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Monday, February 28, 2011

Body Appreciation: Happy Monday!

As you may have noted, it is Monday. Normally I do my body appreciation posts on Sundays, but yesterday was sort of busy and for a reasonable chunk of it I hated my body, so we're giving it some love today instead.

See, yesterday from 10 'til around 3 I spent in a studio getting my chakras pounded by a visiting Nia instructor from Sarasota. Well, I hyperbolize; it was actually quite great, a Nia Master class and a workshop on chakras rolled into one. I left the studio feeling awesome, got home and was like O HAI BED TIME FOR A NAP, woke up with a raging headache, forced myself to do homework, got Chinese food with Awesome Cousin and his Awesome Girlfriend, and went to the roller derby with a slew of librarians.

By which time I was feeling more loving towardst my bod. So. Today we are appreciating the eyes! Now, I am not real kind to my eyes usually--I leave contacts in them for way too long, I leave mascara on overnight, I rub them a lot. I try not to do these things, but of course I do. It's too bad, because I have great eyes. They're a beautiful green-hazel with a dark outer edge, and I have been told they are very expressive (people probably mean my eyeBROWS, a topic for another post entirely). In the Nia workshop yesterday, I decided to work specifically with my crown chakra (the seventh chakra, located in the space above the crown of the head), and the movement of the head often--and should--follows the movement of the eyes. Move your head left? First look left. Look up with your eyes; your head follows. Opening up the eye sockets is a muscular sensation that is not felt as often as it could be.

Eyes do incredible things beyond the obvious gift of sight: they communicate without words by winking, shedding tears, narrowing or widening, and through the lashes. Live on, eyes! I will try to give you the attention you deserve.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Film Fantasy Friday: Emperor Mage

Well, dear readers, I am right fucking stressed out, so this FFF is going to be super indulgent. You ready for a slew of ridiculously hot people? I do a lot of Tamora Pierce novels here, but whatev, it's Friday and like I said, I'm stressed, so we're giving Emperor Mage a whirl!

Veralidaine Sarrasri: played by Alexis Bledel, Daine is a teenage girl with magical power which allows her to speak to and turn into animals. She is traveling to Carthak as a part of a political delegation from her adopted country, Tortall.

Numair Salmalin: played by Rodrigo Santoro, Numair is one of the world's most powerful mages and Daine's teacher. He has a nasty past with the Emperor of Carthak--he had to flee to Tortall for his life.

Alanna the Lioness: played by Bryce Dallas Howard, Alanna is part of the Tortallan delegation to Carthak as an ambassador.

Emperor Ozorne: played by Taimak Guari, Ozorne is Carthak's emperor and not a little crazy. He seems to think that his people should worship HIM, not the gods. Among other things.

Rikash: played by Ben Foster, Rikash is an irascible Stormwing--not quite Daine's friend, not quite her enemy.

Lindhall Reed: played by Timothy Olyphant, Lindhall is one of Numair's oldest friends and a mage in Carthak. A northerner in origin, he hates slavery and secretly smuggles slaves out of Carthak.

Kaddar: played by Mehcad Brooks, Kaddar is Ozorne's nephew and the current heir to Carthak's throne. He squires Daine around the city and palace, and smuggles slaves out of the country with Lindhall in his spare time.

The Graveyard Hag: played by Adina Porter, the Hag is Carthak's patron goddess. She's not too happy about how Ozorne's been running things, and she's planning on cooking up some retribution--with Daine's help.

And that's how Diana casts it. All images pulled from Google and Wikipedia.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

You might be addicted to books if...

