Monday, April 30, 2007


I'm kind of sad about the responses to this Gawker post. That professor is totally right! Cake is AWESOME.

Maybe I'm overly sensitive to remarks about cat ladies now that I own a cat . . . and bought him two new bags of squishy balls after work today, since I arbitrarily decided that May 1st is his birthday. Sigh. To my credit, I did not divulge that to the chatty clerk at Petco.


Oh, Heroes. You rock my proverbial socks!

2007 book 57

Joshua Ferris' Then We Came to the End
Yay, this finally came in from the library! I've been reading good reviews for ages and was dying to read it. Luckily it met my expectations. Narrated in first person plural (except for one chapter in the middle, which is a jarring change), a hard trick to pull off, Ferris' novel is all about office life--drudgery, fear of layoffs, office politics--and he totally nails the environment. His characters are all slightly quirky and endearing, and the inevitable ending is both fitting and satisfying. A.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
The bush outside my front window starting blooming recently. I have no idea what these flowers are, but a local squirrel really enjoyed eating them.

ETA: My sweet internet searching skills lead me to believe that it's called Acca sellowiana!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

x-men spinoffs

OK, I do have a soft spot for Magneto and all, but this may be the darkest origin story EVER. Plus that's not why Xavier and Magneto become enemies . . . oh fine, I'll admit it: I want to see Magneto take down some Nazis with his amazing metal powers!!!! Bad-ASS. Also, more fuel for the "Jews and Comic Books" curriculum.

2007 book 56

Susan Minot's Evening
The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly was the summer movie issue, and it looks like a movie version of this is coming out--starring Vanessa Redgrave and Meryl Streep, with Claire Danes and Meryl Streep's daughter as young Redgrave and Streep. There's a whole Fried Green Tomatoes thing going on here--a dying woman flashes back on her adult life, especially to the weekend of her best friend's wedding, where she met the love of her life. Of course the movie version will be drastically different (half the characters are missing, judging by the imdb listing, and we never see Streep's character as an adult in the novel) but it could make for a compelling film. Oh, the book gets an A-. It would have been an A, but I hated that the lack of punctuation stream-of-consciousness narrative splashed over into the bits that weren't the dying woman's thoughts. Seriously, use quotation marks.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

2007 book 55

Lionel Shriver's The Post-Birthday World
From the moment I picked up this book--its cover featured an empty cupcake wrapper with a few crumbs beside it--I knew I'd like it, and I DID! I've never read anything else by Shriver, but I may have to seek some of her earlier works now. Anyway, this is the story of a married woman who is tempted to kiss an old friend. Will she or won't she?? Actually, it's both--both scenarios are played out in alternating chapters (the same narrative structure as the move Sliding Doors). The parallels between the alternate lives are really fascinating, and as a result the reader picks up on things more quickly than the protagonist. She, and the two men in her life, are really interesting characters and I wholeheartedly enjoyed both versions of the story. I give this a resounding A.

Monday, April 23, 2007

2007 book 54

>Cynthia Kadohata's Kira-Kira
This won the Newbury a couple of years ago, so I figured it'd be a good read, which for the most part it was. I just don't remember most Newbury books being so depressing! Anyway, this is the story of a little Japanese girl living in Georgia in the late 1950s/early 1960s. As if her life wasn't hard enough, her older sister gets sick and the family begins to fall apart. Hilariously, the reader's guide in the back uses questions the protagonist is assigned for a book report (i.e., "What is the theme of this story?"). B+.

indie rock cookbook!

Seriously. I want to make Eric Bachmann's recipe.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

alicia reviews ice cream

Seeing Hot Fuzz (AWESOME!) reminded me that I've been meaning to write excellent things about two delicious new Ben and Jerry's flavors I've tried recently! I was unsuccessful in my attempts to find the Stephen Colbert flavor, but Creme Brulee and Cinnamon Buns more than made up for it. The former didn't really excite me at first, until I found myself craving its crunchy caramelized sugar swirl. YUM. And the latter could have used a few more chunks of cinnamon bun dough, but the streusel swirl was simply sublime. Both flavors get an A!


