Mar 31, 2009

Word of the Day

I learned a new word today.
(Not to be confused with the Illuminati - a sort-of secret society that is both myth and possibly real, immortalized in the Tomb Raider movie with Angelina Jolie.)

I discovered this word in an email from my mother and so promptly looked it up in the dictionary (like she taught me to).

Definition: 1. persons of scholarly or literary attainments; intellectuals (courtesy of 2. The literary intelligentsia (courtesy of the American Heritage Dictionary) 3. Also refers to a type of bonsai tree, a style of painting, Confucianism, and a Scrabble game (courtesy of

I have a thing about collecting words. Some of my favorite book related words are colporteur (a peddler of books - my job) and bibliophile (a person who loves or collects books -my obsession). Some of my favorite non-book related words are surly (churlishly rude or bad-tempered - what I often feel but try not to be), tragic (extremely mournful, melancholy, or pathetic - a word WAY overused by local college students), lollygag (to waste time by puttering aimlessly; dawdle - this one mostly because of A League of Their Own and Tom Hanks's immortal words "You lollygag around the infield. You lollygag around the outfield. What does that make you? LOLLYGAGGERS!"), and vivacious (lively; animated; gay - and no, not just because the word gay is in the definition). Those are not my only favorite words, but they're the ones I could think of at this moment.

Last word of the day - Sonyak. Sounds like it should be the name of a Japanese electronics brand, but instead, it's a word of made-up genius that my family uses. It should be used in this way: "Those jeans are SOnyak." As in Bad. Can also be used as a name. I once named a fish that.

Mar 25, 2009

Ode to my publisher reps

There are two things in life about which I am absolutely 100% lacking in willpower. Books (which you may have guessed) and bread.
I know the bread one is kind of odd, but I'm currently not eating any starch (okay, I'm currently trying not to eat any starch) and all I can do is crave those rolls they give you at Red Lobster before the rest of the meal comes out. I only eat at Red Lobster maybe once every 2 years or so, but I was in such a mood for these cheddar cheesy biscuits that instead of doing my homework this weekend, I googled a recipe and spent the afternoon a'bakin'. So good!

So bellyaches and extra unnecessary deliciously cheesy and buttery carbohydrates aside, the other thing I am an absolute sucker for is, of course, books. I will use my last dollar to buy a book rather than a meal. No, for real. It's happened. I actually have some publisher reps to thank for saving me from that very thing yesterday!
The Odyssey has recently pulled all of the used books from the mystery and the fiction sections and have shelved them, still in their original sections, but now all together on one particular shelf, rather than interspersed with the new. Following me? So, they did this, and that opened up lots and lots of extra used book browsing for you (and clearly for me, which is where I got into trouble.) After about 20 minutes of intense browsing, I was
holding three books in my hands that I'm quite sure I don't need, but am equally positive I had to have. I put them to the side and promised myself I would decide by the end of the day whether or not I would be taking them home with me.
Publishers to the rescue! They saved me from myself. How, you might ask? Well, publishers sent me not one, but TWO great books that I had been dying to get my hands on! All for free!
Now that's not fair, you may be saying to yourself, and to me, but let me reassure you, those three free books come with a terrible price. Not only will I be expected to read them
, review them, and hand sell them, but I will also lose countless hours of sleep (5 hours last night alone!) reading these amazing books. So see, think carefully before you would wish yourself into my place... (okay, not gonna lie, giving up the sleep is TOTALLY worth it).

Here's what I am currently, as in today, reading - thanks to my pub reps from Haper and Hachette:

I know I've blogged about her before, but yes, I continue my high school reading obsession with Jacqueline Carey and her world of Terre d'Ange, Alba, Elua's will, and loving as thou wilt. Her first series, the Kushiel series, has never quite loosened its grip on me (or my sister), which is why I found myself still awake at 2 a.m. this morning, having read the first 400+ pages of the first book in what looks to be the third trilogy taking place in these lands. I won't write a full review until I've finished (about 200 more pages to go), but let me tell you, though nothing will quite live up to the splendor of the first three, this one is definitely keeping me hooked.
*addendum* I just finished reading it. As always, not quite as good as the original three but definitely an enjoyable read. I will blog a full review of it soon.

Feeding the obsession. That's what's happening here. An Alice in Wonderland graphic novel! It's genius! I've only read about 10 pages so far, but I'm already really enjoying where the story is going. You know what the best part is? A BRUNETTE main character! It's about time! Thank you Tommy Kovac! Here's a synopsis:
Among the numerous curiosities that have gone unexplained in the classic tale Alice in Wonderland, perhaps the most perplexing might be who, exactly, is the "Maryann" that the White Rabbit mistakes Alice for at the beginning of the story? In this beautifully executed comic book series, readers experience Alice's fantastic world as they've never seen it before. Writer Tommy Kovac's Wonderland is missing Alice herself, but it's still populated by the other characters that make the world such a curiously exciting place. The Queen of Hearts is present, barking orders to lop off people's heads, as is the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter and the rest of Wonderland's beloved cast. And there are some new faces, too, including the book's main protagonist, the mysterious Maryann herself. All are beautifully illustrated by Wonderland's artist, Sonny Liew.

