Friday, August 31, 2012

Shout Out: Where the Wild Things Are

Unless you had incredibly sensitive, alarmist parents or care providers growing up, I'm pretty sure it was impossible to get through childhood without reading (or being read) Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.

Sendak died in May 2012, which lead to a flurry of online postings and remembrances of the rather edgy results of his interviews. He was gruff and sarcastic, and often lacked a filter. 

His interviews with Stephen Colbert in "Grim Colberty's Tales" are a wonderful example, as is this Buzzfeed compilation of his 20 greatest quotes - including: "Fuck them is what I say. I hate those e-books. They cannot be the future. They may well be. I will be dead. I won't give a shit." Bet'cha didn't expect that from a children's author. 

Perhaps my favorite mashup of Sendak's books and beliefs comes from a reading of Where the Wild Things Are by Christopher Walken (or a very talented impersonator). 

Because we all know Sendak would agree that kids are jerks. And that Max character could use a psychological profile. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Words: ODO addition

Today I read about the latest additions to the Oxford Dictionaries Online, including "lolz"and "soul patch" and a "new sense" of the word "vote" (interesting in an election year... more on that later). When I first heard about this, I complained specifically about the new word "ridic" because it's just a shortened version of ridiculous. The counter argument from my new-word informant was that "memo" was just a shortened version of memorandum, and the only person who still used memorandums just died (Helen Gurley Brown). And then I realized I really do enjoy using "legit" instead of legitimate. But still... who would ever write "ridic?" It just looks ridiculous.

Answer: Stephen King.

"But that was ridic, as the kids said."

hardcover edition, page 330

Monday, August 20, 2012

Moving on from .edu

I recently inherited some motivation - something I was severely lacking most of this year, really until I revamped this blog. But this last week really kicked it into high gear: I started an online book club (fingers crossed that we get it together!) and I am attempting to read The Hobbit in order to join yet another book club that a friend of mine is starting here in Des Moines. But the true testament to my new stimulus is this:

While home over the weekend for my grandma's 91st birthday, I felt compelled to pick up these boxes. They contain a few books and 90% of my notes, research, papers, tests, and other odds and ends from my lifetime of English classes. Seriously, a few things from Heelan, a couple binders from Drake, and a whole box of Tech stuff.

What I've learned is that, even after English majors graduate, it's hard to let it all go--especially after a stint in grad school, even an admittedly a short one. It's hard not to think that maybe I'll need these notes again, that maybe some day I'll have the opportunity to continue research or publish an article, or even that maybe one day I'll want my old tests for teaching my own courses. Basically, it's hard to give up on something you invested so much time, effort, emotion (and money!) into making happen.

When I graduated from Drake, I knew I was going to grad school someday, so I kept everything. Leaving Tech was hurried, and I had mixed feelings, so when I left I boxed up everything English and smacked a big ol' [SUX] on about four boxes, to indicate that those things needn't follow me to Des Moines. Over a year later, I'm ready to peak back at the world I left do a little selective notebook tossing and book selling. I mean, realistically, the notes I took on the math-equation-book-explanations that I can't even remember the name of, are never going to be useful ever again. And, well, I only need so many (zero) books by Jerome McGann.

Although, I do have one entirely open shelf in one of my bookcases... and bibliography was kind of interesting... maybe I can justify A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In the Works

I stopped by the library today and both of the books I had requested were there. This was unexpected-- I didn't plan for either of them to be available for a couple weeks, at least.
But all 1,542 pages were waiting for me.

Game of Thrones and 11/22/63 ... it's on. I bought my multi-colored sticky notes and I'm ready to try reading two beasts of burden at once.

But don't worry! I'll try to post in the meantime. Book club last week has me rarin' to recap, and there is a backlog of books I can revamp and repost from the previous blog setup.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How to Archer: The Ultimate Guide to Espionage and Style And Women and Also Cocktails Ever Written, Sterling Archer (2011)

All I can say is that this book is fabulously written in Archer's voice. And if you love the FX show Archer, then the book is worth reading. The selections below are my favorite. They showcase Archer's style, his perpetual fabrication of words and phrases, and his random uses of pop culture references.

