Tuesday, October 31, 2006

2006 book 123

Richard Powers' The Echo Maker
This has been getting a lot of good reviews and critical acclaim, I guess, so I finally sat down and read it. The basic premise is that a young Nebraskan dude gets into a serious car accident, after which he believes that his sister is an imposter. A famous neurologist comes to examine him, and lots of examination of the self ensues. I mean, mostly this book worked for me--I really found the relationship between the brother and sister to be extremely compelling--but I really didn't like or care about the doctor's parts of things (his sections are pretty unbearable; who wants to read about a neurologist waxing on about the self, and his failing career, and his stupid middle-aged temptations, all from a totally self-aware doctor point of view? Besides Powers, I mean) or the parts that meditated poetically on birds. As a side note, I thought there were some echoes of Yehoshua' The Lover in the thought processes of the comatose brother as he awakens, but that could be entirely coincidental.

Verdict: a pretty good book, if you skim the self-indulgent doctor's whining.

shameful confession time

I was flipping through the channels last night and landed on VH1, which was doing a new 80s song countdown show (as opposed to all of the other 80s-related programming they've done) (that wasn't the shameful confession) and the song they were discussing was Prince's Little Red Corvette.

Do you know, in my entire life, I had NO idea what that song was? I could NEVER figure out what the chorus was saying, and I spent a lot of time trying to decipher it. Also I didn't know that it was a Prince song. (Somehow I missed the Prince portion of my music education.) Shameful, isn't it!

Happy Halloween everyone!! I may post blurry cameraphone pictures of my costume later. I'm going as a Freudian slip (tm Stef).

Monday, October 30, 2006

breaking book news!!!

Danielle Steel has a fragrance!

Get it for the woman in your life who embodies the essence of Danielle Steel! "The woman who is confident, optimistic, and lives an active life full of new experiences and loving relationships"!

("Active life" really makes it sound like a bran cereal or an adult diaper, doesn't it.)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

2006 book 122

Ellen Kushner's The Privilege of the Sword
Kelly Link wrote a blurb for this book, so I figured it was worth looking into. And it was a diverting Sunday afternoon sort of read, revolving around a young girl (in some fantasy land and time) whose eccentric and rich Duke of an uncle sends for her to make her into a swordsmen. Drama ensues, there's lots of hedonism and defending of honor, and of course the expected ending which ties up pretty much all loose ends. I'm going to stick with mildly diverting and entertaining as my sum-up.

PS. I forgot to say that we also saw alligators yesterday! There wasn't any horror-movie-style carnage, but seriously, they were just hangin' out in the wildlife refugse, right by some walking paths. Scary!!!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

2006 book 121

Keith Donahue's The Stolen Child
I think Amazon was pimping this book a couple months ago, and deservedly so. Also, it's great Halloweentime reading, as its plot is more than a little creepy. It revolves around a little boy, Henry, who runs away from home only to be replaced by a changeling. The two Henrys' stories are told in alternating chapters as each tries to puzzle out his identity. Adding to the creepy factor, for me, was realizing that the story takes place in Pittsburgh. It made me feel like wild little fairy children were spying on us when we were kids, plotting to steal our lives.

In other news, I hit St. Mark's Wildlife Refuge today for the Butterfly Festival, which was nice and all, but really impressive was walking on the gulf coast over by the lighthouse--we saw thousands of migrating monarchs, little crabs, big crabs, huge horseshoe crabs, and lots of beautiful birds. The only thing putting a damper on the day was that my camera battery was dead, and I missed a lot of amazing nature photo ops. Maybe next time . . .

Friday, October 27, 2006

2006 book 120

Kate Atkinson's One Good Turn
This is a sequel to Case Histories, which I read a couple years ago and vaguely recall being a literary-fiction-meets-mystery sort of affair, with lots of likable characters and different storylines that gradually interwove. This is more of the same, as retired cop/private eye Jackson Brodie travels to Edinburgh (along with thousands of other people) for some sort of theatre festival. Murder and mayhem ensue along the way, as Brodie and the reader try and fit everything together (it's clear to the reader pretty quickly that these things are laced together). Still, it resolves nicely, and again Atkinson's characters are likeable and interesting. A pretty entertaining read, for sure.

more librarian stereotyping

OK, now I'm mad at Nick from season 2 of Project Runway. Scroll down through this to see why.

