Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A year to be proud of

Twelve months ago I threw down the gauntlet, declaring that 2013 would be the year I would spend less time consuming and more of it creating. I would give the ideas on that personal to-do list a home in the real world. Judging from my watching and reading lists I posted yesterday, you would think I slipped, that I was conquered by all of the books clamoring to be read, but you would be so wrong. I managed to find time. Granted, I gave things up and chose to make sacrifices. My gym attendance got spottier and spottier the further we got into the year, and I pretty much gave up meal planning and cooking for the week by the time we got to June. Also, despite my love of good TV, I couldn't tell you what happened on Breaking Bad and only know the Dexter spoilers because of a podcast. I missed Orange is the New Black, Orphan Black, and House of Cards, and I couldn't talk to you about Betty Draper.

In their place, yes, I read more books, but I also created two podcasts. They may not be professionally recorded or perfect, but we created them. They are getting better and better, and for that, I'm proud.

I also wrote an essay and submitted it for publication. While the publication wasn't the right choice for this particular work, actually writing and submitting it was the goal. It scared the crap out of me to do it.

I wrote 95% percent of my first novel and definitely surpassed my 50,000 word count goal. It's not done done, but I'm counting it!

I developed a business idea (a bit strange for me) and began drafting a business plan.

We finally filmed a sequel to Reader's Advantage (to be edited in January 2014).

Yes, this year was a good one that was filled with family, friends, and travel. I can only pray that the new year will be as good.

Monday, December 30, 2013

My reading year, 2013

Choosing my favorite reads of the year is far too difficult! However, if you were trapped on a desert island or holing up in a cabin for a reading vacation, I'd start with the titles highlighted with a larger font below. Each of these floated my boat in a major way and will be stories I remember for years to come.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
Midnight Rising by Tony Horowitz
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Two Graves by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
The Twelve by Justin Cronin
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved by Hunter S. Thompson
Lost Code by Kevin Emerson
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Pastoralia by George Saunders
Faithful Place by Tana French
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick Dewitt
Parasite by Mira Grant
Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
The Returned by Jason Mott
Watergate by Thomas Mallon
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
The Lost City of Z by David Grann
Saga, Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Mudbound by Hilary Jordan
Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Inspired by, and borrowed from, Austin Kleon

My watching year, 2013

Is it just me, or did 2013 fly by? Cliche, but it feels like such an incredibly real sentiment. The year, itself, has been fantastic. There have been so many movies in my life this year, ranging from gut-wrenching to entirely forgettable. Most of these films will be touchstones for different moments in my year, and while the films themselves may not stay with me, perhaps the circumstances surrounding them will. I think I will always remember this Christmas as the year we watched 10 movies in 48 hours because the local video store in my hometown offered free rentals in appreciation to their members. A challenge we accepted and met.

My entire 2013 watch list is below. My 10 favorites of the past year include: Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, This Is The End, Pacific Rim, Stories We Tell, Les émotifs anonymes,Catching Fire, The Way, Way Back, and Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Silver Linings Playbook
Side Effects
A Good Day to Die Hard
Warm Bodies
Iron Man 3
Premium Rush
G.I. Joe Retaliation
Now You See Me
The Heat
Pacific Rim
Red 2
Les émotifs anonymes
Catching Fire
Street Dance
Miss Fisher's Murder Mystery (series, but I've been mainlining them like a movie)
Man of Steel
2 Guns
The Lone Ranger
The Purge
Fast and the Furious 6
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Violet & Daisy
The Way, Way Back

2012, 2011 lists

Inspired by, and borrowed from, Austin Kleon.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Best Reads of 2013: Scarlet's List

Only my friends would stage a photo shoot while we wait in the emergency room (photo from way back)

I love lists, and end-of-the-year round ups are no exception! I've asked a few of my friends to play along and join me in sharing lists of the best things they've read this year. All of this, of course, is a lead in to my own best reads of the year. Enjoy Scarlet's list below!
As we approach the end of 2013, I am ready to admit that I have had a dreadfully light reading year. I’m not sure what happened since I didn’t have as many obligations as years past, but I read fewer books this year than in 2012 and 2011. Disappointing! The silver lining is that out of the books I did read, there were some spectacular gems! Books that have jumped onto my all time favorites list and books that I have recommended to anyone who will listen.  Not all were written in 2013, but they’re all pretty current. I don’t get to the backlist titles as often as I would like. (Never enough time!)
I can’t do a ranked list because that is just impossible so instead I’ll give my recommendations for several different categories.

Books That Made Me Cry:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern- I read this while on vacation in Jamaica at the beginning of the year and when I finished it, just days after starting, all I could say was “Wow!” This book was like nothing I had ever read and the beauty of the words and the world created within in it was so magical. I can no longer drive past an ordinary circus without feeling sadness that it’s not black and white.

Letters From Skye by Jessica Brockmole- Prior to my dream come true vacation to Scotland back in October, I picked up this book solely because it takes place on the island of Skye. Eight hours later I finished it, with tears in my tired eyes, and a heart warm from the love story so beautifully told. I could not put this book down and the US Open was on so, for anyone who knows me, it was a big deal for me to concentrate more on a book than on tennis. This book is a gem and could easily be a bestseller so read it and spread the word! It’s told entirely in letters and takes place in the early 20th century, telling the story between a young poet in Scotland and the American who writes her a fan letter.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell- Without giving too much of the plot away, I was really worried for the main characters of this book until I had turned the last page. This is the sincere story of two high schoolers who share a bus seat and end up with a beautiful connection.
WTF Books:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn- I loved loved loved this book! It’s evil and has terrible characters, twists and turns, and a mystery that was like nothing I have read before. The only thing I will love more than this book will be the David Fincher adaptation starring Ben Affleck. Hot damn  will that be good!

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight- The perfect book to read after Gone Girl because of the mystery element and style of storytelling. Reconstructing Amelia stands well on its own, too, though. A mom begins to piece together the mystery of her daughter’s sudden death after receiving a tip that it was not a suicide. I loved how the story was told from multiple angles and even included text messages and Facebook posts.

In For The Series:

Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles #1) by Lenore Appelhans- I was at work one day at the bookstore when Lenore came in to sign her book so I bought it because I like to support YA authors! Plus, she was super nice and we connected on twitter later that day. She runs a fantastic YA review blog and clearly knows what she is doing because she wrote a great book! This is a book about a part of the afterlife where the dead spend their days watching their memories to pass the time until one of them goes missing and Felicia, the main character, finds out that there is way more going on in this world between worlds.

Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham- I love Lauren Graham! Have you listened to the podcast Serena and I do? Go ahead, check it out: Friday Night Dinner (link!) Lauren Graham is awesome because she seems like she is such a fun person and that characteristic comes through in all of her work, including her first novel. I really enjoyed this book and found myself giggling several times as I read. I love how the story takes place in the ‘90s because of the added struggles of answering machines, fax machines, and pay phones. Supposedly LG is working on a second book with the same main character. I don’t think it’s a sequel, but a standalone within the same world. I can’t wait!

Tandem (Many-Worlds #1) by Anna Jarzab- All Unquiet Things, the debut book by this author, is an  amazingly gorgeous and intricate book that is one of my favorite YA books out there. Tandem is also a great story with an original plot about parallel worlds and a main character who is kidnapped and forced to impersonate the missing princess who is the alternate version of herself. (Note: for an amazing book about Stockholm Syndrome, you have to read Stolen by Lucy Christopher. INCREDIBLE book!)

Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1) by Kasie West- Another cool book about an interesting world where everyone has super powers within a compound and the main character has to decide to stay there with her mom, or to move with her dad to a town of ‘norms’. What makes the choice completely fascinating is that Addison can see the future when faced with two potential outcomes.

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater- If you haven’t read The Raven Boys, you need to go NOW and catch up. Number two in the cycle (out of four) is told from Ronan’s point of view, which is a little unpredictable, a lot dangerous, and partly told while in a dream state. Crazy, right? This book, like all of Stiefvater’s is exquisitely written and filled to the brim with beautiful lines.

So, that’s it really. Unfortunately, my ‘currently reading’ list is way too long and not getting shorter so I don’t get to talk about how much I love Game of Thrones, even though it’s taking me forever to get through the book (it’s because I keep daydreaming about Jon Snow), how much I’m not sure about The Bone Season (but have been told the end is awesome), and how I still haven’t finished a few series I was fully into (Matched, Cahill Witch Chronicles, Unearthly, Under the Never Sky, just to name a few!)

Here’s to 2014 and more reading! (Hopefully!)

December Daily 22 + 23 + 24 + 25

It's still officially Christmas Day here in the southwest, and I'm just sitting here enjoying the end of a satisfying few days.We've baked, lunched, and cooked Christmas dinner. We played Christmas music on iTunes radio and played a few heated rounds of Uno. And have I mentioned the movies? We stopped by Hastings Books & Music on Christmas Eve to pick up a movie and discovered their gift to their customers was up to 10 free DVD rentals (we're not really a Netflix family). Turns out that, despite all of the movies I've seen this year, there are still tons I haven't. Think that it's impossible to watch 10 movies in 48 hours while also talking, cooking dinner, and playing games? We're out to prove it's not.  :-)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December Daily 20 + 21

I left the house on Friday for the first time since I arrived in San Angelo, and evidently, I was into it because we were barely home today (lots of errands largely centered around putting together our meal plan for Christmas week and securing the groceries). I ended my temporary hibernation yesterday with lunch out with my grandpa. He took me to Chef's Corner, a local place he and my mom like. If you can't tell, we also got some rain. In West Texas, that's akin to manna falling* from heaven.

Speaking of manna from heaven, we had Whataburger for dinner tonight. Basically, if you're ever in Texas, try Whataburger. Enough said.

My grandpa went to watch the college girls' basketball team play earlier today, and we picked him up from the arena. Is it just me, or does that ram have an abnormally large pair of balls? Does everything have to be bigger in Texas?

Finally, new phone!

*In a weird juxtaposition of thoughts, I accidentally typed 'following' at first, and now I feel compelled to mention how excited I am that The Following is back on in January!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December Daily 15

December Daily 15




Today will go down in fame as the Sunday I grabbed the bull by the horns and got all kinds of productive. I had alarms (yes, it took more than one for me to force myself out of bed at this hour on a Sunday) set for 7AM and a calendar that had every hour plotted out. We're talking everything from write (webinar) PowerPoint to clean apartment to wash hair to pack Christmas cookies.

Not only did it all get done, I crammed in some last minute holiday time with friends before I flee for the southwest on Tuesday. After years of seeing the Mormon temple loom majestically over the beltway, we finally headed up to check out their holiday festival of lights and followed it up with burger (and serious conversation ;-)) at The Counter.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

December Daily 14



Today was an overcast day filled with snow that didn't really stick. It was also my last weekend in Virginia this year, making it the perfect day to record the last 2013 That's What She Read podcast (Friday Night Dinner will be up tomorrow!), make Christmas cookies with Ravena, and watch a few more episodes of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (love). I made a ton of German slice cookies that I'll share photos of tomorrow.

Friday, December 13, 2013

December Daily 13





Okay, so life isn't all the work :-) Tonight I headed to Annapolis to enjoy a very chill holiday celebration at Vin 909 with these lovelies.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

December Daily 11 + 12

December Daily 11

December Daily 10

The process of taking and posting these photos has led me to rethink whether I should share these. I'm afraid endless photos depicting some facet of me working* will bum you out. Fear not, friends, for I am lucky enough to drive pass this abundant display of holiday decadence almost every day! How is that for holiday goodness? Also, in other exciting news, I decided to grab The Gobbler sandwich from Wawa for dinner last night on my way home from a meeting. As someone who celebrates Thanksgiving with others and usually doesn't indulge in leftovers, it's a nice post-holiday treat. It's how I imagine Ross's "moistmaker" sandwich tastes.

*Seriously, though, if you find yourself feeling like all I'm doing is working, just remember my two-month paid sabbatical in January, and that will clear any pity right up. Plus, I go to Texas next week, and work photos will take on a bit of a homey twang.

Behind the Bookshelf: Interview with a bookseller, Christina


We're back after a bit of a hiatus with Christina, a bookseller (and lead of the children's department) from Northern Virginia.

What are you currently reading? Thoughts on it?

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
It’s really hard not to like a steampunk book like this. It’s set in Seattle before Washington becomes a state. Everyone there is waiting for the Civil War to be over, as then they can get the help they need to properly deal with the aftermath of the testing of a new drilling device that went too far into the earth and released the Blight, a gas which not only kills you but may very well turn you into a zombie (or rotter, as they call them). The history is tweaked a little bit so that Seattle was a more heavily populated area than it was back when this is set and you’ll get some scenery that didn’t exist quite yet either, but it’s fascinating. It’s less about the zombies and more about the people who still live in the walled-up Seattle despite the large number of walking dead milling about.

