is a drag
david kilgour, frozen orange
kings of convenience, riot on an empty street
lambchop, aw c'mon/no you c'mon
the owls, our hopes and dreams
palomar, palomar III: the revenge of palomar
schooner, you forget about your heart
shark quest, gods and devils
sun kil moon, ghosts of the great highway

a list of some of my favorite books of 2004 will be posted eventually.

Monday, December 27, 2004


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
hey, mad props to my dad, who suggested i look into the macro setting on my camera. so THAT'S what the little flower button does! it takes better pictures of tiny hamster toys!

thanks, dad! :)


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
i finished my earwarmer today while i watched the extended return of the king!

lately this blog has been more about knitting (and self-portraiture) than reading. sorry about that. i swear i'll finish a book soon!

Saturday, December 25, 2004

happy holidays

Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
i knitted this scarf last night. now i am about to go enjoy some holiday festivities, so it's a good thing i look festive!

have a great day, everyone!


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
another poor-quality photo--this one of hamster 43! his hat implies a robin hood sort of thing, although the rest of his ensemble doesn't really.

i've sort of been reading but haven't finished anything yet--mostly i've been knitting and watching movies and sleeping. i wonder if i can get one more book in before year's end. :)

Monday, December 20, 2004

book 113

michael griffth's bibliophilia
this book sucked. it had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. it begins with a predictable novella about a middle-aged sexually repressed librarian who ends up w/ a job at lsu monitoring the stacks for undergrads gettin' it on. the five short stories rounding off the volume aren't any better. i could go into why each of them are stupid and soulless, but that would require thinking about this book more than i want to.

ok, now i feel bad for writing this, b/c mr. griffith is probably a nice guy, and probably other people would really like this book, and find it funny and charming and a little bit sexy. i didn't, but that's just me.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

book 112

nick hornby's the polysyllabic spree
i decided to take a break from the crappy book i was reading and whip through this one instead, since i'm a hornby fan, he's a reliably entertaining author, and he was talking about books! i sort of wish the believer had waited a little bit longer to publish this, so there'd be more than a year's worth of columns--this book is a little on the slim side, and left me wanting more. of course, it did turn out to be entertaining, i got some ideas for books to check out, and i felt vindicated whenever he liked something i had also read and liked. note to self: pick up his songbook, preferably the older edition w/ cd if you can.


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
these are hamsters 40-42--note that the one in the middle is totally an old jewish dude, with a kippah and little glasses and a menorah stuck to him. i imagine the little pigtailed girl-hamsters are his daughters or granddaughters.

also, i apologize for the blurriness of all the hamster pictures. i can't get the camera quite focused for such tiny little adorable pieces of plastic.


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
this is hamster 39--pashmina!

actually, i got her before thanksgiving, but forgot to upload the picture in all the traveling-end of semester-getting sick hubbub.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
liquor store girl: uh, can i see some photo id?

me: sure, of course. *finds driver's license and hands it over*

liquor store girl (chuckling): oh, you don't look that old!


salon has an interview w/ jaime hernandez today about the locas book. it doesn't have any groundbreaking information or anything, but who doesn't like to read interviews about love and rockets? a sample page of the locas book is linked from the interview's first page.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

book 111

marilynne robinson's gilead
this novel is a letter that a dying pastor is writing to his young son, detailing his life and family history and his complicated relationship with his best friend's son, who happens to be his namesake. but you know what? nothing i can say to explain it will really get to the heart of what a great book it is, so next time you're at a bookstore, pick it up and flip through it, and if it seems appealing, you should read it. i'd give it five coffee-drinking bunnies, or whatever my ratings scale is.

awesome labels

stylus' top 5 labels of the year--merge = #1!! sonic unyon--new label of awesome chapel hill band the nein--is #2!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
i got a haircut today!

so cool!

google is teaming up w/ university of michigan to digitize books and make them searchable and stuff! (link via metafilter)

hey, i also got some comics yesterday. allow me to plug chapel hill comics (formerly 2nd foundation) for second here: seriously, if you have not been there recently, go check it out. andrew and his wife are the nicest people ever and have been working really hard to make their store as awesome as it can be, with an extremely high success rate. and i know from comics, yo!

anyway, here's what i got:

--creased (little graphic novel by daniel miller)-a cute guy-meets-high-school-girl story. nothing groundbreaking, but i liked it well enough.
--in my darkest hour (wilfred santiago)-i got this for the cool art, though on closer inspection sometimes the art goes a little too far and takes you right out of the story (which is kind of convoluted as it is). i guess this is about a guy's breakdown and recovery or something. anyway, this book will no doubt be hailed as brilliant by more knowledgeable and/or pretentious people than i. i did like it, by the way, just wish it had been somewhat more straightforward. few comics handle the intermixing of unusual structural art with narrative well--kabuki is the only one i can think of right now.
--fables 31 and 32--awesome! this comic has yet to disappoint me.
--love and rockets 12--i so want ray and maggie to get back together. sigh. pipe dreams.
--y the last man 29--that wacky yorick!
--powers 6--this could be leading somewhere pretty cool . . .
--finder 35--i am constantly amazed at the thoguht carla speed mcneil puts into the social structure of the worlds in her comic.
--street angel 4--please stop w/ the introductions and get a plotline. thanks.
--plastic man--i swear, i really am going to stop buying this one of these months, b/c it's dumb. kyle baker, stop being dumb!
--angeltown--new vertigo miniseries--murdered woman, basketball player suspect, oj jokes . . . huh?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

book 110

sorry for the lack of posts: between the end of the semester and catching a vicious strain of flu (which i am still battling), i have not been getting a lot of reading done.

aaron lansky's outwitting history: the amazing adventures of a man who rescued a million yiddish books
thank you, aunt linda!!! my aunt picked out this book (along w/ some others) from my amazon wishlist (linked at left) for hanukkah. and this was pretty great hanukkah reading--the title was particularly apt. i'm not sure if i enjoyed this book so much b/c a) hello, it's about yiddish/jewish studies! and b) hello, it's about saving lots of books and making an amazing library!, but i really flew through this one. would this have as much appeal to non-jewish, non-library-students? i don't know--someone else read it and let me know. i think it's a pretty friggin' entertaining story, but that could just be me. i was especially interested in his trips to cuba and the former ussr--but really, the whole book is pretty inspiring. i'm still pissed they stopped teaching yiddish at duke right after i got here--and i'm now hoping this book will bring enough attention to yiddish that classes will spontaneously spring up around the country, even in places like north carolina. i sort of think aaron lansky is my hero now.

(please excuse rambling--like i said, i still have the flu.)

Monday, December 06, 2004


the regulator was having this awesome 20percent off sale this weekend, so of course i had to stop in and check out the selection. there was this one anthology that looked awesome: the new smithsonian book of comic-book stories: from crumb to clowes. i was all excited about it . . . and then i brought it home and looked at it more closely.

first of all, their selection of materials really sort of sucks. these are supposed to be the big-name people from the 60s on up, but some of them are really not all that well known*; melinda gebbie, for instance, is mostly known for being married to alan moore. i've never read any of her stuff before, and y'all know i read all sorts of comics. of course, i will not bitch about her inclusion, b/c she's one of only THREE women (out of 36 stories) in the entire thing. where's aline kominsky-crumb? julie doucet? jessica abel? ariel schrag? sarah dyer? all the chicks from the twisted sister anthologies? it's a little ridiculous.

plus, since most of the book is black-'n'-white, some of these great historic stories just look blah. the color is part of what makes works like the dark knight returns or watchmen or sandman so compelling, and that's really a major loss here. i realize there are such things as costs . . . which brings me to my last point.

uh, printer and/or editor error much? two stories are ruined by duplicate pages in place of other pages. what the hell, smithsonian!

don't buy this book. just don't. if you are looking for comic book anthologies, i'll look through mine and recommend some that are actually good.

