Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Prayer for a broken blog

My blog is broken. The individual pages show up okay, but the main page only has the sidebars and no main body. Why? Please oh blog gods, magically fix this with no effort whatsoever on my part. Thank you.

Buncha books - issue 7

Before we get into this post, I want to say that FINALLY my new motherboard arrived and my husband put it in, but now in true husband fashion, he is deciding whether or not to also, while he has the computer open on the workbench, install some fancy tape drive, a decision which, if the past is any indicator, could delay my getting to use my computer for another two weeks or so. My husband suffers from a lack of decision making ability. But YAY it's here, so SOMETIME in the not too distant future I will once again have access to my photos, which I will IMMEDIATELY back up to another computer, and I will be able to post my November, December and first part of January synopses.

Moving on...

I need to pump out some of these "Buncha books" posts so that I can pack up the already read piles on my bedroom floor and put them in my attic to be brought out again when my dream of an in-home library becomes a reality, which could possibly be when one or more of my children move out and I take over a bedroom (or two) for that purpose. So to that end, at some point in the last six months or so I read A Disorder Peculiar to the Country by Ken Kalfus. This novel has a very interesting premise: A husband and wife have reached a point in their marriage where they truly despise one another. Enter the 9/11 tragedy. The husband is heading to a meeting in the World Trade Center (WTC) and the wife is heading to Newark to catch a flight. Planes hit the WTC. The wife thinks her husband was at a meeting there, but he ran late and wasn't there when the planes hit. The husband thinks his wife is on one of the hijacked planes that crashed, but something had happened at work that made the trip unnecessary, so she didn't go. Both of them rejoice in the other's demise, but then they arrive home to bitter disappointment that the other has not perished after all. And it goes from there. I was disappointed in this book. With such an potentially awesome premise, I felt that it fell flat. I did enjoy the dark bitter humor interspersed throughout, and there were some scenes that made me laugh aloud, but overall I just thought it was okay. So I award it 3 1/2 picklebottoms.

There are a few of you wondering which camp I'll join when it comes to The Road by Cormac McCarthey. Because I am a rock star and my opinion MATTERS. Will I stand with lonely Shauna who loves it (by the way, Shauna, when I was reading it, everyone I ran into loved it, so you have that) or will I join the swelling ranks of haters? Well, when it comes to The Road, I'm middle of it. The Road. Get it? *collective groan* OK, lame. I'm the master of lame jokes. If they can even be called jokes, which I'm thinking is a stretch on this one, so let's pretend it never happened and move on. This novel was about a man and his son, who are traveling south on foot in a post-apocalyptic time, scavenging for food and clothing items and trying to avoid other people who may or may not pose a threat. Amazingly, the boy seems to maintain his childlike innocence and idealism throughout, even when faced with the grimmest of lives, though there are a few glimpses into the fact that, like most children, he knows more about what's going on than one would assume from his words and actions. I thought the book was stark and gray. Everything in it was stark and gray. Reading it made me feel stark and gray. Desolate. And yet, the fact that McCarthy was able to convey that grayness in the simple language he used was impressive. It took me about a third of the book to get into it, but then I liked it. I didn't LOVE it, but I'm firmly in the liked it pretty well camp. The ending felt unsatisfactory to me, but I don't think a satisfactory ending would have been true to the novel. Basically, I was left with an "okay, but NOW what?" kind of feeling, which I think may have been the point. Or one of them, anyway. So Shauna, while I don't quite get all the hype surrounding this book, I am leaning more toward your camp than the haters'. I thought it was a good and compelling book. 4 picklebottoms.

Third Degree by Greg Iles takes place over the span of a single day. Laurel Shields' awakens to find that her husband had apparently stayed up all night desperately looking for something. She then discovers she is pregnant, but is it her husband's child or that of the man with whom an affair had recently ended? When she decides to leave work early, she arrives home to find her husband is still there. The nightmare begins. I enjoyed this book. The main characters were all too human in that their actions would lead one to question their morality, yet one could also see why they made the poor decisions they did, making them all sympathetic to the reader. There really wasn't a good-guy, bad-guy thing going on here, just a human thing, where everyone was both good and bad and had to reconcile those parts of themselves while dealing with the fallout from the bad. Overall a good, edge-of-your-seat read. 4 picklebottoms.

