28 August 2008

The Real Deal

It seems that I will need to make a trip to Special Collections in the near future. The University of Iowa Special Collections division has possession of Iris Murdoch's manuscripts - wow. Coincidentally, my BNBC group is reading The Green Knight by Iris Murdoch (discussion starts Monday, September 1). What a coincidence, huh?

27 August 2008

...but I can listen to this!

The Princeton Review Vocabulary Minute! Hilarious! A funny minute or so of an original song created to help improve vocabulary. I somehow managed to "get all" from iTunes and I've been listening to them this evening. Some are OK but some are really funny, like "America the Pulchritudinous."

I can't listen to that...

I just listened to five minutes of the Guardian UK's Digested Reads podcast which consisted of a reading from The Shack, which is a religious novel that is selling incredibly well based on word-of-mouth publicity.

All I can say is that I couldn't listen to the rest of the reading. Awful, awful writing. I would rather just read the Bible straight.

25 August 2008

Secretary and The Green Knight

Having been in my possession the longest out of all the Netflix DVDs, I did finally sit down and finish out Secretary. Amazingly enough, my parents rented this one before I even saw it - I wonder if Mom even watched it because this is so far out of her comfort zone....Dad only said it was wierd.

Secretary is an amazing adaptation of a short story by Mary Gaitskill (in her collection Bad Behavior). I was really worried about 20 minutes from the end that the tables were going to turn and it was going to have some hokey, Lee-decides-to-dominate-Mr. Grey-type of ending. I thought the movie was really well crafted up to that point, beautiful set decoration, a nice guitar-and-trap-set score, and that really great scene with the worm...and other things following that scene. But it didn't get hokey and the ending turned out to be a really beautiful scene of love and acceptance. A really great film to watch and reminded me also of that stray line from CSI, one of the scenes with Lady Heather: the submissive is the one who has the power.

Then I finished out Disc 1 of Slings and Arrows Season One...I'm just going to have to buy the complete set now. I wasn't too sure during the first episode, there were a lot of characters and I was having trouble keeping track of who related to whom, like I'd missed an episode. I got the premise right about the time Oliver "wakes up" in front of Geoffrey at the funeral home. By the time Geoffrey turned up at Ellen's with his "second" to duel Darren, I was sold. When the actors are doing "bad" Shakespeare they're really good at it and when they're doing "good" Shakespeare (i.e. when the accounting guy give the "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow" speech from Macbeth) it is wonderful.

The Green Knight will start up on Labor Day for my BNBC group. This is one of Iris Murdoch's last novels and since I've never read a Murdoch before I'm coming at this one with few preconceived thoughts. I finished the first section "Ideal Children" and it isn't very long but I'm not getting a sense of where the novel is going. We've been introduced to all the main characters, except Lucas, so I'm hoping that this was a set-up section and then we'll get into the main action.

Current book-in-progress: Back to The Green Knight since that's going to start up soon
Current knitted item: Second pair of booties, surprise project, and that pretty top (I'm going to the IHC Node Conference tomorrow; since I'm only going to be busy for about two hours, I might have to cast on a sock....)
Current movie obsession: Slings and Arrows (I pulled the rest of the discs out of my Netflix queue because I'm just going to buy the whole thing on DVD); next up in the queue is Withnail and I, Penelope (finally!!), and Velvet Goldmine (yes, confession again, I haven't seen this...I was a deprived college student)
Current iTunes loop: Wait, wait! Don't Tell Me

24 August 2008

Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?

So, yeah, confession: I've never watched Donnie Darko.

This is apparently a major gaffe in my cinema education. It's not that I never wanted to see the film, I justnever had the chance. I had some strange friends (at least in undergrad) who thought that The Mask and Adam Sandler movies were the height of cinematic brilliance.

Through the awesomeness that is Netflix I obtained Donnie Darko right about the same time that Conclave started in July. Due to an insane work schedule and the Olympics, I didn't get toDD until today. (NB: Because of the time difference the US men'sbasketball final didn't start until 1:30 am local time - right now the US is beating up on Spain) I now understand why certain friends often say "Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?"

I really like how the filmmaker gets into what makes Donnie tick. The final hypnosis scene where he sees Frank in the therapist's office was so good. Wow. Did anyone also wonder if Donnie took the revolver with him everywhere after he found it-even to school? I had to wonder after the car accident scene (also, great parallel with the movie theatre scene where Donnie and Frank talk across the top of a sleeping Gretchen's head).