*not that i don't think these artists are good--i mean, some of them are good--but i do think this anthology leaves out people who are more deserving.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

ny times/books = good gifts

the new york times' holiday book guide/yearly notable books wrap-up is up. i was especially excited to see a shout-out for my favorite cookbook of the year in their food section:

Karen Barker is one of the country's best working bakers, a Brooklyn girl gone South; she now makes desserts at the Magnolia Grill in Durham, N.C., where her husband, Ben, is the chef. In SWEET STUFF: Karen Barker's American Desserts (University of North Carolina, $29.95), she covers many bases, but the important chapters are the ones on cobblers and pies. Keep an eye out (and an oven preheated) for her deep-dish brown-sugar plum cobbler, maple bourbon sweet potato pie and peach cobbler with cornmeal cream biscuits and more bourbon -- remember, we're down South.

she also has an awesome recipe for blintzes. and she's doing another reading/tasting at the regulator in december, i believe on the 18th.

book 109

miriam toews' a complicated kindness
wow, wow, wow. this book was really, really good. it's about a young mennonite girl whose older sister ran away from home, and whose mother left shortly thereafter, and now the girl and her father are falling apart at the seams. i don't really want to say anymore about the plot, b/c it unfolds slowly and i don't want to give any of it away, but, i don't know, i like the books about teenage rebellion and angst that aren't all trite and boring. nomi is going through a crazy spiritual and familial crisis in this story, on top of all the regular teenage crap. anyway, toews really blew me away with this book--the writing is simple and honest and lovely. i'm definitely going to look for her other novels now.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

marc faris

local rocker/scholar (and former xdu dj) marc faris has a really, really cool article on the chicago sound--steve albini, shellac, jesus lizard, slint, etc--in the latest issue of popular music and society. seriously, my job is so cool.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


i don't really like either of the two books in my to-read pile (i think it's one of those things where i have to be in the mood to read them).

if you have any recommendations, please send them my way! free time is just around the corner and i will need plenty of books to get me through the chilly winter. :)

Monday, November 29, 2004

wxdu benefit redux

hey, i made an album of photos from the wxdu benefit show. my camera battery died early into hotel motel's set, hence fewer photos of them. i think some of the ones i got of torch marauder are pretty awesome though. and i like the erie choir ones a lot. also, there are some entertaining shots of people--mainly nathan b., since i spent the night working the merch table with him, but also jeffy h. and dave b.

i know they all look dark and stuff, and they're way better all big on my computer, but click on them and try to fully experience the joys of no-flash rock-show photos!


the new york times raves about a book we got at the music library last week.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

t-giving photos

after spending way too much time playing w/ secure shell transfer client tonight, no way was i going back in there just to upload the hilarious picture of the pumpkin-eggnog pie i made that my dad decorated. so here is the ofoto album of some of my thanksgiving photos--you can see me and my sibs drinking warm spiced apple wine, the aforementioned pie, and my hilarious attempts to capture the lights of pittsburgh from a moving car at night. can you spot the incline?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

book 108

just a few brief notes, as i'm still a little green around the gills from my flight:

michael chabon's the final solution
i've seen some blah-bordering-on-negative reviews of this novella (only something like 130 pages), but i liked it. some people apparently were annoyed that sherlock holmes is never named, but i really didn't find that distracting--actually, the only thing that bothered me was the title (which related to both the Holocaust and to holmes solving the mystery) which i forgot as soon as i was engrossed in the story. i figured out the tiny twist a few pages before holmes but i don't think that made me feel smart or anything. it was more a result of page layout than anything else. um, i'm blabbering, sorry. anyway, i don't regret buying this in hardback--though to be accurate, my mom paid for it--and will happily recommend it to all, especially chabon fans.

book 107

amos oz's a tale of love and darkness
this memoir by one of my favorite novelists actually disappointed me a little--mainly in terms of writing style, which i'm hoping was actually more the fault of the translator than of oz. although the totally non-chronological structure annoyed me some(it worked better once oz got to his own life, but was really hard to follow when he was talking about his grandparents), the constant repetition of phrases was the thing that really bugged me. the constant mentions of peer gynt, the constant notation that such-and-such friend of his mother's wrote two books on child psychology (when she really had no gift for communicating w/ oz, at least), etc. of course, the anecdotes themselves are engaging and i personally enjoyed all the memories of joseph klausner, who turned out to be oz's great-uncle, and whose works i read for one of my religion classes at duke. the second half of this book was significantly stronger than the first. i have to say that it wasn't worth buying in hardback.

Friday, November 26, 2004

book 106

alice hoffman's the probable future
i become extra-cranky when in the midst of a full-fledged cat allergy attack, and my mom has gotten pretty good at distracting me with books and knitting. knowing i have little patience for formulaic chick lit or mysteries, my mom gave me this, and though it wraps up quite neatly, i did enjoy it. it's about a long line of women in a small massachusetts town who all receive some bizarre gift when they turn 13--the ability to not feel pain, the ability to stay underwater for like 20 minutes, the ability to detect falsehoods, etc. now the latest little girl has received the gift to see someone's death, and when she foresees a violent murder, she tries to get her dad to intervene--and he of course becomes a suspect in the murder, meaning the girl has to be sent away to her mother's estranged mother for safekeeping, where she begins to discover the family history. actually, probably one of the reasons i liked it so much was the little girl's history nerd uncle, who's attempting to write a thesis on one of her forebears, and hangs out in the library looking at old journals a lot. hee.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

book 105!

jhumpa lahiri's interpreter of maladies
having enjoyed her her novel and the few short stories of hers i've read in magazines, i decided to pick this up to read while i'm home--i somehow get lots of reading done in pittsburgh. :) anyway, i really liked all of these stories--the different angles on the immigrant experience/family interactions are emotionally and intellectually engaging, and really raise a lot of interesting questions (for me) about culture in america.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

book 104

julia glass' three junes
this was awesome airplane reading--actually, it was awesome anytime, anywhere reading. told in three parts with three different focal characters who are all somehow related to each other, it gradually unfolds a picture of a family who have their share of misunderstandings and issues, but who ultimately love each other. not to make it sound sappy, b/c it certainly isn't--it's very funny and more than a little dark, but ultimately comes full circle, and i like when things come full circle.

Monday, November 22, 2004

book 103

the only nice thing about getting one's car inspected: reading time. sadly, one book is often not enough and one is forced to watch dr. phil berate showbiz moms for putting their daughters in pageants.

charles brockden brown's weiland, or the tranformation
brown was apparently the first american novelist who actually made a living off of his writing, and with weiland, i can certainly see why. apparently it has all this symbolism about the role of authority in american life, but i'll leave those discussions to the high school english classes, and just note that this was a creepy, ghostly sort of story that really would lend itself well to a movie (david, did jennifer ever really make a movie of this?). it's the story of two siblings whose zealotrous father died under somewhat mysterious circumstances, and the brother grows up to also have a weird religious thing going on. meanwhile, everyone keeps hearing these voices everywhere, and misunderstandings and murders ensue. interestingly, the book is narrated by the sister--considering it was written in like 1789 or thereabouts, i thought that was pretty unusual, especially since she's a fairly intelligent and sympathetic character.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

wxdu benefit

tonight i discovered the joys of taking pictures without a flash.

more will follow, maybe. mostly they all look like that. :)

Monday, November 15, 2004

book 102

sarah vowell's the partly cloudy patriot
i feel like i've been talking about sarah vowell for weeks, between her great voice work in the incredibles and her upcoming talk at duke (on wednesday, but i can't go), and since i have never actually read one of her books (i've mostly just heard her on the radio or read stuff of hers in magazines), this seems like an opportune time to get on that, already. this book was mildly painful to read--several of the essays focus on the 2000 election, and in this post-election period, it was just a little hard--but most of the essays made me grin and even guffaw. i especially enjoyed her stories dealing w/ american history--most notably, the one on teddy roosevelt and the one on presidential librarians. yes, i too am a history nerd--what else is new? the ones about her family were also entertaining--who can't relate to her dread when her family comes to visit? and her meditations on twin-dom are particularly relevant to my recent thoughts, considering this thread over at the 6:35 forum. but anyway, these were really some nice essays sort of all centered around the theme of "being an American!" but with lots of nice lighhearted moments, like comparing clinton and gore to jordan catalano and brian krakow. very nice.

PS--unrelated, and just a test: in theory, here is a picture of all the hamsters i have received to date (at the behest of lisa b., and with the help of mike p., who pointed out that i can just put pictures on my unc webspace and not have to worry about flickr's space limits . . . )

Friday, November 12, 2004

book 101

kelly link's stranger things happen
here's another book david n. recommended--though actually, it had been on my amazon wishlist since salon reviewed it in 2001. i was glad to have the excuse to finally order it--and it was sooo worth it. these stories are creepy and lovely. link brings in some fairy tale favorites and totally skews them (most notably in "the girl detective," one of my favorites) but it's her other stories that are most memorable--i really think "the specialist's hat" and "louise's ghost" might make it hard to fall asleep tonight, and "survivor's ball" was also a doozy. and on a mostly unrelated note, the cover art for this book is pretty awesome. high marks all around, 5/5 cute star-gazing, coffee-drinking bunnies, or whatever i decided that my rating scale would be. i am really quite glad i finally read this book! don't wait three years to read awesome books, people!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

comic goodness

went over to chapel hill comics the other day on my lunch break and picked up some good stuff--including peanuts volume 2! i love these early peanuts strips--tiny linus and tiny schroeder are my favorites.

i also got the new issues of y the last man (DRAMATIC!!), blue monday (BOWLING FUN!!), and SiP (which i mostly read out of habit, but still enjoy), along w/ the spx 2004 anthology.

but the BEST thing i got was a book of photos called hello kitty everywhere!: photographs and haiku. i'm sure you can guess the subject matter and how much i squee'd when i saw it. most adorable book ever.