(ganked from Bahnree)
  1. You buy your purses based on how many books you can fit inside. [Oh yes. The smallest purse I own can fit a a hardback or two paperbacks; the rest are tote bags. One even says "I like big books and I cannot lie."]
  2. The Fed Ex and UPS carriers, know you by name. [Well...no. I am rarely at home during the day to receive packages.]
  3. Your family refuses to buy you books because they don't want to support your habit. [My family rarely buys me books. The only one who does with any consistency is my manfriend's mother, who choose things from my Amazon wishlist. I love her best.]
  4. You own multiple versions of the same book. [A few, including The Awakening, Heart of Darkness, and some plays of Shakespeare that are separate from the collected edition I have.]
  5. You dream about books. (Getting them... meeting the authors that write them.) [I have definitely dreamt about meeting authors! I can't recall a dream ABOUT a book, though. I think I've dreamed about being in a book. I wish I could remember which one.]
  6. You always have at least one book on you at all times. Even if it's just a quick trip to the dollar store. [Yep. You never know when you're going to be in a line, or in traffic, or what have you.]
  7. You usually help shoppers at the bookstore, because you are more knowledgeable than the staff. [This does not apply. However, since I am a librarian, it sort of does in my work. At least, when someone actually decides to look at a book. Which are the best days ever!]
  8. You've been known to skip family functions or outings with friends because you can't stop reading. [When I was a kid this was definitely an issue. I also got in trouble for reading at the dinner table. At Christmas with my family this year, my youngest cousin immediately began reading the books I gave her and ignored everyone, even when there was dessert available. I love HER best.]
  9. There are books in every room of your house. [Actually, yes. There are even books on the back of my toilet.]
  10. If you are within five miles of a bookstore, you find yourself drawn to it like a homing device from the mothership. [Well, duh.]

Kickstarter Project: Wonder Woman documentary

Hey gals and...gals! (Do I have any male readers? If so, hai guyz) So, I love Kickstarter and have supported a few projects through it in the past, and today I'm pimping an awesome Wonder Woman documentary, The History of the Universe As Told By Wonder Woman.

How can you resist a title like that? If you'd like to be a backer, go here and donate as much or little as you please! They're a bit shy of their money goal, and they've only got until March 17th to raise funds!

(the power of Diana of Themyscira compels you)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pop music wants you to feel good about yourself

No, really! Doesn't it seem like lately there's all these songs about how great you are, just the way you are? Pink's "Fuckin' Perfect", "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga, "Firework" by Katy Perry, even Ke$ha's "We R Who We R" all make me feel like I'm fab without even trying. The dudes want me to know how awesome I am too--B.O.B. and Bruno Mars, most notably (Enrique Iglesias just wants to be sure I understand that tonight he's fucking me. No, Enrique, you're not).

And I say, Full steam ahead, pop deities! If girl power is back in swing, I'm good with that. We could all use a little sunshine and pep. So here's some Top 40 that loves you.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Body Appreciation: Feet

So, having jumped right into the awesomeness of Nia classes, I have lately become much more aware of my feet. Feet are not something I really think about, unless they hurt or have a cut on them or I'm buying shoes (oh, shoes!). Well, I'm aware of my feet now! Last week I developed a blister on my big toe from dancing--this week it has morphed into a callus. Already! As they say, feet are the hands which worship the ground. Feet walk us everywhere; sometimes I think mine could walk forever, given the proper shoes. Feet are the workhorses of our bodies.

I have not always been kind to my feet, or looked on them kindly. When I was a kid I ran around barefoot everywhere--somehow never managing to get worms or tetanus--and though I love bare feet, when walking on pavement or hot sand it's usually a kindness to shoe them. As an adult I confess that I don't really like the way my feet look: I'm rather tall and my feet are rather small (five foot ten versus a size seven and a half) and I find this disproportionate and strange. But no more--regardless of whether I would look better and less like I'm about to fall over if I had, say, size ten feet like my sister and mother...my feet WORK. Without many complaints. They're in good shape and they do so many things. They look cute in ballet flats. They allow me to dance and bounce and turn around quickly and walk miles and pick up things with my toes. Here's to you, feet! Count on many more calluses to come.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Film Fantasy Friday: Graceling

Ohhh yeah, you know it. I recently reread Kristin Cashore's novel Graceling because it's one of the 2010 Florida Teen Reads novels and pertains to my schooling and internship, and somehow I'd forgotten how TOTALLY BADASS IT IS. So here we are, journeying with Katsa and the disgustingly foxy Prince Po (Teletubby name aside), as they ferret out the horrible secret of Monsea. The book has quite a large cast, so here are a few of the most important ones:

Lady Katsa: played by Zara Phythian, Katsa is the niece of her land's king and used by him as a thug for enforcing his rule. Her Grace is presumed to be that of combat--she is capable of killing with her bare hands.

