Hate Book Club: The Natural

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Hate Book Club is, of course, where Brian and I read books we think we’ll hate. This time we had to recommend a book we thought the other one would hate. For him, I chose Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop, the weirdest erotic fantasy novel I’ve ever read. I’m so excited to read his review of it!!

For me, Brian chose The Natural by Bernard Malamud. It didn’t take me long to see why he thought I would hate it. It’s hella boring and also all about baseball, America’s Most Boring Pastime.

Even the cover is boring

Even the cover is boring

As always, I have to start my review by thinking of three good things to say, and they are:
1) It was really easy to skim the descriptions of the games because they hardly factored into the “plot” at all so I wasn’t exposed to as much baseball as I feared
2) This book actually made me like baseball more, because even watching it is less boring than reading about it.
3) It may have been painful to read at the time, but, unlike other horrible books, it quickly left my system. I’m writing this 2 months after starting this review (Brian reads slow), and I haven’t really retained much about the plot. In fact:

naturalchart

Luckily, I kept copious notes.

Here is the deal: Roy Hobbs is going to be the best baseball player ever, but before he can try out for the Cubs, a serial killer who specializes in murdering talented baseball players shoots him in the stomach. MANY YEARS LATER Roy is signed as a rookie to play on the Knights. Everyone makes fun of him because he’s so old, but when he uses his magical bat that he made himself (named “Wonderboy” because Bernard Malamud is imaginative), he is the best hitter ever so soon they shut up. All except Bump, the former best player on the team, who continually plays tricks on him. Like the time he randomly switched rooms with him for the night, causing his girlfriend Memo to sleep with Roy instead?? Hilarious.

Anyway, Bump runs into a wall and dies. Roy attempts to force himself on Memo repeatedly. He also meets a woman named Iris Lemon and goes on a weird date to the middle of nowhere with her where they swim in a lake and then build a fire like boyscouts. Iris confesses that she has an illegitimate child. He’s like “Well, you’re hot and clearly slutty, so let’s do this.” Then, in the middle of the sex:

But while he was in the middle of loving her she spoke: “I forgot to tell you I am a grandmother.”
He stopped. Holy Jesus.
Then she remembered something else and tried, in fright, to raise herself.
“Roy, are you–”
But he shoved her back and went on from where he had left off. (157)

Roy can’t get over that Iris is a grandmother, so he blows her off thereafter and continues pursuing Memo despite the fact that she doesn’t seem to like him. Then, a few day before THE BIG GAME, he has some kind of stomach attack and ends up in the hospital. The doctor is all “You should never play baseball again. You’re too old and it apparently makes your body explode.” But Roy just HAS to play in the BIG GAME. Memo arrives and explains that they can’t be together because he’s too old to make enough money at baseball to keep her in style:

“Maybe I am weak or spoiled, but I am the type who has to have somebody who can support her in a decent way. I’m sick of living like a slave. I got to have a house of my own, a maid to help me with the hard work, a decent car to shop with and a fur coat for winter time when it’s cold.” (193)

UNLESS he takes this deal that the team owner and the city’s biggest bookie have cooked up to make money. But can Roy really throw the big game??? It turns out, yes, although he has a change of heart near the end and starts trying for real real. Unfortunately, it’s too late and the Knights lose. Everyone is disappointed. Roy beats up the team owner, the bookie, and Memo and leaves a broken man.

Also, in the middle of the game he hits a ball into the stand that smashes Iris Lemon IN THE FACE. She dramatically reveals she’s pregnant with his child before the ambulance takes her away. He realizes TOO LATE that he doesn’t care about her past and that she is way less sketchy the Memo. BUT IS SHE? Apparently she is mainly attracted to Roy due to his resemblance to her rapist:

How like the one who jumped me in the park that night he looks, she thought, and to drive the thought away pressed his head deeper into her breasts, thinking, this will be different. (219)

On the other hand, this is Memo’s (and Bernard Malamud’s??) idea of the best way to sexily wait for your BF:

She was lying naked in bed, chewing a turkey drumstick as she looked at the pictures in a large scrapbook. (184)

Either way, Roy is a horrible person who doesn’t care about either of them. When he’s not trying to wheedle sex out of Memo in the sketchiest way possible:

“For Christ sakes, Memo, I am a grown guy and not a kid. When are you gonna be nice to me?”
“I am, Roy.”
“Not the way I want it.” (175)

Here he is trying to get over the fact that Iris is a grandmother. A HOT grandmother, but still.