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
i've put up a few pictures of recent knitting projects--inspired by the scarf i finished tonight, the scarf i knitted in entirety tonight, and the little blanket i started tonight.

these legwarmers are one of the most fun things i've made!

Monday, November 08, 2004

the best cartoon ever

will be the one about puffy amiyumi. i've seen commercials relating to this but did not imagine that it was REAL! thanks for the link, MIke!

BOOK 100!!!!

*fanfare* *fireworks*

paul auster's the new york trilogy
this is one of several books that david n. had recommended to me--weirdly, shortly after i read the graphic novel adaptation of city of glass, the first part of the trilogy. i did enjoy that and wanted to see where the story came from, so was happy to take david's recommendation. and actually, i'm glad they come in one volume, b/c although city of glass stood on its own fairly well, the three stories are much more parts of a whole--especially the locked room. all three deal with similar themes of mysterious disappearances, confused identities, private detectives, and narrators who have a severe sense of disconnect. anyway, all three parts make an exciting read, and once you realize they're meant to be tied together, you stop thinking auster is a hack who can't get past a certain idea, and realize that he's pretty fucking brilliant.

now on to the rest of the stack of books i have piled up. and really i'll just be reading for fun--i don't know if i could even get ten more books read this year with final projects and everything.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
this is hamster 38--an old woman hamster in a lavendar shirt with a yellow and lavendar party hat. i apologize for the weird color--this is the clearest picture i could get (i have not entirely mastered my new camera yet).

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

book 99!

cynthia ozick's heir to the glimmering world

to me, this seemed like a pretty big departure from ozick's previous works--mainly b/c her novels tend to annoy me, and i really liked this one. it's the story of a young girl who takes an unspecified job for a professor and his family, who turn out to be financially supported by an extremely wealthy, adult christopher robin type. i realize that doesn't make sense, so i'll clarify, even though it's not important to the summary: the character's father wrote a series of much-loved children's book starring his son, the "bear boy." the mother of the family is perpetually in the midst of a nervous breakdown, the professor is studying the karaites, a weird mystical sect, and when the bear boy comes to visit, all hell breaks loose. ozick's characters--even the most minor--are really vividly drawn and i really liked the wrap-up here. so, two thumbs up. hm, maybe i should get a ratings system. like 4/5 bookshelves, or 4/5 cute bunnies . . .

amos oz

something to maybe distract you all: a great article from the new yorker on one of my favorite israeli authors, amos oz. man, why doesn't he become prime minister?

the occasion for the article: oz's memoir, a huge bestseller in israel, appeared in english translation this month. an arabic translation is forthcoming (or so the new yorker informs me).

also, the adrian tomine cover of this week's issue was pretty great. special mention to the dude on the left w/ the blue ipod mini.

Monday, November 01, 2004

free beer!

carrburritos is offering free beer to kerry supporters tomorrow.

(other businesses offering incentives to voters are also in that article--note that the bull's head on unc's campus and chapel hill comics are both giving discounts to voters tomorrow as well.)

GO VOTE!!!!!!!! i'll give you a gold star if you do?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

book 98

a.l. kennedy's original bliss
gosh, i really, really love kennedy's novels. here, she takes what could be totally stereotypical characters--an abused housewife and a sex-obsessed self-help guru--and brings them together in an entirely different and almost romantic way. her writing is simple and lovely, and her characters seem to heighten awareness of pleasure and pain. ok, i'm actually kind of sick tonight and am obviously incoherent, so let's just leave it at: really a wonderful book.


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
adult swim pub crawl!!

i have to admit, it's pretty tempting . . . adult swim rocks.

i regret not taking one of the carl keychains hanging on the fence (pictures of those can be seen by clicking on this photo and browsing my other photos).


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
there's one path i walk a lot on campus that has all this graffiti along it--the yellow bunnies on the construction cloth are fine (i love bunnies), but i have mixed feelings about the stuff spraypainted on actual buildings. it is really neat though--i have a few pictures on flickr so click on this guy and browse them. the w. "i am a terrorist" picture is a recent addition to the wall.

halloween spirit

here are some articles to get that scary halloween feeling running all through you.

this article ran in the penn state collegian my sophomore year--the year a rumor was circulating that a psychic on oprah had predicted a murder in an h-shaped dorm at penn state, and OH MY GOD I LIVED IN AN H-SHAPED DORM. that was also the year my then-boyfriend introduced me to the urban legends reference page, to assuage my fears.

here's more info on the 1969 library murder at penn state, also courtesy of the collegian. the stacks at pattee are probably the creepiest place i've ever been.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


jared (and jodi too!) sent me a link to the comic book periodical table of elements. i am amazed at the sheer geekiness behind this project--and, of course, am enjoying it thoroughly.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
i voted today (the line at town hall took an hour!).

yay for citizenship! be a good citizen: GO VOTE!

book 97

jean nathan's the secret life of the lonely doll: the search for dare wright
when i bought this book the other day, the bookstore chick warned me that it was "really sad," and boy, that's no lie. dare wright had a pretty troubled life; everything was a fairy tale that eventually fell apart. this book is almost more tragedy than literary biography. the best thing about this book is all the photographs--pictures of dare (including creepy nude shots taken by her mother) and pictures of edith and the bears. i really wish more photos could have been included though--nathan describes some that seem really interesting, and i'd have liked to have seen them. anyway, this is a must-read for those of us who had the lonely doll when we were little girls--i'm sort of hoping all this attention will get the entire series reissued, maybe in one big volume.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

book 96

the best american nonrequired reading 2004
i really like these anthologies. sure, there are always one or two items that doesn't really float my boat (i still don't understand the inclusion of the adrian tomine story last year, which is my least-favorite tomine story ever, and which i maintain was probably picked to up their indie cred), but the vast majority of the stories and essays are really great things i might not have seen otherwise (i'd only read two of these before--the sedaris story, of course, and the piece on the guy living in the paris airport). highlights for me came in pairs: the stories "zoanthropy" and "we have a pope" from the first half, and the stories "good world" and "the minor wars" from the middle. i was also pretty engaged by the final essay, a piece on that michigan's womyn's festival and its exclusion of transsexual women. i can't believe that argument has been raging for over ten years. camp trans sounds like a lot more fun anyway.

another hamster . . .

Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
this is hamster 37!

he has a little leafy thing on his head and a red shirt. i suspect he is supposed to have a connection to strawberries.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

fangirl ahoy


i sent bryan lee o'malley money, 'cause he was doing watercolors for his fans. i was all, "please do pictures of one of your indie rockers for me please!" YEAH! kim pine!

(you can see the picture he drew me here.)

this is totally going on my big blank wall. thank you bryan!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

large quantities of comics

i decided this morning that i could no longer wait to pick up whatever comics i had waiting for me (i think it's been almost 4 weeks since i last bought comics!), and walked down to chapel hill comics during my lunch break. woo! i had some great stuff on hold, plus i splurged and bought the love and rockets locas book (which seems to be missing the very first maggie and hopey story, wtf, unless it's out of order--and really, that NEEDS to be in there, b/c the hair-cutting scene comes back again way later in the series! also, none of the izzy/flies on the ceiling stories made the cut). i also picked up jeffrey brown's book bighead, which i hadn't planned on buying ever, but which got pretty good reviews from andrew and his lovely wife (and i was so amused at andrew saying "it's a nice change from him whining about his girlfriend" that i had to buy it).

so far, the issues from my haul that i've most enjoyed have been luba #9 (oh my god, talk about cliffhangers), kabuki #2 (david mack's art and arrangements never fail to amaze me), y the last man (ok, THAT is the most cliffhanger-y of the bunch!!!), powers (yes, cooper, this issue was awesome, but did the end of it actually surprise you?), and fables (snow white gives birth!). i also got the new luba's comics and stories, nyx, caper, batgirl, plastic man, and a couple issues of a minicomic called snake pit that looks pretty adorable.

it's enough to make a girl procrastinate further on her homework!

the lonely doll

i meant to post this article the other day, about the bizarre author of the children's book (and the fact that suddenly everyone thinks this book is very creepy).

i had this book when i was a kid, and loved it. maybe i'll try and look for it during thanksgiving and see if i need to reassess my memories (although really, i did like this book a lot. i think i had a doll just like edith).


david mitchell didn't win the booker award.


