Thursday, November 29, 2007

All a'swirl...


Last night and today have been a flurry of activity and emotions.

I generally talk to my mom daily, and last night she broke some infuriating and disturbing news. It seems the principal of the high school from which I graduated is being investigated for the excessive use of force on a student whom he paddled for a dress code violation. The school district allows corporal punishment with a guardian's permission, but there is a great deal of awkward circumstance surrounding this particular incident. The bottom line is that the 15-year-old on the receiving end of the principal's paddle walked away (barely) with visible injury that is documented.

I have to tell you, I'm furious on a number of levels. First, I hate that this could happen to any kid in a place that should be considered a safe, protected environment. Second, as an alumna of the high school, it's a shame that the principal (whom I think should lose his job and perhaps his teaching license) is bringing such horrible press to an otherwise upstanding district. Finally, as an educator, I get angry when someone doesn't take his or her professional responsibility as seriously as I do. There were some major breaches in policy and procedure, despite the school system's claims, and no educator should ever hurt someone under their charge. Use some common sense.

I know all of the educators and administrators involved in this incident (the current principal was my government teacher and a colleague of mine in the community college system, and the current superintendent was my elementary school P.E. teacher), and I can only say that it's the most serious incident in a long line of ill-made decisions. I can only hope the school board sits up, takes notice, and cleans house.

I would post links to several of the major Dallas papers carrying the story so you could get a full understanding of the seriousness of this situation, but I do try to maintain a particularl level of privacy for myself here as far as my location goes, etc.

However, I can assure you, as a well respected alumna, long-time resident, and concerned citizen who still holds residence, I will be writing a stern letter of expectation to the school board to remind them that they have an important decision on their hands and even those of us who have moved on are watching and waiting for suitable action. In reality, I may not be able to make a damn bit of difference, but I cannot and will not allow something so serious to float by without making myself heard. I can only hope others will do the same.

Graphic Novel Challenge!!!

The illustrious Dewey is hosting a challenge I absolutely positively cannot pass up. The Graphic Novels Challenge is quite simple: pick six graphic novels to read between January 2008 and December 2008.

Now, despite the fact that I don't talk about it here all that often, you might remember that I did my Master's thesis on the Fables series by Bill Willingham. The entirety of my graduate school career was devoted (from semester one onward) to studying comics. I love them. "Why?" you might ask. You're an adult, Andi. A grown woman of reasonable intelligence with a decent shoe collection and a penchant for the written word. Why would you dabble so in a genre that's so obviously written for stoners and kids?

And then I would slap you with a glove. Both sides of the face. Quick succession. You've seen it in the movies and know what I'm talkin' about.

Quite simply, comics are not what the majority of Americans think. Comics are a hotbed of social critique, satire, and free thought. Because, quite simply, when no one is looking, you can say whatever you want. And comics artists caught on a longggg time ago.

Without further ado, my reading list and they stand as recommendations as well...especially Fables!


I was fortunate enough to participate in a conference call interview with Kalesniko in graduate school. He was wonderful and insightful, and I can't wait to read this one...

Mail Order Bride, Mark Kalesniko - Kalesniko's latest work examines contemporary Korean mail-order brides, a provocative and real phenomenon that matches women looking for a better life with lonely, foreign men. Monty Wheeler, a 39-year-old comic bookstore owner (and virgin) lives in Canada and is surrounded by an ever-expanding inventory of collectibles, including a secret collection of "oriental" porn, a cache of erotic Asian stereotypes that will later haunt him. Monty represents a certain type of obsessive, self-indulgent collector, and his loneliness, immaturity and utter geekiness drive the plot. But it's Kyung Seo, his Korean bride (who speaks English perfectly, to Monty's disappointment), whose evolving sense of independence forms the book's core.


A shining star in the literary comics world...

The Jew of New York, Ben Katchor - Whether chronicling the metropolitan peregrinations of Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, or weaving together history and fantasy in 19th- century New York, Ben Katchor's comics, filled with scratchy figures moving through gray-washed streets, feel like the relics of a half- forgotten dream. The Jew of New York takes an obscure historical footnote--an attempt in 1825 to establish a Jewish homeland in upstate New York--and spins it into an intricate tale of a rapidly developing city and its diverse inhabitants, from one-legged actresses, to wandering Jews, to masked anti-Semites. The plot wanders from place to place, never predictable, but always fascinating. The result is a like a story by Paul Auster, rewritten by Charles Dickens, as Katchor gradually draws the reader into his bizarre but precisely imagined world. Weird conspiracies, religious fanaticism, and a plan to carbonate Lake Erie are just three of the threads which Katchor weaves together, creating a version of 1830's New York that captures the spirit of the times in a way that history cannot.


