Friday, July 27, 2012

why the f*ck friday (12)

Welcome to WTFF. In which I attempt to answer a single question--normally a thought on a book or a bookish subject--that I've been pondering for the past week. This week it's "why the f*ck aren't you out enjoying summer?"

I'm making this quick... because I'm guilty.

I'm guilty. I've been out enjoying summer and not inside reading. Last night I think I did shots of something called Oh Wow That Burns. The week before I went to every museum in the city I currently live in. The week before that I was at a BBQ. I hate BBQ. But the mojitos were delicious.

I'm guilty of blog neglect. I'm guilty of book neglect. I'm guilty of Twitter neglect. Here's the whole thing, though: I don't feel guilty. I shouldn't feel guilty.

I'm at this point now where I've realized that I spend summers outside enjoying the sun, and winters inside reading. So the inevitable blog slow down does happen. I'm down to reading one book a week right now. I'm not exactly regretting it.

So my question this week is: is there a particular season where you get out more? What is it? What's the one activity you would ditch for reading? I seem to be attracted to water parks and wine recently.

Obligatory picture of me enjoying a summer induced sunburn:


Regular posting on this blog will resume next week. I think.

That's it for this week's why the f*ck friday. Different opinion? Similar experience? Similar thoughts on this subject? Post it below in the comments. Feel free to berate me, praise me, or buy me some fancy coffee. You can even tell me to f*ck off and then buy me a coffee. I enjoy hearing the bookish and nerdy thoughts of others.   

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ashfall - a review

Ashfall
Mike Mullin
476 pages


There was a point in the 90s where I became--as a teen--very aware of the threat of nuclear war. It bothered me. It depressed me. At any moment there could be a brilliant flash of light and BAM! I'm a bunch of dust in the wind. What The Day After* did for me as a teen Ashfall has done for me as a twentysomething.

It has made me completely paranoid about supervolcanoes.

Alex is left at home by his parents one weekend. He doesn't have to fight off burglars ala Home Alone style--well, actually he does at one point but with Kung Fu--but that's when the supervolcano in Yellowstone erupts. Causing chaos and destruction across America. Alex sets off to find his parents in another state. Along the way he meets up with Darla and the two go on an adventure that is mildly depressing.

I use the term mildly depressing because HOLY FUCK this book is MILDLY DEPRESSING. You think your people in The Hunger Games are starving? Think again. You think your bad guys in The Knife of Never Letting Go are bad? Think again. You think your cutesy little love stories from Sarah Dessen novels are complicated? Think again.

The trend that I've noticed recently in Young Adult literature is a move towards more darkness--even without a cloud of ash this book would be dark. There are things in here that belong in Cormac McCarthy's The Road.** There are things in here that are pulled straight from infuriating headlines of a hurricane incident circa 2006. There's also death, death, more death, rape, death rape, dying children, and exploding eyeballs.

I'm not aware that Mike Mullin intended for his books' message to be: no one gives a frak about you, you have to take care of yourself and your own, but that's what I got. Also, don't trust the government, fall in love when you can, and make sure you know how to gut a pig. I think that's about right.

Full Disclosure: I read this on my Kindle.
*I still have a fear of this scenario.
**I did not like The Road. Too dark. Ashfall? Just right.
Note: Alex does know kung-fu. There are parts where it's really cool, but other times hokey. I approve.
Extra note: I spent an entire weekend watching supervolcano documentaries on Netflix after reading this book. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

why the f*ck friday (10)


Welcome to WTFF. In which I attempt to answer a single question--normally a thought on a book or a bookish subject--that I've been pondering for the past week. This week it's "why the f*ck won't you go away so I can talk about books?"

Whenever I meet another reader I instantly wonder about their bookish habits. The questions start next. We all do it. We try to get to know one anotherr: do you dog ear pages? Do you use one particular bookmark? Kindle or Nook?