Monday, October 18, 2004

arcade fire

hey, does anyone get the ny times? apparently the arcade fire is on the cover of the arts section today! here's the link.

(via christina, of course, who notes:

christinamerge (10:45:20 AM): the writer was adorable, too!
christinamerge (10:45:21 AM): just 27
christinamerge (10:45:29 AM): and completely in love with this band
christinamerge (10:45:35 AM): he went to the russian baths with them!

AMAZING. such an adorable article.

go merge!!! you rock!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

book 95

philip roth's the plot against america
this is probably the most terrifying book i've ever read, and definitely roth's best (not that i have read all of his books, but still). the reviewer totally and completely missed the point. interestingly, there's biographical information on all the historical figures he uses in a postscript in the back. i can't really say anything else right now--i'm still processing the story, and how it relates to the political situation now--but that this wasn't nominated for the national book award is the biggest travesty of the year.

Friday, October 15, 2004

book 94

steve martin's the pleasure of my company
sigh. this book took me forever to read, which is ridiculous b/c it wasn't even 200 pages. the problem is that the narrator/protagonist is a guy who i guess has ocd, and his voice is just really over the top. none of the other characters are really fleshed out either, and the ending was really pat--it's kind of lame when books are resolved in three pages. i don't want to be hard on this book, b/c it wasn't awful, but it certainly wasn't great or even cutely entertaining like shopgirl.

jon stewart/cnn

apparently jon stewart was just on crossfire. dang, i totally would have watched that.

the transcript is hilarious. here's an excerpt:

CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?

STEWART: Absolutely.

CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...


STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.


STEWART: What is wrong with you?

(APPLAUSE) CARLSON: Well, I'm just saying, there's no reason for you -- when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy's butt boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It's embarrassing.

STEWART: I was absolutely his butt boy. I was so far -- you would not believe what he ate two weeks ago.



STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.

(more from metafilter)

Monday, October 11, 2004


apparently jacques derrida died this weekend. i'm kind of upset that i didn't see this really mentioned online anywhere (except bookslut, of course), whereas every blog or website i read last night or today talked about christopher reeve's death (which is also very sad). i mean, derrida is a huge name! how is his death not newsworthy?!

i saw him speak at sbl/aar a couple years ago--when did i go? november 2002?--and i liked him a lot more than i expected to--i really struggled with his stuff in college, at first, and didn't think his speech would be intelligible at all. and yet it was. he was such a sweet, charming old man, full of lovely little anecdotes about his french/jewish upbringing. his keynote speech was actually the highlight of the weekend for me, even beating out that masterpiece of cinema, jesus christ, vampire hunter.

Sunday, October 10, 2004


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
this is hamster number 36! note the umbrella. whoever leaves these for me has attached a piece of paper with little clouds on it to the hamster to fit this weather theme.

sorry for the poor quality--the hamster is dark grey and the light in my office-room isn't great.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

book 93

a.l. kennedy's indelible acts
those of you who have followed this blog for a while may remember that i loooved the two novels by kennedy i read this year. sadly, this book of short stories didn't quite hit the same highs for me, though i did really enjoy it. most of the stories revolve around sex in some way--forbidden, forgotten, regained--but they're never cheap or tawdry or any other adjective like that. kennedy is such a lovely writer that i'm not sure she could write anything tawdry (i just like saying "tawdry"). these stories have a sense of loneliness and alienation--people trying to connect with one another, and sometimes succeeding, but usually not. still, there were a few in here that really blew me away, especially "the immaculate man" and the final story, "how to find your way in woods." i'm definitely looking forward to getting a copy of kennedy's latest novel, even if i have to order it from!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

historical nerdiness

some archaeologists have discovered gengis khan's palace/mausoleum. pretty cool stuff.

the best part of the article is one of the accompanying photos, though; its caption reads: the legendary warrior as portrayed in a 1965 film.

no, really, it's funny.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

oct. bookslut

the new issue of bookslut is up. my favorite new feature of the past couple months is the one discussing book cover/designs--this month's raves about the lovely daily show book ANNNNNNDDDD compares the great cover of david maine's the preservationist w/ james morrow's bible stories for adults. i agree that morrow's rewritten bible stuff is way more entertaining than maine's, but mostly i'm just excited to see a nod to morrow on bookslut.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

book 92

helen fielding's bridget jones: on the edge of reason
i know i have spent much of the year mocking chick lit, vowing not to read it again, etc. but christina and brooke and i have been very excited about the trailer for this movie (colin firth--hello!), and christina said i MUST read this before we go to see the movie, and it was a nice relaxing afternoon, and thus perfect for reading something fluffy. and this was very funny and entertaining, though of course there's that frustration where you just want to scream, "just call him, you twit!" but of course then there wouldn't be a story. the thailand bits were pretty hilarious--i'm looking forward to seeing the movie even more now. but again, mostly for colin firth.

Friday, October 01, 2004

book 91

david mitchell's cloud atlas
wow. wow, wow, wow. this book definitely deserves the booker prize. first, let me comment on its brilliant structure--stories sandwiched within stories, like nesting dolls--or as mitchell himself writes, regarding a score being composed by one of the characters, "in the first set, each solo is interrupted by its successor: in the second, each interruption is recontinued, in order. revolutionary or gimmicky? shan't know until it's finished, and by then it will be too late . . . " (445). trust me when i say it doesn't come off as gimmicky--all the stories are tied together, and each one revolves around an entirely different world than the one before. they interrupt each other at moments of high tension, which at first annoys ("but i want to know what happens to that character!") but then i was too wrapped up in the new story to care about the one before. don't worry, it all cycles back through to a lovely conclusion.

let me just reiterate here: wow. an amazing book.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

david mitchell and ross grady

are my two favorite writers of the evening. i've been wrapped up in mitchell's cloud atlas, and would have raced through it by now if i hadn't been so busy this week (*cough*gunbound*cough*). suffice it to say that there's a new development every time things get crazyintenseamazing, and the wait to see how it ends makes me want to eschew sleep forever till i finish the darn thing.

also, ross grady. is one of my favorite local resources and i want to immortalize his words here (without permission, but credited to him, so i hope that's good enough for internet-etiquette), b/c saturday night (sorry about dresden, cold sides, the nein, audubon park @ 506) is going to be an amazing show with four amazing bands, and grady totally nailed it:

Indie-rock show of the week; four bands committed to the neverending project of taking the modern popsong structure and poking enormous holes in it with whatever implements come to hand. If you're only going to see one rockshow this year, then what the fuck is wrong with you?

If you've already seen a few dozen rockshows this year, then this is your baby, your best chance to walk away at 1:45 a.m., reeking, in love with rockmusic again.

Actually, you could walk away about 2 minutes after Audubon Park's opening set & already be in love. David Nahm's pop songwriting is peerless, and unlike too many other songwriters, he knows the best gift to the songs is an uneven layer of squirrelly, scrabbling noise smeared on top of them, guaranteeing they'll sound as fresh and new on the hundredth listen as on the first.

I've forgotten why I'm play-feuding with The Nein, particularly since they're actually four of the nicest guys I've met in the 12 years I've lived around here. Not that that's any reason to call off a good mock feud. Wankers.

Cold Sides have gone from conceptual two-man "quiet" four-track side-project, to Brooklyn-topping post-Gang-of-Four punk/funk/disco gods, to blitzed-out delay-pedal scree-loop-dub-ism, all in the space of a handful of years. It's fair to say that anytime they've come close to true mastery, they've preemptively moved on, and that's about the only impulse I can think of that's really worth rewarding.

Sorry About Dresden make the kind of two-guitar indie-rock that would make the young girls pee their pants if the young girls weren't all stoned out of their minds, lying on the floor watching their teen boyfriends play XBox & ignoring the Jay-Z on the stereo.

audubon park, i love you!

sincerely, your devoted fangirl alicia

Monday, September 27, 2004

the daily show really IS a good news source

according to this article, daily show viewers know more about the presidential race than the viewers of any other news/comedy show. or whatever. it's an awesome story (link courtesy of christina).

and speaking of the daily show, i picked up their book on america on friday and have been flipping through it over the weekend. it's laid out like a middle school textbook, only, y' know, goofy and wrong. :) so far my favorite bits are samantha bee's "do you mind if i tell you how we do it in canada?" info-boxes. very educational!

