Friday, January 29, 2010

Life of Pi

Oh. My. Goodness.

Yann Martel, I don't know what to think about you and Pi's life.

Basically, Pi is a person, not a number. He grows up in India where he secretly practices three religions--Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. Pi's father runs the city's zoo, giving Pi a chance to observe and learn from the various animals. Political problems in India force Pi's parents to pack up the family (and some zoo animals) and hop aboard a cargo ship headed for Canada.

The ship sinks. Pi is the sole survivor--besides a Bengal tiger (as if the cover didn't give that away). Our little hero uses all sorts of intimidation, restriction of food and water, and poop touching (yes...) to show the tiger who's boss. In the end, Pi spends over 200 days in a lifeboat with Richard Parker (the tiger) before washing up in Mexico.

  • The book is written as if author Yann Martel were writing a biography of little Pi. He goes on about  interviewing Pi and whatnot. It's fiction, though. This irritates me. I understand it's a different literary style than I'm used to...but let's just say I had a traumatic and childhood-memory-ruining experience with a book written as if the author were telling someone else's story.
    • You're all-What's she going on about? 
      • Let's just say that certain authors *coughWilliamGoldencough* wrote books with prolouges about the book being an abridgement of some superawesome and romantic story from years ago. I was completely devastated when I read the abridgement and discovered that it was actually complete crap. The   abridgement is the original--and only--version. I'm still angry about being mislead.
      • Even Baby Fred Savage's part was written into the book. And notes about how Golden was cutting out a 700 page description on the trees in the area. (This was the root--Har!--of my suspicion. People like trees. I don't know anyone that likes them enough to write a 700 page description, though.)
  • I'm a little bummed. Martel is a really great writer. He didn't give me anything to mock. Maybe that's a good thing.
  • The first third of the book details Pi's life in India. It really stresses Pi's practicing of three religions. After the first third, all we hear about the religions again is a mention of Pi's religious studies in college and how he prayed each morning in the lifeboat. Why was there such a stress on the religion, then? Pi doesn't credit his survival to religion. Instead, he mentions his skills as a zookeeper's son as keeping him alive.
  • Pi's family is en route to Canada when the ship sinks. I think that means something. It means that he was given the chance to escape Canada. For whatever reason, he still wants to go to Canada.
    • As a Midwestern Irish-Canadian girl, I think I have the right to tell Pi that I'm sorry. I'm sorry you have to move to Canada. It's a lot like Michigan (except our cops drive cars rather than horses) (and we don't have doofy accents. Sometimes.) except it's Canada.
    • And, yes, Pi. If we ever met, I would totally look down on you for voluntarily moving to Canada. Much like I would look down on anyone else in the world for moving to northern Michigan. The negative wind chill screams So. Not. Worth. It. and yet you still did it. Stupid.
  • The entire book centers around Pi and his battle with this tiger on the life boat. Hate to break it to y'all, but the tiger is seasick the entire time. Basically, it doesn't move from the bottom of the boat. There is very little battle involved.
  • The last section of the book---Whoa. Shit just starts going down left and right. I won't even go there because if someone did choose to read this bad boy, it would completely ruin the book.
  • If nothing else, Pi is a determined kid. He survived well over 200 days in this boat. I don't think I'd have that kind of perseverance or the stomach for all the raw fish and turtle. Nope. I wouldn't survive. 
  • A couple friends read--and loved--this book before. I read reviews about it being a literal page turner. I came in with these high hopes. To be honest, though, I wasn't blown away. I was a little concerned about how Martel was going to get 401 pages out of sitting on a life boat.
    • The last chapter, though, completely made the book for me. It's definitely worth it. 

    Sunday, January 24, 2010

    Hello, Cupcake.

    My friend got this lovely cupcake decorating book as a Christmas gift.


    As cupcake decorating n00bs, we chose to attempt owl cupcakes. (They were cute and appeared to be the easiest. We don't want to start too big.)


    The book claims that you don't need any special supplies. (The owl pattern called for yellow chocolate covered sunflower seeds "available at any gourmet candy shop." Hello? We're making these in our dorm kitchenette. We substituted with Reese's Pieces. We also lacked decorating tips, so we improvised Zip-Lock bags with a teeny corner snipped out. Frosting was out of a can and the base was spread with a plastic knife. Classy.)

    As with the chocolate covered sunflower seed situation, we heavily modified. To be honest, we didn't read the directions. What little we glanced at confused us more than anything. Luckily, it turns out, this book is more useful for its pictures than its directions.

    And, miracle of miracles, we found an instructional book were the end product kind of looks like the example. Kind of.






    Our biggest complaint about this book is that it resulted in cupcakes we don't want to eat.
    (We did manage to each eat one last night, but had to move the tray away because the other owls were watching and judging us for eating their owl siblings.)

    We'll definitely be going back to this book again. And maybe with a little practice, Ace of Cakes will call us up!

    Thursday, January 21, 2010

    BSC #4 Mary Anne Saves the Day



    The Cover:

    • Check out the thermometer. A little mercury never hurt anyone.
    • Jenny Prezzioso's outfit reminds me of those sweatshirt and matching sweatshirt skirt outfits little kids used to wear. If that's the case, Mrs. Prezzioso isn't as uptight as Mary Anne let on she was.
    • Richard Spier buys Mary Anne's clothing, and it's obvious here. That skirt looks like it would fall mid-calf and not in a cute-retro-half-circle-skirt kind of way. You poor, poor girl, Mary Anne.
    • I won't make fun of Mary Anne's bangs. Mainly because I've been sporting the same bangs on-and-off for the past five years. Maybe that says something about me.
    • That is a fug couch. That is all I have to say on that topic.
    • See the rip on the corner? That's what my cover search came down to. I was being true to the edition that I read--the old cover. It's tough to find that on the internets. The BSC n00bs are just putting updated covers online. Pssshhh.
    This book has a lot going on, so hold on to your Richard Spier approved skirts!

    Plot 1:
    It's just a regular day at the BSC Headquarters. Then wham! Mrs. Newton calls for a sitter for Jamie and Lucy, that magical, unicorn-like creature the girls are all dying to see/baby-sit/build a shrine for. Jerkface Kristy takes the job without offering it to anyone else. Uh, what?  All of a sudden, the girls are preparing for this UFC-esque smackdown (except for Mary Anne...who is crying in the corner. Surprised? Not so much.) The girls don't speak to each other for a glorious month. They all help out at Jamie's birthday party. (They pretend to like Jamie to get close to Lucy, I think.) Predictably, the BSC almost ruins Jamie's b-day. As a result, they hug and make up. Awww.

    Plot 2:
    (This was too important for that dreaded subplot categorization.)
    Mary Anne and the BSC are still at outs. (Plot 1! Overlap-age!) Mary Anne sits with a new girl at lunch, Dawn Schafer. I don't know why I'm bothering to mention Dawn. She clearly won't be important later. The girls are insta-BFFs. Kristy is jealous that Recluse Mary Anne made a friend. Dawn and Mary Anne discover that Dawn's mom and Mary Anne's dad were high school sweethearts. Awww. (I once tried to write a book based on this premise. My twelve-year-old self was quite the word smith. Believe me.) D and MA decide to hook their parents up (It'll never happen!) because twelve-year-olds think they can be in control of their parents' love lives. When the BSC makes up, Dawn is invited to be a member! It's the happiest day of Dawn's life! She's going to Disney World!

