Friday, February 29, 2008

Some Days I Just Look 12

Yes, yes. Daisy is cute, isn't she?! And as much as I agree with the comments about how wonderful it is to see her growing and discovering, last night I was ready to trade her in for a bowl of well behaved fish. My GOD the energy. She ran, she peed in the floor, she ate the carpet, she growled (playfully), snapped (nips really), and generally jumped up and down on my last nerve. I finally put her to bed an hour early, and put myself to bed shortly after. Whew! I'll be glad when Puppy Kindergarten starts on Monday night. I bet she'll sleep then!

Incidentally, she got her second shots this morning, and she's totally healthy. And growing! She weighed four pounds when we got her, and now, three weeks later, she weights 6.7. Right on, girl!

On the professional front, a funny thing happened earlier today, and it happens to me quite often. To contextualize, I don't meet with classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but I have to work in the Writing Center for three hours in the afternoon. As such, I rarely go into my office on MWF, and since I don't meet with students in anything related to an organized fashion, I rarely dress up. MWF is all about dark jeans, comfy sweaters, and comfy (flat) shoes. The byproduct of this casual dress, my overgrown curly locks, the sunglasses I wear on my head to hold back said locks, and the 27 years I have on me is that most people think I'm a student.

A couple of days ago, for instance, I was tutoring a young man--probably 19 or 20--and he stopped mid-session and told me he liked my hair. I smiled, unsure if it was an acne and Red Bull induced come-on or just a really awkward proclamation brought on by a sneaky case of Tourette's. Either way, I continued correcting his comma splices and he went away. He showed back up for another appointment yesterday, and the first thing he asked was, "Are you a teacher here?" To which I replied, "YES! Yes I am." And he didn't comment on my hair anymore.

This afternoon I made a pit stop in the ladies room before I popped up here to the WC, and I always use the Faculty/Staff restrooms on the main floor of the library. As I was coming out of the jane, one of the library workers--whom I've seen around but haven't met--approached me with a squinty, half-cocked look of confusion and asked, "Are you a staff member here?" I answered in the affirmative, assured her that I teach English, and she was most relieved. I apologized for having not introduced myself before now, we had a nice exchange, and I went on my way. I like to comfort myself in thinking she was just being friendly, but I suspect she was really trying to protect the staff bathroom from infiltrators.

There are far worse daily frustrations than being the really young instructor on the block, but my God, must I resort to tweed and a bun to secure my teacherly identity?

I'll save the story about walking into a classroom to proctor an exam and being handed a pencil for another day.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Dose of Thursday Cuteness

ME! Me, me, me!

Heather did this meme at her place, and I couldn't resist. I'm a big "Inside the Actor's Studio" fan, so I would jump in James Lipton's hot seat any day. Wait, NO, not like that!

What is your favorite word? Effervescent. My favorite word changes daily, it seems. This is a great one for a Thursday.

What is your least favorite word? Sandwich board. So, OK, that's two words, but I hate it. HATE IT. It sounds moist and squishy and totally ewwwky.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Knowledge. I'm inspired by learning and it seeps over into my creative life, my emotional life, and obviously my intellectual life. I cannot learn enough in any given day. I want to know EVERYTHING!!! *mad scientist laugh*

What turns you off? People who bask in their ignorance. It's probably really horrible and egotistical to say, but I can't stand people who just skate through life not caring if they know anything. The world is such great, multi-faceted place. Why not experience it to the fullest and be a better person at the same time?

What is your favorite curse word? Fuck, fuckety, fuck. Love it. So versatile.

What sound or noise do you love? Daisy snoring. It's adorable. And my mom's laugh. She has a great laugh. Very loud and spirited.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Artist! I hated being a web designer, but I think I would love being a "fine" artist. A painter, preferably. Or, wait, a chef! Oooh!

What profession would you not like to do? Anything involving manual labor or extreme physical exertion. You can tell by lookin' at me that I don't do sweat.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? You're in!

Daisy pics coming up later today when I get home from work! Be ready for the cuteness!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Dreary Draggy Day

It's so gross outside. This morning was beautiful, mild, sunny. Now it's dark, rainy, and yucky. One would think, living in an area prone to sudden rain and tropical weather, that I would invest in an umbrella that cost more than $3.00. I swear, the thing is made out of lint strung together with toothpicks. Worthless.

I'm incredibly draggy today. The Daisy let me sleep just fine last night (SEVEN HOURS WITH NO CRATE PEEING), so I have positively no excuse for excessive fatigue. The sinus headache has other ideas, though. It's pounding away, thanks to what I can only call a barrage of distasteful allergy activity. I think it's the impending pine pollen epidemic. My nose knows.

In reading news, I finished my fourth book of this great month of February. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, was a worthy pick for the Year of Reading Dangerously. There are millions of people who've read this before me (thanks, Oprah!), but I'll review it briefly anyway...just in case you're still looking for that final push to make you pick it up. I can't handle stringing paragraphs together in an orderly fashion, so you'll just have to subsist on snippets.

The good parts:

1. It's short. Yes, yes, I'm a sucker for a short novel. Especially when wits are on end and all. Weighing in at 216 pages (included the author's notes at the end), this one was a very quick read. Something I didn't think I'd get from Morrison.

