A couple months ago, we got Netflix. The first movie to pop up as a suggestion for me was Escape from Alcatraz. It made me feel special that Netflix tA couple months ago, we got Netflix. The first movie to pop up as a suggestion for me was Escape from Alcatraz. It made me feel special that Netflix thought a prison film would be a good way for me to get initiated into Netflix. Awwww. So I watched it. I liked Escape from Alcatraz when I was a child and I liked it again as an adult.
If you have Netflix, you know what happened next. "Because you watched Escape from Alcatraz, you might like Orange is the New Black." I gave it a try and while I do think:
(1) the acting is incredible, (2) it's cool how the prisoners are always reading, and (3) the story-lines are incredible, I also have to say:
THE OVER-THE-TOP SEX SCENES ARE TOO MUCH!
Everyone already knows about prison sex/gay-for-the-stay/prison rape. We don't need to see it in detail. Well, maybe you do, but I don't. As a feminist, I can't believe the terrific actors have to show so much to stay on the show. Suggest it, don't show it. Gad.
I'm done. Moving on:
I decided to read the book instead.
Aside from the fact that the author repeats (and repeats) how she is blonde, white, rich, family-supported, popular, and educated approximately a gazillion times throughout the book, I thought this was a very thought-provoking, important and feminist book about being accountable,introspective, vulnerable, and human. (Your background IS important, just stop repeating it. Your name is Piper Kerman and your fiance's name is Larry. There are certain things we can tell just by that.)
I enjoyed this book very much. I was reminded about times I have felt like I was in prison. It struck a strange chord in me to see how she used reading and running to cope with her anxiety. That got me to thinking about coping mechanisms and how we tap into them and/or develop them over time.
Many things about this book got me to thinking: the problem of overcrowded prisons, solitary confinement, chickenshit correctional officers, Eminemlettes, drugs, sanitary napkins, unfair prison sentences, shots, overmedicating, people who shout into P.A. systems, support systems, and, of course, accountability.
I learned at the end of the book that "Nora" has written one, too. I read a sample from her memoir and that is probably all I will read. I think I liked the fact that this book opened up a dialogue about prison more than it told me a personal story. I know it's a memoir, but I care more about the problems of prison than one person.
I also appreciate the fact that there are many resources in the back of the book for learning more about prison and prison programs.
All in all, a good read, Goodreads.
Signed, I Hope if I am in Prison, My Number Spells Something Cool
Really, there isn't anything in my life that doesn't at least sometimes need a "turnaround", so I found this book to be inspirational on levels profesReally, there isn't anything in my life that doesn't at least sometimes need a "turnaround", so I found this book to be inspirational on levels professional and personal. My reasons for reading it, however, were professional, and I learned a great deal about truly serving the arts.
This is the second of four books I am reading on this subject. ...more
I know you already understand the basic 5-7-5 concept of haiku, but I promise you this delightful book delves way beyond counting syllables. It has chI know you already understand the basic 5-7-5 concept of haiku, but I promise you this delightful book delves way beyond counting syllables. It has changed the way I write as well as read, and I think it will do that for you, too. Not only does it shed insight into the beauty and technique of Haiku (for nature) and Senryu (for humor), but it has guided me to become more bright and concise with ALL forms of my writing.
For years I have felt that writing economically was equal to conveying messages in a curt, somewhat snotty way. I have died a little bit each time I have written economically and I have been turned off by someone else's brevity more than once. Never again. It is my hope to incorporate the concepts of Haiku and Senryu in everything I write and read from now on.
Signed, Writing is the Blue Sky and Reading is the Clouds...more
Wow. Let's nerd out together on this one, shall we. It's...just...ahhhhhhh. Fonts!!!!! Fonty fonterrific fontabulous fonts!
No. I won't calm down. CanWow. Let's nerd out together on this one, shall we. It's...just...ahhhhhhh. Fonts!!!!! Fonty fonterrific fontabulous fonts!
No. I won't calm down. Can't.
Even though I know I've always loved selecting a good font, I've never truly understood why. Turns out your fonts reveal insight into your history, your psychology, your training/education, and your ability to adapt to change. Fascinating stuff!
This book goes way beyond mocking people who use Comic Sans Serif (a practice I disagree with, by the way.) This book sheds insight into why it's called Comic Sans Serif in the first place. I never understood why fonts have such technical names to them. Turns out they aren't tech terms at all. Font language is historical language.
Fonts and printmaking are directly linked to the Renaissance. Punchcutters of the 1500s and 1600s worked very hard to eliminate frilliness. Baroque designers experimented very carefully with different angles and slopes. In the late 1700s and 1800s, type styles became "modern" and/or "Romantic" and are still labeled as such even though they have been around for over 200 years. Don't get me started about the slab serif fonts of Egypt!