Some of these questions are almost like asking a person what their favorite sports team is--the other ones are like asking "Chinese or Mexican?" The real deal with this is anyone who witnesses the transaction. You know what I'm talking about. That one person who's confused as to who Suzanne Collins is, or who doesn't understand the difference between mystery and horror. 

There's always that one person there during the meeting between two readers who is trying to figure what the heck is going on. They might even exclaim: "I have no idea what you guys are talking about..." And then remove themselves from the conversation.

A List of Bookish Questions Asked and Their Real World Translations:

"Do you read a lot?" 
Translation: "I want to get to know you. Do we have anything in common?"

"What do you like to read?" 
Translation: "Do you like Mexican food or Chinese food more? What's your opinion on Thai?"

"I try to keep my books pristine." 
Translation: "My apartment is really clean."

"I love Neil Gaiman." 
Translation: "Beards are cool."

Can you tell I've had this problem before? Clearly talking about books with someone in front of someone else can be tricky. It immediately excludes them from the conversation. So to include them in the conversation you have to stop talking about books. When all you really wanted to do was talk about books. You've just met another reader! This is a rarity these days. It's doubleplusgood if the other person likes the same authors and books as you. 

So that means it's doubleplusbad when the other person interrupts and changes the topic of the conversation. It isn't rude--it's natural. This person is being excluded. You feel bad for it. You include them again. Then the chances are you never get to have that great conversation you've been aching for. Even worse is the guilt. 

I propose we stop feeling guilty when this happens. The bookish types can be shy and compromising sometimes. We understand that a lot of people don't love what we love so we compromise. Well, f*ck that. I have to withstand constant talk of baseball and football (neither of which I understand).

So the next time this happens:

Me: I love reading.
Them: Oh me too! I like Neil Gaiman!
Me: Have you read American Gods?
Friend: .....
Them: Yes! That is my favorite book!
Friend: Have you guys seen Spider-Man 3 yet?
(the conversation is now about Spider-Man)

I'm doing this:

Me: I love reading.
Them: Oh me too!
Friend: ....
Me: Shut the fuck up. You got to talk about football yesterday for 20 minutes.
(the conversation is now about books)

Problem solved. 

That's it for this week's why the f*ck friday. Different opinion? Similar experience? Similar thoughts on this subject? Post it below in the comments. Feel free to berate me, praise me, or buy me some fancy coffee. You can even tell me to f*ck off and then buy me a coffee. I enjoy hearing the bookish and nerdy thoughts of others.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Romancing the Screen: Pulp Fiction

A new feature in which I watch something romantic--usually a movie from my Netflix instant queue--and give it a spin. It's not a review, more like an unnecessary commentary about nothing.

Pulp Fiction is not a romance. It's Quentin Tarantino's gangster movie about the lives of people intersecting one another over the course of a few days in Los Angeles. But like Tarantino, this blog puts its own spin on everything.

Pulp Fiction is a romance. Just not in the classical sense of what a romance is suppose to be (romantic). It's more of a romance movie for guys. Before I Love You Man with Paul Rudd and that dude from How I Met Your Mother you really only had one set of guys who set the standard on what being in a bromance is like. Enter Jules and Vincent.

They kill people and set a standard
for bromances everywhere.
While I hate the word bromance--there is no other way to describe the friendship between Jules and Vincent. The two are the most quoted characters of the movie. Even people who haven't seen the movie can quote the entire "royale with cheese" dialogue. The reason why is because the two just click together so well.

There's a segment of this movie that veers away from Jules and Vincent and focuses on Uma Thurman's character. John Travolta (Jules) has to take out Uma Thurman's character (who is married and is his boss' wife) to keep her entertained for the night. What follows is a heartfelt and gut wrenching night for Travolta's character or any man who has been on a date that is not a date but wants it to be a date.

Jules and Vincent's discussion of whether or not it's a date is one that I've been in before. If you date long enough there comes a point where you're not sure if you're dating anymore or hanging out. Vincent dismisses the idea and states "It's not a date." Only later does Vincent realize, that yes, he's on a date, and yes, he's a bit smitten with his boss' wife. Jules called it. Because that's what best buddies do.

