And the New Day was a Great Big Fish: My Top 10 Discworld Novels

I was more upset than seems natural that the world lost one of its greatest writers, and, more importantly, a kind and awesome person when Sir Terry Pratchett died yesterday. His books are, quite simply, magic. They mean so much to me that I’ve rewritten this post at least twelve times because it never seems to be enough. I can’t explain it well enough to do them justice, especially if you’ve never read any.

The Discworld floats through space, supported by four gigantic elephants who are themselves standing on a giant turtle. A Star Turtle. It seems strange at first, but after you’re one or two books in, it seems completely natural.

The Discworld

The Discworld

Discworld books always get shelved in fantasy, because some of the characters are subpar wizards and there are swamp dragons and time travel and trolls. But it’s not some High Fantasy bullshit where you need a giant appendix with a glossary of elvish terms and characters. The Discworld is more about our world than anything. It’s about war and death and the pain of growing up and growing old, the magic in everyday things and the power of humans and what they can do together–for good or for evil.

Also, it’s hilarious.

I mean, if you couldn’t tell from the giant world turtle. My favorite books are hilarious but also meaningful. The other great thing about Discworld is that it really is an entire world. There are over 40 books, but most of them don’t go in any particular order. There are a few general storylines, but also many one-off novels, and characters from different books appear as minor characters in others. That in itself is a feature I love, like unexpectedly bumping into an old friend. I really think this means that there is a Discworld book for everyone. I love all of them, but at certain times in my life I’ve been more drawn to the Rincewind stories, for instance, whereas now (as you’ll see from my list) anything featuring Vimes usually gets top billing. It was hard to decide on a Top 10, and I feel like I will change my mind about some of the ordering even tomorrow, but for now:

10. Men at Arms

menatarms

I love Vimes novels because I love: 1) a good mystery, 2) a scruffy, world-weary underdog, and 3) the underlying themes of inclusion and justice. Vimes works for the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, which, at least at the beginning, gets about as much respect as those flunky guards who always get killed by the hero on the way in to save the princess in a trope-filled fantasy novel. Still, I would classify these books as police procedurals, with werewolves. In this one, Vimes has to catch a serial killer on the loose in Ankh-Morpork with a strange new weapon that does untold damage. He also has to deal with new species integration in the Watch, when he’s forced to hire a dwarf, a troll, and a werewolf.

The werewolf is Sergeant Angua and I LOVE HER

The werewolf is Sergeant Angua and I LOVE HER

I really like watching Vimes grow as a person throughout the books about him, but still retain that hard-bitten core of Vimesishness. This book uses the anti-dwarf/troll/werewolf attitudes espoused by Vimes, other Watch members, and the populace at large to parody real issues of racism and sexism, and Pratchett’s portrayal is spot fucking on.

9.The Fifth Elephant

fifthelephant

This is another, later City Watch novel, where Vimes is sent as a diplomatic envoy from Ankh-Morpork to Uberwald for the crowning of a new Low King of the dwarfs. Of course, since it’s a Vimes novel, there’s a mystery to solve–namely, the theft of a sacred dwarf artifact. And the theft of a model of it from an Ankh-Morpork museum. And the murder of a condom maker. Related? Maybe! This book builds on previous worldbuilding and gives us an insight into “traditional” dwarf, werewolf, and vampire society. Ankh-Morpork and all its problems are downright cosmopolitan by comparison. Case in point: Corporal Cheery Littlebottom, one of the first openly female dwarfs.

Note the riveted skirt and earrings. Get it, girl

Note the riveted skirt and earrings. Get it, girl

Pratchett’s depiction of traditional dwarf society, with all the attendant legends and mythology of a people who have lived their lives underground, in near-darkness, is breathtaking. The way he plays with traditional tropes is hilarious (the main vampire character, a Countess, knits her own cardigans). This book is as much a political thriller as it is a mystery, and Vimes is the best forever.
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Disney Princesses: Callously Judged

I decided to rank the Disney princesses, because that’s the kind of thing I do. I was surprised by the results. When asked who my favorite Disney princess is, I’m most likely to say “Merida” or “Mulan”, I guess because growing up reading Tamora Pierce makes me love anything with lady warriors. Ultimately, when deciding on the order of this list, though, I went by who I would most like to hang out with. And I love hanging out with awesome badasses, but I guess there are some other things I value more. I also used the official list of Disney princesses so characters like Megara don’t appear (sadly).

11. Snow White

Ugh, I even hate her face

Ugh, I even hate her face

Snow White is the worst Disney princess. Don’t even try to fight me on this, because it’s definitely true. Her costume is weird, her voice is annoying, and she spends a good chunk of her story either crying or asleep. Plus, she is fourteen, which makes her entire story really creepy.

