Tortilla Inspired- Getting Feisty About Immigration

There has been a really ridiculous generic post going around Facebook the past few days that goes on and on about how illegal immigrants are cruelly punished in North Korea and Afghanistan, while they supposedly get this massively sweet deal when the come to the United States. I am bothered. I really hesitated to post this, not being one to go out of my way to piss people off. I was worried people may stop reading my blog, when I finally am starting to acquire some traffic. But then I realized that this is what blogging is about- sharing our opinions, communicating, and having friendly debates. So, I invite your comments, supportive and not, as long as you can be adult.

First of all, do you know any illegal immigrants that live in gated communities, own Lexuses, and have AmEx Black Cards? Are they making Botox appointments and sending their kids to private schools? No, they're not. They're cleaning the houses in the mansions, hoofing it on foot or using public transportation, buying their clothes at the Goodwill, and watching their kids suffer in total English immersion programs in our schools. The life of the immigrant is not something to be jealous of.

Secondly, this is a country built on immigration! The only people that should be completely pissed are Native Americans, because, as we all learned in elementary school, the Europeans not only stole their land, they brought diseases and weapons as well.

And what about compassion? Humanity? If I had kids to care for and lived in a complete shit-hole where I made no money, couldn't feed my family, and worried about their safety on a daily basis you can bet your ass I'd be crossing the border with or without papers into Canada (um, this will also happen if Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann become president). And so would most Americans! Entitlement runs in our blood. Most people are extremely hesitant to vacation in Mexico right now- think about living there! Think about what it must be like for families, or young people that are trying to make lives for themselves.

By the way, Californians, that delicious salad you ate last night, with all that locally grown produce? Super healthy and full of vitamins? Are you prepared to get down on your hands and knees for very little money to pick the ingredients? Our economy depends on the cheap labor, as sad as it.

There are definitely flaws- I am not saying our country's immigration system (or lack there of) is perfect. There should be a process and things should be done legally (taxes, driver's licenses, insurance, etc...). A better, more efficient process needs to be put in place towards helping the people already here become legal, and we need to stop blaming kids that are brought or born here. They have no choice! Do you expect a five-year-old to protest moving somewhere that is supposedly better?

I don't believe people should get things free and easy, and I know the system needs to be overhauled. I am obviously opposed to drug and human trafficking, and I do believe illegal immigrants that are in our jails need to be returned to wherever the came from. There are plenty of original Americans that work the system in the same way- they don't pay taxes, they work the welfare system, etc... The budget problems in our states and countries are not a result of immigration, they're a result of extreme spending, a lack of revenue initiatives, and this insane resistance towards a more fair taxation system.

This ever-relevant controversy makes me think of an awesome book called Tortilla Curtain, by TC Boyle. If I had to make a list of the books that changed my life (note to self- a list to be made), this would be towards the top. The novel contrasts two families- an affluent white one living in a Los Angeles, and a man and woman (who is pregnant) who come illegally to California to try to make a better life before their baby arrives. It will make you see things from a new perspective, just as it did the characters in the novel. Whether you are ready to join the border coyotes or march for better treatment, please read this.

I know this is a really controversial topic, and we're all entitled to our own opinions. I don't believe we should be a country without borders- we're already crowded, and this arrangement would end up exhausting our limited resources. But we need to be a compassionate people. We need to work towards a positive system instead of constantly bitching about the lack of one. I'm not asking you to drive to the border and adopt a family of four, I'm just asking you to step outside of your comfort zone and put yourself in someone else's shoes.

Books on Your Back- Up Top For the Snobs

Today's Books on Your Back t-shirt is from The Onion, in conjunction with the A.V. Club, and doesn't explicitly mention books, but is completely applicable to the literary world.

If you're not familiar with the A.V. Club, you should check it you. They pride themselves in delivering high-brow pop-culture news and reviews.