My beloved Fables!!! I fell behind on the new collections when I was writing my thesis...

Fables: Arabian Nights (and Days), vol. 7 - The Adversary, whose forces drove the characters of European fairy tales into exile, is advancing again, and a party headed by Sinbad arrives at Fabletown in Manhattan to assess New York as a possible refuge for their fellows in the Arabian sector of the fairy-tale homeland. A traitor in the entourage nearly destroys Fabletown in the longer story in this volume of Willingham and company's spellbinding epic.




Fables: Wolves, vol. 8 - No blurb for fear of spoilery.


A grandaddy and shiny example of what "superhero" comics can be...

Watchmen (Absolute Edition) - Watchmen is set in 1985, in an alternative history United States where costumed adventurers are real and the country is edging closer to a nuclear war with the Soviet Union (the Doomsday Clock is at five minutes to midnight). It tells the story of a group of past and present superheroes and the events surrounding the mysterious murder of one of their own. Watchmen depicts superheroes as real people who must confront ethical and personal issues, who struggle with neuroses and failings, and who - with one notable exception - lack anything recognizable as super powers. Watchmen's deconstruction of the conventional superhero archetype, combined with its innovative adaptation of cinematic techniques and heavy use of symbolism, multi-layered dialogue, and metafiction, has influenced both comics and film.


The big daddy of graphic novels and comics theory. I've read Eisner's criticism endlessly, but I've never read his fiction...

A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories, by Will Eisner - The work consists of four short stories — "Cookalein", "The Super", "The Street Singer", and "A Contract With God" — all set in a Bronx tenement in the 1930s, with the first story also taking place at a summer getaway for Jews. The stories are semi-autobiographical, with Eisner drawing heavily on his own childhood experiences as well as those of his contemporaries. Utilizing his talents for expressive lettering and cartoonish figures, he links the narratives by the common setting and the common theme of immigrant and first-generation experiences, across cultures.

Alternates:

In the Shadow of No Towers, by Art Spiegelman
Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi
The Collected Crumb Comics, volume something-or-other, by Robert Crumb
The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, by Neil Gaiman
The League of Extraordinary Gentlement, Vol. 1, by Alan Moore
Our Cancer Year, by Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner and Frank Stack

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Special Topics and Great Quotes

I still need to respond to comments (waves!), but I was sitting here reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics in the Very Empty Writing Center (proper name), and decided I should share some delicious quotes. Marisha Pessl's writing is wonderful, and I'm completely lost in the main character's narration.

"It was the cause of many of Dad's outrages, too, when people elected themselves his personal oracle of Delphi. It was the grounds for many of his university colleagues going from nameless, harmless peers to individuals he referred to as anathemas and bete noires. They'd made the mistake of abridging Dad, abbreviating Dad, putting Dad in a nutshell, watering Dad down, telling Dad How It Was (and getting it all wrong)." --pg. 206

And one quote in honor of the holidays...

"So I am thus inspired to good cheerfully inject fuel into the U.S. economy by purchasing things I don't need and can't afford--most of which will have funny little plastic parts that suddenly snap off, rendering them inoperative within weeks--thereby digging myself a debt of elephantine proportions, causing me extreme anxiety and sleepless nights yet, more importantly, arousing a sexy economic growth period, hoisting up droopy interest rates, breeding jobs, the bulk of which are inessential and able to be executed faster, cheaper and with greater precision by a Taiwanese-manufactured central processing unit. Yes, Christabel. I know what time it is." --pg. 194

More later!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Aftermath


When I Googled "Thanksgiving Aftermath" this is what came up in the image search. Who am I to haggle with the Google gods? In the spirit of Thanksgiving I'll leave Daniel Craig's physique over which all may salivate.

Thanksgiving was good. B. cooked the turkey, I cooked the dressing (sausage dressing!), sausage balls (always good to get as much pork in the Thanksgiving diet as possible) and deviled eggs. The rest of the family took care of the rest of the meal, and a good time was had by all.