As you can imagine, I'm glossing over the detail because there is too much to share in a tiny review. It is enjoyable to read this book because the author shares his process every step of the way. He even discusses the money-making factors of certain fonts. I LOVE WHEN ARTISTS SHARE THEIR PROCESSES!
This book opened my eyes to understanding the nuances and history of every stroke of every letter. It's incredibly satisfying to learn about typography. I have a brand new awareness of glyph terminology and new appreciation for class characteristics. For instance, "lachrymal" is a class characterization about the tear-drop shaped endings on curved portions of letters like A, C, R, G, and so on. Can you picture it? Does it make your heart melt just a little bit? If so, I promise you that you will enjoy this book. It will change how you read and write.
This review was written in a hurry and really doesn't do the book justice. It's a book about learning and discovering, so I do think you will enjoy it. But if you don't read it, at least do a little research into your favorite fonts because you will probably learn something interesting about yourself and your family.
Grabbed this off the shelf thinking it was tips about publishing and possibly self-publishing. Honestly, I didn't really want to read a self-help bookGrabbed this off the shelf thinking it was tips about publishing and possibly self-publishing. Honestly, I didn't really want to read a self-help book about either, but figured "I should". Not to worry though because (yaye!) I was wrong. This isn't a book of annoying tips. This is a writer's memoir about a brilliant, experienced, resolute, and hilarious novelist.
Not impressed? She's a Ph. D, has won all sorts of awards (and I'm not talking about being "nominated for a Pushcart"), and has worked with many of the biggest names in publishing. But really, it's her sense of humor that won me over. She's FUNNY. And her metaphors are sublime. And her vocabulary is stunning. Annnd, she was born in 1937. My parents were born in 1937 so reading her memoir and comparing it against my parent's timeline was enlightening and proved to be a great way to fortify what I (think I) know about history. This includes, but is not limited to the Cuban Missile Crisis, perceptions of Norman Mailer, Iowa City, writing techniques, and more.
Though this isn't a book of tips and advice, it is filled with wisdom and insight into the upscale literary world. Her experience figuring out if an editor is sincere versus egotistical is strengthening. Her skills of "filing away" what she learned from bad reviews are remarkable. Her ability to think about fighting or submitting to editors and publishers is intriguing, especially in the case of The Red Nun. Her perception of authors who love versus hate social media (Twitter, blogs,etc.) is fascinating. Ditto for her take on public speaking. When she writes about why some authors "brand" themselves, it's interesting. How she copes when the people she trusts most die is important as is how she carries the enthusiasm of a positive person's reaction to her work. Also loved her take on handlers/escorts. It's all so good, please read it. If you are a literature and/or journalism "nerd", I am confident you will love this.
Looking forward to reading some of Godwin's novels and revisiting this memoir so I can fully understand the references.
Brilliant, enlightening poetry that should be read out loud, but is also a deep pleasure to read in silence. Hayes's poetry is creatively formatted anBrilliant, enlightening poetry that should be read out loud, but is also a deep pleasure to read in silence. Hayes's poetry is creatively formatted and his word play is a forceful and mighty. Hayes is a master of homonyms; his usage is never corny, but stunning and unique. Should I list examples? Should I cite some references? Should I take a leap of faith and just hope you find this on your own?
Okay. A few moments that stand out: James Brown Format of poem of "thief" His aunt, the carpenter Humming makes you mysterious Going in different directions to get to the same place wardrobe of clan numbers inside of numbers pianos Vladimir
Honestly, there are at least one hundred excellent moments in this collection. Please, just read it.
Looking forward to reading more by Terrance Hayes.
Beautifully, poetically written story that provides outstanding historical detail about The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the Midwest, and FranklinBeautifully, poetically written story that provides outstanding historical detail about The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the Midwest, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The fictitious elements to the story are outstanding as well. Each chapter is written as a poem, set to a particular month in the year 1934 or 1935. The narrator of the story is poetess/pianist Billie Jo, a smart, hard-working fourteen-year-old girl. This takes place during the dust bowl, so her life is not easy. In fact, she suffers the following:
loneliness (she is an only child and her friend moves away) dead mother dead baby brother dreadful burns on hands from fire inability to play piano for some time silent father dust storms/no farming running away merciless teasing about her burns
But she also overcomes. And the rain comes back. And her resentment goes away. And her father starts talking again. And they start farming again. And they celebrate Thanksgiving. In a word: RELIEF.
This review makes it sound pat, but it's not. It's an enriching, resonating read. My kids read it with me in the beginning, but we all finished on our own.
