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Category Archives: Stephen King

Everybody’s got the right to be different, even though at times they go to extremes.

It should come to no surprise to anyone who’s a regular reader of my blog that I’m one sick and twisted individual. NO I don’t perform kitten-murder. But I am obsessed obsessed OBSESSED with serial killings.

That sounds horrible. My dad says I’m not allowed to tell people that because I’ll be locked up by the FBI.

Let me clarify. I’m not obsessed with them like, I want to PERFORM them, or hang out with someone who IS performing them, or I think there should be MORE of them. I’d be more than happy for there to be none. I’d happily deal with a life where there are no serial killings for me to obsess over, that’d be ok. Because they’re distressing. But I find the whole psychology behind a serial killer fascinating. It’s one of the reasons I like Criminal Minds so much. Well, that and Spencer Reid. And also the acting is wonderful and I want to be Kirsten Vangsness.

I pretty much like all the blood and gore and all that craziness. But not torture porn. Listen, those Saw movies are the worst. And that Hostel movie? ZOMG NO. I watched it because I want to lick Eli Roth like a popsicle, especially after Inglorious Basterds, and NO NO NEVER AGAIN. I don’t need to see nonsense like that. Someone’s EYE was out of the SOCKET and on their CHEEK. Like, hanging out and bobbling along. I almost threw up on Dumbcat. I spent most of the movie covering my eyes and saying “no no no no no EW no no no no WTF WHY no no no STOP THAT RIGHT NOW ELI ROTH YOU SICKO.”

But murders? Yep. I do like a good murder.

And what else do I love? MUSICALS.

What do you get when you put the two together? MY FAVORITE THING EVER.

Now, I think I’ve mentioned this, like, until your ears fall off, but my favorite musical of all time is Assassins. It is the perfect musical. It has it ALL. Music and lyrics are by Stephen Sondheim, who makes me spin around in my chair with glee. There is MURDER. There is HISTORY. There is DRAMA. There is ROMANCE. There are CRAZY PEOPLE. There is nothing at all wrong with this musical. I have seen it live three official times, and have listened to the CDs so much I’ve worn them out and had to re-purchase. I KNOW. It’s my roadtrip music. So someday if you roadtrip with me, you will be listening to Assassins. Won’t that be fun? Sure. Sure it will. IT WILL.

Assassins is about all the presidential assassins in the United States, from John Wilkes Booth to the attempted assassinations of Ronald Reagan. It’s this weird construct where they’re all hanging out and interacting, and then each of them have a story and a song, and it all culminates in the Texas School Book Depository, where John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald have a talk about responsibility and duty and making a name for oneself in the world. It’s grand and it’s majestic and it makes excellent points and it is just about perfection. ALSO, it stars the character of Squeaky Fromme, one of my most favorite crazy people. One of my favorite theater groups is putting it on this season, and I can’t say I’m not the most excited. Because that would be a LIE.

The original musical starred Victor Garber and Terrance Mann and Annie Golden and Greg Germann and a lot of other excellent people. The recent revival (SIGH that I missed this) starred Neil Patrick Harris, Denis O’Hare, and Mario Cantone, again with a lot of other excellent people. Both albums are worth buying because the music is wonderful and different on both, although the same basic bones are there.

There aren’t many clips online, but here’s one of the finale number, “Everybody’s Got the Right,” from the 2004 Tony Awards:

Aw, look at adorable NPH! I really hope he realizes we can be BFFs soon. We’re wasting a lot of time, here. Neither of us are getting any younger.

So, a while ago, my most wonderful friend Patrick and I were discussing our mutual love of Assassins, and he mentioned that Carrie the Musical was FINALLY GETTING A REVIVAL. Now THIS was exciting. Another combination of things I love: death, Stephen King, and musicals.

It’s closing in a couple of weeks, but here’s the website. Doesn’t this look EXCITING? Also, I like that the music is by Michael Gore. Michael GORE, you guys. For a musical about BLOODINESS. That couldn’t be a better name for the person to write the music for this if he made one UP.

The musical seems, other than a few minor differences, to be very similar to the book. I would like to see this very much. DO YOU HEAR ME, LOCAL THEATER GROUPS? VERY DAMN MUCH.

I found a video of the pig’s-blood-dumping scene on YouTube and I’d post it but A., what kind of jackass films something all illegally in a theater? RUDE and B. they filmed it WITH SOMEONE’S HEAD IN THE WAY. So not ONLY did you do something ILLEGAL, you did it HALF-ASSED. I’m not posting that. YES I watched it, shut up. It’s the closest I’ll ever come, probably, to my dream show of CARRIE THE MUSICAL.

Then Patrick, because he is AWESOME, said, “oh, there are other killer musicals” and sent me A WHOLE LIST of them. I know, right? You WISH you had friends that would send you lists of killer musicals.

So, we have the Silence of the Lambs musical! It is called Silence! The Musical. It seems to be a parody, so that can’t be fun or good. Look what the website says: “This laugh-out-loud naughty satire features a singing chorus of floppy eared lambs narrating the action as Buffalo Bill gleefully dances a hoedown while kidnapping hapless Catherine Martin. Even Dr. Lecter, scary as ever, sings about the life he’d like to lead someday outside the prison walls.”

Oh, that’s a shame. Really? I don’t know about that. Are the lambs puppets? There’s a HOEDOWN? I kind of don’t mind the idea of a hoedown. I mean, who does. A good hoedown is kind of awesomesauce. But I think this whole thing might be ill-advised. Let’s move on, shall we?

There of course is Sweeney Todd, which is another Sondheim musical. You all know Sweeney Todd. We’ve discussed this. Johnny Depp was in the movie. Murderous barber? Heart set on revenge? Slits people’s throats as he’s supposed to be shaving them, and then he and Mrs. Lovett cook them into meat pies, which they then serve to unsuspecting patrons of her meat pie establishment? It is AWESOME. Also, the song “Have a Little Priest” is one of the best songs ever. It’s about who they should murder and cook and serve. One of the lines is “The trouble with poet is how do you know it’s deceased? Try the priest.” COME ON. That is SO FUNNY and CLEVER. Look at that rhyme scheme! It makes you absolutely salivate.

Then there is Theatre of Blood. This apparently was a British production, based on a Vincent Price film, that never got off the ground. Here’s the description from IMDb of the movie: A serial killer stalks London, targeting theater critics who he kills in methods inspired by Shakespeare plays. The police grow to suspect the killer is Edward Lionheart, an egotistical actor who leaped to his presumed death after being denied an important award, mainly due to his refusing to appear in any play not written by Shakespeare. The remaining critics and the police find themselves helpless to stop Lionheart’s increasingly baroque revenge, though they contact his daughter in a desperate attempt to find something they can use against him. Everything builds to a reenactment of King Lear in which Lionheart will succeed or die once and for all.

Shit, I would watch that. That sounds like it has a LOT going ON. Also, there’s Shakespeare. It all sounds very meta. I’m in.

