Sunday, August 23, 2009
I should be back for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, but for now, I'm just taking it one day at a time.
I hope the end of summer treats all of you well. I'll be back soon!
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I just learned last night that I received a nomination for Book Blogger Appreciation Week! I've been nominated for "Most Eclectic Taste". Can I tell you how excited I am?
So thanks to all of you for your support and this honor! SQUEEEEEE!!!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
INSTRUCTIONS: Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Pass it on to 12 people you like and include me (you don't have to if you don't want to). You can't use the band I used. Try not to repeat a song title. It's a lot harder than you think! Repost as "My Life According to (BAND/ARTIST NAME)"
-Are you a male or female?
It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City
-How do you feel right now?
Land of Hope and Dreams
-If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
New York City Serenade
-Your favorite form of transportation
-Describe Your Morning Routine
Dead Man Walkin'
-Your best friend is
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
-What's the weather like
57 Channels (And Nothin' On)
-If your life was a TV show, what would it be called
My Love Will Not Let You Down
Darkness on the Edge of Town
-What is the best advice you have to give?
Tomorrow Never Knows
-If you could change your name, you would change it to
-What do you say when you are frustrated?
Chicken Lips and Lizard Hips
-Thought for the day
How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live
-How you would like to die
When the Lights Go Out
-Your soul's present condition
Don't Look Back
Take 'Em As They Come
Once again, Queen Mimi has come up with another clever gem of a meme. If you want to play along, click here.
By the way, before I continue, thanks to all who voted me out of the dungeon last week. It's thanks to you that I earned my freedom!
Now, onto the meme. This week's edition is based on all of those dating profiles you see online. Here are Mimi's instructions:
Take a look at these seven dating profile headlines from real dating sites. Imagine you are trying to find a date and these gems have just landed in your inbox. How would you respond to them? Write a comeback response to each one. Be sarcastic, be funny, be brave! Spelling errors not my own. Names and locations have been changed to protect the terminally single.
1. Birdbrain looking for a mate
Uh, sorry to disappoint you, but I just molted. You don't want to be a finely plumed poultry specimen next to a bald mate.
Seriously, though, you wanna look for a mate? Head on over to Perdue or Butterball. They've got plenty pickins over yonder.
2. Where Are All The Bad Girls?
"Friday night and the strip is hot sun's gone down and they're about to trot spirit's high and they look hot do you wanna get down now don't you ask yourself, who they are? like everybody else, they wanna be a star"
Thanks to Donna Summer for the inspiration.
3. A Good Woman Is Hard To Fine
Yes, that is certainly true. A good woman is hard to fine. If you meant to say a good woman is hard to refine, you've got problems, buddy. Don't go datin' just to change a woman to the one you want. Besides, I don't date people who don't know how to use spell check.
4. Does God Know You've Escaped From Heaven?
And did you know that you're a bat out of hell?
5. I Put the Fun in DysFUNctional
I've heard that line so many times, buddy. Here, go have yourself a slice of Velveeta. It'll do ya good.
6. Does this profile make me look fat?
It's not you, it's your font size.
7. I'm a no nonsince person with little tolorrance for stupitity
See #3. I think someone needs to make friends with spell check.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
This clip is from the first episode of I ever saw of Important Things with Demetri Martin. The last line is my favorite.
|Important Things with Demetri Martin|
|Chairs - Large Pad|
Saturday, August 15, 2009
But it has been so long since I have last gazed at your red pigtails, your freckles, your dress of grey wincey. I have not turned your pages in years...to be frank, I can't remember the last time I paid a visit to Avonlea.
I have been in the middle of quite a few heavy duty books lately, as evidenced by my sidebar. At this time though, all that material is getting too heavy for me. Whenever that happens, that is when I need to visit an old friend--and you, my dear, are that old friend.
But will you still hold appeal for me as an adult, as opposed to a fledgling adolescent? Will your tales still bring me magic even though I'm no longer as youthful as you? Will Avonlea be as magical and romantic as I once remembered?
I shall find out soon, for tonight, I am opening your pages once again. I shall be with you as you and Matthew journey home on the White Way of Delight, past the Lake of Shining Waters. I shall be with you the first time you cross the threshold at Green Gables. And I shall be cheering you on as you stand up to Gilbert when he calls you "Carrots."
Dearest Anne, I have missed you so. It will be so good to spend time with you again. Last month was tough for me, and while things are much better now, I still need a reminder that "God's in His heaven, all's right with the world."
Friday, August 14, 2009
Anyhoo, tonight's VGNO has a version of one of my favorite games as a child: Mad Libs. I absolutely adored Mad Libs. And as I got older, some of them were...well, interesting. Wink, wink!
Here is the link to Ann's VGNO post for the week, which also has the rules for tonight's party game. All of the fill in the blanks are based on the year you entered high school. Let's just say that we participants are all going to show our ages tonight!
And away we go!
Dear Diary,My best friend Jennifer and I went shopping for black rubber bracelets. We wanted to show them off when we went to hang out at the multi-plex. You won't BELIEVE who we saw at the mall. Brad Pitt! We screamed so loud they had to call Security. It was the best day ever!
Okay, I'm fine with all of the choices except Brad Pitt. Yeah, I know, I'm in the minority here, given that many American women swoon over him. Sorry, it's just a matter of personal taste. I was never a big fan of his. Give me Hugh Jackman or Eric Bana any day, and I'll be happy.
Well, I'm off to go blog-hopping. Thanks for stopping by!