    Subplot 1:
    Mary Anne baby-sits Jenny Prezzioso, the child of a Real Housewives of Stoneybrook wannabe. Jenny gets sick with a 104 degree fever, and Dawn comes over to help out. The girls call 911 because Jenny refuses to ride on the handlebars of Dawn's bike to the hospital. The Prezziosos are so grateful that they promise Mary Anne and Dawn their next child.

    Subplot 2:
    Mary Anne thinks that Poppa Spier is treating her like a child (because Mary Anne is really a geriatric). She complains that she can't stay out as late as the rest of the BSC. (I feel ya, Mary Anne. I have those parents that are all, "You can stay out! But our car has to be back by ____." Thanks. Dependent adulthood is treating me well.) Mary Anne wants to wear her hair out of those damn braids. (Richie won't let her. They remind him of his days living on the commune when he was training to be a cult leader.) She wants a room that doesn't look like a nursery. She wants to go out and drink and snort cocaine and have wild, anonymous sex. Someday, Mary Anne. Someday.



    Some Things to Ponder:
    • Who does Richard Spier think he is? I understand having overprotective parents. Believe me. But braids? Little House on the Prairie skirts? Humpty Dumpty paintings? I'm with Mary Anne on this one. She's twelve, not two.
      • I don't understand the whole "Babies (and little girls) have to have pastel rooms" idea. It's shit. Babies can't see pastels. Swear to God. Babies aren't born with 20/20 vision. I've known 95-year-olds with better vision. Burn the pastels. Give the kids bright, bold colors.
    • This fight. Seriously. What kind of fight lasts four weeks? Y'all called each other bossy, job hogs, and babies. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just calling 'em as you seem 'em. Get over it.
      • This is exactly what I pictured when I read the scene with the girls gettin' ready to have a smackdown at Jamie Newton's birthday party. 
    • Mary Anne and Kristy baby-sit together at the Pikes. Mallory is there. She's a "big help." In this strange and magical world where baby-sitters age, Mallory is ten. When Mallory hits eleven, she's suddenly old enough to be invited into the greatest and holiest of all secret societies, the BSC. Although this won't happen for a few books, I'm already wondering what made Mallory flip from baby-sitting charge to baby-sitter in the matter of a year. She never even got to be in that weird in-between place where she was semi-responsible for herself.
    • I love how perfectly Mary Anne and Dawn's friendship works out. Of course, they'd be insta-friends. Of course, their simultaneously single parents were high school lovers. Now if only Mary Anne and Dawn could locate the baby their parents gave up for adoption in high school, it'd be all good.
    • Just why is Sharon so ditzy? Is she taking the California stereotype too far? Is she recovering from her most recent acid trip? Too much dope? A closed head injury? A lack of parental instinct? Why, Sharon? Why?
    • Dawn explains the low doorways in her house to Mary Anne by saying that people in 17whenever when the house was built were a lot shorter. Thanks for the history lesson, Ms. Schaefer. But, are you really telling me that this house has been in no way modified since 17whenever? Are you still cooking in the fireplace? Are you still heading out back to use the bathroom? I find it hard to believe that in 300 years no one carved out the doorways so that people (other than hobbits) could fit through them.
    • I was really bothered by Mary Anne calling an ambulance for a 104 degree fever. Maybe it's because my mom is a nurse and is all "I've seen worse. You'll be fine." Or when I broke my arm, my father's exact words were "Let her sleep it off. She'll be fine in the morning." (Swear to God. This is what he said in regards to a seven-year-old with two broken bones.) Next time, Mary Anne, tell Jenny to just rub a little dirt on it. She'll be fine.
    • Extremely irritating: How much the Prezziosos (Prezziosi?) praise Mary Anne and Dawn for taking Jenny to the hospital. It's great and all that the girls managed to do that. I have to wonder, though, if Mary Anne noticed that Jenny wasn't feeling well the moment she got to the Prezziosos, why didn't the Prezziosos notice that their kid was sick? How do you not notice a 104 degree fever in a four-year-old? Maybe the parents of Stoneybrook should stay home once in awhile and be parents.

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    Twilight



    I was looking at old e-mails the other day, and I came across this little snippet of me bitching about the worst book ever written. (In my defense, my mom bought it for me because it was "what all the kids are reading." I read out of guilt and hope that she might be inspired to buy me good books.) (And by snippet, I mean I could easily rip this book apart sentence by sentence. Unfortunately, I do not currently have that time on my hands.)

    So, here you go. It's some vintage Alison with her condensed bitch to Stephanie Meyer and that monster called Twilight:


    I compromised my personal values and morals and all that is right in the world and read Twilight. Yes, I know. Please, dry your eyes. Someone has to be brave to go tell those fourteen million thirteen-year-old girls that they have shit taste in literature and to go try reading something decent. And then, please, go tell the author that I'm questioning how she got her degree in English without someone telling her that your main character should probably have a personality beyond being clumsy and that hanging out once does not equate creepy, let's-drink-the-special-kool-aid-together love.
    Somewhere, Jane Austen is crying about how terribly her format was plagiarized. Does this woman have no decency?! There were all the crucial pieces brutalized- girl hears bad things about boy! girl has bad experience with boy and hates him! girl has first interaction with boy in chapter 3! boy and girl are thrown together unexpectedly! boy and girl are suddenly in love without much explanation as to how they got there! Can I sue the author for plagiarism on behalf of Austen? She needs to come up with her own damn story, not to bastardize the one that Austen created while she spent her life alone as a spinster with Addison's disease and only a quill to write with! She wrote with a damned feather! And this is the respect she gets.
    And don't start me on the cliche ending. (There was the surprise fairytale trip to prom. There was even some mention of how it was twilight and the twilight of the girl's life. Really?
    Really? This woman needs to go to whoever gave her degree either demand her money back or ask them why in God's name they thought she could write.)

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    BSC #3 The Truth About Stacey

    As usual, we'll be dissecting the BSC cover, here.



    • I'm assuming that it's Charlotte Johanssen. Her sweater, while 80s, is nothing ridiculous. It is definitely something I would have worn while I was going through the my-mom-dresses-me phase.
    • I have some questions for you, Stacey McGill.
      • Are you wearing a big doofy green sweatshirt (sans hood) under another shirt? How does that work?
      • What is on your overshirt-thing? It's like half-sunrise, half-brown rainbow.
        • If you look closely at Stacey's right arm, the pattern of the shirt is different in one spot. The cloth goes down past the sleeve. Please, Stace, tell me you don't have a purse made of the same fabric hidden back there.
      • Do you know how much you're going to regret that hair in a few years?
    • Tweezers, meet Stacey. You two will be good friends after Stacey discovers that her eyebrows are unnaturally furry.
    • Why would Stacey go into a candy store? Isn't that cruel and unusual punishment? It's like telling a person, "Here's a blowtorch. But don't touch it!" What do you want to do? Touch it.
    • The tagline reads, "Stacey's different...and it's harder on her than anyone knows." For whatever reason, this makes me think of Boys Don't Cry. Is Stacey hiding a similar situation?
    I'm a little confused about which is the subplot in this book: the diabetes or the Baby-sitters Agency. One got the title, the other got what seems like the majority of the book. Hm.