I mean, sure, most librarians don't dress like the extremely skanky women on Flavor of Love, but to suggest that we're all covered up and prim and proper is just totally inaccurate. Plenty of librarians show a little skin, even at work.

What's with all the stereotyping lately??? That stupid Garrison Keillor thing, the Questionable Content shirt, the really old-school non-computerized library on Veronica Mars . . . and now even fashion dudes are doing it!

Guess what! Not all librarians have glasses or buns or prudish clothing! Most of us have cute clothes and like technology! This is NOT a new thing, so I don't know why society can't just get used to it already.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
Tomorrow is the inaugural session of the library book group! We read In the Time of the Butterflies, so since I happen to own a butterfly-shaped cookie cutter, I made gingerbread cookies for the session. (I also made pumpkin squares--mmm, seasonal!)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

2006 book 119

Marie Arana's Cellophane
OK, seriously, where did I read a good review of this? Because I really need to stop visiting whatever site keeps recommending such terrible books. I mean, this isn't TERRIBLE, exactly. I think Arana was going for a magical realism Garcia Marquez sort of thing, as the members of a wealthy paper-milling family in Peru suddenly find themslves unable to hide their secrets anymore, but ended up with a Laura Esquivel Like Water for Chocolate everyone-falling-in-love-at-the-drop-of-a-hat thing.

The adjective that best describes this book: FLORID.

Actually, I can totally see this book being fairly popular, and I can understand why there was a long wait for it at the library. It's just really not my thing. The floridity, you know.

Monday, October 23, 2006


When a character in Questionable Content was wearing a shirt bearing the legend "She blinded me with library science", I (like many others) crossed my fingers that it'd end up as a shirt. And it has, only with a stereotypical librarian alongside it! So lame. At least her hair isn't grey . . .

Sunday, October 22, 2006

2006 book 118

D'aulaire's Book of Norse Myths
Had I known this book existed, I'd probably have sought it out much earlierin my life, because the D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths is one of my favorite books from childhood. We had it in school, and I was enchanted with the elegant drawings and the stories--so when I came down with pneumonia, my mom got it for me as a get-well present, and I've loved it ever since. The Norse myths were recently reissued by the New York Review of Books--with an introduction by Michael Chabon, no less--so they're back on the radar. Anyway, it's a very pretty book with all sorts of fascinating North mythology--a real treat for those of us who've gleaned most of our knowledge in this area from Neil Gaiman. There's the usual vague historical sexism--the female goddesses here aren't anywhere near as fleshed out as in the Greek stories, and I'm not sure if that's due to the original Norse tales or not. At any rate, all books by the D'aulaires are classics, and this makes a valuable addition to any word nerd's bookshelves.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

marie antoinette

So a friend and I went to see Marie Antoinette today, and I quite liked it! Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman were both great, it was gorgeous, and of course I loved the soundtrack--along with New Order and Air, I was thrilled to hear songs from one of my all-time favorite albums, Radio Dept.'s Lesser Matters. Now I love Sofia Coppola even more!

Of course, I did think the ending was a little abrupt--my friend had read that it doesn't go all the way to the guillotine, so she was prepared for the symbolic, non-violent ending, but suddenly I understood why the French booed it. Of course there IS a symbolic ending, but still.

Also, there were no pink converse in sight, for the record. Lots of yummy-looking cakes thoguh! Don't go in hungry.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

new magazine

I am very intrigued by a few of the articles in the first issue of this magazine--I think I'm going to try and hunt it down after work!

