Friday, October 30, 2009

Hmm, zombies again?

I'm feeling a little let down, despite general intrigue and excitement, about the recently-announced 3rd book from Quirk Classics: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls. On the one hand, it's good that they're trying to give their first zombie hit a bit of back story.

On the other hand, why are they doing a prequel already? Do people not realize that Jane Austen wrote more than just P&P and S&S? Because, honestly, Persuasion and Pod People would work so well.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mario and Luigi

I've only every really played one video game: Super Mario World, on the SNES I got for my 10th(?) birthday. As a result of my commitment to this single video game, I have a strong nostalgia for all (most?) things Mario. That movie everyone hates? I love it.

But, this. I already don't like the Wii. But this new Wii Mario, where the game can play itself if you get stumped? Don't you think that's defeating the point of the whole playing the game? And, unfortunately, it's just adding to the whole instant gratification that is leading these new generations of young people astray. You can't do it yourself? No problem! Someone will do it for you.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Literary Crushes, again

After substantial consideration, I have determined that compiling a list of ten literary crushes is not a possibility for me; I simply haven't read that many books with the literary-crush frame of mind. I can, however, give you my top three:

1. Captain Frederick Wentworth, Jane Austen's Persuasion
2. Tristran Thorn, Neil Gaiman's Stardust
3. Jake Barnes, Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises

I love Captain Wentworth for his very human responses to the complications of true love, and for his eternal devotedness to his Anne, and for his remarkable letter-writing abilities.

I love Tristran Thorn for his general bumbling-ness, and for his mortal/Lord of Stormhold mix, and for his ability to finally see the shimmer of love accompanying him.

I love Jake Barnes for his devout affection, and for his ex-pat cynicism, and for his "isn't it pretty to think so" attitude.

All good men, I assure you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who are your top ten literary crushes?

My well-read friend posted her weekly literary list last night. This week's list is her top ten literary crushes (and good ones they are, too!). I'm going to try to think of my top ten; you should, too! Go ahead and sound of in the comments.

They Might Be Giants

Last night I went with my roommate to a concert in Indy. The band was They Might Be Giants, and all I knew about them before last night was that a) they sing the Malcolm in the Middle theme song, and b) their cover of Istanbul (Not Constantinople) was on the Muppets one time. That's it.

The concert ended up being fantastic! They Might Be Giants is definitely a nerdy band, with songs like "I am a Paleontologist," "Meet the Elements," and a song about meteor/ites called "What is a Shooting Star?" As I remarked to my roommate last night, it's refreshing to know that a band can be fun and cool without having a myriad of tattoos, being incredibly profane, and packing heat.

Some highlights from the evening:
  • the opening act, The Guggenheim Grotto (try their single "Waking Up in America"; it should totally be in a movie!)
  • the woman in front of me in line to get into the club; she had on an acid-washed denim jacket with the old school Nickelodeon logo on the back
  • the large proportion of concert-goers who were wearing glasses (this proportion far outstripped that in normal, everyday life)
  • the large proportion of concert-going males who looked like Seth Rogan (again, much higher than in real life)
  • the abundance of multi-colored confetti that was propelled from the stage
  • the sock puppets
If you don't know much about They Might Be Giants, check them out. I'm glad I did!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Two things about me

  1. Today I discovered my first gray hair.
  2. I am not above putting on a sweater over my pajamas so I won't get cold while eating an icee pop.


As I was getting ahead on some reading today, I came across this gem of a passage:

"...true bibliography is the bridge to textual, which is to say literary, criticism. Before a critic can attempt a definitive evaluation of the contents of any book he must be in possession of every fact which has any bearing on the history of its text." -from Fredson Bowers's 1949 Principles of Bibliographic Description

Really, Fredson? We need to know everything about a book -- its history, context, physical makeup -- before we can do any legitimate literary analysis of its literary contents? Really? Because I really do not buy that argument.