2. The language is stunning. I read Beloved as a teen, which I think I've mentioned here. However, I don't count it as "read" since I didn't "get it" at all and probably skimmed more than half of it. SO, this is my first Morrison, and I was positively bowled over by the language. I would give you tasty quotes, but I turned in my copy to the college library on my way out yesterday to lighten the load in my tote bag.

3. It's chock full of great ideas. Morrison approaches this story of incest and abuse with an eye toward racial self-hatred, beauty ideals, and all that other literary stuff. It really is a jam-packed social statement. I won't go into it all, but if you want a book with an agenda that's nicely constructed, knock yourself out.

4. Which leads me to my very favorite part: the structure. The majority of the tale is passed along through the narration of two of Pecola Breedlove's childhood peers. I would say friends, but that's a little iffy. Two young girls who experience her situation from the outside, that is. And her experience, it's no mystery...she's carrying her father's baby. Now ya know. Other bits are told in flashback, from various perspectives, and the reader must piece the whole flingin'-flangin' mess together. It's worth it.

The bad, or at least iffy:

1. SHE'S CARRYING HER FATHER'S BABY! *sprays self with Lysol* This is one of those novels, like Lolita, that I'm tempted to say I enjoyed. But how weird is that? To "enjoy" a novel about rape, incest, all sorts of vile yuckiness. It's executed so prettily, though! I'll rephrase...I appreciated this novel and enjoyed the experience of reading it. There.

2. It affected me without moving me. That is, it wasn't powerful enough to evoke tears or a re-read, but it was darn good. I like to be moved. My favorite books move me. This one probably won't be a favorite, but I'm glad I read it, and I will pick up other Morrison offerings in the future.

There you have it! The Bluest Eye in a hurry. In the rain.

I'll be back later with new Daisy pics! With sunshine and dandelions and lots of nose-in-hole digging.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Reading, the Weekend Update, and a Tropical Rash

What a cornucopia of a title, eh? It was a wild woolly weekend, so it's only fitting.

It all started Friday morning with a trip to the DMV to get my NC driver's license. I went in all concerned about the eye test because I have this weird situation where I'm near-sighted in one eye and far-sighted in the other. Sort of like monovision but without the contacts! Everything equals out just fine when I'm looking at something without covering up an eye, but when I have to look into those devilish little eye machines and read a row of letters, things can get hairy. My worries were completely misdirected because I passed the eye and sign recognition exams with flying colors but FAILED THE WRITTEN TEST BY ONE QUESTION. I won't write all the curse words here that I said to myself in the car on the drive of shame home. But they were bad. And varied. The happy ending is that I came home, studied some more, and passed this morning. Whew!

The wilder wooliness really kicked in on Saturday afternoon. B. and I went out to some motorcycle shops for him to browse, we popped into Staples so I could look over the office furniture, and then we went to Lowes so he could investigate the types of wood available to build me some bookshelves! Hurray for that. However, as we were wrapping up our Lowes shopping, he pointed at the portion of my chest exposed by my v-neck sweater and said, "Umm, what's happening to you?!" I'm allergic to dogs. Yes, yes, says the woman who just got a puppy for Valentine's Day. But it's one of those situations where I actually go out of my way to deny my allergy because the thought of not having a dog is a fate worse than death.

But I digress.

So anyway, I figured I was just breaking out from the dog I petted in one of the motorcycle shops. We proceeded to the truck to gallivant off for lunch and I realized this was no normal dog rash. This was a tropical mystery rash. Little tiny red bumps in two places on my collarbones and it was steadily, and quickly, spreading up my neck. My first thought, because I'm a freaker outer when it comes to ailments, was measles. But, ya know, I wasn't sick or anything. We ate a hurried lunch, stopped by Wal-Mart, and I Benadryled myself on the way home. I slept for a solid four and a half hours before I woke up to eat dinner and promptly Benadryled myself again.

Luckily, the rash is all but gone now with little signs of ever having been red and bumpy. Not sure what that was all about, but we've both come to the conclusion that it was probably something to do with a chemical or other allergic reaction from something in Staples or Lowes.

A piece of positive and exciting news comes on the heels of a wonderful discovery. When Daisy falls asleep in my lap in my reading chair, she doesn't mind that I read over her head!! Doesn't mind one bit. She spent the first 20 minutes or so attempting to chew on the book, but then she gave it up and went back to sleep. A brilliant discovery, and I think I'll finally have my steady flow of reading back.

And speaking of reading (see how this post almost seems to have clear organization?! WOW!), I'm almost finished with The Bluest Eye for My Year of Reading Dangerously. I expect I'll finish it at work today, or maybe even before work if I can get my ass off the computer.

And finally, in the last bit of reading news, my review of The End of America, by Naomi Wolf, is up at BiblioBuffet. I have to tell you, I'm really proud of this review. It took much burning thought and several drafts to get it right. I hope y'all like it!