To do her justice he concentrated on her good looks and the pleasures of her body but when her kid’s kid came to mind, despite grandma’s age of only thirty-three, that was asking too much and spoiled the appetizing part of her. (159)

Beside the terrible characters, the other horrible parts of this book included the vaguely dirty feeling Bernard Malamud’s attempts at writing gave me:

He felt a splurge of freedom at the view (3)

And the way everyone in this book is unreasonably obsessed with baseball:

“The ballplayers.”
“Oh, the ball–” Eddie clapped a hand to his mouth. “Are you one of them?”
“I hope to be.”
The porter bowed low. “My hero. Let me kiss your hand.” (5)

I guess this book was first published in 1952 when maybe baseball was a big deal and not just the acknowledged most boring sport in the entire world. It was a simpler time before the Internet, with simple past times. At least in this book I could skim the play-by-plays of Roy’s games, so it has that to be said for it. So in the end this book is slightly LESS boring than an actual baseball game, although I don’t know what kind of twisted deal-with-the-boring-devil would ever have you choosing between the two.

In the end, I would sum up my reaction to this book thusly:

boringgif

Don’t forget to read Brian’s review!

Previously: The Overton Window by Glenn Beck

James and Alana’s Wedding!!! A Tale Told in Selfies

Last weekend I officiated a wedding!!! That is a for real thing I can do.

Behold

Behold

It was a long weekend involving flying to Austin, epic laser tag, and not sleeping very much. I decided to capture the progression in selfie form:

On the first plane, at 6am!!!

On the first plane, at 6am!!!

You can tell that we are both excited, though a little sleepy.

Waiting for my brother to eat lunch with us

Waiting for my brother to eat lunch with us

At this point I had already been awake for upwards of seven hours without eating anything besides plane pretzels. I nearly took a nap on the sidewalk and told Steven to go on without me.

Waiting to go to the rehearsal dinner

Waiting to go to the rehearsal dinner

At this point I had eaten lunch and had a one hour nap. READY TO GO AGAIN!

At laser tag, after laser tag

At laser tag, after laser tag

This laser tag place was the most hardcore one I’ve ever seen with three stories of structures to climb and hide behind. Steven would go on to complain for the rest of the weekend about how badly his knees hurt from dramatically throwing himself to the ground to avoid being shot by a ten-year-old. Still, it’s not a bachelor party unless you come out of it sore, right?

OH MY GOD I AM ABOUT TO MARRY SOME PEOPLE

OH MY GOD I AM ABOUT TO MARRY SOME PEOPLE

Aw yeah, just married some people.

Aw yeah, just married some people.

THE POWER IS VESTED IN ME!

It was awesome!

It was awesome!

But Steven actually managed to take some pictures of things besides my giant splotchy face, so:

This is at the rehearsal

This is at the rehearsal

Did I mention there was a flower dog?

Steven loved taking pictures of the flower dog

Steven loved taking pictures of the flower dog


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Disney Villains Ranked by Scariness

I already ranked the Disney princesses, so I figured it was time to rank Disney villains, whom I tend to like more anyway!

Methodology: I started by ranking “Best Villain” but there’s so many facets to that, so I ultimately went with “Who scares me more?” This criteria was also difficult because a lot of these villains scared the shit out of me as a child, but, from my current viewpoint, less showy ones now seem far more sinister. So I ended up with a weird mix as I tried to take both scales of scariness into account.

Sample Size: I used as my sample size the villains listed as “Official list of Disney villains in franchise marketing“. But some of those were discounted through lameness and me not being able to remember them.

