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The Trouble with Triggers

August 20, 2014

It’s not the first time this has happened, but it’s the most recent.  A friend loans me a book, letting me know there’s a rape scene in it.  “I know you hate spoilers, but…”

But I was raped, so I should know ahead of time, in case I’m triggered.

Here’s the thing: reading about rape, watching it on television, discussing it online–none of these things are going to trigger me.  I was raped twenty-one years ago this October.  It is actually no big deal.  I know some people have trouble wrapping their heads around this, but it’s true.

It was at the time, sort of.  I knew that as far as rapes went, it wasn’t, you know, that bad.  I knew the person.  We were dating.  He was mad at me because I talked to a guy he didn’t like.  He raped me.  It only happened the once.  Afterward, he acknowledged what he’d done.  At the time, I had more people telling me I should stay with him than leave him.  That would be one, maybe two people.  Everyone else, including my mother and the resulting therapist, stayed oddly neutral, as if saying anything negative about him would push me into a teenage rebellion of resolutely sticking with a mentally and emotionally abusive boyfriend.  It took me longer to get over that lack of help than the event itself, even though I knew what they were going for there.  Even the school officials (is that the right term? guidance and whoever) just wanted to know if I wanted to press charges.  After that, I was pretty much just passed off to my mom and the therapist.

The one person who told me to stay with him was his neighbor, our mutual classmate and friend, to whom I ran afterward, and I believe she called her friend across the street who agreed with her.  After all, he loved me.  He’d made a mistake.  I think she even went over to speak to him for a bit.  There was only a wall between us, because it was a townhouse.  I think he even climbed out a window and knocked on hers to try to talk to me.

I had just turned fifteen a few weeks before.  He was my first real boyfriend.  We had very little in common–I was one of those smart kids, but the lazy kind, and fairly straight edge.  He was one of the few people in school I knew of who’d tried hard drugs.  His best friends were a genius and a burnout.  It was a common but weird match: good girl, bad boy.

It took me a few months to finally extricate myself from the relationship.  I had no idea how, and no support system.  I never doubted I was raped, but what did it really mean?  It didn’t make him evil.  It didn’t make me impure, although I had something in me I couldn’t quite shake.  My logical mind warred with my irrational one, the one that had lost a feeling of safety.

But I was never triggered.  I never panicked.  I never showed signs of PTSD.  I didn’t have any problems trusting future partners, although I did have problems saying no.  After all, if I’d slept with a rapist, why wouldn’t I sleep with someone who was great and not a rapist?  My logical brain really did get how stupid that was, but hormones play their own part in that kind of decision-making.  Still, years later, when someone said that rape victims sometimes have a lot of sex partners afterward “because when you say yes it’s not rape,” I nodded understanding.

*

About six years later, I had those of THOSE friends.  The kind of guy we now call a Nice Guy.  I’d met a couple of them, but no one took liberties like this one did.  Ani DiFranco could’ve written a song about him.  She kind of did.

It was the first time I’d felt like I wasn’t in control of my body since the rape, and at the time I pushed him away and said I was tired (afraid to turn down a guy who was driving me halfway across the country, if you want the details).  When we got back to our home state, sure I could get a ride if he kicked me (and my daughter) out of the car, I confronted him…ish.  Told him that wasn’t okay.

He said he was sorry, he understood…then when I got out of the car, he smacked me on the ass.

I think it was the rage that did it.  Panic, rage, fear of confrontation, all those chemicals…as the years went on, they stewed.  And then I met my husband in 2009 and we got married in 2010. A friend of mine made a joke on my wedding day and I was so hyped up with all those happy/nervous chemicals that the joke, which made me laugh at the time, which shouldn’t have bothered me at all, suddenly stopped being funny.  A day later, when all the wedding stuff was over, I was freaking out.  Nothing bad had happened.  I wasn’t and had never been lacking control.  But some chemical stew in me came to completion.

The end result, a few days later, was my first and only trigger: a specific color, my friend’s favorite color.  I called RAINN, I got right into therapy, I calmed down, stopped panicking, but since then, that color can get to me.  Some days, I don’t even notice, and I take a cup down from the cabinet and not even notice that it’s exactly that shade.  Other days, that same cup makes me nervous, twitchy. I can’t even touch it, or the other cup that’s not quite that color but still in the family.

When I worked with children, I had to learn to deal with them handing me that color crayon, or asking me why I didn’t use it.  After years of not having a favorite color, I developed one: it was Not That Color.  I think now, looking back, I started liking one color, rather than my usual color combinations (for a few months, it was the yellow and blue of Luke’s outfit on The Tribe), so that when people bought me things, they’d be in that color, not the other one.

Rape in books and TV shows and movies still didn’t really bother me.  I mean, I’m a more emotional person in general than I was then, so I feel bad or horror or whatever, but I don’t panic.  I skipped That Scene last time through Buffy, but it wasn’t that long after my wedding, I think.  That was the only thing and, even then, I watched most of it.

And I really do hate spoilers.  I don’t want to know anything.  I’ll watch an official trailer for something, but if it’s getting too detailed, I stop it.  If there’s rape in a book, and it means a lot–like it did in this book I was lent–then I don’t want to know.  As it was, I spent the whole book waiting for the rape scene.  At one point, when it hadn’t come yet, I wondered if the friend just had a different perception of rape than I did.  Because “trigger warning” culture makes people who’ve been raped into forever-victims, not people who’ve been through a traumatic experience and have to work through it like any other traumatic experience.

This is why I don’t mind people saying “content warning” but loathe “trigger warning.”  Many people, like me, have really odd and random triggers.  You can’t guess at them.  For some, it’s a scent, or a song.  Should we wear T-shirts that say “Trigger Warning: I’m wearing cologne”?  No, because it’s ridiculous.

I also feel like the words themselves create unnecessary anxiety, to the point where my daughter’s generation starts getting that panicked chemical dump just from the concept.  The idea of triggers are terrifying, and these kids are getting scared that they’ll be branded forever with PTSD and flashbacks if bad things happen to them.  And they live in a world that gives them access to stories where bad things happen to people like them all the time.  Starting the stew.

