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Showing posts from 2010

Working, working, working: Catching up and boring you with the details of this last week

No...this week hasn't been a total bust. In fact, lots of great things happened because I got a chance to catch up with a lot of people I rarely get a chance to see these days:

1. I got to see my cousin, T. (Theron), who lives in Oregon. He and his sister and his parents (my dad's older sister and her husband) drove up from Dothan (T. came home for Christmas). We had a nice lunch (grandma went, too! So great to see her up and walking again) and a great visit.
2. I got a chance to have a short coffee break with my former student, Lisa. It was a lot of fun and I wish that I could have stayed around longer!
3. I had lunch with my friend Melanie who is pregnant with her first child! It was great to see her.
4. My friend Kelly came into town for two nights and we had a blast! We spent each evening together, having dinner and shutting down Books-a-Million's coffee shop each night! I miss her already! But, we will have a great time in NYC this summer.

As for movies:
I have seen …

Cary Grant rocks my world...

I own way too many books. This is a known fact. However, perhaps less known, is that I own way too many movies. I recently went through them and decided to get rid of several (esp. those old VHS tapes...don't know why I still had a lot of those!). So, now, after going through everything in a brutal fashion, I have a moderate DVD collection (though, I did keep some movies on VHS because they haven't been converted to DVD just yet...weird...). Anyway, like I said, I did this a few days ago and last night I decided that I wanted to watch an older film. So, I began to go through my collection and stumbled across Charade (Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn).


A very bad summary of the film:In this film, Audrey Hepburn discovers that her husband (who she planned on divorcing but then didn't have to because he ends up dead) has been living a double life. He has stolen money and several people (his spy friends) want it back. They threaten her, people die, but it all comes down to identi…

December 25, 2010: Family photos and snow!

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Well, another Christmas has come and gone--and it was another great one! It was my first Christmas without my grandmother Frances, so, of course, I miss her. But, overall, things were great.


(Casey in front of the Christmas tree.)

We began the day rather late because we all slept in a bit (Dad was up late having way too much fun reading Twas the Night Before Christmas aloud). Mom, dad, and I opened gifts around 9:30 or so (awesome gift: a 1964 Life magazine that covers Richard Burton in Hamlet!!) and also celebrated Casey's birthday. He is fifteen today! I just can't believe he is that old! He is still doing well, although his back legs give out a bit. Still, he had a great day because he had lots of special treats and...get this...we actually had snow!

YES! SNOW!! Here in ALABAMA! On CHRISTMAS DAY!! No, it didn't stick, but we had lots of big flakes fall. And Casey absolutely LOVES the snow. (Sorry for the caps...it is just in me today.) So, as always when it snows, I took …

Merry Christmas

Peace on Earth.

Be kind to one another. Love one another.

Another good day! (and a book "review" on the side)

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Well, today we traveled to Demopolis, Alabama, to visit with my mom's cousin from Florida (and her family) and my grandfather's sister (i.e. my great aunt). We had a really nice time and it was wonderful to see everyone. Though I see my great aunt occasionally, I haven't seen my cousins from Florida in years.

After coming home, I took a really long nap (didn't sleep at all last night). After, I made cookies (dough was a bit dry...so much for the Good Housekeeping "we tested it three times" assurance). Anyway, I fixed it up and it turned out fine! My dad is such a cookie monster, so he would eat them even if they tasted terrible (which, thankfully, they didn't!).

Now for the book review:


(Source: Photo and another book review)

Like I said in a previous post, I just couldn't figure out what I wanted to read next. So, Monday night, before I took my father (he can't drive anymore) to play in the band at Shelton for graduation, I stopped by Books-a-Mi…

A Great Day

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This morning, I drove to Birmingham to meet up with a friend of mine, Melissa. We met when both of us joined Team in Training and prepared for a full marathon back in 2004...I can't believe it was that long ago! We were both fairly slow, but over the many miles that we walked and ran/jogged, Melissa and I forged a friendship out of stories (funny, sad, personal), show tunes (to get us through those miles when you "hit the wall"), and our woes about graduate school. At the time, she had just started her PhD program in Marketing and I was finishing up my master's degree in English. Last year, I was in her wedding and this is the first time that I have seen her since then (because she and her husband live in Indiana now).


(Melissa and I at her graduation party a couple of years ago.)

Anyway, we had a long lunch and then another chat over coffee. It was great to see her again! It is too bad that she lives so far away. :(

On the drive up to Birmingham, I started thinking ab…

New post coming...

...soon.

I wish that I had seen this last year!!