10. Aurora

Subject of the original "What color is this dress?" debate

Subject of the original “What color is this dress?” debate

Aurora is also pretty boring and annoying. She hardly has any lines in her own movie, and, again, spends a lot of time asleep. Plus, girl gets way too friendly with random dudes she meets in the woods. Still, she’s slightly better than Snow White because she’s mostly just a cardboard cutout of a character instead of actively annoying.

9. Cinderella

But minus points for that hair because what

But minus points for that hair because what

Finally a princess with a little personality! Unlike Snow White and Aurora, I feel like I know more about Cinderella as a person, even if it’s a person I’m not that jazzed about hanging out with. She’s not afraid of hard work, and her initial life experiences will probably make her a compassionate ruler who doesn’t take her wealth for granted. I wish she had a little more spirit instead of just doing whatever her Evil Stepmother or her Fairy Godmother says, though.

8. Rapunzel

And Obligatory Disney Animal Sidekick, of course

And Obligatory Disney Animal Sidekick, of course

I like Rapunzel’s optimism and her curiosity. She would be fun to hang out with for an afternoon, but I think her relentless cheeriness would eventually wear me down. Like, sometimes I just want to make fun of how bad something is (like Snow White). And you can try to make me feel guilty about that, but I won’t. Plus, why do you have a pet lizard.

7. Ariel

I am REALLY surprised to see Ariel so far down on this list

I am REALLY surprised to see Ariel so far down on this list

When I was little, Ariel was definitely my bff. She was curious and rebellious and headstrong. But, while I still like her, adult-me thinks she is kind of dumb. Like, OKAY, you think forks are combs even though the mermaid-world must be eating their food with something. But why doesn’t she step up her attempts at communication? Girl signed a contract so she’s clearly literate. Write Prince Eric a note! Draw him a picture! Don’t just wave your hands awkwardly and then give up. I need a little more ingenuity in my Disney Princess Fave.

6. Jasmine

Plus, those pants look hella comfortable

Plus, those pants look hella comfortable

Jasmine is the only character in her movie with any sense at all. NO, DAD, I am not just going to marry some random losers because you think 15 is too old to be an old maid, EW. And hey, this Jafar guy is CLEARLY EVIL, let’s stop listening to him. I like that she calls Aladdin on his shit for lying to her. Plus, a pet tiger is metal as hell. Jasmine is solid. The only reason she’s not higher is because she’s clearly led a really sheltered life so far, so other princesses beat her out on the fun-to-hang-with scale (a very scientific measurement).

5. Pocahontas

Not taking into account historical accuracy because wow

Not taking into account historical accuracy because wow

Pocahontas knows what’s up. She has clear goals (which aren’t just “get a dude”) and she shows equal measures of compassion and backbone. She argues with John Smith when he’s patronizing, but also doesn’t think that straight up killing the invaders is necessarily the answer. Plus, she can climb trees, dive off cliffs, and paint with all the colors of the wind, so you know we would have a good time hiking and meeting bear cubs and whatnot. The only downside is that she has some freaky supernatural powers. Not only is her grandmother a tree, but she learns English instantaneously by “listening to her heart”. What else is her heart telling her? All my secrets? That I haven’t washed my hair in three days? You can see why hanging with her would be a risk.

4. Belle

Belle's fashion game is on point

Belle’s fashion game is on point

Belle loves to read! Clearly we would have a lot to talk about! She wants more adventures and doesn’t put up with gross jerks. We would clearly be good friends, although maybe not BEST friends, because her idea of adventure is “taming” a dude and getting married. You can’t change him, girlfriend, and my adventures generally involve at least a scavenger hunt so… pass.

3. Merida

Give me that hair.

Give me that hair.

I love Merida’s attitude and her adventurous spirit. She’s in a similar situation to Jasmine, but her solution is not just to whine about it, but to DO SOMETHING to assert her autonomy. I also like how she grows as a person so much during her story and begins to appreciate both of her parents and what they’re trying to do for her. Plus, her style is what I want forever.

hatersgonnahate

2. Mulan

Your awkwardness speaks to me

Your awkwardness speaks to me

Mulan is so amazing!!!!!!!! I have no complaints about her at all. If anything, I’m worried that I’m not awesome enough to hang with her. She doesn’t fit in to the strict gender roles of her society and feels awkward dressed up fancy wearing make up (I HEAR YOU, GIRL). She takes drastic measures to save her father and works hard to become a warrior!!! Then she SAVES CHINA!!! Also, she gets a hot dude in the end, but I like how that’s never her top priority. Girl’s gotta live her life–AWESOMELY–and you can come along if you want to, Li Shang, if you can keep up.

