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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.

Posts Tagged ‘Anna’s boring life’

Don’t Look Any Further

Posted on April 12th, 2011 by annakjarzab

If you’re one of the handful of people who read my Make It or Break It recaps, you may notice I didn’t post one last night–but don’t despair! I was celebrating the twenty-eighth anniversary of the birth of my friend Cambria by consuming much wine and cheese, so I didn’t get a chance to watch, but I’m planning on spending some quality time with the Rock girls and boys tonight and will post a recap ASAP.

This is apropos of nothing, but I woke up this morning around 3:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep. I had this song playing over and over again in my head; it sounded very familiar, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember the words and/or title, and it was driving me INSANE. I kept trying to work it out until I realized that by doing so I was preventing myself from falling back asleep, if such a thing was even possible, and eventually I let it go and dozed off, only to wake up two hours later having finally worked out the title.

My friends, behold the wonder that is “Don’t Look Any Further” by Dennis Edwards. (Please, for your own viewing pleasure, watch the video. It’s cheesy and awesome.)

Why did I wake up with this strange, sort of creepy eighties song in my head at 3:30 AM on a Tuesday morning? Good question! I have no idea. I’m pretty sure I haven’t heard it playing anywhere recently. What makes it a little nightmarish is that I recognize the song from (NERD ALERT) a season 7 episode of The X-Files called “Orison,” in which the song serves as a “high school memory trigger/divine warning” (according to Wikipedia) for Scully. Considering that “Orison” is marks the return of fetishist/serial killer Donnie Pfaster, it’s no wonder I couldn’t fall back asleep after that.

Edited to add: Cambria shed some light on why I had “Don’t Look Any Further” in my head! Apparently, they were playing it at a bar we went to on Saturday night, but I guess I was too busy hating that bar and wanting to get the heck out of there to notice. Mystery solved!

Make It Or Break It: “Free People”

Posted on April 5th, 2011 by annakjarzab


Previously on Make It Or Break It: Kaylie (sorry I spelled it wrong in the last recap, Kayls! I’ll do better this time) has an eating disorder and has been in treatment at the Willow Glen eating disorder facility, where she met a model/enabler named Maeve who’s going to help her beat the system and get out of the center with her anorexia intact. Emily and Damon both had “dreams” or whatever (I still think that Damon’s “music career” is an absurdity) but they’re still totally in lurrrrrve. Emily may or may not get to go to Worlds. Lauren was the worst and sent that tape of Payson kissing Sasha to Ellen Beales, so Sasha has taken off for parts unknown, he and Summer have broken up, and Lauren is hoping that will pave the way for her dad, Steve, and Summer to get back together, but…I doubt it. Lauren’s plans NEVER work out.

On to the recap! Kaylie’s gained three pounds at Willow Glen (like, total? Or in the last week, or…what?). She’s not super thrilled. She and Maeve are doing art therapy on the terrace, and the art therapist (real thing?) points out that Maeve is painting with the color red (duh). “Can you connect that with a feeling?” art therapist asks. Real subtle, lady. I bet you went to Harvard. Maeve is really laying it on thick. Kaylie’s canvas is blank, but she’s not doing a great job of selling her “I’m totally trying to recover from my eating disorder” script.

Payson is coaching the girls because they still don’t have one. I mean, jay kay! They have a new coach, Darby Conrad. Kim doesn’t like that she’s just twenty-five, but how old can Sasha possibly be? Thirty-five? Okay, that is ten years. “Lauren’s very excited about it,” Steve says in defense of Darby. Who cares what Lauren thinks? Apparently Darby and Lauren have a past friendship; she was Lauren’s big sister at NGO camp. “They were inseparable,” Payson tells Emily. “Oh, sorry, I mean insufferable.” Good one Pay.

Oh Christ, this Darby looks like she’s twelve and is already incredibly irritating. She’s just a silver medalist? Downgrade. Darby’s “so stoked” to be at the Rock. She’s not into rules like “no dating” and whatever. She finishes her speech with “Namaste.” I’m shocked Lauren likes this woman. Her “goddess within you” routine sounds like Lo Lo’s worst goddamn nightmare.

Summer’s freaked out about how Darby doesn’t respect the structure of the girls’ lives; “oppression encourages rebellion”, Darby says, which is not untrue, but Summer’s head basically explodes when she says that. Lauren is totally into Darby’s relaxed vibe, and when Payson disagrees Lauren calls her a lesbian. Good one? Shut up, Lauren. Payson is going to fall in love with Max and you’re going to be soooo jealous. Then to round off her carousel of insults, Lauren asks Emily, “Do you really think Damon’s going to wait around till 2012 to have sex with you?” Frankly, it’s sort of surprising they haven’t had a “Damon pressures Emily about sex” episode already in this show. Maybe that’ll be this episode! He was in the previouslies.