Great

Seeing the good

I am amazed at and in awe of my friend who is going through such a sad time. Though she is experiencing a tragic loss, she is keeping track of every good thing that is happening during this time, even if that thing seems incredibly small and insignificant. This is something that we should all do.

What to read?

I just found out that a close friend of mine is going through a very tragic situation. I feel so terrible for her and her family. It makes me so sad.

I just can't read anything funny or light right now, because all I think about is her family. I like to keep track of my reading on this blog, but I am changing my mind about the next book on my list, I think. I just can't engage in light-hearted material right now. Some people might find that therapeutic, but I can't concentrate unless the book helps me get through whatever emotion I have. Does anyone else go through this? So...the question is: What to read next?

I am trying to get through my TBR ("to be read") pile...after work, I will go through it and choose something.

One of my worst qualities and a New Year's resolution:

My inability to express anger. It is true. I cannot express anger well, even when I have legitimate reasons to be angry. I don't know why this is except that it mirrors the way girls are raised in the south.

I spoke to a friend about this, and she thinks the same thing. As children, many southern girls (and probably girls, in general) are taught silence or flirtation as means to an end in certain situations.

Be nice. Don't be loud. Be sweet. Don't be loud. Don't be mean...

You get the point. And it isn't that being kind to people is a bad thing, of course! But it is destructive if you sacrifice yourself and your dignity in the process. So even if it sounds crazy, this is something I should work on!

The problem is that I developed the habit of covering up anger (and, even lesser unpleasant emotions) to an insane degree. I don't have problems listening or rocking the boat when necessary in my professional life, but in my personal life...well, being strong enough…

Top Ten Fictional Friends

Just saw a post for this on So Many Books. The idea is to list ten characters from fiction that you would want to consider as friends in your own life. My list is a bit wonky and I am not choosing these people because they necessarily have high morals or anything (some do, but others don't). I choose them because they are interesting...so here goes:

1. Ariel Manto from Scarlett Thomas's The End of Mr. Y.

2. Lyra Belacqua from Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.

3. Hermione Granger from Rowling's Harry Potter series.

4. Severus Snape from Rowling's Harry Potter series.

5. "Pandora" from Rice's short novel Pandora.

6. Paige Winterbourne from Armstrong's Dime Store Magic.

7. John Thornton from Gaskell's North and South. (Really, I just want to marry him.)

8. Jo March from Alcott's Little Women.

9. Richard Papen from Tartt's The Secret History.

10. Lady Dedlock from Dickens's Bleak House. (You can't say that the woman doesn't know how…

Caught up in the holiday chaos...

Now that the semester is FINALLY over and I can take a moment to breathe a little bit (which, really, for me means that I am ignoring all of the other things I need to be doing in favor of reading really cheesy books), I am trying not to fall into my inevitable holiday state of mind that borders somewhere between grouchy and angry. I love the holidays--but only when I am doing things like spending time with my family or friends. I REALLY DISLIKE the craziness that surrounds the holidays, especially in the retail stores.

As I said in an earlier post, my father's side of the family opted out of gift giving in favor of an optional (for each member) donation to a chosen charity. (We are donating to a charity that supports autism research this year.) But, we are still giving a gift to my grandmother. I also had a few other gifts that I had to buy for other people. So, yesterday, a MONDAY, I thought that I would go ahead and finish up my shopping. And I did. But not before I wanted to …

I wish that I had more to say this week... (and an eventual rant on Meyer's Eclipse)

I really do wish that I had more to say this week, but I am really just trying to make it through till the weekend! It is final exam week here on campus, so I have been grading and averaging until I am sick of it. I am also reminded, once again, how amazing it can be when people suddenly start to worry about their grades AT THE END OF THE SEMESTER. Tip to all students out there: don't do this. Stay on top of your grades and seek help before the final exam. Always a good thing.

Anyway, other than that, I have had a major breakthrough in my dissertation that involves a lot of Dickens research that I have done. So, it looks like my second chapter on Dickens will focus more on Great Expectations than Little Dorrit...and I am so happy about that!

In other news of my boring life: I recently had the opportunity to watch Eclipse (the 3rd Twilight saga movie, for those of you dead to Stephanie Meyer and her clutch on American youth). Don't get me wrong. I have read the books. As I think …

Thinking about...

...Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. I have read it before, but thought that I would read it again. It is one of those books that I come back to again and again...and I am still not sure what I want to say about it. Well, when I finish this read-through, I will post something.

Feeling restless...