Signed, You Will Feel Thirsty When You Read This Book...more
A good book, but I am tired of reading Newberry books about children lost in the wilderness with their trusty animal sidekicks. That said, yes, this iA good book, but I am tired of reading Newberry books about children lost in the wilderness with their trusty animal sidekicks. That said, yes, this is a good book. Interesting insight into child marriage and the Alaskan Wilderness.
I read this at times with the oldest three kids, but had to finish it by myself because they finished ahead of me.
Signed, Maybe I'm Just Bitter That I Never Had My Own Wild Pet Whose Name Ends In A Cute "oo" Sound Yeah That's It I Wish I Had A Wild Boar Named Pigoo. ...more
This is a joyful and enriching story about homelessness and racism. Spinelli wrote the story's hero perfectly. I cannot remember a time I have adoredThis is a joyful and enriching story about homelessness and racism. Spinelli wrote the story's hero perfectly. I cannot remember a time I have adored a protagonist as much as I adore Maniac. Maniac is a talented runner and reader who happens to be a homeless orphan. He makes friends and enemies wherever he goes and, most importantly, fights stereotypes, sexism, and racism every step of the way. I think that setting his home in the buffalo pen at the zoo was brilliant and the kids and I really could picture every scene in this story. Maniac McGee is a hilarious, image-driven, social issue-based novel. Reading it aloud with the kids was a hoot because we would either burst into laughter or discuss the issues (racism, sexism, literacy, homlessness, etc.) along the way. This is a very inspiring novel and I hope you read it, too.
Dreadfully boring, yet I still feel on some base level that it's important for me to read books of this ilk. Cameron is a successful woman and she isDreadfully boring, yet I still feel on some base level that it's important for me to read books of this ilk. Cameron is a successful woman and she is influential. Proof: the kids and I have been doing our morning pages long enough now that it's routine. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there were indeed a few nice moments. Her mother, for instance, encouraged her to "murder her darlings". I do love that. (It's advice for writers who have trouble letting go of their words, their "darlings.") But Cameron's creative life is different than my creative life, and it was nearly impossible for me to relate to a single moment. And no, I don't read to identify with every word or even every chapter, but I do like to be engaged and challenged by the author. That just didn't happen for me this time. So...two stars. It was "okay".
Signed, Maybe if it was True Tails of Inspiration Would I Have Been Engaged ...more
I've been pretty open about this, so I apologize if you already know this, but a week or so ago, I was sitting in the audience of a dance performanceI've been pretty open about this, so I apologize if you already know this, but a week or so ago, I was sitting in the audience of a dance performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Two of my kids danced in it. It was a great experience for each of my kids, Jesse and myself. We all have different reasons. After the student matinee, the artistic director came out and talked to the young audience. He shared many insights, but what stood out the most for me was the fact that he said, "Every morning when I wake up, I think about art."
But then I realized that I have been resenting waking up in the morning for many years. What's that all about? When and why did I learn that ridiculous behavior. Am I that lazy, that unhappy, that unenlightened that I have to s-t-r-u-g-g-l-e to get my ass out of bed every single morning? I decided to do a little investigating. My investigating has led me to a few interesting tools, this book being one of those interesting tools.
I read this book before I read The Artist's Way. I will read The Artist's Way when I get a copy of it. I actually intended to read it first, but it wasn't at Barnes and Noble, and they don't have a copy at my library. I requested a copy and that usually takes a couple weeks. If I don't get one in a couple weeks, I'll have to order online, something I loathe doing. Anyway...moving on...
I enjoyed reading this. I shared many chapters with my kids. We have started a new morning routine because of this book. We work on morning pages, morning sentences, or morning paintings. I have been paying attention to the way the kids wake up and have been learning all sorts of things about their personalities that I have basically been too self absorbed in my "not being a morning person" to notice.
This book is annoying the way all parenting books are annoying, but I recommend it anyway. My kids seem to appreciate that I read it because I kept checking in with them about it along the way. They seemed to like reading chapters out loud with me and participating in the "quizzes" along the way.
So...if you are in the mood to investigate your morning humanity and your overall creativity, I recommend this book. For me, discovering a "bad habit" I have is actually quite fun and inspiring and this book is helping me get in touch with my inner morning person although it is possible I will come down with a bad case of morningpagitis if I am not careful.
Signed, Rise and Shine. For Realz. Let's Try This.
Incredibly empowering story about Nel and Sula, two girls who grow up during the first part of the 20th century. This book is not about friendship, thIncredibly empowering story about Nel and Sula, two girls who grow up during the first part of the 20th century. This book is not about friendship, though. It is about finding out what is dark and powerful inside yourself, be it evil or loneliness or something else we're not supposed to admit we have. I honestly wish this reading experience on all women. Some would be too chicken to admit there is so much truth in it, but I still wish they would read it. There is so much to enjoy, it's almost unfair to the other book writers out there.