My husband and I were discussing this, and I said, “Look how long it took me to develop a trigger” and he said, “Wasn’t it like three days after the wedding?”  I meant all the years beforehand, those incidents, they made me annoyed or angry at the time or years later, but they didn’t affect my daily life.  If I had not been raped, would I have shaken off the assault?  If the assault hadn’t happened, would I have shaken off the joke despite having been raped in the past? Sometimes I challenge myself to deal with my trigger, touch the cup when it’s one of those mornings, wear clothes with that color, even dyed my hair for a bit (but that didn’t work because I don’t look in a mirror all the time).  But most of the time, I don’t even remember this trigger exists.  Then it sneaks up on me.

But, honestly, the rape stuff?  It was twenty-one years ago.  I just don’t care anymore.  I don’t think I really cared much even within a year.  The rape and the trigger, they’re not even directly connected, and for that I realize I’m lucky.  Still, I am far from alone in being someone who’s over their rape, but still has a trigger.

So it’s okay; I don’t need the spoiler.  And rape is not my rape trigger.  Let’s not assume it always is, okay?

Book Club Personalities

August 13, 2014

Lots of things going on here in Alanaland.  For one thing, my laptop, broken in odd little ways for a long time now, has gone even broke-ier, and I’m working on that, but it’s meant that I’ve been writing a lot less often than I’ve meant to.  I like the WordPress app, but not for posting.  However, it does save drafts, so I guess I’ll be using it more often, and then suffering the laptop when it’s time to post.  At least that will limit my stress.

Also, I was cleaning up some files and noticed that six months ago, I was making lists of what to read during any given month.  Oh yeah!  I used to do that!  It’s amazing how quickly I fell out of that habit–which means it was probably a New Year’s resolution.  However, I should really get back into it because, frankly, I am terrible at timing my book club selections.

Like the reading masochist I am, I am involved in five book clubs right now.  Here’s how I differentiate them:

1) “The online book club” – This is the one I’ve been running since 2008.  It was on LiveJournal and now it’s moved to a private group on Facebook.  We do a different theme every month, and a selection in that theme.

2) “The sci fi book club” – This is another one I run, in person, at my local library.  It’s actually a speculative fiction book club, but everyone always calls it a sci fi book club.

3) “The other sci fi one” – This is one through Meetup.com that’s a bit of a hike away.

4) “The library book club” – This is a book club that meets during the day through a local library that is primarily made up of retirees, and me.  (I sometimes joke that it’s “the old lady book club,” with me being one of the old ladies.)

5) “The Meetup book club” – This is also through Meetup.com but is local and women only.

2-5 generally meet within a three-day period, so it’s back to back book clubs, and then I end up putting all the books off because I’m afraid I’ll read them too soon and forget the details.  It ends up being a mess.

Sometimes I can double my selections, and I do that because sometimes, five book clubs is too many.  If we’re reading a sci fi selection in the online book club, I recommend it for the two sci fi clubs.  But next month, no go.  And then #5 added a second selection to next month’s reading, so…argh.

The thing is, each book club is a vastly different experience.  The combination of topics, books, and people create a personality for each book club that’s unique, so when people are surprised I’m in five books clubs, I think they don’t understand that it’s not like going to the same thing five times.  It’s more like board game days (which I also run), in that the combination of people and games means that we can play together almost every week and not get bored.

The library book club is primarily made up of retired teachers.  All women, although that’s not a requirement of the group.  They’re a cynical, liberal(?) bunch, articulate and opinionated and used to speaking in and to groups.  However, they’re primarily introverts, though perhaps time and their professions have burned away any shyness they may have had in the past.  They’ve been meeting a long time, I think, but welcomed me into their group with kindness and friendliness, something I hope I do with my own book clubs.

For the others, I got in on the ground floor.  It’s been a long time since the online group was new, and even when it was, it was an offshoot of another community, so we all knew each other–to a point.  The book club strengthened that acquaintance for many of us and turned us into real friends.  Of the ones who’ve been in the book club for a long time, I’ve met most of them in person, even meeting one face to face for the first time a few months ago during my trip to California.  They are the hardcore book nerds, mostly made up of voracious readers, with a couple of librarians and writers in the mix.  But they’re also long-time computers users; they know how to compose their thoughts.  This is a strength of the book club, I think, that the medium gives us the ability to put our thoughts down perfectly the way we want.  With posts, no one’s thoughts are lost; no one trips over anyone else’s words.

The two sci fi book clubs were created around the same time.  Having some distance between them, no one worries about stepping on toes.  The one in town has turned out to be primarily people I already knew through other venues.  The other one has a couple people who know each other, and a few random Meetup.com members.  Both are small groups, but a love of the genre(s) brings us together.

The women’s group is the most diverse: a stay-at-home mom here, a professional there.  Someone with a couple children; someone who never had any.  We have a scientist, a former cop, me the librarian, a former English major, a young woman with a degree in dance (and more).  The only thing we have in common is our gender and that we joined this book club.  These women are not hardcore readers like I’m used to with my online book club.  Although I’m sure some read a few books a month, I would not be surprised to find that a few only read our selection, or our selection and one more.  When we discuss the book, everything gels, but when we’re done, we’re done.  Everyone goes off in their own directions.

*

If you’ve decided to join a book club, know that each book club has its own personality.  Even my two sci fi book clubs have a drastically different feel to them.  As with all things, look for a good fit.  Don’t feel bad about walking away from something that doesn’t work for you.

Also?  Don’t join five unless you have a lot of free time.

Progress: 2/3 yearly book goals attained! …So what?

August 6, 2014
endofyear

Every year I set book goals for myself, and every year I stress myself out to reach them, and then feel terrible both while achieving them and not achieving them–doesn’t matter whether I’m ahead or behind–and after the fact if I don’t achieve them.  Like many women, like many mothers, like many parents, like many people, I feel a need to always be doing something productive.  Then I berate myself if I’m not productive enough, and eventually that leaves me curled up in as fetal a position as you can get while playing hours of Candy Crush instead of dealing with real life.

And then I wonder why my generation’s children are so anxiety-ridden.