It always happens at the worst times. I love to be writing and working...but, then, I just want to jump ship. I would love, right now, to get on a plane and hide away in Oxford or somewhere in Scotland. I feel inspired already, but I want to be in the land that surrounds me with constant inspiration. Oxford and the Highlands feed my soul in ways that I just can't get anywhere around here. Some might laugh, but I can say that, when I was in Scotland, I felt truly at home. It was as if I had returned to the place where I belonged. I love Oxford and all of the literature and history surrounding it...but Scotland...yes, it is the home of my most very distant ancestors...and maybe there is still a memory encoded in my DNA somewhere.

So, to beat the frustration, I throw myself into work and books. I am in the very frustrating stage of revising a chapter right now (not fun at all...I would rather be writing a new one!). I love my scholarly research, but I would also like to publish a nov…

Scarlett Thomas: Our Tragic Universe

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I am a fan of Scarlett Thomas. I loved The End of Mr. Y (multiverse theory) and Pop Co. (codes and things). The characters, depressed but thoughtful, always appeal to me, and I love the overarching theories explored in each book. So, I have had her new book, Our Tragic Universe, on my wish list for quite some time.


Source: http://bfishreads.blogspot.com/2010/07/dont-miss-books-to-read-from-bea.html

I searched around for a review that said it just right...and I came across this quote from a New York Times review: "I wanted to root for this novel and its brain-bending, occasionally contradictory signifiers; I also found myself yearning for a way in."

I totally agree.

I wasn't thrilled with the new novel. I didn't hate it. I didn't really even dislike it. But it isn't something that I will remember fondly. Basically, the book is a novel about a novelist writing about how hard it is to write a novel. This in itself is fine. Thrown in there are bits and pieces of id…

No Life

Sorry, everyone! Real posts to follow! We are nearing the end of the semester and I am super busy! Lots to grade and write! Will post soon!!

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

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Amazon Link for better plot summary and reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Magicians-Novel-Lev-Grossman/dp/0670020559.



Basic rundown of the plot:
Quentin, a high school student, is swept into a hidden world and attends a school for magic (it is for five years and the students are, for the most part, adults). He is delighted to be there because he finds out that magic is real, just like he always hoped when he read books about the "imaginary" Fillory world (and the Chatwin children who have adventures there). After graduation, he and his friends (I guess you would call them friends) end up in Fillory where they face off against evil. Tragedy and victory are the outcomes.

Vague? Yes...intentionally so. And, as I will state again, this is NOT a children's novel. It is very adult and explicit.

I have been trying to decide what to write about this novel for a couple of days. I can't decide if Grossman is doing something important in this book or if he is being clever and uninten…

Thanksgiving Fun!

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Well, Thanksgiving 2010 has come and gone. It was a fun night and I know that I ate way too much! Still, what is the point if you don't, right? Here is a little photo coverage of the evening...


Pre-feast, everyone ran around the kitchen, talking, drinking, and just having fun in general!



We all ate too much...including hacking into this cake that I made the day before. It is a pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese icing (with pecans, golden raisins, and cranberries). The cake was huge! I couldn't put the glass cake dish top on it when I was finished icing it. It is considerably smaller now. :)



After dinner, Jessica and my mom enjoy coffee and conversation in the den with Ginny (Jess's mom), Ron (Jessica's dad), and Grandma. But...



...even though Jeff was also in the room, he had passed out by this time. Too much to eat, Jeff?

The only thing missing? My dad's oldest sister and her family! We missed the Wells family! Maybe next year?

We also had our first Christmas charity…

For those of you who want more Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton trivia...

...here is an excellent article about the places the couple rented or owned during their time together: Daily Mail article.

Some interesting trivia and several photos!

Finally!

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I know that this can't be the first time that this has happened, but I came across this book today and nearly jumped for joy when I saw that a black man and a white woman were paired on the cover of a romance novel. I mean, like I said, I am sure that this has been done, but I haven't seen it...and I sure haven't seen a cover like this for a sort-of historical romance novel. But, really...if this is the first time, don't you wonder why it didn't happen until 2010? I can imagine that many contemporary romance covers might have multi-racial pairings depicted (and even in historicals you see Arab, Latino and Spanish, and other ethnicities...but usually not African American and/or Asian men paired with white/Caucasian women).

http://www.abouthappybooks.com/

The second best part of this image is the steampunky-Victorian details. So, I decided that I must read this series. You know me...I love it all. I will read just about anything. Stranger is the fourth of Zoe Archer&#…

Hooray!

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Chapter 2 (at least the draft) of my dissertation is complete!!! I am officially taking two days off. Thanksgiving is upon us and I will be enacting my inner-Victorian feminine side (ha,ha) as I help prepare Thanksgiving dinner.

