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  • I read a lot, and I have a lot of opinions, so I can't believe I haven't made a list like this before. If you are even a little bit like me or you want to get a peek into my psyche (you probs don't), these are the books to read.
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Archive for August, 2010

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Posted on August 30th, 2010 by annakjarzab

So this weekend I realized something–I’m almost done with the second zero draft of my next manuscript! I was in the middle of closing out (I like how I use bar terminology to talk about writing–tells you where I’ve been spending my time as of late; by “closing out” I guess I mean “resolving”, which is more writer-y and less Coors Lite) the relationship between my main character (Caro, short for Carolina, but more on that in later posts once, hopefully, it looks like this book might actually be going to print) and her love interest, when I realized if I didn’t leave my house I’d be late for brunch with Alex, but the other thing I realized is that I really only needed one more chapter. I need to properly close out Caro’s other relationships and bring all the narrative threads to a satisfactory conclusion, and I think I just need one more chapter for that.

I feel like I should be saying more about this project, but for some reason I’m feeling very superstitious about it, like if I tell anyone what it’s about it might affect whether or not my agents and editor actually like it. Which I’m sure is not the case, but whatever. I’m nervous, because nobody’s really seen it but me, and we all know how THAT worked out last time! I don’t even know if my editor knows what it’s about. Joanna saw the beginning of the first zero draft last year and was very encouraging, but hasn’t seen anything since. The good thing is, the beginning hasn’t changed, like, at all.

But I’m excited to show people. I feel way more confident about this book than the last one I sent, and I’m not dying for it to be over, either. I have my own sense of the manuscript’s weaknesses, and I’m eager to see if they’re confirmed by others, or if I’m just being super hard on myself (as always). And I’m also excited to step away for a few weeks while Alex reads and I work on something new (and by “new” I mean a manuscript I’ve been working on for a year that is currently at 200 pages–so, not new at all). This “new” thing is big and epic and exciting, even though I tried to explain it to my friend Nikki yesterday and made it sound like a total train wreck, and I CANNOT WAIT to have a finished manuscript of that one. It’s pretty different than AUT, and TOTALLY different than this new book 2 which I think in the past I’ve called OH? Or OoH? That title is so tentative, I don’t even want to talk about it.

So I guess I came on here to tell you that I can’t tell you anything? Which is weird, I get that. Carry on.

Forget it, Jake, it’s Mockingjaytown (spoilery as hell!)

Posted on August 25th, 2010 by annakjarzab

Yesterday at lunch I went with my coworker Emilie to go buy Mockingjay at the B&N on 9th St and 6th Ave. I say this because, while not a far walk, that’s a good maybe ten/fifteen blocks from where we work, and it was spitting rain, and though I had brought both my rain boots and my umbrella, I decided to bring neither of those essential pieces of rainy day gear with me. Because I am good at planning! So of course it started to pour on my way back to the office and I got soaked. At least Mockingjay was safe! I treated myself to Chipotle in celebration.

It was REALLY HARD not to start reading at work, although the following picture might somehow give you the impression that I might have glanced at a few pages while on the job TOTALLY ON ACCIDENT OF COURSE and even though I wore a Mockingjay t-shirt to work last Friday I should TOTALLY NOT BE FIRED because it was a summer Friday and summer Fridays = sanctuary. Right? (Also: I have a Mockingjay t-shirt! It was a gift from my friend Eric, who besides building this beautiful website, is now officially the Coolest Dude I Know. He was only unofficially that before.)

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Also, I can’t read hardcovers with the dust jacket on them. It makes me squirmy. So that’s why Mockingjay is naked. But it looks good naked. This metaphor is getting weird.

So, I’m sure you’re all breathless with anticipation about what I think about the events of Mockingjay and how Suzanne Collins settled the Great Peeta v. Gale debate. The answer is…I kind of raced through it, so I’m not sure I remember a lot of the details. BUT this “review”, such as it is, will contain spoilers so don’t go getting any fancy ideas about reading it unspoiled. Okay, cool.

