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FINAL 2012 UPDATE EVERYBODY PANIC

WHAT UP 2012

I read 43 books during you. 44 if I stop looking at hilarious gifsets on Tumblr before midnight. But really. What're the chances THAT'S gonna happen. 40something books isn't a lot. But I was DOING shit. Like watching Xena.

28 of these books were by ladies. Nine were by gay ladies. Which is...actually less than I thought. GOOD JOB FAILING, SELF (I blame me not liking Jeanette Winterson).

Wilkie Collins was a relatively unknown man at the beginning of this year. Nor did I have a definite idea on how gross the ending of Grapes of Wrath is (so gross). I didn't know about the genius of Vampire Academy, or the fact that Rainbow Rowell can write anything and I will read it.

All I knew about Alison Bechdel was the Bechdel Test, I had no idea A.S. Byatt wrote anything I'd like other than Possession, I studiously ignored Agatha Christie, and John Stephens was but a random name to me rather than the author of the completely kickass Books of Beginning series. Oh, and

From the Closet to the Altar: It has statistics and I like those things

And as the sun sets on yet another year (you heard me), we take a moment to reflect. Only I've already done that, so let's talk about From the Closet to the Altar, because I have a lot of shit to say about it, and I'm nowhere near done reading it.

This is an ARC I got from NetGalley (they are fabulous people) that was published in October about the history/current state of gay marriage in America. The danger of writing something like this is, obviously, that your information's going to be outdated almost immediately. Since it was written, Obama came out in support of gay marriage; it passed by a popular vote for the first time; a constitutional amendment to ban it was voted down for the first time -- all in a single election (thank you, Washington, Maryland, Maine and Minnesota); and the Supreme Court has decided to hear challenges to DOMA. Illinois (repreSENT) is saying their lame duck session is going to pass gay marriage in the next week, and Delaware, Hawaii, New Je…

Christmas shall live forever in my heart, but Jingle Bells better leave my brain pretty damn quick

Merry post-Christmas, all. I have to work today. I'm not sure why. Pretty sure it's me and two accountants in the office. But this is good! It gives my day structure. Otherwise I'd sit at home, eating whatever food I could cobble together from my neglected fridge and watching Xena: Warrior Princess (SHE WAS FORGED IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE).

I finished The Night Watch, but I will talk about that LATER. Suffice it to say it's really good and you should read it. Unless you don't like the gay. But then you should read it anyway, because IT'S NOT GOIN' AWAY.
Christmas was semi-eventful, in that my little brother and I watched The Adventures of Huck Finn and I cried like four times ("Don't you cry for me, Mr Finn") and at our family party I ended up locking myself in the bathroom because family is crazy, amirite? Unlike the 20something girl who locks herself in the bathroom. She's juuuust fine.
The only two books I asked for were Breakfast of Champion…

Started out as Christmasy, ended up bein' about grammar

FOUR DAYS TIL CHRISTMAS.


My current plans are to finish The Night Watch at home, and then barrel through A Walk in the Woods and From the Closet to the Altar when I get back on the 26th. Five days, four of which will be spent with my parents, for they are coming up here AFTER I go downstate to visit them. I'm sure that'll work out fine and no one will be sick of anyone.
I started Eats, Shoots & Leaves because I'm a horrible person with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It's already hilarious, so that's a relief, and on the plus side, is about grammar.
I have some issues with grammar. The author (Lynne Truss) is very much on the side of overly zealous grammar snobs, but in a I'm-a-super-fun-person-don't-you-want-to-be-my-best-friend way (yes I do, Lynne). I didn't CARE about grammar until I took a zillion foreign languages in college for opera. I couldn't diagram a sentence at all and I never really listened to the rules in grade school/high school…

Year Wrap-Up Kinda (don't be too over-awed by my wholehearted devotion to this)

I have Feelings. Feelings about books I've read this year. So without further ado, let's do a Look Back on 2012 Because Tomorrow the World's Gonna End and I Might Not Have Access to Blogger.