Other than the actual Thanksgiving meal, I have no idea what we did all the long weekend. I think I was more or less a worthless pile o'Andi. I played SIMS2, I started reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics, I had lunch with a good friend, and I went pretty well stir crazy yesterday.

Friday night we put up our Christmas tree and sundry decorations. Pictures to come.

Yeah. That's pretty much it. And, though I did little more than nothing, I have no complaints. It was a nice break for relaxation and I was able to face my 8:00 class today without seriously wanting to claw their faces off. Always a good thing at this juncture in the semester.

Lest you think I'm empty-headed today, I assure you my head is full of snot and deep thoughts. I've sort of been pondering the claim that Marisha Pessl's writing is "Nabokovian" in Special Topics. I've nearly come to the conclusion that I don't agree. While she does some fun things with annotations, she's not really doing what Nabokov did. And she overuses parentheses...we're kindred!

I've also been pondering the idea of femininity and how women perform it in various parts of the country. I'm sure I'll treat you to a well-flesh post on this very topic in the coming days (hours), but I'm still trying to put my finger on it.

I'm also figuring out ways to split up my thesis and publish the parts. I received the bound copy over the break, and I'm immensely relieved to have it IN MY HANDS. It's so pretty. Pictures of that to come as well.

For now, I must adjourn. I need to finish grading essays for my night class.

Listening: "Gunpowder and Lead"...Miranda Lambert

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pnin, by Vladimir Nabokov


What a great book. An unexpected great book. A couple of weeks ago I found myself in an exceedingly precarious position: trapped at work with no book. OH the horror! It's one of my worst nightmares, actually. Luckily, I was trapped on the upper floor of a LIBRARY, so it was all OK. No reason to panic. No reason to become tearful or sharp. I just ran downstairs and started browsing. Due in part to the fact that my attention span is nearly nil, I chose the first slim volume I ran across. Pnin.

I am a Nabokov admirer. I read Lolita a few years ago (after a first failed attempt), and loved it--as much as a person can love a book about a pedophile.

But I digress. I loved it.

Loved Nabokov's style, his wit, his talent, his mastery of English (not his first language if you hadn't guessed by the name). Despite my admiration and high marks for Lolita, I can't say that I really *got* it the way I might get it now. Now I would pick up the annotated version (big, scary), and I would probably generally understand more given my post-graduate school proclivity for textual spelunkery. I always thought my next foray into Nabokov's world would be The Eye or Invitation to a Beheading, but Pnin seemed a good place to start given the size.

Dear GOD, he can pack a lot of literary shtuff into 140 pages. The story in brief:

Russian immigrant professor is a bumbling mess for the most part. Displaced, changes lodgings every semester (at least), reads his lectures verbatim from a typed sheet of paper excluding his almost unintelligible asides in broken English. He's just a mess. Poor guy. An endearing, sweet mess. Nabokov describes the conditions under which professor Timofey Pnin came to the United States and his overwhelming nostalgia for pre-revolutionary Russia. The reader is given back story on selected Pninian loves and losses, his budding relationship with his son, his academic struggles and foibles.

All in 140 pages.

In addition to a sweet plot and a nice academic novel, Nabokov does some delightful things with form. He's what my friend C. might've called "very Postmodern." And C. would be right. Nabokov plays with form in a number of ways, the most striking of which is the book's narrator. As the story begins, Nabokov drops a few hints that this story is not told my some nebulous voice from the sky, but someone Pnin actually knows (knew, more like). However, as the story moves along, the nebulous voice becomes more of a presence, eventually taking over the story completely and revealing his identity and relation to Pnin. Really, besides being a cool bit of literary trickery, it helps underscore the ways in which Pnin is completely devoid of control. He can't stay grounded in one living space, he can barely teach his classes and carry out his research, he can't even tell his own story! He becomes a character in his own story.

I read the Everyman's Library edition of this novel, and David Lodge writes a great intro. He explains some of the striking similarities between one of Nabokov's colleagues and Pnin. And, surprisingly, striking similarities between Nabokov himself and Pnin (the tendency toward reading lectures verbatim, an overwhelming absentmindedness, etc.). I'm usually not one for introductions--I often skip them completely--but this one was nicely written and gave an interesting peek inside Nabokov's life, as well as a timeline explaining how this book related to Lolita (published after, but the first easily accessible Nabokov novel in America since Lolita was banned). It's also nice to know that Pnin appears, happy and bumbling as usual, in a later novel.