Friday, February 22, 2008

On the Review Pile

I received a book yesterday from Henry Holt & Company called A People's History of American Empire, by Howard Zinn. Unfortunately, I have to admit, I'd never heard of this book until the publicist contacted me about reviewing it. Apparently, it was up for a National Book Award in 1980. Shame on me! Of course, I feel surprisingly comfortable in my ignorance in this case since I was only just born in 1980. I think I get a pass for that, right? I'm not one for keeping up with awards now much less when I was an infant.

Excuses and awkward introductions aside, there is something very special about this reissue. It's a graphic novel adaptation!!!!!! And you know how that gets me all lathered up. This short little blurb is just about enough to push me over into ridiculously excited:

...a study of American expansionism around the world is told from a grassroots perspective and provides an analysis of important events from Wounded Knee to Iraq.

Grassroots? Wha-what?! Oh yeah. I'm all about some grassroots exploration of American empire. In fact, the short introduction, which you can read HERE with complete illustrations, has me positively salivating and my wicked liberal heart palpitating.

I've had some pretty severe gripes in the past about books with a political bent being turned into graphic novels. My thoughts on The 9/11 Report graphic novel were just a big bitchfest. A freakin' sorry excuse for a graphic novel if I ever saw one. It was absolutely, positively full of visual bias and was artless. ARTLESS. And nothing peeves me more than an artless graphic novel. When I say artless, I mean the illustrations were flat, did nothing to inform the story, and were just horribly produced. Cheesy. Essentially it was more propaganda trying to sell a one-sided perspective on 9/11 to kids and stoners who wouldn't pick up the real report.

To qualify, I don't think gn's are for kids and stoners, but they can have the artless ones as far as I'm concerned. The graphic novels with no soul, no intertextuality, no panache. Blah.

All that to say, I really think this is going to be a great book! I've read a bit of it already, and it's anything but artless. Keep an eye out here for the upcoming review.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Booking Through Thursday, The First

I think this might well be the first time I've booked through Thursday. That is, participated in THE illustrious Booking Through Thursday meme. I'm so late to the good stuff sometimes. Seeing as I'm running short on posty inspiration, here we go...

This week's question:
All other things (like price and storage space) being equal, given a choice in a perfect world, would you rather have paperbacks in your library? Or hardcovers? And why?

I may well be in the reading minority here, but almost all of my books are trade paperbacks. A long time ago, many moons and all that, I bought quite a few remaindered hardbacks. I had some GREAT books in hardcover, and there was nothing more luscious, worth keeping and savoring. Then I discovered something disturbing. I never read them.

Sure, yeah, I would pick one up occasionally, but I found the discomfort of reading a hardcover completely alienating. They're hard to keep open, big, bulky, not well suited to an already overloaded purse or book bag. Blah blah blah. You get the point. And half the time I'd finish them and find they weren't worth keeping after all.

Pretty soon I started seeking out trade paperbacks at the used bookstore instead of my formerly awe-inducing hardcovers. To this day I'm a reformed reader, basking in the wonderment of an easy-to-carry, comfortable-to-read, and very sexy trade paperback.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I'm reading...really!

I've become a really horrible blogger the last week or so...not answering comments properly, not blog hopping as much as usual, not posting much of anything except doting puppy pics.

Life goes on in the wake of puppy adoption, I daresay. Although, admittedly, it takes a different turn. I taught all day yesterday, got home, had to take DaisyLou to the vet for a possible bladder infection. Got home took her for a walk, finally settled down, she didn't settle down. We played. B and I watched our prescribed Tuesday night TV: Two and a Half Men, NCIS, and Nip/Tuck. I had big plans for reading but a sinus headache (still hanging on this morning) put me to bed early.

I miss a steadier stream of reading, but between teaching/planning/grading/puppiness/writing and general life stuff, it's taken a back seat. However, that doesn't mean I can't lust after books in the interim.

Dr. S. e-mailed to tell me about a book I need to read. A Person of Interest, by Susan Choi, is getting a good bit of press. Right after she told me about it, I saw a review in the NYTimes. I've never even heard of Choi (although I should be shamed for saying so since she was a finalist for a 2004 Pulitzer). OH well. I can't keep up with everyone. A blurb:

When a mail bomb explodes in the campus office next door, Lee, an Asian American math professor at a second-tier university in the Midwest, comes under suspicion. The authorities believe he may be the infamous "brain bomber," an elusive terrorist whose primary targets are prominent scientists and mathematicians.

I recently requested a review book for BibilioBuffet called Just Call Me Mike: A Journey from Actor to Activist, by Mike Farrell. Farrell is best known for his role as BJ Honeycutt on MASH. B. is a huge MASH fan and he's dragged me down with him, so I'm looking forward to this account of Farrell's international activism. Incidentally, he'll be book touring through Raleigh in May, so that might be a nice little outing for us.
And proof that I've been reading SOMETHING, you'll notice a couple of books listed in my sidebar under 2008 Reading that I haven't reviewed. I have upcoming reviews at BiblioBuffet of The End of America (goes live Feb. 24th) and You Must Be This Happy to Enter (probably a week or two after Feb. 24th).

I'll just tell you, I LOVED The End of America, while You Must Be This Happy to Enter won't garner such a positive review, I fear.

