Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hump Day Nerdgasm (a fairly regular thing)

Today we talk about a tumblr that's only tentatively related to books . . . and then I give you GIFs. (Not GIFTS. I'M NOT MADE OF MONEY.)

I don't usually tumble, but I've gotten hooked on #realtalk from your editor. This little piece of sunshine is run (written?) by Ann Friedman, executive editor of GOOD magazine . . . which is based in Los Angeles, coincidentally (hire me, please, Ann Friedman?).

Maybe it's my rose-colored journalism memories, or maybe it's the parts I can still relate to because they apply to the kind of editing I do now, but I always feel exponentially kick-assier after I scroll through. It's become a crucial part of my daily prework routine.
  1. Coffee
  2. Self-affirmation exercises
  3. Limbering
  4. More coffee
  5. "#realtalk from your editor"-ing
  6. Kicking ass
Some tidbits.




I am now prepared for the ass-kicking portion of my day. SALLY FORTH!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Birthday! (P.S. Canada can't keep you.)




Because Alice is 27 today!

Now . . . we dance.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hump Day Nerdgasm (apparently, a semiregular thing)

We've all seen fan art for grown-up Calvin and Hobbes, yes? There's a LOT a lot floating around the interwebs. Some of it is sad. Some of it is funny. All of it makes you want to hug your favorite stuffed animal.

But I have a favorite. A dear friend who always makes sure I experience no shortage of GIFs sent these to me a while ago, and I can't believe I've never shared them here . . . here in my sharing place where I share things.

Without further ado, I present to you . . . Calvin and Hobbes, secret agents.

And their arch nemeses . . . Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh.

I always feared his honey problem would lead him to a life of crime.

This Hump Day Nerdgasm has been brought to you by kizer180. Visit the artist's deviantART page for more brilliant deviations.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Arthur Conan Doyle would have been really, really old today.

I almost let Arthur Conan Doyle's 153rd birthday pass by unacknowledged (on this blog). THAT, my dear friends, would have been a travesty. And I will tell you why . . . in GIFs.

Arthur is responsible for creating two of the most loved characters in all of literature. End of story. Yay for books and all that jazz. But let's focus on what's TRULY important here. Without this dapper Scottish gentleman . . .

Can you spot the creative genius? Hint: He keeps it on his face.
. . . we wouldn't have this:

Sherlock for kids.

. . . or this:

Sherlock NOT for kids.

More important, there would be none of this:

Watson: making real-life best friends look bad since 1887. 

And I SHUDDER to imagine a world without this:

Words. I no longer remember how to use them.
So thank you, Arthur, for bringing Watson and Sherlock into our lives and establishing them permanently in pop culture. And, most of all, thank you ever so for making this possible:

You probably don't want credit for this. WELL TOO BAD.

Happy birthday, you old coot.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hump Day Nerdgasm (not actually a regular thing)

I've just seen something that made my nerdy little heart skip a beat, and it happens to be Wednesday (I actually thought it was Tuesday until 5 seconds ago when I asked the nearest person what day it is). This probably won't be a regular occurrence, because I can't be expected to get this excited on a weekly basis. We have to take these things as they come.

Anyway, LOOK AT THIS FLOWCHART. Oh, I know . . . flowcharts are for squares. But this one has rectangles (HA!). I apologize for that. Behold, How a Book Is Born.

This is accurate . . . I'm assuming. Except the part about the copy editor quitting in horror, because I've never given up on a book. I've CONTINUED EDITING in horror, but I've never QUIT in horror. I am a professional.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I Am Legend, or How Sexism Survived the Vampire Apocalypse

This is one of those many times when I wouldn't recommend seeing the movie before reading the book, because the movie was quite a lot better I thought. Although, they're not really comparable because they diverge drastically plot-wise. So let's not even compare them then. I take it all back.

Robert Neville is the last human left. He's pretty sure. During the day, he goes out for supplies, replaces the damaged planks over his windows, hangs fresh garlic around the outside of the house . . . and stakes his neighbors through the heart while they sleep.