I often think that this is a result of starting out as a generation of kids who had access to some things, and then suddenly had access to everything.  It triggered something in us, made us more sure than our parents and our parents’ parents that we would die without enough accomplishment.  People joke about spending hours scrolling for the “right” thing on Netflix, until it’s so late they no longer have time to watch anything, except I don’t think they’re really joking.  I think we feel desperate with our media, and it makes us feel desperate in our lives.

So this will be the last year I set crazy goals for myself.

Of the goals I have, I like the two that aren’t “[a really high number of] books to read over the course of the year.”  I like that they are more specific: I challenge myself to read twenty new books, and fifty books out of my ridiculous hoard that I haven’t read yet–which, admittedly, includes books that I have picked up at a trade-in that I haven’t read in five years or more.  So if I pick up a beloved Crusie or L’Engle novel for some comfort/nostalgia reading, that doesn’t count toward anything but the massively-large-number goal.  If I find a L’Engle that I don’t own at the Book Barn and am rereading it for the first time in ten years, it counts toward the fifty.

[There are, of course, no Crusies I don't own, except alternate-cover versions.  Unless some of them were revised a bit during reissue and I have no idea, but even then I have some original/reissue doubles.

cherrybomb

Before you think I'm about to pull the "I liked this before it was cool/in Guardians of the Galaxy" bs, I should point out that the version I was most familiar with for years was by Bratmobile, not The Runaways, so I wasn't getting cool points anyway.  Also, this is a modified Crusie/Mayer logo, in case you were trying to figure out where the heck I was going with this.]

And of course then there’s BEA, where I come home with like fifty new books, most of which won’t even be published for a couple to several months.  Between that and my local library, I’ve got those twenty new books covered.  I even give myself two months at the end of the previous year, because libraries have waiting lists.  I usually read about 5-10 of those BEA books as soon as I get home, because they’re by my favorite authors, and I really want to read them before they come out because I want to feel special or whatever.  So that’s half that goal already reached in the month of June alone.  And those count toward the fifty “shelf books.”

All my books are on shelves, except the boxed-up overflow unreads in the attic, but to me “shelf books” are the unreads, which are separated onto their own bookcase.  I thought I had a “before BEA” picture to show you, but I don’t, so here’s the after:

20140806-180653-65213561.jpg

Remember, this doesn’t include the ones boxed upstairs. (Weird box on top left is full of cat things, like cat toothpaste and cat brushes and cat toys.)

Some are college books I didn’t quite finish, or other books from series that I started but don’t care enough to have read yet. Some are series that I really like, but hell if those books aren’t huge so I haven’t gotten to them yet because of the stress of the numbers game I play with myself every year.  (“A book that big?!  I’ll never get to my goals if I read that NOW!”) One or two are my husband’s that I want to read but not enough to have read them yet.  Two were recommended by my grandmother, so I keep putting them off because I’m pretty sure I’ll feel like I lost her all over again once I finish them.  Most are fiction, but that’s because I mostly read fiction.  There’s more non-fiction boxed up in the attic because my non-fiction to fiction reading ratio is probably something like 1:50.  Here’s the thing: the combined cost of these books was about…maybe $30?  Tops?  Which is how I was justifying obtaining all these books to myself for a really long time.  I only see one book there that I paid full price for, except that it came as a buy-two-get-one, so even that’s not completely accurate.  Fully half are from BEA–the top pile and the bottom piles are from 2014, with a lot of the ones in between from 2013.  Some are library discards, given away for free or purchased at pennies on the dollar.  Some are from trade-ins, as most places will give you about a 4:1 trade-in rate.  Most of the ones you don’t see here are from hardcore library sales, $1/bag or, once or twice, $5/bag (for hardbacks).

I once got 112 books for $7.   Around the third time I did this, I realized how stupid it was.  Who has the space?  And look, that first bag-of-books sale was about ten years ago, and I still haven’t read almost all of them.  That’s why I only do trade-ins now.  4:1, and never on a book I haven’t read before, unless the library can’t get it for me in time for book club.

Even with my fifty book goal, I’m barely chipping away at this pile, let alone however many boxes are in the attic.  It helps that if I go to BEA next year, it will probably be my last year because it’s moving locations and I don’t care enough to go to Chicago or wherever.  And next year I’ll be pickier about what I keep, because I was pickier this year and that can only get better because I do tend toward that, rather than always getting worse.  I mean, I did get MORE books this year than last, I think, but I also donated most of them to local libraries.

If this is a boring or confusing post, it’s because it’s like reading someone’s to-do list, then listening to them justify why they haven’t done anything on it.  And that really is boring and/or confusing, and I’m sick of doing it.  I’m boring myself with these goal posts.  (Heh, “goal posts.”)  Moving on.

*

So.  I’ve finished the twenty new book goal, and I finished the fifty-off-the-shelf goal.  Here’s how they played out:

 

New

1) Hollow City – Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine #2)

2) The Impossible Knife of Memory – Laurie Halse Anderson

3) The Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin – Jim Butcher

4) Snowblind – Christopher Golden

5) Cress – Marissa Meyer

6) Burn – Julianna Baggott

7) Dreams of the Golden Age – Carrie Vaughn

8) Three Weeks with Lady X – Eloisa James

9) Panic – Lauren Oliver

10) Frog Music – Emma Donoague

11) The Crane Wife – Patrick Ness

12) The Geography of You and Me – Jennifer E. Smith

13) Dreams of Gods & Monsters – Laini Taylor

14) Landline – Rainbow Rowell

15) Party Games – RL Stine

16) Afterworlds – Scott Westerfeld

17) Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel – Sara Farizan

18) Lock In – John Scalzi

19) Sisters – Raina Telgemeier

20) I Am Rosa Parks – Brad Meltzer

[I stopped counting at 20, but I'm 9 past this so far, which you can see on my Goodreads account.]