I did not read a lot this year. I WAS BUSY OKAY. Also I was super-invested in Doctor Who, The L Word, Once Upon a Time and everything Sue Perkins was in (which was a lot). Also I went to New York twice, Toronto once, and met five internet friends in person. So NO READIN' FOR ALICE.

Except for some things that I am going to mention and not mention right now.
What did I LOVE this year? Ragnarök by A.S. Byatt, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt, The Woman in Whiteby Our Fearless Leader, and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (yes, those were all this year). You should read ALL OF THEM if you haven't. What's kind of hilarious is I think most of you have, because we flail over books and then we all read them.

What did I HATE this year and you should …

Charles Dickens was a bit of a tool

I'm trying to update every day because then CHRISTMAS and who's going to do blogging stuff around Christmas?

...well, maybe people will; I mean, I don't want to hang out with my family ALL the time. But just in case, here is Christmas cheer and blogging for you.


Also, did Julie and I have a TRANSCENDENT THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE LAST NIGHT? (yes) Because we went to Dickens' Women as done by Miriam Margolyes, and then we met her and she said Little Dorrit is her favorite and I have not READ IT, because I'm supposed to be reading one Dickens a year in chronological order and it is Barnaby Rudge's turn, but now I SUPER-want to read that one because she acted out characters from it and it seems fantastic.

I also enjoy that she loves Dickens but acknowledges he was a total asshat. Because such is my stance. I love his writing, but if we met, sir, I would punch you right in the face.

I posted this last year but I SUSPECT you did not watch it, for you do not know what is goo…

Merry Christmas, Books I'm Barely Reading

I'm on a liquid fast before Christmas. It is the worst. But my hope is it will negate all the Christmas tacos I will be eating (and a merry Christmas to YOU), so hang in there, stomach, and drink your almond milk with protein powder.

Since I'm reading a truly unprecedented number of books right now, and of course finishing none, I am going to list some of them and write opinions. Because that is obviously the FUNNEST.

The Night Watch - This is the best. How could it be better than Tipping the Velvet? TtV has CORSETS. And it certainly beats Night Watch in that regard, but for pure Good Writing and general literaryness and a feeling you are reading something worthy of being read, Night Watch wins. It starts in 1947 in London and goes backwards in time to '44, then '41. I'm a little worried about the ending, but I TRUST YOU, SARAH WATERS.

The Adventures of Nanny Piggins - This has the greatest of titles. And is about a pig nanny named Nanny Piggins. She eats all the cho…

Concerning Hobbits (see what I did there?)

All my friends are seeing The Hobbit. I find myself with no desire to see The Hobbit.


Since my dad and brothers are so into sci-fi/fantasy (sci-fi much more than fantasy, but whatevs), I find that I feel much more confident in my knowledge of the genre than is warranted. Example: Star Trek: Next Generation. I know all the actor names, because the only thing I remember about watching it when I was little is the opening credits. Whenever someone's like "Remember when Data blah blah in that one episode?" I stare at them blankly. In terms of plotlines on STNG, the only thing I remember is that time Picard became a Borg. And I only remember THAT it happened -- I have zero idea how.

Enter The Hobbit. I've been feeling weirdly superior about my knowledge of this book roundabouts now. "Oh-ho, you silly general citizenry," went my brain, "If only you were as connected to this book/film as I."

Only recently (read: this morning) have I stopped and thought '…

The holidays seem like they will be fun, but that is a twinkle-lit lie

It is that time of year when everyone starts going batshit insane and is constantly stressed.

Except me! I am a port in a storm -- a harbor of blissful content, if you will. Mostly because I don't have kids to buy presents for, people I'm hosting, or in-laws to deal with. No, that's other people's thing. I am the inflicTER and not the inflicTED (thanks, Mom and Dad -- really looking forward to coming home and eating your food).



Let me just bask in this before my turn comes along. IF I choose to end up letting that happen -- my family is rather isolationist, so we've almost never done the 'Let's tour various relatives' houses during the holidays' thing. Not when we could stay at home in our pajamas and eat stuff. Why would we do anything else? That is silly. You are silly.