I'm also finally getting somewhere with The Bluest Eye. I read a decent chunk of it at work yesterday, and I adore Morrison's writing. The story of Pecola Breedlove is anything but pleasant, but I think this one will probably rank very well if it continues at this rate.

Until later!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday Morning MishMash

Morning all!

I slept so great last night. Eastern North Carolina finally got some much needed rain (3 inches in my area), so I enjoyed listening to the pitter-pat of rain on the roof followed by bang, crash, cue the lightning. It was something of a nasty storm, but we really need any water we can get in the midst of this draught.

This week's installment of "The Finicky Reader" is up, and this piece is entitled "Expectations and Memory." Unsurprisingly, it's a reflection on the experience of reading Great Expectations some 13'ish years after the first time I read it as a freshman in high school.

I did a pretty good job grading student papers over the weekend when Daisy was napping, so I don't have much proper work to do today besides planning for Tech Writing tomorrow, soooo you know what that means! I'll be spending some of my 3 hours in the writing center reading. We tend to get swamped with appointments whenever papers are due, and at least three classes (mine included) had major papers due last week. It should be relatively wasteland-like today, so I expect to dig into The Bluest Eye for My Year of Reading Dangerously. I've only read a little bit of it so far, but I have absolutely nothing to complain about...yet. I was a little nervous about tackling Morrison. I read Beloved as a teen and had absolutely no clue about what was going on. As an adult I've always heard a lot of dissent in regards to Morrison--how hard her stuff is to read, how obscure, how genuinely unpleasant, etc. However, I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised. From what I've read of the opinions at the MYoRD blog it seems to be a hit so far.

A sad thing happened this weekend. I showered, washed my hair, the usual nighttime routine on Saturday, and when I finished primping and decided to blow my nose, I realized my nose ring was gone. GONE! And I could not, for the life of me, remember where I put my backup nose rings. Sadly, I found them last night, tried to put one in, and the damn thing has already grown up on the inside. Talk about fast! So, it looks like if I want to go back to a pierced nose I'll have to get it redone. Luckily it's cheap as body piercings go...only about $25, but I do hate to have to go through all the cleaning and healing and bleeding part again. Uggg. Maybe I'll throw in the towel on piercings for a while. I'd had the darn thing for over 2 years, though, and I'd gotten quite attached to it.

Oh well, to brighten my own day, here are some Daisy pics from the weekend.

For more pics of the pup, check out the Flickr photo album on my sidebar. I'm constantly uploading new pics. Just click and it'll take you to the album.

And there's a story behind this last "Daisy" picture. On Thursday I got a call in the writing center that I had flowers at the front desk. It's a HUGE bouquet of...DAISIES...from my mom! Isn't she clever! She's been sending me Valentine's flowers at school or work for as long as I remember. Even when I was in elementary school, she had this wonderful habit of having goodies delivered to me at school on holidays and my birthday. It's been a few years since she did this, so I was totally shocked and surprised to receive this beautiful arrangement. Enjoy looking, but don't look directly at all the clutter on our bar. :D

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Sunday Salon - On Non-Fiction

For years and years I was adamantly non-fiction. My mom, as avid a reader as myself, is all about non-fiction, while I've always been the princess of faraway lands and stirring flights of fancy. Fiction was my game until a curious thing happened.

A few years ago I encounted a massive reading slump. I was starting graduate school, I was steeped in fiction for study, and I found myself utterly unable to read anything I wanted to read for pleasure. I would pick up a book, read a few sentences...maybe a paragraph if I was lucky. Nothing seemed to stick. I turned to computer games, TV, exercise...anything to take my mind off of my nonexistant reading. Lingering in the background, though, was always the insistent urge to dive into a book.

Finally I did something unheard of. I picked up a non-fiction book. Certainly I'd gone through some non-fiction phases. Like most recently-out-of-college girls I read my share of women's studies. Manifestas on femininity and women's history. Somehow after that phase passed I neglected the wonderful world of non-fiction almost entirely until a short stint with forensic books...Stiff (Mary Roach) and Death's Acre (Dr. Bill Bass) to name a few.

It was Barack Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope that truly showed me what a lifesaver non-fiction can be. In fact, right after I finished Audacity, I immediately picked up another non-fiction book--Patrimony by Philip Roth. It seems I discovered non-fiction all over again. I read memoirs, travel writing, books about food, and I even revisited that old love...women's studies!

To this day I find the surest way to bust a slump is to dive into the world of the real. A short vacation from the unreal is just what the doctor ordered.

With this ephiphany in mind, I give you the Non-Fiction Meme! Thanks to Bookfool and Iliana for tagging me!

Non-Fiction Meme

Thanks to Gautami for creating this one.

a). What issues/topic interests you most--non-fiction, i.e, cooking, knitting, stitching, there are infinite topics that has nothing to do with novels?

Politics, memoir, literary theory/scholarly writing (primarily Children's literature and graphic narrative-related), foodie books like Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour. I also love travel writing since I first read J. Maarten Troost's The Sex Lives of Cannibals and Getting Stoned with Savages.

b). Would you like to review books concerning those?

