Banned Books Week 2016

It’s that time of year again! Banned Books Week! It kind of crept up on me this year, so I didn’t have as much time to read and prepare. Here are the ALA’s Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2015:

1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.

I haven’t read this one because I’m not a fan of John Green, but I will be giving it a try!

2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).

We all know I’ve read this one. And I’d have to agree that it’s poorly written.

3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.

My library doesn’t own this one, so I’ll be ILLing it.

4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).

I did read this one when it first came out, and it was great! I can’t really see the “anti-family” complaint since most of the teens featured came from very loving, accepting families. It was really interesting to see so many different people and the different ways they live their lives under the umbrella term “transgender.”

5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).

I tried to read this one 2 years ago as part of my Clear Out my GoodReads goal. My complaints were about how uncomfortably gimmicky it was.

6. The Holy Bible
Reasons: Religious viewpoint.

LOL. Perfect.

7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).

I really liked this graphic novel! It’s autobiographical, about growing up in a funeral home and Bechdel’s complicated relationship with her dad.

8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.

Another one my library doesn’t own that I’ll be ILLing.

9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.

And another.

10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

I haven’t read a David Levithan book since 2014, when he wrote the worst book I read that year. I guess I’ll be giving this one a go, but I don’t have high hopes.

Yay! Banned Books Week!

Previously: Banned Books Week 2014

ABC DVD: Arrested Development 1.1

[Insert Cool Banner Image for this project here]

After much debate, Steven and I decided that TV show seasons we own should be reported on by DVD instead of by season. Because the whole point of the project is to watch all our DVDs. Also it’ll better keep us on track, especially in the interminable year it’ll probably takes us to get through all Steven’s Stargates. So this report covers the first disc of Arrested Development season one, which is the first six episodes.

Summary
Episode 1: Pilot
George Bluth Sr. is arrested by the SEC at his retirement party after naming his wife Lucile his successor instead of his son Michael. Michael is pissed and tells his son George Michael that THEY’RE LEAVING SO THERE. He’s eventually convinced to stay through guilt from his son, his father, and the rest of his family.

illusions

Episode 2: Top Banana
Michael forces George Michael to hire his cousin Maeby at the family’s banana stand, not knowing that George Michael is trying to work extra hours there specifically to avoid her and his awkward crush. George Senior is still trying to run things from jail, including hiring an ex-con arsonist to destroy evidence, giving George Michael the idea to burn down the banana stand to escape his problems. Gob tries to dramatically hurl things into the ocean.

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Episode 3: Bringing Up Buster
George Michael auditions for a role in the school play in the hopes of getting to kiss his cousin Maeby, who’s auditioning in the hopes of getting to kiss Steve Holt.
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Buster crashes his bike. Everyone who goes near the corn baller regrets it.

Episode 4: Key Decisions
Gob tries to break out of prison as a publicity stunt, only kind of succeeding when he’s rushed out in an ambulance after getting stabbed by White Power Bill. Michael escorts Gob’s girlfriend Marta to an award show and starts to fall in love with her. Buster accidentally flirts with his mom’s friend (also named Lucille) while mostly-blind without his glasses.

Episode 5: Visiting Ours
Michael asks Gob to help get some info from George Senior’s secretary, Kitty, because Kitty has a crush on him. Gob is beaten up by the prison warden and accidentally witnesses his parents in the conjugal trailer. Taking the stair car to prison turns out to be a bad idea.

staircar

Episode 6: Charity Drive
Lucille and Lindsey both prepare for the bachelorette auction despite being married. To prove to each other that they are capable of good deeds, Lindsey gets lost in the wetlands and Michael kidnaps a woman. Buster accidentally bids on Lucille 2 instead of his mother, and George Senior finally confesses to Michael.

lighttreason

Trish’s Review

I love Arrested Development too much, and it’s so great so early on. Some shows take a season or more to really hit their stride, but these episodes are awesome and already filled with the memorable parts people love to quote.
illusionsmichael

Rating: 5 out of 5 frozen bananas
Kill/Fuck/Marry: Kill Tobias because he’s the most painfully awkward and it makes me embarrassed for him to the point where I’m physically uncomfortable. Fuck Lindsey because she’s obvs the hottest. Marry Marta, Gob’s girlfriend and Spanish-language TV star. Because she seems nice, unlike literally anyone else on the cast.

Steven’s Review

Arrested Development is one of those shows that took me awhile to get into. It’s not that the humor isn’t great (it’s hilariously on point at all times) or that the acting is poor (it’s superb on all counts). It’s just the physical gut-wrenching awkwardness of some of the characters, which their actors portray to perfection. Still, it’s kind of like the proverbial trainwreck; you just can’t look away. After all, it’s the show that gave us the most punchable face of our generation: Michael Cera.

