Thursday, November 5, 2015

Book Review: We That Are Left by Clare Clark

I fell in love with Clare Clark's writing the moment I broke into We That Are Left in spite of the grammatically irritating title. I wondered what she had to say about appearances that deceive and those who are titled pretending at something while we who are not titled aspire to their falsehoods. I jotted down lines and page numbers of favorite descriptions and passages. Such great writing promises a great story. In the end, I felt cheated of that great story just as the wealthy cheat at status and the poor are cheated.

I read We That Are Left with a prickly pear and vinegar soda called
"the shrub" at Analog Hour local coffee house, ExoCoffee.
I feel equally on the fence about the book and the drink.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Dinner with Goosebumps Author R.L. Stine

Since the new Goosebumps movie came out on October 3, I decided to revisit my night with R.L. Stine at the 2012 Tucson Festival of Books Author Dinner.

If you are a writer your children will be nonreaders, at least that’s what bestselling author R.L. Stine told me at dinner. He offers his son as an example. His son read book after book of Garfield cartoons but nary a Goosebumps. When I suggested Stine was putting me on about his son not reading his work he says, "That's something nice people like you say." (I often make it through entire meals without revealing my monstrous side.)

My favorite part of this photo is how obviously thrilled Stine is.
My second is the eerie specter looming over Stine's shoulder.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Review: Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford

"Evelyn" like "EEV-lin" in the UK or "Evelyn" like "EH-vah-lin", my Mississippi born, plumber's daughter grandmother? Intentionally or not Stephanie Clifford plays on a class tension among the upwardly mobile in America from the get go through the naming of the protagonist in her novel, Everybody Rise. I never felt on sure footing while reading this book. I was curious about Evelyn and the voyeurism that tempts me with Real Housewives of Everywhere and other reality shows about one percenters kept me reading.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Review: How Fiction Ruined My Family

[Note: Due to a website migration at my day job, some content that I wrote for a local bookstore chain was unpublished, so I'm republishing it here. I wrote reviews to sell books, so I may have sugar coated some things, but my basic feelings are represented.]

In Fiction Ruined My Family, Jeanne Darst isn't posing, bragging or begging. She fully experiences the life of an artist and plies her wares in private homes or working barns or legitimate theater. She tells her story without embellishment, though she admits that perhaps not all the details are entirely true either. She doesn't need our approval, though she has it (or at least the book does).

Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Review: How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

I wrote this review for in the summer of 2012. When Bookmans did a website redesign and migrated their website database, we unpublished all but 30 posts. I tweaked this review to park it here for now.

Put down 50 Shades of Gray. I've got something equally smutty but infinitely smarter to recommend. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran is a feminist manifesto like none you've read. Most of us don't go around reading feminist manifestos but in any case this one is definitely for everyone -- even if you are a dude and maybe even especially so.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Book Review: The Island of Dr. Moreau

I wrote this review for in the summer of 2012 after reading The Island of Doctor Moreau aloud with my then 12-year-old son. When Bookmans did a website redesign earlier this year and migrated their website database, we unpublished all but 30 posts. I tweaked this post to park it here for now.

According to The Literature Network, The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896) by H.G. Wells, deals with themes of eugenics, the ethics of scientific experimentation, Darwin's theories and religion. But it's summer and who cares about vivisecting literature? We care about enjoying a good book, so we're providing our own guide to The Island of Doctor Moreau.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Stayin' Alive

I went to the doctor yesterday for a routine check up. I had some concerns that amount to, "you're getting older and all you do is sit in front of a computer." Those may have been the doc's exact words, but he's sending me for tests and gave me a referral to a cardiologist anyway. I figured this was the ideal excuse to get the family to do what I want them to do for a change.