Emily’s off probation. That was fast. It’s been like a day. Whatever. So she’s free to see Damon, but he’s in LA. Lauren makes a great point that Damon’s always grand gesturing for Emily, bringing her brother to see her at Nationals and bailing her out of jail and all that shizz, and what has Emily done for Damon? Well, she did sneak away to Paris that one time to see him while he was touring in Europe, but yeah–Emily’s a shitty girlfriend and Damon’s the best.

Darby’s really trying to be friends with the three Rock girls. She’s already bosom buddies with Lauren, but she tells Emily and Payson she’s big fans of theirs (the fact that she even knows who Emily is is pretty astounding), and she tells Emily that she totally gets it, our health care system blows, “power to the people.” No. Just…no, Darby. Don’t encourage her. Also, Lauren’s declaring herself team captain because with Kaylie out she’s the highest ranked girl at the gym. Darby decides that Payson and Lauren should compete for team captain. Rock on.

Damon’s back in Boulder! Emily’s starting to drink the Darby Kool-Aid when she realizes that she can see him without breaking the rules. Not that she’s above breaking the rules. She just likes not to feel so terrible about it. This should turn out well.

Kaylie is still toeing the party line at Willow Glen, so she gets to go home. The doctor wants her to complete an outpatient program and not train at the Rock. Uh oh. She’s PISSED. Her mom is all for it, but her dad is just as annoyed as Kaylie is.

Damon’s taking a break from recording his album, but he says that everything he’s written sucks. The label is asking why his new stuff isn’t as good as his old stuff. I wonder if that means he’s going to break up with Emily so that he can write sad love songs about her. Well, at the very least he’s going to finish his album in Boulder. He calls Emily his muse. Barf. But he’s pretty over the moon about Emily being free to date him, which is cute. “Has anybody ever told you that you’re the most amazing girl in the world?” he asks. Just you, buddy. Just you.

Darby’s living with Lauren and Steve while she looks for a place. You know what I just realized? Lauren’s last name is Tanner. If Summer married Steve, that’d be the second TV show Candace Cameron was in where her last name was Tanner. Never thought about that before. Tangent! Anyway, so Lauren of course tells Darby that Payson doesn’t want her at the Rock and thinks they’d be better off coaching themselves. JSYK Darbs! Darby’s sort of cool about it, though, but that doesn’t stop Lauren from sowing her poisonous seeds in Darby’s mind.

Lauren’s not wrong about how Payson feels about her, though. Payson thinks she’d be a better coach. “Steve bought Darby for Lauren, and I’m not going to let them take over my gym,” she tells Kim. Summer’s having the same thought, asking Steve, “You didn’t hire Darby to buy back Lauren’s love, did you?” He denies it, but not without giving Summer shit about dating Sasha! Wait, are these two together again? Why? Summer, you are so much better than that. Steve’s laying it on real thick, even promising to have more kids, but Summer doesn’t look convinced. She insists that he promise not to lie to her again, which he does, but I’m not buying that Summer’s heart is in this, even after Steve throws the word “God” in. Still, they’re back together. Lauren’s so thrilled. I’m the opposite of thrilled.

Emily and Damon are laying on the ground, looking up at the stars and holding hands while Damon says, “Star light, star bright, first star I see to night.” Oh GOD YOU TWO. Put. It. Away. I’m sorry, I was wrong, they’ve reclined the seats in Damon’s car. They say I love you, and YES, it’s SWEET, OKAY? I’m not a heartless automaton.

Emily gets home and finds that NGO guy (what was his name again?) waiting at her house. At, like, nine o’ clock at night? Whatever. Emily’s still on the National team. She has to sign an honor code. LOL she has to give up her job and her boyfriend! And the kicker is that she’s still on the National team, but they haven’t decided if she’s going to Worlds. EL OH EL. Cream pie.

The ladies are meditating with Darby at the gym. Emily and Payson are not into it; Em tells Payson about the honor code, and Payson’s like, “What matters but gymnastics?” I love how Payson is always like, “Don’t you losers get it? Gymnastics are ALL THAT MATTERS. If you want to win, you do what it takes, you morons.” She apologizes later for being harsh on Emily, but let’s face it: she’s right.