Sunday, September 26, 2004


sex columnist amy sohn reviews sex books in the new york times this week.

i liked her first novel well enough, but i have to say her new one doesn't interest me.

book 90

i would have posted this earlier, but fasting for yom kippur made it hard to concentrate so i only just finished . . .

william gibson and bruce sterling's the difference engine
ok, i'm going to come right out and say that i didn't love this book. the story was pretty good, had a lot of potential, but it really jumped around a little too much from character to character, and then you'd never see the earlier characters again for 300 pages. i think this would have bothered me less if the book wasn't written in a pseudo-nineteenth-century style, with pretention and fraudulent delicacy (like after one sex scene, the girl is sore "down there." she also has a "mound of womanhood"). i did like the bits about leviathan mallory a lot, but he does sort of fade out of the story. everything is sort of all tied together at the end, though the last twenty pages (of fake news articles and weird personal reflections and whatnot) really lost me.

it's not that this book was bad. i think i was just disappointed, since it had such a cool idea, but its execution just didn't do it for me,

thanks for lending it to me, though, georg. i hope my comment didn't offend you!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

book 89

lemony snicket's the grim grotto
new lemony snicket EEEEE!!!!!!!! ok, seriously, this book does not disappoint--it's full of tense moments and vocabulary lessons and danger and wordplay and adventure and literary allusions, just like the first ten books in this series. and before you start saying that young adult books shouldn't count toward my total, i'll point out that this book is over 300 pages, which surely works out to over 100 pages of boring ol' adult book. and anyway, who cares what you say?! this blog was MADE to rave about lemony snicket!

so yeah, i really love this series and chapter 11 is harrowing (a word which here means . . . ok, you get the idea, hee) and exciting and wonderful and dark just like all the others. now when does book 12 come out?

book buying bliss

ok, so you know how i have that severe book addiction? well, i just discovered that the bookstore on campus has a pretty great selection (i was going to hit branch's later, but then remembered that i signed the car-free day pledge)--i took a quick break to pick up the new lemony snicket and came back w/ a.l. kennedy's book of short stories (which i haven't been able to find anywhere!) and an order for david mitchell's cloud atlas (which seems sure to win the booker prize). they also have a pretty good graphic novel section, though my loyalty remains to second foundation.

having a pretty good selection a one-minute walk from my workplace is definitely going to cause me some financial problems.

i don't mind living on macaroni and cheese though, as long as i have good books to read. i can't wait to get home now!!!

(don't think i'm a total social reject, though--i'm probably going to see hero tonight, finally.)

in work-related news, i tried to convince the library head to order some magnetic fields (b/c, you know, the guy who writes the lemony snicket books is in magnetic fields) but i don't think he trusts my judgment. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

jon stewart's america

hey, the daily show book came out today. the reviews on amazon are pretty hilarious--here are my favorites so far:

Reviewer: D@N (Sn Jose, CRC) - See all my reviews
I rated this 1 star because I have not read this book yet and cannot make a comment on it. What I do find interesting is the fact that the book is named after a CONTINENT and yet it's all about the United States (who's flag in on the cover). I find this extremely insulting to all true Americans; from Canada to Chile, Argentina and everywhere between. I'm sure it's a good book, but they should've called it USA.

Reviewer: BanBush-PromoteShaving "kabalevski" (IL -USA) - See all my reviews
.. i'm sure glad they canned that kilbourn guy....
.... this book kicks ass -- but.. have you ever read it... on weeeeeeed?

there are also some more-serious reviews of the book that use phrases like "government bureaucracy and the execution of democratic principles."

Sunday, September 19, 2004

book 88

david maine's the preservationist
so, this is just pretty much a straight novelation/retelling of the noah's ark story. like the red tent, but (slightly) less female-centric. also, the word "rut" is used a lot, and maine uses dashes instead of quotation marks to indicate dialogue (which annoys me. is it meant to show antiquity? like, this story is so old, it PRECEDES quotation marks!). anyway, it's not like this book was bad or anything--the first bits had some humor, and all the wives are pretty great characters. still, there's not much you can do when you're adapting a biblical story. i mean, noah's got to get drunk and naked in there at some point.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

other blogs talking about comics

bryan lee o'malley (of scott pilgrim fame) posted a link to a blog entry comparing his two graphic novels. personally, i could have done w/ a little less of the blog-writers's introspection, but i imagine if i wrote real reviews they would probably be just as me-me-me. actually, my favorite part of the entry is bryan o'malley's comment--be sure to scroll down and read it.

i'll point out here that lost at sea and scott pilgrim are two of my favorite graphic novels, probably for similar reason's to this girl's--who hasn't ever felt out of place, adrift, soulless, especially as a teenager, and who can't enjoy scott pilgrim's adorable, wacky, lovely little life?

i was trying to decide which one i liked better, or would recommend more to someone. lost at sea makes me cry and scott pilgrim makes me laugh. i'm not sure which is better . . .

Friday, September 17, 2004

book 87

jincy willett's winner of the national book award
how thrilled was i to see that this book had come out in paperback this week? not just because it was the subject of a question in book nerd trivial pursuit (sadly, not a question i got, though i did smirk and say, "ooh, this is on my amazon wishlist!"), but because i'd heard such great things about it. and it really lived up to all the raves. it's about twin sisters--the narrator is a librarian (seriously, what's with all the librarians in my books lately? i swear it's not deliberate--is it a sign that i'm on the right career path? ;) ) and her sister is a larger-than-life sensual mailwoman. we find out early on that the narrator's sister has killed her husband, and then it's just a great novel--really fun, and even the secondary characters are hilarious and loveable, or hate-able--to show us how and why this came about. really, i couldn't wait till tomorrow to see how it ended.

oh yeah--the title refers to all the writers and wannabe writers that appear in the book.

some things are better than a good night's sleep.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

book 86

ellen gilchrist's the courts of love
this was the first collection of gilchrist's stories i ever read, the one that inspired me to go get her collected stories and some of her other books. and a lot of the stories hold up on second reading, especially most of the nora jane stories (the first ten stories all revolve around a character named nora jane and her family) and the two stories that deal with animals (a small bear and a badly injured dog, respectively). the animal ones are actually my favorites--she really captures the complex emotions between people and their dogs. or maybe it's just that i like dogs a lot.

attention geeks!

well, if star wars fans fall into the "geek" category.

anyway, the october issue of sound and vision magazine has an interview w/ george lucas, done by carrie fisher. i like carrie fisher, and her introduction is unsurprisingly humorous, and of course she does deviate some from the questions s&v gave her to ask him (which is the lamest thing ever--and these questions are sooo lame).

i will warn you that there is a really gross anecdote about her father's sex life and medical supplies, so read it at your own risk.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

an addiction is born

Today I would like to tell the story of how I got into comic books. It’s not that I didn’t read comics as a kid—I read all the Archie-type books, and my brother’s Batmans and X-Mens. But in retrospect, I can safely say that most of those comics sucked in the mid-80s, and so I didn’t get all that excited about it.

When I was in high school—I think sophomore year or so, when I was just 16—I had this totally geeky friend, Jason F. He was really into musical theater and comic books—like, sooo embarrassingly nerdy! Of course, this was the height of my Rocky Horror/Goth phase (*cringe* don't laugh!), and he was a Rocky-goer, so we hung out sometimes. One time I was over at his place, probably making fun of his comics, when he told me I didn’t know what I was talking about. “Just read this, and see if it’s stupid!” he said, and handed me the Dark Knight Returns (I originally wrote “threw” there, to highlight his exasperation, but I am fairly sure he took good care of his comics and would not have thrown them, ever).

I was totally blown away by the story—it was so DARK and interesting, and best of all, Robin was a GIRL! “Are there other comics like this?” I asked as he dragged me away to wherever we were going that day. I never did read the end of that comic until I got my own copy years later.

Since those were the dawn-days of the internet (did I still have a Prodigy account then, even?), I searched around online until I found Jeff Mason’s site. Back then, Indy Magazine was mostly a mail-order comic book business. I emailed Jeff asked if he knew about any comics that had girls in them, as main characters, maybe even real-ish girls, and if he did, could he mail them to my best friend’s house? (I had some inkling that my mother would think reading comic books was too weird for a teenage girl.)

By the way, i paid for all this with babysitting cash wrapped in notebook paper, so no one could see that the envelope was full of money and steal it.

