Archive for March, 2009

31st March
2009
written by Steph
Have mercy on yourself and read this one!

Have mercy on yourself and read this one!

After quite the hiatus (in part due to self-imposed restrictions, but largely influenced by long waiting lists at the public library), I return to reading contenders in this year’s Tournament of Books.  In a way, my reading of A Mercy couldn’t have come at a better time, as today it was named champion in the 2009 Tournament of Books. Reviews of A Mercy have been largely positive, but it has not gone unscathed.  Some have criticized it as being “Toni Morrison lite”, perhaps a function of its relatively small heft (weighing in at a scant 167 pages), but it may also have something to do with the format of the novel as well.  A Mercy is a series of chapter-long character sketches that alternate with a stream-of-consciousness style narrative from the ostensible lead character, Florens (I call her the lead, simply because she is devoted multiple chapters, whereas all other individuals in the novel only get a solitary chapter to each tell their tales).  The story takes place in the late 1600s/early 1700s in the South East (Virginia and Marlyand), revolving around a Dutch farmer, his wife, and the three slaves they keep (Florens, Sorrow, and Lina), but also features a good deal of flashback and retrospective narrative as well.  Through each character’s story, we are given the opportunity to reflect on the shackles of slavery, the various ways one can become a slave, as well as what it means to be free. (more…)
29th March
2009
written by Tony
I'll unleash your force... What?

I'll unleash your force... What?

The Force Unleashed was touted as a game that would vastly change how video games are played, all based on the power of the PS3 (and Xbox 360, but that's an even more stupid name than Playstation, so it is therefore invalid). The initial press certainly made this game seem revolutionary and like it would be the shot in the arm that the action  genre on the PS3 needed. When it was finally released it found a luke-warm (see what I did there? Luke… Skywalker. Yeah?) reception and I think overall this was justifiable. (more…)
28th March
2009
written by Steph

Behold as Mount TBR increases once again...

Behold as Mount TBR increases once again...

There actually has been quite the downpour ongoing today (complete with intermittent tornado warnings, which Tony deemed scaremongering, citing insufficient cloud density or something to that effect), but who cares about the weather when Tony and I finally made our way back to McKay’s after what seems like months of abstaining from book buying (in truth, it’s only been about 8 weeks, if that, but it has felt like FOREVER)?  I’ve been trying to curb my book-buying bug of late with trips to the library (it’s just a block away from the Y, which we visit 3 – 4 times a week), but public and private libraries hardly compare!  Sure, my rampant book buying just contributes to my never-ending, never-lessening TBR stack, but what I like about owning books I’d like to read is the fact that I feel no pressure to actually read said books.  Counterintuitive, I know, but when I visit the library, I inevitably take out more books at a time than I had originally intended (I have impulsive tendencies, have you noticed?), and then I feel pressured to read all of those books one after the other, even if I’m not necessarily in the right mood for them.  [Tony thinks that’s crazy talk by the way – he’s one of those people who can make a list of the next 10 books he’ll read and stick to it and feel perfectly happy.  I, on the other hand, have to wait until I’ve finished one book before I can even contemplate the next one, and then it’s a deep soul-searching process… Thankfully, today I was somewhat vindicated when we were at the store and ran into a friend of Tony’s who says she is the same way as I am when it comes to picking her next read!  Huzzah!]  Anyway, I realize I could return books to the library unread, and I often need to do so, but it feels like such a defeat to do that!

Ok, so today’s total damage?  25 books.  Eeps!  BUT.  In all fairness to me, today Tony actually picked out a large number of books today (not the majority by any means, but he still contributed to the haul!), and also, most of these were bought using store vouchers we had accrued through various trade-ins, so we really got 25 books for only $9 (real money), and that hardly counts as a splurge, right?  RIGHT?!?!

After the jump, an in-depth analysis of our loot! (more…)
27th March
2009
written by Tony
My, my. Aren't we scary?