If you need more of a synopsis, here:
Nel and Sula are friends. Nel and Sula killed a Chicken. (Not really. Some will know what that means.) Nel's mom hated creativity. Sula's mom hated not getting laid. Shadrack initiated a Suicide Day, January 3. Three kids named dewey. A plague of robins. Self-amputation I'm me. I'm me. Me. Traveling is hard, but it changes a person. Ice Fire Choking Heroin War Racism River Trees Bottom Valleys Peace on gravestones-no first names
Maybe that's not enough of a synopsis, but it's enough for me to look at later and remember what I learned from this excellent novel.
This is so well-written that you will not skim over a single letter, let alone a word. The chapters are titled by the year, so it is a great way to gain historical perspective.
I read this from my Kindle, which was great, but today, Joce and I went to the library to get the real thing. I suspected the format of the poetry wasI read this from my Kindle, which was great, but today, Joce and I went to the library to get the real thing. I suspected the format of the poetry was messed up in electronic format, and I wanted to know for myself and the kids what the poems looked like in their pristine forms. The librarian offered to help us and said she remembers reading Sandburg in school when she was a kid, which was probably forty or so years ago. She mentioned remembering "the fog coming in on little cat feet." Both Joce and I instantly knew exactly what poem (Fog) she was talking about. I find shared moments like this both miraculous and heartening.
Listing my favorite poems of his is silly, because they are all good, but I'm going to list anyway because it will help me remember certain details further down the road. So here goes.
Our favorite poems, besides "Chicago", are:
The Telephone Wire (wires carry the secrets of war and love) The People (history repeating itself "I forget") The Government (corruption) The Skyscraper (souls everywhere) Iron (the line about shovels being the brother to guns) The Old Woman (homeless, sleeping in a doorway) A Sphinx (eyes open, mouth shut)
It was neat to read a body of his work and see certain themes and images repeated, e.g., painted women, war, unions, workers, the land, the buildings, the streets, big shoulders/small shoulders, blood/drops, red juice, fog, seas, prairies, etc..)
It will be a several more weeks before we all get to see Chicago again. I love this time of year, but miss our frequent trips into the city very much. I turned to Sandburg's poetry to stave off my cabin fever. It seems to have worked, at least for now.
This is a very funny, very thoroughly written story of an impulsive middle-school boy named Donovan who, through kinetic error and mischief, finds himThis is a very funny, very thoroughly written story of an impulsive middle-school boy named Donovan who, through kinetic error and mischief, finds himself attending the school for the Gifted kids. It takes place in 2012 and involves war, pregnancy, robotics, cheating, competition, loyalty, school politics, abandonment issues, shame, family research (compliments of ancestry.com), and a little something my husband loves to talk about: causation & correlation. It's a fast read, but it is also quite deep. I'm sure there are those who would argue that the characters are written in a flat way, but who has time to listen to that? This story is FULL and the characters will make you laugh and possibly cry.
The chapters aren't numbered. Instead, each chapter narrated from a different character who is somehow associated with Donovan. The chapters list the narrators name, their IQ, and is titled UN-something. For instance, chapter one is UNEARTHED/Donovan Curtis/IQ: 112. That means Donovan narrates this chapter, his IQ is 112, and the chapter is this antithesis of things that are "earthed". The chapters revolve around several characters, the main ones being: Donovan-the antihero of the story Dr. Schultz-superintendent Chloe-gifted and supportive of Donovan Katie (much older pregnant sister of Donovan) Noah-extremely gifted Abigail-very gifted
There are several ancillary characters. The Daniels, Deirdre, Donovan's parents, Beatrice the chow chow, Mr. Osbourne (Oz), Ms. Bevelaqua, Brad (Katie's husband who is a captain in the Marine Corps currently stationed in Afghanistan, and more. Each character, whether we hear from them or not, is so well-written that I never forgot who was who. This is a challenge I face with every book, but not this time.
However, I did get confused. Page 175. The chapter is: UNFORGIVABLE/Ms. Bevelaqua/IQ: 140. In the beginning paragraph of this chapter, Ms. Bevelaqua states, "It makes perfect sense that a class with a teacher named Oz would call their robot Tin Man. The parallel to The Wizard of Oz doesn't stop there. In the famous story, the Tin Man lacks a brain; what he gets instead is a diploma."