There’s totally a song called “Pie.” Oh, snap! You can LISTEN to it! YOU GUYS. It is a LOVE SONG TO PIE. By someone who sounds like they have the fake French accent from The Little Mermaid of the song “Les Poissons!” THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER. Seriously, click on that. CLICK ON IT.

Then, of course: Jeffrey Dahmer Live, the infamous musical that adorable guy took that internet douche girl from Gizmodo to and she blasted him all over the internet for it that time. The musical that, if someone took ME to it, it’d be like GUARANTEED third base, at LEAST. It’s not playing anymore but maybe someday someone will think it’s a good idea to take this shit on tour, I can only hope. I mean, LOOK. Here’s Jeffrey Dahmer SINGING INTO A CLEAVER. While WEARING PRISON GARB. I mean, don’t ask how he got a cleaver in prison, because that’ll hurt your brain, probably, but you can’t deny this is pretty awesome.

Then I found out Duncan Sheik – the brilliant mind behind my favorite recent musical, Spring Awakening – is doing a musical version of American Psycho. DUNCAN EFFING SHEIK. It seems to be still in the early stages? But if it’s anything like Spring Awakening, which was just so mind-blowingly amazing that I was bouncing in my theater seat and ran out IMMEDIATELY and bought the cast recording and have listened to it so many times I know all the songs backward and forward now – I’ll totally be excited to see this.

But then. THEN. Are you ready for the possibly both best AND worst of them ALL? Patrick found this for me. He’s the best. He might have the best killer musical Google-fu.

Lonely Heart the Musical.

This is possibly only in New Zealand and is based on the honeymoon killers, who I didn’t know about (I KNOW! And here’s me loving crazies and serial killers!) until I started reading up on this.

Apparently, this sad woman wrote to this Lonely Heart column in the paper, and their job was to match people up and they’d start this correspondence and maybe fall in love. It was internet dating, pre-internet, in other words, only people were VERY embarrassed about it. So they matched her up with this guy. Only problem was, the two of them were INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE, you guys. She was a looney tune and he had been traveling the country for years scamming other lonely-heart ladies. It was only a matter of time before she moved across the country and in with him, and they started this two-person grifting scheme where they’d pretend to be brother and sister, and he’d marry other women and scam them. Only she’d get totally jealous when he would have sex with his new wives. SO THEY STARTED MURDERING THEM.

There are some awesome quotes in that True Crime link up there. Martha, the woman: “By the age of 10, she possessed a woman’s body and the sexual drive of an adult.” BY THE AGE OF TEN. I don’t know if this is a thing. I think someone made this up. Also, the man thought he was a voodoo king and could use his powers to make woman do his bidding, apparently. “After Fernandez built up enough anticipation in Martha and he performed the necessary voodoo ritual, he decided that the time had come for the meeting.”

Other awesome quotes:

“This was a major stumbling block in his career of theft and deception.” (I just like how this is worded. It makes me laugh.)

“But in their haste, they made a pivotal error. Janet did not own a typewriter and couldn’t type.” (DUN DUN DUNNNN! They wrote a suicide note from someone who DIDN’T TYPE or HAVE A TYPEWRITER IN HER HOUSE. Um.)

‘”The electric chair scares me!” Martha said.’ (Yeah. Yeah, it’s a little daunting, Martha. You know what else is? BEING MURDERED BY YOUR NEW HUSBAND AND HIS “SISTER.”)

“The papers called her “fat,” “simpering,” “Big Martha,” “a 200 lb. figure of wrath,” “the giggling divorcee,” “unattractive,” “a weird woman,” and other humiliating terms.” (My favorite of these is “a weird woman.” I’m totally a weird woman. I also like “a 200 lb. FIGURE OF WRATH.”)

There have been a couple of movies based on this story. Guess who played this short, kind of dumpy, sad, and lonely murderess in one of them. Guess. No, guess. Wait, I’ll show you.

Yep. I knew you’d guess it, because it’s so obvious. Horrendously ugly, fat, lonely Selma Hayek. TOTALLY BELIEVABLE CASTING!

So in this musical, which even *I* don’t think is probably a very good idea, and listen, my standards on killer musicals are LOW LOW LOW, I’d watch Dahmer singing into a CLEAVER, has closed now. The reviews I read were actually quite good. So maybe it was alright? I mean, who would have thought a musical with all of the presidential assassins would end up the favorite musical of ALL TIME of this crazy-eyed blogger when she was just a wee little thing singing along with Bert and Ernie and Snuffleupagus? Not me, that’s for sure. So, yes, I’d watch the Lonely Heart musical. FINE. If you INSIST. (On a personal note, it seems like one of those grassroots theater efforts, like, the writers worked really hard to get it off the ground, and people all pitched in, and I love to see that. So congratulations, all.)

So what did we learn today?

MURDEROUS MUSICALS ARE AWESOME.

Amy’s pretty twisted when it comes to her entertainment choices.

Hostel is not something anyone should watch EVER. *shudder*

Not all weird women murder people. Some just WRITE about it.

And Carrie the Musical needs to go on tour IMMEDIATELY.

Here is a picture of NPH all bloody in Assassins to end on a good note. I know that might not be a good note for most of you, but for me? UTTER PERFECTION.

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Work is what you do for others, liebchen. Art is what you do for yourself.

We haven’t had random crap day in a while. Did you totally miss it? Probably not, it’s pretty disjointed. TOO BAD CHARLIE. You’re getting it ANYWAY. Who’s Charlie? I don’t know. My dad used to randomly say Charlie when I was little so I say it now. It’s a thing. I DON’T HAVE TO EXPLAIN MY CHOICES TO YOU.

My internal time clock is all off this week because I’m attempting to be one day ahead with my posts because I know how busy I am this week. So when I write “today” I have to be sure I’m really meaning “today” and not “tomorrow” or “yesterday.” It’s totally like writing from the past. Or the future. I don’t know how time travelers do it, I really don’t. Poor Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap. If he blogged it would have been a mess. Oh boy.

Stephen Sondheim. STEPHEN EFFING SONDHEIM.

Doesn't he look like we could totally be BFFs? YES.

So the other night, I checked my feed reader (can I just give some love to my phone’s feed reader? I don’t have to ask your permission. I’M GOING TO. I mean, it’s buggy as hell and keeps shit unread that I’ve totally read but how much do I love that no matter where I am or what I’m doing, every hour, whatever blogs have been published pop up like magic on my phone, ready for my perusal when I am ready to read them? It’s the best, seriously) and All Over Albany (I totally am like their biggest cheerleader this week, rah, rah) had published a post so I was all “la la la what’s this” and I clicked and then I seriously died, then I revived, only to die AGAIN.

STEPHEN EFFING SONDHEIM IS COMING TO THE CAPITAL REGION IN SEPTEMBER.