He kindly mailed me the first issues of Strangers in Paradise and Action Girl, some Paul Pope THB stories, and some minicomics (also, the Crow graphic novel—like I said, I was trying the Goth thing). SiP and AG especially amazed me-—Sarah Dyer’s column in the back of AG even listed LOTS of comics that had girls in them! But fearing parental disapproval, I didn’t actively seek out too many more comics.

Until I got to college! My friend Guttridge from high school also went to PSU, and took me with him one day to the fabulous Comic Swap (he was getting some Tin Tin stuff). I sort of looked around and then hesitantly asked the bald, sunglasses-wearing guy behind the counter what he thought girls might like. He helped me find the first SiP trade and also suggested Sandman and Squee and, of course, Love and Rockets. After that, I went almost every week to get more recommendations from Damon and Kris, and even started drawing my own little comics in my journal.

Then, of course, came my 15 minutes of fame processing the Murray Collection at Duke and my newfound allegiance to Second Foundation/Chapel Hill Comics.

Now I’m working on parlaying all of this comic book geekery into a career, or at least a final project for my reference class. :)

philip roth

the new philip roth book is coming out in october, and after perusing the lengthy excerpt from the guardian (link via bookslut), i have to say that i'm really looking forward to reading it. i'm not a die-hard roth fan by any means, but his reimagining of america looks dead interesting.

meanwhile, i've been re-reading some ellen gilchrist, but her anti-arab stereotypes are annoying me even more than last time. sometimes it's hard to get past them into the meat of the story.

hopefully i'll be picking up some of your recommendations soon! i'm really excited to check out some of them . . .

music library tidbit of the day: here, CMJ stands not for college music journal, the magazine of college radio stations everwhere, but for computer music journal, which is published through MIT. vive la difference!

ps forgot to post this yesterday: a huge YAY for arcade fire's 9.7 on pitchfork! yes, the cd IS that amazing, and the live shows are even more so. come back soon, arcade fire!

Monday, September 13, 2004

the best academic journal ever

is called popular music. volume 23 issue 2 is a particularly entertaining specimen, featuring stories on living troubadours, "'so slide over here': the aesthetics of masculinity in late twentieth-century australian pop music," and one on "the current status of world music in the UK," which informs us that the WOMAD festival had "a delightful 'vibe.'"

there are also some really interesting book reviews. the music library, unfortunately, does not currently have the last party: britpop, blair, and the demise of english rock, but we do have caetano veloso's tropical truth: a story of music & revolution in brazil.

my job is fun!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

ny times/spiegelman/etc

the new york times offers a pretty dead-on commentary of the new spiegelman book.

also, they have a great article on isaac bashevis singer, whose collected stories (three volumes of 'em!) are due out soon. i'm afraid to look the price up . . .

Friday, September 10, 2004

book 85

ariel gore's atlas of the human heart
aimee recommended this book to me a few weeks ago, and i finally picked my ordered copy up today and pretty much read it straight through. basically, it's a memoir of gore's teen years, where she picked up and went to china, and then traveled the world. it's all very heart-wrenching and beautiful and hard. my only complaint is that occasionally she'll, like, define words (the derivation of "free" comes up a few times). is this to highlight her youthful thoughts? it does read like a bad freshman comp paper, where they have to write about materialism or something, and their introductions will all say, "what is materialism? webster's dictionary defines materialism as . . . "

but otherwise, it's really a riveting story, and sort of horrifying because it's true. when aimee recommended it, she said she thought it was a good book about turning points, and would be a good read for someone starting something new in life. i think this is an accurate assessment.

art spiegelman/in the shadow of no towers

i finally got the art spiegelman book this morning, and once my sangria-making misadventures had ceased, i sat down to read it. now, first let me say that it's one of the most visually arresting books i've ever seen--it's large-format, with thick caroard pages like a kid's book, and his strips appear sideways, so they're just the right size. it's great to have them in a book--you can really notice the details of the art more than you could in a newspaper or on his powerpoint presentation. plus, the content is incredible--the few strips i hadn't read were really compelling, and the second half of the book contains an essay about him finding solace in old newspaper strips (very similar to his talk at duke), along with full-scale examples of the strips that inspired him.

i basically think everyone should go buy this book, b/c not only is it the new art spiegelman, but it's really important to reflect on the issues he raises in these heady pre-election months. great timing, art!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

book 84

holy crap--only 16 more and i hit 100. seriously, give me recommendations! lend me books! i must meet my goal!

david bezmogis' natasha and other stories
these stories all revolve around the berman family, russian immigrants to canada who are trying to adjust to their new lives (short stories that all revolve around a family are some of my favorites to read--very ellen gilchrist!). one is forced to wonder how autobiographical these stories are--the author himself came to canada from latvia as a boy. of course, the stories themselves are so well-written and homey that i quickly got caught up in them and stopped thinking about bezmogis. all of these stories are great, but the title story is particularly compelling, as the main character spends a lazy summer smoking pot and foolin' around with his uncle's new stepdaughter (i kind of don't like that the book jacket calls them cousins, since that makes it seem a lot more incestuous than it really is). the family relationships here are all very vivid and tangled, just like real life, and the only story that falls flat for me is the one about his grandmother's death, which for some reason is interspersed with the main character's trip to california to research a boxer. the final story, about elderly jews trying to get apartments and trying to keep their lives going, hit close to home and is probably my favorite of them all. so, yes, in case you can't tell, this book definitely deserves all the praise being heaped on it, and i highly recommend it.

not book related . . .

but a great story nonetheless:

secret cinema discovered in the catacombs of paris. (link via metafilter)

my favorite part is that there was a secret stocked bar next to the secret cinema, complete w/ "a pressure-cooker to make couscous."

also, the new issue of bookslut went up yesterday, which is book related, and which is always worth reading (especially the great review of book 77, here, and the column mocking planned film adaptations of books/comics, here).

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

book 83!

susanna clarke's jonathan strange and mr norrell
this book is being touted as a cross between harry potter and jane austen, or as harry potter for grownups. i suppose comparisons to harry potter are inevitable--the main characters are magicians, plus it really does hit that epic note that harry potter hits as well. the jane austen thing i get less, partially b/c i'm not really an austen fan--i think that's just due to the time period (1806-1817, more or less). but this is all beside the point! the point is that for me, this book lived up to all the raves i've been reading (or skimming, so as not to be overly influenced by any reviewers). yes, i told myself i'd stop reading at 11 b/c i have class in the morning, and then 11 came and i said, well, another half hour, and it kept on like that till finally i said, screw class, i want to know how this ends NOW!--as all the best books have made me feel. i can wholeheartedly recommend this to any fantasy lovers, any history lovers, anyone who loves a good story with interesting characters and lots of surprises and a satisfying feeling all around. it's 782 pages but it does go quickly! or maybe i'm just a nerd!

Monday, September 06, 2004


of course all the triangle locals know about the starlite burning down, but maybe you don't know about the rebuilding efforts! click here for info and to make donations, all to save the starlite!

Sunday, September 05, 2004

random things

--just watched art spiegelman's talk at the strand--thank you, c-span book tv! it looks like the book is a large-format spiral-bound, which should suit nicely. i have to wait till wednesday for my copy and i'm not sure i can make it!

--4 or 5 of the top 100 downloads on itunes are from the garden state soundtrack. go zach braff! also re: zach braff, his brother has a book out now--i saw it yesterday--which apparently also features a psychologically cruel father (according to one review i saw, and darn if i can't remember where, it's less "zany" than garden state). yeah, now everyone is definitely going to wonder about their home life . . .

book 82

isaac bashevis singer's shosha
long weekends were made for rereading old favorites, and this story certainly falls into that category for me. it's a demented, tragic love story, the kind no one seems to write anymore. the main character of course is a writer who has semi-abandoned his strictly religious upbringing, and whose companions include other writers, weird actresses, communists, and the title character--a childhood friend who never grew up. pretty typical for pre-WWII warsaw. :) i'd say that this novel is less mystical than a lot of singer's shorter works, but of course many of the characters engage in frequent conversations about god, mediums, ghosts, and the like. anyway, it's hard to pin down this sort of story without giving too much of it away, so let me just note that it's one of singer's classic novels, and i'll leave it at that.

