Friday, February 20, 2015

Maureen Johnson and Snail Advice

  Tip of the week:

I read The Name Of The Star by Maureen Johnson back when it came out, then somehow missed the second one. But the third one came out, and I was like, Yay! Now I can catch up on the whole trilogy at once. 

It is not a trilogy. It is a series. And now I am annoyed because I have to wait for the next one. 

Also, The Shadow Cabinet is not a piece of poorly lit furniture. Just FYI. 

I was further annoyed by The Walking Dead. I get it, okay? Zombie apocalypse. People are gonna get et. But please, stop killing off all the black people? Seriously. Kill Eugene already. Nobody likes that asshole. 

Basically, I'm just in a pissy mood this week. The weather has been below zero or just above all week, and between the extreme cold and the snow, is constantly ruining my plans. I only got one run in, and it was a short one, because I was fighting off some kind of plague. I had a good nurse, though. 

We got another four or five inches of snow last night, and my wimpy ass still drove 45 minutes to see The Duff with a friend, when I wouldn't ordinarily have risked the roads, out of sheer stubbornness. I refuse to let winter win anymore. 

See ya on Thursday. Hopefully I'll be in a better mood. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ponies Are Assholes

While watching a television show, which featured a veterinarian trying to castrate an extremely feisty pony, I said to my husband: 

"You know, everyone thinks ponies are these cute, sweet little child-sized horses, and they're totally not. Ponies are assholes."

As a person of short stature who spent many years riding, ponies were my curse. It didn't matter if there was a perfectly solid, sweet, sound horse available...we're gonna put Jackie on the pony, because the pony is Jackie-sized! I've ridden a lot of ponies over the years, but three in particular stood out. 

Champy: Champy was a student horse at the riding school I went to as a kid. She was an asshole, but she was my asshole. Even though she was stubborn, and had the bounciest trot I've ever encountered, and resisted gait changes at all costs, we kind each other. Her being an asshole actually worked in my favor, because no one else liked her, and so the instructor usually put us together. 

Razzle: This was the blue roan nightmare I got at riding camp. Razzle was a Welsh pony/Thoroughbred cross. Those of you who are horsey people are facepalming right now. Believe me, over the years I've asked myself the same questions you're asking. First, how does such a creature come about? Because no intelligent person in their right mind would make that match on purpose. And second--what the hell was it doing at a
children's riding camp?

Razzle and I were paired up after I took my riding test and, apparently, aced it. She then spent the next week and a half actively trying to kill me. First, she'd try to unseat me. This she accomplished by:

-deliberately swerving to bash my knee into a tree and literally scrape my leg off her side

-throwing her weight sharply to either side during a gait change

-throwing her weight sharply to either side while we were going over a jump

I guess there was a reason I aced that riding test--she never managed to get me all the way off. There were a dozen times, though, that she came dangerously close. Mainly because, once she'd unseated me (the tree trick was especially successful), so I was hanging sideways with my knee in the saddle, clinging desperately to her mane, she'd call upon her Thoroughbred heritage and immediately accelerate to Mach Chicken. Weaving through about thirty of my fellow campers and their mounts to the front of the line once Razzle had taken off was about as close to a real-life Mario Kart experience as I ever want to get. All while trying to haul myself back into the saddle at a full gallop so I could get her back under control. Sounds like a summer full of fun for a twelve-year-old, doesn't it?

Rosie: Rosie was my ride at a trail guide job I held down for a few weeks in the summer of 1998. Once again, she was given to me because she was an asshole. All the mounts at this stable were actually mules, and surprise!
Rosie was a pony/donkey cross. She was way too wild for the tourists to ride. She thought she was too wild for me, too...but after Champy, and especially Razzle, I had her pretty well in hand within a few days. After that, we got along great...which was good, considering we spent most of our time chasing shrieking tourists through the woods, after their mules had spotted a patch of grass too good to pass up.

Ah, memories.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

My Thoughts On Fifty Shades Of Grey

Disclaimer, right out in front...I have not read the books. It is therefore possible that I am wrong about the following; however, I've done enough research to believe not. 

The reasons why I haven't read them, though, are becoming more and more relevant, and so I'm throwing my two cents in. 

I wasn't much interested when the books came out. Romance and erotica really aren't my thing; I like my books to be about something more than just a relationship. Then I heard they were BDSM, and my interest really bottomed out. To each their own, but my tastes are about as vanilla as you can get. 

The buzz kept growing, though, and my curiosity returned, so I talked to a friend who had read them. The more she described them, the more alarm bells started clanging in my head. 

This doesn't sound like romance, or even BDSM, I thought. It sounds like emotional abuse. 

As far as BDSM goes, I probably wouldn't even know which end of the paddle to use, but I am, unfortunately, very familiar with emotional abuse. So I kept reading articles, snippets, blurbs. Most were just making fun of the books—how badly they were written, Ana's peculiar verbal tics—but underneath, I kept seeing glimpses of something more sinister. 

Now, there's going to be a movie. Based on the press I've read, it's probably going to be a really bad movie. Still, people are going to watch it. Some of them vulnerable. Those vulnerable people are the ones I worry about. I just don't want anyone looking up at that screen and thinking, so, that is how it's supposed to be. This is normal. This is love. 

It's not. Any relationship that demeans or degrades you, which makes you feel unsafe, is not normal. Any person who withholds affection as punishment for supposed transgressions, or threatens you physically, or restricts contact with your friends and family, does not love you in a healthy way. 

They do not need to be tamed. Your love will not save them. Their love will likely hurt you very badly. If you see echoes of your own relationship in that of Ana's and Christian's...find help, and get out. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

JK Rowling Is A Goddamn Genius

Not that we didn't know that already. But I just remembered/found out that Minerva is the Roman name for the goddess Athena. And as per Wikipedia: 

"Athena is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, strategic war, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill in ancient Greek religion and mythology.
Athena is portrayed as a shrewd companion of heroes and is the patron goddess of heroic endeavour."

You know, Minerva. As in McGonagall?

I have read this series probably somewhere in the realm of 30-40 times. And there is always something new to discover. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Books I liked: The Help and Wolf Winter

The Help, by Katherine Stockett: If you haven't read this book yet, and it's on your TBR, I highly, highly suggest you pick up the audio version. The multiple-narrator formula worked really well here, not only to show different viewpoints of the story, but different viewpoints of the narrators. I really, really liked Aibileen, but I fell in love with her through Skeeter's eyes. Watching them develop through the POV of their comrades was spectacular. Also, as a villain, Hilly Holbrook gives Dolores Umbridge a run for her Galleons. 

Wolf Winter, by Cecelia Eckbäck: Someone on Goodreads described this as a "good blizzard book," and I couldn't agree more. Dark, atmospheric, this is what the Hangman's Daughter wanted to be but fell short of (for me, anyway). There's also a smattering of the supernatural to keep things unexpected.

A side note on Swedish fiction in general...I've read a few books by Swedish authors now, and one thing they all have in common are casually placed, strong female characters. Just scattered about, like they belong there. Which of course, they do, but...I kind of feel like I'm standing openmouthed, like, "look at all the trees!" And the Swedes are like, "um, yeah, it's a forest?" Definitely making Swedish fiction a priority from here on out.