Monday, December 31, 2012

December Reads

Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

So, there are three sisters, the daughters of a Shakespearian scholar, who are psychologically messed up and have messed up lives each in their own way seemingly based on their birth order. That’s pretty much it. No real plot. I suppose there is character development in that the sisters grow up a bit and stop being such whiners. If you are an only child and know absolutely nothing about sibling relationships, then this MIGHT keep your interest. I don’t recommend this book. Not even as an easy read to pass the time. You’re better off organizing your sock drawer.

One good thing: I did enjoy the Shakespeare quotes. I finally understood some of the Bard’s writings.

Gather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou

This is the continuation of Maya Angelou’s memoirs after I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I had no idea she had written numerous memoirs until recently when I picked up the fourth in the series. They really don’t have to be read in order, but fleeting references to her past in subsequent books whet the appetite for going back and picking up the earlier books.

This one is my favorite. Through all of her books, it’s not about the what or the why, but that life just happens and you keep going, taking what comes, doing the best you can with what you have and what you know and that, sometimes, that’s not a whole lot. I love so much how she’s not bitter and that she doesn’t blame anyone for what she goes through (with the exception of society’s treatment of black people being the reason for certain attitudes or habits, but there’s no tone of malice or martyrdom, but there is a little wicked bite to some of it).There’s no sense of victimization, but also none of that saccharine optimism everything-happens-for-a-reason that puts my teeth on edge.  It may have been more cynical or depressing if she’d written it while she was going through it, but there’s also no I’m-older-now patronizing tone, either.

Throughout the story, she conveys a sense of knowing who she was, what she stood for, and what she wanted even if those things didn’t put her in the best light and even if she betrayed those things for foolish or seemingly noble purposes. If you want to know about moving on and not letting something that you 
experience in your life define who you are and color everything you do, read this RIGHT NOW.

I vaguely remember Fiona Apple thanking Maya Angelou for everything she’s ever written. I would like to thank Ms. Angelou, too.

A few favorite quotes (Really, though, it’s important to pay attention to every word. All of them matter.):

“My natural reticence and habit of restraint prevented me from seeking other satisfaction even if it could be found.”

“I congratulated myself on having absolutely the meanest, coldest, craziest family in the world.”

“If you haven’t been trained at home to their liking, tell them to get to stepping. Stepping. But not on you.”

“There was nothing about me to bind anyone to me in sympathy. No limp, no habit, crossed eyes or attitude of helplessness.”

Singin’ and Swingin’ and Getting’ Merry Like Christmas by Maya Angelou

This is the third book of her memoirs. She experiences more in one year than most people do in a lifetime. This is more of a fun read: Her adventures abroad and in show business. The words are still magical, perfectly picked and heavy with meaning.

Currently Reading: Ripping through Tana French’s Faithful Place.  I loved In the Woods and The Likeness and this one is proving to be just as engaging.  I’m also slogging through A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. I mostly have no idea what’s going on and there are way too many characters to keep track of, but reading about the drudgeries of everyday life during wartime wherever/whenever the fuck is pretty interesting.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Walking Dead: Made to Suffer

Pleased to meet you/Hope you guess my name/But what's puzzling you/Is the nature of my game – Rolling Stones

Oh, shit. New person. Oh, shit. Whole new group. One of the new group’s members gets a chunk of herself bit off, but they still carry her into an enclosed building with them. That enclosed building is the prison. Tyrese is the new person. I’ve only read the summaries of the comics, so I know he supposed to have a relationship with Rick/Rick’s group. I’m just not sure what it is.

It’s been an intense season, almost like they’re making up for last season, but I’m looking for forward to a midseason break. The intensity and creepiness is a little overwhelming. My nerves are a bit shot. The Governor is so creepy, I can’t even feel sorry for the way he’s dealing with his daughter turning. No sympathy.