8.5/10 - An enjoyable, rich novel. It took me a long time to read it because Nabokov's writing, for me, is just slow, even when I'm diggin' it.

*******************************

In other news, I'm not nearly as pissy as I was last night. AND, I forgot to tell you all that the DA reduced my ticket to a speeding violation: 34 in a 25. Woot! And I was the 2nd person they called, so I was in, out, and done in about 30 minutes. Wheee!

If I don't type at you before Thanksgiving, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday! To those not celebrating, I still hope you have a good day. Preferably filled with books and/or revelry of some sort.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Grbledwhatblarg....

Meh.

I'm feeling very "meh." Not sure what my problem is. I know it can't be PMS unless it's happening after menstruation now. Could be. Maybe I'm the first in a new line of evolved human females with Post Menstrual Syndrome. It could happen. 10 year olds have babies nowadays. I remember the good old days when no one had sex until they were 21 and married. That's what my mom told me, anyway.

I haven't gotten much reading done lately because I have an attention span in the negative integer range (that just came back to me from 9th grade math...negative integers; my teacher would be so proud.)

My skin is great. I spent $32 on some sort of swanky moisturizer most likely made from the brain stems of fetal pigs. But it's like SO worth it for this baby-soft complexion. No one can tell me otherwise. Screw consumer responsibility. I've been showing "Super Size Me" to my classes, doing good for mankind by unleashing the truth about McDonald's on the masses. Surely that earns me enough cool points in the grand scheme of things that I can use the fetal pig moisturizer with little to no guilt.

I'm thinking of buying one of those big reusable shopping bags so I don't choke sea turtles with my used plastic bags that end up in landfills and the ocean. Although, I'm pretty sure enough harsh chemicals were unleased into lakes and rivers and the ozone layer making the reusable shopping bag that it all kind of evens out in the end. Or maybe I'm just a pessimist.

Unfortunately that's all the witty anecdotes I have at the moment. I'll be back with you in two shakes with more depressing observations. And hopefully a full report on the great book I just read.

Books on the docket:
Only Revolutions, by Mark Z. Danielewski (the crackhead that wrote House of Leaves)
Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl
Specimen Days, by Michael Cunningham

On ye olde iPod: "Learn to Fly"...Foo Fighters

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Best Day EVER!

*knock on wood*

I expect lightning any time. Yesterday was SO good, it can't possibly continue.

First, I got to school and saw Bossman (English Dept. Head) outside, and he informed me that I have an office and an e-mail address for the Spring. I'm being treated as a full-on, full-time faculty member, so I get the office all to myself with a COMPUTER and a WINDOW and everything!!! I have some meerkat window stickies that will be right at home (thanks, Funky!).

After that bit of excitement died down, I went on with my day as usual. Taught a few classes (we watched Supersize Me), worked in the writing center, and killed time in the afternoon (code for "played SIMS2) until time for my night class.

That's when it happened...around 5:00. IT. The big it. The best it I could ask for. One of my fellow reading teachers came in and informed me that my night class that runs from 7:30-9:45 only meets until DECEMBER 4TH!!!! Which means after December 4th I'll get home at a decent hour. I could not be more excited. Well, maybe a little...

So I rolled into the driveway at about 10:30 and promptly checked the mail because my b-day present from my mom was on the way. And what was it, you ask? $100!!! Yayyyy! I can buy shoes or books or something else fun without feeling guilty!!

But that's not all. OH no. There was a largeish envelope in the mail for me, too. When I saw the University of Connecticut seal I KNEW. It was my contributor copy of the journal with MY FIRST ACADEMIC PUBLICATION! I wrote a review of Fables, by Bill Willingham, for Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS) and it's finally out. This is a kickass special issue dealing with issues of ethnicity in graphic narrative (comics) with an original cover by Gilbert Hernandez. For those who might not be familiar, Hernandez, along with his brother Jaime (Los Bros Hernandez), wroting the uber-famous Love & Rockets series which helped define the alternative comics movement in the 1980s. SO COOL. So freakin' cool to be in print with lots of great scholars in a subject area I'm really passionate about. Even though I'm not doing the PhD, I have every intention of dusting off some of my other material that needs to be sent out for publication.

Keep your fingers crossed!