I'll let you know what I think when I've had a chance to read this one all the way through, too. Graphic novels, while beautifully illustrated, are not my favorite thing to read, generally. That said, clearly I will be finishing this one shortly.

Now, as I stayed up WAY past my bedtime last night, I think I will tuck myself in for the night. Sweet dreams, y'all.

Mar 19, 2009

The Linguists

Are you ready for this? I think my high school AP English teacher just got an academic hard-on of some kind. I know, gross and graphic, but really, wait til you read this. Then you might too. I know I did.

Documentary: The Linguists

Yes! Just what every kid dreams of! Okay, just every kid who had two anthropolo
gists as parents (yes, that would be me).

Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, this is a documentary about two social scientists who run around the globe documenting the world's languages, specifically those on the verge of extinction. David Harrison and Gregory Anderson, in a race against time, try to capture a bit of world culture that is almost daily becoming extinct. Social scientists estimate that a world language goes extinct every 2 weeks! This is anthropology and linguistics and the entire field of social sciences at its marketable best - not every aspect of Social Science is this easily dramatized, but I find it all equally compelling. And to give these guys credit, though I haven't seen the film myself, I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that they're not trying to exploit the people they work with, so much as raise awareness this issue exists. I'm completely fascinated by this, and can't wait to see it.

an't even begin to tell you how bummed I am that I missed seeing the documentary when it was airing on WGBY sometime in the last few weeks! I don't think it was the entire documentary, I think they took out a portion of it and turned it into a mini show, but still!

The documentary costs $300 plus shipping to actually purchase, NetFlix doesn't have it, and my local indie video store doesn't own it. I'm determined to see this and will now begin canvassing my former Anthro profs to see if anyone has a copy, knows how to get a copy, or possibly taped the PBS segment and will let me borrow it.

Anyone else interested?
Anyone else,
besides that English teacher who made his entire class watch the 9-part (in other words 9-hour) 1986 BBC series entitled "The Story of English" all about the history of the English language (which, yes, okay, I admit it, I secretly found equally fascinating), and myself, excited about this?
Incidentally, I found an old NY Times article about "The Story of English," so in case you're interested, check that article out here. I may have to find those movies to rent and have viewing parties, just like we did in high school. Oh yeah, I was cool. Totally fly. Just like I am now. For realz.

Alice is my Wonderland, addendum

How could I have made this oversight in my previous Ode to Alice post?
I completely forgot to mention (amateur movie buff that I am) that Tim Burton is making a live-action, freakishly fantastic (I'm assuming) version of Alice in Wonderland!

The movie is starring non-other than everyone's favorite Johnny Depp (seriously, swoon) and a personal favorite (Alan Rickman), along with Mia Wasikowska as Alice - though, excuse me Mr. Burton, if you read the book, she actually should have dark hair and it's only Tenniel's illustrations and subsequent Disney adaptations that make her blonde; I'm a little disappointed you didn't buck trends in that way. Anne Hathaway is the White Queen, Helena Bonham Carter is the Red Queen - side bar, she and Johnny Depp must be friends in real-life, no? Considering how many movies they've done together? - and my co-worker's new favorite, Stephen Fry, as the Cheshire Cat. Christopher Lee (might be recognized as Saruman the White from the Lord of the Rings Peter Jackson movie trilogy) makes an appearance, as does Crispin Glover as the Knave of Hearts (recognized as the weird half-creepy guy who has a thing for hair in the Charlie's Angels movies - don't lie, you've seen them). All-in-all, can't wait for this to come out. Currently in post-production, 2010 release date, I'm ready for you!

Mar 13, 2009

Punctuation in the News

Thanks, again, to my blog readers who supply me with relevant and witty things to blog about. Particular thanks to Dresses in Fleece for the inspiration behind this blog post.

(Okay, maybe not witty. Maybe just relevant.)

I was emailed this article that ran in the NY Times over a year ago. That may have been long enough ago that you will either a) have not read it because you skipped reading the NY Times that day/week/month/year, or b) you will have forgotten it by now due to all the other articles you've read and will be pleasantly surprised to read it again. But seriously - I love that correctly used punctuation on a NY subway sign made the NY Times "In the Region" section. Was it a slow news day? Or does this signify how many die-hard punctuation fans do exist out there - closeted as they may be? In the immortal words of Jake Sandvig (Downey from 2009's Fired Up!), "The closet door is made of all kinds of wood." So true, Downey, so. true.