    Plot 1: 
    The truth about Stacey? Oh, yeah. She has diabetes. Like she revealed in the first BSC book. And Claudia mentioned in the second book. And every other person mentioned in the next 9.2 million BSC books. To the very end, we'll be hearing about that damn diabeetus. (Yes, yes. Educate the children.) Her parents want her to go to a holistic doctor in New York. Stacey wants to go to school. Dr. Johanssen, in a bit of potentially inappropriate meddling, gets Stacey an appointment at a doctor Stacey wants to see. While in New York, the McGills stay with Laine Cummings' family, the ex-BFF of little Stace. Laine (Elaine?) and Stacey kiss and make up. Butterflies appear everywhere. It's magic.

    Plot 2: 
    The Baby-sitters Agency. Those business stealing slutfaces. The BSC has competition and doesn't appreciate it. The BSA can baby-sit all night, so the parents can go out and not have to be back by nine. (What is the deal with these people getting baby-sitters for just an hour or two? Does that really happen? And why are they so content to be back from their hot date night at 8:30?) The BSA is stealing business left and right and must be stopped! Kristy makes the gang wear these doofy sandwich board dealios to school and recruit two defectors from the BSA. Turns out the defectors just want to make the BSC look bad by not showing up for jobs. Ouch. Not really. Eventually, the BSC find Jamie, the kid they're stalking, outside by himself--without mittens! Ah! They tell Mrs. Newton. Mrs. Newton tells all the other parents. The BSA is out of business. The BSC lives to dominate another day.

    • The book starts with Kristy flipping about what to do when Mrs. Newton has her baby. Does Kristy really think that Mr. and Mrs. Newton will only be at the hospital between when the BSC gets out of school and 9 o'clock when they have to be home? Mrs. Newton has a sister in the area, so why wouldn't Jamie stay with her? 
    • "For one thing, I wouldn't trust them farther than I could throw a truck," said Claudia. "They have smart mouths, they sass the teachers, they hate school, they hang around at the mall. You know, that kind of kid." is how Miss Kishi explains the members of the Baby-sitters Agency to Stacey. Correct me if I'm wrong, but she just described 95% of the junior high student body. Since when is a healthy dislike for school and teachers a bad thing? And who is Claudia to talk about kids hating school? And, I swear, if my town had a real mall, I'd be there!
    • As Stacey's first book, we get a better idea about what the diabeetus is all about and why she has to give herself insulin shots. Stacey describes how she was, at first, petrified of needles. She didn't even learn to sew for fear of pricking her precious little fingers. Uh, what? I believe that that is a little bit of Annie M. coming out. The woman thinks twelve-year-olds want to sew? I'm sure that even Laura Ingalls would tell you that sewing by hand sucked balls.
    • I don't like how prettified Stacey's diabetes is. Of course it's well managed. Of course she doesn't have any problems with it. I think that it would have been better if Annie M. had portrayed the reality of Stacey's diabetes. Where is the blood sugar checker-thing? How is the insulin prepared? When is Stacey shooting up?
    • Ah, the introduction of the Kid Kit. In fourth grade, I had this fantasy of starting my own Baby-sitters Club when I was older (i.e. 12). Kid Kits were part of this plan. I can't express how relieved I am that that fantasy died while I was still on the playground. (Although, I am pursuing a major that lists au pair as a future career possibility... Hell. No.)
    • Charlotte apologizes for being "cross." Yes, because it is 1957, and Charlotte has just gotten in a fight with Wally and the Beav.
    • Carrot the Schnauzer has a small cameo role in this book! 
      • He really deserves his own BSC book--it could center around him solving the mystery of Tigger Spier's grisly murder. There would be a battle in which Carrot completely pwns Louie Thomas-Brewer, the main suspect, and Louie is sent to prison without a trial. In a twist, it would be revealed that Carrot was the murderer! (Schnauzer-American heritage comes with an innate desire to exterminate all non-Schnauzers. I swear.) Carrot would never be charged with a crime because he'd use his supahdupah cute schnauzer look on the interrogating fuzz. The end. Peter Lerangis, call me!
    • What seventh grader gets that excited over a baby? Lucy Newton is cute, I'm sure. She'll be even cuter when she can control her bladder and not spontaneously vomit. After the way that the BSC reacted to her when they met her, I can somehow envision them on an episode of Maury for trying to get pregnant when they hit ninth grade. Now to find a willing and able young man! Here's looking at you, Alan Gray!

    • How did Mary Anne knit Jamie and Lucy Newton hats if she's just learning to knit? And her next knitting project is a scarf? Um, wtf. I've known how to knit for four or five years. My skills are such that I haven't graduated past the scarf--the most basic knitting project. So how is Mary Anne, the knitting n00b, punching out hats when she hasn't learned to knit a rectangle?
    • The biggest crime that Kristy thinks the Baby-sitters Agency is being a competing business. Well, Kristy, business monopolies are illegal. It's bad for the economy. Really. My C+ in Microeconomics says that, on average, I'm right about this.
      • Okay, so the BSA shouldn't smoke in people's houses, let kids outside alone, or bring boyfriends over. But really, I see no problem with a little TV. Not everyone is as obsessed with the damn kids as the BSC is. I'm sure that the parents are even watching TV rather than smothering the kids in attention 24/7.
    • When Stacey is at the movies with Laine, she orders a small Tab. A what? I can honestly say that I have never a) had Tab or b)even seen it offered for sale. (According to Wikipedia, Tab is offered for sale in the U.S., Hong Kong, Spain, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa.)
      • Stacey gets embarrassed because the popcorn and Tab cost $1.75 and she only brought a dollar. In some people, this might inspire an "In my day, you could go to the movie for..." My first thought? Well, it must be Economic Stimulus Tuesday at the theater. (Swear to God. That's what the sign says.) Small popcorn and small drinks are a dollah each. Oh, the joys of an economic downturn!
    • Laine and Stacey get over  their year-long fight waaaay too easily considering how much they had invested into that beast. They're all "Eh. Sorry I hated you, I guess." That doesn't make up for Stacey's leper status!
    Oh, BSC. Your mediocrity never lets me down.

    Saturday, January 16, 2010

    The Debutante Divorcee

    Everything you need to know about this book you can tell by the title, cover, and author's name.


    See? This isn't going to good places.

    I should have known. My best friend gave the book to me. We hoard books like nothin' else, so I should have been suspicious that she was giving it away. There is no way she would have given me a book with completely pure intentions. The only other book she's ever given me is this Pride and Prejudice sequel that turned out to be soft core porn. Really could have used a warning on that one.

    I don't even know where to begin.