A sickness has swept through the population, turning everyone, one by one, into vampires. So every evening, Neville locks himself inside his house, pours himself a whiskey and soda, and turns up the classical music to drown out the sounds of the bloodthirsty crowd assembling outside his door. 

I had to remind myself a couple of times that this story was written in 1954. Because . . . well, let me just share with you what I scribbled in my notebook after reading the first 20 pages.
"What I know so far about Robert Neville: He is a man. He can use tools. He doesn't like to clean. He is controlling his sexual urges with difficulty. He is a man."
I picture a slightly disheveled Jon Hamm. Oh . . . you want an actual picture? WELL I WON'T GIVE YOU ONE. (Just kidding.)

The last rakishly handsome chauvinist on earth.

But the book does get a little better, despite Neville's stereotypical macho-man characteristics and the general subjugation of women lady vampires. We get some back story on Neville. We find out that he's just an ordinary guy, not equipped with any special knowledge to make him particularly suited for surviving the near extinction of the human race. In fact, he's often infuriatingly dense.
"Something had killed the vampire; something brutally effective. The heart had not been touched, no garlic had been present, and yet . . .
It came, seemingly, without effort. Of course---the daylight!
A bolt of self-accusation struck him. To know for five months that they remained indoors by day and never once to make the connection! He closed his eyes, appalled by his own stupidity." (p. 38)
Nosferatu is also appalled by your stupidity.

Coping with isolation is the dominant theme for most of the story. And then it kind of morphs into a powerful commentary on "otherness" . . . and how the ruling majority can become the ruled minority practically overnight.

So what have we learned? Always read the book before the movie. And, yep, I think that's pretty much it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The children are our future? A concept that distresses me slightly less now.

It's me! I'm alive! I've been recovering from Massive Editing Project Syndrome, but full recovery is pending completion of said massive editing project. My recreational reading has taken a hit in the process, and that means I really haven't had much of bookish relevance to tell you about.

But Sunday, the husband and I and some friends volunteered at a book fair. We were manning the elementary/young adult books . . . which is to say, we were shoving our favorite books into children's bags when they weren't looking.

Did you know that when you let kids loose in a room full of books and tell them they can each pick 10, ACTUAL magic happens?

I confess, my expectations were low. The L.A. County public school system is not known for fostering a love of reading. In fact, kids don't generally start taking English classes until well into high school. Add to that the fact that the majority of these kids speak Spanish at home and all the books available at the event were printed in English. But none of that seemed to matter at all.

Some highlights:
  • The chubby little boy who discreetly tucked two High School Musical chapter books into his bag, after his older sister passed them over with a scoff.
  • The 5-year-old boy who crawled under the table and grinned mischievously at me while shoving a book about snakes and lizards into his bag, AFTER his mom told him three times that he couldn't have it.
  • The little girl who lit up when I added Misty of Chincoteague to her small, horse-themed stack (and then taught her how to pronounce it).
  • The girl I bullied into taking two books from the Redwall series. THERE IS A BADGER DRESSED AS A MONK. WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW, LITTLE GIRL?

  • Husband nonchalantly sliding a choose-your-own-adventure book into his back pocket. (Don't worry. He was allowed.)
  • Not a single Twilight book in sight.
And look at Camden holding this book I bought him before he was born!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Woman in White Week 4: Blah blah blah...PESCA!

**DISCLAIMER: This post is part of a read-along, and I intend to ruin the entire plot in the most roundabout way possible.**

By some terrible/wonderful coincidence, the end of our read-along exactly coincided with the monster deadline that’s been plaguing me all month. I present to you my excuse for this post happening in *GASP* MAY. I guess this means I won’t get any cake at our end-of-read-along pizza party.

I found this last section to be pretty unspectacular, because it seemed to reiterate a lot of the things we already knew and/or had figured out with our powers of deduction and plot prediction.