Stupid moment of the week: I was driving Tuesday afternoon when I pass a country store. In Connecticut towns, you find many of these. So there's this sign outside this one country store that reads:
I kept driving and passed another country store, and found this sign:
Then I passed a third country store. (Told ya we had a lot of country stores!) And there was THIS sign:
And that's when I realized...
LOL = Land O' Lakes
The cheese which the country stores were selling was not a cheese with a smiley face, but one with the same Indian that graces the packaging of the butter that Mama Cat buys at the grocery store.
If I wasn't driving, I would have banged my head against the steering wheel.
If you follow me on Facebook, or on Twitter, y'all know I have DVR now--as well as almost every movie channel known to man. I'm feeling overwhelmed at the channel selection I now have. I may DVR True Blood just to see what all the fuss is about. I've already got the season premiere of Mad Men scheduled. I never watched it before and I want to know why people are raving about it. I'll be writing a post in a few weeks about how my life has changed since the arrival of this appliance in my home. Cause I have a feeling I'll be watching more TV than ever, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Got an E-mail from Lyman Orchards saying that their first crop of apples is ready to be picked. I plan to head out in early September, especially since that's when the honeycrisps are ripe. Honeycrisps are my favorite apple. I will do almost anything for a honeycrisp. Seriously. If you haven't had them, you're missing out. They're that good.
My cats have dandruff. This is quite embarrassing. And gross. I'm grooming them tonight. I did some research online and learned that the best way to get rid of kitty dandruff is to bathe your cat. Uhhh...no thanks. I have a friend who's bathed his cats since they were kittens, and they're quite used to the water. My girls are six and seven years old. I don't think they'll take to the water quite so easily.
Yesterday I took a spontaneous trip to the mall with a friend of mine. She always knows when the good sales and bargains are at Macy's; she's the best shopper I know. And thanks to her, I bought three new tops, a gorgeous wrap dress, and a ridiculously cute pair of Sketchers--all on clearance, and I got to use her 20% off coupon. Then we headed to the food court and splurged on Chinese for dinner. So much fun!
Today I start another housesitting gig. I'm watching over a golden retriever and a Bernese mountain dog. They really are good dogs. I'm looking forward to it.
Tomorrow I'm heading over to the Mystic Food and Wine Festival with some friends, followed by ladies night at a cafe with another group of friends.
And next week, Mama Cat and I are trying desperately to get together to see "Julie and Julia." And at some point I need to see "The Time Traveler's Wife." Imagine that--I haven't been to the movies in five and a half years and suddenly I want to go to the theater.
And before I leave you, here is the "Felines" portion of the post, which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that cats love suitcases. I had unpacked from my conference last week, and Mags and Gabs decided they wanted to go on my next trip:
So things are looking up in my neck of the woods! I hope y'all are doing fabulous and that you have a fabtastic weekend!
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
We're goin' back, back, waaaaaaayyyyyy back to January 30, 2005. I had just returned from a weekend in Jersey. It was Grandma Cat's 90th birthday celebration, and I was with a bunch of relatives I only see once, maybe twice a year.
It was also a very cold, very dry winter, and my asthma was giving me trouble. LOTS of people had noticed it, including my colleagues at work. I was getting all sorts of comments from them and especially Mama Cat:
"You haven't been taking care of yourself!"
"I'm worried about you!"
"Your breathing's very heavy!"
"You've been wheezing a lot!"
"Did you get your flu shot this year?"
Well...no, I did not get my flu shot that year. I thought I was doing a good thing and donating my flu shot to some elderly person, even though I myself was in a high-risk flu category.
I just rolled my eyes at all of these comments. Yeah, I was worried about my asthma, and yes, I was using my rescue inhaler A LOT, but I thought, "Oh, I'll go to the doctor soon, whenever I get a chance."
Famous last words.
The night of January 30th, I was watching 60 Minutes, in the dark, with three blankets and my comforter on top of me. I had the worst chills in the world. A few hours later I got the worst frontal lobe migraine ever. I went to bed, and woke up at 2:30, literally gasping for air. But I grabbed my rescue inhaler, took a few puffs, and went right back to sleep.
The morning of January 31st arrived. I got up, showered, didn't feel quite right, but got ready for work anyway. Was having breakfast when I decided to call in sick. I called in sick, then reached for my inhaler. I took it, nothing happened.
So I took it again.
Next thing I knew, I could barely breathe.
I reached for the phone and dialed 911.
All I remember from that call is staring at a can of Pledge on my dining room table (I had dusted a few days earlier and never put it away), and thinking, "This is the last object I'm gonna see before I die."
The paramedics arrived very quickly. I met them downstairs; how I got downstairs without passing out is beyond me.
They put me on a stretcher and got me in the ambulance, and gave me oxygen. I was at the hospital in less than five minutes.
I arrived in the ER, was put behind the curtain, and the nurses immediately started me with the nebulizer, then hooked me up to a machine that took my vitals every half hour. They drew a few vials of blood.
Next thing I knew I was being wheeled to the X-rays, where they wanted to see if my lungs were cloudy, a sign of pneumonia. I was shivering, and had three freshly warmed towels on top of me.
I fell asleep after the X-rays.
A short time, or maybe a long time, later, the doctor woke me up, and said they were going to admit me.
A few hours later, I was in a room of my own, in a hospital bed.
Sister Kitten came to visit me that night, and brought several books with her. She went to my house and checked on the cats. I couldn't thank her enough. During her visit the nurse came and took my vitals, and saw that I ran a temp of 102. She ordered some more tests.
