Friday, August 30, 2013

Small Things and One Strange Book

First up today is VikLit's weekly hop, Celebrate The Small Things. (click on the pic to the left for a complete list of participants) Here's what I'm celebrating this week:

—Reading a good book. I'm about half way through Tara Tyler's Pop Travel and I'm enjoying it immensely. I have no desire to experience Pop Travel myself, but I am desperate to know...who's taking care of Audrey's German Shepherd?!?

—Family time. I spent an entertaining afternoon with my niece talking about fairies, ghosts, and blast-ended skrewts while shopping for notebooks and pens. And I'll be spending today with my brother and sister-in-law. Not sure what we'll be doing yet, but there will be lots of laughter, and that's all that matters.

—Speaking of laughter, I'm celebrating The World's End. This is one seriously funny movie, and I laughed a lot during it. My favorite line is probably "What the fuck does WTF mean?"

Next up is The Armchair Squid's The Cephalpod Coffeehouse (click on the pic to the right for a complete list of participants) where participants share a favorite book that they've read over the month.

My selection for this month is probably the strangest book I think I've ever read. It's called House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.

This is what Goodreads has to say about it:

Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth -- musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies -- the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.

Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices.

The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story -- of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.

So, what this blurb doesn't mention is that this is a story in a story in a story.  (And none of which, in my opinion, was all that terrifying. But, to each their own.) At the first level is Johnny Truant who finds a manuscript written by (2nd level) the recently deceased Zampano, a blind man who had been dictating the story (3rd level) of the Navidson family and their creepy house to a group of volunteers.  Zampano's story of the Navidson family is written like a critical analysis of a film, including an insane number of footnotes noting sources (none of which, you know, actually exist because the Navidson movie is made up). Then there are Johnny's footnotes which often times last for pages and only occasionally have to do with what you were reading about in the first place.

And then the book gets really weird. Not story-wise, really, but the way you have to read it. You have to hold the book  upside down and sideways. You have to occasionally read at an angle. And backwards. Sections are blacked out. There's text in French and German and Russian and Italian and Latin. Some pages look like this:

And there's one page which describes Navidson climbing a ladder. The text takes on the form a ladder and you have to read right to left in order to understand what's going on.'s a cool book. It's very well-written. I'm impressed with the quality of the writing. I was annoyed by a few things at the beginning (Johnny's first two paged footnote, for example), and didn't think I'd be telling y'all how great it is, but it's a cool book. It's definitely an experience, and I'm glad my significant other told me about it so I could track down a copy and take it on.

Also a cool note is that the singer, Poe, has an album called Haunted that was inspired by this novel. (Apparently, she and Danielewki are siblings). But the last thing I'm going to leave you with today is this XKCD comic also inspired by House of Leaves

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend, all.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer Staycation

A funny thing happened at work last week. Well, two things really. One, no one quit (myself included). And two, I was given a week off.

The general consensus among associates (read: not managers) is that I was given this very rare gift because #1 Boss is trying to get back into my good graces following our Major Fall Out of August 2nd. And for anyone who may be interested, that's not going to happen, no matter how many weeks off she gives me. She is way deep in my bogus bag and it is ziplocked shut. (I will give 1,000,000 ultra mega bonus points to anyone who can Name! That! Reference! Hint: it's not from the Whedonverse.) And nothing—I repeat NOTHING—is going to get her out again.

But whatever the reason for this happy and unexpected occurrence, I am taking full advantage of it and declaring this week my summer staycation (hence the very clever title). Fortunately, the Mount Washington Valley is an excellent place to have a summer staycation. (It's an excellent place to have a winter staycation, too, so long as you ski. Which I don't. But anyway...)

Here's a glimpse at my goals this week:

1. Watch The World's End. This will require a mini road trip as there is no theater near me playing it. But if I drive south for an hour and a half (give or take some time for traffic), I'll find one.

2. Go on a hike. I've only been on one hike so far this year and that's uncool. Which is why it's on the list for this week. My first choice was the ten mile, four peak Franconia Ridge Trail, but The Man said "Hell, no!" to that one, so we'll likely be tackling the much, much shorter Middle Mountain Trail. And since it turns out that it'll fit better in to the staycation schedule, I guess I'm all right with it. Besides, I've never climbed Middle Mountain (elevation 1857 ft.) before. I tried it once, and almost made it to the top, but that was an ill-fated trip. With luck, this next attempt will prove to be better.

3. Kayak. Probably on Conway Lake. But that part's flexible.

5. Spend some time with my ultra cool brother and sister-in-law doing something ultra cool.

6. Finish writing Chapter Nineteen. I think it's pretty close to being done, but the biggest hold up is a scene where one of my truly rotten, evil characters has to be nice. It's freaking out the other characters and, as it turns out, me.

7. Maybe take a stab at the blurb, too. But only if everything else gets done.

So that's going to do it for me today. What's on your agenda this week?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Coming Up For Air (Celebrating the Small Things)

Celebrate The Small Things is a weekly bloghop hosted by VikLit where participants simply share the good things from the past week. Click on the logo to your left for a complete list of participants.

I've missed a couple of weeks of blogging. Maybe you didn't notice, (and really, why would you?) but I'm back now. To stay. At least to visit. For a while anyway. Or maybe just today.

Only time will tell.

I don't mean to ignore you or this blog. It's just that my day job has become an even bigger time suck than before. Two more people quit, and (as there are no new hires on which to bet) the meager remaining staff is now placing bets on which staff member will be the next to go (and we all want to go). For reasons I'm not going into at this point in time, I'm the current favorite.

If I had to pick a visual representation of how I've been feeling lately, it would be this:

Sadly, in this scenario, I am Loki.

This said, I hope to turn things around soon. I want to recover my groove and become the enormous green rage monster I once was.

But until then here are the two awesome things and one kind of okay thing I am celebrating this week:

—I had enough time off in a row in order for my niece to come for a visit. We stayed up late, ate way too much sugar, swam in the river, went shopping and played with swords (real ones). It was a fantastic two days, and I'm almost positive her mother may someday let her come and visit again sometime.

—Cupcakes in a jar. I first blogged about these back in April after I watched part of an episode of Shark Tank that featured a Massachusetts based mother-daughter company called Wicked Good Cupcakes. I've been pretty obsessed with them ever since and a few days ago, I was able to go to Boston for the day. The main reason for the visit was the New England Aquarium where I learned that my super fun motion sickness extends to watching fish swim around a curved tank (no more aquarium trips for me). But after that, I used my cupcake radar to find the Wicked Good Cupcake shop in Faneuil Hall. I probably embarrassed myself (and my sister) with my enthusiasm, but as I came home with two cupcakes in a jar, I don't really care.

I'd like to report that they are dangerously delicious, and I am already counting down the days to my next Boston visit so I can try a few more flavors.

—And last but not least, I'm celebrating the nearly 2000 words I've added to my WIP in the last month. I know 2000 words in a month is not a particularly impressive amount, but it is better than nothing and means that I am still crawling forward when the urge to sit under my desk and cry into an empty cupcake jar is too often overwhelming these days.

And on that cheerful note, I'm out of here. As always, thank you for stopping by. It's much appreciated.

I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend.