Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The End

I've decided that it's time for this blog to shuffle off its mortal coil. I'll no longer be writing a personal blog. Check out The Bluestocking Society for my reading activities.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Thursday!

Friday, May 23, 2008

An Evening with Leif Enger

Peace Like a RiverLeif Enger, who maddeningly does not have a website, made an appearance at The King’s English in Salt Lake City last night. Before we proceed, I must disclose that I LOVE Peace Like a River. It’s due for a rereading (right after I finish So Brave, Young, and Handsome), so I’ll likely post a review of it then.

As you might have guessed, Leif Enger’s new book is So Brave, Young, and Handsome. I haven’t finished it yet, but the fifty or so pages I have read were quite delightful. Quite.

Anyway, we (me with my husband and brother, neither of whom had heard of Leif Enger prior to being dragged to the signing) appeared at The King’s English and were ushered by Betsy into a small alcove of books with about twenty chairs. While we were waiting for Leif (which, by the by, I have always pronounced, incorrectly, as “Leaf”), the husband and the brother skimmed through books by Mary Roach, whose titles include Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, and Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife.

Leif arrived and after a somewhat awkward summary of the new book (which included at least five usesSo Brave, Young, and Handsome of the word "implacable") and introduction by Betsy, the reading began. We were a little disappointed once he started talking that, as a Minnesotan, his accent did not in the least resemble that of the cast of Fargo. However, Leif was very amicable and invited audience participation in a way that reminded me of my favorite college professor. He read aloud to us in an engaging manner, almost but not quite as if he were reading to children.

Then Leif invited us to engage in a discussion (an interesting and more inviting way of saying "let us now commence with the obligatory Q&A"). The crowd consisted of mainly fifty-somethings, most of them obviously associated with the English Department at the University of Utah. Trust me, they were. The Q&A proceeded with the audience members making obvious and uncomfortable references to their books, writing groups, and writing students. The most exciting moment came when, asked who his favorite author was, Leif responded that it was currently Tobias Wolff (who also lacks a website) and his book Old School. (Old School, along with Peace Like a River, currently has a place in my current top five favorite books of all time.) Leif took it all in stride and politely answered the interminable round of insipid questions. Afterward, we were all offered coffee and wine while we waited in line to have our books signed.

Leif & IHaving attended two other book signings in the last week, I am a seasoned signing linestander. First, I prepped the books for signing by marking the pages to be signed, and then I made the hard decision to ask Leif to just sign the books without inscribing them to me (increasing their sale value one hundred years from now). Unfortunately, Leif just asked me my name and proceeded to both inscribe and sign my books while we made uncomfortable small talk about the rankness of the Great Salt Lake. I also turned into gushing reader and mentioned that Peace Like a River is one of my top five favorite books of all time. Blah.

The reading was great fun, and, as I've mentioned before, I like supporting my favorite contemporary, and therefore living, writers. Here here.

This post is cross-posted here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Because I Sort Of Miss Myspace

True statements are bolded. [Commentary.]


1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college
5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers [what does this even mean?]
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home [I never counted, but I don't think so]
9. Were read children’s books by a parent
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18 [piano, clarinet]
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively [the Mormons—I think not]
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs [it was mostly me, baby]
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
16. Went to a private high school
17. Went to summer camp [does Girls’ Camp count?]
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels [sometimes]
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
25. You had your own room as a child
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course [does working through an interminably large workbook count? I didn't think so]
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
31. Went on a cruise with your family
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family [until I started paying them at about 16]

Oh, What a Literary Weekend!

Friday night, I met Stephenie Meyer, vampire authoress extraordinaire. The thousand-seat venue was, of course, packed. The doors opened at 5:00 p.m. The event started at 7:00 p.m., when Stephenie took the stage and answered preselected questions for maybe fifteen minutes. Then we (me, my mother-in-law, and three of my sisters-in-law) waited for three more hours for our turn to have our books signed. We went. We met. We had our books signed. Good times.

On Saturday, my sister-in-law Maren and I went to the Provo City Library to meet Shannon Hale, fairy tale authoress extraordinaire. Shannon was scheduled to arrive at 2:00 p.m., but had not shown by about 2:35 p.m. Whilst we were waiting, Maren and I made two predictions, both of which turned out to be true.

Prediction #1. Our spot in line was directly in front of the elevators. I predicted that Shannon would step off of this very elevator and we could just convince her that this was the front of the line. Well, my prediction held partly true—Shannon did get off of the elevator right in front of us, but we did not attempt our line lie.