In related punctuation news, check out this link to get ready for National Punctuation Day. Unlike National Grammar Day of 2009, I will not be missing out on this worthy event. Which may be why I've marked it on my calendar and have started prepping for it 6 months in advance. Incidentally, September 24th - National Punctuation Day - is also a friend of mine's birthday, thus solidifying my suspicion that she IS the geekiest person in the world. While that may not be earth shattering for the rest of you, it certainly takes a load off of my mind (mainly because it means, I'm not it). And, since it's really all about me, that's all that matters.

Mar 10, 2009

Catchy Books I'll Never Read

Today's post is a tribute to all those books out there with great covers and/or funny/interesting/catchy-sounding titles which I may or may not pick up but which I will certainly never read. In case they seem like something one of you all might be interested in, I thought I would list some of my favorites here.

The Abyssinian Proof by Jenny White
9780393333725, $13.95

Love this cover! Recently released in paperback, here is the 3-second blurb: Nineteenth-century Istanbul thrills in this page-turner about a conspiracy to steal an ancient reliquary whose secret could change the world.

It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita by Heather Armstrong
9781416936015, $24

Being released in hardcover sometime this month: From the creator of one of the most popular personal blogs on the Web comes an irreverent and captivating parenting memoir covering the joys and indignities of pregnancy, childbirth, and all the unexpected emotions that come with having a baby.

Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing, Stories by Lydia Peele
9780061724732, $13.99

Being released in paperback in August: With this first book of fiction, a gifted young writer brings together eight superbly crafted stories that peer deeply into the human heart, exploring lives derailed by the loss of a vital connection to the land and to the natural world of which they are a part.

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread by Don Robertson
9780061452963, $12.95
Published in paperback to be released in May, I find it ironic how many accolades this book is getting in its republication, considering its title. But maybe it's just me:
More than four decades after it was originally published, Robertson's stunning novel remains fresh and relevant, as it explores the notion of courage and what symbolizes good in humanity.
On a quiet autumn afternoon in 1944, nine-year-old Morris Bird III decides to visit a friend who lives on the other side of town. So he grabs the handle of his red wagon and, with his little sister in tow, begins an incredible pilgrimage across Cleveland . . . and out of childhood forever. Set against the backdrop of one of the worst industrial disasters in American history, Don Robertson's enduring, beloved masterwork is a remarkable story of destiny, bravery, and responsibility, as fresh and relevant as when it first appeared in print.

How to Meet a Man After Forty and Other Midlife Dilemmas Solved by Shane Watson
9780670020850, $24.95

Coming out in hardcover in June, should I ever decide to date men again, particularly when I've reached the age of 40, I now know where to go: For all of the forty-plus Bridget Joneses, a refreshingly funny guide to middle-aging with grace.

When I Married My Mother by Jo Maeder 9780306817953, $25 A memoir being published in May, as much as I love you, Mom, I think we'd both shoot each other if this had to happen:
A former disc jockey tells a hilarious, moving story of giving up her fast-paced, youth-obsessed life to move to the Bible Belt in order to care for her ailing, eccentric mother.

You'd Be So Pretty If... by Dara Chadwick 9780738212586, $15.95 Coming out in May, not nearly as funny as the title sounds: A "Shape" magazine columnist's guide to breaking the mother-daughter cycle of bad body image and low self-esteem.

Go Ask Your Father by Lennard J. Davis 9780553805512, $25 Also released in May, also doesn't seem as if it will live up to its title. This is the subtitle: One Man's Obsession with Finding His Origins Through DNA Testing

There are the books I'm actually currently reading, the books for school I should be reading, the advanced copies of the children's books being published soon that I should page through, the stack of suggested reading from friends/family sitting next to my bed, the few books that I'm in the middle of that I keep putting down and then coming back to, and then there are these books - books that are clearly not in any of the above categories, nor will they even make it into the stack of books I have no intention of ever really reading but I like to have in my room in case I'm for some reason stuck in the house for months on end and therefor have a 10% chance of getting to.

But you may feel differently. One of these books may really strike your fancy. If so - go for it! And then report back to me.

Mar 6, 2009

Alice is my Wonderland

A random piece of Rebecca-trivia: my all-time favorite children's book would not make it on my top 5 desert island picks list. Weird, huh? Here's the thing - I LOVE Alice in Wonderland. I think it's brilliant, genius, funny, witty, really weird, doesn't make much sense, and should never be read all the way through in one sitting. In fact, to be honest, I can't remember the last time I actually read it. I pick up a copy here and there, or read a line or two whenever I discover a new version. But actually reading it all the way through? Not bloody likely - which is why it would never make my desert island list.