Prince Po: played by Matt Bomer, Greening Gandemalion (normally known as Po) is a prince also apparently Graced with the killing art.

King Leck: played by Guy Pearce, Leck is thought by the other kingdoms to be a kind ruler, if reclusive. But Katsa and Po discover that he is Graced as well, and is using his power for wicked ends.

Bitterblue: played by Elle Fanning, Bitterblue is Leck's daughter and is on the run from her twisted father when she is rescued by Po and Katsa.

Giddon: played by Aaron Johnson, Giddon is a young nobleman in love with Katsa and a member of the secret Council.

And that's how Diana casts it. All images pulled from Google and Wikipedia.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

OMG is she going to talk about her PERIOD??!!!1one

Um, yes. I am. Tune in or drop out as you will.

A blogger I love to read, Carla, has reviewed several types of reusable cloth menstrual pads, including Mother Moon Pads, Muffies by Pleat, and Lunapads. I found these very interesting and helpful, as I was considering buying some cloth pads for myself. I love the idea of a more sustainable menstrual product (I already use a Divacup and like it a lot)--many women need to use SOMETHING every month, and it shouldn't have to be a something made of bleach and synthetic products that takes a bajillion years (scientifically speaking) to decompose in a landfill. My mom is a big believer in cloth diapers and I imagine I would be as well if I had kids, and cloth pads are really about the same.

So. Since Carla had kindly reviewed several of the popular contenders for women's business, I decided to tackle one more: Party In My Pants. Fantastic name, right? Since I do use a Divacup, I opted to try out a Luxe Liner and also ordered a Super Pad for days when I feel like foregoing the Diva. I've only had the opportunity to use the Liner so far, so this will be a two-part report continuing next month. I know, you're all so excited! So, the Luxe Liner. First of all--CUTE! There are lots of different fun fabric options for the PIMP (bonus awesome acronym) pads and liners, and I got a green peacock print. There are also many different cuts and widths (including wide-winged pads for boy shorts and narrower ones for thongs). The Liner is very well made, with an interior of super-soft cotton flannelette and a nylon shield backing. Snaps on either side of the wings secure the Liner to your undies. I found the Liner to be really comfortable--almost luxurious, as the name suggests, to have flannelly stuff cuddling my junk--and wide enough and long enough that I wasn't worrying about leakage. The cotton core is very absorbent and perfect for use with a tampon or cup. And have no fear! PIMP pads and liners are washing machine and tumble-dryer safe, and don't even really need to be soaked prior to washing with other laundry (though I might toss them in a mesh bag if a pad REALLY needed to be by its lonesome). And if you're traveling or otherwise can't toss a used pad or liner in the wash basket, they have this neat way of folding in on themselves and then snapping closed to keep the used interior secured.

It's funny, I'm kinda almost looking forward to next month's visit from the Euphemism and trying out the Super Pad! I shall report back. For now, my Luxe Liner and I are getting to be good friends.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hearts and flowers, blasters and pompoms

It's that day, dear readers! National day of hawking all things red, pink, glittery, and sugary, and entrenched as I am in the splendors of young love, I am positively starry-eyed to bring to you some of my Favorite Fictional Couples. Ten of them, to be exact, though not really in any particular order...

10. Brittany/Santana: a newish entry into the pantheon of cute and smoochy, Brittany Pierce and Santana Lopez of Glee are definitely my favorite couple on that show. Who can resist their pinky-holding, their matching Cheerio uniforms (SPOILERS ne'er to be seen again?), their scissoring? Brittana forever, friends. Awkward Ship Name: actually, "Brittana" is obvious and easy to say.