Disney Villains Ranked by Scariness

17. Mother Gothel (Tangled)

If this were a contest of Worst Disney Mother... she actually still wouldn't win

If this were a contest of Worst Disney Mother… she actually still wouldn’t win

Mother Gothel is not scary. She doesn’t really have powers. Her only goal is to stay alive. Yeah, she baby-naps Rapunzel, but then she… raises her as her own? She’s not a great mom, but that’s hardly terrifying, or unheard of in the Disney canon.

16. Captain Hook (Peter Pan

+5 points for style, though

+5 points for style, though

Captain Hook is a lot more bloodthirsty than Mother Gothel, so at least he’s got that going for him, scariness-wise. But he’s more silly and sad than anything else. Dude has serious PTSD from his brush with crocodile-death, and he can’t even manage to kill a bunch of children, so…

15. Dr. Facilier (Princess and the Frog)

I feel like this dude would be a lot higher if I'd seen this movie as an actual child

I feel like this dude would be a lot higher if I’d seen this movie as an actual child

Dr. Facilier or the Shadow Man is definitely creepy, and he has hoodoo spirit friends! He tricks you into making deals with him, and then uses his jazz age dance magic voodoo to trap you in ironic ways. I definitely would not want to cross him! But he doesn’t really have any power of his own; it all comes from his “friends on the other side”, who are quick to turn on him at the end.

14. Hades (Hercules)

But he might be at the top of People I Would Invite to my Birthday Party

But he might be at the top of People I Would Invite to my Birthday Party

We all know Hades is amazing, but he’s so funny that I rarely found him scary, even as a kid. However, he definitely has power (he’s a god!) and his plans to unleash the titans and rule the entire world would definitely cause a heavy body count.

13. Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)

Also she literally named her cat after Satan

Also she literally named her cat after Satan

It seems dumb to put Cinderella’s step mom above Hades and Dr. Facilier on the list of scariness, but I can’t help it. I saw this movie when I was a lot younger, and I still remember being intensely creeped out by her. Something about her giant weird hair and her voice. And maybe even at that age psychological cruelty seemed scarier than someone hitting you.

12. Professor Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)

Pictured here in his scariest moment

Pictured here in his scariest moment

As a child, this dude was terrifying. Also, he was voiced by Vincent Price! But even Child-Me knew that he was just a rat, and I could probably step on him if he tried to be creepy near me.

11. Jafar (Aladdin)

Damn, those shoulder pads are on point

Damn, those shoulder pads are on point

The scariest thing about this movie is by far the Cave of Wonders, so Jafar already comes in second place in his own film. I think Iago the Comic Relief Parrot may also have detracted from his creepiness. Although he came a lot closer to his goals than a lot of Disney villains, so props for that, Jafar.

10. Scar (The Lion King)

I stupidly google-imaged just the word "scar" and that page might have been scarier than him

I stupidly google-imaged just the word “scar” and that page might have been scarier than him

Like Jafar, Scar’s scariness factor is inhibited by his comic relief hyenas always hanging around. The final fight scene between him and Simba was pretty scary as a child, but I think even then movies with anthropomorphic animals didn’t scare me as much because they didn’t seem as real. Like, I’m never going to meet a lion. Scar and his political machinations are happening far away from me.

9. Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmations)

cruelladevil

I saw this movie young, which helps up the scariness, but Cruella de Vil is still pretty terrifying as an adult. A lot of these other villains want power for themselves and their family, which I can kind of understand, but Cruella wants to murder puppies. You guys. Is there a more evil motive?

8. Claude Frollo (Hunchback of Notre Dame)

Pictured here rolling his eyes with maximum sass

Pictured here rolling his eyes with maximum sass

Frollo is creepy, especially as an adult. His staunch religious convictions and focus on guilt and sin are the kind of attitudes that started atrocities like the Inquisition, after all. He ranks so high because he feels so real. History is littered with dudes like Frollo who are so inflamed with the supposed righteousness of their cause that they mow down innocent people without any remorse. Who believe that it’s the right thing to do. Scar and Jafar know they are the bad guys. Frollo thinks he’s the hero, and I think that’s what makes him more real and also more terrifying.