When Did You Last See Her? By Lemony Snicket
I’m not sure if I like this series as much as The Series of Unfortunate Events, but it’s cute and continues to have the signature snarky style that I adore.

What books are you most looking forward to this year?
Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger, the amazing teen series that is a world-prequel to her Parasol Protectorate series of slightly more adult nature. I will read anything this woman writes as it is almost the same kind of wit as a Jane Austen novel (though a little less dry for the people who don’t like Austen as much).

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. I discovered Allie’s blog a couple years ago and fell in love with the humor of it. She’s very honest about things that have happened in her life and what she’s going through, but at the same time she knows just how to cut in a little humor. Her art is not necessarily the greatest ever, but she has a knack for depicting things perfectly with what she can do, and you’ll read through some of her entries and just laugh and laugh. 

Did you set any reading goals for 2013? If so, what are they?

I was planning to read 100 books at least, but I’m getting so far behind on that that I think Goodreads is starting to make fun of me with its count tracker.

What three characters would you invite to the bar for a drink?

I don’t drink, but I’d love to hang out with Lord Akeldama from the Parasol Protectorate series, Captain Marvel (of the Carol Danvers variety, for she is nothing but Captain now), and Death from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.

If you could convince any two authors to write a book together, who would it be? Why?

Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman. I feel like their writing styles would mesh very nicely, without as much of the disconnect that can occur when two writers collaborate on a book and you can tell immediately who does what. That’s not always a bad thing, as in Good Omens it’s easy to tell what Terry Pratchett wrote vs. what Neil Gaiman wrote. They’re also two of my all-time favorite authors, so it would be wonderful to see what they would come up with...and give me an excuse to try and get my first edition copy of The Thief of Always signed.

What's the most annoying book you see flying off the shelves? 

Twilight and the fake BDSM Twilight fanfic series, Fifty Shades of Grey. I could list everything wrong with the books, but I’d probably be writing forever on the topic. I like that people read even because of series like these two, but I cannot stand either of them to a point where I would almost want to destroy a book, which I try never to do. 

If you could give people one piece of advice to prep them for entering a bookstore, what would it be?

1. Be aware of your surroundings. When it is busy, please do not A: set yourself up in the middle of an aisle or walking area; B: move one of our chairs to a spot right in front of as much product as you can, ensuring that if someone needs something from the area you’re sitting in front of, you will be annoyed; and C: be so totally unaware of what’s going on around you that you nearly cause people to run smack into you as you stop walking suddenly.

2. Please be courteous to the people who are paid to try and help you to the best of their ability. They are not verbal punching bags for you to take out your frustrations on, nor are they there to be commented on or touched. There are stories out there of people who have worked places like the pornography industry who have taken retail jobs for extra money and found that the latter setting opens you up for more dehumanization than the former. Think on that for a bit.

3. The back room is not a TARDIS. If it were, I might have every obscure book and textbook you are looking for, but you would not see any of them because I would be off running through time and space while reading them.

4. Do your best to be prepared if you are looking for a specific book. The questions you are being asked when you can’t remember the title or author are to help us figure out if there is a way to do a Google search to find what you’re looking for, or to figure out if we know of the book ourselves. Don’t look at us blankly and remind us what the cover looks like (this happens more often than you’d think), or that it’s called “The [something],” because that isn’t going to help.

5. Nonfiction is not a section. Nonfiction is a catch-all for everything that does not belong in fiction, but it is not a single section. The majority of the store’s stock is nonfiction, broken up into multiple categories. I cannot point you to “nonfiction” if I don’t know what type of nonfiction you are looking for, as you will be wandering through the store wondering where your book might be.

What’s your catnip, that familiar plotline or genre you can’t help but pick up and devour?

I’ve fallen in love with steampunk books recently. I can’t seem to explain why exactly, but there is something about steampunk’s take on the Victorian era that can be quite satisfying, especially when it comes to female characters and commenting on society’s views on women’s rights. I also like a really good urban fantasy book. This can include things like American Gods as well, so really just well-done fantasy novels that have a solid foot in our world. I just love the idea that if you look at the world just a little differently than you normally would, you can discover untold wonders hiding there.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December Daily 10



Today began with the loveliest of snow storms. It seemed so innocuous (which it actually turned out to be) that I headed to work without turning on the news or any other outside media. Imagine my surprise to discover the federal government was closed, and no one was in the office. Cue a quiet, productive day. The sun made an appearance this afternoon, and by 3:30, I'd decided the lighting and book collection in the kitchen would be perfect for staging a photo. I did promise to up my game.

The top photo is a postcard from Scarlet. It finally came! I love a good postcard, and the Royal Mail stamp on the back of this one was particularly charming.

Monday, December 09, 2013

December Daily 09

December Daily 09

I'm clearly going to have to step up my game. This photo (look up just a smidge...it's a bit boring, so your eyes probably swept right past it) could be my daily photo 88 percent of the time. While the contents of my day can vary widely, there's still so much of it that happens right at this very desk. This is a river-saving desk. Let's pretend this is a "what's in my bag" post, and I'll take you on a tour of the photo.

1. Magnets that I've collected or been gifted over the years. My favorite is a hologram of a river in New Hampshire. Typing this totally reminds me that I have magnets I need to mail my mom.

2. Large before and after photos of restored rivers. I had blueprint copies made of a few project photos and mounted them on black foam board. I spoke at an event at a museum in June, and these prints made a nice backdrop for people to wander past before the talk started.

3. Forum ribbon. This was from a National Trust for Historic Preservation conference badge three years ago. I just like ribbons and the word 'forum'.

4. The timber scrap and three rock-like objects are all salvaged bits from dam removal projects. I can't decide whether it's a sign of old age (or that they all look similar) that I can't remember which piece is from which project. I know one of these pieces of concrete is from the Elwha Dam removal in Olympic National Park in Washington. 

5. My latest notebook. I take copious notes at meetings, jot endless lists, and doodle incessantly. I have a stack of notebooks full of years of work off to the right of my desk. They're some of my most prized work possessions.

Some little girls dreamed of kids or of houses with yards to take care of. I dreamed of a desk of my own.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

December Daily 08

December Daily 08
Coffeesmith. The second local coffee shop I frequent a lot.