The Serial Killers Club by Jeff Povey has what I think is a great premise: a support group slash club for serial killers. A problem, of course, is screening members. The club solves this by allowing members through invite only, publishing the invitations in personal ads. Unfortunately, one day a man is attacked and, in the process of defending himself, kills his attacker, who turns out to be a serial killer known as Grandson-of-Barney and who has one of the personal ads in his wallet. The man takes over the identity of his would-be killer and joins the serial killers club. A detective figures out what is going on and between the two of them they hatch a plot to eliminate the serial killers. It all sounds good, right? Like it would be a good read, right? WRONG. All of the characters are despicable with not a single redeeming quality between them. I don't know why I even finished the book, but I did. What a waste of my time. Don't bother. 2 picklebottoms, and it only got those because I managed to finish it.

Next by Michael Crichton posed a problem for me before I even read it: it came in multiple color schemes. Which to choose, which to choose... I ended up with lime green with purple lettering. Basically this novel centers on genetic research and experimentation and what is morally acceptable versus what may or may not actually be done. There is a bird that helps a boy with his homework and multi-lingual talking monkeys. There is a potential cure for addictions and overall juvenile behavior. I have always enjoyed genetics and so I usually enjoy novels with genetic experimentation as a component. This was no exception. I enjoyed it. BUT, I enjoyed other Crichton books much more, so compared to his own work, I thought this was sub-par. Overall, though, it was good. 4 picklebottoms.

I have fairly recently discovered Nelson DeMille as an author I really enjoy. I currently have two of his novels awaiting review, so I will cover Plum Island today. Plum Island is an island off the coast of New York state that houses a federal research facility dedicated to the study of animal diseases in the same way that the CDC in Atlanta is dedicated to the study of human diseases. When two of the island's scientists, a husband and wife, are killed, detective John Corey abandons his lazy days of recuperation at his uncle's beach house to try to solve the murders. Surely, the crime is linked to the island and the couple's research. Or is it? I continue to enjoy the lovable rogue that is John Corey, particularly his sense of humor, so this novel was a pleasure to read. Nelson DeMille is quickly becoming an author for whom I scan the bargain tables at my local bookstores (which is where I get most of my books) and the library sales (where I got two bags full of books this past weekend for $8.50). 4 picklebottoms.

Lastly in this issue of Buncha Books is T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton. I have followed the heroine, Kinsey Millhone, from her first adventure in "A" is for Alibi, and have really enjoyed all of the novels. I think I could be Kinsey Millhone, since I have her fashion sense and hairstyle, or her complete lack of both those things. Also, we are the same age and I'm damn good with a pistol. Or was last time I shot one, which has been at least 15 years or so ago, so you might want to get behind me if I ever try to shoot one again. You know, just sayin'. Anyway, this novel involves one of Kinsey's neighbors, a crotchety old man who falls and needs companion care. Kinsey tracks down the man's daughter, who finds someone and asks Kinsey to do a quick background check. The woman seems to pass muster and is hired. Kinsey takes an immediate dislike to the woman and feels that she is mistreating the old man, for which Kinsey feels responsible, since she cleared the woman for hiring. So she begins to investigate more deeply and uncovers some interesting and disturbing information. This book was on par with the rest of the alphabet mysteries, meaning I enjoyed it and it earns 4 picklebottoms.

The rating system can be found here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hey kids, rock 'n' roll

I am WAY behind in my reader (somehow I've slacked off to the point of over 300 posts to read) and I'm working on the next issue of "Buncha books," hopefully to be done by Wednesday or Thursday, and I HAVE to move all my to-be-read piles of books and clean out underneath my bed because A NEW BED IS BEING DELIVERED TOMORROW (!!!!!), so today I am re-posting one of my favorite meme posts from my old blog (the blog which shall not be named, I think I will start calling it the Voldemort blog). I'm also thinking of making this one a note in my Facebook account just because I LIKE it. But only if I can include pictures in a note - does anyone know if that's possible? - since that is a big part of the meme. Also only if links can be included in a note. Anyway... *time warp music and wavy lines*

When I was in high school, some friends and I started a garage band. We called it "Luddan," because our lead singer, Jonny, and drummer, Mark, were brothers, that was their last name, it sounded like a cool band name and it was their garage we jammed in. I was the bass player and also sang back-up. Occasionally, I took the lead singing role, when we wanted the lead vocals to be sung by a female. I also occasionally played the guitar. We had kind of a hard-edge, alternative rock sound. We became very popular locally and started playing school dances, weddings and bar- and bat-mitzvahs. Our fans had even taken on a name for themselves, much like Jimmy Buffett's Parrotheads. Our loyal fans called themselves Luddanites.

