Wednesday, January 31, 2007

2007 book 12

David Waldstreicher's In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776-1820
Clearly this was another book for class, and it was the most boring read to date! I dunno, you'd think a book about how national celebrations helped form American identity would be interesting, but Waldstreicher is really into making grand sweeping statements and then quoting really boring historical figures, and never makes the history come alive, and never tells any fun or silly stories (one or two would have livened things up, and certainly stories about the fourth of July can be fun). On the other hand, who am I to criticize some dude who's tenured at Yale? His historicity is really sound, but he's the most boring writer EVER. Also, he very rarely mentions religion, and since I read this for a religion class, I was a little muddled.


So this morning I got a letter from flickr informing me I have to use a Yahoo ID to sign into the site now. I was sad to no longer be a special "Old Skool" member, but I actually have a Yahoo ID (though I don't use Yahoo for email, I do use the ID for groups and such, and everything just comes to my gmail account anyway) so I figured, whatever. But now I'm seeing all sorts of internet furor about this change, including comments that we're losing our flickr names! I like being wordnerdy and I don't want to be boring ark131! Flickr has been down for me all day, so I've been unable to verify that annoying things are going on.

Anyone else have any information or thoughts on this?

Monday, January 29, 2007

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Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
John and i just realized that there is a buzzcocks song in an aarp commercial

(I sent that message from my phone--to clarify, I kept seeing that AARP commercial and knew I knew the song, but couldn't place it, and then it played before Yo La Tengo came on last night and John said something about the Buzzcocks, and it all clicked into place! I have nothing negative to say about the Buzzcocks shilling for AARP--it's an honest paycheck, and I'd rather hear a song I like play repeatedly on a commercial than some crappy jingle that gets stuck in my head for like a week.)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

2007 book 11

Vendela Vida's Let the Northen Lights Erase your Name
This novel is about a young woman named Clarissa whose father has just died; after his funeral, she discovers he wasn't really her father. She travels to Finland to attempt to track her birth father down and learn more about her vanished mother's previous life. I didn't have strong feelings about this one way or the other--at parts I couldn't tell if the protagonist was supposed to be having even more of a nervous breakdown than she already was, or if Vida just likes to use dramatic sentences. Either way, it's a quick read and I did actually like the ending. B+.

Friday, January 26, 2007

pan's labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth finally opened here, so of course we had to go see it opening night! I was glad that Pinky had mentioned it was "brutal", so we weren't expecting some sweet little fairy tale land. More of a dark, muddy fairy tale land in the midst of Spanish battlefields in 1944. At any rate, 2/3 of us loooved it and hope it wins all its Oscars; the final 1/3 wasn't into it at all, but as we pointed out, he didn't have to come see it with us, and this certainly wasn't any darker than Children of Men (which he apparently liked for its action sequences).

Next time we're seeing a comedy, after all this!

Oh, but here's something funny. We of course just had our book discussion group on The Namesake this week, and there was a poster for the movie version that's coming out this spring, so we were chatting about that as the lights went down . . . and the very first preview was for The Namesake! It looks excellent. The trailer actually made me cry, which shamefully was not a first.

scott pilgrim preview!

Bryan Lee O'Malley has posted a page of Scott Pilgrim 4!! Awesome!!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

top chef

Ugh! I hope they decide no one should be Top Chef! An unlikable final four has been winnowed to an absolutely unbearable top two. What a crock--neither deserves the title.

2007 book 10 and cupcakes

John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things
This novel centers on a young boy named David living in England on the brink of WWII. After his mother's death and his father's subsequent remarriage, things start to go a little bit haywire as first he hears books talking to him, and then he gets trapped in a twisted fairy-tale world. Fairy-tale adventures ensue as David learns What Really Matters. Actually this was a good read--can I call it a ripping good yarn?B+.

And here is an awesome punk rock vegan cupcake story, courtesy of Erin. I think that chick is my new hero, even though I am pretty fond of butter!