    Basically, Sylvie and Lauren are BFFs. They make their way through upper class New York dragging along a slew of other socialites with them. Lauren is the stereotypical socialite girl: flaky, fickle, addicted to jewelry. She has ridiculous (and slutty) plans for herself post-divorce. Sylvie, meanwhile, is busy trying to prove that her hubby is cheating.
    • My "extensive" Wikipedia research has told me that Sykes promoted this book by going to stores. Non-book stores like Oscar de la Renta, Chanel, Neiman Marcus, Chanel, et c. This tells me that Sykes is catering more to the overpriced clothing crowd than the reading crowd.
    • I can't relate to this book. At all. H&M is as high-priced as I'll go. I would never go out and buy $900 sunglasses to "make myself feel better."
    • Also, Wikipedia told me that "some people" (uh, who?) saw this book as being in natural succession to Sex and the City. Hells no! I agree with the critics of Divorcee. It isn't accessible enough. Not all of us are socialites. Carrie Bradshaw isn't a socialite. She has no money in her savings account. That I can relate to. It would be nice to read a book set in New York that centers around people of a normal income level.
    • The descriptions of clothing and jewelry are annoying. I don't give a shit about the details of some character's clothing. (Unless that character is Claudia Kishi.) This entire book centers around women wearing clothing that Yvest Saint Laurent or Coco Chanel personally gave Mummy. Seriously.
    • On page 71, there's a typo. Yes, I went there. Plum Sykes, we spell "discovered" with a 'c' here.
    • Sykes is British, and its pretty flippin' obvious. Sylvie, the main character, is always "having tea." As in she's always going to a restaurant specifically for tea and crumpets and shit. Here in the good ole Midwest, we "go out for coffee" and don't look like pompous assholes. Try it sometime.
    • The inside cover (which includes another typo--this one of the missing space variety) mentions that a Husband Huntress is after Sylvie's husband, Hunter. I didn't have to read the book to tell you that Hunter never cheats.
    • While we're discussing Hunter: he's too perfect. It's all, "I love you more! No, I love you more!" Eff overly perfect romance. I vomit.
    • Lauren is the insta-friend from the beach. She is as flaky as you can get. She wears priceless jewels  in inappropriate situations. I suspect her character was modeled after a more visibly intelligent Paris Hilton (who I believe is a close, personal friend of Lauren's!).
    • Lauren and Sylvie met while Sylvie was on her honeymoon. They just happen to both live in New York. Lauren's friends embrace Sylvie as if she's been there all along. Lucky, eh? 
    • At one point, Lauren hires Milton, an interior designer, for Sylvie. Uh, Sylvie didn't ask for an interior designer. Hey Sylvie! Lauren just took a major passive-aggressive shit on your taste in furniture! How sweet of her to hire a designer without asking you first!
    • Sophia the Husband Huntress: She's a personality-less, conniving slutface. That's all we ever learn about her. Apparently, she's sleeping with Hunter because her foot is in a picture of Hunter walking down the street. Really? Also, she marries some Middle Eastern prince that already has four wives. Uh, who agrees to that?
    • Thack, Sylvie's fashion designer boss, seems way too relaxed about the fact that no one is buying his clothes until the very end of the book. Excuse me, but how does he pay his employees? Or pay the rent on the office? Hm? Hm?
    • Lauren compromises her personal values to get married again. To a man she claims to have fallen in love with before she met him. Who also, coincidentally, was Hunter's college BFF. And Hunter had been planning on setting her up anyway. Wow. That's all I have to say.
    • At the end, all those girls that Lauren was friends with and magically instantly befriended Sylvie are getting married without warning also. No one informed me that I was reading the script for a damn Disney movie.
    • Do you know what the real clincher for this book sucking is? Lauren or somebody says that her hands are shaking, and makes a joke about how she must have MS. Fuck you, Plum. My father's fumbling hands, his wobbling legs, and the walker sitting in the living room tell me that you're not funny. Having to grow up knowing that the possibility of my own future diagnosis is "significantly increased" tell me you're not funny. Fuck you. You're not funny and neither is MS.
    Bad chick lit can suck my balls.

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Aww. Warm and Fuzzies for Everyone!

    I got my very own blog award from Sadako of Dibbly Fresh! Thankyousomuch! My heart is all gooey and warm now!




    List ten things that make you happy. Try to do at least one of them today.

    1. Making lists.
    2. The color green.
    3. MarioKart 'cause Baby Peach is the shit.
    4. Smelly books. You know those superold library books that are all musty and yellow? Love it.
    5. An unhealthy amount of nostalgia.
    6. Looking at pretty cake decorating.
    7. Glee. I lurve it. A lot. 
    8. Shoes that snuggle my feet and look superduper cute.
    9. Puppy Longstocking, my lovely schnauzer.
    10. Green apple Jolly Ranchers.
    Ten bloggers who brighten your day:


    BSC #2 Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls

    [Let it be known that I have abandoned reading the first chapter of Biological Psychology in order to read this book and write this post. Great work ethic I have, eh?]


    Keeping with the crime theme from this week, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls is just the edge of the seat thriller you'd expect from ole Annie. Phone calls without no one on the line. That's it. The girls get spooked because they apparently only baby-sit during thunderstorms. They call each other with silly codes. They set up booby traps a la Home Alone. They scream a lot. They act like twelve-year-old girls--for the most part. And there is this teeny thing about home invaders in the area. Whatevs.

    Subplot 1: Claudia is a desperate girl. She wants Trevor Sandbourne's body. To take to the Halloween Hop, of course! The Claudster is all worried that Trevor won't ask her to the Hell Hop, and there is no way she can ask him to the Hop. That might make her look desperate.

    Subplot 2: Claudia of the Above Average IQ (an outdated and unreliable test, for those of you interested) gets homework "supervision" every night. She just looooves when Janine helps cause Janine is just sooo subtle about rubbing her superior intelligence in Claudia's face. You know what, though? Claudia has social skills, something Janine lacks. That means that in adult life, Claudia wins. Bitch. Also --thanks to Janine-- Claudia got an 86% on her math test. What this means is that 14% of Janine's tutoring failed. Suck it, Janine!



    The Cover:
    • Rotary phone. Check.
    • Notepad permanently affixed to the wall. Check.
    • Claudia Kishi. Check.
    • Geometric sweater and earrings. Check.
    • Child blinded by the metallic leggings Claudia is surely wearing. Check.
    Congratulations. It's a Baby-sitters Club book!

    The Book:
    • How long will it take for Lady Gaga to admit that she wants to be Claudia Kishi? We all know that if the BSC carried on through adulthood, we would see Claudia get more and more fashion-intense to the point of putting Gaga to shame. If the BSC were real, Lady G and Claudia would be BFFs. Maybe Claudia would even let Lady G. borrow those superhot! clock tights.
    • Mimi and Karate Kid's Mr. Miyagi--love interests? 
    • Sadly, I was 19 when I realized that Janine's name was Janine. When I first read the books with Janine cameos, I read it as Jeanie. Apparently, Claudia and I are pretty evenly matched in the intelligence department.
    • Trevor Sandbourne. I am not a fan. I hate the Tr_v_ _ family of names. To all you Trevor and Travises (Travi?) out there--I think your name sucks. Also, writing poems for the The Literary Voice does not make you a poet. Especially in seventh grade. But hey, maybe Trevor writes poems about deep stuff--like his skateboard or how he's stalking Claudia Kishi.
    • Carrot. He is my favorite BSC animal. He may not get the press that Louie gets, but I know he's bad-ass. Carrot is a schnauzer like my Puppy Longstocking*. That immediately makes him awesome. And super cute. And probably stubborn. And pouty. And sports a unibrow. Regardless of his flaws, Carrot  is my literary dog hero.
      • Oh, wait! You still need a visual to assure yourself that Carrot (played here by Puppy Longstocking in a stunning cross-gender and cross-species performance) is the best? It's your lucky day!




