Non-normalcy of Life

I read a week or two ago on various weblogs I frequent (wait a sec. My blog's spell-checker just red-lined "weblog." What? I thought... But.... waaaaaah!) that one in four Americans hasn't read a book over the last year. The average number of books Americans read every year is four, but even if you throw out that extra 25% who don't get around to any, the average only goes up to 7 books per year per person.

It must take like six of them to balance me out.

No, I mean really. I wasn't surprised to hear that bit of data, exactly, and I wasn't appalled exactly either (although what the poor things do on public transportation I'm sure I don't know). And it's not like I just plow through books like there's no tomorrow, either. Sometimes I read a lot, sometimes, not so much; there are a good six books I've been in the middle of for three months or more; there are several books that I've begun and abandoned; there are long stretches where I dip in and out of books; or just reread; or am reading plays instead; or whatever. And I realize I'm in an affluent family, my parents have college degrees, as do I, I work in a bookstore, etc. etc.

But when I heard that number I started doing a mental count and came up with between thirty and forty books I've read for the first time over the last twelve months, fiction and non-fiction, trashy and good, based on whatever was available where I was at the time, and the mood I was in and all that. Not counting books started and abandoned; not counting rereads, not counting anything online; not counting whatever I've read and erased from my memory (I'm trying to keep a book journal, with middling success). I'm also right now on my third mystery novel over the course of the last week, which is what's making me post about this now.

Like I say, it's not that I haven't met people who don't read, it's not that I think they're dumb or uneducated, it's not that I don't understand how busy people get or that I think I'm an egghead because I can't get my nose out of a book. On the contrary, it's that I can't seem to believe my lifestyle is so abnormal compared to everyone else in the country.

I mean, what do they do on public transportation?

Funniest Thing I Have Ever Seen

Because you can't go wrong with muppets and conservatives!

I saw this on Slog today, and if I could figure out how to post a video here, I would. (I'm sure it's possible; I just don't feel like figuring out how.) So you'll have to go and see for yourself -- but trust me, this is so far beyond awesome it has its own zip code.


Intellectual Equality is Sexy

My mom is right. AGAIN. Unfair, but true.

In related news, you know what book totally rocks? Laurie King's The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I don't even LIKE mystery novels. Okay, I liked Kate Ross's mystery novels, but that was a fluke. One-off. Not a normal, mystery-liking fact. I like good sci-fi (although that's become as scarce as good mysteries, recently); I like nonfiction; I like lit; and.... I like Laurie King. It is only a very short hop to Dorothy Sayers. A hop my mother has fostered by giving me Strong Poison last night.

Okay, I don't know how it happened, but these books are actually really good. I finished Beekeeper in about three days; I'm already halfway through the sequel. I can't help it. Mary Russell is really engaging, and her romance with Sherlock Holmes is... so help me God... cute. I'm almost as disturbed as I would be finding the romance in Lolita cute, but there it is. Russell is at least post-pubescent, so stop giving me those looks. But yes, there is a forty-year age difference. And I still... find it kind of cute. They all verbally spar and are rude and sarcastic to each other and they match their intellects and solve mysteries and then he strokes her hair. Intellectual equality is sexy, it's not my fault. I've always had a weakness for that kind of thing. And a weakness for well-written, intelligent characters, even if they are detectives.

And it's all exciting and engaging (seriously, the last time I was this caught up in a book was Harry Potter seven) and even though I know it's the same part of my brain that takes delight in cosmogirl quizzes (you know what? You can just shut up) and I kind of don't care.

If it makes you (and by you I mean me) feel any better, my hobbies at the moment include linear algebra, studying the history of Greek theater, and reading scientific history books.



This post is brimming with Harry Potter seven spoilers.

I have this urge -- and I don't really have the time and patience to carry it out, which is probably a good thing -- but I have this urge, now that the Harry Potter books have finally come to an end, to rate Voldemort as a villain. I mean, he was mostly pretty effective, I think, although not as scary as he maybe could have been. And you can't hold it against him that he lost, all great villains lose, it's part of their charm.

But I really want to put him up against the Evil Overlord list, and see how he measures up, you know?

Like, to his credit -- he did actually put the object that was his one weakness in a safety deposit box (Gringotts vault, same difference). Of course, it was guarded by a very ineffectual dragon, so points off for that.

He also doesn't feel that killing curses are too good for his enemies, or that he needs to leave the weaker ones alive. I don't suppose it's his fault that his major enemy seems to be immune. And he's very good at not having children and using his advantages in a timely manner, so major points for that. He also never builds just one of anything important.

On the other hand, his "take Harry alive at all costs" plan didn't turn out very well, did it? Especially since he was the only one who couldn't kill Harry. Oh! The irony! And if your henchmen fail, what was that about how it's kind of a bad idea to berate them and then trust them with the same task again, eh what?

But the real catch, the downfall of the bad guy, could so easily have been avoided. Voldy, my dear -- shouldn't have turned into a snake, even metaphorically, should you? Sigh. They never learn.


Total Waste

I meant this to be an actual review, but I also meant it to come out days ago, and now it's late, I'm sleepy, and I'm trying to finish up so I can close my computer with a clean conscience. So I will confine myself to an observation, rather than a real review.

