eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (B5 - Delenn OMG)
So, in my minimal spare time, I have been reading the few (mostly bad) English books that are traded around here. And I have to share with you the following because, seriously, guys, I can't believe this.

This is Booked to Die by John Dunning ("A joy to read," NY Times Book Review). And it's all intro and too-forced genre style, and then I got to page 27 and )

I'm boggling again just having typed it up, actually. WTF.
eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)
I was reading Mary Roach's Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex at a cafe for funsies this morning. And I was reading along, mostly enjoying it -- she mostly describes the science of sex in a funny and lighthearted and not-too-thoughtful but at least not-too-painful way. (Barring things like "men do X" and "women do Y" and the corresponding conflation of culture+biology. Since that happens all over the place in reproductive science, I was pretty sure I'd find it here too, and was prepared to put up with it.) When all of a sudden:

In which Roach sexually assaults a patient and has no ethical problem with it -- note that I'll be quoting her description of the assault under here )

In which Roach seems to have disability issues )

I am not really prepared to read her chapter called "What Would Allah Say?" after the above. I can't imagine why.

Book Crush

Jun. 14th, 2007 06:06 pm
eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (BtVS Tara avatar avatar)
So yesterday we were all being attacked by zombies, and today I check out the BBC news... only to discover that "FBI tries to fight zombie hordes." No, really. (The actual article is about computer hijacking. But still.)

***

I am currently reading Nancy Pearl's newest book, Book Crush, which is ... essentially Book Lust but for kid and YA fiction. It's fabulous! I mean, it's basically a list of books with commentary, categorized in amusing ways ("Girls Kick Butt" "After Sam Spade and Kinsey Millhone" &c). But it's by Nancy Pearl, who is so awesome she has her own librarian action figure, and most importantly...

... it reminds me of things I haven't read in years. Books I could find on the bookshelf at my local library (if it hasn't been remodeled) but couldn't have told you the author or the titles or anything. Betsy-Tacy and Tib! The Tattooed Potato (man, I loved Ellen Raskin's books as a kid). Maniac Magee, which I tried to describe to a friend recently and totally failed to stimulate recognition. (I was like "running kid! ignores racial divisions in his town! sleeps in zoo! his friend can stop traffic by shuffling across the street!" and I got nothing.) The Melendys and the All-of-a-Kind Family and Caddie Woodlawn and the Great Brain and Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter Longstocking. The House With a Clock in Its Walls and Sister Light, Sister Dark.

Anyway, I recommend it highly, at least as a fun bookstore read, because at the very least it will make any childhood book addict worth her salt incredibly nostalgic. I mean, if you read half the books in your local library, and can still tell you that you can find Tamora Pierce in the back corner, right shelf, halfway down, and that that book with the mysteries and the painter and the stories-within-a-story (as it turns out, this is called The Tattooed Potato and Other Tales) on a shelf halfway along the left-hand wall? You will end up constantly going "oh! oh! That's what that book was called!" and "Damn, that was the first book I read that featured Yom Kippur!" and "oh, man, I remember how much I wanted to sleep in the Met Museum after reading that!" Oddly, the section for eight to twelve year olds makes me far more nostalgic than the section for twelve and ups, perhaps because twelve and up fiction has changed so much -- chick lit? wtf? -- and perhaps because I was reading a lot more genre fiction by that point.

It's not all old books, of course, because Nancy Pearl is far too awesome to rely on her days as a children's librarian. It's got John Green and Jonathon Stroud and other awesome people as well, so if you still read YA fiction it's a great rec list too.

PAH

Jun. 9th, 2007 12:09 am
eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)
So yesterday I spent twenty dollars and two and a half hours at a doctor's office ... to learn exactly four words more than I knew going in.

See, it's an insurance hoop. I told my primary care doc that I was having hearing problems. In the last four or so years, I've started to have: difficulty distinguishing words when they overlap, difficulty distinguishing words against background noise, difficulty pinpointing directionality of noise (I can't tell where the siren is coming from, just whether it's approaching or leaving), total inability to "pick out" one conversation at a loud party (this is hampering me as a grad student because I have to leave receptions because I can't tell what anyone's saying), and most especially the kind of clear gap in hearing that leads me to always be saying "sorry, what did you -- oh, alligators! you saw alligators!" because it takes me five seconds to guess what the word is from what I'm hearing. However, my pitch-and-volume hearing is great: I'm the first person to hear the siren, I just dunno where it is. And I clearly hear the words, because I can usually guess.