2007 books 8 and 9

Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake
I reread this one for the library book group! It's still pretty good.

Gary B. Nash's The Unknown American Revolution
Clearly this was reading for class! Nash basically presents the untold stories of the American Revolution, focusing on the parts played by African-Americans, Native Americans, and women. The first half, discussing events leading up to 1776, is really fascinating, but my eyes glazed over somewhat once he got into the actual war parts. On the plus side, I had way more Pennsylvania pride after reading this, AND got to read all about the North Carolina Regulators (who inspired the name of my all-time favorite bookstore).

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I am pretty sure that was a Kingsbury Manx song ("Creature of Habit"? It would be fitting if it was!) closing out Veronica Mars tonight! Congrats, guys!!!

Speaking of VM, it was a pretty stellar episode--cute monkey, cute romantic subplots, and even skanky surfer girls. Can't beat that!

Monday, January 22, 2007


Speaking of nostalgia, does anyone else remember those Taffy Sinclair books?? Talk about 80s classics. Remember the one where snobby bitch Taffy decides to give one of the non-popular girls a makeover and teaches her to vomit up her cafeteria lunch (until a dramatic intervention by the girl's True Friends)? Proof that ten year old girls are evil.

There's some wholesome reading for impressionable pre-adolescents! I don't remember these being darker than the Babysitters' Club, Sweet Valley Twins, etc, but then again, authors were pretty heavy-handed with their morals back then. I am pretty sure someone died of a drug overdose in one of the first four Sweet Valley High books (which I shouldn't have been reading in elementary school, but they were way more interesting than their juvenile counterparts).

Oooh--here's some weird synchronicity. On checking out the Taffy Sinclair author's website, I see that she also wrote that 80s classic The Great Mom Swap. That book was actually made into a TV movie starring a girl I went to elementary school with. This post totally just went full circle.

eat 'n' park!

One of my favorite nostalgia-inducing food products, the Eat 'n' Park smiley cookie, is now available online! You can even customize its colors for any special occasion.

I think a smiley cookie would be perfect on a rainy day like today. I am pretty sure we haven't had sunshine in over a week. What gives, Florida???

Sunday, January 21, 2007

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Gratuitous relaxing cat photo!

So, the only bad thing about Battlestar Galactica moving to Sundays is that I'm totally hyped up at the end of it and won't be falling asleep anytime soon. Thank goodness for caffeine.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

NBCC finalists

The National Book Critics Circle Award finalists have been announced.

This list is actually pretty strong--none of those books I thought were overhyped are on it, and there's only one I'm actively avoiding (the Cormac McCarthy one, b/c I really don't like his writing).

Friday, January 19, 2007

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Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
We went to see Camera Obscura at Down Under tonight--I know, a band I like actually came to Tallahassee! What are the odds?! (Not too bad, actually--Yo La Tengo will be here in a week and a half.) I brought gingerbread squirrels for the band, but forgot to take pictures (sorry, Pinky!).

Anyway, really fun show, and probably the most packed I've seen the place (TraceyAnne asked at one point, "Are you all here to see us?" Well, we sure weren't there to see the opening band and no one else was playing!). We were especially enthralled with Francois, who played many, many instruments very, very well. He was reminiscent of a French Robert Biggers.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

another best books list

Library Journal recently put out their list of the best books of 2006 (including genre fiction and how-to books). I've only read four on the list (two of those I disliked, and one--The Echo Maker--even made my list of crappy books that keep getting critical acclaim for reasons I'll never fathom) but this may be a good place to look if, like me, you're saddened by the dearth of good books being published right now. Is it spring yet???

scarlett thomas

Here is a nice review of Scarlett Thomas' The End of Mr. Y, which was one of my favorite books of 2006. I recently read a negative review of this book in Bust (the reviewer was not really into all the discussion of Derrida), but it doesn't seem to be online, and anyway I obviously agree with the one in Salon. :)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