1. Tiana

Reason number one: girl can cook

Reason number one: girl can cook

Tiana is the best. Tiana is who I most want to hang out with. Tiana wins everything. She decided her dream was to open a restaurant so she worked as hard as humanly possible to save up the money, working against racism and sexism to finally achieve her dreams. She doesn’t take any of Prince Naveen’s shit, but she still helps him even when he’s acting like a spoiled baby. Plus, at the end, even though she finds her OTL, she still achieves her dream of opening a restaurant!! Tiana is an awesome role model, and would make a great friend. And that is why she is my top pick for best Disney Princess. She has a lot in common with Mulan, but she achieves her success by working within the system instead of radically undermining it. Both are legit, but I feel like one is less scary for people like me to accomplish. Plus, Tiana has beignets.

Mom Ladd on Being Mom Ladd

When Patricia first mentioned that she was going to have guest bloggers this year, my immediate reaction was: “AWESOME! I want to do it! This will be great, I can do this.” Then reality set in and I began thinking, “Oh my gosh, it involves creativity and writing ability and her blog is so great month after month.  I CANNOT do it, but luckily Trish has many talented friends (you know who you are), so it will be ok, I will not have to participate.”

As a teacher, I often find myself in similar situations when I don’t think before I agree to do something I will later regret. The problem is too many times I have gone ahead with the idea anyway without thinking about the reality. One such time involved me participating in a Faculty vs. High School Boys Basketball game at Seminole High School a few years back.  Sure, I played basketball in high school. “I can do this,” I thought.  “We can kick their butts in a game!”  However, the reality of the situation was: the boys were faster, taller, and stronger. AND my basketball skills had diminished due to the years that had passed since I had gone to high school and the fact that I hadn’t PLAYED in a basketball game for years.

1

This is how I thought I would look

Needless to say, even though my jersey had the #1 on it, I was not. It was a mess and will be remembered only because I pulled a kid’s shorts down while going after the basketball and we both ended up tumbling to the ground.  Luckily, he was wearing 3 layers of shorts, so no inappropriate personal parts were displayed, but it was not a good scene. I know you want a picture here, but, sorry, the crowd was too stunned to snap a shot.

 

Most other times I have made rash decisions that I regretted later involved wearing costumes or losing bets I was stupid enough to make with students. Something they never mentioned in teacher training: don’t make bets with students. They probably thought it goes without saying. Many of these pictures ended up in yearbooks, so I will be remembered not as a pretty good math teacher, but as the “crazy ” one.  The following is evidence.  You can draw your own conclusions.

 

Geometry Day!

After a hard day of teaching.  I took a bite out of a few?

What was I thinking?

Probably the very worst decision of all was allowing some students to “spike” my hair.  I told them it couldn’t be done, but actually with the right amount of Elmer’s glue and rubber bands…  anything is possible. There’s some words of wisdom for you to live by.

 

The picture I want to be remembered by

So now that I have established that I shouldn’t make rash decisions, and I should definitely not take on things I’m not really qualified to do, I’ll share with you the following phone conversation.

Tricia:  Mom, I am going to ask you a favor, and you are going to say no.  But after you have a chance to think about it, you are going to say yes.

Me:  (speechless) …OK, what is the favor?

Tricia:  I want you to be a guest writer on my blog.

Me:  (Silence)…(Speechless)…(terror)…

Tricia:  Maybe you can write about teaching? Or write about a recipe you like? Or maybe about Pi Day?

You all know, Tricia can be quite convincing when she wants to be, and I would have been afraid to turn her down. She does own several swords, and she is not afraid to use them.

The Aragorn is all mine though

I knew the reason Tricia mentioned teaching, cooking, and Pi Day.  These are areas that I am quite passionate about.  I got to thinking about it, and realized the only topic this blog entry should be, because it is my greatest passion and the area of my life that I have taken the most time with and I am most proud of:  being Patricia and Thomas’s Mom.  Also, I am figuring that most of Tricia’s blog readers are not yet parents, and also may become parents sometime in the future.  So, here goes.

Thoughts on Being Mom Ladd

1.  Children are cute.

They need to be cute because they take an insane amount of energy if you are going to do it right.  Plan on 20 hour days, especially at first. I figure it is God’s way of helping you forget your life before children.

Evidence they are so cute

Prain.jpg

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James and Patricia Read Time Traveling Romance Novels

Little known fact: James and I have been in a book club together for the past five years. We take turns picking books (or, more often themes), and then text back and forth during the reading process. At the end we write letters!! That often include comics!! Anyway, there’s no timeline, which is why book club has been on hold for the last year while James completely failed to read a were-cat book (HIS idea, too!). BUT WE ARE BACK, and reading amazing time traveling romance novels. Did you know this was a whole subgenre? Now you do! You’re welcome.