Speaking of the 80s (and God bless the fug blog): I totally would watch a show like that. Maybe Oxygen could pick it up. :)

I meant to post this last night, but it got lost in the ether (i.e., the kitten stepped on my keyboard and the link was gone. he also deleted several of my itunes playlists with a single step last night): Here's the list of 1001 books to read before you die (from the book of the same title). I counted up to 94 I'd read before my eyes glazed over. Interestingly, many authors I don't like are on there, which really brought my numbers down.


I have to say, I find myself troubled by the recent spate of 80s revivalism I've been seeing around campus. The leggings trend was bad enough--after all, I'm old enough to remember when leggings were popular the first time, and spent much of my childhood in those lace-edged horrors. Are stirrup pants next? (God forbid!!)

But really, leggings are mild compared to some of the fashion choices I witnessed at the Girl Talk/Man Man show this past weekend. Let's all take a moment to reflect on just how horrifying the 80s were, fashion-wise. I mean, VH-1 has made itself millions hiring C- and D-list celebs to make fun of what we all were wearing back then! Because it was UGLY!!

So imagine my shock and dismay to see all those horrible 80s trends crammed into one club. I saw scrunchy stilleto boots. I saw neon. I saw weird Flock of Seagulls hair. I saw that horrible ratty punk-style bird-nest hair. I saw dudes in vests (one of those had a moleskine notebook in his back pocket--OH MY GOD, how trite can you get??). I saw basically every ugly 80s look you can imagine (and my mocking bitchery achieved new heights that night, let me tell you).

But the WORST! The absolute WORST thing!


Mullets that weren't on the sort of people who maybe don't know that mullets haven't been fashionable in 20 years. They weren't on people who didn't realize how unflattering they are.

They had obviously been DELIBERATELY GROWN. People had grown mullets in a misguided attempt to be COOL. Now COME ON!!! I know there's always a lot of hipper-than-thou in indie music scenes, especially in college towns. But I saw five people who had deliberately grown mullets in order to look cool. That is taking the 80s revival thing waaaaaay too far.

One of the mullet-bearers even had a weird 80s porn mustache! I remember when the 'stache thing hit Chapel Hill a couple years ago--those dudes were so proud of how stupid they looked. So I guess the mullet thing is an extension of that. But come on!!!! Mullets?????

I spent more time freaking out about the teens in 80s-wear than I did paying attention to the show--that's how bad it was. The clothes, not the show, which was actually pretty awesome.

If mullets are back, does that mean big hair and bangs will be following soon? (Ugly Betty as inspiration for that new fall look?) Better stock up on the hairspray!! I sense the forefront of the next trend!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

fall mix cd

I decided to kill that hour between ANTM and Project Runway by finally finishing that mix cd I've been working on. It's a little disjointed, since I haven't bought very many new cds recently and getting the songs into an order that worked ok was trickier than usual. Also I did put some guilty pleasures on and I refuse to be judged!!

Track listing:

1. Portastatic--I'm in love (with Arthur Dove)
2. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Rewhipped--Green Peppers
3. Essence--Fever
4. Girl Talk--Bounce That
5. Maximum Joy--Simmer till done
6. Savath and Savalas--Decatur Queen
7. The Fray--How to Save a Life
8. [track from an unreleased album]
9. Asobi Seksu--Thursday
10. Scritti Politti--After Six
11. Gothic Archies--The World is a Very Scary Place
12. Eric Bachmann--Carrboro Woman
13. Richard Buckner--Lucky
14. Velvet Teen--Gyznkid [terrible title, good song]
15. [another secret unreleased track]
16. Long Winters--Clouds
17. Salteens--Look up! Look out!
18. Acid House Kings--Wipe away those tears
19. Bettye Swann--Cover Me
20. Lambchop--Crackers

2006 book 117

Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies
Had to re-read this classic b/c it's the first selection for our library reading group! It was as good as I remembered.