Just a reminder that Michael Chabon's new book comes out May 1st!!! Here is an article about some faux controversy the book has supposedly generated to whet your appetites in the meantime.

2007 book 53

A.L. Kennedy's Day
Normally I love Kennedy's novels--she's a beautiful writer--but I just couldn't get into this one. I'm not really sure why--the protagonist was really sympathetic, a WWII vet who spent time in a POW camp, and after the war ends up working as an extra in a movie about a POW camp . . . maybe it was the way every chapter flashed back and forth in time, and it seemed like things were missing and didn't quite fit together, and the love interest wasn't really characterized in any way (which may have been the point, since it's all about the protagonist's thought process). At any rate, I wasn't that into it, as much as it pains me to say so. B.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

2007 book 52

China Mieville's The Scar
This fantasy-ish book was really long, and had a lot of characters with a lot of plotlines. I'm not even going to start trying to summarize it. I mostly liked it, but one thing that struck me as odd was that, in a world he'd completely created, down to made-up names months and days and made up expressions, why did Mieville's characters keep dropping the f-bomb? Make up another fake swear word or whatever! B.

Back to Ugly Betty, which just mentioned my former staple drink, the dirty girl scout. Throwing up green tends to turn a girl off for good.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

2007 book 51

Hey, I'm in Philly! I only finished one book on the way here (b/c I slept through my 7 am flight, and the other book I had for the trip here is long). Anyway, I made it with only an hour delay, which was a serious relief.

Sanda Dallas' Tallgrass
This novel centers on a 13 year old girl in Colorado in 1942; when a Japanese internment camp opens up a mile down the road, she and her family find themselves in the middle of a very charged situation. I really liked all the characters here--there were just a few false notes that rang a little too Disney-channel-movie for me (you know: "Let's all be friends! Racists are bad! I have learned to accept the differences of others!") but on the whole the story was an enjoyable one. I do wonder if there were people so sympathetic to the Japanese prisoners, or if that's just sort of a liberal guilt reaction and an "if IIII was there, I'd have been nice and stood up for them!" rewriting of history. Race politics aside, it was a really good read. A-.

PS. Comic book writer/artist Kevin Huizenga's wife is at this training thing too!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

2007 book 50

Lisa Lutz's The Spellman Files
This was a highly entertaining and funny look at a family of PIs; unconventional protagonist Izzy has to deal with her parents and unruly baby sister invading her privacy and the general disapproval of her straight-laced older brother. When she gets involved with a cold case and starts dating a dentist, things get even more chaotic. Although there was one minor plot point I was surprised to pick up before the PI girl, generally I really liked this story and its characters. A.

Now I'm off to finally see The Namesake! Speaking of movies, I recently watched Brick on the recommendation of Jordon, who has a man-crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I did like it, but found the dialogue to be reeeeally over-the-top. Was it supposed to be a parody of noir films? If so, it was very successful.

Friday, April 13, 2007

attention durham residents-slash-bad movie fans!

I just saw a commercial for a Lifetime original movie totally based on the Michael Peterson case! It has the awesomely bad title of "The Staircase Murders" and stars Treat Williams as Michael Peterson (look, they didn't even bother changing his name) and Anna from the OC as his suspicious stepdaughter. It premieres on Sunday!

I . . . might have to watch this. Of course, Sunday is the day I've dedicated to a) hauling a bunch of books to a used bookstore, and b) finishing the organization of the comic books I want to donate. I can't believe I'm moving in like three weeks. YIKES.

2007 books 47, 48, and 49

I had jury duty today, which somehow was even more boring than I imagined (mainly b/c it consisted of sitting around waiting to hear if my name was called, which when it was, meant I had to sit around for an extra couple of hours for what turned out to be no reason whatsoever--probably I'd have minded less if I hadn't finished all three of my books shortly after 12:30. Next time I'm bringing meatier tomes).