About an hour later, the nurse confirmed that I had the flu.
Mama Cat's words came back to haunt me: "Did you get your flu shot this year?"
I ended up staying in the hospital for four days and three nights. It took that long to get my breathing right, as well as the oxygen content in my blood to go up to above 90%. When I was admitted, I later learned, there was only 60% oxygen in my blood.
I was sent home with Advair, Tamiflu, and Prednizone. The Advair and the Prednizone were for the asthma; thank God I was only on the Prednizone for a week. It's not a pleasant drug to be on. I'll spare you the details.
Bottom line, kittens, here's what I learned from that episode: DON'T EVER TAKE YOUR HEALTH FOR GRANTED. That's what happened to me. I could use the excuse that I was 28 and thought I was immortal, but it's not an excuse. I simply did not take care of myself, and I learned the hard way what can happen if I don't.
Since then, I get a flu and a pneumonia shot every year. I take my Advair every morning and night. My asthma is well under control now.
I bug the heck out of my doctor's office, and the company nurse, whenever flu season rolls around, since I need that flu shot. Yeah, they may get tired of my nagging, but there's a good reason for it...
...simply put, that flu shot saves me not only a trip to the ER, but very well may save my life.
Your result for The Classic Dames Test...
You scored 17% grit, 38% wit, 38% flair, and 12% class!
I have absolutely no problem with this result...and the fact that she's a fellow Nutmegger makes me very happy!
You can take the quiz, too, by clicking here.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
You Are Like a Dog
You are a natural best friend. You are very loyal and faithful.
In your eyes, your friends can do no wrong. You will stick with them no matter what.
You have a protective streak, and you can be downright nasty if you're being threatened.
More than anything else, you are playful and laid back. You truly live in the moment.
So here are the top 25 most-played songs in my personal iTunes library. We're gonna do this countdown style:
25. "Kodachrome," Paul Simon
"When I think about the crap I learned in high school, it's a wonder I learned anything at all." I absolutely LOVE that opening lyric. It's one of the best opening lyrics in all music.
Ironic, though, that the last lyric to the chorus goes, "But mama don't take my Kodachrome away." Well, they are! Kodak recently announced that they're no longer going to produce it, making this song more meaningful, in my opinion.
24. "Summer, Highland Falls," Billy Joel, Songs in the Attic
I like this live version better than the original one, which was originally on the Turnstiles album. This includes another one of my favorite opening lyrics:
"They say that these are not the best of times, but they're the only times I've ever known."
The last line of the chorus is great, too:
"We are only what our situations hand us, it's either sadness or euphoria."
23. "Laughter in the Rain," Neil Sedaka
I have a thing for singer-songwriters from the 70s. I first heard this on a road trip to Long Island about ten years ago. I always listened to WCBS 101 FM whenever I traveled to Long Island. One of my best friends from college lived there, and we'd listen to this station whenever we were in the car together. I always think of her whenever I listen to CBS FM online.
22. "Kids in America," Kim Wilde
I heard this song on one of the Music Choice stations one day and liked it so much I downloaded it. There's no other cool story to it other than that.
21. "Our Lives," The Calling
I first heard this song on the radio about five years ago. It's just such a positive little tune. I just love the chorus; it's so optimistic and upbeat:
"These are the days worth livin',
These are the years we're given,
And these are moments, these are the times,
Let's make the best out of our lives."
20. "Gimme Little Sign," Brenton Wood
See #23. Again, it's another song that we heard consistently on CBS FM.
19. "Even the Nights Are Better," Air Supply
I remember when this song came out. I was in kindergarten. It played on the radio all the time.
18. "Groovin'," The Young Rascals
See #20 and #23. I also heard this a lot in the car growing up. My parents loved listening to WDRC, the local oldies station.
17. "Pleasant Valley Sunday," The Monkees
Sister Kitten and I watched reruns of The Monkees obsessively when we were growing up. Anyone else remember when they were on Nickelodeon?
16. "Goin' Out of My Head," Little Anthony and the Imperials
See #20 and #23.
15. "Out of the Blue," Debbie Gibson
I was a huge Debbie--ahem, DEBORAH--Gibson fan in middle school and am not ashamed to admit it.
14. "Invisible," Clay Aiken
The only song of Clay's I really like.
13. "Where You Lead I Will Follow," Carole King and Louise Goffin
This was the version that served as the theme to Gilmore Girls. It reminds me of my mentor, who passed away in 2005. She was a huge Carole King fan and would often play her CDs at work.
12. "Starry Eyed Surprise," Paul Oakenfold
This played on the radio quite a bit about four or five years ago, during a very sweet time in my life. Nothing major or earth-shattering happened, but it was one of those times in life where everything just seems to click.
11. "Closer to Fine," Indigo Girls
A couple of friends of mine sang this at a pops concert in college. I've loved it--and the Indigo Girls--ever since.
10. "Bittersweet Symphony," The Verve
This played on the radio during my senior year of college--specifically, second semester senior year. This was an appropriate song to hear then: bittersweet feelings about graduating and moving on to the "real world." It's my coming-of-age song, I guess.
9. "LDN," Lily Allen
I first heard Lily Allen on an episode of Saturday Night Live. She performed this song, and I've loved it since then.
8. "Least Complicated," Indigo Girls
7. "Up Around the Bend," Creedence Clearwater Revival
I've loved this song since I first heard it in Remember the Titans.
6. "Home," Michael Buble
I always think of BFF when I hear this song. Not only does he adore Michael Buble, but he sings a wonderful version of this tune.