By the time we all went to college, we were playing gigs at local venues every weekend and getting some radio playtime on the rock stations that sometimes featured music by local artists. Luckily we had all ended up going to various schools right around where we grew up in Charleston, SC, so we didn't have to break up the band at what we thought was the height of its success. We decided to book some studio time and put together an album to sell at our gigs and in the local music shops. We were so thankful for our apparent success, that we called the title track "Thanksgiving to the Gods."

That's my Weimaraner on the album cover. His name was Mr. Bojangles.

Luddan caught it's big break one day when a record executive was in Charleston for some sort of convention and heard one of our songs on the radio. He contacted us to sign for his label. Unfortunately, the day before the contracts were to be finalized and signed, the band's lead singer ate some Mentos and then (this was before anyone knew any better) drank a Coke. His stomach ruptured, and the stomach acid ate him from the inside out. The rest of us just couldn't continue after that tragic end to our lead singer, and the band broke up.

About a year later, I decided to use some of my old contacts around town to see if I could book some local gigs as a solo artist. On my own, I had adopted a more mellow sound, much like Joni Mitchell. It better suited my personality as a solo artist. An old hippie friend of mine came up with my stage name, "Zephyr Teachout." I became sought out for local gigs, and went back to the studio where Luddan had made its one and only album, and made what I hoped would be my debut solo album, to be followed by many more. I had written a song after Jonny Luddan had died, using words from his will, in which he stated that his friends were his estate. I found that quite moving, and decided that that song would be the title track for my debut album. I dedicated the album to Jonny.

I became an overnight success. My independent little album took the nation by storm, and then the world. Record companies were banging down my door to sign me, and movie producers were begging me to write songs for their films. It became overwhelming. Though I had hoped to produce multiple albums, the side effects of fame, especially the unrelenting hounding of the paparazzi, became too much to handle. I went into seclusion for about two years. Long enough for the public to forget the name Zephyr Teachout.

Upon my quiet and unannounced reemergence back into the real world, I decided that I loved making music too much to give it up entirely. Being in a band was more my speed, since public scrutiny would then be divided amongst the band's members. I contacted a couple of my old Luddan bandmates, and we put together a new band called Hazelhead Station. Our sound this time was something akin to Bob Dylan, By this point, we were all in our late 20s to early 30s, we had started families and other careers and were making music on the side. Once again, local success followed us, and we were in high demand in the clubs around town. We played many nights of the week and every weekend. The rest of the weekends we slept. Our families and jobs suffered. We decided to put together one last album with the original songs we had played but never recorded. We also wrote one last song to use as the title track, and titled it, appropriately, "Know When You're Finished." We knew, and we were.

None of the above is actually true. This is, in fact, a really cool album cover meme I saw over on Chicky Chicky Baby. The rules are:

1. The first title on this page is the name of your band.

2. The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album. Click the "New Random Quotations" button for more.

3. The third picture on this page will be your album cover. You then take the photo and add your band name and the album title to it, then post your picture. Please don't forget to give credit.

I'm not going to tag anyone. But do it if you want to, it's a lot of fun.

*Cover Art credits: The photo for the first album cover was taken by Luara :D, the second cover was taken by gi varga and the third album cover photo was taken by BigFrank.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More randomness

  • This is my shirt:

    Why don't people believe me?

  • A bad thing about having 5 females with long amazing hair, okay 4 females with long amazing hair and me with thin flat hair, in the house is how often the drains get clogged. Also how fast that little spinning brush thingy in the vacuum cleaner stops working because there is so much hair wrapped around it. Okay, TWO bad things.

  • My husband attended a catered meeting at work and brought home a big container of chicken salad that no one had eaten because there was too much other stuff. I packed some for Meg's lunch today. Then, I was spooning some out for myself and found a BAND-AID that looked like it had been wrapped around someone's finger. GROSS!!! And EWWWWWW!!! And DISGUSTING!!! I had to email the teacher in whose room Meg eats lunch to tell her to throw her lunch away. I also called my husband to tell him to tell whoever hired the caterer to never use them again. I'm still gagging. I don't think I'll ever eat chicken salad again. And damn it, I LIKE chicken salad. Or used to anyway.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Lots of unrelated things, in bulleted form:

  • There was a two-way tie for which book I should read next, so they will be the next two books I read. I'd type the titles out and link them to Amazon and all that crap, except I don't feel like it today.