That's not dust on the camera lens, people. We have achieved snow! Actually, we have achieved snow followed by sleet and ice, but I'll take it. I know I'm weird, but I really, really hope this doesn't interfere with my ability to get to work tomorrow. I have a long list and will be so much more effective if I'm allowed to attack it from the comfort of my office chair.

Favorite 2013 Gift Guides


I have a dirty little secret. I love gift guides and other people's "want" lists. I buy very little in the way of tangible things these days. Most of my (theoretically disposable) money goes to caffeine, books, sometimes art, and life experiences. I don't say this to brag. It's almost a problem. I have an eight-year old macbook (that I love). My iPhone has a thick, gray bar running down the left side of the screen from dropping it, and I refuse to replace it. My favorite suitcase is 15 years old and has traveled the world. My favorite cardigan was a good ten years old and had a hole in the arm for the past seven of those years. I only gave it up this year.

Still, I'm a shopper from way, way back, having spent all of my formative years in and around some of this country's greatest malls. I can want and desire with the best of them and dig well-crafted holiday gift guides with items I never knew I needed. I don't seek these guides out, but they are hard to miss this time of year. I've compiled a few of my favorites below.

Austin Kleon's 2013 Holiday Gift Guide
I generally dig the way Austin thinks and what he likes. Two standouts from his list that have made their way onto mine are Daily Rituals by Mason Currey and Palomino Blackwing pencils.

Smithsonian's Best Gifts to Give to the Traveler in Your Life
I'm thinking everyone on my team should have the CRKT Eat'N Tool Minimal Multi-Tool, and I suddenly need Art & Place: Site-Specific Art of the Americas and the scratch-off world map (note to self: also good brother gift).

NPR's Book Concierge
NPR helps you find a book from its selection of great 2013 reads? What could be better?!

December Daily 07

December Daily 07


I settled back into my Saturday morning routine with a dirty chai and some writing. I managed to snag a sunny spot by the window. Other than a few hours of writing, I spent some quiet time making a few lists, updated my calendar and read some of the birthday book (Monument 14: Sky on Fire) Steven got me. I ended the day by watching a British dance movie (turns out they should probably stick to Sherlock) and meeting a friend's new cat. Well, that's meeting in the "take a photo of him hiding" kind of way. All in all, it was definitely a relaxing day. I've promised myself I'll do things like unpack and dust and write real blog posts tomorrow. Maybe :-)

Friday, December 06, 2013

December Daily 06

December Daily 05

I know I wasn't actually gone for that long, but being disconnected for two and a half days felt like at least a week. Had my days not been scheduled from 8AM to 10PM, it would have been the perfect place to write. As it stands, I have many, many thoughts about being an introvert, the nature of crowds and organizations, and other rambling thoughts. I'm just not sure they're ready for prime time yet.

I took the photo above today, the last day of the retreat. 

December Daily 05



Thoughts on today before I crawl into bed: fun but I'm so glad to be heading out tomorrow. Tonight's scheduled fun was a scavenger hunt (sat out and hung out with the planning team), music (it's a given), and Cards Against Humanity with co-workers (tricky but worth it).

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

December Daily 04



The onslaught of less-than-ideal cell phone photos continues. This is my home away from home for the next three days. This message is brought to you by an ethernet cable in the rooms for brief evening missives.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

December Daily 03

December Daily 03

Pre-retreat team dinner

We have a staff retreat at work this week. We're headed to West Virginia for three days of eight-hour meetings, scheduled evening fun, and no cell signals. Part of my team came into town early and headed out for a team dinner tonight. Laura's husband is known for his restaurant recommendations, and he sent us to Family Meal, one of the Voltaggio restaurants in Frederick, Maryland. The food was spot-on. I had some of the best brussel sprouts of my life, a tasty meatloaf, and a cocktail called crisscross applesauce. Head to Frederick, people.

Monday, December 02, 2013

December Daily 02

December Dailies 02

I almost forgot to be festive today. Every now and then I feel a bit like a creature of the night during the winter, arriving at and departing work under the cover of darkness. An overcast sky meant my office was darker than usual. Death to fluorescent--I refuse to turn mine on. Coworkers usually begin to comment about 4:30 on the potential damage to my eyesight. I tell them it's a familiar refrain from my childhood. I'm a low-light reader from way back.

The dearth of daylight reflects not upon my soul or how my day actually went. It was a Monday, an expense reports and timesheets are due kind of Monday. It was a staff waffle breakfast, here's a free afternoon cookie kind of Monday. It was a plan that holiday dinner with your favorite Maryland colleagues, stop for an eggnog milkshake on the way home kind of Monday.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

December Daily 01

Coffee @ my local shop
Jireh, one of my local coffee shops.

I decided to participate in December Daily on a whim today. I'm not really a create an album kind of girl (much admiration, very low commitment), but I feel particularly compelled to commit to something that will force me to slow down and take the time to soak in my surroundings this month. Earlier today, I sat in front of my computer, hyperventilating a bit over everything I need to get done in the next 30 days, and realized that there is no time for Christmas or the magic of the holidays in all of my plans. Much of this stress is over the fact that I begin a two-month sabbatical in 31 days. This means that I need to wrap up/assign/get to a good place all of my work that needs to continue without me during January and February. This doesn't even take into account that they're asking a control freak (me) to trust other people to handle my babies (projects). Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly blessed, lucky, etc. that my organization offers me this opportunity, and it will be amazing. However, the days leading up to it? Panic attack material, my friends.

Anyway, I probably won't be putting together an album, but I do want to take and blog at least one photo every day this month as a way to remind myself to find and create some magical moments amid all the craziness that December brings.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bookish Black Friday

Cutting up in Santa Barbara.
Moby Dick, anyone?

It's a very bookish Black Friday around these parts. Before you go out shopping (OMG, did you go last night?), download the latest episode (aka the books for your boo edition) of That's What She Read to find out what books Ravena and I are recommending for people in our lives.

Here's a sneak peak!

The Randi: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

For the friend who tends to read non-fiction and has a healthy interest in self-help books.

The Steven: House of Holes by Nicholson Baker

For the friend with the darker sense of humor who can handle a dirty limerick.

The Scarlet: The Wives: The Women Behind Russia's Literary Giants by Alexandra Popoff

For the friend who loves books, dreams of the writing life, and adores anything Russian.

The Mom: Split Second by David Baldacci

For the friend who loves the procedural mystery and is looking for a compelling book that's just plain fun.

