Month: March 2002 Page 1 of 5

Reviews, continued.

Five Moral Pieces. It’s going to be hard to write something to convince anyone to read this book that doesn’t already read Umberto Eco, a writer and professor of semiotics* in Italy. For those of you who have, this isn’t Travels with a Salmon, this isn’t Six Walks in the Fictional Woods. This is five essays about things that piss off Umberto Eco: war, the Italian press, the Catholic church, Fascism, and intolerance. He’s subtle and inevitable. I’m not a big chess player, but he writes like a Grand Master.

New Basics. This is going to be my next cookbook–I only have it on loan from the library. It covers the same spectrum as Betty Crocker, but it’s more playful, more sophisticated (no bullion cubes here), and more inspiring. I have yet to cook anything out of here as given in the recipe, yet somehow that’s a good thing. A collection of recipes that makes you want to cook–and to eat.

The Laughing Corpse. I was introduced to the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels by two friends of mine, Doyce and Jackie, who bought me the first book in the series. I was unimpressed. Yadda yadda yadda. Nevertheless, when I went to the library the last time, I recalled the effusive praise delivered by the dynamic duo for the series: “Jackie will rip the book right out of my hands…and she doesn’t even like to read!” I think that’s how it went. So I picked up the second book in the series. A big improvement. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not War and Peace. It’s not even Stephen King. But it’s damn readable for pulp horror entertainment. The characters (now that we’ve gotten away from the introduction-to-the-vampire-controlled-St.-Louis thing) are interesting. The bad guys are bad. The good guys are human and have their flaws. The main character, Anita Blake, teeters on the edge, vehemently trying to convince herself she’s one of the good guys…you know, this might turn some people off, but there are better female characters in this book than there are male characters. Eh. Too much gore to be “feminist,” though, so don’t worry about it. The only thing that I didn’t like (and probably never will) is the fundamental writing style Laurell Hamilton uses. Story grammar isn’t scholarly grammar. Even so.

“…By gor’, that’s a blody enormous cat.”

“It’s a lion,” said Granny Weatherwax, looked at the stuffed head over the fireplace.

“Must’ve hit the wall at a hell of a speed, whatever it was,” said Nanny Ogg.

“Someone killed it,” said Granny Weatherwax, surveying the room.

“Should think so,” said Nanny. “If I’d seen somehting like that eatin’ it’s way through the wall, I’d of hit it myself with the poker.”

–Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad.

*Semiotics: The theory and study of signs and symbols, especially as elements of language or other systems of communication (American Heritage Dictionary).


Movies: Zoolander, Iron Monkey, Musketeer. Books: Five Moral Pieces (Umberto Eco), New Basics (Cookbook), The Laughing Corpse (Anita Blake). Gratuitous quote from a Terry Pratchett novel.

Zoolander. Maybe this movie isn’t everyone’s cup of freaky tea. I mean, who wants to wake up with a midget folk band and a hangover? I have to admit that Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller don’t do it for me…but there’s a cameo of Billy Zane, so the sex appeal factor is pretty high. But they are funny. And there’s Milla Jovovich, perfectly capable of a genuine Russian accent, pulling a Natasha. It’s cheesy. It’s horrible. There is no point. It’s just a bit off. I’ll probably never see it again…but it’s my kind of stupid movie.

Iron Monkey I’m probably going over the heads of genre buffs, but screw ’em. Have you seen Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love? The two movies are tied together — watch them on the same night sometime. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Iron Monkey fit together the same way. Maybe even better. Both are movies with two sets of protagonists, sometimes allies, sometimes in conflict. Both are fairy tales. You cry at the end of one and cheer at the end of the other. Iron Monkey is an incredible film, wonderfully and innocently told. Don’t bother being cynical about the obvious plot twists; just enjoy it.

Musketeer You’ll probably want to rent this movie because of the matial arts sequences you saw on TV. Don’t bother. If, however, you have a craving to see Tim Roth justify a multimillion-dollar dumbass action flick that screws up Dumas so badly you know they had to have read the book to get it that wrong, go ahead. You don’t get many good villians these days. Pity the rest of the movie’s such a waste.

(To be continued…)

Rebellion, again. (This isn’t directed to anyone in particular, just something about human nature I want to bitch about.)

The world isn’t fair. I can grasp that. You can’t have everything you want. Nevertheless, what’s wrong with the world being as fair as you can make it? What’s wrong with having everything, within reason? And why keep telling me the world’s not fair, and I can’t have everything I want? Is it just something to say? Is it just something to say to let you justify being unfair, not letting me get for myself what I want? Is it somehow supposed to comefort me?

If the world isn’t fair, and you can’t have everything you want, doesn’t that mean that I don’t have to be fair and I don’t have to give you what you want? Even if we love each other? If you don’t have to apologize if you didn’t mean to hurt me, doesn’t that mean I don’t have to apologize because I just don’t have time to care? If your love makes you do cruel things to me in the name of that love, doesn’t that mean I can hate you? Doesn’t it mean that I don’t have to understand?