District 13: I think it’s bomb that it’s so awful down there. And really, it all makes sense. For instance, District 13 would not be able to exist without the cooperation from the Capitol, so that makes total sense. It also makes sense that they’d be completely heartless Chuck Basstards, because you don’t survive in secret for 75 years while the other residents of the country suffer the consequences for your uprising, including–but not limited to!–sacrificing two of their CHILDREN every year to be hunted most dangerous game-style on TELEVISION every year. I’m like, they had BETTER have been organizing a rebellion all these years, because if they hadn’t been, they’d have been the worst. As it is, they’re pretty much the worst already, which Collins completely acknowledges–by the end, most of the characters are like, President Snow, President Coin, who cares, it’s the same damn thing over and over again. But I guess if you’re choosing between two devils, you might as well choose the one that says they believe in freedom, rather than the one that’s basically guaranteed you a life of servitude, squalor, starvation, and sex slavery (I’ll get to that!) no matter what happens.

The Evils of Marketing: Is it just me, or is this book all about how marketing is only used to manipulate people? I mean, duh, marketing is only used to manipulate people. But that whole part where they’re discussing “targeted” videos in which they show the different districts their own slaughtered children in order to maximize the effect of the rebellion’s message? Hits a little too close to home, you know? I love how Katniss is like, “GENIUS!” Because really, it is genius. The best way to get people on your side is to remind them (as if they could forget) what they’ve lost to the other side, and how it will continue unabated unless they do something about it.

Peeta v. Gale: If possible, I liked Gale less in this book than I have in every other one, and that is certainly saying something. I mean, I get it. He’s strong and brave and capable and smart, but he’s no benevolent superhero. He’s got very fine-tuned loyalties, and anyone who isn’t, like, Katniss or her family or his family can basically go blow as far as he’s concerned. His sympathies don’t even extend to the people Katniss herself cares about–like her prep team, for instance. The image of them all chained up, starving and beaten and pissing themselves (literally), was horrifying and Gale’s like, “What?” when Katniss is upset about it. Now I personally think that Katniss has always been in love with Peeta, and Gale never really had a chance with her in the first place (well, not since the first Games, anyway) unless Peeta died and even then probably not (as he himself points out). But this is when Gale starts to really lose her. His lack of compassion isn’t something that Katniss can deal with, because it’s a struggle she’s already going through, trying to find it in her to forgive and to care about people even though she’s hard-wired for survival and almost nothing else (I love the word the LA Times uses in their review: “nihilistic”). Peeta not only off-sets Katniss’ nihilism with his hope and compassion, but he also encourages and nurtures it in her. That’s what makes them such a great pair, and Collins gets that, if the last page of the book is anything to go by. Also, I’m not a squee-er, but when Katniss tells Peeta: “Because that’s what you and I do. Protect each other.” I was like, “THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT! SHE GETS IT! SHE SAID IT!” And then texted Alex to squee.

Peeta’s hijacking: There’s some debate about this going on with people who’ve read the books, and some people are like, “Great, yet another YA heroine who is inexplicably drawn to the boy who’s trying to kill her–literally.” Which is whining that I am, under most circumstances, completely get behind. I hate stories like that. The Romantic Stalker Dude is really my least favorite trope in YA. HOWEVER. That’s not how Peeta’s hijacking functions. One of the most important things about it is what I failed to adequately articulate above, which is that Peeta’s break from reality brings things into focus for Katniss. She is forced to face the things she understands about her relationship with Peeta (their reliance on each other, the way they draw strength from each other, their very important connection) and to bring Peeta back to those things by expressing them openly, which she’s had a very hard time doing before now. It isn’t that she didn’t know she was in love with Peeta, or that he’s the person she needs most in this world–it’s that she never knew how to put those things into words, or what they meant (because she’s so used to being alone and fighting for herself and the people in her life who have so little agency it hardly matters). When it comes to Peeta, so much of their relationship has grown under a veil of obfuscation that she was never really sure what was real and what was just a play but Peeta was always sure. Now that Peeta’s uncertain, she has to be the one with the conviction. She has to figure out what reality is and mirror that back to him. It’s her great expression of love for Peeta, and I think it works beautifully. Also, angsty lit boys are just my style, so Peeta’s suffering gets my heartbroken stamp of approval.

Also, we know Peeta well enough to know that he’s not a Romantic Stalker Dude. He has explicitly been Derek Zoolander-ed into killing Katniss. She’s not attracted to him because of that–she’s always been in love with him, and actually his transformation causes her great pain, pain that for a long time bewilders her because she doesn’t know how to be the emotionally strong one. It’s an opportunity for growth for Katniss, and our girl rises to the occasion–she brings him back, to himself and to her.

How Katniss totally kills President Coin instead of President Snow: Awesome. I wasn’t expecting it, and I actually called out, “ROCK ON!” when she did it. My roommate was in the other room, with her hands over her ears and humming to herself, rocking back and forth, in order to avoid the spoilers I so badly wanted to dump on her, because she’s going to “read the books one day.” Kill joy.

The deaths: I have to say, I forgot Finnick and Annie even existed because I read Catching Fire so long ago, but I liked Finnick a lot in Mockingjay and I’m going to miss him. He was pretty cool. And Prim–she was annoying to me in the first two books, but I’m glad she grew up a little and got herself some agency. That’s really what makes her death so tragic; she was finally coming into her own, only to have her life snuffed out. And the irony of Katniss starting all this shizz because she wanted to protect Prim from dying in the Hunger Games only to have Prim die as a result of all of Katniss’ Hunger Games shenanigans is quite poignant. Who else died? I forget. Like I said, I rushed.

The conclusion: There were a couple of great lines in the book, but I especially liked when Peeta said on his broadcast, “Is this really what we want to do? Kill ourselves off completely? In the hopes that–what? Some decent species will inherit the smoking remains of the earth?” I love the phrase “decent species.” It reminds me a lot of something Adama said in Battlestar Galactica, when he was questioning whether or not the human race really deserved to survive. I guess that’s sort of a moot question because no species is going to be like, “Actually, we’re pretty awful–we’re just going to lay down and die here.” It’s evolutionarily whackadoo. But the statement is important. It brought up an idea that I’d never given much consideration to before, which is that the current situation in Panem is not the result of just one uprising that brought about the “destruction” of District 13 and the introduction of the Hunger Games–it’s the result of countless wars and genocides and acts of destruction over hundreds and hundreds of years. This is basically their last chance at thwarting imminent extinction! That is a really heavy burden for Katniss to carry around, one that I’ve never given its proper weight to before. And I think the ending is pretty ambiguous on that point–it’s more of a question than an answer. Plutarch and Katniss have that conversation about whether or not they’ve finally learned their lesson, and Katniss seems to think not a chance in hell they have, but Plutarch is more sanguine, saying:

“We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction. Although who knows? Maybe this will be it, Katniss.”
“What?”
“The time it sticks. Maybe we are witnessing the evolution of the human race. Think about that.”

Oh, I’m definitely thinking about it. And if the epilogue is anything to go by, probably things have gotten better since the end of the war. But like Plutarch says, we have short memories. And nuclear weapons. Still, I think the ending is hopeful, although not glowingly so, which is consistent with the tone of the series and also reality for those most part. I loved Mockingjay. I can’t wait till all my peeps have read it and we can run around screaming at each other about it like morons.

Edited to add: I just realized that I promised to talk about the sex slavery somewhere in here, so I will say that–SEX SLAVERY. Poor Finnick. 🙁 And now he’s dead.

Melissa & Joey

Posted on August 19th, 2010 by annakjarzab

So. I just want to say for the record that I’m not embarrassed to be telling you this. Last night, my roommate and I got a bottle of wine, a pizza, and watched the first two episodes of that new ABC Family “comedy”, Melissa & Joey.