Also, I'm over on My Life as a Teacup today talking about The Handmaid's Tale and When She Woke. Check out Kristin's blog to see why I think if you like one you'll love the other one. You can also enter to win one of the new That's What She Read totes we created.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stories We Tell


I'm behind on my whole watch 12 documentaries in 12 months thing, but I'm desperate to catch up. I've even dropped hints to friends with Netflix that we should have a documentary marathon day. Yeah, pathetic.

A few weeks ago I watched Stories We Tell, a documentary by Sarah Polley that explores the life of her own mother and family in a quest to tap into the secret behind veiled rumors she'd grown up with. More than a search for familial truth, the film is a beautiful exploration of storytelling, memory and the narratives we create for ourselves. It really resonated with where I am right now with the short stories and remembrances I share on this site. I'd recommend this film to anyone, but I think that those of you into storytelling and documenting your life will dig it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New podcast episodes are live!

This month is about burning all kinds of midnight oil. I am taking the end of the year on at a sprint. Instead of just being out to finish the marathon and collect my participation badge, I feel like I'm out to place. Don't worry. The only loser in this battle may be my sanity...and maybe my kidneys. I've been drinking a lot of coffee.

Two new podcast episodes did go up last week! Ravena and I are on episode 8 of That's What She Read. We decided to record a special mini episode (*cough* it's not mini *cough*) dedicated to comics and graphic novels. In this epi, we prove our prowess by disagreeing on the definition of what constitutes a graphic novel. You should listen and weigh in ;-) We will also have a special holiday episode hitting the feed shortly after Thanksgiving, so stay tuned!

Episode 4 of Friday Night Dinner: A Gilmore Girls Podcast also hit the airwaves this past Friday. In it, Scarlet and I talk about getting hit by a deer, a cat wake, and other topics that luckily do not relate to animal tragedies. We've stepped it up and are rewatching two episodes at a time, so pull out your season 1 DVDs (because isn't it just better that way) and watch episodes 6 and 7 in preparation for a new podcast on November 29th!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Schoolhouse Rock: Let's get magical!

Shane's Confectionery window in Philly
This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this post other than the fact that I think candy in a display window is a bit magical.

You probably think that I'm about to make my pitch to teach at Hogwarts, right? Let's hope you didn't jump to those fantastical conclusions because I'll feel like I'm about to be a disappointment right out of the gate. Instead, I want to share a peek behind the curtain at some research I'm doing.

Do you remember that whole book thing I mentioned last week? In my mind, I want to be Toni Morrison. Go ahead...you can laugh. I did. I know I'm being ridiculous, but a girl has to strive for something, right? Anyway (I bet Toni doesn't even use words like anyway), I've spent the past year thinking about the direction my story is headed and how to deal with this fantastical element that I've introduced. The book I've conceived in my head isn't science fiction, but with this thing that I've introduced, I haven't given myself many options. Inadvertently, I realized I'd latched onto to this idea that the work I am creating is magical realism.

Now, if you're like me, you're asking yourself why you have to call it anything at this point. Just write the damn story. I hear you. However, having a realistic grasp of what I want my story to be has a direct bearing on how I resolve or deal with these fantastical elements. Unfortunately, about the time I started really thinking about magical realism, I came to the sinking conclusion that I probably didn't have the best grasp on what that was. I'm sure you're just as shocked as I am that a college education focused on political science and biology didn't provide me with the requisite knowledge. 

Instead of rushing out to pick up another degree (though tempting), I turned my attention to the Internet to see what information I could ferret from academics studying and teaching magical realism. While I won't have a professor feeding me information and engaging me in critique and debate, I love that I can teach myself and cobble together education.

So what did I find? Consistency. Most of the university syllabi I perused taught many of the same books, stories, and texts. In case you're interested in geeking out with me, I've included links to some of these texts below, as well as links to a couple of the courses.


Tuesday, November 05, 2013

November is my favorite month!

This is not one of those annoying posts where I apologize for not writing. I really dislike those posts. This, instead, is a post wherein I tell you about November.

For starters, it's my birthday month, and if you get anything from the early years of this blog, it's how much we dig birthdays* around here. I've also got a few other things on my mind this month, including finalizing plans for a two-month paid sabbatical that starts at the beginning of January. Holy cow! I really don't know how this control freak is not going to work for that long.

As you can see from the badge above, I'm also doing the whole NANOWRIMO thing for the second year in a row (motivation to write this post = procrastination). I'm cheating a bit because my goal is to finish the first draft of the novel I started last year at this time. Rather than get all weird about it, I just found it helpful to spend this month concentrating on writing (and limit any overthinking). This book will likely be well over 50K words, so don't think I'm taking it easy on myself.

My third goal for this month is to finish writing my first business plan. I'm going to be ridiculously vague, but basically, I feel like I have a good idea worth turning into an actual thing. I (and people I've talked to about it) think it's a good enough idea to warrant an actual plan.

So, yeah, November holds good things. I'm thankful. Very, very thankful. Now to schedule in some sleep.

*However, unless you are in my current immediate circle, I am horrible about remembering dates. I need you to be the kind of friend who reminds me, and then I'll make it as special as possible.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rory Gilmore and the Sage of Baltimore

I'm kicking off November with a new episode of Friday Night Dinner: A Gilmore Girls Podcast, available via iTunes and Podbean. This week Scarlet and I continue to watch as Amy Sherman-Palladino and David Palladino (though this episode was written by neither) build the world of Stars Hollow. In Episode 3: Kill Me Now, Rory gets closer to Richard and Emily, which creates tension with Lorelai. Meanwhile, there's a big wedding at the inn that keeps the gang busy.

We might have to pick up our review pace so that we can get into the thick of things!

This week's pop culture homework is to read up on H.L. Mencken, known as the Sage of Baltimore. This journalist and essayist was one of the most well-known cultural critics of the early 20th century. Toward the end of episode three, Richard invites Rory into his study to see a copy he found of A Mencken Chrestomathy. Do some of Mencken's views seem a bit Gilmoresque?

Search Friday Night Dinner on iTunes and subscribe to the podcast!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oh to be as wise as Wendell Berry


“It may be that when we no longer know which way to go that we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” ― Wendell Berry

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

That's What She Read, Episode 7: Wherein we go from wine to Roth to Rice to Pessl to Harrison and more

bookshelf re-org, unread titles
My recently re-organized unread shelf

Episode 7 of That's What She Read (TWSR) is live! This marks the second installation of what we're calling the TWSR Supper Club, wherein we invite friends over (or out) for dinner and discuss our latest reads with them. Ravena's friend, Kalen, joined us this month, and we had the best conversation.