9. Willow/Oz: spreading hope to nerds everywhere, Willow Rosenberg and Daniel "Oz" Osborne were, in the heyday of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, about as cute as it gets. Red-haired and diminutive, geeky and smart, one a witch and the other a werewolf, Willow/Oz made panicking downright sexy. Awkward Ship Name: Willoz? Ozlow? Yeah, I don't know.

8. Han/Leia: the original ship! Honestly, who comes out of STAR WARS thinking, You know, I think Leia should get with Lando? She's a sharp-shooting princess with a sharper tongue, he's a rogue--what more is there? Awkward Ship Name: Solgana, perhaps, though that sounds like a grain crop.

7. Dick/Babs: ohhhhh the Batfamily spawns some fancy pairings indeed. I was considering Bat/Cat (ok, and Dick/Jason. SHUT UP), but Nightwing/Oracle (or if you prefer tweenage cuteness, Robin/Batgirl) won out. They have brains, they have muscles in strange places, they have adorable, they have my heart. Awkward Ship Name: Gordonson? Nah...Woracle? I am bad at this.

6. Zoe/Wash: the cutest of the cute who ever pirated the sky! Zoe Washburne and Hoban "Wash" Washburne are so cute it's almost gross. She's tall and badass and wants something with a little slink in it, he's short and plays with dinosaurs and wants to buy her that something with a little slink in it. Awkward Ship Name: Zwash. Doesn't get much awkwarder than that. Although if you're into apes, "Washoe" is fun.

5. Willow/Tara: now, don't look at me like that; Willow and Tara deserve their spot just as much as Willow and Oz do. Some of mainstream TV's most famous lesbians, Willow and Tara are just nice. And cute. And tragic, oh, so tragic. Awkward Ship Name: MacRosenberg. Rosenclay?

4. O'Neill/Carter: Stargate SG1's forbidden couple, Sam and Jack go together like something really smart and something really grumpy. Why couldn't you have thrown us that, ahem, bone, SG1? Awkward Ship Name: O'Carter, I suppose.

3. The Doctor/Rose: keep in mind, the Doctor lives forever...so when he falls for a mortal, you know it's got to be something special. Oh Rose! I'll never be over you. Awkward Ship Name: good lord. I have no idea. Doctrose? Sounds like a sugar.

2. Veronica/Logan: let it be known that I literally ship Veronica Mars with EVERYONE (including myself). HOWEVER, the end goal is always Logan of the white-bread cute, Logan of the screwed up family, and Logan of the inimitable snark. Awkward Ship Name: Marcholls.

1. Rocky/Adrian: ok, so, I am a fan of boy movies and I have a soft spot for red coats. Adrian and Rocky are so cute, don't deny it! She works in a pet store and has huge glasses, he tells her she looks "very great" and eventually names a restaurant for her, and they manage to spawn Milo Ventimiglia. There is no bad. Awkward Ship Name: Balpennino? Radrian?

Ok, you can all go puke now. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Body Appreciation: Foramen Magnum

For those saying, Wuzzat? do be aware that in honor of yesterday being Darwin Day, today's Body Appreciation is dedicated to one of the awesome things about the human skeleton which allows us to practice habitual bipedalism: the foramen magnum! That's the place where the spine meets the skull. See, in other apes, the spine enters the skull at a very different angle than ours, which--in combination with other aspects of their skeletons--doesn't allow them to move about in an upright position for very long. Behold:

Live long and prosper, foramen magna of Homo sapiens! I love you because I love walking. In fact, I'm about to get off my blogger ass and have a walk in our lovely cold sunshine.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Film Fantasy Friday: The Lady with the Pillbox Hat

Evening, friends and lovers. I'm taking a break from my hideous comprehensive exam (which, once it has been sent back to me with a passing grade and the assurrance that I will be graduating, I will have strong words about) to bring this week's venture into fantasy film-making. The Lady with the Pillbox Hat is a glimpse into a Britain which still has India and the surrounding environs under its thumb and a murder mystery starring the following lovely folks:

Dorothea Graves: played by Archie Panjabi, Dorothea is a recently widowed half-Indian, half-white-British anthropologist on the hunt for her husband's murderer.