 

Shelf (aka unread purchases/acquisitions)

1) Little Miss Contrary

2) Eighth Grade Bites

3) We the Living

4) Rat Girl

5) Bridge to Terabithia

6) The Phantom Tollbooth

7) Flora & Ulysses

8) Two Boys Kissing

9) Camp Foxrtrot

10) Lilith’s Brood (three books in one)

11) Foxtrot Beyond a Doubt

12) Sherlock Holmes v 2

13) Come Along with Me

14) Chinese Cinderella

15) On the Night of the Seventh Moon

16) Guards! Guards!

17) Wildly Foxtrot

18) Scruples 2

19) Lady Oracle

20) Guarded (Buffy 9.3)

21) Weaveworld

22) Watership Down

23) Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

24) Landline

25) Party Games

26) Afterworlds

27) Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel

28) Alias V1

29) Alias V2

30) Alias V3

31) Lock In

32) Sisters

33) I Am Rosa Parks

34) Black Ice

35) My Real Children

36) The Stranger

37) The Question: Riddles

38) Acts of Love

39) Messenger of Fear

40) Never Let Me Go

41) High Fidelity

42) The Good Girl

43) Dangerous Girls

44) Wayne of Gotham

45) Sex Criminals #1

46) Thief of Thieves #1

47) Alex + Ada #1

48) Pretty Deadly #1

49) Rat Queens #1

50) Lazarus #1

(+4 more so far)

How am I feeling about this?  Okay.  Not great.  Why?  Because Goodreads tells me I’m only at 129 of my stupid goal of 300 books, which is–it reminds me–49 books “behind schedule.”

STRESSSSSSSS

Next year?  My Goodreads goal is going to be 50 books.  Those 50 shelf books will make up a chunk of that, and the new ones will make up most of the rest, and there will be a handful of other library reads and loaners from friends.  That’s it.  Sure, I’ll probably end up reading between 200 and 300 on my own, but I will not look at that stupid “behind schedule” message ever again and get stressed out.

SO THERE.

Not that I blame Goodreads.  This is all me.

[This is also why I didn't have a "My List" on Netflix for a long time.  Maybe I should get rid of that, too.]

 

Guardians of the Galaxy: Formula is not destiny

August 3, 2014
Mrs_Doubtfire

[Mild spoilers for the movie.]

My husband, my sixteen-year-old daughter, and I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy on opening night along with my daughter’s friend, friend’s parents, and friend’s tween brother.  Of all of us, as far as I know, only my daughter didn’t enjoy the movie.  “It was so OBVIOUS,” she complained afterward, once again reminding me that I really need to implement a “no complaining if you didn’t like it” rule for the car ride home.  There’s something about having one person not enjoy a movie that really kills the energy for the ones who do enjoy it, especially if it’s someone you usually agree with.  Last time, my daughter and I were the ones who had to deal with the let-down after, um, I forget what, but my husband didn’t like it.  This time, my husband and I had to listen to my daughter’s complaints.  We’re a chatty, expressive, opinionated trio, but that drive should be sacred space, where people can savor the afterglow of the shared experience of attending a good movie at the theater.

In other words, haters gotta shut up.  Preferably for the night, at the very least from exiting the theater until the car has pulled into the driveway.

(Oh, I remember.  It was the 50th anniversary special for Doctor Who.  My heart’s still a little wounded from that one.)

“I knew what ____ was going to be!” my daughter said angrily.  I leave the blank because I’m picky about spoilers and feel it’s better to assume you are too.

“Well, yeah, of course you did,” her parents, who both have English degrees, replied calmly.  “You were supposed to.”

*

When we tell ourselves or each other that we don’t like things to be formulaic, what definition do we mean?  Do we mean that we don’t like the formula, or the predictability?  I like formulas–or, if you prefer, formulae.  Formula gives structure to genre, especially in movies.  In a romantic comedy, one of the more obvious examples, two people meet, fall for each other, deal with some sort of problem, and then presumably live happily ever after.  In a mystery, there is a crime, and that crime is investigated and solved.  In comic book movies, there’s a good guy and a bad guy, and the good guy thwarts the bad guy.

This doesn’t mean that the formula needs to be formulaic.  A good comic book movie is not interchangeable with another good comic book movie.  When you think, “What actress was the lead in that chick flick?” you might not have a great memory, or the movie was rather forgettable.  When we talk about iconic movies–iconic stories–we don’t forget the big details unless we have one of those brain blips.  It’s not because we don’t know it.

For example, who’s the main character in Gone with the Wind?  If you’ve seen it, and most likely even if you haven’t, you’ll know it’s Scarlett O’Hara, drama queen of the Deep South.  What does Superman have on his chest?  A big old S, or the Kyptonian symbol for blah blah blah if you saw the new movie, which tells you how much that one stuck in my head.  Which movie has Jason Voorhees: Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th?  If you haven’t seen them, can you figure it out by process of elimination?  Even if horror, too, is very formulaic?

Don’t get me wrong; we’re comfortable with the formula but very pleased if the formula is subverted.  Remember when Scream first came out?  A movie where the people involved knew they were in a horror movie situation!  Working the formula, working the “rules.”  When it first came out, it was well-reviewed, earning a thumbs up from Roger Ebert, who pointed out, “It is about itself.”  But Scream is an extreme example due to its very nature.  I remember the first movie I saw that didn’t end the way I thought it was going to: Mrs. Doubtfire.  It has much of the romance formula in it, but ultimately it’s not about romance.  I left the theater, age 15, confused and a little upset.  I couldn’t, however, figure out why I was so upset.  Why was I so invested in a specific ending for a movie I really enjoyed?  Because it didn’t fit the formula I had in my head for it.  I left Scream satisfied; I left Mrs. Doubtfire feeling almost anxious.  Anxious for what?  Formula resolution.

You’ll see people talking about endings that didn’t feel “right”; usually, this is what they’re talking about.  We talk about closure, and I’m with Captain Awkward on real-life closure, but in the movies, we should almost always have it.  In stories, we often feel we’re owed it.  I think a lot of times you’ll see short stories get away more with an open ending, but for the most part, narratives give us closure.

That other definition of formulaic, predictable, comes with a much more negative connotation.  Instead of giving us a comfortable framework, we’re treated to one or many instances where we feel we’re involved in a retread.  It bores us.  The formula is too obvious, everything is too telegraphed.  Good movies should be clear, but not obvious.  Some things should be telegraphed, but not all of them.

