I was goofing around on the internet, and I realized I was searching for something. Something beautiful, and deep, meaningful and profound. And I thought, “I should create content like that! I will do some artwork!” So of course that made me think of the burning hatred I have for The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Non-parents probably don’t have this level of passion when it comes to children’s books. They probably glance at them fondly at the store saying “Oh, I remember this! I love that book”, then they set it down, never to be opened again. I have an adorable little spawn, however, and I read several books to him every night. Even though we own about 30 books or so, there is a LOT of repetition, so minor annoyances in books become crimes against humanity. What’s wrong with the Very Hungry Caterpillar? Take a look:
The wings are UPSIDE DOWN. Are you kidding me?? Have you ever seen a butterfly like this? No, because it would die.
This is a real butterfly. Not enough evidence for you? Do a Google search. I’ll wait.
SEE?? WHY. WHY DID ERIC CARLE DO THIS TO MEEEEE.
So here is my contribution to the wonder, beauty, and excitement of the world; something parents everywhere have been begging for since 1969:
Using my meager skills and MS Paint I was able to accomplish this wonder. Sure, the antennas got cut off, and the butterfly now has two legs growing out of his back, but this is a vast improvement. Feel free to print it out and glue it into your copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Maybe I can save a few people from rage aneurysms. I know I feel better just looking at this.
*WARNING: Swearing ensues (Grandmas have been warned)*
I was at the library recently, looking for baby sleep books (I’ll let you know if I find anything worthwhile), and I stumbled across “Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us”. Of course I had to grab it.
This book is a quick read, and hilarious the whole way through. Even while caring for my son, it only took me 2-3 days to read. The humor starts immediately, with chapter 1: “Road Trip with Your Kids: Multiply How Bad You Think It Will Be by a Thousand, Then Add Ten Million”. Here are a couple excerpts:
YOU ARE NO PRIZE.
Good God woman, look at yourself. Or better yet, rent Sweeney Todd and check out Helena Bonham Carter. Cause that’s you. Ratty hair, crazy eyes, making questionable food choices. Now think of your poor baby. She spends all day staring at you, wondering if this is how she’s going to look when she grows up. Of course she is crying.
Your baby needs to see how rested adults behave. If she goes only by you, she’ll think it’s normal to shout, “I can’t do this anymore!” and storm out of the house to sit in the car and eat cheese.
Knowing you aren’t the only kind of person on Earth gives your baby a ray of hope.
This one struck close to home, because my baby is named Nacho. It’s an unusual name, I know, but we think it fits him.
How to Tell When Your Friends Are Pretending They Like Your Baby’s Name
You went your own way with the baby’s name. You picked a name that you’re pretty sure no one else will touch. You like it, your husband likes it, and that’s all that matters. Besides, if first names were destiny, Condoleezza Rice would have been a stripper.
Back to your friend. Perhaps she is old-fashioned – raised to be a Jacob Mom or an Emily Mom. Your name has taken her by surprise.
She will ask you to spell it. This is a stalling technique. She really wants to say, “Uh, what the fuck did you just say?” Spellcheck is a gentle way for her to confirm that, yes, your son’s name is Z-e-p-h-y-r.
She may ask, “How did you come up with that?” She is giving you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was a family name. In fact, before you answer, she’ll suggest that very thing, and her voice will trail upwards: “Sounds like a family name…?”
Your response. “It is, now,” will not help her.
Those are just the two parts that were short enough for me to overcome my laziness to type out. The entire book had me cracking up and reading parts out loud to Hubby. Even non-parents will be able to laugh and enjoy some good, old-fashioned schadenfreude.
It does have a lot of strong language (which should be self-evident), so if that kind of thing bothers you, you should probably toughen up. We’re all grown ups. I go to work, vote, pay my taxes, and balance my check book. Swearing and drinking are a couple of the adult privileges that cancel out the boring crap, and I intend to take full advantage of them.
I’ve provided the Amazon link above, or just pick it up at the library, like I did. It’s absolutely worth the read. It gets the Clever Chick Thumbs Up!
I’m not usually in my car at the right time to hear The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor, but I had to run an errand this morning, and managed to catch it.
If you aren’t familiar with it, each day host Garrison Keillor (best known for A Prairie Home Companion) enlightens us about literature. He lists writers whose birthdays occur that day, and teaches us a little about their lives, what they wrote, and its impact on society. It’s always interesting, and I wish I kept up with it better.
The poem of the day is called “Naming the Baby” by Faith Shearin. I thought it was very appropriate considering how many of my friends are breeding right now. And congratulations to Jamiehead on her new little boy, due this fall!