Rating: 5 out of 5 prison shankings

Kill/Fuck/Marry: Kill Tobias because it’s honestly for his own good at this point, as well as everyone else’s. Fuck Lindsey, but you have to convince her that by doing so she’ll be spiting either her mother, her brother, or her husband. That ensures best performance, apparently. Oh, and marry Lucille 2, who is clearly single, wealthy, caring, and apparently not mentally unstable (unlike most of the rest of the cast).

Previously: 10 Things I Hate About You
Next: Arrested Development 1.2

Hate Book Club: Eat Pray Love

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Since this year marks its 10th anniversary, I somehow convinced Brian to read Eat, Pray, Love with me. That was four months ago, and Brian has since found way cooler pursuits, but I finished my review anyway so here it is!

I'm pretty sure it owes a full half of its success to cover design

I’m pretty sure it owes a full half of its success to cover design

As always, here are three compliments about the book before I expound upon why I hate it:

1) Elizabeth Gilbert isn’t a terrible writer, so this book was more readable than many we’ve done for Hate Book Club
2) Her life advice, while mostly very general and obvious, won’t kill you
3) Some of the food descriptions sounded good

The plot is pretty simple: a rich white lady gets a divorce and then a book deal to take a year to travel around the world and “find herself.” She wants to go to Italy to learn Italian, India to study at an ashram, and Bali because she was there once and thinks she needs to go back. To try to make her book cohesive, she decides to cram these seperate destinations into a thematic concept about “understanding pleasure, devotion, and a balance between the two” that I don’t buy in any way at all.

My overarching problem with this book is that it can’t decide what it wants to be, so it just does everything badly. Is it a travelogue? I hope not, because Gilbert spends almost no time describing what it’s like to be in these separate places. I have no concept of them or even the people she meets beyond how they affect her. Is it escapist? No, because she spends so much time whining I don’t want to experience her journey through her. It’s not a romance for the same reason–though she does find love at the end, there’s so much angsty build-up that a romance novel fan would quit in disgust. I guess “spiritual memoir” is the most accurate, since we mostly only get how the places she’s visiting are affecting her psyche. And maybe there would be some value in that if she weren’t insufferable.

As an English major who suffered through all the usual classics, it’s weird that I’m about to say this, but: this is the most white-people book I’ve ever read. Gilbert spends 387 pages complaining about how awful her life is, when she’s clearly part of the 1%. We’ve got your egregious (if strange) displays of wealth:

“Wasn’t I proud of all we’d accomplished–the prestigious home in the Hudson Valley, the apartment in Manhattan, the eight phone lines” (11)

Eight phone lines???? Why??? Add to that some “We came over on the Mayflower” bullshit:

“If I look on my dad’s family tree all the way back to the seventeenth century…” (63)

And, most ridic of all, THE FACT THAT SHE IS BEING PAID TO TRAVEL THE WORLD FOR A YEAR:

“I have quit my job, paid off my divorce settlement and legal bills, given up my house, given up my apartment, put what belongings I had left into storage… in advance, my publisher has purchased the book I shall write about my travels” (36)

She consistently wants you to pity her, even with her language choices–she’s “given up” everything in her life–while ignoring the fact that she is being paid to loaf around various international destinations for a year when I can’t even get a Monday night off.

And you know when we’re talking about class privilege, white privilege can’t be far behind. Especially when traveling internationally. Here’s where she patronizingly talks about how cute it is that a girl in India continues to wear her broken glasses instead of just getting them replaced like I’m sure everyone in rural India can totally do easily:

“Tulsi is just about the cutest little bookworm of an Indian girl you ever saw, even cuter since one lens of her “specs” (as she calls her eyeglasses) broke last week in a cartoonish spiderweb design, which hasn’t stopped her from wearing them” (188)

Here’s where she complains that one of the chants they have to recite at the Indian ashram is just not fun like ugh you guys, don’t you hate it when you exoticize a culture but then it turns out to be boring and not mystical at all like you expected??

“each verse is a paragraph of impenetrable Sanskrit…I don’t like the tune and I don’t like the words” (169)

Here’s where she complains that trying to learn the language of the country she’s visiting for four months would just be too much hassle. Better the people whose home you’re visiting learn English to better cater to you:

“I just can’t take on the task of trying to learn Indonesian or, even more difficult, Balinese–a language more complex than Martian” (226)

Here’s where she talks about how nice and easy it is to get around Bali now that terrorist attacks have threatened their livelihood:

“It’s even easier to get around now; everyone is desperate to help you, desperate for work” (226)

Here’s where she decides when an orphaned Indonesian girl’s birthday is for her. And makes her share, because don’t be greedy, Little Ketut; orphans can’t afford their own birthdays.

