Monday, February 23, 2009

If wishes were horses. . .

I have been reading a lot lately. Basically, it's a form of procrastination. I don't want to exercise, I don't want to diet, and I REALLY REALLY don't want to clean my house, so instead, I MUST, ABSOLUTELY MUST finish this book. And then the next one, and the next one, and the next one.

I love to lose myself in a good book. I love that heavy sigh feeling I get after finishing one with a happy ending, and I love it when the author is so good I think about the story for days afterwards.

I'd also love to be one of those authors!

My Irish grandmother always said "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." And boy is that ever the truth, though in my case it would be, "If ideas were books, Ari would sell!" Every time I finish a good book, about a million ideas pop into my head for books of my own. Every time I hear a good song on the radio, I start thinking about characters that go along with those songs. When I eavesdrop and people watch while waiting for my children to get out of school, practice, dance class, etc, I come up with stories, stories and more stories.

When I sit down at the computer after work at night, I fall asleep.

If there was a way to get all these stories that are spinning around in my head into the computer without me actually applying butt to chair and fingers to keyboard, I'd be in literary heaven. . .or at least romance writer heaven. Unfortunately, writing takes time and energy and a lot of work. It also takes determination and the ability to turn those ideas into stories people want to read.

Someday, I'll have the time and energy to write again. Lord knows I have the determination. The ability, I'm still working on. . . In the meantime, I'll keep thinking up stories and jotting them down on whatever paper is handy.

But if anyone invents a direct connection between brain and computer, let me know!!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Good Riddance Valentine's Day

And so another Valentine's Day passes like murky water under the bridge. Bah Humbug! Or something :) Okay, after that, I suppose it's obvious that I was single this Valentines Day. Again. But I'm not bitter... much. So I have spent much of this cardless, giftless, flowerless weekend coming up with reasons why it's good to be single on the 14th of February.

No flowers died for me.
No chocolates = no extra calories.
No hours of indecision over what gift to buy.
No need to succumb to the inflated prices for dinner out.
No disappointment when your significant other doesn't live up to their end of the bargain.

It does help to know that I am not alone but I am just as glad that I was working and busy enough not to think about it too much. I am also glad it's Monday and there is little danger of me hearing that question again. You know the one? It's the question that inspires huge levels of emotion at this time of year, be it dread, anxiety, anger or excitement...
"What did you get for Valentine's Day?"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

How many have YOU read?

Every so often someone or another comes out with a list of books everyone MUST read, dahling. I have to admit, such claims always make me picture plump, snooty women holding their lorgnettes and and round, bald men in evening wear all looking down their noses at anything they haven't deemed "literature".

But this month's list by the staff of The Guardian, London's daily paper decided they didn't want the same old list of DWMA (Dead White Male Authors). While some of those works certainly should be read by everyone, the staff decided they needed a broader range of genre and authors on their list.

And how many books should they include? Well, if one reads a book a month his or her entire life and then throws in an extra book (because, after all, some books are really very short...) and lived till the age of would have read a total of 1000 books.

A thousand books. I look around my own personal library and know I have about that many (probably more) in just this room alone. Granted, some of them are Nancy Drew mysteries and a LOT of them are plays. And no, I haven't personally read all the books in my personal library. My husband's philosophy books from college take an entire shelf -- up high because no one's looked at them in years -- and I'm in no hurry to take them down and spend a torturous month with any of them.

I think of my mother-in-law who reads voraciously. She's widowed and doesn't drive, so she's mostly housebound. She reads a romance a day, on average. Sometimes it takes her a day and a half. Most months she manages 28-30 books. At this rate, she'll have read 1000 books in 2 years, 7 months.

So although a thousand books sounds like a lot at first glance, it's very do-able, and I suspect most of us already have finished off (or surpassed) that number already. What makes The Guardian's list different from our own reading?

For one, they broke the list into genre: War & Travel; Science Fiction & Fantasy, Love, Crime, State of the Nation, Comedy, Family Life. For two, they didn't require the authors to be dead. Or white. Or male. And for three, the list is representative of many cultures and many ideas, broadening horizons as good literature (or good lists) should.

Of course the first thing I did was go down the list and see how many I'd read. You can find the list here in the original posting at The Guardian, or here in list form (where I downloaded it...warning: there are 46 pages of it, so if you print it out...go get a cup of coffee and come back). The second list has the advantage of being collated by a mathemetician and also includes a companion list showing how many times an author appears on the original list. Jane Austen, for example, is mentioned six times as all six of her novels are included.

For my total, I counted all the books I'd started, whether I finished them or not (Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man -- I just couldn't get through it. I tried. I really tried. Counted it anyway). It was also somewhat distressing to see authors I'd read, but not the particular book I'd read by that author. Chaim Potok is on the list with two books, but The Chosen, the only book of his I've read, is not one of them. So I didn't count him.

My total? A dismal 101 books.

Now, if I went with the attitude "No, but I saw the movie..." I would be able to check off several hundred more. And this week, partly because of the list, I finally read Kate Chopin's The Awakening. So I'm officially at 102 now.'s my challenge: Go check out the list -- how many have YOU read? And are there any on the list that surprised you?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tid Bits

Because I was COMPLETELY un-inspired this week (as you can probably tell by the lateness of my post) I've decided to use the blog as my personal mini-vent!! There were a few news items that I caught wind of on the net over the past few days that just really irritated me. And I'm wondering how you guys feel about them...

Michael Phelps is caught smoking pot.
Well, that's self-explanatory enough. But what really irritated me about this "news" story was the sheer SCOPE of it all. Pages and PAGES were written about Phelps' "disappointing" behaviour. His "poor judgement." And how this one blew me away..."let down the world." PARDON me? He let down the WORLD?? Somehow I doubt people in Africa and India really give two hoots whether Phelps partied it up a little harder than usual. And, seriously people. How hard up are North America's young people for role models, that one tiny misstep by a man who has proven himself to be a dedicated, capable and supremely talented athlete, is enough to shatter the hopes and dreams of the lot of them? And let's put this into a little bit of perspective, shall we? Michael isn't beating his wife or going out to bars engaging in brawls. He's not abusing young boys (like some other Michael who seems more than capable of maintaining a fan base despite his suspicious behaviours). He's not even smoking CIGARETTES which are, by all accounts far more addictive and damaging to your health. I just try to remember that anyone with a "spotless" reputation...probably just uses a better detergent.

Jessica Simpson looks HUMAN! Not that she's one of my favourite singers, by any means. Frankly I'm hard-pressed to name even one of her songs. I know her best for her appearances on The View and in the Dukes of Hazzard movie. But I certainly saw enough of her face--or should I say her cheeks--in the last few days to last me a lifetime. And all because she had the nerve to eat a couple of cheeseburgers! Will the media make up its mind? In one breath they're scandalizing super-models for their eating disorders and looking like walking skeletons, and in the next they're criticizing a beautiful woman for moving up from a size "0".

Now this one you have to see for yourselves to believe:
Now...from what *I* saw of this woman's performance on the pole, it was about as sexy as an aerobics workout. I've seen FAR more sexual content on "So You think You Can Dance America" (or whatever that's called) or "Dancing with the Stars" than I saw on this stage. Her ONLY offense was to have the nerve to use a metal pole...a piece of equipment that is normally "associated" with strip clubs and bars. But this woman wasn't stripping, was she? She was promoting a fun and innovative route to good aerobic health, but god forbid we promote anything that has ANY association with sex or sexuality. Next thing you know they'll be talking about sex in the classrooms!!

ANy thoughts? Any interesting or irritating news stories on YOUR MSN network this week? Share!