My, my. Aren't we scary?

I’m pretty sure Adrian Brody can really only play one character, but he at least does so with aplomb, and thankfully this movie is interesting enough that his acting isn’t the lone highlight. I found this movie on a list titled (I think) "Top Ten Mind Fuck Movies." Indeed. So I went ahead and added it to our Netflix queue (among some others) as I had heard about it previously and had always been curious. It’s hard to say much about the film, as giving away too much of the plotting will spoil some of the revelations that occur (which are, believe me, few and far between) as the film develops. Essentially, Brody plays an Iraq war (the first one, the movie isn't quite that prescient, though it did come out right about the time we were getting in over our heads a second time) vet who was shot in the head and lost his memory. Once he is home he is inadvertently swept up in a situation where he again suffers amnesia and is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Being determined mentally unstable, he is sent to a rather ominous asylum where the head doctor (yes, both meanings of "head") begins an experimental treatment regime that is essentially drug addled sensory deprivation. (more…)
26th March
2009
written by Steph
The ghost was in love, but I was more "in like".

The ghost was in love, but I was more "in like".

Twenty pages into reading The Ghost in Love, I realized it was not going to be at all the kind of book I was expecting, but rather than being disappointed by that, I was actually kind of stoked, because even if the book was totally defying my expectations, it was doing it in the best possible way.  I had expected a little bit of the otherworldly – the book does have the word “ghost” in the title after all – but I hadn’t expected it to be quite so fantastical, and also so, well, funny.  For some reason, I thought the book would be more somber and aching in its tone, but the tone was far lighter and wittier than I thought it would be.  Don’t get me wrong, there were moments in which Carroll writes some beautiful descriptions of love and memory and it’s all very lovely, but he’s also got a sense of humor, and I like that too. (more…)
25th March
2009
written by Tony
Is this about Jesus in Australia? Or is this a message to Australia?

Is this about Jesus in Australia? Or is this a message to Australia?

Recently my company did some work for the Nashville Advertising Federation for their 2009 Addy Awards ceremony. Unfortunately for Nashville, there aren't that many agencies, let alone good agencies, doing ad work. Let's just put this in perspective by saying that Bohan Agency won around 50% of the 213 gold and silver Addys awarded. Literally. I designed the artwork placards, so I know. Also, every time the announcer said "Gold Addy Award" we all thought he said "Go Daddy Award" (who knew this was an internet/hepcat event?). Anyway, there were a couple of standouts that both won Gold Addys that I wanted to share (see above, left, for number one) and are the reason I am starting a new category for the blog: the Bad Design Award. I've got nothing against Jesus, he sounds like a nice guy, but why is he in Australia? Why do I need to follow him there? I hope he flew coach, those tickets are pricey. Bring a camera? Or is this supposed to be read as "It all comes back to Jesus: Follow Him Australia" where the message is directed at the country itself? There was a whole campaign of these advertising Jesus doing various things in various countries (and parts of Australia) and not one of them made sense. But the real highlight of the night was this little chestnut: (more…)
24th March
2009
written by Tony
Fare thee well, beast.

Fare thee well, beast.