“Little Ketut, the smallest orphan, whose birthday, I had decided a few weeks ago, would also be on July 18 from now on, shared with my own” (319)

Plus there’s this:

“Thanksgiving is a nice holiday, something an American can freely be proud of” (113)

Elizabeth Gilbert is also fixated on sex. Every time she introduces a new character (and these are real people that she met in real life) she assesses their fuckability:

“Sofie is… so damn cute you could put her on a hook and use her as bait to catch men” (59)

Or worries about her own fuckability because she’s not being sexually harassed by strangers in public:

“And while it’s certainly nice, of course, to not get pawed by a disgusting stranger on the bus, one does have one’s feminine pride” (70)

Maybe this book would be less annoying if she was just going on this journey for herself instead of with the intent to write a book. Because–my dislike of her aside–this all feels incredibly fake. Gilbert doesn’t so much want to experience different cultures as to appear to be the kind of person who does. For instance, she contemplates taking a temporary vow of silence at her ashram for these reasons:

“People will talk about me. They’ll ask ‘Who is That Quiet Girl in the Back of the Temple, always scrubbing the floors, down on her knees? She never speaks. She’s so elusive. She’s so mystical.” (200)

Not to help her in her spiritual journey or better understand the ashram’s teachings or bring herself closer to god. Nope. The main motivation behind the vow (or anything in this book, really) is how much you like the image of yourself doing that. Whether it’s taking a vow of silence at an ashram, speaking Italian, or white savioring your way into an Indonesian woman’s life by buying her a house, this book and Gilbert herself are all about appearances over substance. And those appearances aren’t even that appealing.

Plus, her humor is entirely dad jokes and puns:

“So I made a joke that he was a “bonga-leer” like those guys in Venice but with percussion instead of boats” (280)

That’s her flirting, if you can believe it.

In case you want to go on your own Eat, Pray, Love inspired spiritual journey, I’ve made you a handy graph:

eatpraylovegraph2

In conclusion,

whitenonsense

Previously: Interview with the Vampire

Sam Neill Marathon Post Script: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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You guys!!! I can’t believe it’s been more than THREE YEARS since I watched a Sam Neill Movie! I finally chose to break back into the Sam Neill Netflix Marathon game because I kept hearing how great Hunt for the Wilderpeople is from everyone (okay, everyone being Sam Neill himself, Brian Reinhart, and like every critic). Luckily, they were all right!

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

It was playing at The Cary!

It was playing at The Cary!

The Movie: Since this film is new, I’m not going to ruin it for you with spoilers in my summary like I have in past Sam Neill updates (pretty sure I was the last person in the world to see Hunt for Red October anyway). The gist is: Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a bad egg whose rap sheet includes “disobedience, stealing, spitting, running away, throwing rocks, kicking stuff, loitering, and graffiti”. At 13, he’s sent by the New Zealand foster care system to live way out in the (beautiful) middle of nowhere with hog-shanking, fluffy sweater-wearing Bella and gruff man of few words Hector. He tries to run away into the bush, Hector gruffly and long-sufferingly follows him, and the rest is hilarious history.

Look at these bad asses

Look at these bad asses

The beautiful New Zealand wilderness and Julian Dennison’s comedic delivery were tied for my favorite parts. Plus, Ricky names his dog after Tupac, whom he describes as “just this really badass rapper and basically my best friend”. I can’t think of anything to criticize or make fun of–this movie was just really fucking great.

Sam Neill really working the scruffy drifter look

Sam Neill really working the scruffy drifter look

The Character: Of course Sam Neill is long-suffering bad ass Hector. He is perfect in every way. So much so that Brian Reinhart confessed “I was kinda definitely attracted to Bearded Old Sam Neill. That hair. Wow.” This is the same person who wouldn’t play Kill, Fuck, Marry with me about a mixed gender group of fictional characters because “I’m not gay.” So yeah, go see this movie, it might change how you feel about a lot of things.

Not Sam Neill or New Zealand though. I assume you love both those already because you're cool

Not Sam Neill or New Zealand though. I assume you love both those already because you’re cool

Thing I Learned: People who get lost in the bush sometimes take off all their clothes through desperation and madness.

Should You Watch This?: A thousand times yes.

Previously: Sam Neill Wrap Up Post
Next: ????????