This is invariably what happens:


So does one abandon hope of reading during this ostensibly festive but almost invariably angst-and-arguing-with-your-cousin-about-Obamacare-riddled sea…

New York: Where Much Ice Cream Was Consumed Now That I Think of It

WELL. That was eventful. I don't know how you all feel about trip posts, but this is going to be a trip post. Avec photos. Because I like photos. They are the lazy person's way out of writing. So.


I did a lot of stuff. Soooo much stuff. Including meeting Alley from What Red Read, who is pretty much as delightful as you would expect from her blog and who took us to a place that had milkshakes. So score 1 for internet meetups.

SOME THINGS DONE:

The site of Emma Goldman's old apartment

Musical about Aimee Semple McPherson, where Kathie Lee Gifford squeezed my hand and looked deep into my eyes -- what can I say; I have this effect on people

Musical about Edwin Drood where I got this badass t-shirt:


Went to opera about how awesome some emperor is because of his clemency (you know how clemency sells), but actually the emperor's not in it much and it's mainly a lot of mezzos in pants running around having feelings, so I LOVED it.



Had an egg cream, which was underwhelming, but t…

Away, I'm bound away (for a few days, and not across the wide Missouri)

So I'm going to New York today. And if all goes according to plan (anyone else get that song from Corpse Bride stuck in their head when they hear that?), I'll be meeting up with Alley from What Red Read and Jenny from Jenny's Books.


Around this time tomorrow, I shall be touring the Merchant's House Museum. "With anyone?" I hear you ask. No, blogging fellows. For some reason, my various acquaintance in NYC either have jobs or don't want to gaze at furnishings from **1835**. Whatever, people. That's like, Charlotte Bronte-era shit. I'm gonna go and ask the docent alllllll KINDS of questions, thereby making them feel like they matter and enriching my mind grapes.
I will be back next TUESDAY, and with my normal blogging schedule and not posting on weekends, it'll be like I was never gone. DO NOT FORGET MEEEEEE.
People are signing up for reading challenges for 2013, and I...did not do any of the challenges I signed up for last year. So NO MORE OF TH…

Books I Should Maybe Actually Plan to Finish This Year

In tribute to this post about the horribleness/kickassness of having too many books to read and TOO SHORT A LIFESPAN (meanwhile you watch rerun after rerun of South Park instead of actually making headway in that area and what are you DOING Alice), I'm gonna pick a few books to genuinely, genuinely try to finish by the end of the year.

1. Sarah Waters's The Night Watch. I've owned it for about a year, but it was forced into my reading lens because a friend started yelling at me to watch the miniseries so we can DISCUSS and I am nothing if not a peer pressure caver inner. I've avoided it because I love Sarah Waters's Victorian shenaniganery, and I was dismayed that all her most recent books have taken place in the 20th century. Oh, electricity is commonplace? Then BEGONE FROM MY SIGHT, BOOK.

But it's good. Really...really good.

2.From the Closet to the Altar. This is an eGalley, or whatever on earth they're calling them. It's already slightly out of date…

Harry Potter 2013 Readalong Signup Post of Amazingness and Jollity

Okay, people. Here it is. Where you sign up to read the entire Harry Potter series (or to reminisce fondly), starting January 2013, assuming we all survive the Mayan apocalypse. I don't think I'm even going to get to Tina and Bette's reunion on The L Word until after Christmas, so here's hopin'.


You guys know how this works. Sign up if you want to. If you're new to the blog, know that we are mostly not going to take this seriously. And when we do take it seriously, it's going to be all Monty Python quotes when we disagree on something like the other person's opinion on Draco Malfoy. So be prepared for your parents being likened to hamsters.