Back to the shirt. Isn't that what so many blogs, sites, and magazines do? Reading, extreme music or film obsessions, video game playing, baking, and crafting is often seen as nerdy. The cooler people in the wold are too busy- well, actually, I'm not sure what they're doing. Robbing liqueur stores? Shopping? Fixing cars? Graffiti? So, anyw
ay, they're doing what cool people do, and we're on a mission to find supremacy in our nerdy fields and make the rest of the world feel lame for not knowing what the word bildunsgroman means, why exactly David Lynch is a supposed genius (I hate him, if it matters to anyone), or what type of yeas is best for bread

Why be a nerd when you can be a snob? Supremacy is fun.

P.S. Non-book awesome t-shirt bonus, also from The
Onion Store:

Careful, though, I hear going outside the network can really come back to bite you in the ass at the end.

Nonfiction Nagging- Origins

Sometimes I feel that by calling my blog "Bookishly Boisterous" I'm pigeonholing myself into only writing about books or things of the literary nature. I do, in fact, have other interests and very strong opinions about certain things, and I still do really like to learn. My solution is what will hopefully be a monthly post about some sort of nonfiction text that will let me discuss topics I may not normally. We'll see how this goes, since I'm not in the habit of always reading the real stuff (it is part of my New Year's resolution, though). I actually thought about calling my monthly nonfiction musings "Nonfiction Ninja," but that doesn't really make sense. I would rather be a ninja than a nag, though, but I have to be realistic- there will be more nagging than ninjaing (just ask my husband).

This month I read Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest
of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Paul. Let me quote myself from the post I wrote when buying this book, "I'm not knocked up, nor am I trying... there is no bun in the oven. The yeast has not been bought, the pan has not been greased." I really enjoy biology, including developmental sciences, and yes, as a secondary reason, some day I'd like to have a baby and I'd prefer not to eff it up in utero.

Unfortunately, this book fell short, and I still might eff my unconceived baby up.

I was pretty disappointed in this book for several reasons, including:
- The format was misleading; it was sectioned off in to nine months, making me think each month would be specific to that month in pregnancy. It really wasn't; month eight could have been told during month two.
- There were a lot of vague answers and a lot of maybes
. While I understand this is still an evolving field, it didn't really make me feel very enlightened- nothing seemed that groundbreaking.
- At times it was quite boring and had too much historical information, especially the last three chapters.

There was some interesting, informative parts:
- Eating fish (shit... Omega-3 fatty acid supplements for me) and exercising (score) make your baby smarter.
- Lowers stress levels for the mother may equal a calmer baby.
- Playing classical music to your stomach doesn't do anything for it. And it's lame (okay, I added that).
- Smoking crack during your pregnancy may not be quite as b
ad as they once thought; alcohol and cigarettes are still frowned upon.
- Heart issues that arise later in life may originate in the womb, since this is when this vital organ forms. Studies have shown that the offspring of malnourished mothers are more likely to have heart problems later as adults.
- Depression during pregnancy is actually much more likely than during post-partum.
- The crap in the air that a mother breathes can be found in umbilical cord.
- The placenta is primarily one cell thick but does a kick-ass job of keeping a lot out.

Moral of the story- when you are pregnant, be good to yourself, because that in turn will mean you're being good to your baby.

I promise, I'm really not pregnant. In fact, I'm going to go have a cocktail with some lunch meat for breakfast, while breathing in some exhaust fumes and taking a hot bath. I wouldn't do that if I was with child, now would I?
[there are a million other hilarious helpful guides here]

Librarians- Friends or Financial Foes?

The New York Times ran a "Room for Debate" feature today about school librarians and whether or not they are truly needed anymore. The six contributing panelists ranged from actual librarians to administrators to other "experts" in the field, each sharing their own opinion. As someone whose own school district originally sent lay off notices to nearly hundred teachers this year (it's a small district, compared to LA Unified, which sent notices to 5,000 of their 30,000+ teachers), I've seen the position called in to question. Are librarians, specifically school ones, necessary anymore?

There is a camp that says they are not. They claim that with so much available online, and with students becoming so technologically savvy, the position is not as critical as it once was when students needed to learn about card catalogs and the Dewey Decimal System (I loved card catalogs, for the record). They also point out that teachers could teach about technology and new ways of research in the classroom, and that funding a teacher's salary, rather than a librarian's, is money better spent. They also compare librarians to other professionals on campus, and claim that perhaps a guidance counselor or a school psychologist is more important.