                          The proof is in the picture. I rest my case. (Also, ignore my legs in the background. I only look
                           lazy in pictures. I swear.)
    • Claudia's attitude about how immature Kristy and Mary Anne is typical Claudia, but then she turns around and talks about the boys building food sculptures during lunch. Nothing says delicious meal with the mature crowd like a stack of rejected scraps and milk cartons. Yum.
    •  I suspect that Annie M. never went to any junior high or high school dances or else she never would have named this fictious dance the Halloween Hop. Normal dances don't have names, do they? My school offered three with super original names: Homecoming, Winterfest, and Prom. Crazy, eh?
    • The girls go to Stoneybrook Middle School, right? A school for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders and one step before high school. The BSC discusses the secret codes while on recess. What junior high has recess? (In BSC #1, Kristy mentions recess and goes so far as to describe the playground. The playground that has playground toys.) Why does a junior high have a playground? It isn't consolidated, so the excuse is ________.
    • This books seems much more outdated than BSC #1. Probably because of the Love Boat reference.  Also, the girls mention getting a video for Stacey's VCR. As in Stacey is the only one with a VCR. When technology-savvy Stacey is baby-sitting Carrot...er...Charlotte, she turns on the TV and finds the "remote control unit." It's a unit? Jeepers.
    • Mary Anne isn't allowed to baby-sit because Wet Blanket Spier, aka Dad, is convinced that she'll be killed by the Phantom Caller. That would be the same Phantom Caller who a) has never been seen and b) never harmed anyone. Don't tell Richie that, though. His Mary Anne is just precious enough that the Phantom Caller would surely choose her as his or her only victim.
    • When the fuzz bring Alan Grey into the Newtons' house, why is Kristy doing the questioning? I realize that she thinks she's awesome and all, but there is no way that cops are going to let a twelve-year-old question the perp.
    • Kristy and Claudia are way too casual about being stalked by Alan and Trevor. For all they know, Alan has a Kristy shrine in his bedroom closet and is preparing to slay her family in order to prove his love to her.

    *Name changed for my darling's protection.

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    The Yiddish Policeman's Union

    I have a hard time with things that win awards--music, movies, people, and, of course, books. I don't want to like something because someone tells me I should. I'm a music elitist. As soon as a song is played on the radio, our musical love affair is over. I rarely watch movies that win those pesky little gold statues. Nope.
    My resentment for rewarding (alleged) achievement comes from this idea that I have about people really only being motivated by the prospect of receiving a reward or recognition.


    [Nerd Moment:


    Example:
    A child paints a picture and chooses to show it to an adult.
    Adult's Incorrect Response: Oh, what a pretty picture.
    Now, the child's artistic motivation comes solely from the desire to illicit the same response from the adult the next time. The child is robbed of a certain level of creativity and only creates to please others.
    Adult's Correct Response: Oh, you painted that just the way that you wanted to.
    or
    Adult's Correct Response: I see you used a lot of [insert color]. Tell me about your picture.
    In this scenario, the child is not being pushed in any one direction in search of artistic validation. Instead, the child retains the original spark of creativity and creates art to reflect his or her own desires. As we all know, art is not always pretty or beautiful. Sometimes, art's ugliness is what makes art meaningful.
    As one can observe, an adult giving the incorrect response to the child can alter the way in which the child behaves. While praise is an important part of raising a healthy, well-adjusted child, it can be detrimental to the child's creative development, not to mention cognitive development.]


    De-Nerding:


    What brought on this bought of nerdiness?
    Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union, of course.




    If Wikipedia is right (and why wouldn't it be?) Chabon has not been jaded by his experience as a successful author. (He got this silly little award, the Pulitzer Prize, for a previous book. Ever hear of a Pulitzer? Me neither.) That prize alone is enough for me to be irritated with him.
    He turned down being listed as one of People's "50 Most Beautiful People." (I should know that pretty people get to choose if they want their face plastered onto this list, right? Still, I'm disturbed that the people agree to be on it. Apparently, being pretty and famous equates shit modesty. Who knew?) (Also, what kind of ego do you need to think "Yeah. I'll agree to be on that list. I'm better looking than 99.99999983% of the American population, not to mention the world population"?) Chabon also turned down an offer to be in a Gap ad. (Smart move. Not only is the boy modest, but he's unwilling to pose for corporations that demand free overtime from their sweatshop workers. I have no reason to know if this was his motivation. In my mind, it is.)

    The Book:

    A police detective and his cousin/partner try to solve the murder of a herion addict/former Messiah of the Jewish population/chess master/bestower of blessings. This leads them to all these crazy places as the murder turns out to be part of a terrorist-ish uprising and apparently involves about 95% of the city's population of four million.
    • I hate detective novels. (Except for my girl, Nancy. She was, and remains, the shit.) This book contains so many of the detective-y novel stereotypes. The hats. The divorce and regular and uncomfortable contact with the ex. Going places without permission. Bullet grazing scalp. Jumping to wild conclusions that just happen to be right. Getting drugged. Waking up locked in a little cell. Discovering that an accidental death was really a murder--that just happens to be related to this one. 
    • That wild conclusions thing--it really pisses me off. Excuse me, but if I recall correctly my 11th grade AP Government class taught us that police cannot just go busting in on you because they have a "hunch." Hunches are generally frowned upon. Hunches do not stand up in court. Hard evidence obtained with a warrant is appreciated, though. (That one goes out to you, too, Law & Order, CSI, and Generic Crime Show Knock-Offs.) 
    • I was amused, though, when our main character, Landsman, says, " I know I go a little too far. Play the hunches. The loose-cannon routine." Uh, durr.
    • These leaps of thought...sometimes the reader isn't invited along for the ride.
    • Landsman goes out on a rouge mission after having his badge taken away. He gets caught, drugged, and wakes up chained to a metal cot in a detainment room. Through some crafty moves, he breaks out of his cinder block cell and just happens to drag the cot he's handcuffed to through the window. Um, how big is this window? Also, what idiot put an a window that 1) is breakable and 2) big enough for a grown man and a cot to crawl through in a detainment cell. Detainment cell FAIL!
    • The story takes place in Sitka, Alaska. Not the Sitka, Alaska of The Proposal, though. Its a Sitka, Alaska in this alternate universe where the U.S. created a place for Jewish refugees fleeing from Hitler and Ryan Reynolds does not bare his chest. I was disturbed that this book and a far-fetched romantic comedy chose the same (but different) setting. Movie Sitka poisoned Book Sitka for me.
    • As Chabon has imagined this real but fictional world, he takes liberties with facts. (Who was the first lady in the early 1960s? That would be Marilyn Monroe Kennedy. Duh.) This is amusing. And bothersome. Chabon alters the history of the world. Chabon's invented history is strange and hard for me to swallow. An exercise in re-imagining history is always educational and helpful, though.
    • Despite the conflicts that the Sitka Situation causes in the book, it is nice to imagine that the U.S. actually manned up and accepted Jewish refugees rather than turning their ship away and sending them to their deaths. (Yes. This really happened. High school textbook companies like to censor the material in order to make children believe that all Americans shit sunshine and roses, so it is likely y'all missed out on that tidbit. And don't give me crap about immigration quotas. Rules are made to be broken.)
    • The book is extremely descriptive--in a good way. It describes the things I want to hear about--wrinkled shirts, lost buttons, mummified bananas. Nothing puts me off a book faster than an overly long  description of a tree or a field. I'm not one for scenery. Give me a description of rotting fruit any day.
    • The back of the book includes praise from these little known newspapers and magazines: Washington Post, People, Publishers Weekly, New York Times. These bits of praise include such phrases as "Bloody brilliant," "Fearlessly descriptive,"  and "Terrifically funny." As I just told roommates not two minutes ago (in response to a friend's obnoxious roommate that thinks he is the shit. I assure he is not.), stop thinking you're awesome and maybe you would be. Remember that bit about praise ruining stuff?Yeah. It may not have ruined Chabon's style, but it ruined a lot of this book for me.  I have to dislike it because of my twisted principle.