Patrick Graves: played by Simon Woods, Patrick was Dorothea's husband, lately murdered, and a rising political star on his way to Downing Street.

Winslow Spencer: played by Ioan Gruffudd, Winslow--or Winnie, as Dorothea calls him--is Patrick's closest friend, who unfortunately has a taste for interesting business dealings.

Rai Nazir: played by Shahrukh Khan, Rai is the head of a shadowy group called the Thanivali who may or may not have had a hand in Patrick's death.

Charlotte Alexander: played by Samantha Mathis, Charlotte is an established politician and was Patrick's running mate. The media and public at large suspect the two of having carried on an affair.

And that's how Diana casts it. All images pulled from Google and Wikipedia.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


As I have mentioned here, I do yoga--I take classes at a local studio when I can (which is not very often) and I practice at home with my mat and my DVD and music. I really like yoga; it is comforting and good for you and doesn't involve insane equipment or drill instructor trainers barking at you to feel the burn. However, I read in Sylvan's book The Body Sacred and on her blog about something called Nia and was interested to try it.

You see, I also really like dancing. I have never been trained to dance and I probably look like a fool when I dance, but I love it and it feels good, and so I read about Nia and thought, Hey! An exercise that combines yoga, martial arts, and dance? Sign me up! From its website, Nia is perfect for seasoned athletes and rank beginners alike, which I found to be true at the first class I took, which was last night at the Rubin Health Center in St Petersburg. The class was small--three other women besides me plus the teacher, a young woman named Lesley--and downright intimate, but very open and comfortable. I, the dancing fool with two left feet and zero coordination, had a wonderful time. The other three women were clearly at varying levels of expertise; one seemed very skillful and often expanded upon the motions which the instructor was doing, adding her own arm movements, dips, and so forth. Another seemed to be at a mid-range point and comfortable with her body. The third looked to be a beginner like me. Body types varied as well--one women was very lean, another was heavier-set, and a third built like a swimmer with broad shoulders and strong legs. We were all different ages, with me on the young end and one of the other women looking to be in her late forties.

And this is the beauty of Nia. There was no snickering at me for my clumsiness, there was no shaming or preaching to the heavier woman. There was music and Lesley showing us a motion to move into, and yes, there was sweat. It is good exercise. I can feel my legs and shoulders particularly today.

I look forward to this Saturday's class. This is a great way to exercise for those who hate gyms, those who are working through feelings of shame regarding some aspect of their bodies, whether weight or grace, those who want the meditation portion of yoga but also love to dance.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Among Others (spoilers edition)

Now that I'm two days away from my first reading of Among Others, I want to try to give it a REAL review, because the book deserves it. Hopefully this will turn out to be less me-me-me and a bit more thoughtful. Spoilers to follow.

To start, a bit about Jo Walton--it must be confessed that I have a bad case of geo-envy for her; she is from Wales and now lives in Canada. AAACK. Unfair! Alas, someday. She also blogs at Tor.com (her publisher's site), as well as on her LiveJournal. I am not usually bold enough to comment on either place, but her reviews and personal posts are well worth reading, especially if you love rereading. Her Small Change series (Farthing, Ha'Penny, Half a Crown) is a quite incredible trilogy set in an alternate Britain during World War II; the Sulien books (The King's Peace, The King's Name, and a companion novel The Prize in the Game) are somewhat a retelling of Arthur; Tooth and Claw WAS my favorite of her standalone novels ('til Among Others happened), and it is just wonderful, a Victorian romance of dragons. Lifelode is a bit harder to explain--"domestic fantasy" seems far too essential--but is strange and beautiful and different and very rewarding.