7. Prince Hans (Frozen)

But how could a guy with a horse BFF be bad??

But how could a guy with a horse BFF be bad??

I still can’t believe Disney had the balls to pull this amazing plot twist that also mocks the ridiculousness of some of their past canon (“You’re going to marry a guy you JUST MET?”). Prince Hans is hot and charming, and knows how to work those things to make people trust him. He tries to manipulate his way to power, and he’s way better at it than Jafar because he’s an attractive white guy instead of a racist caricature. You know Jafar is evil immediately because you’ve been socially conditioned to think brown dude+black clothes+facial hair+turban=EVIL SO EVIL. But Prince Hans never gets stopped by airport security, and he knows it. Like Frollo, this dude is too real, and that makes him dangerous.

6. Ursula(The Little Mermaid)

Eat your heart out

Eat your heart out

Ursula will wreck you. She’s a powerful witch, she has minions at least as creepy as she is, and she definitely doesn’t play fair when you come to make a bargain with her. Her lair is guarded by the rotting remains of her past victims, and the final fight where she becomes gigantic gave me nightmares as a child.

5. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

Can't touch this

Can’t touch this

I’m only judging based on the original animated movie, not the new Angelina Jolie version. Maleficent is hella powerful and hella touchy. Don’t invite her to your party? CURSE YOU AND EVERYONE YOU LOVE. Try to break that curse? DRAGON! DRAGON IN YOUR FACE! Plus, even her non-shape-changed look is scary. Maleficent doesn’t mess around.

4. Queen Grimhilde (Snow White)

Lesson: do not trust the elderly

Lesson: do not trust the elderly

Okay, I feel like almost all of this is coming from the scene near the end of the movie where the dwarves are chasing her up the rocky hill in the lightning storm, she tries to maneuver a giant boulder down on top of them, and then lightning strikes and she falls screaming to her death only for creepy vultures to start circling almost immediately. That is some creepy stuff for a kid. Plus, the Snow White ride at Disney World didn’t help.

3. Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)

+5 points for being especially good at expactorating

+5 points for being especially good at expactorating

You already know a guy like Gaston. He’s kind of stupid, supremely arrogant, and too powerful. He’s had privileges all his life, people telling him how great he is, until now when he can’t see when he’s wrong. If some girl doesn’t want him, his reaction is to imprison her father and kill her boyfriend. Gaston would be a rapist if Disney movies weren’t rated PG.

2. Shan Yu (Mulan)

And that hawk is no cutesy Iago, let me tell you

And that hawk is no cutesy Iago, let me tell you

Shan Yu and his army are a terrifying force of nature. Even the animation style shows them in stark contrast to the good guys in the movie. They have no comic relief, no bumbling, no humanizing elements at all. Their motivation is simply to destroy, and it takes more than an avalanche to defeat them. They excel at both stealth and wholesale slaughter. Shan Yu is a stone cold villain, and it’s the first Disney movie I can remember that dealt with such a large body count so visibly.

1. Chernabog (Fantasia)

fantasia

You knew this was going to be at the top. This dude is a giant death demon the size of a mountain with an army of skeletal ghosts. Case closed, he is the scariest.

Previously: Disney Princesses

Mom Ladd Guilt Post

Two days ago I was talking to my mom and she said, “You know you haven’t updated your blog in a while.” And I was like, “That is not even one of my goals this year. In fact, I made a goal specifically so that other people would do it for me.” But Mom Guilt is a powerful force, so today I decided to post every picture I currently have on my phone, with explanations I’m attempting to remember.

This is Steven drinking a bloody mary at one of the restaurants on my list. He said it was amazing.

This is Steven drinking a bloody mary at one of the restaurants on my list. He said it was amazing.

This is my apartment complex's gym. I have no idea why I took a picture of it

This is my apartment complex’s gym. I have no idea why I took a picture of it

This is the dessert course from tea at the Umstead!!! Probably from when Brian was here?

This is the dessert course from tea at the Umstead!!! Probably from when Brian was here?