OMG! Cardboard cutout of Ronnie Cruz in her Paula Abdul one hit wonder phase! Delightful. Did you know the Cruz house has a recording studio in it? Well it does.  Of course it does. Ten bucks Damon’s going to end up recording his album there. Kaylie’s being a real beeyotch to her mom, and even her dad’s not into it anymore. He seems to see that she’s in deep denial crazytown, and just to prove it she throws one of Ronnie’s awards at a framed gold record. Yeah, she’s fine. Totally normal behavior.

Payson v. Lauren!! They battle it out on the various apparatuses (apparati?) as Tokyo Police Club’s “Bambi” plays. Lauren blows the landing on vault, they both do well on parallel bars, and Lauren decides to do a dangerous move to best Payson’s (nonexistent) double Arabian dismount on beam. They try to talk Lauren out of it, but she refuses to back down, and Darby is powerless to stop her because she’s got no real control over the girls. Payson concedes to stop Lauren from doing the move, but Lauren won’t accept it, and wouldn’t you know it? Lauren nails the move, but she falls off the beam on the dismount. Payson does a flawless beam routine and they tie. “As far as I’m concerned, you’re both winners,” Darby says, then gives them a long speech about the ancient Olympics or whatever. So Lauren and Payson are co-captains. HA. HA. HA.

Kaylie and Emily are having a smoothie or milkshake or something. Yeah right. Like the two of them are even friends outside the gym. Emily gives her the low down about Damon, pointing out that she hasn’t even given him sex yet. “That’s a big decision, Em,” Kaylie reminds her. At least Kaylie hasn’t completely lost it. But Emily loves Damon and wants to be with him “in every way.” AND GUESS WHAT? Kaylie offers up her family’s recording studio to Damon. What did I tell you?

Lauren rails at Steve about being co-captains with Payson, and then she threatens him: if he doesn’t make Darby make her the only captain, she’s going to “tell the whole world what I did.” For someone so selfish, she has not an ounce of self-preservation in her body! Steve, parent this child already! Do NOT give in. Let her ruin her life. She’s really, really good at it.

Kaylie shows Damon around the studio, and the truth comes out–she’s using Damon’s music as her anorexia art therapy beard. Maeve and Kaylie Skype and Maeve encourages her to crush on Damon. Don’t do it, Kaylie! Remember Austin?

SPEAKING OF DAMON! Emily shows up at his (pretty amazing) pad and asks him what he would say if she told him she was giving up gymnastics for good. He tells her he’d say she was making a mistake. Then she tells him about the contract, about how she’d have to give him up, and he pauses to take it all in for a second before saying, “Well I hope you signed it.” DAMON. YOU ARE UNREAL. But awesome. Emily is so overwhelmed by his willingness to support her, and to wait for her, until after the Olympics that she gives him the business. And by “the business” I mean the sex business. THE END.

Next week: Something something with Lauren crying something. Kaylie’s “friend” from Willow Glen dies, I’m pretty sure. Is Sasha really gone for good?

Peaks and valleys

Posted on April 3rd, 2011 by annakjarzab

Today was kind of a rough week for me. On the one hand, my friends and I won trivia this week. And it’s not just that we won. We totally NAILED IT! We got almost every question right, which was pretty astounding. It was a dream team–me, Cambria, Monica and Brett. The prize wasn’t much, but hey, $25 off your bar tab isn’t exactly nothing.


For the record, that giant red number on the right side is a one, not a seven. I know. It looks like a seven.

But into each life, a little rain must fall. Hold on. I’m crying as I type this, I need to catch my breath…Perfect Couples was CANCELED, you guys! And it didn’t even both to TELL ME to my FACE–I had to find out via a trivia question. A TRIVIA QUESTION. I’m not even sure how I’m going to go on, but I guess I have to move forward. God, beer me the strength. That show was funnier than people gave it credit for.

At least Community is coming back.

Progress report

Posted on March 30th, 2011 by annakjarzab

So I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’m trying to be more active and go to the gym more, since, you know, I pay for it and all that, and that I’m doing Couch to 5K. I decided to repeat the first week of the program (so I did “week 1” for two weeks, well more like two and a half weeks) because I’ve never been able to run anything close to 5K (I think that’s around two and a half miles) and I thought I should take it slow to let my body adjust. But by the third day of my second week of “week 1” (does that make sense? are you still with me?), I was starting to feel like I could do more. I was crowding the front of the treadmill, which I assumed meant that I was running faster than the 5.5 pace I’d set the treadmill at, so I bumped it up to the 6 pace. That was Monday; I was proud that I pushed myself, and after the workout I felt really strong and capable. Hey, it was an accomplishment for me! I’m terrible at this running thing.