Prediction #2. Maren mentioned that she thought that Shannon Hale and Stephenie Meyer were good friends. Maren then postulated that Shannon was late because she was hanging out with Stephenie Meyer. As we finally reached the front of the line and engaged in witty banter with Shannon, the truth came out. Shannon was late because she was hanging out with Stephenie. Maren and I, in our line-waiting, chocolate-enhanced silly moods, reacted to this news as if we were thirteen year olds. We turned and pointed at each other and screamed something like “We knew it!”


I have to say that meeting Shannon Hale was better than meeting Stephenie Meyer. Poor Stephenie Meyer was already in her third hour of signing books (with at least two more hours ahead of her) when we finally reached the front of the line, and we could tell she was a little past her peak. On the other hand, we reached the front of Shannon’s line about forty-five minutes after she arrived. Shannon was pleasant and engaging and told us a funny story about Libba Bray. She also personalized our books.

I’m glad that I live in an area that authors actually visit. I really want to support current writers and their work. Leif Enger is going to be doing a reading and a signing in Salt Lake next week, right during book club. Dilemma.

This post is cross-posted here at the secret blog.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Standing in Line

Today I arose at an ungodly hour* to go and wait in an interminable (well, it did terminate eventually) line to get tickets to stand in Stephenie Meyer’s presence with a thousand other lunatics. There’s no explaining it. People slept outside. They brought tents and children. They voluntarily SLEPT ON CONCRETE. Then after the pleasure of standing in line, we all forked out the cashola for one freshly minted copy of The Host plus an additional $10 for the event ticket. And there I was #475. Granted, I did not spend the night. I arrived at 7:00 a.m., freshly showered, hair properly coiffed, and bedecked in appropriate clothing. Does that make it better?

The only reasonable entity in this whole scenario is Borders. Borders sold 1000 copies of The Host in a little less than an hour. 500 in Provo; 500 in Murray. Not bad. Even with the 40% discount for us lucky Borders Rewards card holders. That’s me. A Borders Rewards card holder. Worth the 8:00 a.m. opening and the extra staff at the bargain price of just-barely-above-minimum-wage. Definitely worth it for them. The marketing genius. I bow down. Well, mostly I just stand in line and hand over the moolah.

Now the above ranting may make me sound bitter about the line-standing. And now that I put it in print, I think I am. A bit. Mostly because I see more line-standing in my future. Standing in line with the other 1000 ticket holders to fight for six seats together in the giant auditorium. Standing in line, again, with the other 1000 ticket holders to get THREE BOOKS EACH signed by her holiness. Probably standing in line to get overpriced bottled water and will-shrink cotton t-shirts.

This is how deep my love of the books goes. I do. I love the books. I just like ‘em more in the godly hours.

*Any hour prior to me getting nine hours of sleep—all other hours are, by elimination, godly.

This post is cross-posted here at the secret blog.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Apostrophes' Rules

Yesterday, I had an apostrophe-ridden day. Weird, I know. Two separate apostrophe incident's occurred. Both involved the following grammatical rule:

The possessive of most singular nouns is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s, and the possessive of plural nouns by adding an apostrophe only.
The first incident was my reading a post on Punctuality Rules, one of my new favorite blogs. Anyhow, the gist of the post is that in 1894, the United States Board on Geographic Names abolished apostrophes in geographical names throughout the country. Martha's Vineyard subsequently fought for the right to retain its apostrophe and won. According to the post, only five locations in the U.S. have the right to use an apostrophe in their names.

The second incident was a round of emails set at work debating whether the plural of Charles is Charles' or Charles's. (For the record, it's Charles's.) This prompted a coworker to forward me an article about the United States Supreme Court's use of apostrophes. Apparently, seven of the justices believe that the plural possessive of Kansas is Kansas', while only two justices believe that it's Kansas's. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, it is Kansas's.

I thought everyone would like to know.

Monday, March 31, 2008

#46

The J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University is ranked #46 of this year's U.S. News and World Report Best Law Schools. There are numerous complaints about the methodology employed to come up with these magical numbers, but they are what they are.

Heaven forbid I speak out against my alma mater, but I actually think BYU deserves this slight downturn in its rankings. However, it has been working to turn things around, and I am confident that it will climb a little in the rankings next year.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Twitter

My new favorite thing is Twitter. It's like a mini-blog that you can post to from the web or a cell phone. All you have to do is answer the question "What are you doing?" in 140 characters or less. Try it out.

I've added a twitter widget to the blog so you can keep up with my important-but-shorter ramblings on this site, or you can see my ramblings here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Political Soapbox: Help RIF

I hate it when people email/forward me information about an issue and urge me to contact my Congressperson or Senator. However, I don’t feel as assaulted by the issue urger when I can voluntarily read about it on a blog.