Bennett Madison's Lulu Dark and the Summer of the Fox
The sequel to the rich and glamourous teen girl detective book I read last week was just as cute as its predecessor, yet somehow even more farfetched. I did like the whole middle-aged actresses as terrorists motif, though. B+

Nora Gallagher's Changing Light
Ah, 1950s New Mexico--a place where a Czech Jewish scientist can flee in horror from his work on the A-bomb and meet up with a feisty Georgia O'Keefe-esque painter fleeing from her own crappy marriage, and immediately fall in love. Seriously, why do fictional characters form long-lasting love-type feelings for characters they've only known for five minutes? Were they that sexually repressed or something? I guess the two characters were interesting, but I really didn't buy their sudden romance. Also, the pseudo-villains (a really annoying spy and a jealous priest) were pretty lame. B-.

Anjali Bannerjee's Maya Running
This is the sort of YA book I don't like much. Of course you all know I'm interested in themes of outsider-ness, so you'd think I'd like a book about a teen Indian girl in Canada in the 1970s, who's the only non-white kid in her class and is trying hard to fit in, balance her two worlds, etc. Unfortunately, this book had absolutely no subtlety, and when things suddenly take a turn for the mystical, I was rolling my eyes on just about every page. Way to throw anvils on heads, Ms. Bannerjee! It was like a badly written moralistic fairy tale. C.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Kurt Vonnegut died!

weirdest poetry tribute ever

I'm not usually much for poetry, but thanks to one of the Anastasia Krupnik books, I read Wordsworth's daffodil poem at a young age and still harbor a fondness for it. However, I've never considered dressing up as a rodent and rapping a version of it. (Being from Squirrel Hill, I find this extra amusing--of course, our squirrels were the grey ones.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


As many of you know, I get comic books mailed to me monthly from the fine folks at Chapel Hill Comics. Before each shipment goes out, the lovely Vanessa emails me a list of stuff I might like to include in the package. A lot of times I don't research these books--if it's by an author I like, I say, "throw it in!" and she does.

Anyway, I just read one of those last-minute adds, and it is one of the most devastating things I've ever read. It's Anders Nilsen's Don't go Where I Can't Follow. It starts out as a bunch of letters and drawings and journal entries and photos, and I was thinking, like, "Wait, what is the point of this?" and then I turned a page and knew. By the end I had a huge lump in my throat and was a little teary. Like I said, it was really a devastating read, but a very powerful one, so I urge everyone to check it out. It's on sale at D&Q right now.

new mix

In honor of the stupendous new Rosebuds album (out today!), I made a mix cd! As usual, it's . . . eclectic. Track listing below:

The Well And The Lighthouse -- The Arcade Fire
Brass Ring -- The Broken West
Fucking Boyfriend -- The Bird & The Bee
A place for us to -- Opening flower happy bird
Let's Call It Off -- Peter Bjorn & John
Eye Know -- De La Soul
Tickets to Crickets -- Ferraby Lionheart
Girl Sailor -- The Shins
The Air Between Us -- Palomar
FRIGHTENED by the LAKE -- Audubon Park
Normal Day -- Schooner
The Sun Is Still Sunny -- Dean & Britta
Save The Last Dance For Me -- Ike & Tina Turner
Night Of The Three Furies -- The Rosebuds
Lemon Tree (Thievery Corporation Remix) -- Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
How Many Times Can We Burn This Bridge? -- Yuka Honda
BBC World -- David Kilgour
Black Ship White Sails -- Nathan Oliver
That Teenage Feeling -- Neko Case
Lullaby for John Grives -- Erie Choir