It can be a fine line.  I’d argue that it’s an even finer line for Guardians of the Galaxy.

*

The thing is, I see exactly what my daughter’s talking about.  I don’t think she’s wrong, even.  In some ways, she’s spot on.  It’s the very things that she didn’t enjoy about the movie that her father and I loved.

Guardians is, essentially, a nostalgia piece.  It’s ironic that Marvel has done this using some of its least known characters, but that’s not something I expect my daughter to pick up on.  I don’t expect her to feel as close to the music selections as I did, having been raised on them as well.  I don’t expect her to have the same love of space operas, instilled by Star Wars.  In retrospect, I guess maybe I should’ve realized that all of those things were not going to have as much of an effect on her as they were her father and I.  But I felt that the movie stood on its own merits otherwise; unlike my daughter, I had no perspective.  I laughed.  She laughed.  We “awww”-ed our way through every single scene Groot was in.  It never occurred to me, the whole time we were watching it, that she was having less of a good time than I was.  Especially when I hissed, “It’s Kirk!  It’s Kirk!” past her dad, and she gasped and then couldn’t stop laughing every time he was on the screen.  We still love you, Kirk.

To play the nostalgia card Guardians, especially due to the relative obscurity of the characters (you may argue that point, but Star Lord is no Iron Man), had to stick very close to the formula, to evoke times and places and references and events that would trigger that warmth of familiarity in the viewer.  The media giants upon whose shoulders the movie stands are, in essence, simple, often formulaic works.  When they’re not talking politics, the characters in this movie are walking tropes: the team itself is a clear example of the Five-Man Band, with Star Lord as the Leader, Gamora as the Lancer, Rocket as the Smart Guy, Drax as the Big Guy, and Groot as the Chick.  (Interestingly, I feel like I’ve looked at the page before, recently, and there was nothing there that said the “Chick” had to be a woman, just that the “heart” of the group often was a girl or woman in its inception.  Also, you could argue that Groot is female, despite Rocket’s assertions, or possibly gender neutral.  We argued on the way home whether Rocket can really understand Groot, or if he puts words in Groot’s mouth the same way you or I would with, say, our cats.)  Everyone else fits neatly into their little boxes: the bad guys look bad, the stuck-up soldier even has a British accent, Nova Prime looks like the kind of person who puts the state first, the guards are blue-collar, and the outlaws look untrustworthy.  In the first scene, a young Peter Quill is with his dying mother; she is properly emaciated and angelic.

No one goes against type.  Even Gamora, who is arguably the character with the least water-clear back story, is always exactly who she says she is from the beginning, even if other characters believe her to be otherwise.  It’s things like this that let the audience warm up to her as quickly as Star Lord does; complicated characters have no place here.  Every nostalgic connection has to be instantaneous as we are introduced to these new/not new characters.  We may not know who Gamora is, exactly, but tell us that she’s the adopted daughter of the warlord who killed her family, and given the nature of the movie, we know where her allegiance lies.

*

To me, Guardians of the Galaxy is the perfect popcorn/summer blockbuster movie: it made me laugh, made me tear up, had a lot of action, didn’t make me work too hard, but never dumbed it down and knocked out payoffs to set-ups like dominoes.  For my daughter, she got the laughs and the action, but was annoyed she didn’t have to work at it, feeling like someone knocked all those dominoes over before she could.  Both of our experiences were valid.  I would never tell her she’s wrong about the movie.  Formula does not determine the success of a movie: for some, formula is a comfort; for others, a prison.  That’s why a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy, which relies so heavily on it, will be a big hit for some and a swing and a miss for others.

Half the nerds you know have never read any Guardians of the Galaxy comics, so why are they so excited?

August 1, 2014
Guardians_of_the_Galaxy

My family and I are counting down the hours until we see Guardians of the Galaxy tonight.  Despite the fact that we are hardcore nerds, all three of us, between us we have read only one Guardians comic book, and it was released this year during Free Comic Book Day.  So why are we so excited so this movie?

1) We trust Marvel/Disney.  After a disappointing Superman movie (good movie, bad Superman movie), a well-cast and -acted Spider-Man with an atrocious script, and an X-Men film that seemed focused on the tradition of killing off characters gruesomely in a “What If” almost more than cared about the actual story (not that I didn’t love it–I cried like a baby!–but, UGH, superheromurderporn), superhero fans are more than ready to give Marvel/Disney a chance with anything they throw at us. Here’s the thing: the big nerds know who owns the rights to which characters, and place their dollars accordingly. Marvel’s been playing a long game with the rights to their films, and unfortunately, the viewers get stuck with movies like The Amazing Spider-Man because of rights issues. For Sony/Columbia Pictures to keep the rights to Spidey, they have to use him or lose him. Having lost Raimi for Spider-Man 4, it was easiest to reboot to get the next picture out in time to maintain the rights. Or so I’ve heard. More about Spidey rights here. But for fans, non-Marvel/Disney movies are hit or miss, whereas Marvel/Disney has hit it out of the park even with their weakest movies.   Comic book nerds and geeks are highly territorial, and if you give us something we enjoy, we won’t forget you.  Give us a lot of things we enjoy, and we’re yours for life.

2) The trailer looks fantastic.  When I first heard they were making a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I was like “…Who?”  And this from someone who’s like “My favorite Marvel character is Jessica Jones!”  I like to believe I have more than the common pop culture knowledge of superheroes.  When I first read an article on the characters, I said, “Oh, THOSE guys.”  Although I’d never read a comic book with Star Lord, or Rocket Raccoon, or Groot, I recognized them the same way I would, say, Amethyst of Gemworld or whatshisface, Nova.  Sort of in the same way you remember a character actor who pops up here or there.  You see them.  You don’t retain knowledge of them.  But I was still wary.  Like many fans, I was appalled that Marvel could say, “Ant-ManSecond tier Marvel characters?  A space raccoon?  No problem!” while DC still hasn’t made a Wonder Woman movie.  What one has to do with the other isn’t much, but there was a part of me that was desperate to rebel against space raccoons and living trees while the big names got sidelined.  But I set that aside the second I watched the trailer.  I watched the internet light up with people who were saying the same things I was thinking: It looks hilarious.  It looks fun.  It looks NEW.