Yes, we name our cars. So what? Wanna fight about it? Anyway, doesn't everyone name their car? Ahem. It was becoming apparent that getting rid of my former "dream car" was the wise move, based on its declining trade-in value, increasing miles and rather painful repair costs incurred of late. It had new tires and brakes (as well as some other things) so it seemed like the best time to get the most money for it and get into a car that is a little more responsible (in some ways, like gas and maintenance) and a little less... gigantic. I will say this: I did love Urglegrüe, quite a lot actually. She was a blast to drive and was quite possibly the poshest car I'll ever own. So we part ways with a bit of sadness, but also with some happiness, as we love our new car, so, so much. Behold: (more…)
23rd March
2009
written by Steph
Even though I got this one wrong, there was no real surprise in the outcome of this match.  I think it would have been some kind of poetic justice if 2666 and Shadow Country were slated to face off in Round 3, but maybe that would just be cruel and unusual punishment for the judge!  See how it all went down, here. I have to admit that I'm nervous that A Mercy is waiting for me at the local library, and I'm also next in line for Shadow Country AND Netherland, both of which should be returned and set aside for me this week.  When am I going to find the time to read all of these books (Shadow Country alone is probably going to be a mad dash as it is, what with its 800 pages, or whatever obscene amount it is)? Next Up:  A Mercy goes up against My Revolutions.  I'm calling it in favor of A Mercy, but your guess is as good as mine.  It would be nice if at least one female-penned author made it to the semi-finals, right?  At this point, Toni Morrison is the only chance we ladies have got!
22nd March
2009
written by Steph
Pasta alla Vodka

Pasta alla Vodka

Warning!  The following recipe (which I adapted from one posted over at The Pioneer Woman Cooks) is SO good that I cannot be held accountable if you should find yourself eating three times your regular portion size, simply because you can’t bear to stop tasting it, luxuriating in the tangy, creamy, slightly sweet sauce.  This recipe is quick, easy and oh so delicious… but it is quite rich, so while moderation is the key, I defy you to resist going back for seconds… or thirds!  [Simona, I fully expect you to try this recipe.  If anyone can be guaranteed to have vodka on hand, I am betting it is you! 😉 ] Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 – 3 cloves (or tablespoons!) of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of vodka
  • 1 can of tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes, or even tomato sauce)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt & pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes  (they’re HOT, so add as many shakes as your mouth can take… we’re wusses, so I tend to just shake it 2 – 3 times over the pan, and call it a day)
  • ½ tsp of dried tarragon
  • ½ tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan/Romano/Asiago (i.e., firm Italian cheese)
  • lots of pasta… probably the entire package/box (I finished off many boxes, using penne, rigatoni (or was it rotini?), and some spinach-stuffed ravioli)
(more…)
20th March
2009
written by Steph
Brought to you by the UW-Madison MFA program...

Brought to you by the UW-Madison MFA program...

Oh, The Monsters of Templeton… what am I to say about you?  You were one of Amazon’s notable books of 2008 back in February, and I almost bought you at a bookstore in D.C. back in November when I realized my tryst with The Name of the Rose was not meant to be (I haven’t looked back, and still no regrets), and I had such high hopes for you.  Is it my fault you could not meet the expectations I had set out for you?  Maybe.  But I kind of think the onus is mostly on you… The Monsters of Templeton revolves in large part around one Wilhelmina (Willie) Upton who decides that after an ill-fated affair with her married graduate advisor in Alaska goes South that she should too and returns home to Templeton.  Templeton has always been a safe haven for Willie – when the rest of the world is crazy, it’s the one place that is unrelentingly the same.  Only not so much, as a monster much like Nessie has been found floating belly up in Lake Glimmerglass, and her erstwhile hippie mother, Vi, has gone all Born Again on her.  Not to mention the parentage bombshell that rocks her world when Vi tells her that all these years she’s believed her father to be one of three possible men living out in a hippie commune is a complete and utter lie.  In fact, Willie’s real father is actually one of the denizens of Templeton, but it’s up to her to figure out who exactly he is.  Willie is equipped only with the knowledge that, much like Vi & herself, he claims to be descended from the town’s founder, Marmaduke Temple… only there have been several generations of Temples between Willie and Marmaduke, and so she must sift through her family’s history to figure out when the philandering was committed and by whom (Professor Plum in the library with a candlestick?).  Marmaduke Temple already actually has two lines of families sprouting from him on the family tree due to an affair with a slave named Hetty Averell, but might there be another one?  Only Willie can find out!  (Or you know, her mother could have told her who her father is since she does know, but then you wouldn’t have a book, so overlook that.) (more…)
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