5. "Smile," Lily Allen
I love how Lily Allen marries bitter lyrics with cheerful chords.
4. "Celebrate Me Home," Kenny Loggins
There's no other reason that this is on the playlist other than I just really dig the tune.
3. "Old Town," The Corrs
2. "When the Stars Go Blue," Tim McGraw
See #3 and #4.
1. "Hello It's Me," Todd Rundgren
See #20, #23, and any other tune referencing CBS FM.
As you can see, most of these songs invoke very specific memories for me. That just shows you how powerful music can be. I don't know what I'd do without my iPod or my tunes. They are so very important to me.
Monday, August 10, 2009
This one requires some background information. I'll leave it to the Queen to tell us about this week's meme:
Forty years ago this week, three days of peace, love and rock 'n roll (and mud) happened near Bethel, New York. It was the Summer of 1969.
Attire: Hippie jeans. Long hair. Legal or illegal smoke. Psychedelic vibe.
Put yourself inside the peace & love vibe. You can choose to be stoned or straight. I put it in the story for the sake of reality. Just don't inhale in this meme.
Peace out! Somebody might wanna turn on a fan in here.
Kittens, I am a real square. My answers are kinda boring.
1. "Hello, my groovy name is Ton.
By the looks of those flowers in your hair, you must be rich. It looks like those flowers were professionally gardened and cut just for the occasion.
When I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
3. Because the first time ever I saw your face I realized that what the world needs now is love sweet love. Besides, I always feel guilty watching you dance when I should be writing lyrics to my next hit song.
4. Have I told you lately that I love you? Hey! Don't step on that crack!! You'll break your mother's back !!
5. There's a party in my sleeping bag and half a million of my ant friends are coming over tonight and we're gonna help get my baby off my mind. Darn the luck. It's raining cats and dogs.
6. I'm really digging your eyes but that headband has got to go. Those flowers in your hair are beginning to smell like skunk.
8. I'd use all my blood, sweat and tears just to get next to your sister. She's a lot more hip than you.
** You might stay out of the dungeon if you post a picture of yourself or someone you know in your hippie clothes (if you're old enough)**
OK, I'm not old enough to have gone to Woodstock, and I don't have any pics of me in hippie clothes. Sorry, kittens. Looks like it's another week in the dungeon for moi. Can someone send down some bread and water?
The first one comes from the lovely Miss Janna Bee, the Premio Dardos Award. This award "acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day."
The next award comes from my friend Brandi at Faded Pictures and Misprinted Lies. She just started her own poetry blog, Without Wings. Check it out! And tell her Kitten sent ya! :)
Finally, I got two awards from Kathie at My Net Finds. First up is the Blog de Ouro, or the Golden Blog Award:
And the second one is an award created by Miss Kathie herself, the You're a Gem Award:
I always feel torn whenever I'm supposed to hand these awards out to people, so I'm awarding these to anyone who reads my blog! You're all gems in my mind! :)
***UPDATE*** I forgot to include this award from J.Kaye! I didn't mean to forget about you! It's the Hearts and Flowers Blog Award!
Anyhoo, a couple of weeks ago, I called Comcast to gripe about my bill. Why was I paying more money every three months when they keep taking channels off my lineup? I have the analog package with the extended basic lineup. No fancy digital, no premium channels.
Well, long story short, I'm getting a new cable package this Thursday. The cable guy's coming to visit. I'm getting a free box, and a two-year deal that will get me digital cable and HBO for a far less expensive price than what I'm paying right now.
And...the best part?
Free DVR with the deal.
I'm so frakkin' excited about this. You have no idea.
It's too bad I won't fully enjoy it immediately...I'm starting another housesitting gig on Friday. HOWEVER, I'm setting up the DVR to record the shows I'm gonna miss while I'm away. Then I can enjoy my shows when I come home!
Dear God, is this what my life has come to?
Sunday, August 9, 2009
1. "Here We Go Again," Demi Lovato
Now kittens, I know what you're thinking. Yes, I have ranted about teen pop from this decade. But this is a good song, and I am not ashamed to admit it. Y'all know I have rawther diverse tastes.
2. "No Surprise," Daughtry
One of the few songs on the radio lately that I haven't got sick of hearing.
3. "Be OK," Ingrid Michaelson
Thanks to Yaya for introducing me to this one.
4. "Playground in My Mind," Clint Holmes
Told ya there'd be 1970s AM radio one-hit wonders.
5. "Moonlight Feels Right," Starbuck
6. "Beach Baby," First Class
OK, so I went a little crazy in the iTunes store one day!
7. "Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)," Joey Levine, Norman Dolph, and Reunion
I also told you there'd be novelty songs on this one.
8. "I Don't Like Mondays," the Boomtown Rats
I should come up with a Monday playlist that has this and "Manic Monday" on it.
9. "Domino," Van Morrison
I heard this song driving down to BFF's the last time I was at his house, and it got stuck in my head.
10. "I Saw the Light," Todd Rundgren
I heard this song in a Borders one afternoon. It was one of those songs where I went, "Who sings it? What's it called?" I was in the iTunes store for about an hour, listening to samples, before I finally solved the mystery.
11. "Listen to What the Man Said," Paul McCartney and Wings
You can never go wrong with the cute Beatle. Ever. Too bad the Beatles aren't on iTunes.
12. "Jump," Kris Kross
True story: I was reading an article about a pep rally in my high school's alumni magazine when I remembered that the freshman class used this song as their class theme at one particular celebration. I had to listen to it. Then I downloaded it.