Monday, November 12, 2007

Birthday Bliss


I had a phantasmagorical birthday! Yes, oh yes, I did. I've told you all that I don't discuss B. here simply because he's not a big fan of the blog thing, but I just have to brag about him because he was SO GREAT for my birthday.

He started Friday night by pissing me off royally. Diversion tactics--gotta love 'em. After leading me to believe that he'd forgotten to get me anything for my birthday, he popped up out of his recliner around 5:30 and said something to the effect of, "Got something to do, be back soon." And left. Left in a cloud of dust. He called about half an hour later and said he was "wheeling and dealing" but he'd be back soon.

Around 7:00 I heard him roll back in, and he opened the door with a wicked smile on his face and said, "I bought myself something for your birthday." That something was a Holland Grill. Needless to say, I was a bit peeved that he went off and bought such an extravagant toy when the whole time I thought he was out doing birthday things. I squelched my anger down (not very well), and we went to dinner, watched some TV and generally did our normal Friday night stuff.

Saturday dawned, and I rolled over around 6:30 AM and said, "Do you know what today is??" He whipped out a birthday card with an iTunes giftcard from somewhere in the neighborhood of the nightstand, so I was pleasantly surprised that he did know what day it was!

B. has never been big on elaborate birthday celebrations, so I expected my very sweet card and gift card to be the extent of the celebration, and it would've been more than enough. However, the man had more up his sleeves. We went downtown to the Veteran's Day parade for a few hours, a big event in our small town, and picked up some barbecue for his folks on our way home. His brother and sister-in-law showed up at the house not long after, and B. disappeared into a back room. I just assumed he was gone to the bathroom. NOPE! He surfaced a few minutes later with a gorgeous cake trimmed in red icing roses, and it said "Happy Birthday, Andi!" with a very large, "27" candle in a corner.

I think my exact words were, "You're killin' me."

I was so surprised. His mom and dad and bro and sis-in-law all whipped out gifts, and we sat around talking and eating cake into the afternoon. B. took great joy in pointing out the fact that "Andi can be had" and that he's "sneaky sneaky."

After some lounging and an afternoon nap, we picked up and drove out to the boonies to a fantastic little seafood restaurant called Holland's Shelter Creek. Anyone driving by would NOT KNOW this place is fantastic. It looks kinda scary...all fall-down-like and, well, sort of like a bait shop.

We walked in, perused the general store part, and sat down for a fantastic meal of clam chowder, grilled shrimp, cajun catfish, fries, cole slaw, and hush puppies. And a pitcher of tea, of course. It was the perfect ending to a fantastic birthday, and I'm so so so thankful for B. and all the sweet stuff he did. He didn't have to, but he really made me feel special.

It's a good start to year #27.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Best Positions

My natural reading habitat these days is a big, squishy chair. It's a marked departure from my previous favorite reading position which involved lying on my stomach with a pillow folded under my chest and chin, arms sprawled on the bed and *maybe* exerting enough effort to the hold the book. However, oftentimes my trade paperbacks were floppy enough to hold themselves open with the assistance of a lazily placed hand. Thank God!

The new found penchant for the big squishy chair is a byproduct of a few very important variables:

1. Our floors are a little hard for lengthy lounging.
2. Our couch is too soft for lengthy lounging.
3. The bedroom is too dark for reading.

A well-placed halogen lamp, a close side table for a Diet Coke, and the big, squishy chair's inviting lap all add up to a winning combination.

Right about now I'm sure you're wondering why I'm nattering on about reading positions. The simple answer is prompted by the fact that I'm stuck at work for another hour and a half, and this place is not conducive to reading--the one thing I'd really like to do right now.

I do work in a Writing Center, and one might assume that with plenty of tables and chairs around, and even some couches, that I might find a place and curl up. But no. Oh no. There are definite problems with reading here.

1. I can't take off my pants or my bra. Well, in truth, I suppose I could, but it's frowned upon. I read much better without pants.
2. The chairs are hard, as are the couches.
3. There are distracting noises from the library below (I'm up on the mezzanine level).
4. The tables are hard and make my elbows ache after leaning for a while.
5. I have no blanket with which to curl up.

You see my dilemma.

Reading is my ultimate pleasure in life. I like to be comfortable, and comfort, for me, equals lounging. Whether I'm curled up with my legs tucked in, wrapped in a blanket or reclined across a chair with my legs draped over the arm, I need comfort, solitude and mental space to read.