3) We’re ready for new now.  As the Marvel Cinematic Universe hits its second phase, we’re seeing a Tony Stark with post-traumatic stress, a Captain America who has to deal with the realities of a corrupt government, and Thor–well, Thor’s doing whatever Thor does, being the most forgettable of the characters.  But in general, it’s darker, more detailed.  Guardians may or may not be the light to balance out this dark, but the trailers are certainly giving us that impression.  Although it will tie in with what’s going on with the Avengers, like the first movies of each Phase One character, it can create itself with humor and light before we get hit with the hard stuff.  But even if this isn’t what happens, Marvel has banked enough with us with the previous movies and the trailers to prime us for something new.  The fans who love the more obscure Marvel characters can gloat about being their favorites on the screen, but for the rest of us, we’re ready for the unknown, because we’re comfortable enough in the universe that something completely unknown can be handed to us and we’re like

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4) Nerds love space operas–and, frankly, soap operas.  They may mock daytime soaps and CW dramas, but everyone knows that X-Men?  Basically a soap opera.  Arrow?  It’s a CW show, for God’s sake!  They spend as much time in the first season  talking about their relationships as they do killing people.  (Oh, Ollie, if Huntress is crazy, it’s at least partially your fault, considering how many people you kill and then tell her not to kill.)  And space operas?  We adore them.  Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Firefly–heck, there’s even SPACE OPERA in The Fifth Element.  Like, the woman sings opera in space.  Get it?  Set something in space, and nerds perk right up.  “Space?  Okay!”  We like The Future.  We like Aliens.  We like Space!  It may not be an automatic slam dunk, but it’s an attention-grabber.  We were raised on Bradbury and Asimov, Card and Heinlein.

So yeah, we’re all going to see a movie with a talking tree and a space raccoon.  And we’re thrilled about it.  We have hours to go before our show, because we’re going with another family with kids and we had to wait for everyone to be free.  What should we do in the meantime?  Hmmm, maybe watch Avengers again??

WIB: Jan 19-25

July 29, 2014
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Kristen Simmons’s Breaking Point is the second book in the Article 5 series.  I saw it in the library, thought, “Hey, I read the first one!”, and picked it up.  I could not remember most of what had happened in the first book.  I now no longer remember what happened in the second.  Both books were completely unforgettable, lost in a plethora of similar books.  With no stand-out lead like Katniss, no creep factor like the photos Miss Peregrine, no hilarious title like Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, Article 5 becomes an average book in a world where the stand-outs are practically running the business.  Will I read the third book?  No.  I just can’t bring myself to care enough.

*

Carrie Vaughn’s After the Golden Age is my kind of book.  It’s a fast read, with superheroes, and an actual novel.  The lead, Celia, is the adult daughter of superheroes, but with no powers of her own.  As a result, she ends up being kidnapped.  A lot.  It’s kind of boring after a while, it turns out.  She works as an accountant, a power of her own that she uses when her parents’ nemesis is on trial.  This is far from being a perfect book–Vaughn really finds her footing in the second book, which I’ll discuss in a different WIB–but it’s entertaining and I really enjoyed it.  Good book for superhero lovers who like their capes in novel form.

*

And then I kept reading Jenny:

The Cinderella Deal

Trust Me on This

Tell Me Lies

Crazy for You (and the second post on that which is less about the book and more about one of my least favorite tropes)

*

For some reason, I thought Vladimir Tod was going to be a darker series.  Heather Brewer’s Eighth Grade Bites is fluffy and cute, even if it does perpetuate the myth that it’s blood in rare meat.  The writing’s simple and at times sloppy, but it’s a cute read for kids, I think.  Late tweens, I guess?  I know the series follows him through high school, but I sure won’t be.

*

Finally, I said We the Living by Ayn Rand, a semi-autobiographical work that explains why she is batshit crazy.  A necessary read for people who don’t “get” her.  Basically, Communism in Russia sucked; no wonder she embraced capitalism like it was the only game in town.  As always, a strong, unshakeable female lead whose high standards exist everywhere but in her vagina—er, choice of sexual partners.  For those who are more interested in learning history through novels than non-fiction, this might be a fascinating glimpse into Communist Russia; for Rand fans, it’s necessary; for everyone else, it would probably be painful.

*

And that was my week in books.  Next up: a memoir by one of my favorite musicians, and Christopher Golden writes some winter horror.

WIB Jan 12-18

July 27, 2014
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Yes, I know how far behind I am.  Fortunately for me/you/no one, my sister ignores things like depression and lack of creativity and my whining and says, “Write!”  So I am writing.  I am going to try to write far more often, because honestly, other than looking for a job, I really have no excuse not to.  WIBs are easier than creative writing, and I’m something like seven months behind.

So let’s get to it.

I finally finished Elizabeth Moon’s Deeds of Paksennarion in January.  If you remember back when, I said the first book was very military and the second book is very D&D.  The third is pretty D&D, and then goes pretty batshit.  I could be wrong.  Lots of fantasy epics might end in the graphic* and shocking manner that this book does.  But I haven’t read one like it, so I was quite taken aback.  At the end of the second book, if I remember correctly, Paks had fallen pretty low.  But don’t worry, she can go even lower.

My husband swears to me that the end of this book is supposed to be about power and faith and all sorts of geeky stuff.  I put an asterisk next to “graphic” because I actually think the book could be far more graphic, and props to Moon for taking it down that path.  Let’s call it “uncomfortable for anyone,” but for a reader like me, I maybe could’ve used a bit of a content warning.  So for those that are interested in that sort of thing, I’ll say this: Content warning for torture.  It was because I am not usually a fantasy reader that I took Paksennarion’s journey so literally; only long after I was done could I see some of the religious intent in the work.  Mostly I thought, “Holy hell, I was playing a paladin really incorrectly.”

More Jeanne D’Arc, less Crysania, maybe?  And if you don’t get the reference, that’s okay.  I still love you.  You love me even though my entire knowledge of D&D comes through the Dragonlance books.