My reading went thusly:

Oh, hello, world’s longest letter from Mrs. Catherick, in which she creepily flirts with Walter. Boring boring boring. She appears to like presents. Yep, she traded her own daughter for a gold watch and chain. Boring boring. Percival’s parents weren’t married to each other. Yes, yes, Catherick, we knew that. Get on with it. Boring. Anne never actually knew the Secret that basically claimed her life. Poor Anne. Boring boring. Mrs. Catherick protests too much about the question of Anne’s parentage. (Surprise! Mr. Fairlie was her father! Anne and Laura were half-sisters! WE WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG.) Mrs. Catherick issues the best invitation to tea that I have ever heard.
“My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody.” (p. 673)
Walter divulges that he’s been telling the story using feigned names THIS WHOLE TIME. I feel betrayed, Walter . . . or, whatever your name is.

Fosco has the opportunity to expose Laura’s hiding place to the owner of the asylum but changes his mind at the last moment because his devotion to Marian will not allow him to cause her such suffering. Marian is not flattered.
“No words can say how degraded I feel in my own estimation when I think of it—but the one weak point in that man’s iron character is the horrible admiration he feels for me.” (p. 683)
Then Walter sums up our feelings about Fosco’s villainy, and also what makes him such a wonderfully complex character.
“The best men are not consistent in good—why should the worst men be consistent in evil?” (p. 683)
Then Walter waxes sentimental.
“There (I said in my own heart)—there, if ever I have the power to will it, all that is mortal of her shall remain, and share the grave-bed with the loved friend of her childhood, with the dear remembrance of her life. That rest shall be sacred—that companionship always undisturbed!” (p. 693)
Then Walter and Laura, predictably, are wed.

And THEN, my dear friends, this lackluster section was lackluster no longer.


I have never been so happy in my LIFE for a character’s return. And even though we’ve heard no mention of Pesca since the earliest pages of the book, it turns out he's been a true and faithful friend to Walter all along, but it just didn’t happen to be relevant to the Big Mystery so we didn’t get to hear anything about it. I take back every nice thing I ever said about Walter.

Anyway, they go to the opera to see if Pesca recognizes Fosco, because all Italians know each other, apparently. (Did anyone else read that sentence about Fosco occupying a place 12 or 14 seats from the end of the bench and picture Fosco literally occupying 12 or 14 seats?) Pesca declares, in Pesca fashion, “I have never set my two eyes on that big fat man before, in all my life” (p. 713). But when the Fat Man sees Pesca (who, might I remind you, is so tiny that he had to get a boost so he could see over the heads of ladies who were SITTING DOWN), his enviably unflappable nerves are decidedly flapped.

And HOW does our delightful little Pesca strike terror into the heart of the great and powerful Fosco? Well, because Pesca is at the top of a secret Brotherhood, and Fosco is scheduled to be assassinated any day now for betraying the oath of that Brotherhood. HOLY TINY ITALIAN ASSASSIN. My heart, it swells.

And then we have the big confrontation between Fosco and Walter, to which, thank goodness, Walter remembered to bring his brain. Fosco agrees, under threat of exposure to the Brotherhood, to write his confession of the Great Switcheroo. There aren’t too many grand revelations in his confession, but he does show once and for all how creepily fond he is of Marian. Like, dirty-old-man levels of fondness. Also, he reveals that he actually WAS trying to help Marian get better when she was sick and the doctor attending to her actually WAS an idiot. And he wants us to know, also, that Anne died most inconveniently of natural causes . . . but if she hadn’t, he would have killed her probably the next day. Admirable. And off he toddles to Paris to be tossed in the river by someone in the Brotherhood who isn’t Pesca.

I was somewhat bothered by the fact that Marian vowed never to leave Laura and Walter. I suspect Wilkie is making some sort of statement here about how Marian doesn’t need a husband to be happy, but I don’t like the idea of her being the eternal third wheel. She deserves better than that.

But other than Marian, who will be providing Walter and Laura free babysitting for the rest of her days, everyone lives happily ever after in Limmeridge House because Mr. Fairlie's nerves finally killed him.

And now, we dance the dance of the victorious read-alongers!