    There's an interview with Chabon at the end of the book. I read it. Of course.
    • Our lurvely author mentioned that he was going for a new style. One like a detective novel. I must give this a big, fat, Ah-ha! You're trying to please critics by spicing things up, aren't cha?
    • Chabon used shorter sentences. Like this one. To make it snappy. And full of fragments. So he could sound like a 1950s detective show writer.
    • Chabon actually admitted to going for the vintage thing in the article about him at the end of the book. Thanks, douche bag. Having proof that it was supposed to be all 1950s-ish altered the way I read the book. Shouldn't I be allowed my own interpretation rather than one polluted with sepia-toned images? Or choose what jaunty detective hats I want them wearing?

    Saturday, January 9, 2010

    Post Secret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God

    I have been a longtime fan of Frank Warren. He is the reason I wake up in the morning (err...afternoon...) on Sundays. I lurve him. I want to have his postcard babies. Really.


    The book is postcard sized, and I love it. It isn't as bulky and the previous 8x11 books. Its portable. I don't feel like I'm carrying around a ream of paper. The postcards are scaled to actual size, so the reader sees the card just as Frank and Mail Carrier Kathy saw them.

    It isn't all gooey love between Franklin and me, though. I'm not a religious person, and I was a little put off by almost every secret pertaining to religion. I definitely prefer more of the grab bag style of the previous Post Secret books. With the obvious theme of "Life, Death, and God" I was confused by some of the secrets in the book. I guess Frank uses Life as more of a Miscellaneous label.

    I mentioned the Waldens going out of business sale that I hit up. I was lucky enough to get the newest Post Secret book there for 60% off. (These are pricey little buggers so I must let out a nice and loud, Hells yea!)

    There is no real way to evaluate this. I can't include every single postcard (um, can we say plagiarism?). So here's a sampling of the beautiful, honest, heart breaking, funny, hopeful magic that is Post Secret:


    Notice the church pews? When I said that there were a lot of religious secrets, I might have meant that there were a lot of secrets pertaining to religious establishments without being religious. Secrets cover both unshakable and non-existant faith. The book isn't 275 pages of secrets saying "Praise Jesus!" and rainbows and butterflies. I should have been clearer on that. Oh, well.


    This is my favorite secret in the book. It really is. I'm a hardcore sucker for the proposal secrets. (Boy toy, remember that for when we're old and of marrying age!) I just get all mushy and gross inside. I also have fantasies of finding a secret somewhere (i.e. an airplane magazine) and being moved by said secret.

    With that said, people, leave me some secrets someplace. I would love it. Promise.




    Friday, January 8, 2010

    My Lobotomy




    Howard Dully (with co-writer Charles Fleming) wrote this memoir after doing a program for NPR on his and others' experiences with transorbital lobotomy and the madman behind them, Dr. Freeman.
    As I might have mentioned with Girl, Interrupted (or just thought about mentioning), I'm not cruel enough to rip into someone for a memoir. Nope. I commend you for baring yourself, Howard. You wrote about a lobotomy, time in a mental asylum, and having sex with countless institutionalized women. Thumbs up for bravery and full disclosure.

    Anyway, this book:
    I was all excited about this book. My momma bought it for me as part of a constellation prize because she tricked me into going grocery shopping with her which turned into a surprise visit to the dentist for a filling and a trip to the pharmacy for a flu shot. (Yes, I am twenty years old. That means nothing.) Anyway, I found this book in the soon-to-be-closed Waldenbooks (sadness for closing! joy for 60% off sales!).  The reason I was so jazzed about this book? I'm double majoring in child development and neuroscience AKA I was being a super nerd.

    My inner nerd was a little disappointed. Howard talks about the mysterious events leading up to his lobotomy--a hateful step-mother desperate to get rid of Howard and to blame the family's problems on anyone but herself. He mentions feeling drunk after the lobotomy and not understanding what had happened.  Through Howard's journey through foster care, an asylum, a residential school for the physically/cognitively/emotionally impaired, homelessness, jail, and eventually a functional life, Howard constantly wonders what he did to deserve a lobotomy. Still, this isn't satisfying my inner nerd. My questions about lobotomy, why Howard was given a lobotomy, and how this specifically effected him were not being answered. Arrrr! It's called My Lobotomy but for most of the book it was really about his string of misfortune.

    Eventually searching for answers online, Howard is put in contact with producers of an NPR segment on lobotomy and is given the opportunity to interview victims of lobotomy, doctors involved with Dr. Freeman, and others. Howard is taken to George Washington University where he is given access to Dr. Freeman's file on him. It takes most of hte book for it to start getting down to the good stuff.

    Finally, at the the end of the book, Howard's lobotomy is explained. It takes about 200 pages for Howard to find out how his step-mother and Dr. Freeman conspired to give him a lobotomy. I read, sometimes trudged through page after page of confusing relationships (One person Dave Sawyer is referred to as Sawyer throughout the chapter and then Dave in only paragraph. Uh, who?).

    Because I'm a little late on jumping on the lobotomy train, I do not have a first edition book. I'm extremely grateful for this. The later edition of the book that I bought has an update from 2008. Howard explains that he was contacted by researchers looking to do a new, more detailed type of MRI on him. Woo hoo! (Neuroscience major, remember!) This addendum to the book made the twenty plus pages on the foggy events of the early 1970s totally worth it. Howard's MRI revealed the exact path that Dr. Freeman's ice pick took when the lobotomy was formed. Howard asked the shocked researchers what kind of person they would expect to go with the brain revealed (A smart question). Researchers said that Howard's brain was severely damaged. If the same lobotomy had been performed on an adult, the adult would have probably been in a vegetative state. Instead, Howard's young brain was able to heal and function enough for him to live a normal life. Hurrah for nerdy science that makes me more excited than the entire book!

    What is Howard's take on this MRI? Well, he mentions the researchers giving him pop and a sandwich...so it's safe to say he enjoyed the experience.

    I have to respect Howard. He went through a lot: lobotomy, destructive step-mother, alcohol problems, institutionalization. Still, he persevered. The writing is unsophisticated. (The man had a lobotomy, though. I'll give him a break.) Names of people and Howard's little jokes can get a bit tedious. Still, though, I have to say this book was okay. I wish it had focused more on the cognitive and neurological impact of the lobotomy. Instead, it was more of a laundry list of the events of Howard's life. (I know, I know. It's a memoir. It should be about his life...) Overall, Howard had a touching story. (Ahhh! The mushiness I'm feeling! Make it stop!) I'm impressed with this book considering the outcome of so many of Freeman's patients.