Meet any guy and he will name Pulp Fiction as one of his favorite movies. Despite the cursing and the killing, and the drug use, it is a damn good movie because of these two. No other movie portrays a hetero friendship these days without making it a comedy or cracking gay jokes. Tarantino didn't have to do it. The characters stand on their own.

Oh, and if anyone knows why Tony Rocker Horror got thrown out of that window, I'd really like to know.

*Later this couple would be reincarnated as Turk and J.D. on Scrubs, but as doctors who save people rather than killing them. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

why the f*ck friday (9)

Welcome to WTFF. In which I attempt to answer a single question--normally a thought on a book or a bookish subject--that I've been pondering for the past week. This week it's "Why the f*ck are you reading that?"

To really attempt to answer this question we have to go back approximately three days. All the way back ti July 3rd. Be prepared for a mental flash back that comes out like a bad Vietnam war film.

It was humid and hot. The Man With the Sunglasses had just discovered my blog. He leaned forward and asked a question that was more a statement: "You read a lot of girly books." To which I replied back "You eat a lot of Cheeto's." It was true. He ate a lot of Cheeto's. "People will think you're gay he said." I kindly started walking away stating that "People will think you're fat."

I suppose that there's an issue here that I don't know about. That reading something like A Northern Light or Sarah Dessen novels should be taboo for a male. Well, boo-fucking--hoo I tell people. To most guys I tell them "You'd have something to talk about with most girls if you read Twilight." It's true. I'm certain there are some girls that can talk about the foooootttttballlll. But just about every woman can tell you about Twilight. To most girls who question what I"m reading. Oh wait. They don't question what I'm reading. They talk to me about it and love that a guy reads.

"You're right! I shouldn't
be reading that!" - said me, never
So, why the f*ck are you reading that? Not Twilight. That book you're not suppose to be reading. I've read Ann Coulter for fun, Ayn Rand to torture myself, and Sean Hannity because I wanted his bizarro point-of-view on a few things. Sometimes I read things for perspective or ideas. It's so I can have a better understanding of the world and other people.

Reading other things that are outside of my comfort zone doesn't make me a better reader. It makes me a more understanding person. I was once asked by a male coworker for help. He needed a graduation present for his girlfriend. Outside of years of dating advice I've also read a ton of books in which a female art student was a central character. That girl really appreciated her gift.

So, why the f*ck are you reading that? What genre gets you out of your comfort zone? Do you do this often? Is it a conscious choice? Have you had an experience where someone has told you you shouldn't be reading that? Do you know any book Nazis?

Side note: The Kindle is the greatest invention to grace this planet. It's saved me a lot of trouble. I can read a book with a pink cover without the pink cover. Of course, I'm now more public about my reading, but I'm also more prone to tell people to fuck off now.

That's it for this week's why the f*ck friday. Different opinion? Similar experience? Similar thoughts on this subject? Post it below in the comments. Feel free to berate me, praise me, or buy me some fancy coffee. You can even tell me to f*ck off and then buy me a coffee. I enjoy hearing the bookish and nerdy thoughts of others.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cat Girl's Day Off - a review

Cat Girl's Day Off
Kimberly Pauley
336 pages


See, the cover on this one works because it's about a Chinese-American girl with purple hair who can talk to cats. The giant talking bubbles are coming out of her mouth and the cat's mouth to let you know it's Cat Girl's Day Off. Which is loosely based on Ferris Bueller's Day Off. That's just being fucking clever right there.

The cat is pink because he's a clue in an ever expanding murder mystery that Natalie Ng--our Cat Girl--is trying to solve. Just like Ferris Bueller. Wait. Ferris Bueller wasn't about a murder mystery. Nevermind.