Monday, October 16, 2006

2006 book 116

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun
This book took me a while to read, but don't take that to mean I wasn't into it, b/c I was! But it was a little intense for beach reading--it takes place in Nigeria in the late 1960s, during the civil war. The story primarily focuses on a pair of wealthy, educated twins and their respective lovers--a revolutionary professor and a British writer--as well as a young village boy who becomes the houseboy of the professor. Their respective experiences during the war highlight the ravages of the period from nearly every angle--I actually wish this book would garner more critical attention, because I guarantee most Americans don't know this war ever took place, and have no idea of the impact it had (I didn't know much about it until I read this--it inspired some research. Librarian Power!). Anyway, this was a really well-written and moving story, and I'd highly recommend it.

P.S. I think I'm totally over Studio 60. God, they are all so annoying and not funny at all! It's hard to buy that anyone watches or cares about their ridiculous show. [Heroes, on the other hand? Totally awesome! Yes, I am a big nerd--did you miss the title of the blog?]


Just FYI, I've been hit with a lot of comment spam lately, so I've turned on that word verification thingy in the comments. I was reluctant to do this, because it's annoying when you can't tell what the letters are, but the comment spam is even more annoying, so c'est la vie.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
Nothing like a day at the beach! (Especially one with Christina!)

And it's official--gulf coast beaches are WAY prettier than Atlantic Ocean Beaches.

Off to bake cookies and then see Girl Talk and Man Man!

Friday, October 13, 2006

2006 book 115

Lemony Snicket's The End
And another entertaining series comes to an end--in quite an unexpected way. Not all the questions raised by the previous 12 books are answered, but it's still a satisfying resolution to a series whose last few books had taken all sorts of exciting twists and turns.

friday books

Critical Mass has maybe my favorite commentary on the whole Fun Home/Blankets being banned from a public library kerfuffle. Lots of good links, plus irony!

I've refrained from commenting on this kerfuffle--though I have been following it closely--because I just haven't felt like ranting. I will say, for the record, that I just find the whole thing very confusing. I own both of these books--many people do, b/c they're both beautiful, critically acclaimed masterpieces--and don't remember any major objectionable content. I do remember some tenderly drawn, delicate sex stuff from Blankets, but that book is like 500 pages long and it was maybe one panel (and not graphic* at all--more like cuddling) and I don't remember any from Fun Home. If there is sex in either of those stories, it's not a major aspect of anything. (Obviously I should look this up.) Anyway, I found myself wondering whether these books were considered objectionable not because of their supposed sexual content, but because of their themes of liberalism, independence, and turning away from the close-minded. Who knows. Either way, it's a serious issue for both libraries and comic book fans.

In positive book news, the final Lemony Snicket book comes out today! I'm getting a copy over lunch.

*another problem with the term "graphic novel" (besides the fact that sometimes they're non-fiction and not novels at all, etc) is that "graphic" is often misinterpreted as meaning "porny" when in fact it means "illustrated". This definitely cropped up a lot during this censorship battle.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Aaaaaaaaand once again, I am totally off-base when it comes to the Booker Award.

I'm not even getting started on the National Book Award--historically that's the one I think is dumbest, so I'm hardly even surprised at this year's crappy selection (full disclosure: I haven't read any of the books that have benn nominated, b/c I know they all suck. Actually I'm waiting for the Echo Maker to come into the library, but I might not bother with it now that it's been nominated for the NBA).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

speaking of librarians . . .

Dude, why's Veronica Mars gotta front? Mark my words--that library job is gonna be key this season! She'll do research! She'll discover stuff, possibly on old microfilms! Librarians will assist her! Might I even suggest that one day Veronica will pursue her MLS degree and put her research skills to work? OK, I mean, she could do that if she was a hot noir PI too, but a librarian girl can dream . . .