Saturday, September 04, 2004 has posted their editors' picks for the year--interesting, since it's only september. here's their fiction list--surprisingly, i've only read two of them: mcsweeney's 13 and the peanuts 1950-1952 collection. interesting choices there, i have to say.

cynthia ozick

the latest cynthia ozick novel (and her first in several years) is reviewed in the new york times sunday book review this week.

best line in the review? "You want to go to Target and buy a red-string cabala bracelet to charm off evil eyes." awesome.

her novels are sort of hit-or-miss for me, but i'm looking forward to reading this one.

random cynthia ozick thing: in college, i was convinced my history 102 lecturer was her daughter. but really, that's kind of a weird question to ask someone, so i never found out if it was true. (although, thanks to the magic of the internet and finding this site, i really do think my lecturer was ozick's daughter.)

other notable reviews:
--jonathan strange and mr. norrell, which has been on my amazon wishlist for over a month and which i thought wasn't coming out here till november--though i believe the uk release date is this week, which (along w/ the new a.l. kennedy novel), may merit an order from

--the and bear in mind section, which comments briefly on snow, cloud atlas, and persepolis 2.

Friday, September 03, 2004


picked up some good stuff this week . . . most notably a new anthology from the actus tragicus collective (based out of tel aviv), with two etgar keret stories and an excerpt from the new art spiegelman book. i was also pleased to see that carla speed mcneil has finally republished her finder/mystery date miniseries as a graphic novel--those are the issues that got me into that series! i can't wait to reread them. they are pretty sexy, if i recall correctly.

also notable: the rosetta 2 anthology, with new stuff from matt madden, jason lutes, paul pope, and craig thompson; the new issue of street angel; the final issue of love fights; the new y the last man (all about hero!); the new caper (which sucks so much. i personally wasn't that enthralled by the addition of gun-toting porn stars, but i guess i'm not the target audience anymore); and the new grant morrison book, we3, about a dog, cat, and bunny who are turned into weapons by the government. i'm not sure i'll bother with any more issues of that one.

fave of the week: the dead herring actus tragicus anthology--i really like the art and stories here.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

book 81

e.l. doctorow's the book of daniel
i picked this up at nightlight on monday, having heard more-or-less good things about it. the owner guy was raving about it when i paid, so i was really looking forward to the story--it's a fictionalized account of the rosenberg trial and its effects on the rosenberg kids (here, a boy and a girl--i think they had two sons--and i have to say, i'm really wondering what happened to them now!). anyway, this is an enjoyable book, totally character-driven. my only beef is really the narrative structure--first of all, it constantly changes from third to first person, sometimes within paragraphs, some sentences just trail off, and in general the style is very disjointed (i suppose this is meant to highlight the fragile mental state of the main character). in addition, it does go off on political rants every now and then (the action shifts back and forth from the 1950s to the late 60s), but not in any meaningful or compelling way. it's like when you skip the 76 pages of annoying speech in an ayn rand book to get back to the main plot (only it only goes on for a few pages at a time here, and the plot is more interesting than an ayn rand book--which isn't really hard). now, all of this is not meant to indicate that i didn't like this book, b/c the premise alone is worth reading about. i just wish doctorow had approached this a little bit differently--this really could have been an intense and moving book, but it just didn't get there for me.

the onion/comics

i've been enjoying the occasional comic book coverage in the onion. they mentioned a couple of my recent favorites in this latest installment: scott pilgrim and carnet de voyage.

From the decidedly un-Japanese land of Canada comes Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life Vol. 1 (Oni) (Buy It!), which suggests what might happen if Peter Bagge had transplanted his Hate slackers into a Japanese romance comic. Written and drawn by Bryan Lee O'Malley, this first installment of an ongoing series follows the eponymous wide-eyed 23-year-old as he hesitantly dates a 17-year-old Chinese-Canadian high-schooler, plays in a band, pals around with a gay roommate, and possibly finds true love in the form of a pigtailed delivery woman with seven "evil ex-boyfriends," one of whom shows up for a climactic battle. O'Malley has a crude but charming command of manga grammar, and the simplicity helps sell the story of a bunch of well-intentioned people who are too old to act like irresponsible kids, but still too young to know how to act any other way...

i think more emphasis on the endearing cuteness and fun of scott pilgrim was necessary, but otherwise they nailed it.

speaking of comics, art spiegelman's latest comes out on the 7th. i read one of these in the forward, a jewish newspaper out of new york, and was blown away, and then christina and kate and some others and i all saw him speak at duke in the spring and were pretty much all in love with him by the end. this work is really amazing--how he processed the aftermath of 9/11 is a powerful story--and it's coming out just in time for the election! i'm just wondering how the format will work--he designed these to be full-page comics in a regular-size newspaper, and the art isn't always traditionally sequential--sometimes his stories are vertical, not horizontally paneled. but no matter how it's arranged, i really expect it to be great.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

book 80

philip pullman's the amber spyglass
this is a nice wrap-up to the his dark materials series, lots of action and excitement and romance and stuff. of course, the weird religious themes can be a little much (they've put of several religion grad students i know), but it's still a good story based on the characters alone. even the supporting characters are great; it's impossible not to fall in love with all of them. i always feel like this story would make a good movie, but of course i doubt it'd get the funding with its barely veiled anti-church sentiments, and it's impossible to tell the story without referencing genesis.

book 79

philip pullman's the subtle knife
i had every intention of reading the second two books in the his dark materials trilogy between classes this week, but of course some stories just can't be put down, even if you've already read them! this second volume introduces will parry, a boy from our world trying to find his long-missing father, and continues the adventures of lyra and those who are protecting or pursuing her. ugh, i'm sorry, i can't concentrate on this--i got about 17 bug bites at the arboretum yesterday, and the itching is unbearable. benadryl cream, take me away!

Friday, August 27, 2004

book 78

philip pullman's the golden compass
sometimes, a nice way to wrap up the week is to sit quietly and reread a classic. so that's what i did tonight. i imagine i'll work my way through the rest of the trilogy between classes and whatnot. this first one is a great set-up--lots of adventure, interesting characters, and intrigue, and the idea of daemons is really an interesting one. the latter two get a little more overtly anti-church, but none of the theological theories are really apparent in this volume. anyway, i really like this trilogy a lot (though i kind of like pullman's sally lockhart books better--i guess they remind me more of the books i read when i was younger. but they're very different sorts of stories, which only highlights pullman's talent as a writer). i'm looking forward to re-reading the next two, b/c i really like the will parry character. of course, commentary on him will have to wait till i actually have finished it. :)

Thursday, August 26, 2004

darn that shirley hazzard

so remember how i didn't really like shirley hazzard's book the great fire, b/c it was insipid? well, it's one of the booker nominees! lame! seriously, that book sucked. i just lost a ton of respect for whoever awards that prize.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

book 77

john harwood's the ghost writer
i started this book before class today and only reluctantly put it down to learn stuff. i was glowing with the joy of reading it, planning to rush straight home after school to finish it, and then blog about it with heavy use of the adjective "brilliant." ok, the initial thrill has worn off a little, but still, this was a pretty fucking great book. there are new twists and turns constantly, and even though i guessed the big twist at the end, it was no less satisfying. the title is pretty apt--and it's a very creepy story. oh, i think the thrill is back again! this was so worth buying in hardback!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

book 76

binnie kirshenbaum's history on a personal note
here's a book of short stories by a chick who has apparently been made to feel alienated about her judaism, b/c several of the stories harp on it. there are some worth reading though, like one about a cocktail waitress who gets pregnant and moves to the suburbs, and three about a travel agent and her best friend, and another one i really liked but can't recall very vividly right now and the book is in my car atop my freshly-washed and still-warm laundry, so i can't really tell you the details. don't mind me--i haven't eaten in a while and can mostly only think about sushi at the moment.

book 75!!!

ernest hemingway's the nick adams stories
when i was in high school or thereabouts, someone (a man, older? i don't remember now who it was, though i can nearly visualize the handwriting) gave me a list of recommended books. i'd read a few of them but others i'd never heard of; i imagine i worked my way through the list one summer. one of the items was "ernest hemingway--the fifth column and the nick adams stories" and somehow i found a book that was just the nick adams stories, including some that had not been previously published. i remember liking the stories--i generally like short stories that revolve around an individual or a family, and here i'm thinking of some of ellen gilchrist's books--but hadn't read it since whenever it was i initially read it. and hey, i still liked it! my favorite two stories are two that had never been published--a lot of the published nick adams stories deal with fishing or with war, and i like best the one about nick running away with his younger sister and the one where he and his young adult friends all go swimming. anyway, the nick adams stories are pretty much hemingway lite, which is not a bad thing on a sunny day.