If you haven't tried the podcast since the first few episodes, I urge you to give it another listen. We're getting better, and I think these last couple of episodes are our best yet!

You can search iTunes for That's What She Read, listen right from our podcast page, or listen below. You'll also find a full list of the books we discuss and links to where you can find out more about them.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

My future tiny library

future tiny library

This is my future tiny library.

It sits deserted along a major thoroughfare in Fairfax, taunting me. I've had my eye on this abandoned ATM building for the last two years and have gone so far as to call the bank and look up tax maps in an effort to track down the owner. His name is scrawled in one of my many notebooks. Getting my hands on his phone number and/or email address has not been as simple. This requires a letter or a visit, all time-consuming things for a busy girl who works when people who own real estate work.

I just want to borrow this space for a few months. Throw up a cute sign. Build shelves out of pallets, and throw open the door for people to borrow, take and trade books. Maybe the books each month will be curated around a particular theme--purple covers or mysteries by women or novels set in D.C.

I'm motivated. It will happen. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Behind the Bookshelf: Interview with a bookseller, Steven Darling

Halloween awesomeness
Halloween 2008 :-)

Meet Steven, one of my favorite people. I first met Steven when we were both working part-time at Barnes & Noble and spent many an evening closing down the store and thinking up crazy activities to maintain our sanity. While Steven no longer sells books, he still offers up some sage advice. You won't find him hanging out on social media, but if you're into the local classical music scene, you might see this Fairfax County music teacher playing in one of the local orchestras.

What are you currently reading? Thoughts on it?

Lately, I’ve been reading the Percy Jackson series. I’ve always liked mythology, and I like how Rick Riordan incorporated the ancient myths into the modern world. When I started reading the series, I didn’t realize there were actually two series within the series. The first set was okay, but felt a little young. This second series I like a lot better. It’s just a little bit more grown up, which is silly considering they are young adult books. That said, if you’re going to read them, I recommend reading all of them. The second series references a lot of stuff from the first series, and I like to know the back story. The one I just finished was The Son of Neptune.

What books are you most looking forward to this year?

I’m not usually very informed about books that are soon to be released. I did pre-order Allegiant (Veronica Roth) since it was on sale for my Kindle for pretty cheap not too long ago. I guess that’s one to look forward to.

Did you set any reading goals for 2013? If so, what are they?

I never set reading goals. I tend to go through periods of voracious reading and periods of almost no reading at all. Since this past summer, I’ve been reading a lot. I attribute this to figuring out how to borrow library books on my Kindle from the comfort of my couch.

What three characters would you invite to the bar for a drink?

Hmm. I’m not really sure. A lot of the books I read are young adult books, and I don’t know that it’s appropriate for those characters to drink. Maybe some of the characters from Christopher Moore’s books?

If you could convince any two authors to write a book together, who would it be? Why?

Another tough question. Maybe Christopher Moore and J.K. Rowling? Hogwarts with a sense of humor?

What's the most annoying book you see flying off the shelves?

Not having worked in a bookstore for a while, I’m not sure what’s flying off the shelves. That said, and even though I haven’t read it, I don’t see the fascination with 50 Shades of Grey.

If you could give people one piece of advice to prep them for entering a bookstore, what would it be?

If you’re going in for something specific, know what you’re asking for. I was never good at the questions like, “Well, I want this book… I think it’s about a kid, maybe the cover was red with this weird little clovery thing on the front? Maybe the kid’s name was Charlie? Or Albert?” If you don’t know what you want, at least have a little direction. I remember that people would come in and say, “I like nonfiction. Where is that section?” That’s a really, REALLY broad topic. Finally, to keep the booksellers happy, a friendly attitude goes a long way. Also, remember that they have to put away everything you take out and leave somewhere else.

What’s your catnip, that familiar plotline or genre you can’t help but pick up and devour?

I’m a sucker for end-of-the-world and/or dystopian novels, especially if they’re young adult. They’re easy to read, and usually quick. I love imagining what a changed world looks like. If there’s a map of the new world, even better. I just went to check which series are on my Kindle. Among the more popular things like The Hunger Games and Divergent, I’ve got the Legend series by Marie Lu, Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness, Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne, Maze Runner by James Dashner, Extinction Point by Paul Antony Jones, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Stung by Bethany Wiggins.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My story as told by water, part VII

I loved fishing

Some memories are more like apparitions lingering in the corners of my mind, all a bit transparent and hazy*. 

There was the flurry of activity that surrounds any kind of departure. Hugs and goodbyes to my mom and grandmother with, I believe, the promise to cook anything we returned with. Sitting on the banks of Lake Nasworthy, fishing pole in hand, I remember the waiting, the waiting and the worms. Perhaps there was conversation, adolescent rambling on my part, but those are the details that have been wiped clean. Left in its wake is simply the feeling of sharing a moment with someone you love, that moment where they share with you something they enjoy. There was the fish, small and covered in scales, not worthy of a meal but destined to become one. My grandmother, bless her heart, may never have cleaned a fish in her life, but she tried. Two bites. That's how long it took for me to slowly pull a fish bone out of my mouth and the number of bites for me process how wrong the taste was. I'll never know if the fault lay with my grandmother or the fish, but to this day, I don't eat much seafood.

*Have you seen Stories We Tell? Really good! I'll write a bit about it next month, but one of the themes very much touches on this idea. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Drunken Botanist Book Club


It's been forever since I've participated in any kind of book club. I'm generally not good with any kind of organized book reading. However, when my friend Sarah emailed to say that she'd won a charity auction that included copies of Drunken Botanist and the opportunity for the author to participate in a book club discussion, I jumped at the chance.

Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Greatest Drinks by Amy Stewart is a charming, intelligent compendium of the plants (herbs, flowers, trees, fruit, etc.) behind the alcohol and liquors enjoyed by many. Its combination of history, botany and chemistry is blended with keen storytelling and will appeal to more than your average garden nerd. It is the kind of book you leave on your nightstand and read a new entry from each evening before bed. It's the book that makes you feel better equipped to handle witty, cocktail party banter.

I found Drunken Botanist to be thoroughly delightful, and it turns out that Amy, the author, is equally awesome. At one point in the evening, she managed to succinctly hit the nail on the head of why I'm not just inherently uncool because I often sit at a bar and struggle with what drink to order. I'm paraphrasing here, but "you wouldn't expect to walk into a restaurant and find all of the ingredients on display before you, the waiter asking you to select what you'd like to eat for dinner."