I read A Touch of Enchantment by Teresa Medeiros, because I got it for 15 cents at a library book sale. James is reading Charmed by Catherine Hart after sorting GoodReads reviews by star rating.

I’m just going to excerpt from our text conversation rather than repeat myself. James and I don’t need second drafts. We’ve had years to hone this BFF banter:
James (in GREEN): Best book club ever is BACK IN SESSION

I feel like I made The Right Choice
Charmed1Charmed2

HOLOGRAPHIC COVER

Patricia(in purple, OF COURSE): This looks so incredible, I can’t wait to live it through you

James: Lolol this book is dedicated to the Shawnee Nationt

Alana has informed me that the indian on the cover would have to be 43 years old for this novel to make sense as writtenc!

Since he’s one of Tecumesh’s triplet brothers

Also in this book Tecumesh was part of a trio of triplets

Which is just straight up not historically accurate

Esp since they’re THE ONLY TRIPLETS IN SHAWNEE HISTORY

Hopefully the twist is that the writer actually DID do her research and Silver Wolf ends the story by paradoxing himself out of the timeline

(Male lead is named Silver Wolf because this book is amazing)

Sorry, silver thorn

His eyes are silver

Patricia: I hope they change color with his emotions

James: Okay so

Silver thron and his brothers can predict the future kind of, but they can’t manage to predict anything beyond their own lifespans

So silver wolf sends his magic silver amulet into the future to drag someone back to literally tell them what happens

Because apparently THAT is within the purview of his abilities

Lol main character Nikki is described as having a flash-fire temper and quirky disposition

Can’t wait to find out whether these are informed character traits

Lolol of course Nikki’s eyes are violet

Because of her scottish heritage

Because Scotland is famous for its purple eyed population

Lol nikki assumes he’s an actor who’s playing an indian from a play she saw the other night

who’s still apparently in character

Silver Wolf knows her name before she introduces herself because her shoes say NIKE on them

Why is this a plot point

Nikki’s earlier inner monologue seems to indicate she’s trying to lose 20 pounds

Narration now refers to her frame as tiny

Patricia: James, ALL women are trying to lose 20 pounds

Obviously

My cover is sadly not holographic

20150222_093130

James: But it makes up for it in AMAZINGNESS

“I summoned you here from the future, though it was my hope to recall a man, perhaps one of some prominence and intelligence–not a mere woman”

Patricia: Oooooooooohhhhh snap

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Snow 2015!

We’ve had snow before while I’ve lived in North Carolina (last year, for instance. or in 2010, which I have some nice pictures of). But this year was my first time trying to drive in it! Not really a fan of that, I’ve gotta say. Luckily today the library is closed, so I’m staying home and baking. I had to walk to the store to buy mini chocolate chips, and took some awesome pictures:

We got at least 6 inches!

We got at least 6 inches!

Poor just-planted shrubberies

Poor just-planted shrubberies

This tree looks much more blingy now

This tree looks much more blingy now

Trixie, not happy

Trixie, not happy

Clio, having a rave??

Clio, having a rave??

Clearly Steven is more used to the Frozen North since he remembered to put his wipers up.

Florida girls!!! Killin it

Florida girls!!! Killin it

Not many people have gone out yet, so these are mine

Not many people have gone out yet, so these are mine

Harris Teeter parking lot: a winter wonderland

Harris Teeter parking lot: a winter wonderland

It's hard not to sing Christmas carols

It’s hard not to sing Christmas carols

Luckily, Snow Command is on the case.

A scholarly ranking of America’s Next Top Model winners

Tyra

As many of you know from following Patricia’s blogs, I am one of the foremost scholars on America’s Next Top Model, or as I shall refer to it from now on ANTM. I am more knowledgeable about ANTM than Tyra Banks herself. Most likely Tyra instantly forgets each winner as the confetti is being swept up. If they tried to approach Tyra on the street, she would reprimand them for trying to speak to her in public. Only Tyra’s #1 fan is allowed to speak with her in public, and that is of course Tyra herself.

My original plan was to rank every contestant ever from the show, but that is over 200 people, and a project of that scholarly magnitude would take years to undertake. Instead I will do a ranking of the first 17 winners. Yes, there are 21 seasons, but something so terrible happened season 17 I was forced to forgo my one true love and never watch again. You will find out what that was at the end, or right now if you are like me and enjoy spoiling the endings of things for yourself. The ranking is from best to worst, because I saved the most fun part for the end, and that is talking about things I hate. Just a reminder that this is more of a survey of ANTM, if you would like a more in depth analysis you are welcome to sit in on one of my lectures sometime. Those lectures happen whenever I have too much tequila.