LOL this is from when I said "Brian, sit on that thing and I'll take a picture of you" AND HE DID IT

LOL this is from when I said “Brian, sit on that thing and I’ll take a picture of you” AND HE DID IT

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Treasures of Pinterest (aka- How NOT to suck at Gift Projects)

This month’s guest post was written by my sister-in-law, Melissa! She always gives creative homemade gifts! Enjoy!–PLADD

Evening…ya’ll?

So to follow in the footsteps of Mom Ladd- when my darling Sister-in-law asked if I would be a guest blogger on here, at first I thought, ‘heck yes, this will be awesome! There are so many things I can write about!’. Then the feeling of pressure and dread crept in on many levels and I realized that while yes, this was awesome- I mean, the infamous Plaid Pladd Blog is nothing to be scoffed at, it was also sort of stressful since I would be writing something that would no doubt be judged by people much smarter than myself and thus writing anything that immediately jumps to mind would probably end in nothing but chagrin and a shriveled up IQ (also a supreme lack of cool points from the aforementioned SIL). I tend to the academic side of things just asking questions because I’m curious, but I doubt anybody wants to hear me ramble about the psychological and sociological implications of the BDSM community (no NOT the 50 shades version, thank Heaven), or the origin of Antisemitism, or legal practices in the Deaf Community, or the fact that you can now get served divorce papers via Facebook (!?!?!), or even Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 28 Op. 101  that just took up the last month of my life. No, you probably don’t want to read about any of those things.

Having said that, rather than giving into fear and backing out due to my lack of life from a seemingly never ending Music Literature course, I decided instead to do an overview of things you can do from pinterest that make pretty snazzy gifts. Adventure awaits- Enjoy!

 

Behold, a treasure trove of tantalizing tactile time wasters!

Behold, a treasure trove of tantalizing tactile time wasters!

 

This isn’t really to say that I have an unholy amount of copious free time, though around the holidays and in summer time I suppose I have had more time that usual… Anyways- most of you have at least heard of Pinterest as a crafting or interest hub where just about anything can be found. If not, you have most definitely heard jokes or seen silly articles on the many poor souls that thought they could master something deceptively tricky on the first go. Thankfully, the only things I have ever experienced in that department include smoothly decorating cake balls (I hate them… -_- ) and tie-dying fingernails with a water technique (t-total mess failure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyXtkEmopnA  )

Though it is true I have spent more time on this site than is strictly necessary, what can I say: I’m a hoarder for recipes and craft ideas. This brings me to the meat of today’s scheduled babble: Craft time!

My Dad is great with math and wood working, Steve rocks a computer and isn’t totally incompetent in the kitchen, Mom sews like a beast, and now Tricia does everything with knitting needles I could never get the hang of, so I suppose it falls on me to be the jack of all trades in random crafting areas. I love to learn new things and try different techniques- especially when it means I already have Christmas, Birthday, or other special occasion gifts checked off. Personally I’d rather do homemade/personal gifts but c’est la vie- to each their own. In honor of that- let’s visit some favorites of mine.

 

#1: Anything to do with Mod Podge.
Super easy MP craft examples: magnets, coasters, and image transfers.

 

Behold: Crafting glue from Heaven.

Crafting glue from Heaven.

 

So far, I think I’ve stuck to relatively “basic” MP crafts, but they seem to have gone over pretty well. Don’t get me wrong- I’m not ridiculously gifted with any of this, but I think most people just make it out to be harder than it needs to be. There are SO MANY types of this stuff ($$$) out there, you can do just about anything from resurfacing shoes, to sealing outdoor furniture (and probably your average car…), and of course creating fun little crafts or gifts for any age. This stuff stinks so I don’t think anyone is ever in any danger of “eating the paste”, but hey, messy crafts are for big kids too, dangit!

 

First: Magnets

Don't judge my love of bumpersticker .jpgs

Don’t judge my love of bumpersticker .jpgs

These are super simple. Once upon a time many updates ago, Facebook had this fun little app called Bumperstickers. I used to share these pics back and forth with friends on a daily basis, and some of them were just too clever to lose when the app inevitably disappeared (as everything fun tends to do on FB). I saved most of mine and knew that one day I would craft with them- enter pinterest.