As a preview, I am also about half-way through Lev Grossman's The Magicians:



Review to come...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

If I could rename this film (though it would be inappropriate considering how little we see Snape), I would call it Harry Potter and Snape's Billowing Robes. 'Cause that scene as he entered Malfoy Manor really did something for me. (Yes, I am insane.) Anyway, my slight insanity has to do with the fact that I am taking cold medicine and I can't breathe all that well...lack of oxygen makes you think crazy things...

Anyway, on to the REAL review (and not my fantasy world)...though I use the word "review" lightly...nothing scholarly here:

Wow! I have to say that the movie is wonderful and that everyone involved completely redeemed themselves after the travesty that was the last film. (I really didn't like the sixth movie...Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is my favorite book. They completely made it into a joke and left out EVERYTHING important.)

AND...whoever avoided the curse of 9 million pages about Harry, Ron, and Hermione camping in the woods and inst…

Oh, yes, people...it is coming...

...my review of HP7 will be posted tonight!!! I see it in under an hour!

"An Inconvenient Wife" by Megan Chance

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Recently, I read an incredibly fast-paced and intriguing novel titled An Inconvenient Wife (by Megan Chance). The book takes place in 1880s New York, and follows the story of Lucy, a high society woman, who has "fits" symptomatic of hysteria (basically, a mental disorder singularly exhibited in women due to malfunctioning or deformed reproductive organs). Lucy's husband, William, is the typical nineteenth-century American husband in high society: rich and chauvinistic. He expects his wife to be the "angel of the house," demure to all of his decisions, and, most importantly, endure her once-in-a-while sexual couplings with him--because God knows that women shouldn't feel sexual desire at all.

As a last resort, William accepts the treatment offered to Lucy by a hypnotist (often referred to as a neurologist in this novel), Victor Seth. From this point forward, one never knows if decisions are being made by Lucy, William, or Victor--and the outcome is deadly.

Th…

Two more days!!!

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Source: http://hollywooddame.com/2010/10/12/more-harry-potter-and-deathly-hallows-new-posters-%E2%80%93-see-them-here/harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows-snape-12-10-10-kc/

Weeds Finale...

What will happen next?? Personally, I think that it isn't the end for Nancy and Esteban...but we have to wait a whole year to find out! NOOOOO!!!!!

QUIDDITCH!!!

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Today was the "Quidditch on the Quad" event on campus. I had to go check it out, of course...and it was soooo much fun! I wish that I could have stayed longer, but, alas, responsibility calls.

By the way, if you don't know what Quidditch is...well, I am worried. But, you can remedy that by reading the Harry Potter books or you can take the easy way out: Wikipedia.

I finally found the Slytherin field and watched the "Australia" team win by taking the Golden Snitch! It was brutal! A guy ended up with a broken nose and the boy who was the Golden Snitch was almost choked. It was amazing! (Not that I am condoning violence or anything.)

Anyway, here are some photos. Unfortunately, my camera died before I got a picture of the Golden Snitch!









It was a great beginning to what will surely be an awesome Harry Potter week! I didn't know anyone out there, though it turns out a good friend of mine was there. But, it didn't matter because Harry Potter fans are awesome …

Only in the South

The other night, I had the privilege of teaming up with an old co-worker of mine (and close friend), Nancy. She had an extra ticket to hear Pat Conroy speak at the Birmingham Sheraton (benefiting the Children's Hospital in Birmingham). I have read Prince of Tides (long ago), and I was so excited when Nancy asked me to go with her.

We had a great dinner and then made our way downtown to hear Mr. Conroy. Everything was uneventful until we left the hotel. And that was when we had an experience that is only possible in the south.

We were waiting for the cross-walk sign to light up so that we could cross the street just next to the hotel (Nancy's car was parked under the bridge there). Anyway, the sign on our side kept beeping at us, so Nancy started laughing and asked if she was supposed to press the button. So, we did...and then the craziest thing...

Rather than just silencing the beeping, a woman's voice -- a VERY SOUTHERN woman's voice -- comes out of the pole (I am sure …

Oh, my! Too funny!

Thanks for sending this to me, Claire!

The Mill on the Floss

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I first read George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss about ten years ago (wow...can't believe it was that long ago) in Tuman's class. I remember really enjoying the reading experience and being fascinated with Maggie Tulliver. I decided to use the novel in my dissertation, but upon rereading it...well, I don't like it so much anymore. I don't even want to write about it, in fact. I am hoping that I can be convinced or energized with some discussion about it, because it really could be used productively in my work. Still, I almost wrote to my director today and told him that I was completely frustrated with the book. I know that I should at least try to use it. Still...how do I make myself excited about something that I just want to throw against the wall???