13. "La La Land," Demi Lovato
Not all teen pop from this decade is bad. This is a good song. John Mayer even likes it.
That having been said, shoot me if I EVER include a Jonas Brothers song on the playlist. I will let you all take turns holding the gun.
14. "It Never Rains in Southern California," Albert Hammond
Another song I heard on the last drive to BFF's. This one, however, stayed in my head longer than Sir Paul's. Je ne sais pas pourquoi.
15. "Mercedes Benz," Janis Joplin
I recently heard a rendition of this song at a local pops concert.
16. "Brand New Key," Melanie
Once more, with feeling, on the novelty songs.
17. "Leaving on a Jet Plane," Peter, Paul, and Mary
This got stuck in my head when a friend of mine wrote the first line of this song on her Facebook status, shortly before departing for Italy.
18. "If I Had a Hammer," Peter, Paul, and Mary
I heard this song on the radio as a kid and used to sing it around the house. Mama Cat kept correcting the lyrics for me.
19. "Laughing With," Regina Spektor
Love, love, LOVE Regina Spektor. She sang this song on Conan last week and I had to download it--along with several other tunes from her new CD.
20. "The Clapping Song," Shirley Ellis
This played during a Zumba class I took earlier in the week. Would not leave my head. (Anyone sense a theme here?)
21. "The Clapping Song," The Belle Stars
A 1980s remake of the above song. Couldn't decide which one to put on the playlist, so I included them both.
22. "Iko Iko," The Belle Stars
This was the version that was in Rain Man. It played ad nauseum on the radio when the movie came out.
23. "Another Latin Love Song," The Belle Stars
Never heard of this group aside from the two previous songs on the playlist, but they had some catchy tunes. They were an 80s Britpop group that never quite caught on stateside.
24. "Sign of the Times," The Belle Stars
This is what happens when I take a listen to other songs that obscure artists have recorded. I download as many as I can afford.
25. "Venus," Bananarama
I fondly remember this from my childhood.
26. "Cruel Summer," Bananarama
27. "Goodnight Sweetheart," The Alley Cats
A spectacular a capella version of the song that Sha Na Na sang at the end of their show. I saw that Bowzer was coming to Connecticut, and that reminded me of this song. I actually saw Bowzer on a cruise ship a couple of years back. He's getting too old for the greaser routine.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
NPR listeners recently, in a poll, selected their 100 best beach books ever. You can read the article on the NPR website by clicking here.
I'm printing their list below. I'm boldfacing those books I have already read, and am putting stars by those that I would like to read. (Thanks again to Boston Bibliophile for the idea; she did the exact same thing in her post).
And I actually reviewed some of these books here! I'll put a link on the title if that's the case.
Now, this list contains some very diverse genres. Which leads me, kittens, to ask this question: What, to you, is a "beach read"? For me it's something light, but not too fluffy, and not too substantial. It's something that doesn't require a terrible amount of thought or analysis, and is something that you can concentrate on as the hot summer sun beats down on you.
For example, I wouldn't want to bring War and Peace to the beach with me. Too heavy, and too serious of a plotline.
That having been said, some of the books on this list surprise me--East of Eden, for example, is quite thick. So is The Pillars of the Earth. And there are some great classics interspersed here, too.
Now that I've babbled enough, here are the 100 best beach books, as chosen by NPR listeners:
1. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling**
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
4. Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding
5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
6. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells**
7. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams**
9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg**
10. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver**
11. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
12. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
13. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
14. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
15. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
16. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell**
17. Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett
18. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
19. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
20. Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen**
21. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
22. The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver
23. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith
24. The World According to Garp, by John Irving
25. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
26. The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy
27. Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel
28. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman**
29. The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler **
30. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
31. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
32. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
33. The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant**
34. Beach Music, by Pat Conroy
35. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez**
36. Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier
37. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
38. Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
39. The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough**
40. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon
41. Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
42. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
43. Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice
44. Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier
45. Empire Falls, by Richard Russo
46. Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes
47. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
48. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, by Tom Robbins**
49. I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb
50. Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie
51. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
52. The Stand, by Stephen King
53. She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb
54. Dune, by Frank Herbert
55. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
56. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
57. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
58. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
59. The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
60. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
61. Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver
62. Jaws, by Peter Benchley
63. Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner**
64. Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
65. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson**
66. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
67. The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand
68. Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut
69. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
70. The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler
71. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
72. The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy
73. Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns**
74. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
74. Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe [tie]
76. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
77. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon**
78. The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher
79. Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver**
80. Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett
81. Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck
81. The Pilot's Wife, by Anita Shreve [tie]
83. All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy
84. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
85. The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
86. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
87. One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich
88. Shogun, by James Clavell
89. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
90. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera
91. Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow
92. Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger
93. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
94. Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris
95. Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume**
96. The Shining, by Stephen King
97. How Stella Got Her Groove Back, by Terry McMillan
98. Lamb, by Christopher Moore
99. Sick Puppy, by Carl Hiaasen
100. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
I must confess: I have never read any of the linked or boldfaced books on the beach. Most of them I read in high school. But there were some really good choices on this list, so I'm going to draw inspiration from this one if I ever have a lack of anything to read!
Friday, August 7, 2009
I was hooked by the opening sentences of the back cover explanation:
" 'Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?'
"When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. (And you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them."
"This has potential," I thought, "a literary satire on No Child Left Behind, but cleverly disguised in a children's book." I bought it.