I would offer that the variety of packagings that encase most any book these days -- think the variety of bindings of any given book you read in college, where you might have a different copy, different cover than the person next to you -- stands in direct opposition to this claim for bibliographic necessity. So what if my cover is different than yours? The words are the same, and it's the words I'm analyzing!

I think that these sorts of statements -- the ones that inflate the importance of the appearance and condition of a physical volume at the near-total expense of consideration of content -- are exactly what bother me about the rare book world. I am always hesitant when library students say they want to be librarians because they "love books"; after all, a love of books alone cannot be sufficient to do well in what is primarily a service profession. That said, however, I do love books. And I love them because of the stories, the ideas, and the information that they contain. I love them because of what their words can do. I really think that someone who loves books for their trappings and trimmings -- who judges books by their covers, or their rarity -- is seriously lacking in their book experience.

And yes, while statements that expound on the book's physical virtues alone make me angry, my ultimate emotion is quite different. Ultimately, I feel sorry for you if you can't/don't/won't look deeper, because I can assure you that you are missing something grand.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Food Porn Cookie Conspiracy

Before anyone gets offended or shocked by the title of this post, let me clarify what food porn is. Food porn is the colloquial name for all those pretty, glossy, want-to-tear-out-and-eat-the-page pictures of food that are becoming more and more common in cookbooks but which have been a staple in food magazines (R.I.P. Gourmet) for quite some time. Food porn is the technique largely used to get people to make the recipes featured in these resources. If it looks good, readers will want to make it. Makes sense, right?

But I think I've discovered a conspiracy within cookie food porn. No matter what type of cookie, not matter from what magazine I got the recipe, my cookies always turn out much darker and crispier than those featured in the food porn photos. It might be my oven, you say? Maybe, but I've noticed this over-baked-ness for quite some time now, during which period I've worked regularly with five very different ovens, always with the same results. Coincidence? I think not!

Here's my theory: fully cooked cookies, at least of the type that the magazines hype today, are simply not as pretty as undercooked cookies, which they photograph. But off course said magazines cannot publish under-cooked cookie instructions because of possible negative health side effects. So, instead, they publish over-cooked instructions next to under-cooked photos, leaving the reader to wonder at the perpetual crispness of their supposed-to-be-soft-and-chewy cookies. The nerve.

I see two options: 1) don't try cookie recipes found in magazines, or 2) when I do try magazine cookie recipes, decrease the cookie time or oven temperature to some degree.

I've never had this problem with Betty Crocker cookies, by the way.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I like books AND bikes!

This guy exercises his mind and his body with his Book Bike. What a wonderful idea!

I particularly like his statement that "cause publishing" is the future of publishing. It may be idealistic, but hey, whatever gets the ball rolling.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jane, Jane, Jane...

I've spent practically my entire morning compiling a list of Austen sequels published since 1980. I have a good reason for doing it -- a class assignment. I do have to wonder, though, if the writers of these sequels have good reasons for writing what they have. The genre of Austen-based writings, you see, is much larger than I would have guessed.

To illustrate:
  • my current bibliography lists 102 titles, all of which are specifically sequels to Jane Austen's works; they are not books that are simply based in the Regency period, books that retell Austen's tales in a more modern setting, or books that feature Austen herself as a crime-solver (not even joking)
  • those 102 titles were written by 46 authors, some of whom are one-time Austen-sequel writers, others of whom seem to not write about anything else
  • of those 46 writers, 3 are named Jane
  • only 2 of the authors were actually related to Jane Austen and may have some vague claim to continuing her creative legacy
Now, as I'm sure we've all established, I do love Jane Austen. But really, have we nothing better to write (or read!!) about?

Saturday, October 3, 2009


On the one hand, I thoroughly enjoy scrolling through the Cake Wrecks blog from time to time. It's fun to see the interesting decorating decision of professionals...

On the other hand, I was rather proud of the cake I made (triple layer vanilla bean cake with white chocolate buttercream) for my roommate's birthday party last night:

It may look like a cake wreck to you, but the party was a murder mystery dinner party. So the cake decorator was murdered with the knife sticking out of the cake. Get it?

Regardless, it tasted delicious.