First, I told my son that the doctor said I will have a heart attack if he doesn't play his guitar. I told my brother that it's his fault if I die because he sings White Christmas in my ear. The doctor definitely told me that Hubster has to do everything my way or start planing a funeral. My brother said I overplayed my hand with my son and that's why the guitar never came out of the case. He also said that White Christmas only has powers of joy and healing. Hubster said he'd get to planning my funeral.

This is why I have a daughter. I didn't have to tell her anything. She played her drums and piano for me, rather than torture me by singing in my ear, she stroked my hair, and so I'm giving her VIP passes to my funeral. My funeral is going to be an SRO disco party and very difficult to get in. Let me know if you'd like for me to add you to the list.

Darling Daughter mentioned to her drum teacher this evening that she learned in Girl Scouts that Stayin' Alive has the perfect beat for administering CPR and so they practiced it in case I did have a coronary. On the way home from lessons, the kids and I stopped at Sonic for a bite and then drove around with the windows down listening to Technotronic.

When we were done pumping up the jams, I explained to the kids that people used to drive up and down busy "strips" looking for friends. "In those days, you couldn't just text your whereabouts to everyone," I said. "It's called 'cruising'."

"We call it wasting gas," said Sarcastic Son. He had a point, so I turned toward home. As I did so, what song do you imagine came on the radio? I took it as proof that I am stayin' alive forever like my great grandmothers did.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

* with input from ParrishB, 6th grade, Mansfeld Middle School, Tucson

When we first mentioned Legend by Marie Lu in our social media feeds, we had to represent its dystopian goodness succinctly. We said, "If Katniss and Gale were Romeo and Juliet: Legend by Lu." We got that slightly wrong. Lu does love the Hunger Games (so do we) so the feel fits, but it's Les Miserables not Romeo and Juliet that inspired the relationship between Legend's power couple. Whatever the case, we highly recommend buying your teen, your library, yourself this first book of a trilogy.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My Writing Job Killed My Writing Hobby

The Hubster and I had a weblog-like thing before that's what they were called. We posted pictures and wrote captions describing our activities. He posted graphs of his weight loss versus my pregnancy gain. No one read blogs, so we sent e-newsletter-ish messages updating everyone we know that we've updated our webpage.

It didn't take long for blogging platforms to become all the rage and I was on it. I even dabbled with vlogging. Turns out that takes a certain moxie I don't have. I started this blog and dreamed of getting the call all indie bloggers hoped for at that time -- the "blog for me" job offer. I got that in 2010 and my writing changed.

My life changed too. Many bloggers who didn't go the job route but the entrepreneurial route instead, hustled up advertisers and contributors and built communities around their own interests. That's all great and I'm so totally envious, but I didn't think that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to keep my quiet little life with my own thoughts, my environmental micro-movement and a focus on my kiddos. I need to take inventory to see if I managed that.

My writing is geared for promotion now, not insight. My mind is on how to engage, not to create community but to improve metrics. Documenting the little experiments and quiet moments at home is all but over. I cling to shared reading (right now The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn). We still do projects, sometimes. I even share through social media, though it doesn't give me the same satisfaction as telling the story behind the moments.

I have a plan to scrape some of the better content that I've written for my employer and cross posting it here. It's almost true to my voice. Maybe just that little effort will reignite the desire to make my own accounting and refocus my attention on the heart of my home and not just the functioning of it. Maybe... if I actually do it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I want Chris Hardwick to invite Handsome Cpt. Dr. Sir Husband and me over to bowl. Chris would love us same way that if John Stamos could just meet the 6th grade me he'd fall in love like Elvis did Priscilla. In retrospect that would have been creepy, but try to tell that to the little girl who stared at his poster.

I seem to waste an equal amount of time watching Chris (we'd be on a first name basis) and his pals bowling. Jesse could be the Jon Hamm and I could be the (not) Felicia Day. We could play for our favorite charity -- Sonic Happy Hour. I mean the poor kids. Of course. Poor kids. Definitely them. Though... Hubster did say he'd prefer to play for the John Stamotopoulos Foundation for Name Preservation.