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Wait, wait. Let me back up. So several months back, Eesha (that’s my roommate) informed me that she had DVRed an ABC Family movie called My Fake Fiance and that she was insisting we watch it together. So we did. It was RIDICULOUS! The jist was that Melissa Joan Hart had all her stuff stolen because her stupid friend couldn’t be bothered to watch the moving truck (??), and she couldn’t afford new stuff. Also, her apartment was like a fricking palace, I can’t remember what job she had that allowed her to own something of that gargantuan size, especially since she was the ONLY PERSON LIVING IN IT. Okay, so. Enter Joey Lawrence, who was a con man? (The “backstories” of the “characters” from this “movie” are starting to escape me.) Anyway, they decided that they would have a fake wedding and then split the cash and gifts (or maybe she got the gifts and he got the cash, although that would get her 4 blenders but probably not, like, a new couch, so it’s kind of a bad plan) so he could pay back the people he owed money to, and she could furnish her apartment. So, aside from the obvious fool proof-ness of this plan, the movie was a hilarious train wreck, but you know what? Joey Lawrence has the NICEST BODY EVER. He is fit as a fiddle, with perfect biceps and a beautiful butt. And I’m not even a butt girl. But seriously.

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Anyway, ABC Family must have decided that it had something on its hands with these two crazy kids, so now there’s this TV show that is similar but not the same, because that would be silly. Melissa Joan Hart now plays Mel Burke, a local politician (random profession) from a highly corrupt political family who has become the guardian of her niece and nephew because her sister is in federal prison and her brother-in-law has fled the country underneath clouds of some scandal. But because Mel is apparently so incapable of taking care of herself that her sassistant (that’s “sassy” + “assistant”) helps her get dressed in the morning–or at the very least hovers over her as she gets dressed in the morning, which is equally as creepy and highly unnecessary–she needs help dealing with these mostly grown kids. So she hires Joey Lawrence, he of the bulging muscles, an out of work commodities trader, to do the laundry and cook the meals and keep the house even though, can we backtrack to how he’s a former commodities trader? And he just jumps right in to help with the dirty dishes? I don’t…whatever.

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Obviously, questioning the internal logic of this show will just lead to an ever devolving shame spiral of confusion and frustration–it’s one of those things you’ve just got to accept as-is. And asking why the show insists on harkening back to the days of 90s sitcoms by, like, looking like a 90s sitcom, is probably pretty pointless. As is asking why Mel’s house (AGAIN, gigantic and ostensibly just for Mel–would make more sense if she had moved into her sister’s old house, but they have already stated that the town the kids used to live in is two hours away) looks like the Matthewses’ house from Boy Meets World. (Eesha thinks it looks more like the house from Step by Step, but she’s wrong. That one had WAY more wood paneling.) The show’s not very funny, which is its biggest downfall, although it has its moments. Every once in a while, we’d laugh, but did I mention that we had some wine?

Anyway, if you’re wondering if I’m going to watch it again, the answer is, unequivocally, YES. During another bombed joke, I turned to Eesha and asked, “Did you make sure to record the whole series?” And she said, “Of course.” And then we high fived.

The best thing I have ever (co)written

Posted on August 17th, 2010 by annakjarzab

So I think maybe you might have gotten the idea that I sort of love Lois & Clark. Fair enough. In my last L&C post, I mentioned that I originally fell in love with the show, back in the day, along with my friend Megan, who was my super best friend growing up and is still someone I adore. Anyway, one of the everlasting legacies of my friendship with Megan is this poem, which we wrote following her break up with a guy we went to junior high with during our freshman year in high school (HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT PEOPLE HAD BOYFRIENDS IN JUNIOR HIGH AND FRESHMAN YEAR IN HIGH SCHOOL? WE WERE JUST PUPAS AT THAT AGE. Sorry, I had an attack of the olds just then.). Anyway, the poem is HIGH-larious. I found it thanks to the infinite memory of the Internet and promptly sent it to her tonight–and also forced Kim and Eesha to listen to my pedestrian recitation of it. So here we go:

My Soup-erman
by Wanda Lolo Detroit*

We’re sitting here laughing at you
For things you did or didn’t do
The way you drew me into your arms
Romancing me with your fatal charms

Little did I know we’d have three kids
And live in a one-room trailer
That you would be a no-name hack
And I would be a sailor

They couldn’t call you Superman
Because you’re not that strong
Take it from me, my Soup-erman
On this I cannot be wrong

I fixed you chicken noodle
When you were sick with the flu
Cause you got bit by the ugly bug
And I can’t stand looking at you!