Why, then, you might ask, do I consider this my favorite children's book?

Honestly? I don't know. But I DO know that it absolutely fascinates me, that I have quotes from it randomly around my apartment, that I adore the way it sparks so much creativity and imagination, and that I'm going to name my children's store (when I open it someday in 3-5 years) aft
er a line from Through the Looking Glass.

"'Well, I never heard it before," said the Mock Turtle; 'but it sounds uncommon nonsense.'"

Uncommon Nonsense. The name of my store.

But I digress - I believe I was in the middle of an ode to Alice.

It's really more of an "ode-to-the-things-other-people-have-come-up-with-that-have-to-do-with-Alice" sort of thing, if you want to get right down to it.

I feel that I need to make a disclaimer at this point. Please do not mistake me for one of those people who, say, loves a certain type of cat or dog and then MUST HAVE EVERYTHING THEY OWN with a Saint Bernard or a calico kitty on it. I am not an Alice collector. My entire Alice collection is comprised of a pop-up version, an illustrated version, a really bad knock-off called Princess Alyss of Wonderland, an advanced paperback copy of the new Disney version rewritten by Jon Scieszka, a set of notecards, and a puzzle which I have almost finished putting together. I don't even own a copy of the full story in regular novel form.

My enchantment with Alice is primarily with other people's inspiration of, by, and for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, particularly the artwork. Such as:

An Alice in Wonderland group show in Portland, OR.

Gothic Alice

Fashion inspired by Alice

Naughty Alice (seriously, not for children)

Here is a collected gallery of Alice art through the ages.

Are you starting to understand what I'm saying?

There's the artwork, and then there are the aforementioned quotes (scattered throughout my apartment). I mean, what's more brilliant than this?
(From Through the Looking Glass)

`They gave it me,' Humpty Dumpty continued thoughtfully as he crossed one knee over the other and clasped his hands round it, `they gave it me -- for an un-birthday present.'
`I beg your pardon?' Alice said with a puzzled air.
`I'm not offended,' said Humpty Dumpty.
`I mean, what is an un-birthday present?'
`A present given when it isn't your birthday, of course.'
Alice considered a little. `I like birthday presents best,' she said at last.
`You don't know what you're talking about!' cried Humpty Dumpty. `How many days are there in a year?'
`Three hundred and sixty-five,' said Alice.
`And how many birthdays have you?'
`And if you take one from three hundred and sixty-five what remains?'
`Three hundred and sixty-four, of course.'
'That shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents --'
`Certainly,' said Alice.
`And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!'
Three hundred and sixty-four unbirthday presents for me, please!

Pure genius, that is. Now you see what I'm saying? Jumped on the Alice bandwagon yet? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Mar 5, 2009

Happy (belated) National Grammar Day

Spending a quiet evening at home by myself tonight.
It's funny how I can simultaneously breath easier and also feel just a tiny bit lonely at the same time. Does everyone feel that way when they're alone?

I just finished a delish dinner - stir fry with chicken, mushrooms, orange pepper, red pepper, snap peas, kale, garlic, capers, and a little lemon juice and olive oil. Plenty of leftovers for tomorrow, which is great since it's my open-close day and eating the same meal, at work, twice in one 11-hour shift is a little much.

I find cooking for one is difficult in many ways - I generally make way too muc
h food, some of which is savable as leftovers, some of which just feels wasted; I usually don't want to take the time to make a complete meal for myself when I'm the only one eating it; and there's no one to help me with the dishes afterward. When I first recognized this "cooking solo" problem, I, of course, went out and looked for a book on this topic. I came up with Serves One by Toni Lydecker. This has great suggestions for how to save excess food, time-saving advice on prepping before-hand, and tasty recipes from beginner level to advanced, all for cooking for just one person. If you find yourself in the same bittersweet situation of being perfectly content single, yet have some difficulty cooking for one, I highly recommend checking this out.

I've been informed of a gross oversight on my part this week: I completely missed National Grammar Day! Officially held on March 4th, I am belatedly wishing you all a very happy Day. Apparently, according to this website, some people hosted Good-Grammar Potlucks and drank Grammartinis. Given my penchant for potlucks, this sounds like a fabulous idea (while at the same time, may be winning the "dorkiest potluck theme" award). Something tells me this will never quite make it into the same type of recognized holiday category as, say, a President's birthday or when the date is 4/20. Nevertheless, I firmly resolve to celebrate this day with a vengence (or at least a potluck) in 2010, and I take this opportunity to invite you all personally (in this impersonal blog post).

Hope everyone is having an equally lovely evening. Bo Diddley's playing on my iTunes, I've got a cup of hot tea, and I'm about to go watch me some America's Best Dance Crew. Life doesn't get much better than this, folks.