Glenn repurposes a walker’s bones for use as a weapon. How “sustainable” of him. At least he and Maggie are in the same room. He and Maggie make a good attempt at an escape, but Maggie hesitates when her gun is on Merle and they’re recaptured. Then Rick and ‘em come through SWAT style (how fucking sexy is Rick being a professional law man again?) and grab the captives.

Glenn spills the beans about Merle once the group reach a place they can regroup. The desire in Daryl’s eyes to reconnect with his brother breaks my heart, but Rick convinces him to stay with the group.

Andrea wants to help with the invasion, but the Governor shuts her down. Gee, I wonder why. Don’t want your girlfriend to know you’re a sociopathic dictator torturing her friends?

Daryl decides to stay behind to provide cover fire. You just know he’s hoping to see Merle. Rick starts hallucinating, thinking he sees Shane. Helpful prisoner gets shot and the ratio of black people to white people remains as the writers wish. *eye roll* My nerves are shot from all of the gunfire and violence. I don’t play videogames or see action movies all that often. I have a very low tolerance for such things. The horror movie commercials in between don’t help much, either.

Tyrese’s group runs into trouble in the prison and Carl rescues them and is the voice of reason. First of all, it’s been long enough that any group should be able to better strategize going into an enclosed building. Secondly, Carl? Carl “Get in the Fucking House” Grimes? I don’t think the former America’s Top Model (Tyrese’s girlfriend/wife/annoying “Lori” of her group) has the acting chops for this show. She’s destroying my suspension of disbelief. I already love Tyrese, though! Good looking and smart. I’ll take it!

Michonne loses the group and makes her way to the Governor’s apartment and finds his freak show secret lair. Unfortunately for him, Michonne decides to put a little reality into his life and ends his walker daughter’s life. He doesn’t take it so well. This whole scene is messed up on so many levels. She manages to stab him in the eye with a piece of the broken glass from his aquariums holding walker heads. Andrea shows up in the nick of time to save his life. If only Michonne had told her what had just happened. She could’ve in less than 15 seconds. Andrea is moved by his love for his walker daughter. What a surprise.

This show is starting to feel like a bad Three’s Company nightmare. Lack of knowledge leading to misunderstandings and mistrust.

Michonne somehow finds the group and Rick is still being a dick to her. I’m not sure why. Daryl is missing. Saw that one coming.

The Governor wasn’t really the governor until now. The eye patch makes the man. Turns out Daryl was captured and is going to be used as a test for Merle. If Daryl dies, I’ll probably stop watching the show. This is a horrible way for Daryl and Merle to meet.

Kevin Smith talks about how The Walking Dead is what happens after a zombie movie is over. I’ve always wanted to see that and feel so curious at the end of those movies, but now I know why a show like this hasn’t been done. It gets a bit tedious. Most people would want to find some place safe, stay put, and keep on living. It would almost be boring. Kind of like if Frontier House had multiple seasons.  Great initial run (I loved that show), but watching someone chop wood or plant seeds over and over would get pretty boring. The forced emotional rollercoasters and cliffhangers are too much for my nerves. This is why I’ve always preferred series that have single standing episodes. Looking forward to the break. Definitely not watching the marathon New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Walking Dead: When the Dead Come Knocking

“This is what makes us girls/We all look for heaven and we put love first/Something that we’d die for/It’s our curse” – Lana Del Rey

Glenn and Maggie are being held captive and interrogated by Merle. I’m glad Glenn toughened before this event came to pass. I’m very concerned for Maggie. T-Dog’s name coming out of Merle’s mouth bothers me more than a lot of other stuff that’s happened on this show. Merle unleashes a walker on Glenn while Glenn is strapped to a chair. What a fucking coward! Glenn manages to free himself and take down the walker. Today, he is a man. The Governor winds up interrogating Maggie. I wish I could kill through the television, but, as much as I hate depictions of misogyny, I’m glad they finally showed how things might go down for women in such a world. All they want to know is where Rick’s group is. Damn, shut up, Maggie! Under the threat of rape, Maggie doesn’t break, but one gun to Glenn’s head and she spills it. She probably did save Glenn’s life and those left behind know about Woodbury and the Governor, thanks to Michonne.