I made you tomato basil
When you brought your parents home
Actually, when I think about it
Have they ever heard of a comb?

I found your nosehairs in the chowder
When I stirred it last night
Did you get into my face powder?
Something just isn’t right

I cooked you some beef stew
And left it on to boil
But when I got back that afternoon
You’d seasoned it with garden soil!

Did you eat beans, my Soup-erman
Or is it just nature calling?
I cannot stay in this house much longer
I hate your constant squalling.

I’m telling you, my Soup-erman
I can’t take this anymore
I’m moving to Metropolis
I’m walking out the door

I’m going to be an ace reporter
Who gets in a lot of trouble
I’m going to meet my Superman
And we’ll marry on the double

You cannot stop me, my Soup-erman
This just is how it’ll be
Someday you’ll read the Daily Planet
A feature story by me

Too bad you won’t get your soup
Not from my kitchen, anyway
You’re not my ideal, Soup-erman
You’ve never saved the day.

Okay, so obviously I’m going to have to abandon this blog soon, because any day now they’ll be announcing that Megan and I are co-poet laureates, and you know I’m not going to have time to update you with all my thoughtsicles on Twilight and shizz.

JUST KIDDING. But oh, how that poem kills me. I find it so funny, and best of all, I have such wonderful memories of actually writing it with Megan. We were basically falling out of our chairs with laughter. You know what else I just found out that is awesome? Megan, a life-long Superman fan, just named her newborn son CLARK KENT. Normally I’d be very wary of this, but it just makes so much sense to me, and the baby is GORGEOUS. I’m sure he’ll grow into his name, no problem.

A couple of notes about the poem:

A. When I read it to Kim, she made a very acute observation: “It sounds like you guys just picked words that rhymed and then stuck them in between mentions of different kinds of soup.” Right you are, Kim.

B. Notice how the rhyme scheme is all ABAB, except the first stanza, which is AABB. Curious. I wonder what some Ph.D. student forty years down the road will make of that when they’re writing a thesis on me. I’d like to think it’ll be called, “Soup and Stupidity: A Rumination on Anna Jarzab’s Juvenilia.” One can only hope.

*This is an embarrassing L&C inside joke. Anyone who gets it receives a gold star!

Eat, pray, sleep

Posted on August 16th, 2010 by annakjarzab

Like every other lady in the United States (and abroad!), I read Eat, Pray, Love when it came out in trade paperback a couple of years ago. And I enjoyed it! I mean, okay. I recognize that it’s a problematic thing, the way in which scores of women admire Elizabeth Gilbert for taking her considerable book advance and her apparent infinite amount of free time to go “find herself” in Italy, India and Indonesia for a year when most people–hm, I would say almost all people–don’t have the luxury of time or money and therefore our breakdowns tend to be a bit less glamorous, to use my roommate’s word. But I understand (or at least I think I do) what it feels like to be at your wits end, to feel lost and separated from yourself and all of that great existential ahngst, and to need to run away. And I think Elizabeth Gilbert herself is a smart lady, and she’s got a fun, self-deprecating voice, which, if you are a self-deprecating person (as I am), you appreciate. And who doesn’t want to go to Italy and eat pizza?! Travel memoir + story about a woman having a nervous breakdown + humor = something I’d reasonably enjoy, and possibly recommend to somebody else.

You know what’s NOT something I would recommend to somebody else? The Eat, Pray, Love movie. I don’t care how many Florence + the Machine songs you play in the trailer, you are not getting my vote, Eat, Pray, Love movie! I’m mad enough that I paid $13 to see you, I would not inflict that on anybody else. First of all, Elizabeth Gilbert’s voice is completely gone, even though they use ACTUAL VOICE OVER with ACTUAL SENTENCES from the ACTUAL BOOK, all the magic of Gilbert’s personality is gone like dust on the wind. Maybe they picked the wrong lines, or maybe Julia Roberts isn’t funny enough, or maybe the movie takes itself way too seriously and therefore Julia Roberts was told not to be funny…I don’t know. They do a bad job of setting up the reasons for Liz’s breakdown (two men love me, waaaah–it’s more complicated than that, obviously, but not dealt with as such in the movie), and then the rest of it? Is just BORING.