Guy's hilarious. Enjoy. Danger Zone!

But just when the pirates got within grappling-hook range ... bam! Out comes the ol' Jolly Roger, and then the pirates would spend the rest of the afternoon raping the woolen pants off everybody. 10

For a while I tried getting people to say spechnology (a clever portmanteau of "spy" and "technology"), but I couldn't get anybody to get on board for the big win. 27

These locations are normally patrolled by two or more giant and ferocious Rottweilers, which I must incapacitate using "hush puppies" (a combination of knockout drops and bacon)... 30

*38 ... will then provide me with the intelligence I need to keep you safe at home in your cheap, metal-framed bed, in which you're probably lying, right now, waiting for Green Acres to come on so you can masturbate to Ralph. 30

While technically a garment, the Tactleneck(r)---an even cleverer portmanteau of "tactical" and "turtleneck"--is an indispensable piece of equipment, and one without which I would never consider embarking on a mission. [...] And after the mission, I just throw a smart blazer over it and I'm ready for a night on the town. 32

You get to your place just as Big Blowzy does, and before you know it, all three of you are covered in champagne and grape-seed oil and feathers, and blasting form your stereo--at that very moment--is no other than Bell Biv DeVoe's "Poison."
And then you die. 44

For reasons unbeknownst to me, an inordinate amount of international espionage is centered around casinos. I would like to believe it's because secret agents ... live incredibly exciting lives [...] But the truth is, it's much more likely because the type of person who is attracted to a career in the clandestine services to begin with--slightly arrogant, somewhat shallow, hypersexual high-functioning alcoholics with incredibly addictive personalites--is really just there for the glamorous ambience, the top-shelf booze, and the world-class hookers. 47-48

However, I think I've also made it pretty clear that I don't like to invite comparison to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. 81
(He is actually referring to James Bond, not Voldermort.)

Gummi Roy: 5 gummi bears, 2 ounces scotch. 79

Pisco Sour: Not to sound like a dick, but except for Paddington Bear (who is totally awesome!!!) Peru has never had much going for it. I mean, even the gruff-yet-loveable Paddington got out of there on the first train he could hop. 87

But instead of a tasteful rendering of a handsome man introducing a beautiful woman to the subtle melange of complex emotions and intense physical pleasure which is anal sex, I get a gingerbread centaur shitting out a soccer ball. 145

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shout Out: Reading Rainbow

I really loved reading as a kid. This included the nighttime ritual of reading with my dad and sponsored reading competitions/challenges (BookIt! Hit the Books!) when I was older, and story time at the local library and "Reading Rainbow" when I was too young to read.

I also grew up only listening to "oldies" music--60s & 70s--thanks to my parents. (And I do mean thanks. I entered the pop music scene just as MMMBop and Spice Up Your Life peaked. I'm sure there was plenty that came before then that I'm glad I missed.)

Those two childhood staples combine in this post-worthy Jimmy Fallon skit: The Doors Sing "Reading Rainbow." God, I love Goodnight Moon.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Art of Fielding, Chard Harbach (2011)

The Art of Fielding is the book my coworker used to explain his "500 list" theory that I talked about in my first revamp post. And his selection was exemplary indeed.

This is the first book in a while that I haven't been able to put down, that I've said, "I want to just go home and read!" when I've been discontent at work. Like my coworker, I can't tell you exactly what had me so hooked or so compelled to keep reading... but I liked it.

The story is about college life and a baseball team and people connected to the team. The appreciated aspect of this obvious setup is that baseball isn't some gross metaphor for life. Well, I am sure that you could easily create a thesis around that idea and this book, but you don't have to, and that's part of the beauty of it. The characters aren't real--I don't really see myself aligning with any of them or their amazing circumstances (super genius, super athlete, super mentor, super gay). But there are parts of all of them--moments and thoughts and ideas and actions--that when combined, feel almost inanely natural and easy and personal. The characters are complex, so complex that by the time I finished the book and went back to gather my quotes, I had already forgotten some of the details of their histories. But I'm not sure that's negative, just a result of how much you learn and experience in 500 pages.

Spoiler alert: Before I round out this post with some passages, I wanted to talk about the book broadly. That includes the ending, so be warned.