And...how to make myself resigned to George Eliot's narrative voice when I just want to say, "Bite me, Mary Ann."



Yes...this would be George Eliot/Mary Ann Evans. Just look at that smirk. YOU ARE KILL…

The Taming of the Shrew

Ah, yes. A classic. And, finally, I am back to posting about Shakespeare. :)

So, I finally have a chance to sit down and think about this play after reading it once more. It isn't my favorite play because it seems to begin so interestingly and end so abruptly. I have read The Taming of the Shrew many times, but, to make it more interesting this time around, I decided to approach it with a question in mind: Why, oh why, is Kate a shrew?

I know that people have discussed this at length. But, remember: I am not in a Shakespeare class and I don't have any professional training in this area (other than a few classes that I have taken YEARS ago) so I am just going with my own thoughts. This question came to me as I watched the Taylor/Burton version on DVD.

As one person put it (and not in these exact words), Elizabeth Taylor comes off as being more than slightly unhinged in the production. And, indeed, many people just play the part that way.

But I never bought that Kate was just …

Our Country's Financial Crisis: A Rant :)

Today I happened to hear two radio hosts discussing a recent film about the financial crisis in America (and, really, the world). I think (but am not positive) that they were discussing the new Wall Street movie. I have seen it and, though it moves a bit slowly at times, it is a good film.

These hosts, however, were discussing the topic of the financial crisis and saying that the movie (whatever it was) just proved that it was the corrupt people on Wall Street that did this to America. Now, yes, there are corrupt people on Wall Street. But, if they were discussing the recent movie (as I suspect) or even if they weren't, we cannot, as Americans, simply blame the people on Wall Street. The new movie clearly indicates that, at core, the problem has to do with all of us--with our approach to life and wealth and status and material goods. The same thing comes up in Eat, Pray, Love--even though I have big issues with that film (see earlier blog post).

This crisis has been building for ye…

"Crazy Date"--My dad's song makes it into the Oxford American music issue!

Congrats to my dad! His song, "Crazy Date," that he wrote and recorded when he was a kid, will be included in the Oxford American music issue (and on their CD!!).

For a great article about the song and its history (and a great link to an MP3), see Sylvia Parker's blog:

http://alabamalama.sylviaparker.net/search/label/Crazy%20Date.

Sorry for lack of updates....

...I am working/writing like a mad woman! Here is hoping that I can meet my deadline!

BREAKTHROUGH!!!

Just came up with my thesis for the Wuthering Heights chapter of my dissertation!!! Hooray! The novel is so wonderfully complicated that it was really exhausting trying to discover exactly what I want to say. THANK YOU, KELLY!!! You talked me through it..and off the proverbial ledge.

Squirrels, power surges, and explosions.

I haven't been able to post anything in a day or two, and I am out at the bookstore now...ripping off WiFi. :)

Anyway, we had a bit of a mishap at the house yesterday. The power company was out cutting limbs in front of our house. There was a loud noise and then things in the kitchen started to explode and we had a small electrical fire behind the microwave oven. The fire department came out and inspected everything, declaring no danger, but we lost several appliances (televisions, microwave, dvd players, lamps, alarm system, etc.) due to the surge.

The best part? The power company claims that it was caused by a squirrel.

**It should be noted that there is no charred, dead little corpse outside. Maybe he disapparated...

The fire fighters and our electrician don't believe it any more than we do. In any case, the homeowner's insurance will cover some of it, but it will take an act of God to get the power company to admit any kind of responsibility. Just this morning, they w…

Just a snippet...

"The crosses are for the evenings you have spent with the Lintons, the dots for those spent with me. Do you see? I’ve marked every day."
"Yes—very foolish: as if I took notice!" replied Catherine, in a peevish tone. "And where is the sense of that?"
"To show that I do take notice," said Heathcliff.

--Wuthering Heights, Vol. 1, Chp. 8

Spending more time with another favorite person!

This morning, I spent time with former student and now wonderful friend, Lisa. She is a wonderfully talented thinker, writer, and person. We had a three-hour-long conversation about books and the writing process and society. She is so inspiring. I wish more 20-somethings were as balanced and thoughtful.

We had some fascinating conversation about Wuthering Heights and Shakespeare. In discussing The Taming of the Shrew, we both decided that the final speech should be acted with sincerity. I just can't see it done any other way and somehow, when I see it played sarcastically or in jest, it just doesn't ring true.

Anyway, for today, enough of that!

I also had to work today...which took away any hope of working on the dissertation. It is okay, though, because I can spend time on it tomorrow. Also just received my first chapter revision list from my director. It is so helpful and I will have to begin on it soon, too. Still, I feel tired thinking about it...