{January 31, 2010}   101 Books

This week I completed MISQUOTING JESUS by Bart Ehrman and Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. These might not have a whole lot in common on the surface, but my review of them does so I chose to include them both together in this review.

1. Dead and Gone – Charlaine Harris
2. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
3. Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi
4. The Year of Living Biblically – A.J. Jacobs
5. A History of God – Karen Armstrong
6. Dreams from My Father – Barack Obama
7. Beloved – Toni Morrison
8. ‘Tis – Frank McCourt
9. The Host – Stephenie Meyers
10. The Constant Princess – Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked – Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th – Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine – Alison Weir
14. Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers – J.R.R. TOlkien
17. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula – Bram Stoker
24. Paradise Lost – John Milton
25. The Inferno – Dante
26. Towelhead – Alicia Erian
27. Sex, Lies, and Headlocks – Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham
28. The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
30. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
31. This United Church of Ours – Ralph Milton
32. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
36. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
37. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
38. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point – Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress – Dan Brown
43. The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown
44. Lolita – Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement – Ian McEwan
46. All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
47. Under the Dome – Stephen King
48. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
49. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise – Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
55. Primary Colours – Anonymous
56. Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
57. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
58. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
59. Misquoting Jesus – Bart Ehrman
60. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlasser
61. My Years as Prime Minister – Jean Chretien
62. Memoirs – Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil – Romeo d’Allaire
64. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. The Secret Mulroney Tapes – Peter C. Newman
66. Why I Hate Canadians – Will Ferguson
67. I was a Teenage Katima-Victim – Will Ferguson
68. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
73. Fifth Business – Robertson Davies
74. The Manticore – Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders – Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys – James Reaney
77. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage – Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
82. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
85. Snarky Responses to Yahoo! Answers – Matthew Cory
86. Sorbonne Confidential – Laurel Zuckerman
87. What Happened to Anna K – Irina Reyn
88. The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland
90. Girlfriend in a Coma – Douglas Coupland
91. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire – Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls – Damon Runyon
98. Good Book – David Plotz
99. He’s Just Not that Into You – Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. The Ultimate Weight Solution – Dr. Phil McGraw
101. Real Life: Preparing for the 7 Most Challenging Days of Your Life – Dr. Phil McGraw

MISQUOTING and READING LOLITA are both incredibly intelligent books and you will learn things you don’t know from both of them. The one bit of warning I will give – and this is not by way of a condescending ‘I’m smarter than you’, it’s something I observed myself – is these are not light beach reading. Both are written by professors, ostensibly for a non-academic public, but definitely with an academic bent, as it is the kind of writing both are used to. These were both the first books in awhile that I had to actually go back and re-read some parts to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. So on that score, they’re different. They also, for those using them for academic purposes, have study guides, Q&As with their authors, etc. in the back – some useful side reading on that score.

Their purposes and layout however, are different. MISQUOTING is almost like a long essay, written by a New Testament scholar, with a thesis and central argument, and chapters/evidence beyond that to support that central point. READING LOLITA is more a personal memoir, reflecting on the impact and relationship of the literature Azar Nafisi (the author and central figure of this memoir) was teaching her private class – from Nabokov’s Lolita to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It can get a bit wordy and overwrought at times, but is an incredibly searing view of the life of an academic – and a female one at that – in revolutionary and post-revolutionary Iran. I definitely enjoyed reading MISQUOTING JESUS, and found reading READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN a rewarding experience, though a bit challenging due to Nafisi’s writing style – at times too overwrought for a piece of academic writing, yet too academic and precise for a work of such a personal nature. I am glad to have read both of them.

OK so it’s been a quiet week (well – busy in terms of I’ve gotten a lot of work this week … but you know the drill, it’s subbing, it’s routine, and the stuff that isn’t, is probably best left in the classroom anyway lol), and that’d be why I haven’t posted since I think around Monday/Tuesday. But I have a few things in mind to share tonight, so let’s go to it.