So yesterday (even though you’re supposed to take a day off between Couch to 5K workouts) I went back to the gym to start on Week 2. Week 1 sets are 5 minutes warm up, then 8 sets of 60 seconds running, 90 seconds walking, followed by a 5 minute cool down. My pacing for those workouts has been warm up: 3, running: 5.5, walking: 3, cool down: 2.5 (except Monday when it was warm up: 3, running: 6, walking: 3, cool down: 2.5). I was so sure that the Week 2 workouts would be a breeze because Monday felt so good. Boy, was I in for a surprise! First of all, they tell you to take a day of rest between workouts for reason. I’ve had bad knees for a long time, and when I started my warm up yesterday I realized, hey, my knees really hurt. But I was already dressed, I’d already stolen a treadmill from somebody (there are two kinds of treadmills at my gym and I don’t know how to use one of the brands, but the brand I have managed to figure out is also the more popular one, so sometimes you have to knock little old ladies out of the way to get one and I’m not above that), and I was already warming up, so I was like, whatever, I’m doing this. Apart from the knee pain, everything else felt fine.

It wasn’t the worst workout ever. It was hard, harder than I thought it’d be, and by the end I was sort of dying and wanting it to be over, but I was also feeling really proud for making it through. Week 2 workouts are 5 minutes warm up, then 6 sets of alternating 90 seconds running with 2 minutes walking, then a 5 minute cool down. I started doing the running on 5.5, but had to bump it up to 5.7 because, again, I was crowding the front of the treadmill so I knew I could go faster (but didn’t want to set it at 6, lest my legs break and I pass out). But I was really feeling it afterward. My knees were screaming with pain, and so were my ankles. I know part of it is just the way my body is–I have knee problems, this isn’t new–and part of it is the way I run. My balance is not great and I favor the sides of my feet even when I walk, so I probably have terrible, terrible running form and that is causing pain where it needn’t be. However, I seem to be bouncing back quicker from the muscle fatigue and pain caused by the running–the first few times I did it, I would ache for days, but even though my knees really hurt yesterday, they feel fine today. I even contemplated going back to the gym tonight, but then I was like, don’t do it. Tomorrow will be fine.

In other news (this is such an exciting post you guys!) I bought new running shoes. Mine were ten years old (I know! Ten! That shows you how much I’ve used them) and UGLY. I remember that I lost my taste for them when I saw a particularly unfashionable and unliked RA of mine wearing the same ones in college, but for a decade they’re all I’ve had. So I went to the Footlocker Run store in Union Square and bought new ones. I thought I deserved it for really dedicating myself to this running thing. I bought these Nike Free Run + shoes, because they’re really lightweight (which is invaluable in a city where you have to carry everything with you) and they simulate barefoot running, which I hear is the best but would never do EVER. So okay, a few things about these shoes: mine aren’t those colors (they’re just white with a royal blue swoosh) and, um, I had to get a pair of men’s instead of women’s.

Okay, but here’s why! It makes me feel like a colossus admitting this, but I wear a size 10 and these shoes run small since they’re almost like slippers–they have no tongue, they’re a little tough to get on, but they fit like a glove so you have to get a size up if you have any hope of fitting into them at all. But a size up from 10 is 11 and the store didn’t carry women’s 11s. So mine are a men’s 9. And actually, the guy who sold them to me told me that lots of women with small feet get upset when they can’t try on the men’s sizes because they think they come in better colors (they do–the lady colors are blinding neon and total ugsville). I’m sure he was exaggerating because he wanted to sell me some shoes and the way to do that is not to make the patron feel like a giantess, but whatever. I love them anyway. They feel amazing on and they don’t weigh down my bag like my old ones did, plus they’re much nicer looking.

So that’s where I am with the running. I’m sticking to it, and I’m enjoying it for the most part, so I feel like that’s all good news.

Running in place

Posted on March 18th, 2011 by annakjarzab

I am not a runner. I mean, the first rule of fight club is obviously “You don’t talk about fight club,” but the second rule is definitely “Let’s all be honest about whether or not we’re actually runners.” (No it’s not. Actually the second rule of fight club is “You don’t talk about fight club.”) So I’m not a runner. I don’t like to run. I’m not good at it. My brother and sister are both runners but I’m like, meh, I could do without the running.