If you want to write lengthy, heartfelt essays, that is SWELL. But this is maybe not the readalong for you. It's gonna be more posts with this sort of thing:


We're starting Sorceror's/Philosopher's Stone January 4th. Posts will be on Fridays. The first post will be some sort of hilarious/awesome que…

Madeline Miller, you should call me

OH THE WEEKEND, y'all. Audition, callback, rejection, caroling at various locales with my trio, restaurant (read "bar") that specializes in grilled cheese and being That Person who asks them to turn down the Very Loud music, and then church discussion on the Bible and homosexuality. A swell time was had by all. And by all I mean me.

I started Song of Achilles, which everyone wet themselves over this past year. And y'know what? Yeah. It's good. Reeeeeeal good.

Part of the thing for me is that because of how it's written, I'm all "Oh, it's historical fiction," but then AJAX shows up and I'm like "Whaaaa? Madeline Miller, you tricked me aGAIN." She's probably not even trying to. If we chatted (which we totally should, Mads), she'd be like "No, that's your dumb brain doing that" and I'd be like "Mads, you so CRAZY." And then we'd drink lemonade and visit the Grand Canyon on donkeys. Which she…

Book hoarding is the new...something.

I just had a moment of panic for my desk/vanity. I've had this large, cumbersome piece of furniture since I was a teenager and wanted to decorate my room in the style of the 1940s (yeah, I was one of those cool kids who did that sort of thing). So I begged my parents for this desk, which we saw at an antique store, and they bought it for me, and I carted it off to Chicago when I moved up here. But my room is appx 8 x 9, and in that I have my tiny bed, a keyboard and its stand, a floor lamp, and my giant desk/chair.

So for Christmas I requested a much lighter desk. My dad informed me today they got it, and I have to pick it up downtown. Which means I have to get rid of my giant heavy wooden desk, which is causing me anxiety because the PICTURES shoved in the mirror during high school, and the endless packs of hair ties in its drawers (those I'm probably less attached to, but still). What's going to happen to it after it leaves my apartment? MEMORIES.


I'm a low-level hoard…

people might like calling themselves perfectionists, but perfectionists get nothing done

I've been taking piano for a few months now. My teacher is a girl about my age who goes to my church and mostly teaches six-year-olds. This is particularly evident when I do a shitty job on something like Yankee Doodle and she claps and says "You hit almost all the right notes!" She's very encouraging is what I'm saying. This is especially helpful when I sit in front of The Little Drummer Boy and my brain panics and won't hit the keys because WHAT IF I HIT THE WRONG ONE.

 My mother really likes telling a story related to this about when I was five and she came into my room, and rather than being in bed, I was sitting on the ground with those giant dotted sheets of paper they give you in grade school for learning to write your letters strewn about me, and an intense look of concentration on my face. "Alice, why aren't you asleep?" my mom asked. In a furious tone, I responded "I HAVE TO GET MY T's RIGHT."

 This carries into reading for…

"You know what I reeeeeally think of you, Sand?" she slurred

I know. It's been almost a week. But the Americans will understand there was NO TIME. Because you have Wednesday when you get drunk, Thursday when you travel and eat a lot, Friday when you go shopping, and you don't update on the weekend.

Which brings us to today. Also to the fact that CAN I SAY, my headcanon of Charlotte Bronte loving Whitney Houston has become so real to me that when I eventually time travel and bring 16-year-old her to this time and play 'The Greatest Love of All' for her, if she doesn't like it, my world will fall apart. And not just because bringing her forward in time might create some weirdo paradox thingy.

I need coffee. Saturday I did a spin class for the first time, which bruised me in some unfortunate places, and yesterday I ran three blocks for the bus which almost killed me.

Haven't unslumped myself. Still barely reading. It's reeeeeal sad.



You know who should get drunk together? George Eliot and George Sand. Because they've …

Stalled reading plus shipping and do we know what that is?

People seem to be in a reading rut right now (I cite Meg's post "Reading Rut, I am in you"), and I am the biggest no-exception. I've started a truly extraordinary number of books and finished none. And then I had that whole watch-too-many-episodes-of-that-unnamed-show thing. 