So now I’ll sign off with Garrison Keillor’s traditional ending:
“Be well, do good work, and keep in touch”
Many people will be offended that The Kite Runner is our current Worst Book in the World. I mean, it’s a best seller, so how can it be the Worst Book in the World? Because it’s 97% tragedy. The other 3% is only there to keep you reading, hoping for something good to happen to balance out the horror. Here is the basic plot:
*SPOILERS: I’M TELLING YOU EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS, OK?*
Amir and Hassan grew up together as best friends, even though Hassan was the servant. Hassan is doggedly loyal to Amir, who gets him in trouble and torments him constantly. Hassan’s father, Ali, is a lifelong servant in their house and grew up almost as brothers with Amir’s father, just as Amir and Hassan were raised. Hassan is a different sect of Islam and a different ethnicity than the majority of Afghanistan (uh oh, this doesn’t bode well). Because of this, he’s treated as a second class citizen.
One day, a neighborhood bully corners Hassan in an alley and rapes him. Amir witnesses this, but is too much of a coward to do anything. Afterwards, he is so tormented with guilt at his inaction that he can’t stand to be around Hassan anymore. Poor Hassan has been traumatized, and now loses his best friend with no explanation. Amir asks his father to dismiss Ali and Hassan so he won’t have to face them anymore. Baba rightfully refuses and is outraged that his son would try to get rid of people who are basically family, with no cause. Amir then resorts to hiding money and a watch in Hassan’s bed, and then claims he stole them. Ever loyal, Hassan admits to stealing so that Amir won’t get in trouble. Baba forgives him, and asks them to stay, but Amir has finally driven Ali and Hassan to leave.
Years later, the Russians take over Afghanistan and Baba and Amir escape to America (there’s more suicide, attempted rape, and child rape along the way, but I’ll spare you the details). In the US, Amir meets a girl and they get married. You think things are looking up, right? Don’t get excited. Baba gets cancer and dies, and Amir and his wife can’t have kids. At this point Amir is so despicable, I’m glad he’s not reproducing.
A few more years later, one of Baba’s old friends (Famir, I think), calls Amir from Afghanistan. He’s dying also, and Amir needs to come witness it to drag the plot down further. Amir goes to see him and they start talking about Hassan. He had gotten married and had a son, and had been helping Famir take care of Baba’s old house. Six months before Amir’s visit, when Famir was out of town, the Taliban accused Hassan of stealing the nice house, dragged him into the street, and shot him dead. His wife flipped out (understandably) so the Taliban killed her also (I’m surprised the author didn’t take this opportunity to have graphic scenes of her being raped repeatedly, but she’s not a young boy, so I guess he wasn’t interested). Their son ends up in an orphanage, and Famir reveals that Hassan was actually Amir’s half brother all along!
Amir goes to the orphanage to track down Sohrab, who he now knows is his nephew. He finds the right orphanage, but it turns out Sohrab has been sold into sex slavery to none other than Assef, the bully who raped his father!
Amir finally does something brave and tries to fight Assef for Sohrab. A needlessly gruesome fight ensues. Amir and Sohrab get away, and Amir is in the hospital for awhile. Amir wants to adopt Sohrab, and promises he will bring him to the US, BEFORE investigating whether or not it’s possible. They run into a ton of red tape, and are told the best way to accomplish their goal is for Sohrab to go back to an orphanage. He flips out and cries himself to sleep.
Amir gets good news that some friends in the US can pull some strings to get Sohrab into the country without having to go back to an orphanage. Amir goes to tell Sohrab the good news, and finds him in the tub, having slit his wrists.
Sohrab survives, but is in the hospital for awhile. They get him to the US, but he’s so traumatized that he doesn’t speak for at least a year. At the very end of the book, Amir is flying a kite with Sohrab, and Sohrab MIGHT have smiled. THE END.
There, that’s the whole horrifically traumatic book. Now you know what happened without all the disgusting details (and there were a ton of them). After reading this book, my brain feels dirty. I will never understand why people feel the need to wallow in depressing stories like this. Real life is depressing enough; just watch the news. Books and movies should be an escape from reality. A certain amount of tragedy is fine, like Romeo and Juliet, but this books has more tragedy than Shakespeare could ever have imagined. It has almost no light moments to balance out the dark, and the few light moments in it are heavily shadowed. Khaled Hosseini is a talented writer, but he needs therapy.
I’m going to read some Calvin and Hobbes to clean my brain out.