Ok. So. Why Among Others was so good, in the not-all-about-Diana version. Though surely part of the impact of the book for me was that it hit me at the right time, as I am currently wallowing in the pleasure of having found my own karass (two of them, actually). But beyond the gut reaction, Among Others is a delight of craft: plot, style, characters all woven together with pure magic. The book is a stew of genres--fantasy, boarding-school drama, coming-of-age tale--which mix together wonderful well, salted with the steady stream of book titles which will charm any reader. Indeed a bibliography of the books Mori reads would probably end up being a good core collection of science fiction (the librarian in her said thoughtfully). The plot is perhaps a familiar one: teenage girl goes to school among strangers after a great tragedy and grows to find that the world is not as lonely as she thought: but Walton's simultaneously real and other-world of Wales, and the family and acquaintances of Mori, are so well done that the plot seems new again.

Walton's writing is deft, so deft it reads as effortless, as though anyone who loved books like she does could create such a book as Among Others. Where she really excels is with voice. Such a master of voice! None of her many female characters sound like the others; even in the same book, The Prize in the Game, Emer and Elenn are resoundingly different, and Sulien certainly is nothing like Mori or Taveth. Mori's voice is pitch-perfect intelligent, bookish teenager, but such is Walton's craft that there is nothing self-indulgent about her. No words are wasted giving Mori the morose introspection of many teenage protagonists--we know exactly what she thinks about her classmates and friends, how she feels about her father and the beautiful Wim, but this knowledge is derived from precise pieces of dialogue and description rather than paragraphs about how hot Wim is and how much Mori wants to be with him. Mori's voice is a great mix of "brill" (her favorite adjective for good books) and musings about anarchy and utopias and why writers do what they do. Readers will likely find that this is a lot like what their own brains sounded like at age fifteen. Teenage snobbery is especially well-developed among teenagers who read...and it eventually this tendency to read which brings them out of it (hopefully). Mori is a snob, no doubt, being horrified at comparisons of an author she loves to Phillip K. Dick and so forth--but at the same time she reads everything in sight, even the wonderful dross of Xanth!

Ahhh the magic! There is magic in the story, and according to Walton ('ware, authorial intent ahoy!) it is real magic, that is to say, Mori is not insane. Her mother, we find, is a witch and also mad, and Mori's twin was killed in a car accident following the thwarting of mother Liz by the girls. Her mother's magic is powerful, but so is Mori's, and the way it is worked is perfection. Mori remarks at one point that magic is like class--it is easy to say it doesn't exist, but it affects everything and everyone. The fairies with whom Mori converses are real, and unreal, and unlike most other fairies. The ins and outs and moral morasses of magic Mori turns over in her diary; she is serious about magic, as she is about most things, and there is not much wondering about whether or not what she did had an effect. She knows it did. Though she does conduct a few spells or rituals throughout the book, they are not described in detail and this I found satisfactory. Her reasoning for not explaining herself, even in her diary, even in mirror handwriting, is what my reasoning would be.

If there is an overarching theme to Among Others, it is of the power of reading. At the moment of crisis near the book's end, Mori says that if you love books enough, they will love you back. Readers know this: books have power. Books are your weapon and your comfort and your friend. They accompany you when you are lonely, make you laugh when you are sad, teach you lessons of many kinds, show you places, strengthen your imagination and your will. Among Others says, Read everything! Yes, Mori reads "good" books, but--as Walton points out on her journal--she also reads Piers Anthony. A broad exposure to what the library has to offer never hurt anyone, in fact it helps. Even Redwall (which, offense to Watership Down aside, I still devoured). Even If I Pay Thee Not In Gold. Even Twilight. Read! Gorge yourself! A book is humanity's best friend.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Body Appreciation: Legs

Well, dear readers, I just spent half an hour on my yoga mat. For most of that time I wasn't even crying in Child's Pose! And now that I've showered and sat down, my legs are angry at me.

But I still love you, legs! You are awesome in that way that very reliable things are awesome. An awesome you never have to think about, but which deserves thinking about. I don't always have warm feelings toward my legs--generally when I DO think about them it's to wish that they looked like Lois Lane's--but they deserve better than that. Shapely or no, they work hard and they work well. They can walk for hours. They carry me up and down stairs, across neighborhoods, into bookstores and tea houses, along the beach; they wrap around my beloved with ease. They are long and look good in jeans. They deserve some redonk sequined shorts, which I will buy them the next time I have money to burn.