So . . . please allow me a minute on my political soapbox.

General Message: There is a national program called Reading is Fundamental (“RIF”). President Bush is seeking to cut funding to this program. RIF has mobilized and is circulating a letter of support to members of Congress and the Senate. You can help by contacting your representatives, urging them to sign the letter. For an easy email form, go here.

Personal Endorsement: I was a childhood recipient of RIF books in Portland, Oregon. At my school (Atkinson Elementary), every semester or so each class would go to the library where age-appropriate books would be arranged on tables. We would then have a few minutes to browse at each table, and, at the end, we would get to select a book. For FREE. To take home. To keep. Forever. I thought it was better than candy. I still have several RIF books (stamped with the program’s bookplate). The RIF books I can recall from memory include Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Fog Magic, both of which are magical books that affected my life.

Anyway, there is my personal plea. Help support RIF by visiting this website.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Uno


Uno the 15-inch beagle won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club this weekend. He's so cute. Matt and I have been talking about getting a beagle for years. Uno definitely seals the deal.

After they announced the winner, the crowd went crazy, and Uno started baying. So cute!

Friday, February 15, 2008

The World is Conquerable


In preparation for the magnificent, exciting, long-awaited, superfantabulous vacation that is still months away, Matt and I recently obtained our passports. (They are new and fancy and equipped with schnazzy electronic chips.) It’s exciting to join the world of world travelers. Thank you. Thank you very much.

My Secret Blog

Alright, after weeks of harassment from some members of my family, who will remain unnamed, I am confessing. I have a secret blog. There, I said it.

I started the other blog not in an effort to undermine this, my firstborn blog, but to have a forum solely about books. (Eventually, the secret blog will be expanded with other contributing members.) I thought that some of the readers (all two of you) of this blog, might not be interested in an (almost) daily log of my reading activities and other items relevant to all things books.

However, I have been informed that this is not necessarily the case. Thus, those of you who are interested in such things may visit the now not-so-secret blog here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Trilogies

So, I’m 350 pages in to The Sweet Far Thing, the third book of the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray, and I’m not even half way through!! What is it about trilogy writers? (Or series writers in general, for that matter?) The first book is a good solid 300-500 pages. The second book adds perhaps a hundred or so pages more. THEN, the third book is monstrous. A few examples illustrate my point:

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy, by Libba Bray

1. A Great and Terrible Beauty = 432
2. Rebel Angels = 592
3. The Sweet Far Thing = 832

The Twilight Series*, by Stephenie Meyer

1. Twilight = 512
2. New Moon = 608
3. Eclipse = 640
4. Breaking Dawn = ?

*The Twilight Series was originally supposed to be a trilogy, but the third book was so long they made it into two books!

The Lord of the Rings*, by J.R.R. Tolkien

1. The Fellowship of the Ring = 398
2. The Two Towers = 725
3. The Return of the King = 1137

*I think The Lord of the Rings was originally written as one book and was then broken into three books by a publisher.

His Dark Materials Trilogy, by Philip Pullman

1. The Golden Compass = 368
2. The Subtle Knife = 304
3. The Amber Spyglass = 480

The Bourne Trilogy
, by Robert Ludlum

1. The Bourne Identity = 544
2. The Bourne Supremacy = 646
3. The Bourne Ultimatum = 672

The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling

1. Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone = 309
2. Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets = 352
3. Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban = 448
4. Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire = 734
5. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix = 896
6. Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince = 672
7. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows = 784

Okay, so my theory doesn’t ALWAYS hold up, but it seems that publishers are more willing to let authors be verbose as the series or trilogy goes on. (Also, I have a related theory that editors and publishers get more lax about the editing process as the series and the author becomes more and more popular.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oscar Nominations

2007 Oscar Nominees!
1. Best Picture: "Atonement," "Juno," "Michael Clayton," "No Country for Old Men," "There Will Be Blood."

2. Actor: George Clooney, "Michael Clayton"; Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"; Johnny Depp, "Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street"; Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Valley of Elah"; Viggo Mortensen, "Eastern Promises."

3. Actress: Cate Blanchett, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"; Julie Christie, "Away From Her"; Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en Rose"; Laura Linney, "The Savages"; Ellen Page, "Juno."

4. Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"; Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"; Hal Holbrook, "Into the Wild"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Charlie Wilson's War"; Tom Wilkinson, "Michael Clayton."

5. Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"; Ruby Dee, "American Gangster"; Saoirse Ronan, "Atonement"; Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone"; Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton."

6. Director: Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"; Jason Reitman, "Juno"; Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"; Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood."