There were reviews on the inside of the front cover. I don't like reading the reviews ahead of time, as I sometimes let them influence my reading too much. I don't want to risk being disappointed if I personally dislike the book. However, when critics compared The Mysterious Benedict Society to Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, and one of my childhood literary heroes, Roald Dahl, it peaked my interest.
I had it on my TBR pile for three months, and last week, decided I couldn't wait any longer.
About a hundred pages in, I could understand the Potter/Snicket/Dahl comparisons. It is very cleverly written, with a very whimsical premise. A man named Mr. Benedict places an ad in the newspaper, seeking children for "special opportunities." The children, and their parents, who seek these "special opportunities", arrive one morning to take a rather complicated test with some rather complicated directions and questions. Only one child, Reynie Muldoon, successfully passes the test--only to find out that he has more tests to take.
For the second round of tests, Reynie meets two more kids who have passed the first test: George "Sticky" Washington, a young man who has encyclopedic knowledge of nearly everything, and Kate Weatherall, a girl who spent years in a traveling circus. They all engage in the next round of tests, which are not of the pencil-and-paper, standardized variety. Rather, these kids have to think about how they need to get themselves out of certain situations, such as going from one end of a room to another without touching certain colored squares.
Reynie, Sticky, and Kate all pass each of the tests, and are joined by a girl named Constance Contraire, who, as her surname suggests, has no regard for authority. In fact, she either failed or refused to follow the rules for any of the tests. The kids are puzzled about the reasons why Constance is joining their group.
In fact, they're all puzzled by why they're together. It turns out that Mr. Benedict has a very specific plan for this quartet: He wants them to be secret agents.
As Mr. Benedict forms his plan, something called "The Emergency" is occurring in their small village of Stonetown. Everything is out of control: the government, school budgets, crime, pollution, and general morale amongst Stonetown's good citizens.
Mr. Benedict believes that a series of subliminal messages are causing the Emergency, and that these messages are being transmitted from a school called The Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened (LIVE). A man named Mr. Curtain is using the students at this school to transmit these subliminal messages that are causing all of the havoc, and Mr. Benedict is sending Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance to LIVE to figure out how to halt the messages.
The four children are enrolled at LIVE, and send daily reports to Mr. Benedict, who lives directly across from LIVE, via Morse code and Kate's flashlight. Mr. Benedict always responds with cryptic messages of his own, and the children work together to figure out exactly what he's trying to say. And you, the reader, can figure out the meaning behind the messages along with the characters.
There are all sorts of clues behind LIVE's existence, as well as the peculiar behavior of its students, and the reader can figure out, along with Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance, how all of these clues fit together.
It's safe to say that this is a very cerebral read. In addition to the puzzles and riddles that the readers and characters have to solve, there are underlying commentaries on government, education, child-rearing, and the media. It's a very layered book--layered because it appeals to both adults and kids alike. Kids will love the book's fantasy, for, among other things, LIVE has many secret passages, tunnels, and is on an island rumored to be guarded by sharks. There are also quite a few action scenes that kids will appreciate.
In addition to the fantasy and the commentary, The Mysterious Benedict Society is a book about friendship, and how four diverse personalities can get along to fulfill a mission. Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance not only have an incredible loyalty to Mr. Benedict, but to each other--probably because they are all orphans. Each one of them is seeking a missing parental figure in their lives. Reynie, before his involvement with Mr. Benedict, lived at the Stonetown Orphanage and was bullied by the other orphans. Sticky ran away from his parents. Kate's mother died when she was a baby, and her father left her. The whereabouts of Constance's parents are unknown, although Mr. Benedict mentions that she once lived by herself in the public library.
There are many details to remember in The Mysterious Benedict Society, and at times it's hard to figure them all out. But Trenton Lee Stewart, a first-time author, does an incredible job of weaving all of them together. This is a book that you can easily get into, and before you realize it, you've read a hundred pages or more in a sitting. He has a unique way of getting the reader hooked into the story, and you get intrigued very easily. Almost every chapter ends in a cliffhanger, and you'll want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.
I was really disappointed when the book came to an end, but I'm not fretting too much. There is a sequel, and a third book is being published in October. And you can bet that you'll see reviews of both of these books here on the blog, coming very soon.
By the way, here are some links that you may be interested in, if you want to know more about The Mysterious Benedict Society:
- The official website of the Mysterious Benedict Society
- An interview with author Trenton Lee Stewart
- An excellent review from the book blog Vulpes Libris
Thursday, August 6, 2009
It is a 2002 Kia Spectra, and a damn good car it is. I love, love, LOVE my car. It has never let me down. I take excellent care of it. (NOTE: Not my ACTUAL car, but it looks EXACTLY like it, color, model, and all).
It also has over 134,000 miles on it. Yes, I know it's up there in mileage, but it still runs very, very well. I took it to my mechanic for a tune up a few weeks back and he said that it looked really good under the hood.
That having been said, when you have a car with as much mileage as mine, repair bills can be expensive.
Take this year, for instance. Back in March, I had to have the rear struts replaced. The weakness from the struts was causing the left rear tire to cup, and I had to get a new tire. That was a $450 bill.
Then at the end of last month I went in for an oil change and came out with a new alternator belt and a transmission flush--all on top of the new oil. That was a $350 bill.
Then three weeks ago I went in because my car was having trouble starting first thing in the morning. That, and the alternator belt kept squeaking. They readjusted the belt and then saw that my spark plugs were on the fritz. They replaced the spark plugs and did a fuel injection clean-out. That was a $225 bill. (Fortunately, the alternator belt was still under warranty, so that was free).