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    BSC #1 Kristy's Great Idea

    Oh, Babysitters Club. How I simultaneously loathe and adore you.
    How can I chug through a reading list without revisiting my old friends, the BSC? I have this terrible idea that I'll read every BSC book. In order. This means that I'll a)be scouring e-Bay or b) finding a way to check them out from the library whilst retaining some pride.
    I jumped on the BSC train very late. My birth coincided with BSC #29 Mallory and the Mystery Diary. Despite my semi-dedication in my childhood, I am still a BSC n00b. Ouch. I am ashamed to say that I want to know my BSC. I am ashamed to say that I idolized Ann M. Martin as a child. (My sister wrote her a letter and Martin responded! Oh, I envied that letter!) This is downright embarrassing.


    I bought this book for my sister for her ninth or tenth birthday and dreamt of the day that I could one day read the Baby-Sitters Club. When my time came, I faithfully read them over and over again. We only had about forty (that were in no particular order), so I have a lot of gaps in my BSC knowledge. Still, I hung up my Baby-Sitters Club Headquarters poster (as seen on Claudia's bedroom door) and carefully studied my map of Stoneybrook.


    So. Kristy's Big Idea.
    As far as format goes, this isn't so bad. It's only the first book, so we haven't made it into the format. We haven't been introduced to eight members, been given each member's life story, or the same old description of how the BSC was formed. I'm so glad I have that to look forward to in future books.

    I realize that my Girl, Interrupted format might have been a little lengthy. Yep. So, let's keep experimenting.

    The Cover
    Baby-Sitters Club books are awesome for judging by the cover. Let us partake in that now.
    I have the "updated" cover on my copy.



    My thoughts on the monstrosity that is cover art:
    • Denim and hot pink. Oooh, baby.
    • The cover price is listed as $3.50. Mahahah.
    • Mr. Spier is crazy strict, you say? Then why, Kristin Amanda Thomas, is Mary Anne depicted on the cover wearing a mini skirt? Mr. Spier won't let the girl talk on the phone after dinner, but he'll let her wear a skirt that leaves her hoo-ha hanging out? Really?
    • Who is their right mind told Claudia and Stacey that they're fashionable? Please. Beat this person. 
    • If Claudia and Stacey were good friends, they would tell Kristy to stop dressing like a man. They would burn her black socks, white Converse, and visor. They would introduce her to women's clothing.
    • How is it that Claudia is constantly being praised for being so damn creative and out there, yet her bedroom looks like my grandma's? Book cover artist, I demand that you explain this.
    • I must give props for the first Nancy Drew book (Secret of the Old Clock, if you must know) sitting on the floor. Awesome that I know that, right? Or not so much.
    The Book:


    Mm. The first book. Basically, Kristy feels bad for her little brother David Michael because he has to sit there while their mom tries to find a babysitter for him. Kristy has her first Big Idea when she decides that she, Mary Anne, Claudia, and eventually Stacey should make the BSC. The girls advertise and business begins to trickle in. The girls baby-sit. They scream at each other. They make up. Kristy gets to feel awesome about creating a club.

    Sub-plot 1: Kristy's mom, mysteriously named Edie but later Elizabeth, is dating some guy Watson Brewer. We'll probably never hear about him again, right? Mahaha. I wish. Watson and Edie/Elizabeth "agree to get engaged." Kristy hates Watson. (Although in future books, she and her friends have no problem gushing about how Watson is a "real, live millionaire.") Kristy doesn't just hate Watson, she hates Watson's kids Karen "Verbal Diarrhea" Brewer and Andrew "Monosyllable" Brewer. That is until she babysits them and discovers that she just loveloveloves them! I vomit.

    Subplot 2: Stacey McGill is a lying whore. Stacey doesn't want to eat the junk food at the meetings so the rest of the BSC assume that she's anorexic. Of course not wanting to consume 12,000 calories in sugar equates anorexic. Then, Stacey lies about not being able to go to a BSC party. Hey girls, maybe she just doesn't like you guys that much. For as pushy as Kristy is and whiny as Mary Anne is, who would want to spend free time with them? Anyway, Stacey reveals at the BSC Slumber Party (another of Kristy's Ideas) that  she has diabetes. Stacey thinks that the other girls will treat her like a leper. Sorry to disappoint you, Stacey, but they don't care.
    • I really get sick of Kristy and how full of her own shit she is. Kristy doesn't just have ideas. She has Ideas. And Kristy doesn't just have Ideas. She has Big Ideas.
    • I'm a stickler for details. Page 29 of this book, and I'm angry. Why? On page 4, Kristy mentions how the people closest to Mary Anne (herself, Claudia, and Stacey) get to see the inside of Mary Anne. (No shit, Kristy. Most of us only share personal things with those closest to us.) On page 29, Claudia mentions introducing Kristy and Mary Anne to Stacey. So was Kristy already in the BSC when she started narrating even though the BSC hadn't been formed yet? Or did Ann M. Martin slip up? Assuming that Kristy was re-telling the conception of the BSC, how are Stacey and Mary Anne close enough already for Mary Anne to allow Stacey to see "inside" of her? I think by the end of the book they've known each of for a fricking week. Way to get too close too fast, girls. That'll serve you well when you start dating.
    • I literally laughed out loud when the girls are passing out fliers that Kristy's mom copied (sorry, Xeroxed) at work. Kristy mentions that her mom copied her five more. Five, really? Edie/Elizabeth is not pulling her weight.  Edie/Elizabeth clearly does not know how to properly steal from the workplace. Unless when Kristy says five she means five hundred. 
    • Why is Kristy's mom called Edie in this book? Wasn't her name Elizabeth?
    • Kristy needs to get over this whole Watson deal. I remember when my parents got divorced I dreamed of my mom remarrying some rich guy that would take us away to his mini-mansion and life of luxury. Did my mom follow through on this? No. She had to go off and remarry my dad. Awe-some.
    • "Sheep are in." No, Claudia. Sheep are not and have never been "in." Anyway, I thought Claudia was above caring about was "in."
    • I couldn't be friends with Mary Anne. I would punch that ho in the face. She cries because she doesn't like other people arguing? Really, she's crying because she's the lost Duggar child. She has the hair, the clothes, and the submissive attitude to be a Duggar. Now all she needs is a J name and to lose touch with reality.
    • I love that when Stacey reveals that she has the diabeetus Kristy launches into a spiel right out of a health class video. I don't appreciate Martin sticking potentially educational material into my reading. Nope.
    BSC, let's stay together for a long time!

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    Girl, Interrupted.


    (Thanks for the shit quality picture, Photobucket.)


    I'm having a hard time not liking this book. Especially considering that Susanna Kaysen, the main character, also wrote it. How can I criticize her when its her life story? Damn her.
                                                                                                    
    Susanna:
    Despite it being her book, I don't feel like I really know her that well. She was sent to McLean after a twenty minute "evaluation" by a new psychiatrist. Failed suicide attempt. Borderline Personality Disorder. Her psychiatrist claims she is suicidal and promiscuous. (It's 1967. Who isn't promiscuous or suicidal?  Doctor, it sounds like somebody's jealous.)