OK, now, you probably know who Stephen Sondheim is. But you might not. I mean, you might not be a musical theater person. That’s fine. Well, no. It’s not FINE. It’s totally sad and what’s wrong with you, honestly. But I get it, not everyone knows who Stephen Sondheim is.

Stephen Sondheim is the Tony, Oscar, Pulitzer, and Grammy-award-winning composer and lyricist for such brilliant works of musical theater such as Sweeney Todd (see? You’ve heard of Sweeney Todd. I mean, come on. It was a movie. Johnny Depp was in the movie. YOU’VE HEARD OF JOHNNY DEPP YOU GUYS), West Side Story, Into the Woods, Company, Sunday in the Park with George, Gypsy, and, the musical that changed my entire life and made me love musicals more than anything in the entire world and remains, to this day, even though I’ve seen, and I’m not even exaggerating, probably at least 100 musicals over my lifetime, Assassins. He wrote a MUSICAL about REAL-LIFE PRESIDENTIAL ASSASSINS. And it is AWESOME. I’m not even kidding. NPH was in the revival recently. You’d love it, I’m serious. He’s also a wonderful author and wrote two annotated books about his works, Finishing the Hat and Look, I Made a Hat which have all the lyrics to all of his musicals, plus stories about his life in theater, his thought processes behind writing, and photos of the productions, which make a musical theater nut such as myself kind of squee all over when she reads them.

He’s also quite elderly (82 in March!), so the sheer fact that he’s coming to town is really the most awesome thing EVER. I have a list of people I want to see speak before I die. I’ve seen one of them – Kevin Smith (as mentioned, I actually got to meet him and geeked out embarrassingly) – and never, ever imagined I’d ever get to see the others. Stephen Sondheim is ON THE LIST. ON THE LIST, you guys. And the list is three people long. So really, if I get to see Stephen Sondheim in September, all I have to do is figure out how to finagle my way into seeing Stephen King someday and then I guess I can die? That’ll be nice, I could use the rest. I’m totally exhausted.

This is such recent news that the HVCC website doesn’t even have anything about it yet. And All Over Albany says that HVCC students (that’s Hudson Valley Community College, sorry, I’m kind of the most excited so not being explainy enough) get first dibs on tickets. What if they buy ALL the tickets? I don’t want to have to mug a community college student in a dark alley for their Sondheim ticket, but I’m saying right now I totally would if I had to. I TOTALLY WOULD. And I would use jazz-hands. I mean, if you’re mugging someone for their ticket to see the god of musical theater you have to mug them using musical theater dance moves. It’s a given.

So I really think it’s in everyone’s best interest if they just let me buy a ticket as soon as they go on sale, to ensure the safety of their student body. Thanks in advance.

The fun of live theater is that it’s LIVE.

This is totally me in the light booth at my theater, only female. And without an afro. And we can't afford a monitor, even one like this that seems to be from the 80s.

So we’re in tech week for Rumors this week. We had tech on Sunday, we had our first dress rehearsal Monday, then another last night, then tonight is the pay-what-you-will preview, which is also our final dress rehearsal. It’s coming together beautifully, and the show’s going to be great. Lots of laughs. Everyone’s going to be pleased. I’m proud of the cast and crew. It’s been a great experience so far, and listen, I’ve worked on a lot of shitstorms, let me tell you, so I know when something’s a good experience. All is well, my little boysenberries!

Except I totally effed up like every single cue in Act One on Monday.

I feel bad for the director, who is my lovely friend K. and sometimes we start giggling about shit because we can read each other’s facial expressions like we’re talking when we’re not even talking, like from across a damn ROOM, it is awesome. It’ll be fine when we have an audience, but I’m sure it’s not engendering a lot of confidence in my skills that I didn’t seem to be able to get a single cue right the whole first act.

First, instead of a phone ringing, I had a buzzer. This wasn’t 100% my fault, as the sound designer, who I love like a crazy person (LOVE YOU A.!) had been fixing the sound cues because on tech day, there was something wrong with the buzzer sound, and so he re-recorded it so it didn’t sound like a joy buzzer underwater and sounded like an actual intercom buzzer. But he accidentally inserted it into the list of cues where my phone ringing cue should be, and it was labeled “office phone buzzer” so I wasn’t sure – was this going to be a phone ringing, or a buzzer? Should I play it? Was it going to be right? A. wouldn’t lead me astray, would he? So I played it. Yep. Buzzing instead of ringing. The actors were awesome and pretended it was a phone ringing and now I know better but that was kind of embarrassing.

Also, it’s the first show I’m running from a laptop. Now, I’m getting a laptop for my own personal blogging uses soon, so I really should figure out how to USE a laptop. It’s like learning a new skill for me.  I kind of feel like a cavewoman mastering fire. THIS SHOULD NOT BE THIS DIFFICULT. Listen, THE MOUSE IS A PAD NOT A MOUSE. This is worrisome. And sometimes I click on things and it’s not clicky. And sometimes I just get overall confused by the setup. But! I soldier on. Because dammit I refuse to be conquered by a laptop. I mean, CHILDREN can use laptops. I’m a grown-ass WOMAN. I can figure this shit out.

Then I was supposed to make headlights happen so people could say, “I think a car is pulling up!” but I didn’t hear the cue line where I was supposed to walk over to the light board to get READY to do that so by the time I realized I was supposed to be over there, that had already come and gone. Embarrassing.

Also, the intercom system shit the bed about 10 minutes before the show, so when I gave them places, they didn’t hear me, and when we started the show, no one came out on stage, and they were all, “We didn’t know it was time to start the show” and then the whole show was thrown off because of the stupid intercom system.

It was kind of a gigantic mess.

In better news, last night it went much better, with only a couple little tweaks for me to make for the audience we’ll have tonight. WHEW. I’m sure K. is not as freaked out as she was when she left the theater Monday thinking “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH AMY.” I don’t know. I was broken, I guess. It happens. ALL IS WELL NOW.

I’d be just about the best pimp. I’d rock a cane and big sexy velvet hat.

Alan Rickman, I love you truly, madly, AND deeply.

Just a quick pimp of something I wrote elsewhere in case you haven’t already read it – here’s my Reading Rage Tuesday article over at Insatiable Booksluts: How to Ruin Your Young Adult Fantasy Novel. People seem to have enjoyed it, and we’re having lively discussion. Some of this discussion is Twilight-bashy, and if you like Twilight, I apologize. I have officially stopped Twilight-bashing on that post, or even DISCUSSING Twilight on that post, because it was getting a lot like a political discussion with my dad and arguey and “I am right” and “NO I AM” and that makes me nervous and rock in the corner and I LIKE THINGS TO NOT BE LIKE THAT. I do so try not to bash people for their taste in literature, I really do, and try to just be happy they read at all? Twilight just makes me so irrationally upset. I’ll stop now before my head explodes. WAIT ONE MORE THING. I will just say, I can recommend you a number of other series you might like better than Twilight, if you’d like? I’d be happy to do that. Just let me know. I feel like it’s a public service I’d be doing, honestly. ALL FOR YOU DAMIEN.