Here's to you, legs! Keep on walking.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Among Others (here be a self-centered review)

One of my favorite living authors is Jo Walton. I fell in very predictable love with her Sulien books--they're alternate mythology for Arthurian nuts like me--and then read all her other novels. All are brilliant, just fucking brilliant. She just published her newest, Among Others, which may not be her best (it's so hard with an author like her) but is certainly the most important book I have read in a long while. I read it in a day--today in fact, I just set it down about fifteen minutes ago. I should probably put this off until I can construct a REAL review, but I just can't, like I couldn't stop reading the book.

Because, as la-ti-da as it sounds, this book was written for me. I have been waiting for it since I was Mori's age, fifteen and frightened and nervy and confused and reading everything I could get my hands on, even fluffy crap like Piers Anthony, who really is like Chaucer (just think about it). It is written for librarians, because Mori understands what libraries are and what librarians do and how important they are. She is in love with them the way I was when I read my way through the science fiction aisle from Anderson to Wolverton (we didn't have any Zelazny), the way I still am. Her librarians, Miss Carroll and Greg, are the librarians I strive to be. Eight books never would have been enough to tide me over for a week.

Mori daydreams about meeting C.S. Lewis. Haven't we all been there? Too embarrassing. He's dead! Thomas Hardy is dead (Mori would not approve of my love for Hardy, but there it is). Tamora Pierce is alive but there's a snowball's chance in hell that I'll ever meet her! And yet.

I want to talk to Mori. I want to ask her if she has read any Terry Pratchett yet, or any more of Cherryh. I want to know if she thinks Dan Simmons is a hack or amazing.

Reading Mori was like reading my own soul. It is such a selfish thing. This is a selfish review. I haven't even told you what the book is ABOUT, have I? But I can't resist; everything is there, everything. The undertone of superiority in Mori's voice when she compares her fellow female students sharing lipstick to Susan in The Last Battle, her air of sober cosmopolitanism when considering adult topics like anarchy and homosexuality. The affirmation of an author you like liking another author you like (with the modern version of this being my glee at watching Neil Gaiman Tweet to Robin McKinley). The outrage at authorial affronts: how dare Lord Foul's Bane compare itself to The Lord of the Rings? How dare Lewis intend Narnia as an allegory? For my part, how dare Redwall compare itself to Watership Down?

Mori's yearning for a karass (God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut)speaks to every person who has ever experienced the profound loneliness of, as Miss Carroll says, not having a chance to talk to people about things that matter to you. Her joy at finding that karass, at finding out that there are other people like you, really! people who read what you read and want to talk to you about it, is palpable and true. And there are. There are other people. Clearly Walton is one, clearly her childhood was on the same dramroad as mine, otherwise how would she have known just what would make me cry and say, Yes, that is how it is? It is not just about being a misfit. It's about books. What it feels like to love books and to believe that no real person could ever be as good a friend as The Once and Future King (my Lord of the Rings), to rely on them and use them and learn from them. It is a love story and a tribute to the power of books.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Film Fantasy Friday: PSA Edition

'Allo, dear readers. It's That Time of the Week again, but before we hop to, I'd like to put the word about that tomorrow, February 5th, is Save Our Libraries Day! It started in the UK, but I want to see it spreading elsewhere too. Public libraries particularly need the love and support of their patrons. So turn out tomorrow in droves, readers--Internetters--researchers--homeless folks who need to use the bathroom--parents and kids! Check out books and movies, get a library card if you don't have one, ask the reference desk for helping with your genealogy, use the system's online resources. Show your support for our greatest institution.

