Friday, October 31, 2008

October's book list

Since I don't think I'll finish that book on flower arranging today, here's the list of what I read this month. As always, library books are marked by asterisks. I love the library. It's so....free, except that I helped pay for it. I should start checking books that I actually enjoy. You'll see what I mean.

Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake. New York: Anchor, 2003.*
I love Atwood. She's a great writer. I thought I would take a break from her books that are typically written from a female perspective and go with something that had a funny name and seemed kind of science-fictionsque. And the central character was a man. And this was a good book, but it took me forever to finish. Too many flashbacks (even for her), too much buildup, and not enough...something. I almost bought this a couple of months ago, but I'm glad I checked it out instead. It was good, but it was just....not particularly riveting (despite tons of tense moments and Very Important Cues That Something Bad Will Happen/Happened) until more than 3/4ths through. Not cool.

Fforde, Jasper. Thursday Next in First Among Sequels. New York: Viking, 2007.*
The most ridiculous one yet. It can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on your patience. I'm losing mine.

Herbert, Frank. Heretics of Dune. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1984.*
At first, I thought I didn't 'get' the ending because I was tired and sick and whatever. No. I got it (and I went back and read the last 40 or 50 pages just to be sure), but it was stupid. I mean, really very stupid. I had considered reading the last 2 books of the series, which were actually written by Herbert's son using notes and drafts, but now I know I'm done.

Radosh, Daniel. Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture.
New York: Scribner, 2008.
This one was fun. At times it got a little smarmy, but I can see where that defense mechanism can kick in when one is surrounded by some of 'those people.' I would recommend that everyone read the book, even if it's just to read the mock interview with Stephen Baldwin. It's completely unfair and ridiculous and made me laugh till I cried and started coughing uncontrollably. Good stuff.

Setterfield, Diane. The Thirteenth Tale. New York: Washington, 2007.
Why do I love the British so much? There are plot twists and themes and dialogue that reads like the script for a Lifetime movie--but I promise the book is cooler than that. Probably because it's so unbearably British. We don't even quite know when the story takes place. There's also a whole lot of twin creepiness. Some of it's intentional and some of it's due to the fact that twins, like all familial relationships, can be very strange.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I can't find Dale Bailey!!!

I'm clearly not being called upon to do any work today. I was sifting through a list of scariest movies I've never seen on msn.com, and then I went over to salon.com and read an interview with Stephen King, and then because it's October and Halloween is tomorrow, I was thinking about horror movies and horror fiction and then I wondered:

"What's Dale Bailey up to these days?"

Let's go back a bit. In the fall semester of 2003, I took a course in American Gothic Literature, along with a whole bunch of people. It was pretty popular, and very few people dropped out. And we read tons of horror fiction. We read essays on horror. We read novels. We read anthologies. And one very special day, the teacher invited a friend of his from grad school to come and speak both in our class, and as part of some series on campus. The friend, whose novel, The Fallen, was required reading, was Dale Bailey.

He was friendly and personable and entertaining. We talked about Anne Rice, and Stephen King, and he told us about his own influences and some of the things in his work that had caused problems for him (theological uncertainties, issues with his dad, balancing writing with his teaching schedule) and things of that nature. Several girls in the class wanted to marry him. Some of those girls wanted to marry him very badly.

Anyway, that night he gave a reading in which we got to find out what he was working on at the time. It was an interesting draft, and it seemed strange that he would read that instead of something from his collection of short stories that had just been released. A couple of my friends bought that book. I was a little poor at the time, and just had him sign his novel that I read for the course. Later, some of us took pictures with him. Yes, little-known authors get star-struck fans, too.

So: back to today. Off to google I went, and there I found my first disconcerting piece of information. His website, which is still the first result you'll get if you google him, has not been updated since 2004. And I'll be honest, it's pretty self-promoting. I was a little put off by the tone. But at the same time, I can see where some of the cockiness might have come from. If you go back to 2002-2004, you will find reviews (in newspapers, blogs, amazon.com customer reviews even) in which people are tripping all over themselves to write [super adjective here] things about Dale Bailey. There was not a revered horror/fantasy writer to whom he could not be favorably compared. Only the best gushing, superlative-filled praise was good enough.

And then there's nothing. Or next to nothing. A story in a magazine here. A story in a collection there. A book he co-wrote in 2006. But ultimately nothing that would let me know what in the world the man was doing. No myspace. No facebook. No fanpages. No wikipedia entry!

Earlier this year, one of his stories was included in anthology of apocalyptic fiction. The story is "The End of the World as We Know It" and it's the draft that he read 5 years ago.