I have a very dear friend I trade books with as often as possible. She is responsible for me having read some truly awful books, that we then mock together. However, she also gives me awesome books, to make up for the terrible ones. The best thing she’s ever given me is The Complete Tightwad Gazette. It’s a resource I have read through a few times, and refer back to frequently. Some of the information is a little dated, since it’s from the 90’s, but the overall concepts and the majority of the ideas are extremely useful. I would recommend it to anyone trying to save money, whether you’re just getting started, or consider yourself a veteran penny pincher. Obviously, it’s right up my alley.
This scone recipe came from the Tightwad Gazette. I’m not generally much of a baker. Hubby and I don’t eat a lot of carbs in general, and for some reason I’m not very good at it. I think baking requires a little more science than I’m capable of, but I keep trying, periodically. I have muffins in the oven right now, and they are nothing to brag about. They taste ok, but never really plumped up. Whatever, I’ll eat them. Here’s an actual recipe to follow:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup uncooked oatmeal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup softened margarine
1/2 cup raisins (I used dried cranberries)
3/4 cup sour milk (or milk with 2 tsp of vinegar added)
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix dry ingredients; cut in margarine and raisins. Stir in enough sour milk just to moisten. Divide the dough in half. Flour hands and pat dough into two circles on a greased cookie sheet about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into quarters. Bake for 10 minutes. Brush on egg and then bake until golden brown. Serve with honey, margarine, or jam.
I was making these for a vegan friend, so I simply left off the egg. I don’t know what purpose it serves, other than to make them pretty? I also checked to make sure I was using vegan margarine. Overall they came out fine. Scones are rather plain, and you can see there’s no sugar in the recipe. I guess that’s why British people cover them in jam and clotted cream. When Mi Madre makes hers, she sprinkles cinnamon and sugar over the top, and I should have probably done the same.
I know these look kind of weird, but that’s because I added chocolate to the dough for the one on the right. I didn’t add enough for the flavor to be evident, just enough to make it looked burned. This kind of thing is why I don’t bake often! But if you want a simple recipe to bring to a brunch, these are easy to make (follow the actual recipe, unlike me). Bring some jam also, and you’re golden.
My dear friend Kornberg is going through an insane level of purging her house: she’s getting rid of almost all of her books. While I think this is nuts, I profiteered from it guiltlessly. She gave me at least 30 to 40 books I’ve never read before, and I can’t wait to dig into them! The first one I read was “Alas, Babylon”, by Pat Frank.
This novel, from 1959, is about a small group of people in Florida who survive World War III. The Russians nuke the US almost into oblivion. We then follow this group through the immediate panic, and later privations and difficulties of survival.
The characters are very well-written, and do their absolute best in a tough situation. I’m often frustrated with books like these because the plot seems to be driven forward by the main character doing something stupid: “I should really call someone and tell them I’m going to investigate this abandoned mine shaft….no, they’d just tell me it’s a bad idea. Down I go!” This book had none of those problems.
This book very realistically portrays what would happen if the infrastructure of the US was destroyed, and it all holds true today. It made me want to start hoarding canned goods and medical supplies. I highly recommend it, and this is one I’m definitely keeping.
I read a ton of books (though still not enough for my liking), so of course I come across some absolute stink-piles from time-to-time (and then force my mom to read them). First it was Madame Bovary, then that one about an evil painter that I ranted about for an hour. Then I read a book so terrible and misspelled that I didn’t even blog about it: Eviction Earth. But, that guy at least published a book, which I haven’t done, so props for that. Now though, a new steaming pile of poo has reared its head; a book so bad I wrote a bad review on Amazon, even though I got it for free!!
As you know, Mi Madre loves to read as much as I do, so she bought me a kindle a few years back. My friend Sara Of The Long Red Hair knows this and sent me a very dangerous website: Freebook Sifter. It lists hundreds of free books for kindle and has the links to Amazon to download them. I literally filled my kindle. One of the free books I downloaded is called “The Heart of Abundance“. It’s just as cheesy as it sounds, but from the description I thought it would be more along the lines of simplifying and enjoying your life.
I’m immensely glad I didn’t pay for this book. It was nothing but sacchrine drivel and bible quotes. The author’s “system” for appreciating the small things in life is to write “Abundance is…” then fill in the gap. She seems to have just looked around her house to create these jewels of wisdom. “Abundance is…a cat sleeping in your lap”, “Abundance is…fresh flowers on the table”, and on and on. Yes, every single one of them has an ellipsis. The author is also overly fixated on cats an flowers. If you’re an 85 year old shut-in, this might be the book for you. Otherwise, save your time.