I’m totally going to win German

As soon as I learn German, I'm sure I'll be sending out awesome cards JUST LIKE THIS ONE.

So Ken’s going to teach me German, so look out Germany, because I’m going to win your language.

OK, so maybe he didn’t really SAY he was going to teach me to SPEAK German, but I like to make shit up and also exaggerate for effect. He IS going to teach me random German WORDS and PHRASES. I’m very excited about this project.

SO FAR, I have learned the words for “gravestone” and “jelly doughnut” (“grabstein” and “krapfen,” Andreas taught me the jelly doughnut one VIA Ken, and aren’t they the most awesome words? Grabstein. Hee! And krapfen! I LOVE GERMAN) and how to ask for more mustard (“Ich will mehr Senf” which probably won’t come in the MOST handy since I don’t dig mustard all that much, but it’s a start) and an awesome phrase that I’m totally in love with – “Eine Krähe sticht der anderen kein Auge aus” – which means “One doesn’t peck out the eyes of a fellow crow,” how much does THAT rock as a phrase? the most, is how much – and from my dad’s time in Germany I know the word “scheiße” which I like to use because it’s naughty, and from being a musical theater nerd I know “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” which is A Little Night Music (ahem, ANOTHER SONDHEIM MUSICAL.)  Also, I’m in love with that squiggly-thing up there which I believe indicates two ss’s. Let’s look up what that’s called. Wikipedia tells me it is either called a “Eszett” or a “scharfes S.” I love both of those names. KEN. I suggest we work on this word next: “eichhoernchen.” This means SQUIRREL. Have you ever seen a more consonant-laden word in your LIFE? I am madly in love with it.

So it is only a matter of time before I am totally fluent in German, just like I am in French if by “fluent” you mean “I can say about fifty words and understand the alphabet if its spoken slowly”, and can say such amazing phrases as “Help! My grapefruit is on fire in the library!” which is a TOTALLY HANDY FRENCH PHRASE. I can also say “Stop! I don’t like bread!” in French. Which isn’t true, I love bread, who doesn’t love BREAD? but I can SAY it, so that’s kind of exciting, right? Ladies and gentlemen, 7 years of French education at work!

But Ken! I have to learn to SOUND German. Germans always sound very gruff. I assume even when they’re talking about rainbow kitten unicorns. We’re going to have to figure out a way for me to sound gruff. Mostly when you talk to me I sound like a cartoon character on speed so this might be an issue.

OK. That is a lot of random crap, and I think you’re all on crap overload, so I’ll stop now. Send out break-a-leg vibes to my gorgeous cast, have a wonderful shiny happy Thursday, and vermeiden Sie rasende Vielfrass. Babelfish tells me this is a VALID TRANSLATION. Except when I translated it BACK from German to English, it said it translated to “avoid racing much-ate.” Which is SO FUNNY TO ME that I totally spit-took. FINE. This is SUPPOSED to say, “avoid rabid wolverines.” I’m pretty sure I’m not winning German yet. GIVE ME TIME SHEESH I JUST STARTED. (Also, Ken, what’s up with the random capital letters in German? Or is that not really a thing and I shouldn’t be doing it? SO MUCH TO LEARN!)

HAPPY THURSDAY!!!

(Psst, the title is a Sondheim lyric quote – from Sunday in the Park with George – AND has some German in it. And relates to both my work at the theater and my writing for the blog. So THEREFORE, it ties in to ALL FOUR OF MY TOPICS TODAY. Are you suitably blown away? Yeah, I thought you might be.)


Upside: less likely to break your heart. Downside: so many papercuts, damn.

It’s come up a lot over the past few days who your top literary boyfriends are. First, Mandy blogged about it, and she and I have some similarities, because we are both awesome, of course. Then @nikkisticks and @thebooksluts both mentioned it on Twitter, and I’d link you to their tweets about it, but I STILL don’t have new Twitter (seriously, Twitter, I’m starting to feel like the last wallflower at the dance, here, what the hell? PICK ME DAMMIT I WORE MY PRETTIEST DRESS AND I’M TOTALLY SLUTTY) so they wouldn’t look right copy/pasted in. So I thought, you know what everyone loves? Literary boyfriends. They are HOT right now. They are the HOT THING.

Then Susie and I were talking about how we feel bad having literary crushes on characters who are in happy relationships. I’m in agreement with this. This is why when I go into a happy reverie about my literary boyfriends, I kill off their significant others. NICELY. I mean, I don’t have them PSYCHOKILLED or anything. Sheesh. Something nice. Like a nice cancer! Or whatever. Then they are free to be MY literary boyfriend, and we’re all happy. Well, probably the dead wife or girlfriend isn’t happy, but they’re dead, so their happiness is really inconsequential, now, isn’t it?

So, without further ado: my list of literary boyfriends. I looked online and a couple of these are, like, NO ONE’S literary boyfriends. So that means I get them all to myself, right? Right. Or it might mean I’m broken. Hard to say.

This is in reverse order. I’m saving the best for last. As you do.

Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I know he's bad for me. But look at him. How can you resist that?

I’m allowed one abusive, emo boyfriend, right? Right.

Listen, I’ve had a crush on psychopath Heathcliff since I was 13. I can’t leave him off. Even though I KNOW he’s bad news. So dark! So broody! So single-minded in his love for Catherine! So proud! So…um, yeah, kind of an abusive ass. I get that. I do. BUT HE LOVED HER SO MUCH YOU GUYS.

I know. I’m not overly proud of this one. All I can say is, I met Heathcliff at a very impressionable age when I thought “dark and twisty” equaled “good boyfriend material” and it’s warped me forevermore. Let’s just move on, shall we?

Steve Finn – Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite

They never made a movie. I know. It's one of my great regrets of the '90s. Here's the book cover.

Steve Finn is real in a book full of unreality. He’s messed up and he’s a little broken and he tries really, really hard to do the right thing, and he fails, sometimes, but he’s honest, and he’s proud, and he’s loyal to a fault. I’ve read this book more than a dozen times since I bought it before a long bus trip, spur of the moment, and every time, it’s like coming home to Steve. I want things to go well for him, just once. I want him to get the girl, to live a nice, if somewhat unremarkable life in the South, singing in bars, coming home to Ann. If he can’t have that, well, I’ll take him in. Hell, I like musicians.

Inigo Montoya – The Princess Bride by William Golding

I do like a saucy Spaniard who's good with his...sword. WHAT. What did you think I was going to say? You have a dirty mind.