I also liked how the 1988 presidential elections backdrop" the end of the world" paranoia (Bush/ Quayle vs-Dukakis/???) as well as other 80s references. "Notorious" was a great surprise cultural reference as was Star Search. I was pleasantly surprised at how beautifully filmed this is - I was for some reason expecting that area to be lacking and I was so pleased that the opening shots were so gorgeous.

Evil, hypocritical, religious-right gym teacher, LOVE! Also, other great quote, "my brother told her to shove a book up her ass and my parents bought him all this new shit."

Only one question: because "time-travel" concept allows the climax of the movie to loop back to the beginning of the movie (albeit different outcome) what is the story arc supposed to be? I'm voting an extended hallucination, based on Donnie's hopes and wishes but I could be completely wrong. Now, if only I could get The Secretary finished (I'm not really feeling like watching an S&M movie, but the two leads are really good).

23 August 2008


Why is it that when a teenager complains to me that he/she has read all the Twilight books (and is now bored) that I feel compelled to tell them to read The Magus? Really, this goes for any teenager who reads crappy genre series and snobbishly thinks there is nothing left for them to read. The Magus would at least keep them busy...

20 August 2008

At least someone has a brain...

This is why I like the University of Iowa President Sally Mason (the link will open a PDF file). I was thinking pretty much the exact same thing yesterday when the Amythest Initiative broke the news. Actually, my office-mate and I had a discussion and had the same opinion: lowering the legal drinking age is not the smartest idea because binge drinkers drink to get wasted, not because it's illegal.

19 August 2008


I had a Monday yesterday. For example, I got a parking ticket ten minutes after I put fifteen minutes of money in the meter. How does that stuff happen?

I think people suck. This is nothing new for me, but right now I think one person sucks on an entirely different level. The problem is that I'm not sure who this person is, except that he/she has done something way wrong (i.e. illegal) and I really dislike whoever he/she is right now. He/she will not be a happy camper when I'm finished (and I'm really leaning toward this sucky person being a "he" right now, based on said illegal activity).

I think Tim Daggett is not very bright. He keeps mentioning that Shawn Johnson's coach, Liang Chow, once coached gymnastics at an Iowa university before opening his own gym. Great, but there's one problem. Tim keeps saying the university is Iowa State - wrong! Chow coached at the University of Iowa which makes him a Hawkeye not a Cyclone. Get the facts right. Grrrr.

However - WAY TO GO SHAWN!!!!!! That's how we do things in Iowa. Number 1!!!

Current book-in-progress: The Time-Traveler's Wife, The Gargoyle (which is really, really good, I was surprised), How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken, and Feather Man
Current knitted item: seams...but I started a pretty top for myself
Current movie obsession: The Olympics are on! GO USA!
Current iTunes loop: Filmspotting

12 August 2008

Oh, Bela...

You have to love Bela Karolyi. He gets so excited watching a routine (he also can be a twerp when one goes wrong, but anywhoo). He had me in stitches with his commentary on the women's gymnastics final because he kept going after the age of the Chinese gymnasts. He can't let it go and I tend to agree with him. Only one member of the Chinese team actually looks her age and she's twenty; the rest look like they barely scrape fourteen. Either Chinese women mature very late or someone is seriously trying to cheat the system.

I also agree with Bela on another point: even if these teens are younger than sixteen, they can do the job and they do it very well. What those women do is amazingly hard and I know first-hand how hard you have to push the body to get to Olympic-level gymnastics. My parents made me quit gymnastics at eleven because they were worried that my kamikaze mindset would get my neck broken. I was heart-broken at the time but I now realize they were right; I would do anything asked of me at 110%, no fear. I might not have made it to the Olympics, but I might have contended for a college scholarship....but at what cost to my body? By the time I quit, I had separated my shoulder practicing backflips on the beam - I never told my parents because I was told never to show pain, all at the age of ten. Guess what body part hurts now? I had also knocked myself out because I slipped off the springboard during a vaulting session. Didn't tell anyone about that, either (Mom probably had some idea what was going on because I'm exactly like my Dad).

So I went full-tilt into dancing, go figure.

11 August 2008

Do I play video games?

Nerdy teen (carrying a copy of Game Development for Teens) asked me, "What features would you like to see in a video game?"

My reply: "Perhaps you should ask me whether or not I play video games."

Nerdy teen: "Oh....do you play video games?" (hopefully, sort of like Pooh asking if there's any more honey)

My reply: "No. I read books." (Note: I'm working in a bookstore, debating over translators with that rare customer who actually cares about the Homer translation.)