Monday, August 23, 2004


i realized tonight that a lot of my recent reviews have been pretty negative. here are twenty books i would recommend--keeping this list to 20 was pretty difficult, so if you've read all of these, i certainly can recommend more.

margaret atwood, cat's eye
peter beagle, the last unicorn
a.s. byatt, possession
michael chabon, the amazing adventures of kavalier and clay
michael dorris and louise erdrich, the crown of columbus
jeffrey eugenides, the virgin suicides
jonathan safran foer, everything is illuminated
neil gaiman, stardust
glen david gold, carter beats the devil
william goldman, the princess bride
mark helprin, winter's tale
john irving, a widow for one year
yann martel, the life of pi
lorrie moore, birds of america
haruki murakami, hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world
audrey niffenegger, the time traveler's wife
amos oz, elsewhere perhaps
ann patchett, bel canto
tom robbins, skinny legs and all
a.b. yehoshua, the lover

book 74

shirley hazzard's the great fire
so i got the book nerd edition of trivial pursuit last week, and christina and i were looking at some of the cards during our radio show--she was quizzing me while i ran the board, mostly. and there was a question about this book! my eyes widened at the coincidence as i practically gasped, "that book! it's in my bag RIGHT NOW!" i hadn't started reading it yet and was amused by the intersection of question and locality. but now i've read it. sigh. it did not live up to its trivia-related fun fate. one of my major problems w/ the story was the high language involved--not just the author's narration, but all the characters spoke in this ridiculous poetic style. i mean, the main girl character is frequently called "a changeling" or "a mermaid" by the male characters. b/c yeah, in 1947, that's really how men described pretty girls. also, the major plot of the story--it's about a thirty-something british guy macking on a 17 year old australian girl in post-war japan--just didn't ring my bells. the subplot, about the main character's old friend doing some job or another in hong kong, was a lot more interesting, and nothing really happened there either. i was going to cite examples of the ridiculous dialogue, but now i don't even want to reread the annoying prose to amuse my three readers. i started to wonder if there would be some big tragedy keeping this stupid couple apart, like, say, a GREAT BIG FIRE, but there wasn't. in fact, i don't remember any fires in the book at all. i guess it's a metaphor for hiroshima, even though that's only mentioned like twice, since discussing a 17 year old girl's "silver eyes and hair" is a lot more relevant. except, you know, not.


i've seen a few posts* over the past week berating the current issue of the independent weekly. normally i'd ignore this sort of thing, but i'm feeling outspoken tonight and it's been bothering me a little. now, i personally have no strong feelings about the indy one way or the other--i pick it up every week and read the music coverage and the missed connections (now creepily re-titled "i saw you"), and that's about it. (so i didn't even read the article all of you seem to find so offensive, though i did look at the captions of the pictures which showed people i knew.)

i guess what's bothering me about these blog entries is: if the indy angers you that badly, why don't you do something more proactive than getting all outraged about it online? i mean, they're probably doing the best they can. if you think they ought to do a better job, you could always offer to help them.

of course, half the point of blogs seems to be to have a forum to express one's outrage at whatever one finds so outrageous, and so maybe my entire point here is moot. i guess i just think that if there's something that really bothers you and you have the power to make it better, why not give it a shot? i mean, it's one thing to bitch about dubya--there's not much we can do about him till election day. but the indy? it's such a small, localized thing--i'm sure they'd be happy to have volunteer writers or whatever.

and thus endeth what will probably be my only political commentary ever on this little site.

* hmm, i swear i remember another post about this, but can't currently find it, which defeats the purpose of my entire post, b/c georg's post is really not very savage. please pretend you read lots of blogs mocking the indy this week and then my own annoyance/outrage makes sense.

Friday, August 20, 2004

comic book geekery

mmm . . . today is all about real food and comics. here's what i've been reading:

--love and rockets 11--i wanna see ray and maggie have a conversation!
--blue monday 2--girls masturbate? what?!
--y the last man 25--"you will know i am the lord when i lay my vengeance upon you!"
--fables 28--no comic book is complete w/o an issue involving nazis
--powers 3--retro girl reincarnate!
--dc: new frontier 5--i heart the martian manhunter.
--plastic man 9--i might stop buying this.
--batgirl 54--librarians save the day!
--batman the 12cent adventure--setting up some big new bat-world crossover mishegas
--batgirl 55--part of the big new bat-world crossover mishegas
--why i like bugs--adorable minicomic by dan moynihan
--yeah, it is!--xeric winner from a year or so ago--really neat art.
--scott pilgrim's precious little life--lives up to the hype (it was discussed at length on the 6:35 message board.). aka: i just adore bryan o'malley unconditionally.
--kyle baker, cartoonist vol 2--better than plastic man
--paul auster's city of glass adaptation--gorgeous art, kinda noir, lots of fun.
--li'l folks--predates peanuts! big-ass book! in-depth commentary!

maybe i'll comment on these further, and maybe i won't! nyeah!

as always, comments are welcome--geeky or not!

fave of the day: scott pilgrim. b/c i love bryan o'malley. *swoon*

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

four hamsters for me at the station! (thanks to lisa for snapping the picture.) seriously, who is giving these to me? won't you confess so i can bake you something? Posted by Hello

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

book 73

donna tartt's the secret history
having more-or-less enjoyed the little friend and being faced with a bookstore with a poor fiction section, i grabbed this the other day for the plane ride home. its story of five classics students killing one of their friends (don't worry, they tell you that on page one) seemed awfully familiar, and i was half-wondering where i'd read a book like this before. on page 102, it hit me--i've read THIS book before! i have no recollection of when or why, and until page 102 would have sworn that the first i'd heard of donna tartt was when the little friend was released. weird! if you have any information on when i read this book (it was published in 1992, so god only knows), please tell me, b/c it is driving me nuts.

so yeah, i was a little distracted from page 102 on. let me assure you that the whys and hows and what-happened-nexts of this collegiate murder make a pretty riveting story. very, uh, what's that movie w/ the really long shot at the beginning? rope? yeah, very that.

Monday, August 16, 2004

book 72

frank b. gilbreth and ernestine gilbreth carey's cheaper by the dozen
so my sister bought the steve martin version of this story on dvd yesterday, and i was trying to express my frustration that they'd made such a sweet story into such a goofy-looking movie (not that the book doesn't have goofy parts, but goofiness was way different in the 1920s). anyway, since this had been one of my favorites when i was growing up, and since i hadn't read it in probably 8 or 10 years, i took a quick glance at the ol' bookshelf and spotted it immediately. a sign! i reread it before bed last night and its sweetness and fun still hold up--i mean, it hasn't been out of print since it was first published in the 40s, so i wasn't surprised that i still loved the book. my favorite part is still the scene where the kids smoke one of the older sister's boyfriends out of a tree while he attempts to be a peeping tom. and i still get a little weepy when their much-loved father--one of the great fathers of literature!--dies suddenly of a heart attack. if i hadn't been so sleepy i'd have read the sequel last night too.

Sunday, August 15, 2004


reread harry potter and the goblet of fire this afternoon. decided, again, that it really is the best harry potter book (though book 3 remains my favorite). was pleased to notice that the wand error at the end has been corrected for my parents' paperback version. finished reading in time to watch a cute girly movie with my mom and sister. mark ruffalo is one of my top three celebrity crushes. yay for vacations.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

book 71

i feel obliged to preface this book w/ a brief anecdote about why on earth i read this book all the way through. so tonight after dinner out w/ the family and with the steelers game on tv, i announced that i needed a book. unfortunately, my mother's recent book purchases are generally mysteries ("r is for rigor mortis!") or chick lit books (by the way, has anyone else noticed that over 50 percent of chick lit books feature legs or high heels on the cover?). she promptly handed me three chick lit books, informing me that good in bed is really good, and even my sister read it and loved it. i, being me, mocked the selections. my dad called me a book snob and needled me until i agreed to read the damn thing. and the fact that i had to write this big paragraph justifying this book proves that i am indeed a book snob. so what else is new?

jennifer weiner's good in bed
ok, i mean, this book doesn't totally suck. it's probably better than most chick lit. i just don't have an interest in reading about a fictional character who constantly harps on her weight and her singlehood (perhaps b/c i harp on my singlehood myself--i mean, i cringe when i hear myself saying these things, so do i really want to escape into a novel where this is the primary discussion? uh, no!). it's also entirely predictable--she's oblivious to the interest of the one guy who's nice to her, she becomes friends w/ a movie star, and by the final third of the story, the entire thing has devolved into hopeless melodrama, but you just know that by the final ten pages it will all be worked out. weiner is not a bad writer really, and there are some funny and sweet parts--the slightly overweight main character is a sarcastic (jewish) reporter and gets in some zingers, and the bits about her lovable dog were great, and the nice guy is really nice . . . but blah, blah, blah, i guess i'm too picky (or too unwillingly to enjoy something so saccharine) to really get into chick lit.