I like how single-minded in his revenge plot Inigo is. I like how driven and loyal he is. I like how scrappy and serious he is. I like how courtly and regal he is. And, YES, it doesn’t hurt at ALL that he’s played by Mandy Patinkin in the movie. But he’s my BOOK boyfriend. And if you haven’t read the book, do yourself a favor and pick it up? You’ll be surprised, but it’s EVEN BETTER THAN THE MOVIE. And the movie’s fantastic. Go, go. But hands off Inigo. He’s mine.

Richie Tozier – It by Stephen King

Best TV movie casting ever. Total crush on both of these guys.

This isn’t creepy because I read this book for the first time when I was thirteen. So it’s totally not creepy pedophile time at all.

Listen, I have always been in love with the class clown. There is nothing, nothing, NOTHING sexier than the smart guy who can make me laugh. NOTHING. Seriously. First guy I ever had a crush on in the history of me? Class clown. Most disastrous relationships I’ve been in? The guy wasn’t funny, but I thought, “eh, maybe it’s not as important as I thought it was.” NO. It is TOTALLY important.

It also doesn’t hurt that Richie’s a ginger. Add ginger into class clown and intelligent? Total swoon-fest, sincerely.

SIDE NOTE: Mandy picked Bill from the same book, so we’ve decided we’re going to go on book double dates to the soda fountain. Awesome!

Gilbert Blythe – Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Remember when he called Anne "carrots?" Aw.

This is one of the book-boyfriends I feel badly about stealing from his lady. Because Anne and Gilbert were so damn perfect together! But Gilbert Blythe! One of my first book boyfriends! He was so in love with Anne! And he respected her BRAIN, you guys! He never wanted her to be a stupid, simpering idiot! He LIKED that she was intelligent, even back in the day when women weren’t encouraged to be intelligent!

A couple of years ago, I got to see Jonathan Crombie in a musical? And seriously, I almost DIED. I was in the same ROOM. As the guy who played GILBERT BLYTHE. I mean, I was pretty far away, so I could barely see him, but he totally sounded like Gilbert. Little pre-teen crushing Amy would have been SO PROUD of her adult-self!

Jaime Lannister – A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin

SHUT RIGHT UP. He is DELICIOUS.

Very few people had Jaime Lannister on their lists when I was scouring lists online. I assume this is because (spoiler alert, kind of, but if you haven’t read the first book or seen the miniseries yet, you probably should get on that, April first is coming quickly) he slept with his sister? Listen, I’m going to give you ANOTHER spoiler alert, but it’s sort of minor. You will, I guarantee you, see Jaime in a different light by the third book. Now, with the way Martin treats his characters, I can’t guarantee you that by the fourth book Jaime’s not eating puppy brains, or something, but I don’t know if it’ll matter. I am HEAD OVER HEELS for Jaime right now, damn. Also, the casting in the miniseries did not hurt one teeny tiny bit. Gulp.

Nick Andros – The Stand by Stephen King

I am...not in love with this casting choice. You take what you can get, I guess.

Nick, and his tortuously lonely backstory and his pride and his intelligence and his bravery and his delight at finally being accepted into a group and then his inevitable sacrifice – ugh. KILLED ME. Mostly because he was totally my book boyfriend pretty much from the get-go. Sure, there are some excellent characters in the book, don’t get me wrong. But it’s all about Nick and his black curls and his laughing eyes and his quick hands. None of which the miniseries got right, dammit.

Tyrion Lannister – A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin

I like this one because he looks HAPPY. I could make Tyrion happy.

You know he won me over when he said “I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things,” right? Because I love all of those things? And then he sealed it with his “A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”

I love that Tyrion keeps his head about him, even though everyone has counted him out and are, for the most part, laughing at him. I love his intelligence and his humor and his curiosity and the fact that he’s usually one step ahead of everyone else in the room and no one even has a guess. I love how bawdy and ribald he is. I love how deeply emotional he is. Also, it doesn’t hurt that he’s played by Peter Dinklage, who is just a handsome, handsome man. I can’t wait to see what he does with Season Two.

Aloysius Pendergast – The Pendergast novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

You have to use your IMAGINATION, yahoos.

OK, so after all my blathering and blah-blah-blah on and on and ON about it, you’ve all watched the BBC’s Sherlock and you’re in love, right?

Pendergast is the American BBC Sherlock.

He’s quiet and he’s brilliant and he’s kind of a recluse and no one really knows him and he solves these crimes no 0ne else can solve and he has this one great love, and one best friend, and oh, also, he’s SOUTHERN. And TALL. And BLONDE. And well-read, and intelligent, and…oh, sorry, think I might have been drooling a little. Sorry about that.

One of these books was made into a movie. THEY CUT HIS CHARACTER OUT. Yeah, I don’t know, either. Tom Sizemore was in the movie. I think it was pre-Celebrity Rehab. Probably best they left my man out.

Jamie Fraser – The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

Sorry. I want a movie, too. SO BADLY. You have NO IDEA.

So I hate romances? Like, with a fiery passion? I mean, I don’t mind some romance in a book I’m reading. But I won’t read a straight romance novel, because they make me itchy and bitter and are usually written so badly it makes me want to scream.

Nope. Read this series, please. Because, Jamie Fraser. Who is my #1 of all time book boyfriend. Scottish. Tall. Ginger. Gentlemanly. Multi-lingual. Intelligent. Protective. Funny. Loving. Hard-working. Proud. TOTALLY THE SEXIEST YO.

Also, the sex scenes are so steamy and well-written you will totally blush WHILE YOU ARE IN YOUR LUNCHROOM, WITH OTHERS and that’s not at all awkward and weird AT ALL NOPE. Seriously. SO GOOD.

And yeah, I feel a little bad stealing Jamie from his wife, who he’s spent all this TIME and EFFORT getting back together with considering she’s from the future and all. But LISTEN. He is MY Scottish Highlander. I’ll totally fight Claire for him, no joke. WHEN AND WHERE, CLAIRE.

Happy Saturday! May your book-boyfriends (and/or girlfriends – I have three of these, too – Lyra Silvertongue from the His Dark Materials trilogy, Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the sequels, and Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, only I don’t so much want to make out with them but be their BFF and kick all the ass with them) treat you well!


“On this show, they solve murders real good.”

It’s Friday and I’m a frazzled human. Tax deadlines! Unruly hair times a million! All the filing! Listen, our office decided to go paperless a couple of years ago, which means I have to scan like every single piece of paper that comes into the office? And I’m sure Al Gore is all yay, Amy’s office? So you’d THINK that means there’d be less filing. NOSIREE BUB. There’s still hours of filing. And it isn’t ameliorated by the fact I put it off for days and days because I hate it like fire. LIKE FIRE. I always get some sort of super-spurty papercut when I file, it’s like a proven fact. Then I’m all “who has a Bandaid” and no one ever has a Bandaid and they’re all “boy you sure are bleeding” and I’m like “YES WOULDN’T BANDAIDS BE HANDY” and they just laugh. WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING I COULD BE DYING RIGHT NOW.