And then there is the other side of the debate. Resear
ch has evolved and there are many teachers that have advanced with the times and are not equipped to teach students how to successfully obtain accurate information from the internet. Teachers don't necessarily have time to teach technological standards on top of the normal curriculum, or may not have the resources within their classrooms. Many view librarians as true lovers of literature, figures students desperately need in this day and age, where people read less.

I of course have mixed feelings, and think there should be a compromise. Funding is tight- I think librarians shouldn't be exempt from lay offs, although I think each school does need at least a part time one (this of course depends on the site's needs; a larger high school whose library also handles text books, like mine, needs a full time position, while a small elementary may get by with one that only works mornings). Perhaps, when needed, librarians could start running intervention or tutoring in the library as well (yes, I know, time is an issue). Personally, I think the main thing is that school libraries evolve while still holding on to some traditional aspects.... like books. School libraries needs compute
rs and software, but they also need enthusiastic librarians that will help kids learn to love reading. I think I'd rather see a library's budget get cut in the form of materials, not staff.

Thoughts? Teachers or librarians? What should librar
ians focus on?

I bet this is a high quality movie that does the field of library science justice. Although, if Noah Wyle was my librarian in high school I'd be checking out a thing or two, if you know what I'm saying (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

IV Full of Wine

In an interesting article on the fate of the book, Robert McCrum writes in The Guardian that "reading a book on a screen is like enjoying wine intravenously." He goes on with actual optimism, leaving those who love actual books some hope.

The One Where She Goes a Little too Martha S.- A Cookbook Challenge

It makes sense that I'd turn to cookbooks when meal planning, and this week I took it one step further (this is where summer boredom starts creeping up). I've decided that for the next five nights I will only use recipes from the many, many cookbooks I have. I'm pretty good at mixing things up in the kitchen, and refuse to cook the same thing two (or even three) weeks in a row, but this week I was drawing a blank. So, I took all my books down and spent two hours in front of a new guilty-pleasure show (that shall remain nameless) and picked out a few recipes.

1. Pot Stickers from Cook This, Not That by Dave Zinczenko- A healthier take on normal deep fried pot stickers with a homemade Asian sauce and snap peas. I really love how this book takes popular restaurant dishes and remakes healthier versions.

2. Pancetta Carbonera from Dinner at My Place by Tyler Florence- This is definitely not healthy, and it has pork, something I cook maybe two or three times a year. I also plan on whipping out the pasta maker and making the noodles from scratch. Don't be too impressed- homemade pasta is challenging for me and my noodles tend to be really thick, so hopefully this goes well.

3. Macaroni and Cheese from The Good Stuff Cookbook by Spike Mendlesohn- I'm changing this recipe
up a little by not adding bacon. I know my opinion is definitely the minority, but I think bacon is disgusting and abhor cooking it. Spike's cookbook is fabulous for homemade burgers (the only kind I'll eat) and shakes, if you're looking for some nontraditional twists on classics.

4. Crunchy Garlic Chicken from Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution and Creamy M
ashed Potatoes from The Comfort Table by Katie Lee Joel- I like how Jaime gives an option for baking or frying his panko and garlic crusted chicken, and I love his philosophy on whole, organic food (although I don't follow it as much as I should). I obviously know how to make mashed potatoes already, but Katie Lee Joel uses cream cheese and I needed a good ratio.

5. Mexican Rice Casserole from Food Network Kitchen's Favorite Recipes- I've actually made this before, a long time ago, and we both loved it. It has fire roasted tomatoes, cubes of jack cheese, chiles and different spices. Don't let the taboo "casserole
" term get you down! I'll serve it with plain cheese quesadillas.

None of this is particularly, healthy, meaning I'll have to be careful during breakfast and lunch. And most of this is a little time consuming, which is okay right now since I'm on vacation, but ordinarily I prefer to throw in one or two "easy" meals in the mix that d
on't require much prep work.

And for those that love cookbooks as much as I do, or want to start collecting them, I buy them used on Amazon for far cheaper than the regular price. I don't buy my normal books used, but these days it's the only way I'll buy cookbooks. You have to pay for shipping, but when you're getting the book at a fraction of the price it's worth it.