THIS BOOK IS ABOUT TALKING CATS. There. I got that out of the way. I didn't want anyone to be surprised by this information. I was asked several times last week what I was reading. I explained Cat Girl's Day Off. I then talked very loudly while I explained what it's about: "IT'S ABOUT A GIRL WITH SPECIAL ABILITIES WHO CAN TALK TO CATS. I NEED MORE TALKING CAT BOOKS IN MY LIFE LIKE HOW A DRUNK PERSON NEEDS GREASY FOOD."*

That's the problem I had with Cat Girl's Day Off. I enjoyed the talking cats more than I enjoyed the actual book. The minute the plot slowed or the characters became cliche here came a cat doing something really fucking adorable. Like sleeping on a lap, clawing at feet, or solving a murder mystery.

It's just all so adorable. Kimberly Pauley? She writes adorable books. If you just finished The Fault in Our Stars and are done crying your eyes out then Cat Girl might be for you. It's very much one of those books someone reads when they can't figure out what it is they want to read. It's one of those books you need after a big heavy read. It's so light and airy it almost floats away like a 3 Musketeers bar in one of those commercials.

I'm certain that Kimberly Pauley has found a loophole in the writing universe. "Huh. This book is terrible. If I add some talking cats to it... bingo! It won't be so terrible!" Could you imagine talking cats in every bad movie you ever watched? You know the movie would suck less with them and you'd watch it again and love it. They're redoing John Carter with cats right now.

I have to warn everyone, though.  When you start reading this one: it's about talking cats. Really. Don't go into this thing expecting things to be logical. We're talking about a book that contains talking cats. It's adorable... talking cats... TALKING CATS. I liked a book about talking cats... fuck.

Full Disclosure: I read this on my Kindle.
*The word greasy is inherently a nasty word to me. I hate using it. But it sounds better than "oily". 
Note: This is my favorite cat joke: "What do cat actors say on stage? Tabby or not tabby!"

Monday, July 2, 2012

Movie Monday: Breakfast at Tiffany's

A new feature in which I watch a romantic movie in my Netflix instant queue and give it a spin. It's not a review, more like an unnecessary commentary about nothing.

I guess I could go ahead and talk about how gorgouges Audrey Hepburn is, or how Moon River is one fuck a melancholy song that when heard triggers within me--and within others--a little bit of a heart pang.

But really, this is my blog, and I actually want to talk about Holly Golightly's cat. He's actually the central character of the movie. Not a lot of people notice this. Not enough people give "Cat" as he's called enough credit.

When we first meet Cat he's jumping onto Paul*--Holly's love interest--when we last see Cat he's being held by Holly in an alley while she's crying her eyes out. In both instances Cat was the primary focus of conversation.
"Poor cat! Poor slob! Poor slob without a name! The way I see it I haven't got the right to give him one. We don't belong to each other."
This MFer right here.

So let me get this right, a cat is the central focus of the first and last conversation of the movie? Coincidence? I think not. Had Cat not hopped up on Paul he would've never heard Holly's philosophy on love. Hold on, what? She didn't say anything about love in the first 15 minutes of the movie? Reread that quoted phrase above and replace a few words:
"Poor me! Poor slob! Poor slob without a care! The way I see it I haven't got the right to love him. We don't belong to each other."
It's not Cat's ability to roam freely that makes him free: Cat is free from having to love to anyone. In Holly's case this wouldn't just be Paul, it would be everyone.

If I were to actually be writing a review of Breakfast at Tiffany's I would note that the cat theme is apparent because of cats. As in, Holly Golightly wears a cat mask at one point, the name of Paul's book is Nine Lives, Cat is the metaphor for Holly's philosophy on who she is: a cat free to roam the land without emotional attachment.

Breakfast at Tiffany's has lead me to believe that the way to a woman's heart is through her cat. Her cat that she probably projects her emotions onto. Look at how someone treats an animal and you'll find out a lot about them. Of course, this could also be said about their shoes. And of course, this could all just be complete bullshit because I was watching this and drinking wine with a cat in my lap.

*Paul makes the best declaration of love in a movie ever. I think it's only second to Han Solo telling Princess Leia "I know". 
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