7. Foreign Film: "Beaufort," Israel; "The Counterfeiters," Austria; "Katyn," Poland; "Mongol," Kazakhstan; "12," Russia.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Christopher Hampton, "Atonement"; Sarah Polley, "Away from Her"; Ronald Harwood, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"; Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"; Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood."

9. Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody, "Juno"; Nancy Oliver, "Lars and the Real Girl"; Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"; Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava and Jim Capobianco, "Ratatouille"; Tamara Jenkins, "The Savages."

10. Animated Feature Film: "Persepolis"; "Ratatouille"; "Surf's Up."

11. Art Direction: "American Gangster," "Atonement," "The Golden Compass," "Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street," "There Will Be Blood."

12. Cinematography: "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," "Atonement," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "No Country for Old Men," "There Will Be Blood."

13. Sound Mixing: "The Bourne Ultimatum," "No Country for Old Men," "Ratatouille," "3:10 to Yuma," "Transformers."

14. Sound Editing: "The Bourne Ultimatum," "No Country for Old Men," "Ratatouille," "There Will Be Blood," "Transformers."

15. Original Score: "Atonement," Dario Marianelli; "The Kite Runner," Alberto Iglesias; "Michael Clayton," James Newton Howard; "Ratatouille," Michael Giacchino; "3:10 to Yuma," Marco Beltrami.

16. Original Song: "Falling Slowly" from "Once," Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova; "Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted," Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz; "Raise It Up" from "August Rush," Nominees to be determined; "So Close" from "Enchanted," Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz; "That's How You Know" from "Enchanted," Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.

17. Costume: "Across the Universe," "Atonement," "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," "La Vie en Rose," "Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street."

18. Documentary Feature: "No End in Sight," "Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience," "Sicko," "Taxi to the Dark Side," "War/Dance."

19. Documentary (short subject): "Freeheld," "La Corona (The Crown)," "Salim Baba," "Sari's Mother."

20. Film Editing: "The Bourne Ultimatum," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "Into the Wild," "No Country for Old Men," "There Will Be Blood."

21. Makeup: "La Vie en Rose," "Norbit," "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End."

22. Animated Short Film: "I Met the Walrus," "Madame Tutli-Putli," "Meme Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)," "My Love (Moya Lyubov)," "Peter & the Wolf."

23. Live Action Short Film: "At Night," "Il Supplente (The Substitute)," "Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)," "Tanghi Argentini," "The Tonto Woman."

24. Visual Effects: "The Golden Compass," "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," "Transformers."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Second Layout

So, the photography hobby thing is going pretty well. Except that I haven't really taken any pictures. I have, however, transformed some older pictures into this:

Oscar Party 2007!! (Celebrating the 2006 Oscars.)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sundance!

Seeing as pretty much no one I know gives a damn about sports, the two big events of the year (other than national holidays) tend to be the Sundance Film Festival and the Academy Awards. It's kind of a bummer that they occur in such close proximity, but it makes the beginning of the year less grey.


This year, we thought that Sundance was going to be a relative loss, because none of us (Matt, Blake, or I) appropriately registered for tickets. But, Blake saved the day! He registered as a "local" and went and got us all of the tickets our little hearts could desire.

I generally limit my Sundance intake to two movies. Matt and Blake, though, have no such limitation and plan on seeing a movie almost every day of the ten day festival. The movies I'm going to are "The Visitor" and "Ballast."

My first Sundance experience was Sundance 2005, and I've been a regular ever since. We saw "MirrorMask" by Neil Gaiman at Sundance 2005. We were too chicken to go up and actually meet Neil Gaiman and David McKean, but they were there.

I have to say, though, that, so far, Sundance 2006 was my favorite. Matt and I went to the premiere of the movie "Wordplay," and I got to meet Will Shortz. Here's a picture of me getting his autograph:


Here's another picture from Sundance 2006 of Paul Giamatti and some other, less famous, people who were involved with the movie "The Hawk is Dying."



And the close up:

During Sundance 2007, I saw "The Good Life" and "Joshua." Since Dave Matthews did a song for the Joshua credits, I was hoping I would get to meet him. I was disappointed.

I'll keep you posted on this year's flicks.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Christmas is Over

So we took down our Christmas tree last Saturday. I don't want go "I Cry the Day I Take the Tree Down" on you, but taking down the Christmas decorations always makes me think of this poem:

Little Tree by ee cummings

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would
only don’t be afraid

look the spangles
that sleep all year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
oh but you’ll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
“Noel Noel”

I don't know why I think of this poem while taking the tree down. It just makes me sad to think of the little dead tree stripped of its ornaments and abandoned in the cold. My dad says it's Walt Disney's fault that we personify everything, even dead trees.