I leave you with a picture of Spike Mendelsohn, author of The Good Stuff Cookbook (also from Top Chef). I'm a firm believer that any man that hangs out with giant rubber duckies can make some good food.

It Was Special, but I'm Over It

Oh Harry, you brave, noble, somewhat attractive Quidditch playing adolescent, we are through. It's been fun and you've taught me a lot, but it's time to move on. I've enjoyed watching you grow up, but, let's face it, I've got what I've wanted from you and now I'm ready to move on to older, more mature men that don't always seem on the verge of having hissy fits. It'll be hard, but we'll always have Hogwarts.

I have finally finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last book in the seven part series (it only took me twelve years to read all of them; a friend in high school gave me the first one). I'm a little Pottered out right now, considering the last book was over 750 pages, but, as I've said before, I truly enjoyed the series. Rowling's personal story is impressive and what she has done for children's literature is astounding. The messages and relationships are positive for people of all ages, and the story line itself is creative and has been cohesive throughout.

It's interesting to look at the progression of the s
eries, and how dark is became by the last installment. The characters are finally of age, seventeen, and Rowling allows them to mature, but in such a way as to maintain an appropriate tone for readers of all age levels. I was a little surprised to see the word "bitch" and one of my favorite terms, "effing," repeated several times, though. There was a little bit of romance, but nothing that would traumatize a ten or eleven year old (so for those hoping that Ron and Hermione will get it on, sorry). The plot of The Deathly Hollows was actually quite serious- the lighthearted tone of the first book was definitely gone.

I finish this series at an interesting time in the Potter Universe. Earlier this week J.K. Rowling announced her plans for Pottermore, an interactive website:

While I'm obviously not on board with the ebook component, I am interested to see what comes of this development.

Also, coming in July, is the last Potter movie. I ha
ve to admit, I haven't seen any of them in full, and probably won't see this one either. I plan to wait until they are all out on DVD and come bundled in some fancy schmancy spell book (or other gimmick) and have a Harry Potterathon in the comfort of my own home (sitting in theaters isn't really conducive to my constant need to pee).

While I'm happy to be finished, I will definitely look back fondly at the series and am excited to one day read them aloud to my own kids. I'll always see Du
mbledore as God, Ron as annoying, Hermione as a little like me as a kid, and Harry as a boy on the verge of greatness.

For old time's sake. There are much more revealing ones out there, if anyone is interested.

Cereal Break

I've alluded to the mysterious Rice Krispy Treats Cereal before and how the bastards at Kellogs quit making it many, many years ago. Well, a few weeks ago, I received a promising text and picture from my mother- my long lost favorite was spotted at the illustrious Super Walmart 365 miles away from me in Central California. Well, this weekend I decided to brave Target's white trash cousin all in the name of the best cereal ever. I was not disappointed, and the old lady that caught me loading up my basket had a good laugh (I made sure to educate her on the awesomeness that is Rice Krispy Treats Cereal).

And, in the interest of fairness, I must say that the Super Walmart on McHenry in Modesto, California is actually okay (and it was only $2.59 a box). I may have to brave mine when my five box supply runs out (so next week).

Interesting, but Flawed, Concept

I ran across an interesting concept the other day called the Literature Map, a German (I think) project based on the Gnod program for artificial intelligence. Basically, what you do is type an author's name in and they create a map relating them to other authors. The closer they are to someone else, the more similar they are (supposedly). For example, when you type in the author Nick Hornby, he is close to John Irving and David Sedaris, yet quite far away from Jane Austen. I can live with that. The flawed part of this is the fact that he is just as far away from Austen as he is from Jane Fielding, the author of Bridget Jone's Diary. Both Hornby and Fielding are humorous, modern, British authors- they should be closer.

While the system is definitely not perfect, it is fun to play aroun
d with. Here are a few (blurry) screen shots from my searches (first one is the search screen with Jeffrey Eugenides, the second is his map, and the third is an interestingly skewed map of Shakespeare):

I didn't go through the trouble to do any cropping- it's a good thing I didn't have any porn open... Anyway, if you have a few minutes check it out- they also have engines for movies and music (the music is even more flawed; you type in three bands that you like and it gives you a suggestion. I entered Metallica, Alice in Chains, and Rage Against the Machine and it suggested I listen to Kylie Minogue).