But I’d like to be in better shape. I’d like to be a runner, although I hear tell in some circles that some people are just never going to be runners no matter how much they run? I don’t know. I’m not trying to be a runner. I’m just trying to run. For now.

In January I joined a gym using a corporate discount I got through work, which makes it slightly less expensive to belong to the gym, but not much. Because gyms in New York are insanely expensive. I pay $75 a month to belong to mine. SEVENTY-FIVE ENTIRE US DOLLARS PER MONTH! My new gym doesn’t even have a pool! Ugh. Whatever.

So I joined the gym in order to make myself work out, and then of course I kept putting off going for one reason or another (“I’m sick”, “I might be getting sick”, “I was just sick, I probably shouldn’t push myself”) and suddenly a whole month and a half had gone by and I’d only gone to the gym like once. Which is disgusting, spending all that money just to have the privilege of going to a gym I don’t actually go to. So I decided this week that I’m actually going to go, and not only am I going to go, but I’m going to restart Couch to 5K, which I began eons ago at my parents’ house over the summer last year and never finished. Couch to 5K makes a really awesome iPhone app and I still have it on my phone, so on Thursday instead of doing the elliptical I waited somewhat impatiently for a treadmill and completed the first workout.

And, okay, the beginning workouts of Couch to 5K are NOT that hard. It’s a 5 minute warm up (walking) followed by 8 sets of running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds, followed by a 5 minute cool down (walking). NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL. Except when you’re not a runner you’re like, “Holy crap, sixty seconds is a long time.” Now, my gym self is a lot like my real self, in that inertia is a big obstacle for me (an object at rest will stay at rest, etc.), but once I’m actually doing something I push myself really hard, stupidly hard at times. So getting motivated to go to the gym is a real struggle for me, but once I’m in my gym clothes and I’m on the treadmill, I’m like, “Well, I could walk at the 2.5 speed but what if I walk at 3. I could run at 5 but maybe I’ll run at 5.5.” I like to see how hard I can push myself. And once I’m in the groove I can go forever–I was once on the elliptical for 2 hours at my old gym because I was watching How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days on the TV and didn’t want to stop! (It was empty and there were lot of machines available, don’t worry, I wasn’t being a jerk.)

But…when you’re not a runner and you push yourself really hard on a treadmill, even if you’re not doing THAT much, you end up getting insanely sore. INSANELY. I could barely move on Wednesday morning. But, because an object in motion will stay in motion, I of course went to the gym that same night. You’re supposed to do the Couch to 5K exercises three times a week, allowing at least one day in between for rest, so I was planning on just doing the elliptical for half an hour and going home. But when I got to the gym there were tons of treadmills available and no ellipticals, so I decided to do Week 1, Day 2 of Couch to 5K instead of waiting. BIG MISTAKE. Yesterday I actually could not go to the gym because I could barely walk around the office.

I know this is just temporary, and my friend Cambria told me that the second day you’re always more sore than the first, and I feel so much better today that I’m definitely going to the gym and doing Couch to 5K Week 1, Day 3. But man, it was crazy how much just running for a grand total of about 8 minutes took such a toll on me. I just never use those muscles, not being a runner. But I’m going to finish Couch to 5K! This I swear to you. However, it would be a lot easier to do this if, say, all treadmills actually had Couch to 5K preprogrammed in, or that you could program your own intervals. (Actually, you probably can, I just don’t know how.) Because it is seriously annoying when the app tells me to “RUN” in this very scary computer woman voice and I have to fumble with the key pad to get the belt to move at 5.5 immediately. Someday I’m going to get tangled in my headphones and fall on my face. Anyone want to take bets on how long before that happens? The comments are yours.

The Opposite of Hallelujah

Posted on March 11th, 2011 by annakjarzab

Regular readers of this blog will know that the course of book two never did run smooth…at least for this writer (me). But today came some good news–my editor called and told me that she really liked the book we turned in a few weeks ago and she’s going to publish it! INSERT HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF HERE. It has a tentative pub season of Fall 2012, which might seem really far away, but luckily for me I already live on a publishing schedule (since I work in the industry), so to me Fall 2012 is like right around the corner–we’re launching our Spring 2012 titles next week!

So now I feel a little more comfortable talking about what, exactly, The Opposite of Hallelujah is all about. Caveat: the description below was written by me specifically for this blog post, so it shouldn’t be considered official in any sense whatsoever. But I don’t think the plot is going to change, so I’m going to go ahead and give you an idea of what you can expect from Anna Jarzab Book 2: Tokyo Drift.

