Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Holiday Viewing Guide December 2019

A veritable blizzard of Christmas movies will swirl around us like a joyous winter storm of festive cheer this holiday season, and the hardest part is keeping track of them all. So as my gift to you, in addition to my regular monthly listing of new shows coming to streaming, I've compiled a list of links to a host of holiday viewing guides.

Whether you want Hallmark Christmas movies, original new titles created by Netflix or Disney, classics like It's a Wonderful Life or Elf (yes, that is now a classic!), or musical specials and repeats of holiday episodes of classic TV sitcoms, I've got you covered!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Dear Girls by Ali Wong

Dear Girls by Ali Wong
I love Ali Wong's Netflix special Baby Cobra. It's hilarious. This book is no Baby Cobra. It's not bad, but temper your expectations.

Also, if you're shocked by strong language or frank talk about sex, please don't read this and give it a dismal review somewhere solely for those reasons. You should know that's part of the deal with Wong going in.

Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, & Advice for Living Your Best Life is very funny at times and I love Wong's insight into life as a female comic, though that's only a small slice of the book (I listened to audio). As it's a letter to her daughters, most of it is also about her husband, childbirth, raising young children, dating, and her experiences as an Asian American woman. She shares some interesting stories from her life, and some not so captivating.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

With We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson weaves an overall mood of fear, hostility, menace, and madness without being overt or graphic. I was chilled.

I'll leave it at that, as Goodreads can fill you in on the synopsis if you're interested. If you prefer not to know too much (and I think that's best), skip the synopsis and dive in! At 162 pages it's not a huge commitment of time.

Reading anything by Shirley Jackson makes you want to know more about Shirley Jackson. The "Introduction" I found preceding the first chapter of Castle gave some background and insight into Jackson's life; not a lot, just enough to leave me wanting more.

You've probably even read her work and don't know it. At some point a teacher or friend surely laid before you a short story called "The Lottery."  What life, what experiences, creates that disturbing, unforgettable tale?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead review
The striking tale told in Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk features an eccentric narrator philosophizing about life, animals and astrology, all while leading us through a murky trail of bizarre deaths.

The story is told by Janina, who lives alone in an isolated Polish village. We never learn her age, but she frequently ruminates on growing older, the feeling that people view her as an old woman who's easy to ignore and dismiss, and ailments that prove painfully debilitating at times.

Poet William Blake weaves his way through the text, with lines of his poems introducing each chapter and Janina herself working with a friend to translate his poetry. Not to mention the title itself comes from Blake. I'm not very familiar with his work, but I'm sure his fans will find all kinds of Easter eggs in the book that I missed.

Friday, November 8, 2019

So You've Got a Nemesis ... There's a Poem for That

So You've Got a Nemesis ...

I don't think I'm petty, but the feeling of joy that ensues when reading a particular poem wherein the author drags his nemesis may mean that perhaps, just a little, I am.

The poem that sets me all aglow with delight is "The Book of My Enemy has been Remaindered" by Australian writer Clive James. In it he celebrates the fact that his enemy's book has been remaindered, which is to say, it wasn't selling well so the publisher is liquidating remaining stock. If you've ever bought a book for $1 from a clearance pile and noted the black slash of a permanent marker along the edge of the pages, you just got a bargain thanks to a remaindered book.

James flings lovely daggers at his foe, such as:

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore (Review)

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
This true story of young girls and women poisoned by radium while working in dial-painting factories in the early 1900s reads like a novel.

The jobs paid remarkably well, especially for women. They were even fun and glamorous, as the young women got to work with the expensive, trendy, wonder-substance radium.

Looming beneath the glowing veneer of the job, however, lurked a danger that would lead to excruciating illnesses and, in many cases, death.

The women were taught to point their brushes with their lips to tame the splayed bristles, something they did repeatedly as they coated watch dials with radium. Even as the companies became aware of the danger, they ignored and hid it from the women, wishing to continue their lucrative business, all the while poisoning more young women. They also used every means possible to avoid taking financial responsibility for massive medical costs and suffering the women incurred.