ABC DVD: 10 Things I Hate About You

Recently Steven and I decided to watch all the DVDs we own in alphabetical order. It’s similar to that time I decided to cook out of every cookbook in the house, but less practical. The first title is that 90s classic based on a Shakespeare play, 10 Things I Hate About You.

I'm not over how cute Heath Ledger is in this, I'm not

I’m not over how cute Heath Ledger is in this, I’m not

Summary
Based on Taming of the Shrew–and even sneaking in a surprising amount of direct quotes!–this story follows new kid in school Cameron as he attempts to date the beautiful Alex Mack despite her father’s rule that she can’t date unless her older sister Julia Stiles does. Cameron and his bff David Krumholtz trick rich douchebag Joey into paying scary outsider Heath Ledger to date Julia Stiles, and of course there’s the typical relationship begun on false pretenses turns to real love/”IT WAS ALL A LIE” dramatic climax and reconciliation denouement. In the end, Alex Mack beats up Joey at prom, David Krumholtz hooks up with a hardcore Shakespeare LARPer, and I downloaded the soundtrack.

That ridic highschool building, tho

That ridic highschool building, tho

Trish’s Review
This movie is still hilarious. The characters are really well-written and all four of the main protagonists grow throughout the story. The script writers, Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith, are so clever in the way they use Shakespeare’s plot and lines but also update and turn it on its head. This movie is a feminist take on one of Shakespeare’s more misogynistic plays. Plus, it’s infinitely quotable and the music is amazing.

asshole

Rating: 5 out of 5 butterfly hairclips

Kill/Fuck/Marry: Definitely kill Joey. He’s incredibly conceited, boring, and, worst of all, only tries to date Alex Mack because he has a bet with his friends. Fuck Heath Ledger. Duh. Marry David Krumholtz because he solves everyone’s problems for no reason other than he’s a really great guy.

dickface

Steven’s Review
Somehow it wasn’t until well after the first watching that I discovered it was really just a re-telling of The Taming of the Shrew, and I’m honestly stumped at how I didn’t see it at the time. Thankfully, it’s just as good in the re-watching, years later. It’s pretty much everything I expect and want out of the teen comedy genre; typecast high school cliques, unrequited and inexplicable romance at the drop of the hat, ridiculous lack of parental oversight (apart from the main character ladies, apparently), and teens with all the apparent legal and fiscal means to do pretty much whatever a drunken 20-something might get up to. Bad guys get punched, scatological humor gets played, and all with plenty of one-liners to keep things interesting. Oh, and everyone’s favorite White House Press Secretary moonlights as an unapologetic bad erotic romance writer while apparently running a high school? Love it!

asswipes

Rating: 5 out of 5 hole-sawn textbooks

Kill/Fuck/Marry:

Kill
This one’s hard. Like, really hard. Like, if it weren’t for the few characters I honestly like, I’d be inclined to say “Just nuke the school from orbit and spare the rest of us.” Joey’s an obvious front-runner, but I honestly had a hard time choosing between him and Cameron, the lackluster starry-eyed “nice guy.” Honestly, just let them both get hit by the same car.
Fuck
Ms. Perky, Alison Janney’s school counselor-cum-de-facto-principal character. She sounds like she at least knows how to describe a good time, so chances are at least even that she could back it up with the real performance.
Marry
The crotchety obstetrician Dad (Larry Miller). He’s clearly given up on life, but he’s also clearly got the disposable income to live comfortably, plus he’s gone most of the time, leaving you with that palatial house to yourself.

imdown

Next Up: Arrested Development!

13-year-old Patricia Wrote the Best Story You Have Ever Read

So while giving James Fox a dramatic reading of my 7th grade journal, because that’s just the kind of thing we do, I made a shocking archaeological discovery!! Namely that when high school me started to transcribe my journals she left whole sections out, I assume because she thought they were too embarrassing. Revisionist Journal Transcribing! Shame on you, 16-year-old Me! Shame!!

This is especially upsetting because she decided to leave out literally the best part of the entire corpus of Things I Have Ever Written. I read it aloud to James and we both almost choked to death on our laughter and/or admiration for Middle School Patricia’s genius. This story has everything: love, betrayal, ridiculous unpronounceable names, fake olde-timey language, a commercial break. Oh my god the commercial break. James agreed to illustrate it for me to fully bring MSP’s vision to life. Prepare to be spellbound by MSP’s brilliance. Also her spelling, all of which I left intact.