#1 Nicole Linkletter  Season 5

Nicole L

Nicole was the first time the person I rooted for from the beginning won. Sadly it was also the last time. Screw you Tyra. It is hard to remember now why I liked Nicole, but sometimes I make snap judgments and then fiercely defend them to the bitter end so there you go. Nicole was known on the show for being pretty in pictures but completely vacant in person, for being completely ignorant about the UK when they traveled overseas to London, and also for supposedly stealing Bre’s granola bar. She did not steal it. I love her.

#2- Danielle Evans Season 6

Danielle

Danielle was not my favorite from the beginning, that was the wonderful Furonda , but she was definitely up there. Season 6 is probably the most hilarious of all time, with the delightful Jade who believed that Elephants are the direct descendants of Dinosaurs. Danielle was the hilarious greek chorus to all the crazy going around. She also took great photos, and had probably the best walk of any contestant ever. Danielle was also known for having a gap in her teeth, which Tyra tried to get her to change. Danielle stayed firm though, because she identified the gap as part of her, and I give her lots of respect for that.

#3 Eva Pigford Season 3

Eva

Season 3 was my favorite season of all time. I loved when they visited Tokyo, the drama was excellent but not too over the top, and the contestants took stunning photos. Eva was not my favorite at the time, that was probably Amanda or Yaya, but no one can deny she took beautiful pictures. Eva also had a great spunky personality, and was a great role model for short people everywhere when she proclaimed “In those tall bitches’ faces”

#4 Nicole Fox Season 13

Nicole F

Nicole was on the midget season, or as Tyra referred to it it under 5’8 models season. Tyra wanted to give shorter girls a chance, even though Eva who won season 3 was 5’6, and is actually shorter than Nicole. Nicole was one of the most striking contestants Tyra has ever had on her show. Your eyes went instantly to her. Her photos on the other hand tended to be garbage. She could not pose, and her walk was terrible. Nicole also had an attitude of I don’t even know why I signed up for this shit. That is why I liked her. Tyra liked her because she was the tallest girl on the midget season.

#5 Yoanna House Season 2

Yoanna

Season 2 Tyra still had high hopes for finding a high fashion winner. Yoanna never was able to live up to those hopes, mainly because she was already a bit older at the time of her win, and didn’t have a modelesque body. Her face though was stunning, and she took some of the best beauty shots in the history of the show. She also seemed super sweet, and later even had her own design show!

#6 Jaslene Gonzalez Season 8

Jaslene

Jaslene had several strengths going for her. She had a very androgynous look, something Tyra hadn’t had in previous winners. She had a very fierce walk, something she was proud to rub in the faces of her competitors. Also, she was a returnee, which gave Tyra a redemption arc to feast upon. Her downside? She spoke like a deaf man without his hearing aid who decided to gargle golf balls for fun.

#7 Caridee English Season 7

Caridee

Many fans dubbed her Scaridee, because of her resemblance to a meth addled horror movie villain. I thought her look worked..in a type of heroin chic way. She also had a pretty great personality. Since the show she has done lots of presenting, which I think fits her better. She was much better at least than the runner up Melrose, that she-hag.

#8 Teyona Anderson Season 12

Teyona

Teyona was Tyra’s first attempt at a very high fashion winner. She had a cross of alien and fish look that was engaging most of the time, and at the same time could be repulsive in pictures. Tyra really screwed her over by giving her a hairstyle not seen since Debarge.  Overall her season was pretty bland, and she was pretty bland too, but bland beats out most of what happens below.

#9 Adrianne Curry Season 1

Adrianne

Adrianne could have ranked near the top of the list if I didn’t take anything into consideration after the show. She was a likable, scrappy come from behind winner who took beautiful pictures and was the perfect transformation story. Then she married Peter Brady and did the VH1 circuit, making an embarrassment of herself. That scrappy woman was actually a trashy one, and she tarnished many opinions about her. Her one saving grace is that she super pissed off Tyra, who refuses to utter her name in public. This helps move her up a few spots.

#10 Saleisha Stowers Season 9

download

Many ANTM fans would probably have Saleisha ranked near the bottom, if not the bottom of their list. I have never seen a reality contestant receive such undeserved scorn as much as Saleisha. Fans ripped her apart week after week. Her look was a bit safe, and yes Tyra did give her a bob reminiscent of Tootie from Facts of Life, but she wasn’t the monster that many fans made her out to be. Most of the hatred came from the fact that people suspected the season was rigged in her favor since Saleisha had attended a girls empowerment camp that Tyra had done in the 90s. Maybe Tyra did have this in mine, but every season was always about the story over the model, so I hate get too riled up about a little bit of favoritism.