So first I had to go to an ENT to take a hearing test. Where I described my symptoms, took a v.v. long hearing test, and we determined that, hey, I'm basically at the perfect top bar of the little chart! ... when it comes to volume and pitch.

Which, you'll note, I knew going in.

On the other hand, I learned ... three whole words. Central Auditory Process. And the audiologist at the ENT's office told me to check on same on wikipedia, where surprise surprise... look! it's me! Except for the part about the association with poor performance in school. And the part about how it (typically) starts in childhood. And about how it's not supposed to get worse over time.

And also how I don't have a diagnosis. I just have a "hey, look, you don't have a problem with your physical hearing, you should go see someone who deals with brains who will maybe tell you you have this thing that I can't tell you anything about myself but you should totally google it. Sorry, we don't deal with brains, because they're squishy and weird."

On the other other hand, I read like a hundred and fifty pages of the hilarious Interred With Their Bones, a da Vinci Code knockoff except with Shakespeare. Here's how it goes: a Harvard-PhD-student-turned-theater-director gets interrupted while directing Hamlet at the Globe. By an old mentor. Who... then is killed with poison in the ear! Our hero must then run around the world following tracking her old mentor's research! Into one of Shakespeare's lost plays! That may prove something about his life! Or also about how the plays weren't really written by Shakespeare! And uncover a conspiracy of the Howard family and the Earl of Northampton! While narrowly avoiding a man who wants to turn her into the "enter Lavinia" stage direction! It's, um, thrilling. In that special hilarious way. Also the author is ALSO a Harvard PhD turned theater director. I think there's a rule about people who leave academia and then write thrillers about the subjects of their dissertations: they are hilarious.

Sadly, I'm not done yet, so I don't know if Shakespeare turns out to be sekritly the son of Queen Elizabeth, or sekritly the lover of Frances Howard, or if the plays were actually really written by the Earl of Oxford (Edward de Vere, who one of the characters is sekritly related to). Also, for some reason the Earl of Suffolk burnt down the Globe in 1613. On Tuesday June 29th -- and then someone in the present burns down the new Globe! On Tuesday! June 29th! And steals the first folio!

See what I mean about the hilarious?
eruthros: llamas! (llamas)
Yes, this is one of those posts that happens when your in-progress file gets too big, weird, and disconnected to do anything with. So why not just post the whole darn thing at once?

Weirdest BEA schwag:

Jelly Belly gummi rat from Coffee House Press. Nothing to do with anything, near's I can tell.
Magnetic Poetry's BEA-themed magnetic poetry, featuring words like schwag and tired and not and another and catalogue.
Red back massage thingy from Elloras Cave.
Inexplicable green alligator filled with water. I don't even remember where it's from. Or why anyone would advertise a book with a squishy water-filled alligator.

*

So I read Interpretation of Murder, which is... well, it features Freud, and I find the practice of Freudian psychology kinda funny, so it's hard for me to accept it as a thriller. I mean, totally ridiculous dialogue during psychiatric appointments, and Jung and Freud arguing about the supernatural, and Oedipal complexes in Shakespeare, and then at the same time, thriller. With standard death!porn -- you know, the bits where we see a murder from the murderer's pov, and don't give the victim a name, but call her "the young girl" or whatever. Bleh.

The basic problem is that this book doesn't fit in its genre, or even know what the genre is. (You have to know what the genre is to play with it.) I expected it to be a puzzle-thriller: the PR material was all about solving puzzles in Shakespeare and that sort of thing, so I figured it would be the da Vinci Code (which I, um, haven't read) except with Shakespeare and serial killers and Freud. I did not expect the puzzle to be "why does Hamlet act in some instances, and yet find himself incapable of acting on his uncle?" Especially since this puzzle is solved entirely without dialogue or investigation: it's a thought-puzzle in the mind of the narrator. Note to author: thought-puzzles do not make puzzle thrillers.

(Also, there's a bit where they talk about a psychiatrist sleeping with his patient, and there's already been a lot of dialogue about 19th century neurologists are just using sex as a cure, so. It's like the author's trying trying to do both the 19th and 20th century "nervous disorder" cures at once: The talking cure and orgasms. Ickitas.)