Two weeks ago, I went in because the belt was still squealing. They gave me a new one, tightened it up, and there's no more noise. Fortunately, it was under warranty, so it didn't cost me anything to fix.
And just today, I went to the dealer because, five weeks after the belt replacement, there was still chirping and the occasional screech. I called this morning, and he told me to bring it in today.
It was my first time at this particular dealership. I usually go to the one right by where I work, but it was more convenient for me to go to the one closer to my home for this appointment. He told me he'd check the belt, examine the alternator, and, because it was my first appointment there, give me a free 27-point safety inspection.
I arrived at 12:45. At 2:00, inspection completed, I was informed that the car was in great shape. The belts were tightened, and they found that a bolt was bent, which was what was likely causing the tweeting and squeaking.
My front brakes were on the fritz. They said I only had about ten percent of them left. I gave them the OK to fix them. They added that I needed new wipers. I told them to put them on as well.
Soooo...$340 later, I have new brakes, new wipers, and a new customer loyalty card. I earn $1 for every $20 I spend. I can use the money towards future repairs.
AND...I also got a coupon for a FREE car wash. :)
So, brakes and belts tightened, and wallet MUCH lighter, I took my car to the spa for a nice, soapy bath. So now it looks good and feels good.
Yes, the car is costing me beaucoup bucks lately, and the money I've spent on repair would have contributed nicely to a down payment, but I'd rather make the necessary repairs into my investment than deal with a car payment right now. Besides, I have no choice. Car loans are hard for a lot of people to obtain now.
I will admit that I am attached to my wheels. Kia and I have never been on major road trips, but she has served me well over the years and has been a good little car. I can't ask for more than that.
So I found this book. It was the only X on the shelf.
I borrowed it, and hoped fervently that it would be a good read.
My hopes came true.
It is a very quick read; a little over 200 pages, and the pages themselves are small. But that's not what makes this a quick read. Sky Burial is a tale of genuine, true love, and, what's even more remarkable, is based on a true story.
In 1994, Xinran, a Chinese journalist, received a phone call from a listener on her nightly radio program. He had just met a woman in the street named Shu Wen. They were buying rice soup from a street vendor, and he had learned that this woman had just returned to China from Tibet after a stay of more than 30 years. The listener thought that Xinran should interview Shu Wen, and before the phone call ended, gave her Wen's contact information.
Xinran traveled for four hours to meet Shu Wen and spent two days with her. On the third day, she learned that Wen had left the hotel. Inspired by her story, Xinran wrote this book, an account of Shu Wen's long search for her husband.
This story begins in the mid 1950s, shortly after the Communists took control of the Chinese government. Wen was twenty-two when she met her husband, Kejun, in medical school. They married four years later. Shortly after their wedding, Kejun was sent to Tibet as a surgeon with the Chinese army. This was during the beginning years of the Chinese-Tibet conflict, and you can click here to learn more about it.
A few months after their wedding, Wen receives the following letter from the Suzhou Military Office (p. 11):
This is to certify that Comrade Wang Kejun died in an incident in the east of Tibet on 24 March 1958, aged 29.
No further details were given about Kejun's death. Suspicious, Wen wants to find out exactly how her husband died--or learn if he is really dead. She decided to head to Tibet to look for him or his militia unit.
What follows is an incredible story driven by the power of love, determination, and hard work. Wen meets another woman, Zhuoma, who is also searching for a lost love. The two women eventually join up with a nomadic Tibetan family, and live with them for many years. At one point, Zhuoma is kidnapped, and the story turns into the search for two people to whom Wen was extremely close--her husband, and a woman much like a sister.
The book eventually turns into a story about cultural identity. As the years progress, Wen wonders if she is really Chinese or Tibetan. Whenever she meets Chinese people in Tibet, she wonders if she remembers the language, the customs, and the traditions of her people. She has been in Tibet for so long that she is starting to consider herself to be Tibetan. What should she consider herself once she returns to her native land?
The story, sadly, ends abruptly. Xinran learns that Wen has checked out of her hotel, without leaving any information as to where she was going. Wen had just returned to China, but wasn't clear as to what her plans were. One of the reasons that Xinran wrote the book was to find Shu Wen, and listen to the rest of the story.
This was one of the most compelling true life stories I've read in a long time. Sky Burial is not so much a love story as it is a tale of friendship and loyalty between two distinct cultures. Xinran writes very simply, but its themes run much deeper. I really hope that there is an epilogue to this tale, and we learn more about Shu Wen's fate after her chance meeting with Xinran's listener.
This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, my 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge, and my 2009 A to Z Challenge. Make sure you click on the buttons in the sidebar to review archived lists of all past reads!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Well, this week I am late with the meme, since I've been away. I'm hoping to redeem your graces with this, your Majesty, even though I am late.
But kittens, you can help me win my freedom from the dungeon.
And it's easy.
All you have to do is go to The Queen's Meme. In the upper left hand corner, there is a poll: "Who Should Get Out of the Dungeon This Week?" You can choose to vote among four bloggers. I am currently tied for the lead with a fellow named Thom; we each have 62% of the vote. I hope you all choose wisely. ;)
(Of course, my vote solicitation may result in an additional week's imprisonment...but it's worth a shot, no?)
Now for the good stuff (quoted from the Queen herself)!