Also they’re painting our office right now. Which would be nice? Because the walls are currently a color that I’m sure someone sold them as “salmon” but really reads as “Pepto-Bismol”? But guess what color they chose. PUTTY. Could anything be more depressing than that? Only accountants would think that a better wall color choice than Pepto-Bismol pink is greige. They’ve actually had NUMEROUS meetings about this, and I heard one of them say, “I don’t know, that seems like a really bold color choice.” IT IS PUTTY COLORED. The only thing LESS daring would be to have the walls painted INVISIBLE colored.

So anyway, right now they seem to be in the “making a mess and prepping” stage where they putty all the holes we put in the walls (while tutting at us – no, seriously, the painters are going “tut!” while puttying over the holes, like we’ve personally offended them by putting up our calendars with tacks) and last night they pulled off all the baseboards for no apparent reason so the place is filled with what I’m sure is dangerous plaster dust and looks like rats were industrious while we were sleeping last night. Also, we’re all sneezing non-stop. So I’m pretty sure we’re all dying of black lung, right? Or maybe tuberculosis. Does that make me a lunger like Doc Holliday in Tombstone? Because if I could quip like him, that’d be alright. I embarrassingly love that movie more than almost anything. Like, it’s in my top ten. I KNOW SHUT UP. Also, in order to get in and out of my office today, I have no choice but to WALK UNDER A LADDER. I’m just waiting for them to tell me I also have to smash a mirror and for a black cat to come careening across my path to make this day totally break all the rules of luck.

ANYWAY! You totally get random crap Friday; I don’t have the brain power for anything else.

LeRoy hits the big time, baby! 

Remember I talked about the Crucible teens in the town where they claimed to have made Rough on Rats but probably that was a lie? WELL, my father informed me last night that Erin Brockovich is now launching an investigation into this, so apparently she doesn’t think it’s mass hysteria.

Now, my dad gets all his news from Fox News, so I always have to research things for myself to see if they’re actually true or not (I don’t even want to go into what happened the time Stephen King got into a fight with my dad’s hero Glenn Beck; let’s just leave it at there are certain things my father and I don’t discuss, because we love each other and they tend to get us very red-in-the-face and screamy, and most politics are on that list.) So I of course researched it and lo and behold! It is/TRUE!

Apparently there was a toxic chemical spill 40 years ago in LeRoy and this has Erin Brockovich all in Scooby-Doo mode. Guess what was spilled there? No, not arsenic. I know, I was so hoping there was a Rough on Rats correlation. Cyanide. What the hell’s going ON in LeRoy? Also, a BOY is now experiencing the mass hysteria symptoms. Aw, he didn’t want to be left out! Affirmative action mass hysteria, you guys!

I guess this is a big deal? I don’t remember a lot about that movie. I find Julia Roberts distracting. Too many teeth. So much hair. And her boobs were all sticking out for the whole movie. Mostly I was just watching it for Aaron Eckhart. SIGH. I love him like a crazy person. LOOK HOW HOT.

I would climb him like a damn tree.

I love him so much that even when he was being an asshat in In the Company of Men I adored him. Even as TWO FACE I adored him. Love, love, love.

Yeah, so anyway, I suppose now that Erin Brockovich is involved this is going to be a big old deal. I don’t know. I still think it’s shady and probably false.

Why my father is the funniest person I know

So my dad’s back from Florida. His plane got in last night. Here are some things he told me on the phone last night.

“Your uncle made us watch NCIS every single night while we were in Florida. Do you know why? Because he said ‘On this show, they solve murders real good.’ I told him that it’s just a show and they aren’t real murders and he started talking about DNA but I ignored him. Also, one of the actresses slept in a coffin. That seems like it would be uncomfortable.”

“I tried to watch Fox News when I was in one of the hotels but the channel it was supposed to be on was ESPN even though the channel guide CLEARLY STATED it was supposed to be Fox News. See? And you always say there isn’t a government conspiracy against Fox News.”

“We stayed in some hotels that I wouldn’t recommend you look in the corners of. Also, your uncle thinks there might have been bedbugs. I told him that we weren’t itching, so we’re probably ok, but he’s still planning on leaving his luggage outside in the snow overnight. I guess that kills bedbugs. He saw it on 20/20.”

“There was a good breakfast at the last hotel we stayed at but I didn’t eat anything in case I had to go to the bathroom on the plane. There were even sausages. But I didn’t eat any. Listen, you never want to go to the bathroom on a plane. Those bathrooms are really small and uncomfortable. You can barely turn around in there. I’m really dehydrated right now, though. I haven’t had anything to drink in like 24 hours.”

These things might not crack up anyone but me. Seriously, I was dying. It was like this one-man travelogue of awesome complaints of weirdness. I think he should write a book.

Could have DIED

So yesterday we had like a teeny, tiny bit of snow. Almost no snow. And so I drove home like a native New Yorker might – normally. Cautiously, but not, like, 12 miles per hour or anything. It wasn’t that bad out. There was about an inch of snow on the ground, and it was kind of slushy. That’s it.

BUT, since I had no food in the house but eggs and pasta and I was not HUNGRY for either of those things and I got paid yesterday (YES, some of us are SO POOR we have to wait til PAYDAY to grocery shop, I know, isn’t the economy grand?) I had to go grocery shopping, even though it was ZOMG LOOK OUT snowing.

So I did, then I drove home in the slightly snowy slushy conditions that were making people drive like it was a blizzard and I will, if I heavens-forefend live to be 100, never understand that.

Then I had to get my mail. My mail doesn’t come to my home; I have to go to the mailroom to pick it up. Because I am FANCY. So I pulled into the office parking lot AND TOTALLY WENT OFF THE DRIVEWAY ONTO THE GRASS.

The car did not stop! I was going about 10 miles per hour at that point and it wasn’t even that slippery out, I don’t know how there was ONE slippery spot in the entire WORLD and I found it, but yeah, I turned left, the car went right. And there was totally a signpost right there that the car was about to smack into. So I was all “shit shit SHIT SHIT” and then the car just stopped about an inch from the sign.

COULD HAVE TOTALLY DIED.

OK, probably not at all died but I could have scratched the shit out of my car.

I seriously have the worst luck when there’s like no snow on the ground, I have no idea what’s up with that. The other time I went off the road and hit a sign was in similar conditions. And that time I was also going very slow because I was coming up to a stop sign. Which I hit. It was either hit that or the car in front of me, and I didn’t think the stop sign would have asked for my insurance card and made me wait in the weather for a cop. I CHOSE WELL GRASSHOPPER.

When I told my dad I could have died he said, “You know, I sometimes get the feeling you might exaggerate for effect.” WHAT? NO NOT ME. I AM APPALLED AT THAT ACCUSATION GOOD SIR.

Come see me! IN PERSON!

My show opens in two weeks!

Look! PRETTY POSTER!