2006 book 7

John Green's An Abundance of Katherines
Intially, I was reluctant to read this YA novel b/c it kept getting compared to King Dork, which I disliked. However, my friend Betsy, a fellow fan of YA books and hater of King Dork gave it her approval, so I immediately got it from the library. And it was really good! It's about Colin, a prodigy-type who just graduated high school and also just got dumped by his 19th girlfriend named Katherine. I realize that sentence sounds like it has a dangling modifier, but all of his girlfriends have been named Katherine. Anyway, he and his best (and only) friend head on a road trip and end up in a small town in Tennessee, where Colin attempts to create a theorem explaining his bad luck in love (there is actual math explained in an actual appendix, which I did not read), and where he and his friend meet all sorts of really great characters, learn about life, etc. But not in an annoying way, in a really interesting and sweet way. A.

2007 book 6

Charles H. Lippy's Being Religious, American Style
This is a pretty readable history of popular religion in America. It's (inevitably) Protestant-heavy, and definitely gives short shrift to Native American religions, but it does provide some nice comments on gender and on the supernatural elements of popular religion. He occasionally brings music into the mix, and clearly isn't a music scholar, and much of his material on Judaism came from an encyclopedia, so it wasn't perfect. Plus, it was written in '94 and shows it--I'd love to see an update for the last decade or so. However, for someone just looking for an overview, it's definitely helpful; I barely remembered anything from pre-1880s from all my college courses (except the Oneidas and the Shakers), so it was a good refresher.

I'm not going to grade the books I read for class, since the grades are generally based on my enjoyment of a particular book, and I'm not reading these for enjoyment, per se.

pretty amazing

Here is a pretty amazing piece of Holocaust remembrance.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

2007 book 5

Uzodinma Iweala's Beasts of No Nation
Iweala--a Harvard grad who's like 24 or something--writes a powerful and troubling first novel about a young boy who's swept up into a guerilla army during some war in some unnamed African country. However, I'm taking points off for the writing style, which is faux-"I'm just learning English and can't get my tenses quite right". B+.

Monday, January 15, 2007

2007 book 4

William Boyd's Restless
This riveting story focuses on a young British woman, Ruth, in the 70s whose mother reveals that she worked for the British Secret Service during World War II. The mother's story is interwoven with Ruth's own, as she tries to come to terms with her mother's secrets. The book's jacket description makes it seem more dramatic than it actually is, which worked for me. Although her mother's tale is full of intrigue, I liked that Ruth's was more of a normal life. It's a nice balance. Anyway, I really enjoyed this--A.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

2007 book 3

Vendela Vida's And Now You Can Go
It seemed like synchronicity--Jenny mentioned her, and then she turned up on Gawker's list of most annoying literary power couples (I guess she's married to Dave Eggers, whose writing is annoying enough for both of them [which is also how I feel about another member of the list, Jonathan Safran Foer]). Anyway, this book actually wasn't annoying at all, which isn't to say I was in love with it or anything. Let's say it was . . . pretty good. It's about a young girl grad student who gets held up at gunpoint, and she's sort of traumatized and deals with it with the help of various young men who love her or something, and then she and her mom go on a medical mission to the Philippines. It's nothing earth-shattering or revelatory (for me, or for the characters), but it was ok. B.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


My dream house has appliances color-coordinated to match my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer. :)

Speaking of appliances, Amazon is still having a superduper clearance in the Kitchen and Housewares category. I scored a 3-cup food processor for 47 bucks! I also picked up one of those nonstick mat things you all have been raving about.

partially read

Daniel Handler's Watch Your Mouth
As some of you may recall, Handler's work has always been hit or miss for me (looooved Basic 8, HAAAATED Adverbs) so I began this book with some trepidation. But page five was all about Pittsburgh, and you know I'm a sucker for books about my hometown! However, the Pittsburgh in this book is some sort of alternate version, where the Benedum Center is the Benedrum Center, and there are all sorts of landmarks that don't actually exist. Anyway, the narrator is a college student (who imagines his life as an opera) who's gone home with his girlfriend to Pittsburgh for the summer to be counselors at a Jewish day camp (just like the one I went to!). Unfortunately, her family turns out to be pretty crazy, and after 89 pages of people obsessively discussing incest (and apparently one incident of actual incest), I had to call it quits.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

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Gratuitous sad kitten eyes photo!