Aulderon: Penons in the dust

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“Twas some time ago,” the elderly hero said, “but it seemth to me that in my youth I was the finest knight on life. I strove to saveth that fair country which once was from sheer turmoil. It hath been many a long year since that time of fair Aulderon. The castles hath all turneth to rumble heaps and the peonons of mine fallen comrades doth lie buried in the dust of antiquity. Why shouldst I repeat those far off memories, that couldth easily hath been but a dream in my withered mind?”

“Please,” begged the small boy, “I want to hear a story, Grandfather. Tell me of Aulderon and its castles, knights, and kings. Tell of your adventures and conquests. Please.”

The old hero sighed. He was not prone to resurrecting the long forgotten civilizations of old. Nor did he enjoy recounting his own history, which had been a tragedy in itself. It was quite a story, though, and the stories of Aulderon would only live so long as they were told.

“Many, many years ago,” he began, “I was deemethed Sir Calebert, Viscount of Trinity and Lord of the South of Aulderon. For indeed, Trinity wasth the largest land in Southern Aulderon. It seemth that I recall five of us. Myself, Lord of the South, Marquis D’Ewartila of Brentell, Gentle Overseer of the East, another Knight, Sir Wartagell of Twarten, Brave Earl of the Frozen North, and yet another knight, Sir Bantaren of Rougen, Tyrannical Baron of the West. It also seemth that I recall a one High King who ruleth us all and all of Aulderon. There wereth many kings. Some wise and just, some it seemth to me a trifle dense. The house of Trinity hath always been beside the king and so I was.

It seemth I was great friends with one of the last Aulderon kings, a fine young man who hadth cometh out of some university in the capital city of Aulderon, Bowinton. He cameth to the throne of Aulderon at the End of the Peace of Aulderon time period. He hadth a promising start no doubt. He seemedth quite capable and always friendly to us Lords. He fell in love a short while later, it seemth, with a young lady at court from her home in Brentall to the East. She was the Countess Derlesia. They weret soon married. She seemth a good enough Queen, a little, or perhaps more than a little, dense, but she servethed her purpose at functions and it seemeth she really didst loveth his majesty. In time she blessed him with a daughter.

She was a beautiful Princess that looked like a sunrise with golden blonde hair made, it seemth, of the finest gold and with eyes as crystal blue as the sky on a cloudless day. She grew with grace and beauty and was keener than both her parents put together at a young age. She spent many a summer in Trinity and I did love her with all my heart.

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“That doesn’t make sense, Grandfather,” the boy interrupted. “How could you love her if she was so much younger than you?”

The old man sighed again. “Tis a sad tale you wish to hear, me lad,” he said.

In short, when I was a youth, just recently acquired my knighthood, I went exploring in the forests of the North and happened apoun an old Hag stuck in a tree. I was quiet full of myself, and thinking myself the greatest knight, I rescued her.

Peenon_03

“A reward ye be gettin’ for this,” the hag said. “I shall grant ye one wish. But take heed. If thou shouldst proclaim thy wish with ill intent or self gain, it shall not be as thou shouldst expect it.”

I did not heed the Old Hag’s warning, however. I said, “For the deed and service I hath given to thee, I ask in return that none mine enemies shouldst ever strike me down.”

“So be it,” the Hag replied. Then she vanished. So it was. I have never been killed and never will die for my wish was made with a puffed opinion of my own self worth.

Peenon_04

It was in the time of the king’s daughter, Arleanna, that I had maintained my youthful appearance for so long. I loved Arleanna and would have given up my lands and titles for her. It appeared that she wouldth have the throne after her father for his wife never had a son or other children.

Unbeknowst to myself or anyone else at the time, however, Queen Derlesia was not as suitable as she seemed. She had for years, in fact, been in love with Sir Bantaren, Lord of the West. She knew that she was trapped in her marriage with his majesty, however, and the sly Baron of the West knew of her love and used it to his advantage. She wouldth performth anything for him and so it was that when he asked for fair Princess Arleanna’s hand in marriage she would not refuse. Queen Derlesia pleaded the case to his majesty who granted it without thought. So it was the engagement between Princess Arleanna, heir of Aulderon, and Sir Bantaren, Baron of the West, was made.

Peenon_05

Princess Arelanna was not at all happy about this and managed to escape from the palace and ran to Trinity, entreating me to help her. I knew it was treason. I knew, if caught, my lands and titles would be taken away. But my heart could not refuse Arleanna, for indeed her predicament was perplexing. For a time I hid in my castle, but someone with such unearthly beauty as Arleanna’s is not easily forgotten.