SO. Just to explain why this hasn't been too updatey. But I'm sure you all have just been in a veritable WHIRLWIND of holiday activity, and are barely even reading blogs, so I could really post or not post whatever and it would all just zoom down into the blogging void. I don't need to explain what the blogging void is, because this is already in it and NO CAN READ THINGS THERE.

...my tumblr's been like this lately as well.


If I can go in a fiction-related but not necessarily solely book-related direction, do we all know what shipping is?

When I use this


do you all think I'm talking about an actual boat? Hopefully not. Okay, so "shipping" is short for "relations…

I'd totally get murdered in the woods

I got Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. It's pretty spiffy so far, but he hasn't actually set out into the woods yet. He's kinda just talking about all the ridiculous equipment you need to not be eaten alive by raccoons. Something that's on page one hooked me:

"Who could say the words 'Great Smoky Mountains' or 'Shenandoah Valley' and not feel an urge, as the naturalist John Muir once put it, to 'throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence'?"
Yes. That thing right there. Because HIKING. I love it so much. Some weird combination of my hatred of staying still, my liking of nature and general love of being in a location where contemporary civilization isn't obnoxiously present and I can say 'I AM LEWIS AND CLARK'S UNMENTIONED THIRD PERSON.'

So yes, kind of a cliche, but hiking is the greatest. The day I get actual hiking boots will be a banner one for the Alice/Shaan household (my…

happy books are my only hope

Four hours of The L Word last night, mostly involving me wrapped in a blanket weeping on my couch.


Bette? Half of the couple I love with an all-consuming-since-Sunday devotion? Yeah, so there's a character named Alice on the show, and half of the couple I love and who made me cry like four times last night ACTUALLY SAID: "Fuck you, Alice."

THANKS SHOW.


What are some hilarious books, guys? Because I'm currently reading The Book Thief and Cloud Atlas, and neither is imbuing me with merriment. And I will need this, because I'm only on season two out of six of this demonspawn show, and determined to finish before I go to New York in early December (Alley, you better not back out on me for lunch/dinner/coffeetimes when I visit).

I can handle only so much sadness at one time. Mostly because I'm the most impressionable ever, so if I'm surrounded by sadness, I get totally pulled down into it. This is also a problem when I hear debates, because each side goes and I ke…

Lesbian TV and the Holocaust? What are you doing, self.

So I spent yesterday watching 12 episodes of The L Word after resisting it for years because I thought it was going to be trashy, but have now discovered it is the BEST. From my hours and hours of watching I have culled the best scene, namely when Tina and Bette -- who are having a baby -- have an intervention done for them because they're becoming too boring.


The show reminds me of Alison Bechdel's long-running comic Dykes to Watch Out For, which I am a billion percent positive it's been compared to. That's the comic that created the Bechdel Test and was generally ahead of its time. Or maybe current with its time. But at any rate, Alison Bechdel was one of the first people to do something like it. She's also the author of Fun Home, which you should all read because it is awesome and one of the only graphic novels/memoirs I've ever cared about. My copy is currently absent from my home because all the ladies at church have been passing it around.
It's Monday…

The Fire Chronicle has elves and you should read it

Since I basically slobbered all over The Emerald Atlas in my attempt to make out with it, I was pretty damn thrilled when I discovered book two in the Books of Beginning series was coming out. I pleaded with Random House Kids to let me review it, so be aware that I was pretty sure I was gonna want to marry this book PRE-reading. So I might be a little biased. And also be aware that the people at Random House Kids are wonderful and magical and probably smell really nice. 

Middle books always get the shaft. The beginning of the series is so exciting! The end has all the conclusiony bits! The middle--moves the story along kind of!

No one likes Catching Fire the most. No one loves Prince Caspian more than all the other Chronicles of Narnia. And I don't think anyone is super gung ho about The Two Towers. 

That being said, John Stephens continues in this book what I loved about The Emerald Atlas. Namely, it's funny, has magic and the main characters are appealing. THAT IS ALL I WANT. T…