Necessities:

  1. Pictures cut down to size (2×2) and printed
  2. Equally sized canvases (get them at Michaels or Hobby Lobby)
  3. ModPodge and cheap foam brush
  4. Small magnets
  5. Hot glue/gun

You can obviously do this with any size photo or graphic, I just wanted to make magnets because these seemed perfect for the occasion. Print out your photos and cut them down to size. For me, since these weren’t being reverse transferred, I just had to slather everything down and wait. It can get sticky and take some patience, but really, no sweat. Coat your canvas or mounting surface well with MP, then align your photo on top and press down, smoothing as you go to make sure there are no air bubbles under the surface. Once your photo is thoroughly adhered, coat the top with another layer or two of MP and smooth it all over. Just make sure all of your edges are firmly pressed down and coated or things will peel and be ruined in the end. I personally liked to use the glossy finish for this kind of thing, but again- to each his (or her) own. When they’re all dry, turn them over and glue a magnet onto the back and voila! Quippy magnets!!  These of course are perfect to decorate your own home, or to give to friends or decorate the community fridge at work just to spice things up a bit. I toss them into care packages and gift boxes to surprise people and it never fails to be fun… unless you have one of the new refrigerators that isn’t actually capable of holding magnets on its stupid shiny surfaces… but I’m not bitter… grumble…


 

Next: Photo Coasters for all Occasions
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2015 Goal Update: March

Since we’re about a quarter of the way through 2015, I thought it was time to give you an update on my 2015 goals! I’m off to a good start!

1.Read 1 book each month I think I’ll disagree with: 25%

So far I’ve been doing this one in conjunction with Goal 7:

January: The New Lifetime Reading Plan by Clifton Fadiman and John S. Major

I was so sure this one would be only full of dead white guy writers, but there were actually a ton of international works. I put a bunch of things on my to-read list. A pleasant surprise!

February: Don’t Be That Girl by Travis Stork

The cover is particularly insulting

The cover is particularly insulting

A guide written by a former Bachelor contestant about how to stop being bad stereotypes of women and how to start being a stereotype of women that Travis Stork approves of. The best is the chapter where he tells you you’re too good at your job and it’s intimidating to potential dates.

March: The Frazzled Female by Cindi Wood

This book had some good points about taking time to relax and practice mindfulness and self-care. But in general it was very repetitive and I didn’t care for the writing style. Or being called a female.

2. Finish I Detonate Around Him: 75%

This is my tumblr that critiques 50 Shades of Grey. I’m about 80% done with the last book!! And then I have my traditional wrap up posts where I make graphs like a huge nerd.

Pictured: Something a huge nerd would do

Pictured: Something a huge nerd would do

It’s been 3 years, so I’m looking forward to finally being done.

3. Visit every restaurant on my list of restaurants to visit: 58%

This is kind of cheating because the list included things that I already had visited before the start of this year. But after last year’s abject failure, I needed something to give me an edge! So far probably the coolest thing we’ve tried is Escazu chocolates, where you can get historical hot chocolates, made from recipes as far back as the 1500s!

We all know Cortes could hot chocolate like a boss

We all know Cortes could hot chocolate like a boss

4. Review at least 1 thing online a month: 25%

So far I have only reviewed places I really like (La Farm, Carolina Popcorn Shoppe, Goji Bistro) to make it easier. Eventually I promise to give something less than 5 stars, but I have to work up the nerve.

5. Plaid Pladd Blog: One guest blog post per month: 25%

So far we have had three great guest blogs!!!! James Fox gave us a thorough look at his studies into bad anime, Rob wrote a nice excerpt from his ongoing examination into America’s Next Top Model, and Mom Ladd wrote about the perils and rewards of being Mom Ladd.

6. Knit a sweater: 60%

This is just an estimate, but I’ve finished the front, back, and most of one sleeve. It looks good so far!!

7. Get hella into a different Dewey Decimal Class each month: 25%

So far, the 100s have been my favorite!

Total: 42%

Pretty good for March!

Previously: 2015 goals

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.

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