#11 Mckey Sullivan Season 11

Mckey

*Snore*…..Most boring winner, with a perfectly fine look and the personality of a stuffed dog.

#12 Ann Ward Season 15

Ann

Yes, Ann took beautiful pictures. Some of the best ever on the show. But her Frankenstein lurch of a walk, and her debbie downer personality spoiled any of that. Ann had the perfect angles for pictures, but in person presented like someone that life had taken a few too many swings at with a sack of pennies.

#13 Krista White Season 14

Krista

Krista won probably the most unlikable season of ANTM. Everyone had a slightly grating personality, and they went to New Zealand for their overseas destination. That meant lots of time focused on two things I hate…lord of the rings and sheep. Krista had a poor attitude and was always being passive aggressive, and she photographed like a mid 40s housewive. She only ranks higher than others because she beat out Raina in the finale, who had eyebrows to rival Bob Dole.

#14 Brittani Kline Season 16

Brittani

Brittani had a striking look, and photographed amazingly. Tyra sabotaged her with an awful bob, but she still was able to pull it off. What places her so low is her horrendous stank attitude. She was the definition of whiny brat. She actually threw several screaming tantrums at panel, and yet Tyra picked her. It might have been her age that led to such a rotten showing, but more likely it was being from Pennsylvania.

#15 Naima Mora Season 4

naima

For 3 seasons Tyra had picked 3 pretty modelesque winners. They  may each have had flaws, but you knew at least why she picked them. Then came the trainwreck that was season 4. This gave us maybe the top ANTM moment of all time when Tyra went off on Tiffany, as referenced in the picture at the top. This was our first real glance into the deranged mind of Tyra Lynne Banks. This season also gave us this diseased deer carcass as a winner.

#16 Whitney Thompson Season 10

Whitney

Going into season 10 Tyra had never picked a plus sized model, even though there had been many candidates. It was a running joke that she never would. Unfortunately, when she did it was this sneering wench. The whole season Whitney talked about empowerment, but empowerment for her meant hyping up her curves while trashing everyone else and their skinny bodies. She had the smile of a shark, and the personality of the queen bee of a D list sorority at one of the lesser SUNYS. I thought it was possible to never hate a winner as much as I hated her….then…it happened.

#17 Lisa D’Mato Season 17 *Allstars*

Lisa-D-amato-by-Peter-McCabe-americas-next-top-model-28073750-327-497

No, this is not a beast from hell that has crawled out of a sulfur pit to wreck havoc on humanity for gay marriage…this is the winner of the Allstar season of ANTM. Tyra was clearly using a very loose definition of Allstar while casting this season. Lisa was best known on her season for day drinking and peeing in a diaper in front of the guys from Jackass. She was very proud of this, because she is nasty. Of course who thought she would win allstars, being at least 180 years old at best and at worst the reanimated corpse of an ice age hyena? This travesty was enough to make me finally give up on ANTM. I’ve heard though that now they have men competing, and a “social media expert” on panel…so it is probably for the best.

Things I Learned From Bob Garner’s New Book

Bob Garner is kind of a joke between Steven and I. I always DVR the show North Carolina Weekend on the local PBS affiliate because sometimes it gives me ideas about cool things to do. Also, I have become fake-frenemies with everyone on it. For instance, when the host, Deborah Holt Noel, has her coworkers going to some wooden duck museum while she gets to check out the hottest new restaurant in Raleigh, YEAH, I SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING, GIRL. It’s fine. I would abuse my power too, if I had any.

But Bob Garner is definitely the most hilarious part of North Carolina Weekend. He reviews restaurants in the measured, dulcet tones of Mitch McConnell. It’s basically watching an old guy eat and then proclaiming everything delicious, so Top Chef it’s not. He never has complaints, and you can only tell the variation in the dishes based on the noises he makes, usually some variation of “Mmmmmmm-mmmmmm”. But is it with his eyes closed or open? Does he turn his face upward towards the camera as if basking in the pure, heavenly perfection of this fish sandwich/hushpuppy/pie? Clearly I have too much time on my hands.