I thought that it was the Scarecrow who lacked a brain. What am I missing here? I've seen the movie, directed the play, and read the book. In all three, the Scarecrow lacked the brain. Tin Man lacked the heart. I kept thinking I'd figure out what this chapter was all about as I read the book, but I didn't. I must have forgotten something about the Tin Man somewhere/sometime.
Anyway, I read this with the kids, which was, as it always is, a lot of fun.
I appreciate so much when authors write honestly, when they don't hide from themselves, when they write knowing they won't be always be loved, liked,I appreciate so much when authors write honestly, when they don't hide from themselves, when they write knowing they won't be always be loved, liked, respected, or understood. To me, that is Anne Lamott.
This is only the third book of hers that I have read, so I am hardly an expert on her writing, but I am a fan.
Do you know who she is? I'll try to describe her. Lamott is in her sixties now. She has dreadlocks and lives in San Francisco area. Her only child, a son named Sam, is an adult. Her relationships are more about community than one-on-one intimacy. She is a recovering addict, which never seems to feel like more than a detail or a blip on the radar to me. She is Christian, and works hard at her faith. She loves babies, nature, democrats, lemony smells, and good baking. She mentions Pammy, Rumi, and the fact that she was an early reader repeatedly in her writing. She has lost all sorts of wonderful friends and family along the way, and writes about coming to terms with all of that.
Something I have missed. For some reason, I thought she had a closer, more loving relationship with her parents. I thought I remembered reading in one of her books about being a happy child surrounded with lots of books and intelligent conversation. I was surprised to read in this book that she had so many issues with them, particularly her mother. It was difficult for me to read the chapters about how much she despised her mother. I felt that Lamott was being cruel, actually.
But that is what I also like about Lamott's writing. She writes what she is feeling and thinking, but not impulsively. She writes about the details she couldn't and can't stand. That is honest writing, and while it is unpleasant to be a part of, I wouldn't have it any other way. It makes me think and wonder.
I recently met a writer who told me he wasn't afraid of anything. Such a statement rubs me the wrong way. I wanted to get away from him as quickly as possible. I don't want to be around people who think fear is something to conquer. I want to be around writers who honor their fear, and don't hide from it. I don't think writers have any business not being scared.
I really needed this book. Her writing makes me laugh and weep and think. She doesn't exactly embrace life's perfections, but she doesn't hide from them either. I look forward to reading more from her in the future, but I do wish she'd cool it on all the Rumi references.
Terribly corny, too much name-dropping, and painfully slow-paced. There were very few surprises and it simply was not insightful or risky enough for mTerribly corny, too much name-dropping, and painfully slow-paced. There were very few surprises and it simply was not insightful or risky enough for me. It's written more like a timeline than a novel, except timelines are far more instructive than this silly, sappy, suspense-less story.
I should have quit reading it at page 100 (the usual amount of pages I give a book before I give up), but I read so many rave reviews about "Madame Picasso", I thought I was missing something. Also, the book is the perfect size for reading. A little more than 400 pages. I can hold it in my hands and carry it around with me with ease. It's hard for me to give up on a book that physically fits. But, ...I...this just wasn't for me.
There are things I liked about it, though. Here:
I liked how it triggered in me memories of being in my twenties and thirties when I was forming friendships with artists and actors and other passionate people. Beautiful, long-lasting bonds. As annoying and self-centered as the twenties can be, they are also great time of intellectual intimacy, shared wonders, survival, the development of a critical eye, increased awareness, and much more.
But I was hoping to read about the memories of the cool cats, not myself. I read this book in hopes of gaining detailed insight into the friendships and relationships of Eva Gouel, Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob, Apollinaire, the Moulin Rouge, Gertrude Stein, Alice Toklas, Henri Matisse. I wanted to learn more about the fashion, monkeys as pets, the Moulin Rouge, and more, but found there to be depressing lack of specificity around the characters, events, and landmarks. I also thought I would get more of an idea about the inspiration behind some of Picasso's paintings, but I didn't.
One more thing. The best writing in the book is the poem "War, Illness, Redemption" by Guillaume Apollinaire. In fact, the poem is in the book twice. Why couldn't the author write her own damn poem?
I'm done. I always write too much when I feel guilty and angry for not adoring something I devoted several hours to.
I had the blues, so I grabbed the nearest celebrity autobiography to cheer myself up. It kind of worked. It kind of made things worse.
While this is aI had the blues, so I grabbed the nearest celebrity autobiography to cheer myself up. It kind of worked. It kind of made things worse.
While this is a nice, easy, fast read, it is a bit annoying, too. Here is why:
She complains about how hard writing a book is several times throughout the book.