    I'm really bothered that she doesn't question going to McLean. She's just all, "Oh. Okay. I had a lunch date, but I'll push that back eighteen months. Whatevs." Who doesn't question going to a mental institution? Then, why didn't she get to leave for eighteen months. For the most part, she was fine. She voluntarily committed herself, so why couldn't she voluntarily leave? This just proof that a second opinion is almost always necessary. (Unless you're Daisy.)
    Susanna's got nothing on the other girls in the ward. She appears sane (except for that one teeny suicide attempt) for the first few months. After the stress of a girl leaving, Susanna does begin to question whether or not she has bones. (But then again, who hasn't?)
    Susanna slowly gains privileges at the hospital until she is allowed to go to analysis by herself and even leave to stay with her new boy toy.
    Susanna,
    Why did you marry this guy? You know you didn't want to. But you did it. The Susanna I know wouldn't marry someone just to get married. Isn't that how you ended up in McLean in the first place--not having a life plan? You criticized your classmates for looking forward to marriage and yet here you are! Stick to your guns! Tell that guy that you were institutionalized partly because of your lack of future plans (i.e. not wanting to get married). I am ashamed. Although, props for not becoming a dental hygienist.
    Polly:

    As one might remember from the movie, Polly has facial scarring from being burned. The movie depicts Polly with the mentality of a twelve-year-old and explains the burns by showing a newspaper article about Polly being burned in an elementary classroom fire. The book, however, explains that Polly is not cognitively impaired. Instead, she poured gasoline over her head and lit herself on fire in a suicide attempt. Susanna and I both give Polly props for suicide attempt bravery.
    I think the movie wins the point for the portrayal of Polly. Polly is extremely cheerful and optimistic. I would get that from a person with the functioning of a child. I do not get this from an otherwise healthy adult that burned herself in a suicide attempt.
    Daisy:
    Daisy, Daisy, Daisy.
    You hide chicken under your bed. You love yourself some laxatives. (How does she not have some kind of bowel blockage? Doesn't that happen when you take too many laxatives? Your bowels just--oop!--and stop letting you crap. Hm? Daisy, do tell.) You have a standing reservation at McLean. It is suspected that your daddy is in love with you. You hang yourself in your new apartment (Probably because it was on the way to the airport).
    And yet, we have no real idea about why you're at McLean. Are you bulimic? Are you depressed? Are you simply unsure of how to properly store your poultry? Are you just a mega bitch? I demand to know!
    Cynthia:
    Personal Story Alert!
    I had a roommate named Cynthia my freshman year of college. By the end of the school year, I loathed the ground she walked on. She made this crazy cleaning schedule. If the bathroom wasn't cleaned within twelve hours of her imaginary deadline (I swear I was going to get to it!) she cleaned it while glowering at me. She also went to bed at eleven and didn't like boys. (She didn't like boys as in "I'm eight-years-old and boys have cooties" not "I'm a lesbian.") Cynthia never left the room but complained how boring her social life was. She constantly complained about how our other roommate was a pesco-vegetarian and how disgusting she thought that was. She was a bitch. Trust me.
    I could definitely see Cynthia the Roommate being a resident of McLean someday. For sure.
    Any hoodles, Cynthia the McLean Patient. We don't see her much. She gets shock therapy and cries a lot. That is what I have gathered.
    Valerie the Head Nurse:
    Valerie is the day shift nurse that sees the patients as people. Susanna recalls Valerie calling her "sensible" and taking Susanna to her personal dentist in Boston rather than the hospital dentist.
    What kind of Fuck-You is it to the hospital dentist that Valerie took Susie to her own dentist? Ouch.
    Valerie makes me warm and fuzzy inside.  She lurves her patients. Which is good. It doesn't make the story better though. Why not a Nurse Ratchet-type? Why not someone to battle with? To torture? 


    My favorite characters--the Sociopathic Lisas.
    Lisa:
    "'We are very rare,' she said, 'and mostly we are men.'" 
    I love (ick!) Lisa's view of being a sociopath. It is like having the lion narrate the National Geographic video of him mating with his Nala. I can see her going all Morgan Freeman on us and narrating her life. "A true sociopath is best observed in her natural habitat, the mental hospital. Note how she does not wince as she extinguishes her cigarette on her arm and her dislike for hospital staff"
    Lisa gives McLean some spice. How awesome do you have to be to steal all of the light bulbs on the floor (without anyone noticing!) and to stuff them into a closed phone booth (without breaking any!)? How awesome, I ask, do you have to be to manipulate the staff at a mental hospital. Shouldn't the staff know more than anyone not to bend the rules or to believe Lisa about anything? They should. The fact that they don't just proves that Lisa is awesome. (Plus, word is that she makes kick ass hot cocoa. Yes, please!)
    At the end of the book, Susanna runs into Lisa at a subway station. Lisa is there with her three-year-old son, Aaron. Lisa appears happy and jokes about her family helping her out just because she has kid.
    I have so many unanswered questions about this. Lisa's son is referred to as "dark." Susanna, do you mean biracial? If so, why does that really matter? Is Lisa doing drugs? How is Lisa supporting herself and her son? If Lisa is healthy, why now? Why couldn't she have been treated at McLean? How long was she in McLean? Why didn't you get her phone number, Susanna? Did you keep in contact with Lisa?
    Aaron does not seem like something Lisa would name her child. She seems like the kind of person that would name a kid SpaceInvader Viking. Aaron is not a bad ass name. Aaron is the name of an accountant.
    I hate a book-to-movie translations. They typically are terrible. In this case, the movie really pumped up Lisa. I read this book waiting for the Lisa moments I remember from the movie. (I hate that I was expecting the movie and book to be the same. I need to grow a pair and expect movies to be disappointing versions of books. But still...) Where was the little kitten puppet? I'm really upset about the lack of kittenage.

    Lisa Cody:
    Lisa Cody is a sociopath, just like the Angelina Jolie-Lisa that we all know and love. The problem is that Lisa doesn't believe that Lisa Cody is really a sociopath and sets out to prove that. Lisa Cody
    Not gonna lie. I love me a good battle between sociopaths. That Lisa wants to reveal Lisa Cody as not being a true sociopath is pretty kick ass. Including Lisa Cody in the movie would have been a bit too much. It still bums me out, though. How awesome would it be to see Lisa out-sociopath Lisa Cody? And then, imagine Angelina Jolie's character shaming that n00b Lisa Cody. Muahahah. It would been awesome. You have to pass the time in a mental hospital somehow. Why not with some good ol' sociopath battling?
                                                                                                       
    Not gonna lie. I was pleased with this book. For the most part.
    I am a little irritated that it is in vignette form. I was really hoping that it would be more of a chronological take on her stay at McLean. What makes Susanna think that I want to read two page vignettes on how she reasoned that her initial psychiatric visit was twenty minutes? Does she not know that I want a plot to follow? The vignettes were nice if I didn't want to read a lot--but I did. I finished this book in one evening. 
    I liked the book as a whole. What kind of sick person would I be to hate on Susanna and her true story.  Sadly, I have a soft spot in my heart for memoirs. Gross.

    Welcome!

    So, here we go: these are the books I'm reading. These are the characters I'm hating. (Or sometimes loving.)

    This is my journey through my reading list. This is me chugging through books in order to avoid school, homework, and the potential of graduate school.

    This is me making an effort to be constructive with my spare time.

    Awesome, right?