I am so damn lucky. I was just telling a friend how Hubby and I were looking forward to the movie “The Pirates! Band of Misfits”, and then she won 2 free passes, and then gave them to me! How awesome is that? The movie comes out on April 27th, 2012, but we got to see it today!! One of my biggest pet peeves is spoilers, so all I’m going to say is it’s completely hilarious. They did a great job capturing the spirit of the books in an all-new adventure.
What books, you say? Why, these, of course:
They are all by Gideon Defoe, and each one is spectacularly hysterical. Even his website is awesome. Hubby and I are huge fans of his, and are eagerly awaiting his new book, and a sequel to the movie. GET TO WORK, DUDE. The movie, coming out in a week, is fantastic, and we’ll probably go see it again.
My plan for the new year is not necessarily to review every book I read, but instead to focus on the fantatstically good or fantastically bad ones. This one is terrible.
The Tale of Murasaki is about a real woman that lived in Japan 1000 years ago. She wrote a book called The Tale of Genji that is still translated today. I have never heard of Genji, but it’s supposed to be a big deal. This novel is based on the diary of Murasaki, and the author’s knowledge of the time period.
After reading this, I am very glad that I don’t live in fuedal Japan. Either it was massively boring, or Liza Dalby managed to suck all the fun out of it. Even when the palace burns down (which seems to happen once a week), or main characters die, very little actually occurs. There is no drama.
I can’t really word it any other way: this book is BORING. I think this and other Asian-esque books benefit from the success of Amy Tan and Memoirs of a Geisha. Readers love those books and want more like it, so they pick up something with Asian art on the cover. I know that’s why I grabbed this, but don’t make the same mistake I did! Save yourself!!
I even fought my way all the way through this one, thinking eventually something noteworthy would happen. Nope. On the Clever Chick Scale this gets a “Not even good when you have insomnia”. That’s pretty bad.
While I was sick awhile ago, I did a bit of reading. Here are a few of my “reviews”, for lack of a better word. It’s more of a chronology of things I’ve read, with vague descriptions and my useless, barely literate opinions attached. Lucky you!
Tuck Everlasting is about a young girl in the 1800’s that stumbles upon an immortal family. Here’s the thing about this book; it’s for little kids. I didn’t like it, but I’m not necessarily supposed to. It’s simplistic, and pointless. There are some kids’ books I do enjoy though, so maybe this book is actually boring? On the Clever Chick Scale it gets a “I am giving it away as soon as this post is published”.
This book is an easy read, a little bit sci-fi, and a little bit smutty. It’s about a family of telepathic individuals who are in an on-going war with another such family. A random girl with similar abilities that she knows nothing about gets mixed up in the hoopla. It’s fast-paced, and great for if your brain needs a vacation. If you enjoy the True Blood books, you’ll probably love this. On the Clever Chick Scale it gets a “Giving it away immediately”.
This is another of the Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey, which I LOVE. If you have read any others in this series, you will recognize the character Lord Alderscroft. This book is about two young girls who have telepathic powers, who are being targeted by an unknown magic assailant. Lackey’s great writing style and story telling hold true, so if you’re a fan of hers, grab this one too. On the Clever Chick Scale it gets a “Has earned a place in the collection on my sacred shelves”.
This book is basically about one year in the life of the main character. Very little happens to her during that year, but it’s a slow-paced, restful book. The writing is good, and it’s slightly funny, but uneventful. On the Clever Chick Scale this gets a “Crap! I forgot to give it to Mi Madre when she was visiting!”
This puts me at 44 books so far for the year, which averages to one book every 8.3 days. Not bad! Maybe next year I can get it to one a week!
We all know that I have a problem collecting books. In the past year I have reduced my purchases dramatically, and started giving books away to friends regularly, all to reduce the clutter. The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice, is a massive book, that I started reading in HIGH SCHOOL, then set it down and never got back to it. That’s right, I have been hauling this 965 page book around for at least
ten three years!
It took forever to read, which is understandable considering its girth. This book the the story of a family of witches in New Orleans who have been working with a demonic spirit for 300 years or so. The book actually has another book inside it that is the history of the family over those 300 years.
The book is very well written, with a massive depth of detail and fleshed out characters. Imagine my disappointment when I got to the end, and nothing had been resolved!! My immediate opinion was, “If there’s no sequel, this book was terrible”. There are, in fact, TWO sequels! I can’t imagine writing a 965 page book, let alone one with two sequels.
If you’ve read any of her other books, the writing is just as good, but the plot is much more intricate than the vampire books. I enjoyed it, for the most part, but I’m currently withholding judgement. I doubt I will acquire the sequels all that soon, but I will do so as soon as possible, or else I’m going to forget everything. On the Clever Chick Scale this gets a “I doubt I’ll keep it, but I still want to see how it turns out”.