The evening carried on in much that manner, the ebb and flow of conversation moving from cocktails and drinking stories to the ability to order liquor and wine over the internet to Loki's delight in creating chaos. Sarah made, as she put it, an apple cider ginger booze punch and later whipped up a batch of cucumber martinis, many of the ingredients coming from her own garden. You can nab the recipe for the cucumber martini pictured above on Sarah's blog.

The book itself should come with the warning that you may suddenly find yourself with Evernote open, gleefully adding "Clear Creek Distillery", "cassis" and "thick, rich, French liqueur, made from the fruit of the black currant bush, turns an ordinary glass of dry white wine, sparkling wine, or hard cider into something wonderful" to a list of things to hunt for.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Night Dinner: A Gilmore Girls Podcast, episode 2 is live!


"This whole plaid skirt thing? My idea?"

Join Scarlet and I as we break down Episode 2: The Lorelais' First Day at Chilton. In this episode, we're introduced to Tristan and Paris, discuss the outfit Lorelai runs out of the house wearing, and some of the life lessons she passes along to Rory.

To extend your listening experience, check out Aisha Tyler's (second) conversation with Jared Padalecki on Girl on Guy once you've listened to Friday Night Dinner. He's incredibly funny and charming.

Have you subscribed yet?!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

House of Leaves

Justin Fetters
Continuing the theme of amazingly creepy books is House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. Your reading life is not complete until you've read this book. You may think I'm being overly dramatic, but this book changed the way I think about books and writing.

I drank the Koolaid, and it tastes good.

I picked this book up back in 2007 at the behest of Marie (sidenote: always trust Marie), and I set it aside pretty quickly, making it no more than a few pages in. I mentioned this to Marie a couple of months later, and she convinced me to give it another chance. Her primary advice was to follow the footnotes and to do everything they said. It's six years later, and it still ranks among my favorite books.

House of Leaves presents two interwoven narratives. The main body of the book is Zampano's tale as told through his critique of a documentary by filmmaker Will Navidson. Navidson and his family move into a house that is mysteriously larger on the inside than it is on the outside. The house seems to shift and morph around them, adding never-ending passageways that creak and groan, seeming to have a life of its own. Navidson pulls together a team of explorer filmmakers to plumb the depths with him and to discover what is waiting on the other end. Narrating Zampano's critique (and the book) is Johnny Truant, the one who discovered Zampano's document and notes after he passed away. As each work their way through the materials and the story of this film and house, their grasp on their own reality grows evermore thin.

What Danielewski does with narrative and layout is nothing short of amazing, dragging you into the confusing depths of the human psyche. I want to take you inside Danielewski's House, dissect it and tell you why it was so groundbreaking at the time, but I know I'll never be able to do it justice. Just do me a favor. Pick up a hard copy of the book (it's not available as an e-book and would just never really work anyway), and give it a chance...a real chance. You'll want to quit, but this one is worth a little sweat.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Night Film

The beginning of Fall and approach of Halloween always makes October feel deliciously spooky. When I picked up Night Film by Marisha Pessl, I didn't set out to read a macabre, dark tome. However, I was delighted to discover that, between Pessl's web of intrigue and the gray, sullen weather hovering over the D.C. area, I got just that.

Let's back up. Night Film is the story of a haunted (mentally, not literally) investigative journalist, Scott McGrath, drowning in self-pity after his obsession with the secret life of a cult horror movie director, Stanislaus Cordova, torpedoes his career. When Cordova's daughter appears to commit suicide, McGrath is pulled back into Cordova's world as he tries to figure out what dark forces may have contributed to her death. Along the way, he picks up a couple of strays--lost souls also adrift in the world and seeking their own sort of resolution--who become Bernstein to his Woodward.

Night Film, however, is so much more than that simple summary would lead you to believe. Pessl weaves articles and other investigation ephemera throughout the book, pulling her readers into the search for clues and as a way of creating richer, better developed characters. The story is full of mysterious characters whose reality may be interwoven with the horror flicks Cordova creates. Pessl does an amazing job building tension and suspense, leaving the reader wondering where psychic fantasy ends and reality begins. It's been quite a while since a story has scared me, but elements of this world infected the weaker parts of my brain, festering until I finally finished the book. I'd sleep fitfully, only to wake up with bloodshot eyes and thoughts of the Cordova mystery.

Even if you don't have time to curl up with Night Film this October, I recommend picking up a copy sooner rather than later. Once you've read that, check out Pessl's first book, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which is equally entertaining and literary.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thoughts on 'The New 52' Wonder Woman reboot

I promise I'll stop playing with my new photo app soon.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned how I used to identify with Wonder Woman, which was really just a set up (that got a little long winded) for how I wound up deciding to start reading the DC Comics Wonder Woman reboot. I managed to snag the first five issues (the series started in 2011) at the Annapolis Comic-Con earlier this summer, and I've been picking up a few issues here and there ever since, a pretty clear sign that I'm into it.

It is so much easier to understand what is going on when you start from the very beginning. Picking up a series mid-stream was like deciding to read a book on page 127. The clarity that comes from starting at the beginning made it possible to approach the story and art with a more open mind, which is kind of essential for me. I pick up so many new things only after I arm myself with the skeptic's shield. Not good.

"The Gods walk among us. To them, our lives are playthings. Only one woman would dare to protect humanity from the wrath of such strange and powerful forces. But is she one of us--or one of them?"

With this loaded question, DC sets up the premise for the new series. I'm drawn to the artwork and physical portrayal of the characters almost immediately. The lines are strong with just enough detail to keep the panels interesting without being overwhelming. I appreciate the color palette Cliff Chiang, current illustrator for the series, has chosen. Wonder Woman, herself, is illustrated in a way that fits the Amazonian she is. Chiang has created a character that is both strong and feminine. She is tall and built solidly with defined muscle tone and broad shoulders, and yet, we still get that long, raven hair and (what any girl wants
) the ability to fill out a cute costume. I know there are huge debates about the portrayal of women in comics, and I'm not going to get into that now*. However, I do think that (for the time being) this series manages to avoid those pitfalls.
I'm also into the current story arc and am really enjoying the tie into Greek mythological figures. I've also yet to be annoyed by the writing, which, if you'll recall, was a huge stumbling block when I tried to read the Avengers. Oh, did I mention that she totally kicks ass?