February 10-26, Fridays and Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 3, pay-what-you-will preview February 9 at 8. Tickets are $15, but if you are a state or government employee, they’re buy one get one free, or if you’re a student, they’re $10, or if you have an Entertainment book, they’re buy one get one on Sundays. Best deal in town! Neil Simon! Lots of comedy! People acting like looneys in evening wear! Adult beverage consumption onstage! Many doors being opened and closed! My awesome friend directed it and I love her more than almost anyone! Oh, also this is the play where they say, “They’re YOUR friends, Jesus.” I mean, that’s worth your price of admission, right there, isn’t it?

So I’m stage managing (so you KNOW it’s going to be stellar, obviously) and also running the light and sound boards. Which means I’m running around like a crazy pre-show, up in the booth during Act I, running around like a crazy during intermission, up in the booth again during Act II, and then cleaning up post-show. I have been promised we have plenty of hospitality staff this time so I don’t have to serve coffee or sell raffle tickets. Which is good, because listen, I am very, very bad at those things, I’m not even kidding. Come and see me! I will give you at least one hug, possibly two. It’s a fun show, and the actors and crew have been working their tailfeathers off, and I love them all to bits.

Also, heads-up, starting February 5, I’m going to be even MORE insanely busy than normal, because it’s tech week. Also known, if you are a theater person, as Hell Week. For good reason. Because you have rehearsal every night until 11 or so and you work your butt off and then you go to work and work your butt off and then it’s back to rehearsal and then you have a SHOW, with PEOPLE LOOKING AT YOU, and you’re so tired you kind of sometimes weep in the bathroom and maybe also yell at people who don’t 100% deserve it. But it’s totally worth it. Expect stories of tech week shenanigans!

OK, back to the insanity. LISTEN, I was totally not kidding about the unruliness of my hair. IT IS OUT OF CONTROL TODAY. Like, there’s this one poky bit and I’m pretty sure I look deranged. Although it might be keeping people away from me? So maybe it’s a good thing.

Happy weekend, everyone!


Reading When I Don’t Have To: My Top Ten Books of 2011

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” — Oscar Wilde

I love this time of year. Do you know why? No, not because of Christmas. No, not because of New Year’s. I mean, do any single people love New Year’s? New Year’s is depressing if you’re single, let’s be honest. Well, I don’t suppose it’s depressing if you’re single and willing to kiss strangers. I’m not kissing some stranger. I don’t know where that stranger’s mouth has been. Ew. Also, I’m working on New Year’s. Someone has to deal with the weepy drunks calling at all hours on New Year’s Eve, and that person is yours truly. Well, yours truly and her co-workers, I suppose.

NO. The reason I love this time of year is LISTS. I love reading everyone’s best-of year-end lists like some people love things like, oh, I don’t know, social interaction. Or golf. Or internet porn, I don’t know, think of something people do that jazzes them and then substitute me loving lists and that completes the simile. I love year-end lists of all shapes and styles. They are my favorites. And this year, I get to MAKE some! Well, I’ve always made them. I just didn’t have anyone to read them. Now I have MINIONS! Who may or may not care what things I am making lists about! This is SO EXCITING I CAN’T EVEN!

So today, let’s talk books. I haven’t counted up all the books I read this year yet. It’s a smaller number than usual, though. I blame Twitter. And blogging. And my phone. But I love all of those things, so I can’t really blame them, now can I? If I was a New Year’s resolution kind of person, I’d say, “I’ll do better next year, momma, I promise, please don’t hit me with the hose again!” but I’m not, and my mom never hit anyone with a hose, anyway, I made that up, why would she hit anyone with a hose? That’s absurd. I’ll probably do the same next year as I did this year, which is, try to win Twitter and blogging and read when I can, which is seldom. But be happy. There’s a resolution for you. Be happy. Shouldn’t that be everyone’s resolution? Yes. Yes, it should.

Anyway! So I went through my totally anal list of the books I’ve read up until this point, and I hemmed and hawed and compiled and crossed things off and finally came up with my top ten. This might change in like three days when I make my own personal top ten that I post on my wall for the year. Yes, I do that. Yes, I’m weird. No, this shouldn’t surprise you. If it did, you haven’t been paying attention.

So here are my top ten books for the year, in ascending order. Much like my list of songs, these were not all published in 2011. I think that’s acceptable. I mean, who has time to only read books that were published this year? You’d miss out on a lot of great books that way, I think.

I hope you find something you love! If you do, let me know. You know  how above I said I love lists? You know what I love even more than lists? Discussing books. What? Someone’s yelling something in the back. Is it nerd? Yep. Yep, I totally am. Yelling something that I’m not embarrassed about only makes you look like an asshole, Loud Larry.

Also, I’ll try really hard not to be spoilery. I hate that. So if I spoil anything, I apologize. I want you to want to read them; I don’t want you to leave here feeling like you already have.

A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin
Published in 1996

I was slightly interested in this book, but I thought, “I’m not a fantasy fan, so I won’t like it.” Then the Geek Girls Book Club chose it as one of their selections, and some woman in the New York Times told me women wouldn’t be interested in it (and you KNOW I don’t like being gender-stereotyped or told what to do), so with those two things combined, I thought, “hmm, let’s give it a go.”

ZOMG IN LOVE.

So apparently, I DO like fantasy literature. Who knew? This is very exciting.

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past year, the Song of Ice and Fire series (of which this book is the first installment) is about a fictional kingdom, Westeros, and the inhabitants therein. It’s set in what is roughly akin to medieval times, but there is magic, and there is evil, and there are power plays, and there is royalty, and there is romance, and there is betrayal, and there are dragons. And there is Tyrion Lannister, who makes the whole series worthwhile for me. There’s also the series on HBO, which I gobbled up over two days once I’d finished the book and now cannot wait for the second season. The only worry I have is that Mr. Martin will pass away before he finishes the series, and that would be heartbreaking. Have you ever attempted to read a series when someone else steps in to fill the shoes of the original author? Does the term “hot mess” mean anything to you?

A Storm of Swords – George R. R. Martin
Published in 2000

I promise there are other titles on this list but Martin titles. Just stick with me here.

So this is the third book in the series. The second book is very good, too, just not top-ten good. This book is the one where things HAPPENED. I mean, shit went DOWN. I had to put the book down a few times because it floored me. Also, I fell hard-core in love with a character I had HATED in the first two books. To the point where I had to email people, all, “Am I broken? Am I supposed to be falling for this person? Because I hated this person before? And now, all the love? WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?”

I love when a book does something like this. When words on a page move you like this, it’s a type of magic, honestly. And I don’t think there’s enough magic in the world. So I take it where I can get it.

Those Who Save Us – Jenna Blum
Published in 2005

Trudy’s mother Anna survived Germany during World War II, but refuses to speak about what happened there. Trudy, a professor of German history, is determined to find out the truth of her mother’s – and ultimately, her own – history. But there’s a reason her mother’s been hiding the truth, and what a person is capable of in order to protect the people they love are more than anyone can imagine.