The place where unbloggable news happens and sources are never a secret. You are the creator, producer, writer and news anchor of the WBLOG nightly news. It is your job to deliver the news in your own style from your own blog.
And oh, you get to make up the news! Here's your assignment:
1. The Weather Channel: Give me your personality forecast. Are you sunny, wet, windy, or cloudy? Why?
2. The News Channel: What is the breaking news story of the day in your world?
3. The Economic Channel: How are things on the economic front? And more importantly, do you have ideas to save the planet from financial ruin?
4. The Entertainment Channel: Give us the latest blog celebrity gossip. Dish it!
Conan O'Brien has decided to shave his head, since bald spots are appearing in his trademark red pompadour. Paris Hilton has decided to marry a guy who isn't in show business and has donated her entire fortune to charity. William Shatner is being considered for an Emmy nomination for his interpretation of Sarah Palin's farewell speech.
Oh, and did I mention...it's snowing in Los Angeles as I write this?
5. The Sports Channel: Make up a sport, give your team a name and choose five players from the list of names on the Mr. Linky list. What are the rules of the game?
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has voted to grant hopscotch medal status in the 2012 games. For authenticity, the matches will be played on sidewalks. Piccadilly Circus will be closed entirely during the London Games so spectators can watch these intense matches.
The American team is led by Autumn, who was of great assistance in their triumphant victory over the British team, led by Duchess Dethroned, during the 2009 World Championships. This sets the stage for an intense across-the-pond rivalry. The Americans and the Brits, however, face some big competition from the French team, coached expertly by Jean-Luc Picard. Recall that the French lost the bronze medal when the Australians won the third-place match in an upset victory. Previously, the Aussies, led by Angelia, were ranked seventh in the world.
6. The Comedy Channel: How will you make us laugh today? Tell us a blunny (that's blog + funny for all you non-blog speakers)
I got nuttin.' That is, I don't have anything original. What do you want me to do, dress in drag and do the hula?
7. The Religious Channel: Make up a blog religion. Tell us why your blog church will save our souls.
May I suggest reading the new #1 New York Times bestseller, The Gospel According to Kitten? Written by none other than moi? Reading, as they used to say in the PSAs from the 1970s, is fundamental. Unless you don't read. Well, if you're reading this blog, you are reading right now. How will I save your souls? By encouraging you to read BOOKS! Go to Borders! Spend some dough!
THAT'S how I'm gonna save the planet from economic ruin! Get more people to buy books!
8. (but who's counting?) The Soap Opera Channel: What is the name of your soap opera?
That's easy. Songs of the Borax. I'd dress like Heidi, wear some Viking horns and braids, and dance around singing about Palmolive in a very high, Julie Andrews-esque soprano.
That's it for this week, my darling kittens. And PLEASE don't forget to vote me out of the dungeon!
The following explanation of the challenge is taken from One Gal's Musings:
"Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world."
I've been away for the last few days and haven't had the opportunity to blog, but here's what I have come up with so far:
August 1st: The most gorgeous, sunny day in a very long time. It wasn't humid at all, and it wasn't too hot. It was, in the words of Goldilocks, "just right!" And I unintentionally engaged in one of my favorite activities: driving therapy. I got lost trying to find the street that led to a lake here in the M-Town--a lake to which, in six years of living here, I had never been. I wanted to take a walk around it, but couldn't find the signs for the life of me. Still, it felt so good to spend an hour in the car, driving around, windows down, and great tunes blasting from the radio.
August 2nd: Left for my conference. On the way there, I stopped by Borders, since I had some Borders Bucks to spend. It turns out I had more Borders Bucks than I had anticipated, and the book that I purchased was FREE. That's right, FREE. And y'all know what happens when I experience moments of pure joy: I do the Bookkitten Cry of Joy. All together now: "SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!"
August 3rd: First day of the conference. During the day I participated in a Tai Chi workshop. Tai Chi is absolutely amazing. I don't know exactly how it did this, but all of a sudden, after my workout, all of my funk, stresses, and negative energy were gone. I mean, completely, totally, gone. It was the best I had felt in days. I felt sooooooo good.
Later my roommate at the hotel watched some TV and bonded. We spoke in British accents for the rest of the night and stayed up till 1 AM. It was great!
August 4th: I went to a Zumba class. Again, it was amazing. Zumba is different from regular aerobics in several ways: One, it doesn't use verbal cues. This is especially nice, since I've experienced instructors who talk way too much when giving instructions. Secondly, it uses real, modern music, and not Muzak. Third, it incorporates real dance moves, and not just ones that are designed for the traditional aerobics class.
Later that night I went out for a martini with my roomie, then we went back to our room and watched America's Got Talent. Are any of you darling kittens watching that show? Who are you cheering for? My faves are Arcadian Broad (the teen dancer), Drew Thomas Magic, and Kevin Skinner (the chicken wrangler-turned-country singer).
August 5th: I came home feeling happy, relaxed, and satisfied. I had such a good time. Going away for a few days, even if it was a professional opportunity, was the best medicine. My kitties were ecstatic to see me.
Oh--by the way--I finished another book during my conference! I'll have the review posted by the end of the week.
So August has started off very well, with good, happy thoughts and good, happy times. Thanks, everyone, for your support and kindness over the past week as I've dealt with my latest episode. I know now that I'm well on the healing path, and I couldn't have done it without your help and thoughtfulness.
I hope to have a little present for you all soon...it all depends on how strong my graphic design skills are. And that's all I'm sayin' 'bout that for now. :)
Now I've gotta unpack and do laundry! Ciao for now!