Rick and Carl help Michonne into the prison, but Rick is still in full dictator mode. It sucks that Rick doesn’t know Michonne’s recent past of having her weapon taken away and being held by the Governor. It’s going to be that much harder for her to trust him. Seeing Rick’s emotional reunion with Carol seemed to help, though. Plus, I’m guessing Andrea filled her in on all of them during their travels. That didn’t mean Michonne will trust them on sight. I’ve read a lot of great things about the actress that plays Michonne, but so far she’s only had one expression. It can’t just be the writing. Seriously, so over Michonne’s scowl.

I really wanted Michonne to mention Merle’s name just to see everyone’s reaction. I’m so ready for the Woodbury/Rick’s Group meeting!

So, Rick and some of the gang are going to Woodbury to bring back Glenn and Maggie. Rick briefs Carl on what to do in case he doesn’t come back and says “take care of your sister.” He doesn’t even realize she doesn’t have a name. His own daughter. Not surprising since he only spent half a second acknowledging that his son watched his mother die then put a bullet through her head. Carl names the baby Judith. A bit anticlimactic.

So, Rick, Daryl, and helpful prisoner set out on their quest. Rick acknowledges to Daryl that Daryl has stepped up. The group gets stuck in a cabin, but they get out when Michonne creates walker chum out of the shack’s resident. How come the black guy has to carry everything?

These last two episodes have been boring until the last few moments. My blood is pumping for Rick to enter Woodbury and for Daryl and Merle to meet. My heart is pounding!

It’s strange how the walkers are mostly background now: something to live beside.

The Walking Dead: Hounded

Michonne is running and knows she’s being followed. The Governor sent out his most degenerate henchman, Merle. “Go back” says the “bitergram.” I would do what the woman with katana says to do. They should’ve listened as Michonne devastated the the Governor’s team. Damn, just as I was beginning to like Merle he goes and shoots at Michonne who gets hit in the thigh. Looks like that’s where the femoral artery is, but I guess it missed. Merle isn’t a great leader, but it seems like he’s effective. His newly appointed second, who was previously freaking out and damn near pissing in his pants, is doing some killing and seems really motivated. Turns out he was too motivated and wanted to actually complete the mission instead of lie about it. Merle didn’t have any finesse left in him to convince him otherwise. Bang. Michonne doesn’t know how many people’s wishes she’s fulfilling by whooping on Merle like that. I’m glad Michonne figured out another way to hide from the walkers in plain sight – just cover yourself in their guts.

Merle goes on and comes across Maggie and Glenn on a formula run. He, of course, kidnaps them. Come on, Glenn! You know what Merle is. Shoot to kill. If it weren’t for the baby, none of this would’ve happened. Lori can still annoy from beyond the grave.

The caller on the other end of the line is some woman at some safe place. Awesome. Honestly, this show has enough action and uncertainty without adding extra mystery. I could’ve done without the chick on the phone. This is some boring and annoying “Lost” shit. At the least, it made Rick take a shower, clean up, and come back to the land of the living. However, hope can be the enemy of reality and practical action. Oh, he’s just hallucinating. The horror. The horror. *eye roll*

Andrea is making a place for herself at Woodbury. I don’t care about her at all. I find it wholly unbelievable that she was ever a human rights attorney. I’m going to try to be fair: We all do things, anything, to make ourselves feel better. She’s just fighting the dying of the light and I, too, make poor decisions after drinking whiskey.

Daryl is really growing. He’s becoming a better leader and, weirdly, a father figure. I hope all of that doesn’t go out the window when he meets up with Merle.

This episode was not that great, but when Rick and Michonne locked eyes, it gave me goose bumps. I could feel the power! THE POWER!