Then one day at the library I noticed he’d written a book:

The Book

The Book

FOODS THAT MAKE YOU SAY MMM-MMM!!!!!!! I had to check it out. There are definitely some good recipes inside, but most of it is history and information about various North Carolina foods. I actually learned a lot. Including:

1. Bob Garner completely owns being Bob Garner

BOB GARNER KNOWS THAT HE IS SEMI-RIDICULOUS!!!!! This changes everything. Check out this author photo:

This man knows exactly what he's doing

This man knows exactly what he’s doing

The fact that Bob Garner is in on the joke that is Bob Garner is amazing. I feel less bad for mimicking him stupidly whenever Steven makes me a smoothie now. Plus, he actually does seem to know a lot of stuff about North Carolina foods. I should have known that WUNC wouldn’t put just any old dude in front of a camera to eat pimento cheese.

2. Atkinson Milling

This mill is an hour from my house, and has been operating since 1757!!! These are two invaluable facts for me to know.

And it looks pretty!

And it looks pretty!

The grinding of the cornmeal is still done with water power, and it’s the only remaining water-powered mill in a four county area (at least)!

3. Muscadine and scuppernongs

These are the two kinds of grapes native to North Carolina! They make delicious wine, but I didn’t know that a scuppernong is actually a type of muscadine. “North Carolinians refer to any bronze- or greenish-hued muscadines as scuppernongs… because many cuttings of what was first simply called “the big white grape” were planted and cultivated during the 1700s around Asupernung river” (52).

They are "about the size of a hog's eye"

They are “about the size of a hog’s eye”

Apparently these grapes are also one of the healthiest and sweetest varieties in the world. The hot, humid climate of eastern NC is prone to fungal diseases, so the grapes produce extra antioxidants to protect themselves. Bob Garner also provides recipes from the annual North Carolina Muscadine Harvest Festival, which is awesome because I really only knew about them from wine. This includes Sparkling Oatmeal Muffins, Chicken Vegetable Kabobs with Muscadine Barbecue Sauce, Muscadine Nachos, and Muscadine Grape Hull Pie.

4. National Banana Pudding Festival

Oh my god y’all there is a National Banana Pudding Festival and it is in Centerville, Tennessee! THAT IS LIKE HALF AN HOUR FROM WHERE MY PARENTS ARE GOING TO RETIRE OMG.

This is just all I want out of life

This is just all I want out of life

What I’m saying is, Banana Pudding Festival 2017, I AM IN.

5. Texas Pete

I don’t want to alarm you, but Texas Pete is actually from North Carolina.

I KNOW

I KNOW

The company started as a barbecue stand in 1929 in Winston-Salem. The red pepper sauce was apparently almost named “Mexian Joe” except DAMNIT, WE ARE AMERICAN AND PROUD or something. Steven was crushed to lose yet another piece of his Texas pride.

Hate Book Club: The Overton Window

Sketch722285-1

This edition of Hate Book Club, Brian and I decided to read The Overton Window: A Thriller by Glenn Beck. Shockingly, it was not particularly thrilling. As with other celebrity-authored novels I’ve read (except for yours, Tyra, MODELLAND 4EVER), Beck seems to have looked at the most popular books in his chosen genre, and then just made a kind of bland half-assed version of one, relying on his celebrity status to sell copies. To me, this was worse than usual, since so many of the most popular books in the thriller genre are ALREADY so bland and half-assed. Like, this book was no James Patterson or John Grisham, and I already think those books are only readable on a 12-hour plane journey if all of your other books have committed suicide. So there’s that.

But, as always, before I delve into all of the hilarious quotes I found for you

And there were many

And there were many

The rules of Hate Book Club dictate that I have to say three nice things about it so:

1) The dialog often made me laugh. It wasn’t supposed to, but I’ll take my enjoyment where I can find it.
2) The cover isn’t horrible

Pictured: Not horrible

Pictured: Not horrible

3) Glenn Beck actually provides a lengthy list of citations in the back where you can go for more information about some of the things he references. INCLUDING a restaurant where his protagonists eat once. I wish more novels did this, because I’m a scientist and I love a good bibliography.

You don’t really need to know much about the plot. I bet you could give me a plot outline yourself with just the guidance “Glenn Beck thriller”. Basically, Noah is 28 and content to work in his dad’s evil empire PR firm until he meets Tea Party activist Molly, who uses him to access his dad’s secrets and then decides she loves him. Also there’s some drama about a fake nuclear attack the government is staging to justify a power grab, but that has shockingly little to do with our main protagonists, and gets resolved without their help at all. The real star here is, of course, the terrible writing, starting with main character Noah, who is an amazing attempt at writing a believable 28-year old. Here is how Glenn Beck introduces him to us:

Noah had all the bona fide credentials for a killer eHarmony profile. (7)

Because eHarmony is where you kids are hanging out to find hookups these days lololol. Also, in his first scene he takes a trip to the vending machine and:

Noah’s opener… was punctuated by the thunk of his Tootsie Roll into the metal tray of the candy machine. (10)

I’m sorry, it’s only page ten and I can’t suspend my disbelief anymore. A TOOTSIE ROLL? I can’t. Of course, Noah’s dialog conforms more to the middle aged man child authoring him than anything real 28-year-olds would actually say:

“I think I got the whirlies there for a second.” (170)

Not that lady protagonist Molly is written any better. Here’s how Beck introduces us to her:

Something about this woman defied a traditional chick-at-a-glance inventory. Without a doubt all the goodies were in all the right places, but no mere scale of one to ten was going to do the job this time. (10)

ALL THE GOODIES IN ALL THE RIGHT PLACES. I hate the world that caused this phrase to be.