2007 book 46

Michelle Richmond's A Year of Fog
OK, so this is the story of a woman who, one day, takes her fiance's little daughter to the beach. When the little girl disappears, everyone's lives start to unravel. The book jacket hints too strongly about the ending, so I wasn't surprised about it, but I really did have some mixed feelings about it anyway. I'm going to think about this one some more, but in the meantime I'll give it a B. Point of interest: the protagonist uses a Holga.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

2007 book 45

Steven Hall's The Raw Shark Texts
This has been getting a lot of positive reviews, but I wasn't really that into it. It's heavily inspired by Haruki Murakami (especially Hard-Boiled Wonderland, and you'd be better off reading that). It's being described as, like, "A man wakes up one day without any of his memories; he soon discovers he has a weird psychological disorder dtemming from the accidental death of his girlfriend. But as he delves into his past, he realizes things aren't what they seem!!" Sounds intriguing, right? But after the first hundred pages, it starts getting all metaphysical or something, with all these weird word-sharks (don't ask--though there is a nice bit of graphic imagery with a word-shark toward the end of the book). Like I said, the whole thing is very reminiscent of Murakami, as though a Murakami fan sat down and wrote a first novel. Which apparently one did. B-.

On another note, I saw Blades of Glory this afternoon, and it was way more enjoyable than this book. It was sweet!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

2007 book 44

Bennett Madison's Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls
This was a cute little YA book about a rich girl who gets caught up in a mystery. She and her friends are fun characters, and most of the YA-type drama feels true enough. It wraps up neatly, and I liked it well enough to give it a B+ and to put its sequel on hold at the library.

Friday, April 06, 2007

2007 book 43

Laura Lippman's What the Dead Know
This mystery story focuses on a woman involved in a hit and run accident; when police confront her, she announces that she's one of a pair of sisters who disappeared thirty years earlier. As the police attempt to discover whether or not she's telling the truth about her identity, her story and the aftermath of the girls' disappearance are told in flashbacks. There are a few twists and turns, and the ending was very satisfying, so I give it a birthday A.

guess what day it is . . .

baby me
Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.

It's this little munchkin's birthday!

And since this little munchkin is me . . . it's my birthday! I am 28!

Feel free to wish me a happy birthday in the comments . . . as you can see by the picture, I accept such wishes with grace and aplomb.

Monday, April 02, 2007


I think I'm officially a cat lady, because I just got this and spent nearly every page giggling and thinking, "My cat is just like that!"

Never thought I'd like a book about cats . . . or something so silly from Jeffrey Brown, for that matter.

2007 book 42

China Mieville's Un Lun Dun
I've read a few of China Mieville's short stories in various anthologies and liked them well enough, so when his first YA novel started getting some press attention I figured I'd check it out. Guess what--it's good! It's the typical chosen-pre-teen-girl-must-save-a-bizarre-and-magical-world story . . . but then it sort of turns on its head. Lots of great secondary characters, including an extreme librarian and a very lovable milk carton, and the heroine is both believable and likable. Totally an A.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


I was really hoping Trump would lose that terrifying thing he calls a hairstyle.

2007 book 41

Natalie Danford's Inheritance
This novel is about a young American woman whose Italian father dies; while going through his things, she discovers the deed to a house in his hometown. She travels to Italy to learn about her father; meanwhile, his own story is told in alternating chapters. I was pretty "meh" on this book. There's a lot going on in barely 200 pages, and the daughter's romantic interest feels really shoehorned in. Also, I guess the ending was supposed to be a big reveal, but it was ridiculously obvious the whole time. I liked the father's chapters but the daughter didn't have much personality. B-/C+.

2007 book 40

Sherman Alexie's The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
This is our last book club book; it's actually a book of short stories, so as usual it took me a while to slog through (there's no "what happens next??" with short stories, you know?). A lot of characters do recur, so the reader does get a pretty good feel for them, but a few of the more experimental stories were on the weaker side. Anyway, I had no idea this was only published in 1992. I guess I always thought Alexie was older, since he's been in the canon for so long. OK, I'll give this a B, jsut to grade it and wrap this up.