Seriously. I was so bored. I was completely not entertained. The movie had no plot, which is fine for a memoir with a different narrative agenda, but not for a movie. It was just a bunch of disjointed vignettes clumped together in categories: Eat/Italy/Learn to be okay with getting fat; Pray/India/Get yelled at by a Texan guy who was way more interesting in the book; Love/Bali/Fall for a dude. Ugh, so boring. My friend Nikki actually fell asleep all through the India section.

I guess Javier Bardem was okay. I thought he was pretty funny, actually, the only genuinely amusing character/actor in the film (except his hot Australian son, who was also amusing and nice to look at). Except I kept thinking he was Jeffery Dean Morgan. Like, I really believed that, until we left the theater and I was like, “Wow, Jeffery Dean Morgan, who knew he could do that accent?” and my friends were like, “Uh…that’s Javier Bardem.” I even argued! That’s how sure I was that it was Jeffery Dean Morgan. Oh well.

But you know what? Read Eat, Pray, Love. Accept that it’s self-centered and narcissistic and envy Liz Gilbert the money and time that allowed her to really wallow in her own misfortune (so much of it self-inflicted!), when really that’s what all of us want to do. You think I don’t want to jet off to Italy right now? And if I didn’t have a job that I needed to, like, pay rent and shizz, I would TOTALLY DO IT. So I’m not going to begrudge her. I liked Eat, Pray, Love–THE BOOK. And I really loved this TED talk she gave about how being a writer, or any sort of creative person, is about showing up and doing the work and being stubborn and not throwing in the towel even though you want to. It’s pretty bomb.

Super duper

Posted on August 15th, 2010 by annakjarzab

You guys. Did you know you could watch Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman on Netflix on demand? Well you can! All four delightfully campy season of it. So obviously, I’ve been doing nothing but watching it. My friend Megan and I were obsessed with this show, and Dean Cain, when we were in junior high, and even though it is the apex of ridiculousness, I’m LOVING IT.

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But. I will say. This show has not aged well. AT ALL. I’d forgotten how long ago it was on television. It first aired in 1993, which is the same year both Friends and The X-Files did, but for some reason those shows, though obviously dated in so many ways, stand the test of time better? I mean, The X-Files is so frakking good that it doesn’t really matter–it could’ve been made anytime and it would still be relevant. And Friends went on so long, the later years are relatively current. But Lois & Clark…woof.

I think it’s probably the special effects. Because of the whole Superman element, there’s a lot of green screening in an time where green screening wasn’t particularly well done. The flying scenes are LAUGHABLE and don’t seem to conform to the laws of, oh, physics. Not to mention, when Lois ruins her shoes while stopping a runaway truck in “Ultra Woman” (where Shelly Long accidentally transfers Clark’s powers to Lois by shooting him with a red kryptonite laser…don’t ask), she laments, “These shoes cost $75!” The post-Sex and the City era it is not.

No cell phones. Beepers. Beepers! And those big portable phones with the retractible antennas. I know I shouldn’t make fun; it’s not like iPhones won’t look like the most ancient technology imaginable in 10 years or whatever. But that, combined with the over-the-top-ness (mustache twirling villains who attempt head transplants, plastic surgery so perfect that it’s possible to create an actual double of Lois, etc.) makes it a cheese-tastic throwback. I mean, in the episode I’m watching now, the villains are freeze-dried hot Nazis who’ve been resurrected from a deep cryo-sleep and are posing as celebrities in order to resurrect the Third Reich. Nazis! Can you imagine? I don’t think we’ve seen hide or hair of a fictional Nazi threat on TV since 9/11.