*

Mark Waid, one of my favorite comic book authors in small doses, took over Daredevil and I read five volumes of that while I was sick.  Daredevil is a character that I’ve ducked in and out of reading for many reasons.  I tried Frank Miller’s run about ten years ago and I could take it or leave it.  Then I read some of Bendis’s stuff and enjoyed it, and wanted to read Brubaker but the library didn’t have all of them, so I ended up reading I think the first two and then having to give up on it because it wasn’t as important to me as trying to ILL all the Civil War trades anyway.  So I didn’t seek out Daredevil after that, until I came upon these.  I saw Waid’s name and picked them up, and I’m glad I did, because Waid lightened the book up and made a strong starting point.  Obviously, in comics you can never have control for long, and it’s easy to see where Waid is working by himself and working by committee, but hey, if someone can make me want to read Daredevil, they’re doing something right.

*

Prudence Shen’s graphic novel Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is a forgettable title for a cute book about geeks versus cheerleaders.  It takes a while to get going, but once it does, it’s a fun ride.  The robotics club and the cheerleaders are duking it out for funds, and that’s pretty much it.  A fast read, probably good for reluctant readers of either gender.

*

To hold me over for the next Dresden Files, I read Ghoul Goblin, one of the graphic novels.  If this is a pun, I’m not getting it.  It’s a good book for Dresden completionists, but otherwise leaves a lot to be desired.  It’s a bit muddled, and it needed someone to pull it together.  I don’t know if Butcher had a hand in this one, but if he did, he either can’t do comics or SOMETHING because I’m always like, “Well, that was okay” after I read one.  And I love the Dresden Files.  Seriously, this should be a slam-dunk.  But it wasn’t.

*

I want to love Hope Larson’s work.  But Who is AC? did nothing for me.  I had no idea what was going on.  I couldn’t bring myself to care.   It took me a while to figure out it was a magical girl-style book, except by then I didn’t care.  I have literally forgotten almost everything about this book, it was so forgettable.

*

The problem with being sick is that you read while you’re sick and then everything seems fuzzy afterward.  That would be the meds.  While I remember that I liked Stephen King’s new-back-then-but-he’s-probably-put-out-more-since Doctor Sleep, I would be hard-pressed to tell you much about it.  It’s a sequel of sorts to The Shining, and partially revolves around Danny Torrence, now all grown up and an alcoholic.  It’s depressing to think he didn’t make it out of the cycle of addiction, but such is life.  Danny, now Dan, has been haunted by his past and the creepy-as-heck things that still follow him around since his childhood.  Drinking helps.  (I’d drink too, Danny.)  He settles into a life he can handle, and meets a girl with even stronger powers than his.  Unfortunately, people like them attract creepy-as-heck not-ghost people, and it’s weird and Kingesque and awesome.  I’m glad I read this.  I always take all this time off from King and forget how much I actually enjoy him.

*

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane was something I did not reread for book club, but the discussion helped jog my memory of it.  I did love it, but in the way you love something familiar.  This work does not deviate far from Gaiman’s other works, and I wonder if as time passes, I may get the details confused with other things he’s written.  I told the book club that, to me, it was a grown-up Coraline with a male protag, and that’s a bit unfair and maybe a bit true too?  An unnamed narrator goes home for the first time in a long time, and remembers his childhood and the strange women who lived nearby.  Gaiman’s work is always creepy, but it’s a samey kind of creepy.  The women are powerful, but it’s a samey kind of powerful.  The writing pulls you in, like it always does.  It feels like an old-fashioned horror story, but so did The Graveyard Book in some ways, and Coraline, and so on.  It’s a good starter book for the author, or for those who have read all of them.  But I’m hoping for something different in his next work.  The way American Gods felt different.  I wonder if it would feel different today.

*

Hollow City, the second book in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series, didn’t scare the heck out of me like the first one did.  I didn’t freak out at the vintage photographs of people doing things they shouldn’t be able to.  But I found the book as good as the first.  By the time it came out, I barely remembered what had happened in the first (other than my sweating terror-bullets), but the book doesn’t care that you don’t remember, thank goodness.  The children head to London, and that’s all I remember, other than bits and pieces of things that aren’t that plot-heavy.  And an ice fight?  Blame the meds on this one, because I do know I really enjoyed the book.

*

Finally (whew!), I read Laurie Halse Anderson’s The Impossible Knife of Memory, a book about a girl whose father’s PTSD is making their lives miserable.  I found the main character, Hayley, a bit difficult to get into compared to Anderson’s other leads, but Anderson quickly finds her stride and pulls the reader along for another painful, beautiful book.  There was a girl at a local bookstore who overheard me talking to a friend and asked me to choose a “sad book” for her, and I should have asked her about Anderson, but instead did what I always do and pointed her to Cynthia Voigt.  Still, if I ever see her again, we’ll be talking this one.  Or Wintergirls.  Or Speak.

*

And that was my sick week.  Next up: from superheroes to vampires to Ayn Rand.

Four tissues for The Fault in Our Stars (movie)

June 16, 2014

No stars here, just the number of tissues I used when watching it.  I actually thought it would be more.  I thought the movie would skew sentimental, hit the hard stuff harder.  And yet I completely enjoyed it, even despite my reservations about the actor playing Gus.  Spoilers below, but you’ve probably at least already read the book.

 

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Here are the tissue packets Penguin gave out at BEA.  The book cover is on the flip side.  I brought two extra packets of tissues to the theater, but never even finished this one.

 

I’ll be honest: I’ve been wanting to punch Ansel Elgort’s face for a while, ever since the first time I saw the movie trailer.  I carried an unnatural rage with me, one that would flare at the sight of his smarmy, smarmy smile.  As much as I looked at Shailene Woodley and thought happily, “It’s Hazel!” (happy through my tears, of course), I loathed Elgort as Gus.  Every repetition of the trailer had me convinced that I would absolutely hate an otherwise amazing adaptation, that Elgort would ruin it for me.  I’d love to see him in something else, I really would.  But Gus?  Gus, the kid I saw as being jock-turned-rebel, with none of the signs of rebellion on him?  A week before the movie came out, after talking to some of the teens at BEA about why they liked the casting, I realized it was a generational thing.  Teenage rebels, to me, look a certain way, because rebels looked a certain way when I was a teenager.  Now the lines are blurred.  The jocks are the geeks.  Alternative is corporate.  Elgort’s bland preppiness is the opposite of how I see Gus, but I gave it a pass because I am an old lady.  I told myself I would give him a shot.  But that smarm!