I think we all know what's happening here. Promising academician with an interest in mythology and literature steeped in the supernatural is on the cusp of greatness uncovers a terrible, long-lost secret, and either loses his mind or gets transported to a horrible alternate universe or Cthulhu pops out of nowhere and destroys him. Sometimes all three.

Think I'm wrong? Dig up something on him for me. It's really bothering me.

Here is a timeline for you:
June 1999: A revision of Bailey's doctoral thesis is published as American Nightmares: The Haunted House in American Popular Fiction

November 2002: The Fallen is published

November 2003: Dale Bailey visits the University of the Ozarks
The Resurrection Man's Legacy: And Other Stories is published

December 2003: House of Bones is released

June 2006: Sleeping Policeman (co-written with Jack Slay Jr.) is published

January 2008: "The End of the World as We Know It" is published in Wasteland: Stories of the Apocalypse

Present day:

(Photo stolen from www.summeroflovecraft.com)

Monday, October 27, 2008

This weekend and this week's plans

So, it's Monday and I don't know what to say. I had a lovely weekend, and had thought about writing a post about all of the funny things I heard and saw this weekend. But then I couldn't think of that many. Then I was thinking about how I really hoped that this week would be better than last week, and thought about writing a post about violence against women, or even violence in general. But I don't have the heart to look up the statistics or type it out, so I'm just going to ask that you be careful and if someone seems dangerous to cut that person out of your life completely. Know your surroundings, protect yourself, follow your instincts but be smart, and pray that nothing bad happens to you.

So I thought I'd just tell you about my weekend.

On Friday, we ate Chinese food and rented movies. It was a nice, low-key time.

On Saturday, we went to the farmer's market and bought some produce. We also ate at the restaurant and caught up on some family things. Then we went back home, ate a little, watched some TV on DVD, etc. I joined my mom and sisters at the mall and we had a nice girl afternoon. It was very hilarious and fun, even though we didn't do a lot of shopping. We had some nice discussions about underwear and shoes and purses and hair products and health and then we just gossiped and got loud and rowdy in a Starbucks. Good times all around. I'm also pretty sure that Mom was trying to avoid us in Target. It's okay, we found her. I even got to talk to Levi that night.

On Sunday, we overslept and got really confused because Cody's clock is weird and anyway....we went out to the house and ate chili and played with the dog and had a nice sit-down dinner with the family. Yay! We also watched the race, and helped Mom get rid of some things on the bookshelves and......I GOT ANOTHER BOOKCASE! It's 3 shelves, maybe 4' high, and we're going to paint it green and put it between our two chairs in the living room. I think it's going to hold cookbooks and comics. This is very exciting. Also exciting: looking through a couple of photo albums from the late '90s. We look different! I was about 5 pounds heavier than I am now. You wouldn't think that would make much of a difference, but it was apparently all in my face. Laine and Sara have really overcome a lot in the haircut department. Levi grew about 2 feet and gained 5 pounds. Craziness.

Here are my plans for this week:
  • Work
  • Pay student loan
  • Read some more books
  • Go to the library
  • Paint that bookcase, baby!
  • Make jam
  • Knit some more scarves
  • .......[This is stunned silence] I was going to say "Reorganize [something]" but I think I've done everything in the last couple of months
  • Clean out the silverware drawer. That'll work
  • Enjoy fall
  • Buy Halloween candy
  • Eat all the Halloween candy

I'm going to hold off on the film negatives filing project because I'm scared of it.

How are you?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Trip pictures!

Here are my pictures from my trip, all jumbled and out of order:

The ballroom where we had our lunch on Thursday.
I need this wallpaper.


Out by the shuttles at the airport.

Hotel room.

Amazing ceiling of the amazing lobby at the amazing hotel.

Kinsey was a big fan of downtown.

Her cousin, Patrick, might be a fan of everything.

Amazing hotel bathroom and amazing hotel bathrobe.

My station all day Thursday.
I took lots of notes.
There were lots of handouts.

The Capitol.
Kinsey's eating garnish in this picture.

This is when they were taking me back to my hotel.

Me on the last day.
I was sick, and ready to go home.
But I knew I would miss the robe.
And I still do.

Floors of the hotel.

Dome of the Capitol.

From inside the dome!

Higher up inside the dome.

The amazing lobby of the amazing hotel.
Fresh flowers every day.
High tea every afternoon.
I saw it one time: there were petit fours.



Yes, those are snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Capitol Books, a used bookstore.
I bought a book there.