Caro Mitchell has a sister, but she hasn’t seen her in several years and rarely thinks about her. Hannah, who is eleven years older, has been a nun in the cloistered order of the Sisters of Grace since Caro was eight-years-old, and per the rules of her order has almost no contact with her family. In the years since Hannah left, Caro has become a teenager and is just starting to carve out a life for herself: she has a boyfriend, great friends, and a real passion and talent for science. Though she was raised Catholic, Caro has no interest in the religion that defines and consumes her sister’s life.

But things start to unravel right as Caro’s junior year in high school begins. Her boyfriend, Derek, comes back from summer camp and summarily dumps her, and her parents drop a huge bomb on her: Hannah is leaving the Sisters of Grace and, after nearly a decade spent locked behind convent walls, coming home to live with her family. Though her parents are overjoyed at their older daughter’s return, Caro struggles to accept and connect with Hannah, with whom things are obviously not at all well, and Caro makes a rash choice that puts all of her relationships in peril–including a budding romance with new boy Pawel.

What follows is a journey towards redemption and understanding, as Caro seeks to regain the trust she has broken with the help of the art of M.C. Escher, single-bubble sonoluminescence, and a scientist priest who challenges her to pursue the answers to the questions that torment her: How do we repair what has been destroyed? How do we make lasting and meaningful connections with the people we love? Can science and religion peacefully coexist?

And, most pressing: What happened to Hannah? Why did she go into the convent eight years ago, and why has she returned now? And can anything be done to save her?

So yeah. That’s it. There’s a lot going on in this book, but in a good way, I hope–complex instead of complicated was the goal. It’s a little long and my editor implied that revisions would mainly involve trimming the manuscript, which makes sense to me. What is important to me about this book is that it serve as an exploration of–well, an exploration of a lot of things, like family (sisterhood in particular), human connection, memory, how we deal with remorse and what guilt and grief do to us (a common theme with me, as that’s a biggie in All Unquiet Things, too), growing up, creation, truth, etc. But I wanted to deal with religion, not preach at anybody. I never want people to write this book off as “religious” or “Christian.” The way Caro (a non-believer, a firm scientific empiricist) grapples with issues of faith is as realistic and open as I could possibly make it, because I didn’t want to write a book about someone who doesn’t believe in God and is then magically converted. That’s one story, but it’s not this story.

Nor did I ever intend it to be a villification of religious people of any denomination, or people who choose a religious vocation. I did a LOT of research on nuns and convents while I was working on this novel, and what I learned is that the women who choose to enter the convent are more widely varied than you can possibly imagine–they do what they do for so many different, good reasons, and it’s a life choice that I really respect for a lot of reasons.

Even though it won’t happen for a while, I’m excited for people to eventually read this. I have a supersoft spot in my heart for The Opposite of Hallelujah (fun fact: its original title, back when I conceived of it back WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE OMG, was Do Geese See God?, which is still the name of the folder it lives in on my computer, and also apparently the name of a movie starring Blair Underwood that I’ve never seen, and a recent Jeopardy! question; it’s also my third favorite palindrome after (of course) my name, and “A man, a plan, a canal–Panama”) and I hope people love it as much as I do.

But that’s later! Right now I’m just rocking out to Avril Lavigne and watching the pilot of Fringe (WTF IS GOING ON?!?! ZOMBIES ON A PLANE!), reading manuscripts for launch and Ken Jennings’ book Braniac* and working on my new manuscript, which is crazy and sloppy and fun to write. Check you later!

*Ken Jennings might be the world’s best human. Just a hunch. I’m really resisting the urge to turn this into a Ken Jennings appreciation blog, but you should read his blog and Twitter feed (HOW DOES HE NOT HAVE MORE FOLLOWERS?) and his AMA on Reddit. Oh, and Braniac. Which is great.

The Oscars are officially senile

Posted on February 28th, 2011 by annakjarzab

Seriously, what was the Oscars last night? Somebody must’ve gotten fired afterwards, right? Like, everyone who worked on the Oscars got fired? Because if not, then something is really wrong with ABC. Because that show was NUTS. I felt like I was on drugs (not that I know what that feels like). That part where they brought out Kirk Douglas and he just babbled for a long time? I didn’t even realize he was presenting an award until someone brought him that envelope! And then they fought? Over his cane? I don’t get it! Was there anything to get? Was it a joke? And then how the first two Best Song performances were completely inaudible? I like that Toy Story 3 song! I would’ve liked to have heard Randy Newman sing it! (Also, did anyone else know that the guy from Chuck was in Tangled and/or could sing? I didn’t!) And how Anne Hathaway kept screwing up her lines the whole time (I did not find that charming, although I generally like her)? And how she sang that weird song about how Hugh Jackman wouldn’t perform with her this year even though she performed with him when he hosted? That was super weird! And boring! Which is WORSE.