Oh yes, and I have. The best non-fiction books I've reviewed are Louis Theroux's The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures and Poe Ballantine's personal essays, 501 Minutes to Christ.

c). Would you like to be paid or do it as interest or hobby? Tell reasons for what ever you choose.
It would be great! And finally it comes true. My first paying non-fiction review will come up at BiblioBuffet in a couple of weeks. It's a review of The End of America, by Naomi Wolf.

d). Would you recommend those to your friends and how?

I recommend non-fiction to friends whose interests I know. Heather F. and I probably talk about non-fiction the most since we both love foodie books. I also watch Bookfool's blog for great non-fiction recs and recommend what I can because she reads an incredible array of non-fic.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Adventures with Frost

No, not Robert Frost. I wish!

So this morning I was shocked and amazed that Daisy let me sleep until 7:00!! While she did have a little pee accident in her crate, I was more than a little surprised that she didn't start yelping around 5:00 AM like usual. In fact, I was so shocked that she wasn't barking when I woke up that I actually thought she might've hurt herself, and I gallantly charged into the living room to make sure nothing was wrong.

She was fine. Of course. I put on my pants and shirt and shoes and jacket to make myself presentable enough to take her out. As I opened the back door with her tucked safely under one arm, I noticed all the pretty frost on the ground.

If only I'd noticed all the pretty frost on the steps.

I stepped down and my feet immediately went out from under me sending both of us skating down the steps on my ass. Luckily I held tight to the pup, and she just sort of gazed up at me, confused, as I stared down at her, confused, with my feet in the wet grass and my shoes out in the yard where they'd been flung off my feet.

To make a long story short, I got my breath back, put on my shoes, let the baby do her business, took her back in the house, where she promptly got excited while we were playing and squatted in the living room floor.


Reading: The Bluest Eye and lots of student papers

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy VD!

Valetine's Day again. Or better known as buy-cards-and-flowers-and-bears-and-chocolate-and-jewelry-and-stuff day!
OK, I could be cynical and flippant, you know, the usual. BUT, I'm going to resist. I love the sentiment of Valentine's Day...the sharing of warm, affectionate feelings for others and whatnot. So I'm going to do just that. Here are a just a few people I'm warm toward:
B. - he's the coolest, the sweetest, he makes me giggle. Daisy was an early V-Day gift since he can't be home today. I miss him, and I'm sending him lots of warm thoughts.
My mom - also the coolest, sweetest, and makes me giggle. I sent her a funny/warped card, and will call her later for a long chat.
My grad school peeps - I miss them horribly. I talk to some of them on the phone regularly and stay in touch via e-mail and Facebook with the rest. I miss our spirited conversations, angst, and genuinely good times.
My other friends across this great land - because they really are spread out everywhere. Mostly, to Rachel, I MISS YOU!
My bloggy peeps - You all make my day every day. Every single one of you on my blogroll, and those I haven't added yet. I love sharing your lives and reading your thoughts on every subject under the sun.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pure Silliness

Check out THIS SITE.

Type in commands like "sit," "shake hands," and "roll over."

Be sure to type in some nonsense commands, too. The results are pretty funny. Oh, and "kiss" is the best command ever!

State of the Union: Sitting in the Writing Center, a packed house of appointments in and out for the afternoon, and I'm eyeing two books.
  • Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut, because I've NEVER READ Vonnegut, and that's a tragedy in itself.
  • The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath. I read this one several years ago, and I think it's high time for a re-read.

I think I've lost interest in The Namesake. No fault of the book's, just my finicky mood.

Edit: And I just saw this on CNN in an article about shark attacks (they're far less prevalent than the media makes out, etc.).

"The New England Journal of Medicine reported that from 1990 to 2006, there were 16 deaths on American beaches caused by digging sandholes till the sand collapsed, smothering the digger. ISAF counted a dozen U.S. shark deaths in the same period. Clearly, you’d be safer in the water, with the sharks, than you are in your own sandhole."

Something about science snarkiness makes me giggle. I think I'd still opt for the sandhole.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Daisy news first: the pup let me sleep ALL NIGHT last night. After three days of minimal rest, I was so thankful she didn't keep me up. I was beginning to wonder if I adopted a minion of the devil.

See. Doesn't she look sort of minion-like? I caught a great picture of her on my cell phone yesterday in which she looks innocent and angelic. The unknown truth is that she jettisoned herself off of the chair and pounced on my face shortly after the picture was taken. Harummphf.

In book news, I finished one! I've had a really hard time settling into anything reading-related lately (even before the puppy, as you probably already know). However, on Friday, the 8th of February, 2007 PP (pre-puppy), I brought Bill Willingham's 1001 Nights of Snow Fall graphic novel to work with me. It was an exceptionally slow day, so I sat right here in the writing center and finished the whole thing! Gulp!

Y'all know I wrote my thesis on this comics series, so I probably don't have to tell you that once that M.A. was done I didn't want a thing to do with these graphic novels for a while. It seems the detox period has passed, and I'm more than thrilled to be jumping back into the fairy tale retelling fray.