The Tattered Cover, another bookstore downtown.

Did I mention it was a two-story bookstore?!
It was.
I really, really, really did not want to leave.

I forgot the name of this building.
We had our Friday morning sessions here.

Sorry about the poor quality of the pictures. Disposable cameras aren't too great at indoor picture-taking. And perhaps Patrick was right: maybe they are 'little kid' cameras. Okay, no camera probably would have been able to do the bookstores justice. But still. Good trip.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I still love Nickelback

I heard the new Nickelback song for the first time last week.

I had two reactions to it. The reactions were simultaneous. They were the same reactions I usually have to new Nickelback songs:

1. This is terrible!
2. I love it!

It's been nearly five years since I was first informed by people who care about this sort of thing that Nickelback is, in fact, horrible, wretched, and not really music. I knew people who didn't like them, but didn't think too very much about it. After all, sometimes you like a band and sometimes you don't, right? Right?

Wrong.

Or so I was told. It was September 2003. The Long Road was about to be released. I was incredibly excited. I was sharing my excitement with my friend and classmate, Kelly. (We were in the class Christianity and the Modern World. It was shortly before 1 p.m. Yes, the moment was that definitive.) My friends Jeff and Cody were sitting in front of us. They turned around. Cody asked if I was serious about looking forward to the new CD. I enthusiastically assured him that I was, and then probably said something about making a special trip to Wal-Mart the very day it came out.

Jeff made some kind of noise.

Cody made some kind of noise.

They both looked at me like I had just pooped on the floor.

No, really. That is the look you give someone when s/he poops on the floor and says, "Look what I did!" in a proud voice. Just trust me.

Having just broken up with a guy who'd spent the past two years telling me that Nickelback was the worst thing to ever happen to Canada, radio, and music, I wasn't too very concerned about their opinions until Jeff started acting like it was a character flaw.

So what if they're playing the same song over and over? So what if you don't like them? Are you really going to mention Bill Mallonee and the Vigilantes of Love again? I know my arguments weren't that great, but they were mine. And I generally don't apologize for liking what I like. Cody came to my defense, saying that one of their songs from the last album wasn't too bad (in retrospect, he might have been doing this because he liked me) and Jeff started to look like he was pretending to agree with him (in retrospect, it may have had something to do with the look Cody gave him because he liked me). Then class started.

In the years that followed, I still didn't apologize for liking the music I like. And I continued to buy every sucessively worse album and enjoy it. But I did start to feel a little embarrassed. And the sense of embarrassment would grow a little more with every song. Rhyming couplets? Really? And now Chad Kroeger's flat-ironing his hair? What? Why? And did you ever hear that second song he did with Santana? It had almost no words!

And today, now that I've had the chance to listen to their new song, "Gotta Be Somebody" at least 15 times (no, I'm not kidding. I really like listening to the same song over and over, even when it puts my well-being in peril), I am convinced of several things:

  • This single is a ridiculous pile of Canadian drivel
  • This single will sell bajillions of copies
  • The next time I make Cody a mix tape of mortifyingly sentimental and awful "love" songs, this single will be on it
  • This song makes me want to dance
  • The new album comes out November 18
  • I need this album
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go listen to the song a few more times. Just 2 or 3 times. I mean it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wasp Sting in Great Detail

This is my stung hand 24 hours after the fact.



This is what both of my hands usually look like.

This is a side-by-side comparison.

This is what things looked like by the time I got to the doctor.

I'm only slightly exaggerating. I wish I'd taken pictures, but I'm kind of glad I didn't. It looked a little monstrous.

Pictures of things

Look! Putt putt.
I don't know what's going on here,
but it looks very serious.


Cody.
He's having a blast.

We went to Starbucks afterwards.

Bennetts' backyard.

You know I love a good burn pile.

Deconstructing.

Twin high chair.
Their grandpa made it for them.

I got stung.
24 hours afterward.

This is what my hand usually looks like.

Side by side.

Cody is dark and brooding.

Purple potatoes.

And a shallot.

Apples and pears and my cute kitchen.


Cody at Vino's.
Please imagine death metal playing in the background.
Or maybe thrash metal.
I obviously don't know the difference.
The pizza was good.

It's Spencer, all blurry and stuff.

Bad.

Not so bad.

But see what happens when you use the flash?!
You see underwear.

Not so awful.
Yes, that one kid always wears a cape. No, I'm not sure why that kid in the green shirt is just sitting there. Yes, I did have a good time at the show. We even met one guy's grandma. No, she did not mosh.