This is a painful book. No question about it. I mean, are you expecting a pretty book, considering the subject matter? But it’s got poetry, too, between the pain and heartbreak. Anna is one hell of a strong woman.

The title is based on a quote, “She can never tell him what she started to say: that we come to love those who save us. For although Anna does believe this is true, the word that stuck in her throat was not save but shame.” I love that. So, so much.

Remember how I like my music dark & twisty? I like my books that way, as well.

11/22/63 – Stephen King
Published in 2011

I already reviewed this over at Insatiable Booksluts (I’m the one who liked it the most, obviously!) but listen, I can’t stop thinking about this book. I think of new things I would change, were I able to go back in time, on an almost daily basis, even though I know that would screw up the fabric of time. Who wouldn’t want to fix things, even though the consequences might be severe?

Maybe it wasn’t his best book. But it’s stayed with me. So it was a successful book, and one of my best reads of the year.

Bossypants – Tina Fey
Published in 2011

“A coworker at SNL dropped an angry C-bomb on me and I had the weirdest reaction. To my surprise, I blurted, ‘No. You don’t get to call me that. My parents love me; I’m not some Adult Child of an Alcoholic that’s going to take that shit.'”

Listen, I laughed out loud so many times reading this book that I’m pretty sure my neighbors, my coworkers, the people walking by my car, and everyone who caught me reading in those few days thought I was a complete and total loon. Which I am? But that’s kind of beside the point.

You know how Tina Fey is a hysterical actress and screenwriter? She’s also a brilliant writer-writer. No joke. Her life is HYSTERICAL. She seriously can turn the slightest thing into the funniest situation you’ve ever come across. She is my idol. I want to be Tina Fey when I grow up, and I want to be best friends with Tina Fey, and I want to go to there. Daily. Also, she’s a hard-core feminist without being scary about it. She just is. I adore her. Seriously. I kind of worship at the church of Tina Fey.

Also, she was a total theater nerd growing up. Theater nerds represent!

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Published in 2011

Also reviewed this one, in brief, over at Insatiable Booksluts. If you are a nerd, know a nerd, grew up in or around the 80s, or like awesome things? You will love this book. It has everything. 80s nostalgia, friendship, romance, intelligent writing, humor, pacing that speeds you along without making you feel rushed, actual stakes that the characters have to work toward. I loved it. Just devoured it. I was so sad when it was done.

Also, Wil Wheaton reads the audiobook, and who doesn’t love Wil Wheaton? And he’s mentioned in the book itself, but I won’t give that part away, because it’s too goddamn good. When you come to that part, you’ll totally cheer. Because it should happen, honestly. It really, really should.

The Borrower – Rebecca Makkai
Published in 2011

Lucy is a small-town librarian whose favorite patron, ten-year-old Ian Drake, both kidnaps her and forces her to kidnap him for a cross-country trip to escape his parents, who are forcing him to attend “pray away the gay” classes and not allowing him to read any of the books he wants to read. On the way, Lucy runs into her inconsiderate boyfriend, possible mob men, a house full of ferrets, and falls more in love with Ian. What’s the right thing to do in this situation? Do you save the boy? Or do you save yourself?

I adored this book. It was life-affirming and heartbreaking and frustrating and wonderful. I wanted to scoop Ian up and hide him under my bed and give him every book he ever wanted for the rest of his life. It has everything I love – books, libraries, crazy people, love, loss. Just an amazing read.

Vaclav & Lena – Haley Tanner
Published in 2011

Vaclav and Lena are Russian immigrant children who meet in an ESL class in Brooklyn. Vaclav wants to be a magician; Lena wants nothing more than to be his lovely assistant. All seems to be on track and destiny seems to be spinning along beautifully. Until Lena disappears, leaving Vaclav to say goodnight to her, every night, without fail, hoping to one day find, as if with magic, his lovely assistant again.

Oh, magic, how I love you. Oh, romance, how I love you, as well. This was a perfect novel; there was magic, and there was romance, and just when it seemed to be getting too treacly, the darkness seeped in and you saw the man behind the curtain, dressed all in black, beckoning the little girls to come to him. Don’t expect to leave this book without some tears. It kind of breaks you. But it’s got hope in it, too. And a lot of magic. Magic goes a long way.

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
Published in 2011

My top three books are all about magic, romance, and darkness. I think it’s pretty obvious what I love most in the world.

A young boy and a young girl are pitted against one another in a life-long battle to the death. A circus blooms like magic overnight, calling people to it with a siren-song of caramel and seduction and mystery. A farmboy falls in love with a girl who can see the future in the stars. A contortionist keeps her secrets hidden. A clockmaker starts a movement. A fire goes out. A new one starts. Lives end; lives begin.

This book wouldn’t let me go. I just finished it a few days ago. It’s one of the only things I did over the Christmas holiday. When I wasn’t with family, I was curled up reading. I stayed up much too late with the people in the circus, going from tent to tent, finding what was hidden and what was lost. It’s beautifully written; it’s like a book-length poem in its beauty, really. Oh, and the love story. You will just adore the love story. It’s swoon-worthy.

Swamplandia! – Karen Russell
Published in 2011

Apparently, this was one of the New York Times Best Books of the Year? I have impeccable taste, truly.

Three children grow up in a run-down tourist attraction named Swamplandia! with their parents in Florida. Their mother swims with crocodiles. Their father is the barker and the keeper of the park. One of the children loves the park and everything contained therein. One dreams of escape. One dreams of love and sees ghosts in the trees.

The magic in this book is just the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. And then it wrecks you. It utterly wrecks you. I won’t tell you how, because that’s a total dick move? But it does. I like books that do this, because real life does this, and I like things that are real. I don’t like the fairy tale. Or, I take that back, I DO like the fairy tale, only the REAL fairy tale, the GRIMM’S fairy tale, with the wolf actually ready, willing, and able to eat the children, or the red-hot shoes that actually burn off your feet. I like the reality in my books, because otherwise, I want to cry “foul!” and I want to cry “too easy!”

There is magic, and there is romance, and there is a giant tongue, and there is a man who is also a bird, and there are crocodiles, and there is family who loves one another more than anything imaginable. You need to read this book. I actually gave it as a gift to all three of my people I give books to this year, and I never do that. I wanted everyone to read it. I wanted to share it far and wide. It deserved it, and they deserved it.

So there you go, kiddos and kiddlettes! I hope you find something you love! And if you’ve read any of these, what did you think? Tell me tell me tell me, I want to know! Because you know what G.I. Joe used to tell me after school when my brother was all, “WE ARE WATCHING THIS NOT THE FACTS OF LIFE AMY” and that is, “Knowing is half the battle.” And the other half is, I think, killing one another with assault rifles, but we’ll leave that for another day.

Happy Wednesday! Oh, I’m totally still dying of the grippe, just so you know! Or maybe a wasting disease. It’s debatable, really.


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