Nerdy teen: "You should, they're fun." WTF? I don't even own a video game system, let alone any PC games other than Myst. I gave him the I-hope-your-eyeballs-rot-out-of-your-head-if-you-don't-leave-me-alone glare so he slunk off toward manga. And for the record, that kid reads the worst manga possible. Like the graphically violent toward women kind. Yuck.

In other news, I am glued to the television because the Olympics are on. I watch sports during the Olympics that I never usually do in real life. Swimming? Never had friends on the swim team, but I'll watch every race they show during the Olymipcs. Track? Usually had to work during meets. I think it's just the opportunity to watch the best atheletes in the world push the limits of the human body. You can't look away.

Oh, and during the composition of this post the US men's gymnastics team just blew everyone away on high bar. Awesome.

Current book-in-progress: Seven Basic Plots (shuddup)
Current knitted item: need to seam first pair of booties; I also started a surprise for a friend, but I have to make one for me first (new pattern, looks like it might need some tweaking)
Current movie obsession: what movies? The Olympics are on! GO USA!
Current iTunes loop: John Mayer

06 August 2008

Huh...this looks good.

I know I said I needed to go on a book-purchasing diet, but I found a new book I want (sheesh, just listen to me).

Can you ever forgive me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger

The memoirs of a woman, Lee Israel, who successfully forged letters - from the likes of Dorothy Parker, Noel Coward, and Lillian Hellman - and sold them through dealers. She made a mint until she got caught.

This doesn't sound like gas...

The Gazette finally had a notice about the mall evacuation this morning (about 12 hours after the problem started). The Press-Citizen as well.

R-22? That's not natural gas, that's a refrigerant and security was really not in the loop. The Press-Citizen article also mentions that at 9pm emergency services expected to be on the scene only for another hour. Huh? We were evacuated from the other end of the mall around 9:30pm but then the paper doesn't mention that, either.

05 August 2008

Does anyone smell rotten eggs?

I didn't but that didn't mean the store wasn't going to smell like natural gas later...(I did give a quick chemistry lesson about why natural gas smells like rotten eggs).

Turns out the mall had a gas leak - at about 6:30pm. I knew this because my bus got passed by the fire chief, the Haz-mat truck, two police cars, and a fire engine. They all pulled up at the ice rink/movie theatre entrance to the mall - when I heard "gas leak" I assumed that there was a problem with the coolant system for the ice rink.

So I walked around the outside of the mall to get to Barnes because I didn't want to try and dodge all the firemen (who were all really cute, by the way - is that a job requirement?). Turns out, no one from the ice rink end of the mall had told anyone at the Barnes end of the mall that there was a gas leak. Brilliant. Life as normal at the Barnes end then.

So around 9:30pm, after the mall has closed (we close at 10pm), mall security showed up and told the new girl we had to evacuate the store. Poor girl's only worked two shifts for us. So I got the manager and we talked to security - emergency services was worried they were no longer able to contain the leak so the mall would need to be evacuated.

We made short work of that order. We had the store cleared of customers in five minutes and had the store locked up in another fifteen. We didn't get it cleaned all the way (sorry guys) but we did get everything locked down for the night. We could have stayed until the leak was taken care of, but since that looked to be about a four-hour wait, we all elected to go home.

When we left, two ladies who had been in our cafe were still having their conversation while standing by their cars. Weird.

A quick bit about Breaking Dawn: a fellow bookseller let drop a tiny spoiler (which I will not repeat here) and now I can't wait to finish the book. Bad news is that I can't stay up all night reading because I have this insane 70-hour workweek this week. Waaaaahhhh!

Current book-in-progress: Rebecca, The Green Knight, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Feather Man, and well....someone stop me!
Current knitted item: Second bootie is about half done
Current movie obsession: Slings and Arrows season 1
Current iTunes loop: John Mayer and Sigur Ros

03 August 2008


Birthday. Blah.

My family is claiming me for most of the day. Mom's going to feed me and that's always a good thing.

My birthday present to myself is on backorder (stupid Best Buy).

I really can't get into Breaking Dawn. I tore through the other three but this one's a wild card and I'm having trouble staying interested. I finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - a really fun book. A fellow bookseller described it as a cross between Mrs. Miniver and 84 Charing Cross Road. I agree. (However, I need to go on a book-buying diet. I'm starting to look like a bulemic).

Current book-in-progress: Rebecca and The Green Knight
Current knitted item: One bootie down, three to go.
Current movie obsession: Donnie Darko
Current iTunes loop: The Scarlet Pimpernel