Books on Your Back Winner

And the winner (based on the extremely scientific "names in a hat" selection process) of the very first Books on Your Back giveaway in Vanessa, from Gourmet Runner. I pilfered your email from your blog, so I'll get in touch with you about how to get your shirt. A few other companies have expressed interest in participating in more giveaways, so we'll see! Thanks to all who participated on Twitter, Facebook and Blogger.

The Real Deal

I need to go get my oil changed and car washed. I should also tackle the five loads of laundry and dirty dishes that are calling my name. Holy not fun at all. Talking about the new non-fiction books (real life? what is wrong with me?) I got in the mail is fun, though. I'm so hedonistic.

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, by Alexandra Robbins As a teacher I have a different perspective on high school cliques, and I often wonder what these crazy teenagers will be like when they grow up. And I sincerely do hope the geeks inherit the earth. We will be a lot safer.

Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women by Rebecca Traister The title is pretty self-explanatory. Can I get a hell's yeah for Hillary and Michelle? Not so much for Sarah. Ew.

Origins: How the First Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Hall Right off the bat let me say I'm not knocked up, nor am I trying. I do love me some biology and find the notion that so much about us is determined before we pop out fascinating. Again, there is no bun in the oven. The yeast has not been bought, the pan has not been greased.

Antibiotic Resistance by Karl Drlica and David Perlin Another biology book, this one about a frightening and interesting topic. It astounds me how blase people are about antibiotics- MRSA, people, MRSA! This book looks a little textbook-ish, so I'm sure I'll be googling ten million things to get through the scientific babble.

The cars of the future will drive themselves to the oil-changing place. Oh wait, the cars of the future won't need oil because they'll be environmentally friendly. Any day now... I guess this means I have to put on shoes.

If There is a God....

Okay, before I get all theological and philosophical, please don't forget to enter my Books on Your Back Giveaway! I'll pick a winner tomorrow morning, so hurry your ass up. Just follow the link, leave the book you're currently reading and the type of shirt you'd want in the comments. It's free and you can enter as a guest, if you're not on blogger.

To the matter at hand. If there is a god, I'm pretty sure he's like Dumbledore from Harry Potter. You'll have to forgive me; I'm not an extreme Potter fan, but I'm in the middle of the last book, playing the silly Lego game, and eagerly awaiting the big Pottermore reveal, so the boy with the lightning tattoo is on the brain.

I guess I'd have to say that I'm agnostic, when it comes down to pinpointing my religious inclinations (I know, the idea of an agnostic pinning anything down is a bit contradictory). I was baptized Catholic, attended what Wikipedia deems a Protestant church through about fourth grade, and then my family quit going to attending all together (not really sure why, maybe the fact my mom had four kids and my dad worked nights). I didn't really give religion much of a thought for a long time, nor do I necessarily now. I believe in science, and I believe in the possibility that there is a God, or some sort of supreme spiritual being. I don't take the seven days of creation literally, and I have mixed feelings on the possibility of heaven and hell (unless I'm telling you that's where you need to go- in that case may you burn in the fires of Hades for eternity). Oh, and I also believe that God is Dumbledore. I mean, like Dumbledore.

To the conservative Christians out there that are already adding me to their prayer list, hold up. First of all, my God (I think we all have different interpretations of God; to some she is a woman; to some he is a seven-foot-tall Middle Eastern dude with flowing hair) is serious, but has a good sense of humor and is flexible, just like Dumbledore. My God is forgiving and trusting, which is what was what got the Big D in trouble with Snape. My God sticks up for what is right and for the little guy, as does the Headmaster. My God died for his cause (I guess, anyway, if we're going with tradition), as did Dumbledore. I haven't finished book seven, so who knows, he may come back (fingers crossed, fingers crossed).