This particular book is a stand-alone prequel to the series--a collection of background stories that help shed some light on the characters' idiosyncrasies. The framework is that Snow White is being held captive by a sultan and has to tell her stories, Shaherazad style, in order to protect her life. There's a really fun twist involving Shaherazad, but you'll have to read the book yourself to find out what it's all about.

One of the most unique parts about this collection is the artwork. Each story is illustrated by a different artist. James Jean is the series's cover illustrator, and I particularly enjoyed his work in this collection. Which story he illustrated slips my mind at the moment, but I'll update this section when I get home today.

Aside from the gorgeous illustrations, the stories are typical Willingham hilarity, inspiration, and always a touch of tragedy. The things he does with traditional folk and fairy tale characters are truly inspiring for any story teller. He somehow manages to hold onto the traditional elements of the fairy tales yet tap into something innovative and capitalize on the shady, nondescript elements of their character.

The Fables series as a whole is just a hell of a good time. For anyone interested in retellings this is definitely the series for you.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Column, anyone?

I've been up since 4:00 this morning thanks to the little stinker of a whining puppy. I love her to pieces, but this whining/barking/yelping/crying crate training thing is KILLIN' me.

In lieu of an original post, I'll just pass along my first BiblioBuffet column! It went up yesterday, and I hope y'all will let me know what you think of it.

The first installment of "The Finicky Reader": "Exacting, Especially About Details"

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Sunday Salon - A Day Without Reading

I'm having deja vu. Haven't I titled a post something similar lately?

Maybe Sundays are just really bad reading days for me, but I prefer to think it's just PUPPY LOVE that's keeping me from the books today.

Exhibit A:

Watching her play is far superior to any book I could imagine at the moment. She leaps, she twists, she creeps and crawls. She spends far more time on her back than her front (the leaping usually leads to falling over).

Exhibit B:

Perfectly rounded, tweakable puppy tummy. She has a penchant for sleeping on her back, so the tum is exposed several hours a day. I love to snorgle her.

Definition of "snorgle":

To snorgle is to to snuggle a cute item in a manner meant to drink in or experience its overwhelming cuteness. Imagine picking up a cute puppy and sticking your face down into its furriness and snorgling it up. See cuteoverload dot com. (Urban Dictionary)

Yep, snorgle. We snorgle a lot.

I did finish a great book on Friday...1001 Nights of Snowfall, by Bill Willingham. I'll be posting my review tomorrow. Until then, I have some snorgling to do.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


...the newest member of the Andi and B. family. This is Daisy. She's a 6-week-old Rat Terrier/something-something mix. We adopted her last night, and she's already the cutest dog EVER! Enjoy the pics, and I'll be back to gush more later.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Since you've all had a few days to peruse some of my favorite bloggers in the previous post, I guess I'll post something new. Yesterday was kinda crazy. Bought a North Carolina auto insurance policy, worked in the writing center, ran some errands with B., taught a night class, and finally got to come home, shower, have dinner, and I was passed smooth out by 10:45. You can call me Animal. Party Animal.

Today is a migrainey day (again), so I'm taking it easy and being an enabler. I'll tell you about some of the newest items on my Amazon wishlist.

The Kindle. I have a serious case of gadget lust since April posted about hers at Estella's Revenge. Another bookish friend shouted the wonders of yon Kindle in a discussion group, and now I can hardly contain myself. Too bad I don't have $399 to throw around at the moment. I hope beyond hope that the price falls a bit in the near future and I can snatch one up. The books are cheaper, I'll be killing fewer trees with my bookish obsession, and that little puppy is way portable. Good plane reading, anyone? I'll probably be traveling to TX during the summer at some point, and I have a conference in San Antonio in November. Just think of all the books I could hoard in one little gadget! The mere thought makes me quake.

*use imagination to insert cover of Best American Nonrequired Reading, 2007 here*

Yeah, Blogger is being putzy. Anywho, I first saw the Nonrequired Reading 2007 in Books-a-Million recently, and what an intriguing idea! I'm a sucker for the yearly "Best ofs" anyway (short stories, essays, comics, etc., etc.) and what's better to a moody, finicky, noncommital reader than a collection of NONREQUIRED READING?! Not much, I can tell you that fo 'sho.

*use imagination to insert cover of A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You here*

In my neverending search for quality short stories, I ran upon Amy Bloom. Well, I ran upon her name, really. I haven't read any of her stuff yet, but everywhere I go that mentions really good short story writers mentions her. The blurb from Amazon to describe Blind Man:

It was Henry James who first claimed the imagination of disaster, but in Amy Bloom's stunning second collection, she appears to have inherited the mantle. Most of the characters in A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You are pursued by at least one of the biological furies: cancer, miscarriage, Parkinson's disease. And even those with their health intact tend to be sick at heart, having run the gantlet of family life and suffered what the military men like to call friendly fire. Yet the effect of these brilliant stories is anything but dreary. Instead they produce an odd sense of elation--Bloom somehow persuades us that her characters will continue under their own steam long after we've closed the book, and she alternates hope and hopelessness in exactly the right, recognizable proportions.