  • Jess won the giveaway. Jess, I don't know what to do about sending the book, since you're getting ready to get in your car and drive cross-country to move to an as-yet-unknown address. I guess email me your new address when you get one; it'll take me that long to get around to packing and sending it anyway, just ask any of my previous winners. :)

  • My grandmother passed away Sunday night. I found out yesterday morning. I told my kids last night. Beth took the news the hardest. It wasn't until I saw how upset she was that it finally got through to me. I am SO SO glad we went to visit in November.

  • I've got to start doing The Shred again. I was doing really great and had gotten amazingly strong and then came January 2009, the month of the plague. Now that we're finally all feeling better, I can't get motivated enough to drag myself out of bed early.

  • I figured out the song that I wanted to remember but couldn't was "The Way" by Fastball. There's another one with a deep voice talking something about the city and being rich and pretty. What is it? I can hear the voice in my head but not exactly what it's saying. That last sentence makes me sound insane.

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's that time again

I don't like when this happens on a weekend, since so many of you only do the blog thing during the week, but there's just no help for it. I finished Third Degree by Greg Iles, so it is time for you to select what you think I should read next. Since it is the weekend, I will leave the poll up through Monday night so those of you who are solely weekday bloggers can vote and thus enter the BONUS giveaway. Yes, once again, I have more than one copy of a book.

I had to re-stack my three to-be-read towers of books, since they were about to topple, and while doing so, I discovered that I had a brand-new hardcover copy of the book I had just finished, Third Degree by Greg Iles. Sorry, you don't get that one. But you CAN win the slightly used paperback copy that I just finished. It really is like new; I'm very easy on books. So go vote over on the right for the book you think I should read next and leave me a comment if you want to be entered in the giveaway. I'll let you know the winner on Tuesday. The randomly selected books from which to choose this time are:

The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari,

The Wish List by Eoin Colfer,

The Hunt Club by John Lescroart,

Four to Score by Janet Evanovich and

The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan.

While I am waiting for the results, I am going to read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I know a lot of you DESPISED, HATED and LOATHED that book; Shelly's review is here. Because of that, I had pretty much decided not to bother with it. But then Shauna said she LOVED it, and because she seems to like some of the same stuff I do, I began to think that maybe I would like it too, despite the fact that Tess also likes some of the same stuff I do, and she was one of the ones who DESPISED, HATED and LOATHED it. Then when a single copy of it appeared on a shelf in front of me on sale and I flipped through it to see that it didn't look like a book that would take an eon to get through, which if it were horrible would render it unfinishable, I went ahead and bought it. So since it may never win a vote (unless it does so on the merits of misery loves company), I'll go ahead and read it over this weekend while I wait for your votes.

Do you ever...

... consider committing a crime so you can go to jail, because hey, free vacation? Clarification: whatever type of crime sends you to one of those "country club" prisons, of course.

... consider faking insanity and committing yourself to the loony bin, because again, free vacation? Plus BONUS: good drugs.

... wonder if perhaps you're not faking on the insane thing, when you consider the things you consider?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Things that make you go hmmmmm....

Dog: The Bounty Hunter. Last night as I was getting ready for bed, I flipped on the TV so I could turn off the light and still move around the room without tripping over the *ahem* Christmas boxes that I have yet to put into the attic. There was apparently some sort of Dog: The Bounty Hunter marathon going on. I have to tell you, that show is strangely addicting. I promise that if you ever stumble across it you will be mesmerized by that bounty hunting family. They are pure eye candy. I don't mean like decadent melt-in-your-mouth chocolate, I mean like Sour Patch Kids. Even though you want to stop, you just CAN'T. They are too much fun to look at. Also, how could you not love a man who looks like that, screams mothereffer as he arrests people and then tries to get them to let Jesus into their hearts as they travel to jail? How, I ask you?

Photo credit: Got Dog's picture here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


My house needs some attention, and Amy has decided that every waking moment must be spent velcroed to my side, so here is just a little filler so you know I'm still around.

Kid conversation #1:

Beth (holding her medicine bottle): How do you open this?

Me: You don't. It's kid-proof.

Beth: How does it know I'm a kid?

Kid conversation #2:

Me (walking in a room to find Amy licking the mirrored closet doors): Hey! Don't lick the mirror. We don't lick mirrors.

Amy (as I turn around to leave after she stops licking the mirror): Mommy! Lick the mirror with me!

Me: [facepalm]