J.K. Rowling, you stole from the Bible, you thieving bitch! If I had actually read the Bible I may be able to make other references in regards to the events and other characters, but we all know that that's one text that I haven't explored (honestly, I'm not sure if I ever will- I think you can believe in God without reading the Bible, and I think that sometimes things done purely out of obligation tend to be nullified... like going to church). But I can say, during the moments I do choose to pray, it will be to a God that has a long beard, flowing robes, and floppy hat. Would it be going too far to say that he apparates and has a wand?

Books on Your Back- Giveaway Edition

Oh yes, you read that right: giveaway edition. I emailed a few t-shirt companies to see if anyone was interested in sponsoring a giveaway here at Bookishly Boisterous and the awesome folks over at Literary Rags got back to me first. They offer shirts with a wide variety of novelists, poets, dramatists, philosophers and other intellectuals and advise you to "wear what you read." A few of my favorites:

(Dostoyevski; back reads, "The secret of man's being is not only to live but to have something to live for)

(Fitzgerald; back reads, "Show me a hero and I'll write you a tragedy")

There are others in the same format (many come in different colors besides black) featuring Jane Austen, Earnest Hemingway, Arthur Miller, C.S. Lewis, Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson (a good one), and Virginia Woolf.

To enter you can do one of the following (1 = 1 entry, 2 =2, etc...)
1. Go to their site to check out the shirts and then post in the comments below the name of the book you're currently reading and what shirt you'd like (any of the shirts on their site, not just the two from above)- you don't have to be a member, I allow guests to comment (make sure you do this no matter what)
2. Become a follower on blogger or twitter
3. Share the giveaway on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter (and let me know)

The winner will be randomly chosen Tuesday morning at 10 am and then we'll go from there. So, to the like 5 of you who comment, good luck!

Fun For the Whole Family- Revisited

Awhile back ago I posted about the not-for-kids children's book Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach. It's finally out (#2 on Amazon's bestsellers list) and you can actually download the free version on Audible, read by Samuel L. Jackson. Or, you can go to YouTube and just listen to it- I'm sure it's perfectly legit. Nonetheless, it's hilarious, and despite the fact I am currently childless (because I've never given birth, not because I've lost my children...), I'm sure most parents can relate. The A.V. Club also has a quick write up in which they mention that somehow the book has been optioned by Fox. My favorite line has to be, "I know your not thirsty, that's bullshit, stop lying, lie the fuck down, my darling, and sleep" (Mansbach, 2011). I was invited to a baby shower that I can't attend next weekend (I actually have a legit excuse... seriously!) and am almost disappointed- I so could have brought this (and if people thought it wasn't funny I would have never been invited to another one- win/win)!

And yes, I realize this post is laden with parentheses. I like them (I think in asides).

Ann Patchett Reading at Bergamot Station: Amazon is Evil (Oh Boy...)

Last night I went to the Ann Patchett reading at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica (thank you traffic gods for the semi-open roads there and back). I'm really excited to have discovered Live Talks LA, the group that put this on, and can't wait to see what they offer for the fall season (having just heard of them, I was really disappointed to hear that I missed Steve Martin interviewing Tina Fey earlier this year). This event was one of the more interesting readings I have been too, both because of the author and the venue.

I'll only bore everyone with the details of Bergamot Station for a minute, but personally I'm officially fascinated and can't wait to go back. When I got home last night I started out describing it to my husband by saying it "kind of looks like a shit hole," when I probably should have used words like "rustic" or "industrial." The location was originally a trolley station in Santa Monica but has since been converted into an arts center, comprised of several different galleries and the Santa Monica Museum of Art. The inside the gallery where the reading was held, Track 16, looked like any other large, lofty space with your normal white dry wall and eclectic pieces of art. Anyway, if you're in the area, visit for some modern art.

The reading itself was different from most of the ones I've been to. Generally, when you go to a reading it is more of a conversation with someone else, ensuring that there is direction and that certain things the audience may want to hear are discussed. Ann Patchett was in conversation, supposedly, with Maile Meloy, one of her close friends and also an author. It was really more of a one-woman tangential show, with Meloy seeming incredibly nervous, often not even finishing her sentences (she did genuinely seem like a smart, sweet woman, though). Patchett read from the beginning of her newest book, State of Wonder, an approach I actually really liked. I generally read the novel before going, but I imagine it is pretty confusing for those that don't (many authors read from the middle). After that it was an hour of topics that always started with the book but ended up in left-field. There was a great deal of acknowledged name dropping (Nichole Kidman, Jane Hamilton, John Irving, Renee Flemming, etc...) and a plethora of confidence. Ann Patchett is creative and brilliant, and she knows it.