*
... they even made fandom_wank. Not that that takes much on slow wank days. Slow wank days. Heh. -- talking to friede about audiography

*

Totally disgusting discovery of the day: the Left Behind game. It's... I have no words. Since I have no words, I have attempted to share the horror with everyone I know. For example:
[livejournal.com profile] eruthros: Oh lordy. Have you seen the PR stuff about the Left Behind game?
[livejournal.com profile] friede: noooo
[livejournal.com profile] eruthros: Basically you wander the streets of New York with many large guns, trying to convert or kill Jews, pagans, Buddhists, gays, etc.
[livejournal.com profile] friede: ...
[livejournal.com profile] eruthros: And these people call themselves Christians!
[livejournal.com profile] friede: seriously. gar
[livejournal.com profile] eruthros: In fact, they protest against violent video games and how they make kids violent!
[livejournal.com profile] eruthros: And. Wah.
[livejournal.com profile] friede: *pets*
[livejournal.com profile] eruthros: posts link to Left Behind Games' website
[livejournal.com profile] eruthros: You can even play it MULTIPLAYER and try to take territory from other players!
[livejournal.com profile] friede: omg
[livejournal.com profile] eruthros: When presumably you're all trying to, you know, convert folks, apocolypse, blahblah etc. And yet.
[livejournal.com profile] eruthros: I AM SO HORRIFIED I HAVE RUN OUT OF WORDS.
[livejournal.com profile] friede: also AHHHHH
[livejournal.com profile] eruthros: Left Behind was creepy enough before it was, like, Grand Theft Soul.

Also? In this game the UN is a tool of the antichrist. Jesus Mary Mother of God. I ask you. And this, from the president of a Christian marketing organization: "I would assume, if there is violence, it's the cosmic struggle of good versus evil, not gratuitous violence." Right. Of course. It's not gratuitous! You're just killing all the Jews 'cause it's the end times! WAH. From the LA Times: "Ralph Bagley, a spokesman for the Christian Game Developers Foundation in San Diego, said he had seen demand for Christian games grow as parents rejected the escalating violence and explicit sex in mainstream games." And this is... not part of the escalating violence?

Also? Also? Look at what Michael Pachter, an analyst for the investment bank WedbushMorgan, said about this game: "The reason that I think this game has a chance is that it's not particularly preachy. ... I will say some of the dialogue is pretty lame —people saying, 'Praise the Lord' after they blow away the bad guys. I think they're overdoing it a bit. But the message is OK." BUT THE MESSAGE IS OKAY? BUT THE MESSAGE IS OKAY? I swear, I'm going to have an aneurysm over here, if that's what people think is a reasonable message.
eruthros: X-Files: Mulder in glasses, text "sexier in glasses" (XF - Mulder sexier in glasses)
Books, tigers, whatever.

Potential spoilers are under the cuts.

10. Thud!, Terry Pratchett. Read more... )

11. Memory, Lois McMaster Bujold. Read more... )

12. Komarr, Lois McMaster Bujold. Read more... )

13. Okay, this time I did take the whole Vorkosigan thing as far as Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold. Read more... )

14. Diplomatic Immunity, Lois McMaster Bujold. Read more... )

15. The Loch, Steven Alten. Read more... )

Also, on a book related note, this year the BEA is in Washington, D.C. the weekend of May 18-21. (This is Terribly Wrong, as the ABA convention/BEA should always be the last weekend in May or the first weekend in June. What's up with this mid-May weirdness?) Reed Expos, which runs the website, claims that more information will be available in February (from past experience, this appears to mean "April"), but registration is already available.

ETA: Okay, I said that without going to their website, and then I did, and then I snerked. Because... well, this is their logo this year:


And then their slogan is "this year, it's truly monumental."

Yes, I am twelve. TWELVE.
eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (BtVS Tara avatar avatar)
You know, when you start with all of the Narnia books, you can probably hit fifty books in two weeks. (Okay, the Orhan Parmuk I got for Christmas will slow me down -- it's his Istanbul: Memories and the City, weighing in at 1.3 lbs or 400 pages.)

In any of these Books I've Read posts, you may find spoilers for books you haven't read, as I usually comment a little on each book.

books I've read this year )

Random!