*use imagination to insert cover of Artists in Exile, by Joseph Horowitz here*

This is a little goody I spotted in the NY Times Book Review a week or so ago. I've always been interested in artists' and performers' lives, and this book chronicles the "intellectual migrations" of thousands of artists and thinkers from Europe to the U.S. in the early 20th century. Some notable names: Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, and Marlene Dietrich just to name a few.

So, tell me you wonderful enablers. What are you lusting after?

I've had about all I can stand of the slow writing center computer, so I'm going to finish The End of America (thoughts coming) and grade some tests. Yeehaw!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

You Make My Dayyyy! You Make My Dayy-ayy-ayyy!

Yes, I'm singing the title to the tune of "Natural Woman."

In the last week or so, THREE fantabulous wonderful delightful bloggers have bestowed the "You Make My Day" award upon me, and I'm terribly behind in paying it forward. Dewey and Heather F, and Purl...thank you so much. You're all part of my everyday blog reading, and all make my day.

Now, to give this day-making award to 10 other bloggers. Some of you have already gotten it, I'm sure, but I'm not opposed to re-gifting in this case. ;)

Amanda A. - I love The Blog Jar for Amanda's razor sharp wit, snark, and smarts. She's a great read, so if you haven't been over there. Go forth!

Melissa - She always has great reviews posted, and she's a fan of children's and YA fiction, so I get TONS of great recommendations from her. Plus, she's a big reason Estella's Revenge keeps going. She always writes great pieces and helps out any way she can.

Lisa G, aka Bluestalking Reader - She's BRRRRRILLLIANT and hilarious. I can't get enough of her writing or her photos.

Eva - I happen to know she's already received this award, but I can't leave her out. I always look forward to hearing about Eva's latest reading adventures, and she reads across genres, so I get a ton of recs.

Lulu - She's an international woman of mystery! Her life teaching in Bangladesh is intensely interesting, and I learn a ton from all of her posts.

Katie - While she doesn't post nearly often enough for my taste, she's a busy woman. This teacher is gorgeous, talented, and a sweetie. Her ruminations on books, life, TV, and highlighters keep me rapt.

Courtney - I wanna be a writer like Courtney when I grow up. I'm always inspired by hearing about her busy life, her reading, her writing. It seems like she's always got a new essay in the works.

Sojourness - We're so much alike it's frightening. Right down to striped wine glasses and religious woes. Her blog is always full of fun and insight.

The Funky Bee - a hoot! She's always doing something cool...crafting, traveling, eating great food, drinking great booze. She's got a puppy I totally covet, and a sense of humor that always brightens my day.

TheOtherFeminist - Keepin' this one close to home! Fem is one of my graduate school peeps that I miss horribly. She's a self-proclaimed pseudo-gypsy-neo-hippy-witchy-kitschy-quasi-intellectual wanna be. I *heart* her.

Reading: The End of America
Listening: "Taking the Long Way"...Dixie Chicks
Addicted to: Deal or No Deal...eeek!

Behind the Revenge

"I'm asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington...I'm asking you to believe in yours." --Barack Obama

Admittedly, I've turned away from writing about my personal life in this blog in the last few months. With an increasing focus on books I've ranted and raved far less, shared less about myself, but I feel this is probably one of the most important times to share about myself.

Today is Super Tuesday, and my skin practically tingles with excitement. While NC and TX haven't yet had their primaries, 24 other states will help decide who takes the Presidential nomination for the Democrats and the Republicans. Today is one of the biggest hurdles in the path to change in this country.

I'm not exagerrating when I tell you that I've been interested in politics since childhood. I remember reading pieces about the respective candidates for the 1988 presidential election--George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis--in my Weekly Reader newspapers as an 8-year-old in a rural Texas school. I became interested in their campaigns, and while I'm sure my mom thought I was crazy, I watched debates, asked a lot of questions, and generally worried my teachers with my interest in political debate.

As the years crept by, every election brought a rush of interest and passion for me. I was tickled when I was finally able to vote in 2000, only to have my candidate of choice lose despite his winning the popular vote.

As a young, outspoken liberal I've been accused time and again of irreverence and of scoffing at tradition. However, I assure you, it is with the utmost respect for the United States, its leadership, its citizens, and the democratic process that I post today. It's with this reverence in mind that I've grown increasingly dissatisfied with the Bush administration for its willingness to lay waste to the Bill of Rights--the very freedoms Americans hold dear.

Inside this outspoken liberal is that little girl that marveled at the framework of our government and the power of every citizen to speak and make a difference in how our country functions. That 8-year-old has been waiting for a visionary to inspire her, and I see an intelligent, enigmatic, inspirational leader in Barack Obama.

My own endorsement out of the way, the important plea here is to please take a minute today, on Super Tuesday, or whenever your presidential primary might be, to walk out of your house with the future in mind. Remember, you can speak, and for that we should all be thankful. Don't toss off the responsibility by saying, "My vote doesn't make a difference." Because when a country of free citizens shirks off the responsibility to shape the future, the future goes to hell and we're all left behind.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Cannot Keep My Mouth Shut About This

FBI officials this week are expected to announce a $1 billion contract for the creation of a massive database of people's characteristics -- from eye patterns to palm prints. The agency says it's needed to track terrorists and other criminals.