With installment number five, Harry Potter has so very much become the new Star Wars.

Which is really sad, you know? Lots of potential, very mediocre execution. Oh, it hasn't hit Jar Jar Binks level, or the hideousness that was Padme and Anakin's romance. And you know, it wasn't unexpected. The first installment was pretty sucky. But they'd been getting better! Three! Three was good! Four... well, you could make excuses for four. But five has landed us squarely back in the realm of shiny pictures / wretched dialogue.

And I mean it. Just wretched. That snort you heard on Sunday night, three counties away? That was me, when Harry comes out of the elevator at the Department of Mysteries and explains solemnly to his friends, "This is it." Thank you, Explainy McExpositionpants. I think there were a couple of newborn babies in the audience who were just a little unsure of the implications of the crashing music and the fact that the plot has been leading up to this for the past hour and forty-five minutes.

There's a lot to like -- the acting, for example, has dramatically improved (pun intended); Luna and Umbridge are both excellently cast. The condensations of the plot make sense and aren't too jarring. And the visuals are VERY shiny. (Although the wizard fight at the end borders on ridiculous.)

I just wish, for once, that the different elements of the movie industry -- the people who do script, music, acting, camera work, could trust in each other -- and in the non-brain-damaged audience -- and inject their work with some subtlety and power, rather than beating us over the head with everything. If the music is going to crash dramatically, you ... don't actually need the line of dialogue that explains what's going on. If you're going to have a line in the script that explains interrogations, you don't really need a visual of them happening. Reinforcement, not redundancy, people! Not that difficult!

Oh, wait! I was mixing my mediums. That's what you get when you have theater!


At Last... Sleep

So with the double jobs and all, it had been seriously more than five weeks since I had a day off. And then, this week, I get THREE. I have stuff to do on two of them, but if I disappear off the face of the Earth on Friday, it's deliberate. I seriously haven't had a pajama day in like a million years. Or three months. But even so.

Yes, I am such a square. On my days off I a) run errands, b) sleep 12-13 hours a night, c) read, d) do work functions, e) go to the doctor. Sometimes I hang out with friends, but there is no hard-core partying. You know that Buddy Holly song, where he talks about how his current girl is such a square, she doesn't want to go out dancing, she just wants to hold hands at the movies? I'd say it was written for me, except that I haven't BEEN to the movies since I got back from Europe. Maybe once, since I got back, I went to the movies. To see an indie flick. In German. SO SQUARE.

But! I get the sleep, I get the reading (working at a bookstore is so bad for me), I get the recharge time. So really, it's a good thing.



I don't love Wuthering Heights nearly as much as this lady does -- I don't actually love that book at all; I think it's kind of overwrought and the symbolism is exhausting, it falls into that category of literature that I know is great but feel is silly -- but the title is absolutely worth the clickthrough (partly because the other work referenced therein is another in that category...).


Back with Transportation Woes

Right, so I know I suck at this blogging-regularly thing, now I know people aren't really using it to make sure I'm still alive. But between the double jobs, and the beginnings of a social life (believe me, I'm as shocked as you) and generally spending most of my spare minutes sleeping, I just haven't had the energy to spare for blogging. Plus there's been a bunch of mental health stuff going on that I'd prefer to work out in my journal rather than in public. (A pen and paper journal! It's so retro!)

Anyway. So now, my first entry in like four weeks, and I'm going to complain about public transportation. Do you know why? Because public transportation in the Bay Area sucks SO MUCH. AC Transit, County Connection, Bart, it is all totally a huge conspiracy to make me pissed off.

You know what happened to me this morning? I had one of those destined-to-be-late mornings. As in, my alarm didn't go off, and I had unanticipated (or at least semi-unanticipated) tasks to take care of in the morning, and I had transportation woes. I practically had to save a school bus full of nuns and ducklings, that is how bad my morning was. But I'm only going to complain about the public transportation part, because it is refreshing to blame other people for my woes.

So I arrive at the station -- already running late, because of the aforementioned snafus --, and put my ticket through, and the agent is all, no bikes in the station until 8:50. Like, thanks jackass. Way to tell me after I've put the charge on my ticket, and how the hell am I supposed to get to El Cerrito from Oakland by nine if I'm not allowed in the fricking station until 8:50? You suck. So I pedal over to the next station down (actually the previous station, if we're getting technical, it was further away) and show up with my bike, and they're like, um, no bikes. I almost cried. They're like, it's rush hour to San Francisco. No, I explain. I am going on the Richmond train. AND I AM LATE. And my cell is practically out of juice (my cell is great to have, but its battery lasts exactly twenty four hours and NO MORE, which is annoying) so I can't call my boss. I give the guy this sob story, and he's like, oh, you're going to Richmond? Fine then, go on through, train in five minutes. I'm like, thank you, but I still hate you.

So you see, the public transportation around here is just out to get me. Here I am living green and biking everywhere (read: I can't afford a car) and they have to make it all difficult and sucky. Sigh.

Right, so next week I start working ONE job, instead of two, and I will try to update more often, with the crazy stories of the retail world. Which will be even more fascinating than my transportation woes.