So what the hell do I do with these last hours of work?? Suggestions??

I'm thinkin' Scrabulous!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I could just beat myself...


The inevitable happened. I got the rejection letter for the piece of fiction I submitted to Very Swanky Journal (not the real name...don't bother Googling). I'm not upset. I just submitted a different piece to a different journal. We'll see what happens.

I am VERY upset with myself for something VERY stupid that happened today. I ran a stop sign. Plain and simple--I ran it, a cop saw it, and I TOTALLY DIDN'T MEAN TO DO IT! I had to ASK the guy what I did because I honestly had no clue.

I was leaving a dead end service road to get onto a residential street to then get onto a businessy street. There wasn't a soul to be found anywhere inside the service-road-to-residential interchange. I didn't see the sign because I was busy looking to see which turn lane I needed to be in. I paused, yes, but I did not come to a complete hault. I am totally mad at myself and no one else.

Although, the officer was a bit of a dick when he said, "What? Didn't you see me sitting over at the restaurant across the street??" My response, "NO because I didn't think I'd done anything wrong so I wasn't looking to see if I was going to get in trouble for doing something wrong!"

OK, I didn't REALLY say that out loud, but I should've. I simply said no, and "Oh my God, I can't believe I did that!" And that was about it. The ticket will be $170.00 if I can't get it reduced and THREE POINTS on the NC driver's license that I don't even have yet. I'll be going to sweet talk the DA sometime between tomorrow and January 30th (court date) to emphasize the fact that I was trying to be SO CAREFUL because it was a new-to-me neighborhood that I didn't even notice the sign like I should've (all true, by the way). And I shall emphasize that there were no inclement weather conditions, no other vehicles anywhere nearby, and I was NOT exceeding a safe speed. I just screwed up. Please don't throw me in the pokey!

But, the good news is, I drove a Civic Hybrid before all this happened. It was nice.

Going to eat Bugles and nap in my office floor. Can't this day just be over?

Edit: The pug belly above makes me feel a leeetle bit better. Thanks, CuteOverload!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Why Can't I Get A Massage Like This?

I'm back! I had to endure the plague for a night and a morning, but I think I'm going to make it. According to B. the "pigeon must not have been cooked properly." A reference to the Chinese take-out that almost sent me to my grave. I knew I shoud've come home and cooked the very healthy tilapia. That cosmic bite in the ass will have me reeling for some time and totally avoiding chicken lo mein.

In happier news, I'm tickled to report that my students aren't completely lost causes. In fact, they're turning into "real college students," as I often refer to those responsible, driven few that make a college class worth teaching.

At the beginning of the semester, my 8am class was a group of problem children. They were late, they talked *all* the time, they got horrrrrrible, vile, deplorable grades (think 35s). But, somehow, throughout the course of the semester they've turned into real students. They study, they don't talk out of turn (as much), and they're generally and all-around likable class. Getting up at 6:00 still sucks, but teaching at 8:00 is perfectly pleasant.

My night class is another story. They get to have a "come to Jesus" with Ms. Andi tonight. They're gonna hate it.

I have serious things to post about, lovelies, but I have a stack o'papers to grade. This real job thing really cuts into my playtime.

In the near future you can expect ruminations on:

1. My proclivity for the non-traditional.

2. Pnin, by Vladimir Nabokov.

3. My shoddy--but upwardly mobile--relationship with libraries.

4. My upcoming birthday (Saturday, Nov. 10th) and the tendency for birthdays to lose their luster as one approaches 30.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Signed, sealed, delivered!

After too much Chinese food, I feel kind of lethargic and sick, so what better time to catch up on my blogging?

There have been some very exciting goings-on around here. Specifically, I've received some titilating goodies in the mail in the last week or so. First was a signed copy of Scott McCloud's Reinventing Comics. For the uninitiated, McCloud is the big daddy of comics theory. He's written several really amazing books on how comics function. His work is instrumental for any scholar working with graphic narrative, and his books played a huge role in my Master's thesis. Having his autograph and a brief, "to Andi" are just so freakin' cool!

To top off the cool of having a McCloud autograph, my good buddy T. got to entertain Joyce Carol Oates when she came to Purdue recently. Being the kind, generous soul that he is, he e-mailed posthaste to ask what book I'd like signed. My quick response, Beasts! Not only did T. get Oates to sign a copy for me, he got her to sign a beautiful hardcover copy! One of my very favorite books of all time signed by the god of my idolatry!