With that, the book for this week features a librarian. The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman is a strange little tale with few characters but atmosphere in spades--bonus, it contains lightning strikes, fairy tales, sex, and Florida. Below are the characters you really need to know:

The Ice Queen: played by Rachel Weisz, the unnamed heroine of the novel moves to Florida after her grandmother's death only to be struck by lightning...a bizarre occurrence which will shape the rest of her life.

Ned: played by Matthew Gray Gubler, Ned is the heroine's older brother, a professor at a Florida college. He is dying of cancer (yeah, it's a real cheery book).

Nora: played by Emily Blunt, Nora is Ned's chic, distant wife.

Lazarus Jones: played by Michael Pitt, Lazarus is a man who died and came back to life after being struck by lightning. His body bears this evidence--he radiates heat, can turn an ice cube to steam by holding it in his mouth, and he has a strange mark on his back.

And that's how Diana casts it. All images pulled from Google and Wikipedia. Now go show your local politicians how much you love your library!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Violent faith

I am a bit of an odd apostate, I suppose, in that I have never read any of the Big Bad X-Mormon Books--No Man Knows My History, American Massacre, Mormon Enigma (though I look forward to Carla's thoughts on that one), Blood of the Prophets, The Sanctity of Dissent, none of Quinn's stuff. I have read One Nation Under Gods, Mormon America, and now, Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven. As I understand it, many people BECOME apostates because of such books. I guess I have some catching up to do.

So yes. Krakauer's book. If anything it sort of pulled punches--despite the horrors it details about the Lafferty murders and the FLDS/UEP/whateverthefucktheyrecallingthemselves, I'm not quite sure Krakauer ties Mormon-based fundamentalism strongly enough to its forefathers and cousins in the mainstream LDS church. No matter what the church proper says, the ties are there. Quite frankly, I have more respect for nutbar fundamentalists with their six wives and forty children than I have for Mormons who preach in Sunday school that plural marriage will be waiting in the celestial kingdom, but those inbred hicks down in Colorado City are perverting Christ's kingdom! If you're going to preach something, you might as well practice it. This is not to say that the LDs church necessarily breeds murderers. It DOES breed--or encourage--a mindset which marginalizes anything "other", represses women and minorities, and does not tolerate doubt or questioning authority.

I have heard people say that they found Under the Banner of Heaven difficult to follow. Its narration bounces between a brief history of the LDS church (with focus on Joseph Smith and polygamy) and the events leading up to and fall-out of the murders of Brenda and Erica Lafferty by two of Brenda's brothers-in-law. I suppose for those not familiar with the church, who are reading the book as an informative text, the structure is a little confusing. For me, it made perfect sense. I could see where Krakauer was going with things before reaching his weaving-together of points or figures which would likely have seemed disparate to a reader unfamiliar with church history. Presumably the church leaders are unhappy with this (I mean, they're unhappy with the book in general; a big rebuttal/bitchfest was written before the book was even on shelves; in the edition I have Krakauer responds to the complaints in an afterword. Admittedly there were a few editorial or historical errors in the first edition, which are corrected, but most of the problems the church officials had with the book were differences of opinion)--the idea that anyone familiar with LDS history, whether a current member, disaffected member, a history buff, or jack Mormon, will be like OH YEAH I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE THIS GUY'S GOING when Krakauer's on a bent about peep stones or the Dream Mine or Section 132 or whatnot...is disturbing to the people who run things. It's actually kind of funny that the church authorities got so bent out of shape; this book doesn't really tell anything that wasn't already available in other books and online. The only shiny new thing is that Krakauer is not LDS and is a popular author, and so his book has had more attention from broad audiences than, say, the Tanners'.

(My that was a long and convoluted sentence!)

At any rate, I didn't find Under the Banner of Heaven difficult to follow or understand. I guess it's a bad sign that I felt like Krakauer was holding back. How warped is that? A book explicating the reasonably sordid history of the LDS church, a book that essentially blames that history for producing fundamentalists given to incest, illegal polygyny, and murder--and my reaction is, Meh. I don't know exactly why I'm underwhelmed by this book, but there it is. It is a pretty good introduction to mainstream and fundamentalist LDS groups, certainly.

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