What’s wrong with letting each other know you have doubts? That what you’re doing is the right thing, but that it’s the best you can come up with? That you do what you do not from love, not “for your own good,” but from fear that things will get out of control? What’s wrong with an honorable compromise? What’s wrong with admitting you’re in pain? I don’t think most people actually want to be assholes. We just don’t know how to stop justifying ourself and apologize, even if we don’t think we’re wrong.

Most people.

I can’t stand that bitch.

Statements. The difference between generalized statements and overgeneralized statements is that generalized statements are like those games where one player says “noun” and someone shouts out a noun (my favorite was always WD-40), and overgeneralized statements are like those games where one player says something totally inane and all the other players just stare at him…Overgeneralizations are like funerals. They aren’t meant for the people you’d they they were meant for.

Please, someone pull the 2-by-4 out of my eye.

Rebellion. This is just a reminder to myself on this subject. It’s six in the morning, and (even less so than usual) I can’t tell if it’s a good idea to write what I’m thinking.

Rejection. No, I haven’t had any rejection letters lately. I should be so lucky…more waiting.

I’ve discovered another writer at work, a chica taking a writing-for-children course, a publisher of poetry and a sarcasmatrice. She said she was dreading the end of her writing course, because then she would be On Her Own and Have to Face Rejection. (She must not get her poetry rejected.) Whuh? This is a bad thing?

I congratulated her on the brave task of writing for children. I find it nearly impossible. So far…having Ray around for a couple of years might change that. I told her that I, personally, expect to be rejected at this point. Although I did nearly faint when the Weird Tales SASE came back, because it was a little thicker than it should have been. But that’s immaterial. Rejection is average. Success is a form rejection letter or better. You have to define your short-term goals in a practical way. Rejection–nah, the fear of rejection–used to tear me down, too. Something must have changed. I wonder what it was.

Mad. Why can’t I stay mad? I get mad. I yell (in the case of a sincere apology, I’m done). I hold grudges. I lose trust in people. I just don’t stay mad. If the time between getting mad and giving someone a piece of my mind is more than a few hours, in most cases…pffft. I couldn’t care less.

And it’s really hard for me to stay mad on a full tummy. Do emotions fade as we get older, or is it just that we finally start to figure this stuff out? Less melodrama = healthier diet? Less caffeine, et cetera? This is important. I’m a nursing mother. i have to have a good diet…and it’s time to eat again. Crap. It’s dark and snowy outside, I have no working vehicle, Lee doesn’t get home for three hours, and I want calories. Chocolate ice cream, at least.


Note. Never go grocery shopping hungry. Never go to a bookstore intellectual. Never bring up the name of one of your favorite authors–to anyone–unless you’re planning to reread something. Especially (and this isn’t the case) if it’s somebody like Robert Jordan, because…holy crap, that’s a lot of wordage. Or Agatha Christie. Or Danielle Steele. Bleh. Ok. I’m too repulsed to continue on that subject.

Attack of the Cutes. Imagine, if you will, the song “Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing,” by Chris Isaak. Add to that one five-month-old bebe that’s just learned to sway back and forth to the music. On top of that, add momma lying on the floor next to her, close enough for bebe to reack out and touch.

So. Ray starts rocking back and forth until she happens to bang into my arm. She laughs. She does it again. And again. Finally I pick up my arm and roll out of the way. Sure enough, she rolls completely over, and is completely pissed.

…And she now knows how to make rattles rattle.

Responsibility. Sometimes I get tired of being a mother. It’s the responsibility. (Can you see the looks on some of my relative’s faces? “Ha! I knew she’d never be able to pull it off, the flibbertygibbet.” Of course, being all-American, all-Christian Midwesterners, nothing would be said. Nothing, not even, “How can I help?” Especially not that.)

It isn’t the moment-by-moment responsibility. I don’t get tired of changing diapers. I don’t get tired of making sure the bebe is safe. I get tired, naturally enough, of not getting any deep sleep, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

I can’t get depressed. Not seriously depressed, just enough to make me wonder if every word that comes out of my mouth just the wrong thing to say. Just enough to make me paranoid that the people around me have problems with something I’m doing, but that they aren’t telling me about them. Just enough to make me hate ever having wanted to be a wrtier–to lay down for a day or two and say, “I can’t do this shit.” Not the serious kind of depression where you want to kill yourself or wallow in misery for months, just the kind of thing where you want to whine a little, eat ice cream, and read a book you’ve read seven times before, preferably with a big blanket wrapped around yourself. A self-indulgent day. I can’t do that. I have to be available, I have to be aware, I have to be responsible.

Most of the time I don’t mind.

I think today will be better than yesterday. I had a good cry last night and some good sleep. Today that bebe and I have been commiserating. She’s practically immobile in a fascinating world, you know, and she might be teething. And I’m her mother. She gowls, I growl. I type, she kicks the keyboard out of my lap.

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