*bowing down at T.'s feet*

I just wanna build a very swanky, well-lit display case for it. Maybe I'll bribe B. to do that for my impending birthday. Doubtful, but I might manage it.

I would provide proper pics of both signatures, but my memory card has chosen this day to hide from me. I know I put it "somewhere safe," but that's usually the kiss of death for any and all of my possessions.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The October Recap

I'm tickled to say that my back has STOPPED HURTING. Do a little dance with me, will you? Why? Because I CAN! *wiggle wiggle*

Not sure what the deal was, but the pain began to subside around noonish of the day after my very bitchy, pained post. I'm pretty sure it was just muscle spasms from an afternoon and night of sleeping wonky (wonkily?). B affectionately refers to me as "pretzel girl" on occasion for the odd positions I work myself into when I sleep, so it's not exactly surprising that my back had to suffer for it.

It's that time again to recap the books that have come into the house this month and those that I've actually read. I must admit to you, dear reader, I haven't really counted this month. Alas, we must depend on my very own memory to provide the books that have come into the house, and like all good, dependable, sweet minds do, mine has conveniently blocked out some of what landed on my stacks. Good thing or I might have a panic attack over all the books I own but haven't read (and who knows when I will???). *sigh*

First, the ones I've read this month:

What I thought was going to be a *very* slow month turned out to be a decent one after all! I read five books, and TWO of them were 10's. That's almost unheard of!

The Journal of Dora Damage, by Belinda Starling - a review copy for Estella's Revenge. This is the story of a woman with an ill husband who must take over his book binding business and make a success of it if they are to live. She falls in with a seedy crowd of noblemen who employ her to bind pornographic works, which she does to support her family. A fascinating story of 1800s London, and the characters were wonderfully fleshed out. 8.5/10

The Borden Tragedy, by Rick Geary - a graphic novel (comic) about the Borden murders. I expected that this one would be over the top and prescribe to gratuitous gore and whatnot, but it was actually a very straightforward telling of the events as investigated and recorded in the journal of a Borden family friend. 7/10

The Secret Lives of People in Love: Short Stories, by Simon Van Booy - another book that came to my attention through Estella's Revenge. This one is a poignant, lovely collection of stories that take place all over the world (Kentucky, Greece, Paris, etc.). Van Booy's writing is classy, beautiful and just downright enthralling. 10/10

No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July - the complete opposite of Van Booy, although that's not a bad thing. July's stories are hip, contemporary and more than a little odd. But they are still affecting and wonderfully, quirkily told. 9/10

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley - What can be said about such an outstanding classic? It far surpassed my expectations. It's not traditionally scary, but more disturbing in its implications toward Victor Frankenstein and his foibles in relation to the monster. Shelley's narrative structure is SO COOL, as the tale of the monster is told as a story within a story within a story. Finished it in 2 days. 10/10


I could be a very good blogger and post the links to the books I've reviewed here, but I am decidedly a very bad blogger and will simply urge you to click on the "books" tag at the end of this post and go find those reviews for yourself if you're so inclined. Happy hunting!


The books that have come into the house but I haven't read:
  • The Electric Michelangelo (some author whose name eludes me at the moment)
  • Tender at the Bone (Ruth Reichl)
There have to be more. Surely. Hmmf. Thanks, brain o'mine, that wasn't as bad as it could've been!

In other literary news, the new issue of Estella's Revenge is online! I hope you all like it. I like it. The writers are way awesome and did some cool stuff this time around (cookie recipes!!!), and I can't take the least bit of credit for it. Well, I can take credit for the Audrey Niffenegger interview, but that's about it.

I also urge you to visit not only the 'zine, but also the blog for the My Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge!!! This is Heather F.'s brainchild, so we put it into effect at Estella's Revenge. The basic premise: you read along with our 12 "dangerously" delicious titles (aka, intimidating books and "out there" genres) or you pick 12 of your own. Or, honestly, do a little of both. IF you choose to participate in one of our "officially official" discussions, your participation automatically enters you in a drawing for fabulous prizes. And I do mean FAAAAABULOUS, dahling.

So, yeah, click on the linky up there and go check it out for yourself. I hope you'll join us, cuz it's gonna be fuuuuunn.

Now, go back to work. What are you thinking reading this blog in the middle of the day?