  • First, the return of winter weather, here in Ottawa and from what I can gather much of the rest of Ontario and Quebec as well. Freak snowstorm/whiteouts today, and hitting -30 tonight including windchill. So please, stay warm and bundled and don’t expose yourself to this bitter cold. Equally as important, drive safely on icy roads and in whiteout conditions – I have witnessed two car accidents in the last two days and heard of many more on my traffic reports on the radio. Take public transport if you can, or better yet stay home if possible. Winter driving and extreme cold exposure are not to be messed with, especially for the young’uns, and it’s supposed to go no warmer than -15/-16 for the entire weekend. That means lots of cold air, lots of ice. And yes – no more talk about the weather. Enh – but I’m Canadian. What can I do?
  • Some interesting discussions of the security situation in Afghanistan today, including helping ‘moderate’ Taliban supporters offering money and jobs. The Taliban rightly points out that they cannot be bought and there are no ‘moderates’, but I think that’s the point here; the Afghani regime and its supporters aren’t offering this to hardline Talibaners, but those who support the insurgents for purposes of financial need. I’m not sure out and out bribes are truly the way to win hearts and minds, but I do agree that those supporting the Taliban for lack of a better alternative – and despite what the Taliban may imply, those people exist – should be won over. I’ll be interested to hear if there are other ideas as to how to do so, or how important that is.
  • On the American politics front, *I* want to say I think Barack Obama hit his State of the Union speech out of the park last night. I’m sure you can Google it and easily find a replay or transcripts. He hit, in my opinion, just the right note of reassuring he won’t give up on healthcare, putting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on the table, acknowledging some failures while encouraging everyone not to give up, and putting the focus on the job issue, while reminding those accusing him of being a ‘do nothing’ president of his accomplishments. Didn’t win over the GOP clearly, but I suspect this speech will have gone over well with the moderate middle, and the progressives he was starting to lose (boo! by the way – CLICK HERE for an AWESOME blog on the topic).
  • Also on the American side – my condolences to John and Elizabeth Edwards on the end of their marriage. Not surprising – his cheating and having a child with his mistress was kind of a clue things were in trouble – and of course I feel worse for Mrs. Edwards and their children than John. But I think there’s enough pain to go around when a 30 year marriage ends and on that score I feel bad for all involved.
  • And now the best for last – a LITTLE TYKE UPDATE!!! For anyone wondering why he hasn’t been THE STAR of my blog the last few weeks, it’s because honestly there hasn’t been much news – he’s been developing skills, and being his usual wonderful self. But some of those skills have started bearing fruit this week. Over this week we have learned/noticed (a) he has cut another tooth and has at least two more on the way), (b) he can drink from a straw; he therefore has his lunchtime milk all by himself, (c) he’s definitely ready for people food; he’s up to I would say half-and-half meals in terms of jarred baby food and ‘what Mom and Dad are having’, (d) he’s walking with zero problem if he can push something, and stringing 3 steps together independently. All this in about a 7-day span (although of course he’s been working at it much longer). And I *think* he can identify ‘babies’ now even if he doesn’t SAY the word (I can say ‘where’s the baby’ and he’ll pretty consistently point to the baby in any given picture). LOVES HIM!

Stay tuned this weekend for a 101 Books update; I will have two more books to add and it’s appropriate to put them in together. You’ll see why. Only reason this would be delaye is I’m ALMOST done book #2 – that might end up being Monday. 🙂 Either way, stay tuned.

If you want a summary of why parliamentarians did not return to the hill for work today, Rick Mercer, host of CBC’s Mercer Report, explains it pretty darn well:

{January 23, 2010}   Congrats Jay

I am a Jay Leno fan. There. I said it upfront. I know that’s not the popular opinion these days, as both Jay and Conan O’Brien, who took over the venerable Tonight Show from Jay 7 months ago while Jay moved to 10pm prime time, have disappointed in ratings in their new slots, and now NBC wants to move Leno back to the 11:30 time slot. Initially they wanted Conan to continue hosting the tonight show at midnight after Jay hosted a 30 minute show. Conan refused, and has as of today negotiated a release with NBC; tonight is his last show.

This has caused an uproar, as it is the more popularly-held belief that Conan O’Brien is funnier than Leno, and is being screwed. I agree with the latter point – O’Brien wasn’t given a lot of time to build an audience, and NBC handled the transition wrong in many ways. But I’m a bigger fan of Jay’s work, and tend to agree with Ari (who faced massive disagreement on Facebook this week) that the biggest part of the reason it was Conan NBC set out to sea and not Jay, was that Jay is funnier, or at least that NBC considers him to be a more reliable ratings provider.

I have to say I felt some vindication today then when I learned Jay Leno had been tapped as the keynote comedian at the White House Press Correspondents dinner – a spot held in the past by such luminaries as Stephen Colbert. He’ll get to entertain the Obamas and those who cover them for a living. But even bigger news, he’s going on OPRAH next week! YEAH! 😀

As far as the ultimate results of the 2o10 redux edition of the battle of late night – Conan O’Brien’s last show, as previously stated, will be tonight (it’s on the air now in fact); Jay will continue at 10pm, and the O’Brien Tonight Show will continue in reruns, until the Olympics in mid-February, when both will be preempted. Once the Olympic Break is over, Jay will resume 11:35 Tonight Show hosting duties. Conan will be free to explore other offers in September.