Naturally, Molly’s appearance is fixated on as often as possible, and I guess it’s instructive to see Glenn Beck’s idea of a perfect woman:

The next picture seemed more recent. Molly was alone, wearing aviator sunglasses, a backward baseball cap, cut-off Daisy Dukes, and a camouflage tank top. In her hands was what looked like a military-grade automatic rifle with a drum magazine, held as if it were the most natural accessory a pretty young woman could be sporting on a bright summer day (200)

So put these two hot young things together, and you’ve definitely got some spicy action, right? Oh you ignorant peasant. Here’s how they flirt at their first meeting:

“So Noah comes home after he finally got all the animals into the ark, and his wife asks him what he’s been doing all week. Do you know what he said to her?”
“No, tell me.”
Molly patted him on the cheek and pulled his face a little closer.
“He said, ‘Honey, now I herd everything.’”(14)

Swoon. They also spend more than a page laboriously doing a crossword together, which is just as boring to read about as it sounds. Naturally the sexual politics are hella fucked up. After a traumatic night in jail, Molly asks if she can sleep in Noah’s bed:

“Do you mind?”
“No, not a bit. It’s just like that time my aunt Beth took me to the candy store and then wouldn’t let me eat anything. I didn’t mind that, either.”

“Suit yourself, lady. I’m telling you right now, you made the rules, but you’re playing with fire here. I’ve got some rules too, and rule number one is, don’t tease the panther.”(114)

YOU’RE PLAYING WITH FIRE, MOLLY. STRETCH THE WRONG WAY AND I WILL RAPE YOU. I WON’T BE ABLE TO HELP MYSELF because I am a manchild and you are a candy store or some sexist bullshit.

Of course, the Tea Party gathering they visit is an idyllic utopia of diversity:

The diversity of the gathering was another surprise; there seemed to be no clear exclusions based on race, or class, or any of the other traditional media-fed American cultural divides. It was a total cross section, a mix of everyone–three-piece suits rubbing elbows with T-shirts and sweat pants, yuppies chatting with hippies, black and white, young and old, a cowboy hat here, a six-hundred-dollar haircut there–all talking together, energetically agreeing and disagreeing (51)

And all the people there who seem belligerent or racist or in any way terrible are really government plants trying to start something.

But the best scene in the entire book is when Noah and Molly are trying to flee the city, and Noah decides the easiest way to board a plane is for Molly to pretend to be Natalie Portman.

“It’s perfect. She’s an A-lister but she’s done mostly art-house films so the average Joe probably couldn’t pick her out of a lineup.” (229)

Yes, who would recognize THE Natalie Portman from such obscure art-house films as Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and V for Vendetta. Unfortunately, Noah notices a problem with their plan as they attempt to go through security and he notices a particular guard:

“Are you kidding me? That’s a Star Wars geek if I ever saw one.”
Maybe it was the Luke Skywalker blow-cut, his mismatched socks below the nerdish cut of his high-riding uniform trousers, or the soul patch and horn-rimmed glasses, but everything about this man was screaming king of the fanboys, and that was really bad news.
“I don’t understand–”
Noah lowered his voice even more. “Natalie Portman is in all three of the Star Wars prequels.”
“You’re remembering this now?”
“I guess I hated those movies so much I’d blocked them out of my mind. But I’d bet my last dollar that dweeb knows Portman’s face like the back of his hand. You don’t understand these guys; he’s probably got a candlelit altar in front of her picture down in his mother’s basement.” (233)

Yes, because only friendless losers who conform to some 1970s stereotype of nerdom like Star Wars. Glenn Beck has clearly never been on the internet or interacted with anyone under 40. If you’re curious, they get out of this by quoting Star Wars at the guard until he completely believes that Tea Party drifter Molly is Natalie Portman. They do have a lot in common:

glennbeckbookgraph

Overall, my reaction to this book is:

eyerollbilbo

Don’t forget to read Brian’s review!!!!

Previously: Grinding in Greenville

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