Her writing just isn't that insightful, either. She has a hard time sleeping. So what. Going through her divorce was a hard. So what. She likes Tina Fey so much. So what. She smoked marijuana. So what. She prides herself on being bossy. So what.
So what, so what, so what.
This just wasn't a very enriching reading experience. When will I learn that celebrity autobiographies never are? (Never.)
Several months ago, I was watching Chicago public television and saw a program in which John Green was interviewed in a car while being driven aroundSeveral months ago, I was watching Chicago public television and saw a program in which John Green was interviewed in a car while being driven around his old Chicago neighborhood. (I really love that interviewing technique, by the way.) Something he said struck my heart, and my mind, and I have thought about it every day since I heard it. See, the interviewer asked him a question about how he (Green) copes and coped with his depression. (Green has depression.) The interviewer asked if he "used" his depression to write, as so many writers (claim to) do. Green said something along the lines of, and I'm sorry, I have to paraphrase her, but he said something like, "It wasn't until I got my depression under control that I could write."
I had never heard anyone admit that before.
I had to know what his writing was like. And now I know, at least from this book, that his writing is so very good.
It's very clear, very well-paced, very in control of simultaneous emotional and philosophical arcs. Just the right amount of detail here and the perfect amount of comedic relief there. Allegory, poetry, Shakespeare, Magritte, Kierkegaard. It's all in there. And most characters woven together by the fact that they are all excellent writers, and gosh darnit, they all have such a good, dry wit about them! And there is love, all sorts of love, tucked in the literal heart of Jesus love, sweeping in at a funeral love, smothering, uplifting, confusing, honest, dishonest love. In short, this is a perfect novel.
But I am an old woman and I hate perfect. And even though I loved this book, I didn't lrrrv it. I prefer a messier, less-perfect novel. A story less organized. A story that isn't so precisely linked to the year it takes place. A story that I can lrrrv forever.
Still, five stars. I tried to read a few passages here and there to my kids, but couldn't. Instant sobs every time.
Can something be interesting and soulless at the same time? I think so. That's what this book is to me. But I won't soon forget the name Guy Kawasaki,Can something be interesting and soulless at the same time? I think so. That's what this book is to me. But I won't soon forget the name Guy Kawasaki, so there is that.
Several weeks ago, I saw the Divine Miss M on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. She sang a cover of "Waterfalls" and I just loved it. She actually sSeveral weeks ago, I saw the Divine Miss M on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. She sang a cover of "Waterfalls" and I just loved it. She actually sang without Fallon butting in, which was a welcome relief. (I've grown tired of his "co-performances" with everyone who appears on his show.)
Anyway, back to Bette. Like I said, I loved her performance. The next few days, I would Google her albums and play them while cooking dinner. I loved her music, but hated the ads. So annoying. I knew what I had to do.
I did a little online research of her new "It's The Girls" album and decided it was time to think about p-u-r-c-h-a-s-i-n-g it. Mind you, I doubt that I have bought more than a total of ten records, tapes or CDs in my entire life. Here is what I remember purchasing:
In the 1980's: (Record Albums) Eurthymics, Stray Cats, Culture Club Blue Oyster Cult (tape) Salt-n-Pepa (tape)
In the 1990's: (CD's) Soundtrack to The Godfather, LL Cool J, Jimmy Hendrix
In early 2000's: Eminem, Soundtrack to Lost in Translation
Maybe there were more, but I can't remember. I have checked out most of my music from the library. Anyway, after discussing it with Jesse, God, and my conscious, I decided it would be okay to buy the CD and I'm so glad I did. It's beautiful.
Naturally, the album made me curious about her, so I checked out this autobiography. She actually wrote it in the 1980's, but has recently updated it.
It's okay. Not as specific as I had hoped. One might say she has a very broad writing style. I enjoyed it, but it left me not needing to read her writing ever again. But listen to her sing or watch her perform or see her in a film? Yes, yes, and more yes.
Signed, This is the Last Time I Swear I Read a Celebrity Autobiography
These poems, like all of Bukowski's poems that I have read, are each so remarkably relevant and timeless. How he did it, I'll never know. I wrote someThese poems, like all of Bukowski's poems that I have read, are each so remarkably relevant and timeless. How he did it, I'll never know. I wrote something a week ago, and it is already stale and dated and stupid. His work is depressing, disturbing, hilarious, and inspirational.
Read this collection and read deeply about:
alcohol, cats, $3 whores, wives, soldiers, bullies, visitors, pools, computers, bars, nights, owls, phones, aging, 1985, horse racing tracks, classical music, face lifts, writing, rejection, buggy divertissments, and more.
I really did get a sense of his values in this collection, more so than I have before. Makes me feel lucky and special.