One day a traveler from the East came to my door begging a place to stay for the night. I did not refuse him. He claimed he was going home from a visit to the West. When I inquired upon his occupation he replied that he was a mapmaker and was trying to more accurately map the lands surrounding Aulderon. I gave him a room for the night. Little did I know that the traveler was not a mapmaker, but a spy sent from Sir Bartaren. He had grown furious at the disappearance of Arleanna, and knew where she was likely to be found.

“Now wait a minute,” the boy interrupted again. “If this Baron of the West was so mean, how is it that the king let his daughter become engaged to such a man?”

“Ah, the king,” the old knight sighed. “He had been a good strong King, but as the years progressed he grew feeble and the real ruler of Aulderon was Queen Derlesia.”

The spy of Bartaren crept about the palace that night. He came apoun a small library where Arleanna had a habit of staying up reading. Having seen her he knew the situation and quickly rode off in the middle of the night. We had not known who he was and having not been aware of his discovery, we did not worry.

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We’ll return to Aulderon: Penons in the Dust right after this.

Hey Tricia! I like the things you do! Hey Tricia! If I could I would be you. You’re the one and only Tricia, the one and only Trish, You know how to make a breakfast, they’re great! Frosted Tricias, they’re more than good, they’re great!

Now back to Aulderon: Penons in the Dust

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When Bantaren’s spy returned to him, he rallied his troops preparing to march on Trinity. I got wind of this and organized my knights. Queen Derlesia was informed of the situation and demanded that I return Princess Arleanna. When I refused, she added her forces of Bowinton to Bantaren’s. She commanded Marquis D’Ewartila and Sir Wartagell to add their military forces to crush me, but Sir Wartagell refused. He had also been a close friend of Arleanna and I, and he was on our side. Marquis D’Ewartila was quite undecided. As I said, he was the Gentle Overseer of the East and sympathized with me, but war and strife were not to his liking. He refused to lend his small militia to Queen Derlesia’s cause, but didst not lend them to me either. He did however, not delay Wartegell’s knights as they traveled to join my army.

We met Bantaren’s army on a plain lying between South and West. Little did I know as the gory battle waged, a spy disguised as one of Wartegell’s knights rode through our ranks and on to Trinity. The gate was opened for him, of course, and being admitted, he kidnapped Princess Arleanna, and under the cover of night he brought her to Bantaren at his camp.

Now Bantaren had his long sought bride, but before marrying her he decided he must thwart me, his archenemy. So it was we awoke to find his army had retreated to Rougen with the Princess. A lone messanger was left. He fearfully informed us of what had happened and offered me Arleanna’s favorite necklace as proof that she was really his. I formed up my men and marched them on Rougen.

Being older than dirt can be helpful, for I knew of a secret passage leading to the cellar of Bantaren’s castle. While the battle waged, I found it and traveled to the cellar. Surprisingly, in the room adjacent to the one I emerged in, I heard talking and one of the voices sounded like my beloved. I peered through a crack in the door.

Arleanna was in there alright, as well as Bantaren. Arleanna was chained to a wall. Bantaren was pacing, talking to her in a distracted sort of way while she wearily struggled to get free. “Your beloved Sir Calebert should arrive soon,” he was saying. “Then we shall see. I have long wondered who had more knightly skill. Calebert has had more experience, but I believe I have more given talent.”

“So I’m to be a prize in a sword contest then?” Arleanna cried angrily.

“No, of course not,” Bantaren assured her. “You will not really be a prize. You are already mine. I will simply by protecting you from the madman.”

“You are the one who is mad,” she argued. “You’ve kidnapped me, and I suppose you’re going to force me to marry you?”

“No, not really,” he replied. “You don’t have to marry me if you don’t want to. You’re mine all the same, however.”

She shrieked. “Your even more despicable then I thought,” she cried.

“I never pretended to be otherwise,” he said. “Your beloved is late,” he mused. “I was almost positive he’d have been here by now.”

“Why do you keep saying ‘Your Beloved’?” she asked.

“Grandfather!” the boy interrupted again, “you said you and Arleanna loved each other.”

“I did not,” he argued. “I said that I loved her. She never expressed such love for me. It had been my hope that some day we should marry and she would grow to love me in time, however.

Peenon_06

Anyway, Bantaren then said, “You are ignorant, Princess. Haven’t you noticed? Sir Calebert, a distinguished bachelor, would hardly go to so much trouble if he did not have some inner feelings for you.”

“We are the best of friends,” she replied indignantly. “That is all I will ever ask of him, and that is all he can honorably ask from me. You wouldn’t understand, of course.”

“Oh, of course,” he agreed, “but all the same, it is my belief that the Dear Duke of Trinity has some emotions locked away somewhere for you, my fluffy-brained Princess.”