My best wishes to both men, sincerely – I am not a major fan of Conan’s, but he IS funny to a certain degree, has a large fanbase, and more importantly is a hard worker with a family to support. I hope he finds a company that appreciates him, treats him well, and is a better fit for his talents. 🙂 Good luck to all, as 11:30 has just become a three-way race come the fall.

{January 21, 2010}   A message for Barack Obama

Courtesy of Shawn Connery, by way of my husband’s quoting it to me, in regards to the Republican win in the Massachussetts senatorial by-election yesterday:

“They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That’s* the *Chicago* way!” (The Untouchables)

By the way … just for the sake of ‘CYA’, in case anyone is out there taking things so seriously as to believe that quote is an advocation of a violent response – no. It is metaphorical. My liberal US relatives are concerned, and I think rightly so, that the Democrats are going to take the wrong message from this election, and take a more soft-pedal approach rather than the message that they are being too cautious and as such frustrating to those who want to see results. If the GOP is going to play figurative hardball, we must as well. I’ll leave the political violence, and threats thereof, to the other side. Y’know, the ones who go to Obama speeches armed, and speak of revolution, quoting Jefferson about watering the tree of liberty with blood from time to time and all that.

PS … please keep in your prayers still Haiti, which was hit by a second, 6.0+ earthquake this morning … as well as, slightly belatedly, those in the Glebe neighbourhood here in Ottawa, where a fire on Monday destroyed an 18-unit apartment building, costing the students and young families there homes, textbooks, furniture, pets … it’s been a sad week out there in the world, folks. 😦 Let’s all do what we can to make it a bit nicer.

This video is why I love Anderson Cooper. Warning – not for the faint of heart, graphic blood.

{January 17, 2010}   Weekend

Hi all – been awhile since I’ve done a personal update. In short:

Still in the job search but have gotten more leads than I have in awhile, and have a few interviews set up this week. Wish me luck, I’ve got a good feeling …

Meanwhile, Ari’s happy and enjoying his work, and we enjoyed a nice quiet movie night last night … we deserved it after the last couple of days! Little Tyke has been going through a MAYJAH teething phase and the last few days have been difficult, in sum, with input, output, and crankiness. Pain leading to lack of sleep doesn’t help that much either. We seem to be past the worst now but still … poor little man. Poor Mommy and Daddy.

Friday was a bit of a ‘ditz day’ for me; I didn’t close LT’s lunch properly so it went all over his cooler … I got to his sitter’s late after substitute teaching work (first time at a new school), and forgot her check when I got there … a bunch of stuff like that. But we’ve all gotten some good sleep at night (one nice thing about LT not napping properly, is he sleeps long hours at night), and I’m feeling a bit more refreshed now. Tomorrow should be good as well – hopefully will line up some sub work or at least an interview or two, and tomorrow night’s the first session of ‘What in the world do we believe?’ at my church, which is a great chance to meet some other newish members and chat about our faith. 🙂 I’m looking forward to it.

What’s up in all your weeks? 😀

Applause to Jay Bakker’s stand, despite the obvious disagreement and disapproval of his congregants. Best thing Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker ever created was this young man. God bless him.

{January 13, 2010}   Help for Haiti

Dear Readers,

As I’m sure many of you have read or seen yesterday, there was a 7.0 Earthquake that hit Haiti yesterday evening, leaving devastation in its wake. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, ill-equipped to handle such a disaster. Early estimates of the dead approximate over 100,000; many aid workers already there, such as members of Doctors without Borders, are missing, as are several RCMP officers.

Haiti needs our help, and if you are wondering just how to go about offering aid and assistance, I have found a couple of excellent resources.

For Canadians, click here. (credit: Globe & Mail)
For Americans, click here. (credit: CNN)

If you are from elsewhere, please simply Google the name of your country in regards to helping Haiti; I Googled “How to help Haiti in Canada” for the Canadian site, and CNN readily offered a list of links to aid organizations on their site, which I check regularly.

If you have no resources to share at this time, please offer your prayers, positive thoughts and positive energy to those affected by the earthquake, as well as to those who are working so hard to provide relief.

God bless,

{January 12, 2010}   RIP Miep Gies

Miep Gies, the last survivor of the group who worked to hide Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis in the hidden annex and the woman who rescued the girl’s diary which went on to become an international phenomenon after their capture, passed away today at 100 years old. An absolute hero and an ambassador for perhaps the most important and poignant piece of writing to emerge from the Holocaust, Mrs. Gies will be missed.

et cetera