Signed, Return to Bukowski
P.S. Bukowski was born in 1920 and died in 1994. ...more
I read this with the kids and it was a pleasure to do so.
There is something about it that confuses me, though, and that is that is the fact that I acI read this with the kids and it was a pleasure to do so.
There is something about it that confuses me, though, and that is that is the fact that I actually couldn't relate to a single character (ghosts included) or event. I mean, shouldn't I? Shouldn't everyone?
I think the imagery is wonderful, and I loved (through reading) going to London in the 19th century, but I don't know how it became such a defining story. A Christmas Carol is so finely woven into our culture that it is impossible to escape it.
If you like vulgar, whiny rants and think you are the only enlightened person in the world who has to work in customer service, you will probably enjoIf you like vulgar, whiny rants and think you are the only enlightened person in the world who has to work in customer service, you will probably enjoy this. I did not.
I thought this would enrich me the way "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich and "Gig; Americans Talk about Their Jobs" did. It did not.
Walking on Air takes place in 1931, during the depths of the Great Depression. June narrates. She is a 12 year old down-to-earth girl who can walk onWalking on Air takes place in 1931, during the depths of the Great Depression. June narrates. She is a 12 year old down-to-earth girl who can walk on tightropes and quote the Scripture like some kind of spiritual savant.
Alfred, her pa, is an extreme preacher. You know the kind: supremely stubborn and obsessed with saving souls. He's a book banner, child slapping sexist. He is as ineffective at saving souls as he is at saving money.
Pa moves June and her Ma from state to state, making new enemies at every turn. They, with the mysteriously loyal (and literally silent) business partner, Rhett, set up a mission in every town, but they never gain any momentum or respect. Rhett, abandons the family many times. He always comes back, though. The mystery about his voice and his gypsy-like behavior is solved in the end.
In the beginning, Pa used to make Ma sing as the "entertainment" portion of the service. He did this because it "inspired" people to give more money. When he realized her singing wasn't enough to make people empty their pockets, he somehow taught his daughter to walk on a tightrope. (Pa, himself, never walks the wire.) She is very good at it and her Pa then exploits her talent for profit. Eventually, Pa ends up in a Detroit jail for about five months. He emerges from prison angrier and more determined than ever, but as the family moves to their next mission, he starts to soften, as much as a jerk can soften.
June isn't all that passionate about walking the wire. She is skilled at it, and can do flips and all sorts of "tricks", but her heart isn't in it. She spends more time thinking and wondering about human behavior, religion, spirituality, and bible stories than obsessing about her next step.
As June contemplates the aforementioned, the Great Depression continues. She is living in extreme poverty and eventually ends up in an orphanage. Eventually, mysteries are solved and families are reunited. I enjoyed reading this with the kids, but the story is just so tidy and clear and cleanly detailed, that I never truly got a sense of the Great Depression.
I am not sure how this story about religion, faith, poverty, traveling, art, and family lacks soul, but it does.
And the cover is corny.
But I love that the author explored the idea of a young girl who can walk a tightrope, but doesn't seem that interested in her ability. I can think of many who have their talent be their shadow and not the other way around.
Had me a tinge of autumn-depression and Stephen King, like he always does, took me right out of it. I This book is a bit different from what I expecteHad me a tinge of autumn-depression and Stephen King, like he always does, took me right out of it. I This book is a bit different from what I expected, which I always appreciate, I loved reading this book about carny life in 1973 in New England. Tons of insight into the kind of person it takes to be a mascot (hint: you have to be a good person), summer jobs, and heartbreak. Devan Jones, the protagonist, is a very funny, very fine character and I am thankful that King went easy on me, the reader, this time and wrote more about melancholy, decisions, and regret more than absolute horror. ...more
Somebody placed this collection of love & sex poems in our Little Library. I am unable to resist reading any collection of poetry, so I read the wSomebody placed this collection of love & sex poems in our Little Library. I am unable to resist reading any collection of poetry, so I read the whole collection right away.
The poetry in this collection made me smile the way corny puns make me smile. The writer's raw talent is evident in each page, and there is no denying that the man had passion, but like I do with every corny pun, I felt the urge to groan after reading each poem.
The book was published in the 1970's when the author was in his early twenties. I remember my twenties and in doing so, fight the urge to groan.
The author dedicated this book to his "mommie". Weird. After the dedication, a sex poem. Double weird. He refers to sex as "balling" and mentions that while "balling has a quality all its own, it's not making love." Tell me you don't have the urge to groan.
After I read the poems, I Googled the author and learned that he went on to become a prolific published writer. Over 40 published books, actually. He became an very outspoken adovcate for the legalization of marijuana, eventually came out and, sadly, died eventually died of AIDS-related non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was outspoken about many topics, fancied himself enlightened enough to write self-help books, was a proud Libertarian, and, apparently, never lost his passion.