“Why did you want my hand in marriage then?” she asked.

“I don’t love you,” Bantraen said. “Don’t flatter yourself, dear. Your beauty is beyond compare, but some people want more than a pretty face. What I do want is power. You are the Key to Aulderon. Whoever you marry becomes King, or hadn’t you realized that? I want Aulderon. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get it. Even killing your beloved.”

Peenon_07

“That’s a stupid plan,” Arleanna said. “Even if you did kill Calebert, you’d still have to deal with Wartegell and D’Ewartila.”

“Yes,” he agreed, “but Sir Calebert, the Immortal Champion, who has triumphed over death itself, or so the legend goes, is fabled to be invincible. When I kill him, the others will surely be afraid.”

“What makes you so sure you’ll triumph?”

“I have his weakness right here.” He laid a hand on her neck and kissed her. I came slamming through the door at that point. “You see, Princess?” Bantaren said amusedly. “Thou art his weakness. Thou art his failure.”

Peenon_08 (1)

“Is this true?” Arleanna asked me, her eyes pleading for the answer to be no.

I sighed. “I wouldst not lie to thee, Princess,” I said.

She sighed. “It is so then,” she said. “I am the cause of war and battle. It is me.”

But I didn’t hear her. Bantaren and I had already rushed at each other, swords aloft. Little did I know, Arleanna had stolen the key from Bantaren, when he had kissed her and even whilst we tried to tear each other to pieces she was freeing herself. When she was free she reached into her cloak and pulled out a dagger. “Lo, good sirs,” she called, “the cause for your strife has ended.” She plunged the dagger into her heart and fell tragically to the floor.

Peenon_09

“NO!” Bantaren and I cried, rushing to her side, he for politics, and I for reasons of the heart. Yet she was dead. Newly enraged by this sad turn of events, Bantaren and I leapt at each other. We fought for a while but finally I struck him a fatal blow. He fell dead to the floor, and I was left alone in the cellar to weep.

*~*~*The End*~*~*

Peenon_10

Special thanks to James for all his great drawing work!!! And Middle School Patricia for being so incredibly ridic that it still brings me joy 16 years later.

Previously: More journals; More James Fox

Top 10 books with less than 200 reviews on GoodReads

I saw this idea on someone else’s blog, a fellow member of my penpal club. It got me curious about my own books, so I headed over to GoodReads and sorted my books based on total number of ratings.

I was surprised by how hard it was to narrow it down to just ten! It turns out I’ve rated a lot of books well that are not so popular. I discounted all the picture books, since picture books are not really in GoodReads’ target audience. Some of these are relatively recent, so perhaps they will acquire more attention as time goes on. Here’s what I finally narrowed it down to:

This Day in the Life: Diaries from Women Across America ed. Joni B. Cole, Rebecca Joffrey, and B.K. Rakhra

top1011

Year Published: 2005
# of ratings: 190
Avg rating: 3.57
My rating: 5

This book is a collection of journal entries different women in the US kept on the same day. Most of them are very ordinary, but offer a really interesting look into the lives and perspectives of different people. As an avid journal-keeper, I am all about it.

Augie and the Green Knight by Zach Weiner with illustrations by Boulet

top1010

Year Published: 2014
# of ratings: 176
Avg rating: 4.16
My rating: 5

This book is hilarious and also really well-written and illustrated. It’s a retelling of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight from the perspective of the Green Knight and his sidekick, Augie. (Augie would say the Green Knight is her sidekick). I wish it had been around when I was a kid.

Why’d They Wear That?: Fashion as the Mirror of History by Sarah Albee

top109

Year Published: 2015
# of ratings: 169
Avg rating: 4.12
My rating: 4

A history through fashion covers two of my interests in one, and does so with great pictures.

Microshelters: 59 Creative Cabins, Tiny Houses, and Other Small Structures by Derek Diedricksen

top108

Year published: 2015
# of ratings: 146
Avg rating: 4.00
My rating: 5

This book was SUPER interesting, with lots of great pictures about how these tiny houses are constructed and manage to fit everything in.

No Place for a Lady: Tales of Adventurous Women Travelers by Barbara Hodgson

top107

Year Published: 2002
# of ratings: 111
Avg rating: 3.71
My rating: 5

I think about this book a lot. It tells the stories of a few brave women who decided to travel the world at a time when it wasn’t socially acceptable or safe for women to do so. Their observations are so interesting, and their ways of dealing with their detractors are informative even for modern life.