2007 book 2

Ann Brashares' Forever In Blue
Despite all the Brashares-related controversy, I had to find out what happened to those wacky and lovable traveling pants girls. Their story wrapped up satisfyingly (and of course predictably) and even featured a baby bunny. I'm in a good mood, so let's give it an A.

baking gadgets

Here's a feature on some essentials for the home baker. I don't know that I really need a digital scale or a blowtorch, but I have been meaning to get most of these other items (except the stand mixer and the round cutters, which I am fortunate enough to own already).

Too bad none of their links actually work. :) (The Sur la Table site is always worth browsing, though.)

Monday, January 08, 2007

2007 book 1

Oh man, it feels so weird to be back at the beginning!

Annie Dillard's The Maytrees
My awesome boxx picked up an advance copy for me at MLA; despite my Dillard fandom, I've actually never read any of her fiction before. This novel definitely scores high on literary merit--symbolism, especially involving the sea, and meditations on aging and dying abound. Basically it's the story of a married couple (the titular Maytrees), and tells their story in flashes back and forth in time. The thing is, I think I'm too young for this book. It's like the first time I read An American Childhood, when my mom got it for me b/c Dillard went to the same school I did--I just didn't quite get the point of it all. I was too young to understand how beautiful those sorts of ruminations can be. It's the same thing here (and it's one of the reasons I tend to avoid books being narrated by very old very horny men--I just don't get the aging thing yet, plus EW, stop writing books where 80 year olds get with 20 year olds already! It doesn't happen unless they're Hef, you know?)--it's a lovely book, and the characters are pretty interesting (though not all are entirely fleshed out), but I'm 27 and I can't relate to 60 year olds with all this history, really. I mean, basically it's a very quiet book except for one thing I don't want to spoil, so it's hard for me to explain. Um, ok. B+.

weekend updates

OK, I know it's been 2007 for a whole week, so really you all must be expecting some book reviews by now. I'm currently halfway through two different books, both of which are just OK, which is making it hard to care enough to finish either.

I saw "Children of Men" this weekend, and it was profoundly depressing. The trailers and reviews sort of point toward its grimness, but it's a lot more violent and terrifying than any of those had led me to believe. Just a warning in case any of you see it!

In other news, I think I accidentally exposed the roll currently in my Holga (the back of the camera fell off), which totally sucks as it had what I hoped were some cool pictures on it.

Also, my dad has turned my bedroom into a brewery!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

damn you, gawker!

Great! Now I'm going to feel all guilty when I buy and immediately read the final book in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. (It comes out on Tuesday!)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
Now THAT is a Holga picture!

I also really like this one (ghost trees!) and this one, but there are a few others that turned out ok too.

action figures

Via The Beat: new Supergirl and Wonder Woman figures! Way too expensive for my blood, but is it wrong that I secretly covet Wonder Woman's "Office Savvy" ensemble? I'd totally wear those shoes (even though I never wear heels).

2007 books

Here's a look at some of the books coming our way in 2007 . . . Some of my favorite authors (like Michael Chabon, Haruki Murakami, and A.L. Kennedy, not to mention two authors that made my best-books list in 2005, James Meek and Marina Lewycka) have books coming out!

I won't be reading the new Norman Mailer, though. Ugh.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Vanilla Ice!

Vanilla Ice JandH
Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
Happy 2007! My baby sister Jamie (on the right) and her friend Heather rang in the new year with Vanilla Ice.