This collection of poetry just isn't that good, but I am glad I had the chance to read it. It made me think about "early works", the longevity of passion, and how much I've grown (groan) to loathe anyone who writes self-help books.
But I am glad I read it. Right?
It took me several days to write this review. Usually, I write these reviews moments after finishing the book, but this time something peculiar "lingered" in my brain. Had to think about it, I guess.
I was going through some books on my bookshelf and saw "After Magritte" by Tom Stoppard tucked in there. My heart skipped backwards a beat and my mindI was going through some books on my bookshelf and saw "After Magritte" by Tom Stoppard tucked in there. My heart skipped backwards a beat and my mind suddenly was 24 years old.
I read this play twenty years ago and had forgotten all about it. The moment I found it, I was transported to the same dusty, sunny apartment where I read so many plays. I shook myself out of my memory, which was really not a clear memory, more of a feeling, and told the kids I just found a short play about Rene Magritte and, "May I read it to you?" They answered, "Yes" or "Of course!"
A little background: We saw the Rene Magritte exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago twice this summer and Angie wants to go again. He requests it every week. It perplexes me, his request, because it's as complicated a request as it is sincere.
The play is about interpretation. Each character sees the same man on the street after they visited the Magritte exhibit at the Tate Gallery. Each character describes the man in a different way.
Reginald Harris is 40, his wife is a bit younger, and has her hair "expensively up." They live with, as Harris humorously puts it, "My wife's mother in law" who is a tuba playing grouch with a burnt foot. The set is simply surreal. A window upstage where all of the light comes in. A lamp hanging from the flies, counterbalanced by a bowl of fruit. An ironing board. A gramaphone. And then the PC come. PC = Police Constabulary. I honestly don't think I have to say much more. If you've read Stoppard, you get it.
Here are the interpretations of the man from the perspective of the husband and wife: Reginald: blind man, white beard, white walking cane, carrying a tortoise Thelma: man in pyjamas, carrying a football, one leg, shaving cream all over his face
There are other interpretations, and the play has a mysterious feel to it as well as a farcical one as well as that sense of drawing room comedy. So I choose in the quickly written review to just say this:
Stoppard is the master of stage directions. Always brilliant. There is much humor about blame, marriage, balance, and bullets (slugs) in this play. It is an old-fashioned play. The word nigger is used. The word Arab is used. Ditto for Pakistani. A telephone rings. Butter is used to put on a burn. Stuff like that that deserves discussion and interpretation beyond this tiny review written way too fast.
I loved reading this with the kids. It felt strange to read them a play I read to myself so many years ago. I put notes in the margin back then. It was peculiar to read out loud to them and have them ask the same questions I wrote in the margins in 1994.
We looked all that stuff after we read it and had a very intriguing couple of hours because of it. Thank you Tom Stoppard and Rene Magritte!
Miranda is 12. She lives with her mother in a nice-enough neighborhood in New York in 1979. She isn't super-popular or super-anything, but she is thouMiranda is 12. She lives with her mother in a nice-enough neighborhood in New York in 1979. She isn't super-popular or super-anything, but she is thoughtful and loyal. Here is what she has:
a red-headed mother who is to be a contestant on The $20,000 Pyramid,
a somewhat erstwhile friend named Sal,
other friends named Colin (kissing takes place with him), Anne Marie, Julia (to an extent), Marcus, and the Laughing Man or Marcus/Laughing Man,
a fascination with hair. Her brown hair, her mother's barettes and red hair, comparing people's intellligence to a "bag of hair", etc.,
a father figure named Richard (her mother's "perfect" boyfriend),
a job at Jimmy's deli,
ancillary relationships with others in the 'hood: Louisa, Belle, Jimmy,
Through these characters, Miranda tells a unique story of time travel, homelessness, mental illness, abandonment, privilege, young friendship, secrets, money, and Dick Clark. The author, Rebecca Stead, weaves the themes of time travel, agelessness, death and secrecy in very philosophically absolute and atomic ways. There are several references to A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle in this book.
This is a special, poignant mystery and I enjoyed reading it with the kids. Almost hate to admit it, but I would love to see this as a film, just to see New York City in the 1970's. Also, this left me jonesin' to watch The $20,000 Pyramid, start looking for things "underneath", and contemplating the complex nature of a simple key.
So yes: great book. We have four copies of it and it was fun to take turns reading it aloud. Some books, you just go crazy doing that. With this book, the chapters were the perfect length for young readers to take turns reading aloud.