*I reserve the right to debate this out later.
The Gods walk among us. To them, our lives are playthings. Only one woman would dare to protect humanity from the wrath of such strange and powerful forces. But is she one of us – or one of them? - See more at: http://www.dccomics.com/comics/wonder-woman-2011/wonder-woman-1#sthash.HM6Mvhtw.dpuf
The Gods walk among us. To them, our lives are playthings. Only one woman would dare to protect humanity from the wrath of such strange and powerful forces. But is she one of us – or one of them? - See more at: http://www.dccomics.com/comics/wonder-woman-2011/wonder-woman-1#sthash.HM6Mvhtw.dpuf

Monday, October 07, 2013

End of the world movie club

Photo from Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

You may have noticed that I have a (*cough*) minor interest in dystopian, apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic stories. When it comes to books, I try to stick to the more literate* of the bunch--Jim Crace's The Pesthouse, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, Justin Cronin, etc. However, all bets are off when it comes to movies. I tend to take the broad view and consume pretty voraciously. This runs the gamut from the '83 cult classic The Day After to Armageddon (love) to made-for-TV originals like the 12 Disasters of Christmas (a real low point...even for me). The only movie genre I may get more excited for is a good dance movie!

You can imagine the giddy thumping of my little doom and gloom heart when the summer previews started hitting the streets. I began preparing my mental list of all that I'd try to see. I have to say that I didn't do too badly given how busy the summer was. As of this week, I've managed to see the following (in order of viewing):

Hands down, for me, the surprise of the summer was This Is The End. I went into this star-filled movie (headed by James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson) with massive amounts of skepticism, pretty much assuming I'd find it boring and stupid. I didn't expect to be laughing, loudly, throughout the entire thing. Yes, it was silly, but I enjoyed the premise of the stars playing themselves as portrayed by the media. I also didn't mind the heavy-handed nod to Revelations.

World War Z and Pacific Rim were kind of no-brainers for me. I'm a big fan of the book by Max Brooks (World War Z) and love robots and Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim)...sold. The World's End was also one of the movies that I eagerly anticipated. It's the third in a very loose trilogy, known as the Cornetto Trilogy, by Edgar Wright, which includes Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. While I think Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead are better, funnier films, The World's End was the perfect cap to Wright's loose of thread of the man-boy who finally pulls it together and accomplishes life-saving feats. 

I always feel like I have to justify why I'm into these kind of movies. I feel like most critics focus on the disaster porn angle and assume the public pays to see bigger explosions, cooler effects. These people don't speak for me. I find a bit of beauty in the fight for survival. I need to believe that there is a good to humanity and that, no matter how depraved things may get, there are those who will risk themselves to help the weaker among us. The struggle to survive, to persevere, is why I keep watching. 

The last film on my summer list was Olympus Has Fallen. I'd heard from a couple of friends that it was pretty awesome, but after the folks (my people) on Pop Culture Happy Hour derided it with such vim and vigor, I began to question myself. Luckily, I moved past the doubt pretty quickly and tracked down the movie. Believe it or not, it was a bit of a hunt. Basically, Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down are the same movie. Hot guy saves the president, a child, and America from bad guys of foreign origin while the White House is destroyed around them. Were they the BEST THING EVER? No, but I enjoyed them. They were pretty effective, brainless entertainment at the end of a long week.

Linda Holmes, I think you're awesome (and am pretty sure we'd be fast friends), but you can keep your Deadly Spa and Hallmark Channel romance movies. I'll take triumph of the human spirit any day.

*This isn't always 100%.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

That's What She Read...the one where we introduce ourselves

Ida Cajetti  (LOC)
If you aren't following the Library of Congress's Flickr stream, you should hop on that.

A new episode of That's What She Read is up!

In this episode, we actually introduce ourselves and give you a bit of a peek into our typical reading habits. We also talk about quite a few books--everything from Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell to The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion to the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon (book 1, book 2, book 3). There's even a mention of Lonesome Dove and Larry McMurtry's bookstore, Booked Up.

Full episode notes are available at the podcast website.

P.S. I'm still doing a happy dance over being on iTunes!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Come to Friday Night Dinner, a new Gilmore Girls podcast


We're live! I know thousands of people all across the world figure out podcasting on iTunes, but it felt so good to set this goal and finish it. So...what's Friday Night Dinner all about?

Friday night dinner without all the Gilmore familial obligations. Join Scarlet and me every other Friday. We’re recapping Gilmore Girls episode by episode and answering the age-old question…what would the Lorelais do? Email, Tweet, or comment with your questions, and we'll be sure to offer up Gilmore-certified advice on the next episode.

You can pretty much bank on us talking Fall, food, fashion, boys and a few life lessons each episode!

You can find us on iTunes a few different ways. Click on the photo above or the links to be taken to the iTunes feed. You can also search for "Friday Night Dinner Gilmore Girls" in iTunes or the Podcast app. Finally, you can listen or subscribe on our Podbean page

Scarlet has also been kind enough to create a Facebook page for us, if that's your bag. :-)


(I also managed to transition That's What She Read over to iTunes. Yay! A new episode will be posted over the weekend, so I'll save more "official" fanfare for then.)

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Thom Yorke Zumba and Flea Thrashercize

Let's just get this out of the way now. The Atoms for Peace show last night at the Patriot Center was awesome. And, while I appreciated the room to move and breathe, it's a bit of a travesty that there were so many empty seats.

It's the mark of a good show that my internal dialogue of earlier in the evening (too tired, too old for a weeknight show) evaporated as soon as they hit the stage. I was on my feet and dancing my ass off, afraid to sit down lest Yorke or Flea catch my eye. These guys are 40+ years old and leaving it all on the floor. It's my job as a concert goer to give it back, to feed the beast, and I was not about to let them down.

Yorke's moves are all over the map, each one weird, inspiring and so very, very perfect. He's the nerd's dancing hero. As I looked out across the stadium, I saw them (us) channeling his energy, dancing with a reckless freedom and confidence (maybe less with the confidence on my part). Thom Yorke is life affirming.

Flea radiated energy. He dominated the stage, his bass and the skirt he wore. This man is 50, and he.did.not.stop.

The music, itself, was other worldly. Layers and sounds and beats...I can't write about music without sounding like a tool. It got me moving, got me thinking and made me happy...all of my favorite things.

I'm writing this at 1AM on my phone while trying to go to sleep. If it doesn't make sense, let's blame it on that.