Anyway, that’s my opinion: pretty bad. Which is exactly how my ballot ended up turning out. Behold.

Best Picture: The King’s Speech Yay! That is indeed what won!
Best Director: Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan Whoops! Tom Hooper totally won this for The King’s Speech.
Best Actor: Javier Bardem for Biutiful Whoops! No, in fact, Javier Bardem does NOT win all the Oscars–Colin Firth won this for The King’s Speech. (Side note: MR. DARCY 4 LYFE!)
Best Actress: Natalie Portman for Black Swan Ugh, yes, this happened. And she said that weird thing in her acceptance speech about how “her love” (that guy who choreographed Black Swan that is her fiance now) “gave her the best role of all” and then she touched her belly? Did anyone else find that creepy? There’s a better way to say that, Natalie.
Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech Booo! Christian Bale won this! He’s the worst!
Best Supporting Actress: Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech Whoops! Melissa Leo won. I have no opinion about this except that A. her dress was weird and B. her acceptance speech was annoying. I’m sure she was great in The Fighter, though.
Best Original Screenplay: Inception: Christopher Nolan So the guy who wrote The King’s Speech won this, which I would normally be like, BOOOO, because I wanted to be right and also I thought Inception was great and it didn’t win anything except technical awards but then it turns out that this guy who wrote The King’s Speech was a stammerer and also that he had to wait for the Queen Mum to die to make this movie and by that time he was old and couldn’t get an agent to represent the screenplay and it was a heartwarming story and now I’m on board. If I had KNOWN all of that I would have PICKED him, but alas.
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network: Aaron Sorkin Got this one right! NAILING IT!

Obviously I ended up losing the contest, but that’s okay. Because I got this in return. I don’t know what’s happening with WordPress right now, but I can’t seem to embed YouTube videos. However, if you click that link it will take you to the Oscars autotune, which is pretty great and special and all the good things. You’re welcome.

In closing, here are a few of my favorite dresses of the night. You’re welcome! Happy Oscars everyone!




My official Oscar ballot

Posted on February 25th, 2011 by annakjarzab

My friend Joe is having an Oscars party on Sunday and he sent around an online ballot for us all to fill out (I believe there are prizes involved). These were my picks:

Best Picture: The King’s Speech
Best Director: Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan
Best Actor: Javier Bardem for Biutiful
Best Actress: Natalie Portman for Black Swan
Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech
Best Supporting Actress: Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech
Best Original Screenplay: Inception: Christopher Nolan
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network: Aaron Sorkin

Now, I don’t really want Natalie Portman to win because, while I liked Black Swan, it was sort of silly and over-the-top and so was her acting. And also I just generally don’t like her very much. And I’m not attached to Javier Bardem winning for Best Actor, but I feel like he wins all the Oscars, so it feels like a safe bet.

As for Best Picture, I’ve actually seen most of the nominated movies, with the exception of 127 Hours (because, you know, je refuse), The Fighter and The Kids Are All Right. While I think it’s probably going to be either The King’s Speech (which I did love) or The Social Network (also really enjoyed that), I feel sorry for Christopher Nolan, because Inception was an entirely original thing that he created and it feels a bit like his magnum opus. It’s unfair to me that, like, Shakespeare in Love, in the running for the worst movie of all time and also a completely inaccurate portrayal of Shakespeare, won an Oscar and Inception might get overshadowed by newer, buzzier (which is CRAZY because Inception was hella buzzy!) movies like The Social Network.

I’m interested to see how it goes, and I’ll let you know if I win a prize!


Posted on February 23rd, 2011 by annakjarzab

So as regular readers may know, my comments tool is trashed for some reason and every comment that’s left here needs to be approved, but I don’t get approval notices, it just pretends that it’s spam. So I often don’t see comments until way after the fact, but anyway Shannel said on my final Watson post:

I love that Jeopardy follows up Watson with Teen Jeopardy… I’m sure this was intentional to make us all feel a little more accomplished… GLEE category for example!

Which, first off: yes. I really think that’s why they did it, or at least that’s how I feel watching Teen Jeopardy! after the smackdown that was the MAN VS. MACHINE!!! tournament–can you call it a tournament when it’s only two games? Anyway. But here’s a question for all you Jeopardy! lovers out there: why does Teen Jeopardy! look like it was shot in the late nineties?