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But you know why I keep watching it? Lois and Clark. Their relationship (I’ve effectively skipped the first and second seasons, because all that tension is just boring to me, and Lex Luthor…barf) is really sweet and funny and remarkably realistic in the sense that they are constantly fumbling all over the place, unable to express themselves and afraid to, constantly second guessing their own behavior and trying to do the right thing but unsure of what the right thing might be. I don’t think of either Teri Hatcher or Dean Cain as remarkable actors, per se, but they make it utterly believable, and compulsively watchable. I love the sweet naivete of the show. You could never have a show like this on a network today, although I guess Glee comes pretty close in that sense. But I mean, I just finished watching an episode where a woman claims to have had Superman’s love child–and she’s lying! Because Clark is a stand up guy who would never sleep with a woman who wasn’t Lois Lane, even before he met her! It’s awesome. A perfect antidote to our ironic, jaded era.

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Lost in space

Posted on August 9th, 2010 by annakjarzab

Sometime this week I’m going to have to write a post about my weekend with my parents in D.C., which was superfun. Did you know that D.C. is, like, the cleanest city ever? Well, the cleanest but for Vancouver. You can probably eat off the sidewalks in Vancouver, or at least that was my impression when I last visited (in, um, 2005). I remember walking into a 7-11 in Vancouver (in search of booze, which it turns out they don’t really have in 7-11s in Vancouver) and thinking, “This is the cleanest 7-11 I’ve ever seen. It’s so sterile you could perform surgery in here.” Also, ketchup flavored potato chips! Which I must confess, ketchup fiend though I am, I never had the temerity to try.

Anyway, when you live in New York, which is, truth be told, one huge garbage dump with a population of 10 million (not pulling any punches today!), you learn to appreciate walking down the street without being assaulted by the smell of trash rotting in the sun. Somehow, it makes the heat and humidity a little easier to withstand.

But enough with the whining! Those who follow my Tumblr might have noticed that I’ve been posting a little about How the Universe Got Its Spots by Janna Levin. Janna Levin is an astrophysicist/cosmologist, and How the Universe Got Its Spots is a popular science book (by which I mean that is a book about science written for regular-type people and not astrophysicists) she wrote in the form of letters to her mother in which she attempts to explain, in the simplest ways possible, what she does for a living. Levin does a lot of research in the field of topology, which is the study of the shape of the universe. But you can’t just go from, “Dear Mom” to “This is what topology is” because topology is actually quite complex for your average non-physicist, so most of the book is dedicated to teaching the reader about the fundamental tenets of space and time (and spacetime), and in some respects the history of how we came to know what we think we know about space and time (in essence: first there were the ancients, then there was Copernicus, then there was Newton, then there was Einsten, and then after Einstein there were lots of other people, and all of those great minds together gave us the fuzzy, albeit logical, picture we have of where the universe came from, where it’s going, how it operates, and how it continues to flummox us).

This was my second time tackling How the Universe Got Its Spots. It’s not that long–in fact, less than 250 pages. But even though Levin does a good job of talking the reader through Newtonian physics and Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity, the actual field of her research–topology–is too complex for my puny little nerd brain. I want to understand it, and I lectured at my roommate last night in a feeble attempt to understand it (talking through things is the best way I know of to understand them), but I know that my grasp on the concept (on many of the concepts, actually) is weak and transitory at best. Levin lost me this time at precisely the point where she lost me the last time. My goal in reading Levin’s book, and in reading Brian Green’s The Fabric of the Cosmos, which I also eventually abandoned because I just cannot grasp string theory, is to remember Einstein’s theories of relativity and the concept of spacetime, and to remember that cosmic background radiation, the echo of the Big Bang, exists, because this is all very important to my understanding of what I’m trying to do with the book I’m working on now.

And wouldn’t you know it? I sat down last night to watch the episode of The Universe I’d taped and guess what? It was a two-hour special all about The Big Bang. It dovetailed perfectly with How the Universe Got Its Spots, so I sat down and gobbled the whole thing up. I got dorkily excited when they started going over the same things Levin had brought up (Newton, Einstein, cosmic background radiation) and not only did I KNOW WHAT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT, but I could articulate the points relatively well given the fact that I am, in fact, a moron.