Her main platform ended up being a bookstore she is opening in her hometown, Nashville, which is currently, and shockingly, bookstore-less. The idea of living in a town without a place to sell her book (her words) is devastating, so she's partnered up with a businesswoman to open Parnassus Books (or something like that). She is openly anti-Amazon and other super-chain stores, for the right reasons, but does so in a way where I felt that she was biting one of the hands that feed her. She even said at the end to not buy from the online retailer and that if people were still needing to buy her book to only do it from smaller independent stores. Personally, I received a first edition paperback to review for Amazon Vine, but if I had not I still would have bought it online in one of my binges. I guess when you've won a crap load of awards and have friends in high places you don't have to scrimp around for people to buy your books.

On a whole I enjoyed the event. I loved the new-to-me location and she did discuss some really interesting things that were, and were not, related to her book (she graphically described watching a C-Section so she could write about it). The other attendees were an interesting crowd as well; from the charity events people were discussing, the casual mentions of screenwriters they sat next to at dinner parties, and business cards exchanges, I figured that this crowd was a little more affluent than at the ALOUD readings I usually attend. I am glad I attended, though, as readings are always inspiring and temporarily motivate me to start writing (any second now, any second).

Books on Your Back- Inaugral Edition (Spoiler Alert!)

I'm attempting to start something regular on the blog- introducing Books on Your Back! Translation: I'm going to bring you the nerdiest t-shirts possible on a semi-regular basis. If I was wealthy I'd do one of those fancy-shmancy giveaways that the other bloggers do, but let's face it, I'm a selfish biatch that would rather spend the $20-$30 on herself. Someday my blog will be famous and t-shirt companies will be begging me to feature them. Until then, buy it yourself :) (remember, one can say something mean and then use a smiley to make it better- I'll never do it again, I promise).

This week's inaugural t-shirt is a complete spoiler, so you may not want look at it. Sorry if you already did, but now you feel the pain that I felt when I realized what happened at the end of the sixth Harry Potter book right before I started reading it (the expletives that ensued wer
e impressive). Anyway, this shirt is brought to you by, and boldly ruins the endings of several films, some of which happen to also be novels (I just finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, so the damn shirt has been on the brain). It can be yours for the low, low price of only $20.

This is Very ____________ [adjective]

I'm a huge fan of Mad Libs, both as a teacher and someone who enjoys inappropriate humor (not that I would ever use this timeless classic for vulgar reasons). Earlier this week Leonard B. Stern, the man that created them passed away at the age of 88. So, in honor of the man behind the madness, here are a few quick facts about this beloved game:

- Originated when Stern was writing a script for The Honeymooners and needed an adjective
- Began as a self-publishing operation in the 1950s
- There are 120 volumes, and over 150 million copies have been sold
- Over 2 million Mad Lib Aps have been downloaded for various pads, phones, and pods
- There was once even a show on the Disney channel about Mad Libs in the 1990s.

When I taught elementary I used Mad Libs as a reward, but also a sneaky way of reviewing the parts of speech. I contemplated having my yearbook class use them this year for fun, but then I decided not to, remembering that they were crude enough without the need to come up with "a body part."

I guess Mad Libs are like LEGOS to me- the possibilities are _______ [adjective].

Too Lazy

I'm allowing myself some temporary laziness- it's summer, right? Luckily, laziness for me generally fades within a few days of starting a vacation, so I'm not too concerned.

In the meantime, enjoy the fruits of someone else's labor:

Flavorwire's Top 10 Notorious Literary Spats- Let's face it, writers can have some massive egos. My favorite is either Jennifer Weiner vs. Jennifer Egan (quantity vs. quality) or Stephen King vs. James Patterson ("No I want to write the most books this month!" "No I want to write the most books this month!").