But yeah--we're gonna see some library research this season, for sure. AWESOME.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

2006 book 114

Mary Lawson's The Other Side of the Bridge
When I picked up my recent pile of books-on-hold at the library yesterday, I was puzzled, since I didn't remember requesting this one. I guess I read a good review of it somewhere and just added it to the list--and let me say, I'm very grateful to wherever that was! The story is reminiscent of Kent Haruf--but that may just be the small town farm setting talking. It takes place in the north of Canada and most of the action revoles around two brothers--one the reticent farmer type, the other his manipulative younger brother. Things flit back and forth between the WWII years and the early 60s, when a teenager with a crush on the older brother's wife takes a job at the farm. There's lots of that great small-town drama here, and along with some great writing and characterization, it makes for a really compelling story. I have definitely read some great books lately--I'm not looking forward to winnowing them down into a best of the year list!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

2006 book 113

Nicole Krauss' The History of Love
I'd been putting off reading this, because of course Krauss is married to the writer I find most annoying in the world, Jonathan Safran Foer. I realize that's not a fair reason not to read a book by someone (especially since, when this came out, it tended to receive much more favorable reviews than his book did), but she was sort of annoying by association. But one of my co-workers encouraged me to read it, and when she told me she'd loved it so much she's read it a second time (and she's a busy woman!) I gave in to the peer pressure and got it from the library. And, hey--it actually was good! Krauss has some of those sort-of-pretentious tics in her writing style, but somehow for her it works--maybe because she uses them in moderation. The book is primarily narrated by two people, one an old man who grew up in Poland, fled the Nazis, and once wrote a book called The History of Love. The other is a young girl named after his beloved (her sections are written as lists, one of the aforementioned tics that somehow didn't drive me batty). As the girl tries to unravel the story behind her name, the old man works on writing a new book and trying not to die alone and undiscovered. It's really a very touching and engrossing story. Props to Nicole Krauss, who is way more talented than her husband!

lucky north carolinians

In one week in October, you lucky Triangle denizens will get the chance to see Amy Sedaris, Paula Deen, and John Hodgman.

I really need to unsubscribe from the Regulator's newsletter, because the lack of literary events (and food-related literary events!) in my life right now is just heartbreaking, and I don't need that rubbed in!

But you all should definitely go see Amy Sedaris--her new book looks awesome!!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Thursday, October 05, 2006

2006 book 112

Frank Portman's King Dork
Well, the bloggers have been raving about this one for months, so I figured I'd finally read it. And it was pretty good! Portman (the dude from Mr. T Experience) has written a dark, pretty funny and mostly accurate depiction of high school dorkdom. His main social outcast character is a wannabe rockstar, and that especially rings true (probably b/c, y'know, Portman is the dude from Mr. T Experience). I did find some of the teenage antics in the second half of the book to be slightly unbelievable, but most of the book does feel very real. I mean, I guess it's true that a guy in a band suddenly becomes about ten times hotter, so maybe all of it is actually believable. *shrug*

new hair!

Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
all reds and purples for fall.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

veronica mars

Now that Veronica Mars is back on the air, my fall tv schedule is locked in! And my sister and I both enjoyed this episode--she thought it lacked drama, but I thought it was a fun start to what will no doubt be a dramatic season. Veronica in college = totally awesome! I'm hoping for another George Michael and Maeby guest spot.

By the way, don't scoff at the quad of bikini-wearers and say that would never happen on a college campus. It happens daily on the one where I work, and sometimes the sunbathers even bust out their laptops, squinting to read the screen as they do research and IM friends. Ah, the miracle of wireless!

For the curious, here is what I'm watching this season:

Monday: Heroes and Studio 60
I like Heroes, mainly for the Japanese guy ("Super-Hiro!"). Why are all the girls sexy blondes? That just seems odd.

Tuesday: Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars
I only watch Gilmore Girls halfheartedly. The only characters I like these days are Sookie and Lane. I am into the concept of dessert sushi made with red hots, though.

Wednesday: ANTM and Project Runway
PR Reunion special tomorrow! That should be my drama fix for the week.

Thursday: Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy
America Ferrara totally rocks. She is adorable in braces. I like this show enough to get past my personal pet peeve that on tv and in movies, glasses = ugly.

Coming soon: I actually read more books! James Bond, the fashion model! New hair! And more.