I am totally, totally into space, as you may have noticed. I have been since I was a child. I even went to Space Camp back when it was a thing that you could really do! Or whatever, you can still go to Space Camp, but not in Florida, which was the coolest Space Camp, not least because of its proximity to Disney World. The first time I ever tasted Dippin’ Dots was at Space Camp (they called them Space Dots, which lead me to believe that NASA had invented them–FALSE). We even got to watch the launch of the Mars Global Surveyor at Cape Canaveral from the roof of the Space Camp dorms. It turns out that a lot of people are totally into space, including my roommate, which is why this weekend we’re taking what will be my first trip to the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, which is conveniently located right in my neighborhood (er, sort of–if you have a slightly flexible definition of “neighborhood”). So excited! I’ll let you know how it goes, maybe even Tumbl a few pics.

True Blood

Posted on August 3rd, 2010 by annakjarzab

I need to blog more, sheesh. About cool stuff. Fun stuff. Stuff that you are into. My friend Alex Bracken has moved most of her daily blogging over to Tumblr; maybe I should do that, too. In fact, I will. Done. Annajarzab.tumblr.com, for your enjoyment. Just kidding, I set that up a long time ago (and promptly forgot about it), as evidenced by the fact that I posted the Letters to Juliet trailer, like, a month ago. Whatever! I will start posting there. Add it to your RSS if you wish. I’ll still post here, but that’s where I’ll be throwing the various web junk that I find interesting.

Anyway, what did I come here to talk about? Oh, right. True Blood. Great show, amirite? Over the top and ridiculously campy, but fun and dark and full of cute boys (Eric Northman, Jason Stackhouse, Hoyt, I’m looking right at you). Because I always have to have a ‘ship, I’m a huge Sookie/Eric fan. I’m just a huge Eric fan, I don’t feel one way or the other about Sookie, but there’s always got to be a girl you have to project yourself on to. I pretty much cannot stand Bill Compton. I’m sorry, but why does he look so…dead? Like, I get that he is dead, but the rest of the vampires are dead and they don’t look as old and dead as Stephen Moyer does under all that makeup. My coworker suggests that it’s because he deprives himself of human blood to feed on, but mostly so does Jessica and she looks like a normal teenage girl, but with fangs. Stephen Moyer just looks awful on that show. I’m sure he’s a very handsome man IRL, but on screen he just looks…decrepit.

Eric, meanwhile: God among men. Observe:

eric_northman

Why Sookie would want Bill instead of Eric, I’ll never know. Of course, I’m only on season 3, episode 3 right now…perhaps there is change a comin’? Although I’ve read that Allan Ball, who is the mind behind the show, has flat out said that Sookie and Bill are soul mates, which…doubtful. I’m sorry. Eventually Sookie is going to get sick of him. He’s so mopey, and he treats her like a fragile object. He’s always trying to “protect” her, while Eric encourages her to find value in her own life and abilities and protect herself, while also giving her the backup she needs when she needs it. Plus, he is hotter and DOES NOT LOOK DEAD. Just like maybe he needs a little Caribbean vacation.

Having just finished season 2, I must say that I’m liking season 3 more already. The Queen Sophie-Anne character has made me like Evan Rachel Wood for the first time ever, and I’m glad to be rid of Maryanne and all of her attendant weirdness (although I’ll miss Michelle Forbes–she plays a bad ass crazy bitch like nobody else, I must say, if her appearances on True Blood and Battlestar Galactica are to be believed). I didn’t dislike that storyline, but for a major plotline in a season that is only 12 episodes long (14 if you count the episodes of season 1 Maryanne was in), it really felt played out by the end. I was ready for it to be over, and to be honest I fast forwarded a little. I really prefer the world of the vampires (not too crazy about the addition of the werewolves, mostly because my anti-Jacob sentiments are so evolved that they now include the entire fictional species…and I’m also wondering how in fact the werewolves differ from Sam and the rest of the shape shifters, but whatever, maybe I shouldn’t think too hard about things like this).

Anyone else watch the show?