Robert Dawson Photography's American Public Library Project- In a way this makes me hate ebooks even more- libraries are have such history and cultural relevance. Let them evolve, but don't replace the physicality of the printed word. Dawson's photographs are amazing- check out the rest of his site as well.

The Moby Awards- There's an award for everything, why not book trailers? The site seems to be evolving, but it's still interesting. As a Gary Shteyngart groupie I'm obligated to say that both he and James Franco, who is in his trailer, picked up a few.

a LEGO a day: I could BS my way around and find some contrived way to relate this to books, but I don't feel like it. This guy takes a LEGO picture a day (often Star Wars related) and posts them. I simply love LEGOS- the possibilities are effing endless. I wonder if I could get him to build a book for me (booyah, a literary connection right there)...

May the force be with you. And by force I mean the power of the novel. If Yoda had written a book I'm fairly confident this world would be a better place.


I love checking the search terms that lead people to my blog. Right now my favorite is "anti-ereader." So proud. So very, very proud.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Paranoia. The shakes. Nausea. Irritation.

I've had some serious reading withdrawals over the last four days- Vegas can really mess a girl up.

The extent of my reading has included half a Runner's World, tons of menus, the sports book board at Mandalay Bay (I learned a lot about sports gambling-
next time I'll go for it), and a few slides during the three day professional development conference I was at.

We did wander into a neat shop at the Palazzo called
Bauman Rare Books, though. I really wanted to buy my husband a first edition Catcher in the Rye until I noticed that it cost $12,000. Maybe if I had gambled more than $1 it would have been an option... There were several other pricy books like Fahrenheit 451, The Wizard of Oz, and some Shakespeare and Chaucer texts. Unfortunately, my feet hurt due to the shoes from hell (standing and walking were more torturous than running a half) and we had dinner reservations so we didn't spend a lot of time there.

But now I'm officially on summer break and will hopefully be able to read lots, if Cho
msky, the holy-terror, will let me.

Confessions and Lies

I've read a lot of books but, this may come as a shock, I haven't read them all. I know, one would guess by the know-it-all, yet adorably charming, tone I take on this blog I would have read every single book ever published. Fortunately, I have not (what would be left to do?), and have no problem admitting what I have and have not read. Some people, though, are big fat liars, as an old article in The Guardian reported (my words, not theirs). Maybe it's all the drinks people consume at cocktail parties, the need to one up the snooty doctorate student who won't shut up, or just embarrassment, but whatever the reason, people have been found to fib a bit about how well-read they are. I'm sure their excuse for not being able to recall details is, "God, it was so long ago, high school or college, I don't even remember." It makes those who actually did read and forget look bad- honesty is the best policy, friends (that is unless you're dealing with horrible hair cuts, weight gain, or mediocre sex).

So, what kind of books did people lie about reading? The participants (British, since The Guardian is a UK publication) generally lied about older, longer texts, and a few popular pieces of non-fiction works, like one by our very own president. The top ten books lied about, in order, were: 1984, War and Peace, Ulysses, The Bible, Madam Bovary, A Brief History of Time, Midnight's Children, In Remembrance of Things Past, Dreams From My Past, and the Selfish Gene. I'm 99.9% sure that lying about reading The Bible reserves you an express ticket to hell, just to give
you a heads up.

So, my confession- I don't lie about reading books, but there are definitely some that I should have read, given the fact that I was an English major and now teach the subject. Before I confess, let me just say I didn't skip assigned books, these just never came up on reading lists and I haven't read them on my own. All right, let my humiliation begin:

1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
2. The Bible by God (just kidding, that's just what a student wrote once. And I don't feel as if I should have read it for religious purposes, just because the
re are a billion references to it that I'm sure I sometimes miss)
3. Animal Farm by George Orwell
4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
5. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
6. Middlemarch by George Eliot
7. Underworld by Don DeLillo (I've started it... I promise, I'll finish this summer!)
8. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
9. The Life and Death of Che Guevara: Companero by Jorge G. Castaneda (it's bothering me I can't add the tildes)
10. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

All right, I feel guilty, and I'm not even one of those dirty book liars. Dammit.

Fess up folks!