Teen Angst: A Celebration of Really Bad Poetry ed. Sara Bynoe

top106

Year Published: 2005
# of ratings: 59
Avg rating: 3.46
My rating: 4

Pretty much what it says on the cover, and you KNOW I am here for that.

African Princess: The Amazing Lives of Africa’s Royal Women by Joyce Hansen

top105

Year Published: 2004
# of ratings: 25
Avg rating: 4.08
My rating: 5

This book introduced me to some really cool historical figures I’d never heard of before! I wish I had been exposed to more African history beyond Ancient Egypt earlier in life.

The Barbarian Princess by Laura Buchanan (aka Florence King)

top104

Year published: 1978
# of ratings: 21
Avg rating: 3.95
My rating: 5

This book is what you get when a historian is forced to write a trashy romance novel to fund her alcoholism. Because that is exactly what it is. Set in the final days of the Roman Empire, the heroine meets a bunch of historical figures and also is like a reincarnated druid princess or something (you can pinpoint the exact chapter in the writing process where the author decided, fuck it, writing drunk is good enough). Despite all of its ridic flaws, it’s probably the most researched trashy romance novel I’ve ever read. And you know my credentials on that.

Foods That Make You Say MMM-MMM by Bob Garner

top103

Year Published: 2014
# of ratings: 18
Avg rating: 4.06
My rating: 4.00

Bob Garner reviews restaurants for our local PBS show, North Carolina Weekend, but he also knows a lot about the state’s food history. I learned a lot from this book, and there were some good recipes. More about it here.

The Knit Parade: 12 Statement Sweater Patterns, 12 Motifs to Meddle with by Wheres Me Jumper

top102

Year Published: 2013
# of ratings: 5
Avg rating: 3.60
My rating: 4

This is the book I read that taught me how to do this:

Look at this beast

Look at this beast

I didn’t include this as part of the ten, but felt like I should add as a post script:

The Knight, the Wizard, and the Lady Pig by Patricia R. Ladd

top101

Year Published: 2004
# of ratings: 4
Avg rating: 4.75
My rating: 5

Gotta give your own book 5 stars on GoodReads, guys.

2016 Goals: Halfway

The year is half over! So time to check in with my yearly goals.

1. Cook every recipe in Sally’s Baking Addiction: 67%

I have 24 more to go! My favorite that I made since last time is the peach pie! Something about adding vanilla to the filling made it nicer than my usual recipe.

Lattice could use some work

Lattice could use some work

2. Finish all my 2014 Goals: 79%

Killin it

2a) Read T-Z in Brewer’s: 43%

W has been taking me a while.

2b) Make 7 pies: 100%!

Besides the handsome looking peach up there, I’ve also made both a lemon meringue and a coconut cream pie recently! These pies marked a huge accomplishment for me, since I previously have sucked at custard-like-things.

2c) Make a new fancy drink every month: 50%

I tried to make another green smoothie, which went about as expected (disappointing), but the raspberry smoothie bowl recipe worked out pretty good! Then last month I tried to do blackberry lemonade, but it just ended up tasting like seltzer.

2d) Get everything then on my to-read list off it: 100%

I knocked this one out early.

2e) Update my blog 7 times: 100%

Ditto

3. Finish all my Craftsy classes: 60%

At this point, I have two left: Knitting Fast with Continental Knitting and Sewing Vintage.

4. Complete a temperature scarf: 48%

I’ve fallen a little behind on this one. I tend to leave it for a week or so, and then knit everything I’ve missed at once. Here’s what it looks like right now:

Orange an average temp in the 80s

Orange an average temp in the 80s

5. Read At Least One Book a Month someone else recommended to me: 50%

In April I read:

The Core of the Sun

The Core of the Sun

Recommended to me by a coworker at the library. It was an interesting dystopian novel about gender issues and pepper addiction.

In May:

The Thief

The Thief

Recommended by someone in my penpal club! It was a nice fantasy about a small band of various sketchy people trying to steal a mythic artifact.

In June:

My Little Pony comics humble bundle

My Little Pony comics humble bundle

Guess who recommended this. It was fun!

Total: 61%

And, because I made a promise to the Internet, here is Steven’s assessment of his own goals:

1. Cook one vegetarian meal a week

“Badly. I’ve given up. I love meat too much.”

2. Learn a new violin piece every month

“(sigh) I got like two months in and then forgot.”

3. Finish all Craftsy classes

“Pffffffffffff”

4. Make at least one case or bag out of leather

“Ummmmmm year’s not over yet. Still on track. I mean, I made a shower case thing. Whatdoyacallit. So yeah, I’m totally on track. Made my first small one. You’re not writing this verbatim are you?”

Previously: Jan-March

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