Alex Bracken suggests that it’s because part of the test for getting on Teen Jeopardy! is having to build a time machine to take you back to the nineties in order to compete. Which is as good an explanation as any, I guess. Also: teens love lower case sans serif bubble fonts in pink and green, I guess?!

I’m actually behind on Jeopardy! so those are my only current thoughts. The Teen tournament is probably over or almost over by now, and I need to catch up. Although, no, I actually have another thought, re: the first episode of Teen Jeopardy! In the Double Jeopardy round there was a category called What Kids Are Reading These Days or something, and while it was illuminating as to what the Jeopardy! writers think kids are reading these days, it also was weird how the contestants completely avoided that category until ALL the other questions were gone and they didn’t have a choice. Why is that? First of all, the questions were softballs, and second of all, do these kids not read? They’re on Jeopardy! They MUST read, at least the girl contestant (sorry to stereotype, but women buy like 80% of books or something, so it’s really just facts). I thought that was weird.

Anyway, some other things happening in my life: Hallelujah is going to my editor, I think, so that’s good. I’m super, super nervous about it because we all know what happened the last time I turned in a book to my editor, but whatever! Can’t think about that!

Also, I started a new book. On January 31, 2011. I know this because I date all of my drafts from the first day I create the document. I currently have 200 pages. That is RIDICULOUSLY fast for me. I’ve never written so much so fast, probably ever in my life. I’m having the best time writing this book, for a few reasons. First of all, it’s not promised to anyone, nor do I need it to fill a slot in an already signed contract, so I can just write it. For myself. It’s really bad right now, too, so I wouldn’t show it to anyone. There’s this piece of advice writers give each other that goes something like “Give yourself permission to be bad.” I don’t ever say that to people nor do I like it as a piece of advice, although I don’t have a coherent answer for why that is, but in this case I’m just chugging along with the ms no matter how bad I know it is. And it is bad in places. It’s riddled with inconsistencies and logical errors, the world is underdeveloped and contradictory, and one character is foiling me entirely, but I’m continuing to write him even though I know it’s not right (I’m close, and I understand him, but it’s not finding its way to the page), and I’m going forward in the ms even though I know about the inconsistencies and the logical errors and the underdeveloped world. I’m just too excited to stop and fix anything. I want to find out what happens and put it away. Maybe I’ll never pull it out again, or maybe it’ll be my third book. I like the fact that I can just enjoy the process of discovering it without all the pressure of what it’s going to become or who’s going to like it. It’s so far outside my normal ken it’s possible I’ll never show it to anyone at all. It’s pretty cool to just enjoy writing again.

Here are a few random bits of potpourri about this current book, again just for fun:

  • It sparked a long and ongoing conversation with my Ho-fficial Historian, Alex Bracken, about the Revolutionary War, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and geography of the United States
  • I spent a lot of time last night brushing up on my chess using this Wikipedia article
  • I’m writing the book using the Normal View in Microsoft Word. I don’t know why–I’m normally a strict adherent of Page View–but Page View, to me, represents restrictions and boundaries and pressure, where as Normal View, because it’s ugly and weird and everything is so bizarrely left-justified even though there’s SO! MUCH! ROOM! on the other side of the page, makes me feel like I’m just goofing off and having fun
  • The Man in the Iron Mask

And that’s what’s happening over here.

I for one welcome our new computer overlords

Posted on February 17th, 2011 by annakjarzab

I stole that subject line from Ken Jennings because it turns out Ken Jennings is funny? Who knew? He was DYING on Jeopardy! Man Vs. Machine today. He played great, way better than he played in the last game, but it wasn’t enough to beat Watson, who actually got the Final Jeopardy question right this time (Bram Stoker), and every time Watson buzzed in before him he looked like he wanted to jump out of his skin. I’ve never seen a Jeopardy! contestant so visibly annoyed before.

Anyway, this was an interesting experiment (I loved how Alex Trebeck made sure to remind everyone that Watson was created by some really talented people at the end of the show so that we didn’t all take to Facebook going, “THE RISE OF THE MACHINES APPROACHES”, even though I did that anyway), but I’m looking forward to the upcoming teen Jeopardy! rounds. It’ll be a nice distraction from the fact that our computers are now smarter than we are, and possibly I will get more answers right, although probably not because the teens are in school and learning stuff and I’m just watching Jeopardy! all the time.