But it's an issue that raises major privacy concerns -- what one civil liberties expert says should concern all Americans.

Andi says: I'm with the ACLU...

"It's the beginning of the surveillance society where you can be tracked anywhere, any time and all your movements, and eventually all your activities will be tracked and noted and correlated," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty Project.

I hope everyone keeps obtrusive measures like this one in mind when they go out to vote. Pick a candidate you believe would not support such measures.

Manic Tazmanian Devil Day

Ever have one of those days where you just can't sit still? I know you have. If you haven't, you have to be lying. If you insist you haven't, well, then it's just unfair that anyone should ever get through life without this feeling.

I have several pressing things I need to be doing:

  • Write up a new paper assignment for my lit class
  • Grade response papers for the lit class
  • Write up a project assignment and test for my technical writing class

However, with a lazy stretch of afternoon ahead of me in the writing center (it's 12:10 and I already met with my one scheduled appointment for the day) I would love to be doing about a zillion other things.

  • Reading either of the two books I have on the go
  • Downstairs browsing the fiction section of the college library
  • Writing a column
  • Organizing my new office space at home

Yep, I'd prefer doing just about anything to what I'm doing right now. No, not blog posting. Sitting around, trapped in the office with other things on the horizon. Ahhh, the life of a short attention span.

In this here photo, you'll notice "the flying pigs" as I affectionately refer to them. This is a small group of the much larger flock of Yellow Finches that have taken up residence at our house. There's plenty of food, which is one of the many reasons I live at my house, so I can't say I blame them for taking up with us. Aren't they cute? And they have a much shorter attention span than me, and it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Sunday Salon

After a rough stretch of slumpy reading, I think I might've finally settled into a stride. This week I received The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, by Naomi Wolf, in the mail from Chelsea Green Publishing for review. I've had my eye on this provocative book since I heard Wolf give an interview about it on NPR. The premise is this:

In a stunning indictment of the Bush administration and Congress, best-selling author Naomi Wolf lays out her case for saving American democracy. In authoritative research and documentation Wolf explains how events of the last six years parallel steps taken in the early years of the 20th century’s worst dictatorships such as Germany, Russia, China, and Chile.

The book cuts across political parties and ideologies and speaks directly to those among us who are concerned about the ever-tightening noose being placed around our liberties.

In this timely call to arms, Naomi Wolf compels us to face the way our free America is under assault. She warns us–with the straight-to-fellow-citizens urgency of one of Thomas Paine’s revolutionary pamphlets–that we have little time to lose if our children are to live in real freedom.

I'm not terribly far into it, but so far it seems tirelessly researched, meticulously documented, and wonderfully written. And it makes me angry. Very angry. But I'll share more when I review it properly.

I've also started The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri, and I LOVE IT. I read her Pulitzer-winning short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, several years ago and remember her style being warm and cozy. Maybe it's a weird way to describe stories that often spoke of loneliness and heartache, but the reading itself was just so darn pleasant. I love the details Lahiri includes that make exotic places come to life and endear me to characters that aren't always very likeable.

The Namesake is no different so far. The details are great, the reading is smooth like butta, and the mental images she conjures up are stunning. Here's one of many favorite passages:

"A slight limp causes Ashoke's right foot to drag almost imperceptibly with each step. Since childhod he has had the habit and the ability to read while walking, holding a book in one hand on his way to school, from room to room in his parents' three-story house in Alipore, and up and down the red clay stairs. Nothing roused him. Nothing distracted him. Nothing caused him to stumble. As a teenager he had gone through all of Dickens. He read newer authors as well, Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham, all purchased from his favorite stall on College Street with pujo money. But most of all he loved the Russians. His paternal grandfather, a former professor of European literature at Calcutta University, had read from them aloud in English translations when Ashoke was a boy. Each day at tea time, as his brothers and sisters played kabadi and cricket outside, Ashoke would go to his grandfather's room, and for an hour his grandfather would read supine on the bed, his ankles curled at his side. For that hour Ashoke was deaf and blind to the world around him." (pg 12)

Of course, it doesn't hurt that this passage is about books, but the whole novel is infused with great details. Foods, colors, sensations. I just love Lahiri and would love to write like her. And she needs to put out another book soon or I might just curl up and whine once I'm done with this one.

Enough of my prattle. I'm going back to the books!

Happy salonning to everyone!

Friday, February 01, 2008


I'm sleepy, bored, tired, ready to go home. But, I wanted to pop in with a quickie post before I dive noselong into a book for the rest of the afternoon and then go home to nap.

The new Estella's Revenge is online! Read, enjoy! We have an interview with Colleen Gleason, a review of her new book The Bleeding Dusk, not to mention a bunch of other fantabulous features, columns and reviews. This month's Door Prize giveaway book is The Outlander, by Gil Adamson.

I have "You Make My Day" awards to give out! Both Dewey and Heather nominated me, and I thank them so very much. Both of their blogs make every day more interesting, but I'll gush about them some more later.

It's a dank, rainy, nasty day here. The PERFECT day to snuggle up with a book, so I'm gonna do just that.

See ya Sunday for the Sunday Salon!
Images by Freepik