Nov. 14th, 2005 09:06 am
eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (BtVS Tara avatar avatar)
I got my hair cut short on Saturday. It's a little shorter than I'd anticipated, not through any fault of my hairdresser, who was fabulous -- just, we couldn't find a picture of the exact length I wanted, so I said "somewhere between the lengths in those two pictures." I'm not quite used to it yet, and I keep seeing it out of the corner of my eye and going "huh."

In any case, I was buying a muffin for lunch this morning at the Met Bakery and, completely unsolicited, the salesclerk says "wow, I love your haircut." First time that's happened in ages. (I briefly considered that she might've been flirting -- I look way more gay with shortshort hair -- but she was really not sending that message at all.) Huh.

***

If you remember me talking about Adam Gopnik's The King in the Window, you remember that I thought it was too, too precious. (Every time I discussed it, I ended up referencing Dorothy Parker's "Tonstant Weader thwowed up.") Which makes this interview all the more amusing, as he informs us that his sister is a developmental psychologist, and that she consulted on the book to insure that it helped children's minds "reach up." Heh.

***

In other book reviewing news, the Chron is reviewing Senator Barbara Boxer's Born to Run. And guess who's reviewing it? Daniel Handler. So it's funny. For example
After all, Boxer is primarily a politician, not a novelist, and so one should not hold "A Time to Run" to the same standards as that of, say, Toni Morrison. Nor should I compare her fiction to the novels written by other politicians, for the simple reason that there is simply not enough money in the coffers of The San Francisco Chronicle to pay me to pick up a novel by Newt Gingrich.
He also makes amusing points about the mismash of the plot. Y'all should go check it out.

***
eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (BtVS cheeseman nonsense)
At the BEA, there was this huge marketing push for Men of Bronze by Scot Oden, which is apparently Egyptian historical fiction with assassins and pharaohs and lots of drama. There were posters! There were banners! There were references in the show daily! There were ads in the show guide! They passed out pins and postcards! Even my mom, who has almost no interest in this sort of book, noticed the push -- I mentioned the title to her, and she said "oh, yes, I remember those signs."

So [livejournal.com profile] m_shell and I noticed that the line for an autographed copy was extremely short toward the end of his hour, and popped over into his line. We tried to get a second copy just signed, but, alas, he wouldn't do that. He needed to sign it to someone in particular. This is uncomplicated code -- it means that he, or his publicist, was worried that signed copies would be sold on EBay. As [livejournal.com profile] m_shell said afterward, "Dude, don't flatter yourself."

Anyway, later I was looking for a book to read on the train ride back to Philadelphia, and I pulled that out (it was on top). I opened it up and... winced mightily, for lo! the dustflap copy is printed in a display face, and is very difficult to read. I flipped the first few pages and counted seven faces: three display (one vaguely-ancient, one all-caps serif, and a second all-caps serif that looks a lot like the first until you look closer and realize that it's got calligraphic accents), two reading fonts (one for the text and one on the copyright page), and two Celtic-ish fonts on the maps. And that's not even counting the inexplicably bolded AND italicized version of the text font used in the table of contents.

And then I turned to the table of contents, and saw the following:
On Pronunciation and Spelling / 435
Bibliography / 437
Glossary / 440
Chronolgy / 465
Timeline of Egypt's Twenty-Sixth Dynasy and the Near East / 468
If this were pre-press I could forgive two typos in the ToC, even if they came after a section on pronunciation and spelling (though it would make me giggle). This isn't an ARC. This is the first edition, hardback. Yowch.

And then the first paragraph, which I have to quote here:
In the blue predawn twilight, a mist rose from the Nile's surface, flowing up the reed-choked banks and into the ruined streets of Leontopolis. Remnants of monumental architecture floated like islands of stone on a calm morning sea. Streamers of moisture swirled around statues of long-dead pharaohs, flowed past stumps of columns broken off like rotted teeth, and coursed down sandstone steps worn paper-thin by the passage of years. As the sky above grew translucent, streaked with amber and gold, a funerary shroud settled over the City of Lions, a mantle that disguised the approach of armed men.
Now, could I have entered that in the Bulwer-Lytton contest or what? (BTW, the wide spacing after the first sentence appears in the original, though you may not be able to see it here depending on the line breaks.)

I read it out loud when [livejournal.com profile] darthrami was here last week, and we laughed like mad. Even more hilarious? On amazon.com, this consistently gets FIVE STARS.

ETA: If anyone wants to glance at a copy of this fabulous book, we've got a second copy, if you don't mind it being signed to one of us.

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eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)
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