It wasn’t the first moment I saw him when I fully let go of my Gus expectations and let Elgort do his thing.  When Hazel bumps into him on the way to support group, the rage flared.  Smarm!  And then he sat in group and stared at her.  And smiled.  And adored her.  Smarmily.  In the way teenage boys do when they think there’s mutual interest. In the way that some teenage boys do naturally, like they own the world.  And this kid, Augustus Waters, got a pass for being smarmy–not just from me but eventually from Hazel’s parents too.  Because he’s a kid, and we know he’s a kid.  And because he had cancer.

You can’t divorce these kids from the cancer.  It’s easier with Gus, because he’s preppy and he’s in remission and because he appears able-bodied at first.  Then he limps a bit.  Or a look passes over the face of an adult in his presence.  These kids are only normal to each other.  Isaac’s loss of vision, Gus’s lost leg, Hazel’s breathing apparatus is seen as a part of the whole, but only by them.  Everyone else pities them, is afraid for them, is afraid for themselves.

Elgort became Gus for me not when he smarmed at Hazel, but when the smarm became something more.  As Hazel returns his glances, as she accepts his flirting.  He smarms, and it’s part act.  He doesn’t quite smoke.  This is also an act, although he calls it a metaphor.  Adults know better.  When Gus drops the act behind the smarm, and smarms because he’s getting what he wants, he’s just being Gus.  And I let go.

Hazel’s appalled at his cigarette, and I wanted to cheer, because I’m sick of the media’s perception that every high schooler “experiments.”  It’s absolutely selfish on my part, because I want to see more teens like the one I was: straight-edge, to some degree, and smart, and desperate for change.  Hazel, Gus, and Isaac are smart.  They don’t smoke–why would they? it’s a quicker death sentence for them, likely–and when they Hazel and Gus have champagne they enjoy it but they don’t binge drink.  They’re pretending to be adults, except that they are adults, albeit young ones.  The change they’re desperate for isn’t the blinders falling off the eyes of the conformists (oh, teenage me), but life on their own terms.  They’re lucky in that they have parents who are, to different degrees, willing to let them have it.  There’s a sense that Gus’s parents have given up trying to “handle” him, but Hazel’s are thrilled at any experience their daughter can have.  Did you see Laura Dern’s face during the scene where Hazel and Gus try to pretend they didn’t have sex?

Most of my tears were spent on Laura Dern and Sam Trammell as Hazel’s parents.  They are the parents I see myself and my husband as; the kind who cheer their child’s milestones, no matter how adult they are.  There’s a time where a parent can stick their heads in the sand or they can smirk to each other as they, too, pretend their teens aren’t sexually active, or at least heading in that direction.  While one could argue that they are being permissive because they believe Hazel is going to die, I’d like to believe that this is how they’d be anyway, because everyone has to grow up sometime.  And Gus is a great guy, cigarette and smarm notwithstanding.  My heart broke into a million pieces at Mike Lancaster’s sign at the airport and, again, it was all about me, because my husband would totally do that.

As a parent, especially the parents of a teenager, you can’t separate who you are from reading this book and viewing this movie.  The adults cry in a very different way than the teens, I think.  They cry for the life lost, because we can imagine it so much better than a teenager can.  They cry for the parents.  They cry for the death of first love more than the loss of the love himself.

The Fault in Our Stars feels like a movie, not a book adaptation, and it’s strong for it, and maybe a little breezier too.  Without as much access to Hazel’s head, we can go along and be charmed rather than devastated, so long as the movie lets us.  The movie lets us do so much more than I expected.  The words that seem deep and heavy on the page come off childish when spoken by actual children.  And this is okay.  In fact, this is wonderful.  Let them believe they are deep and heavy.  Let them believe in change, and hope, and life.  Let them be without bills, and health insurance worries, and job hunting.

So the movie won me over after all, even if I wasn’t the sobbing mess I hoped I’d be, or the angry smarm-hater I was sure I’d end up.  Maybe because I’d never seen them in anything before, the young actors won me over, and I even stopped thinking “Sam!” every time the True Blood guy was on the screen.  A good time was had.  And I did keep the BEA poster.  Sorry, teens at my old library.  I want it.  I stood in line for it.  If I couldn’t have stood the smarm, you’d have one more book-to-movie poster.  Now you’ll have to wait for the inevitable READ posters.

*

I wonder if author John Green will be able to write teenagers when his children are older.  I know there’s something about raising a teenager that makes you pull away from wanting to write teens (because I’m there right now), that makes you think, “I’d be a phony just to try.  It’s been so long.  Things have changed.”  Green’s teenagers, however, have never exactly been real teens.  They are teens the way Kevin Smith’s characters in Clerks are real people.  Everyone is very smart and usually knows exactly what to say.  But I love that and obviously the teens that make up a huge chunk of Green’s readership do too.

 

BEA 2014: The haul!

June 7, 2014

These are only the things I am keeping or giving to close friends.  Everything else has either already been donated to one of the local libraries or is in my trunk waiting to be donated to the library where I used to work in NJ.

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Excerpts only (except the Stan Lee one, which is so thick I just put it into the regular pile).  A little sad that I didn’t get the full copy of Let’s Get Lost, but this one was signed.

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Image, which has proven itself over and over again as a comic book publisher, had all first issues out of some of their popular titles.  This isn’t all they had, but these were the ones I grabbed.  Some of my favorite authors have titles with Image: Rucka, Brubaker, Vaughan, Kirkman.  Some of these, like Saga and The Walking Dead, I’ve already read, but others I’ve been hoping to get my hands on, like Sex Criminals and Alex + Ada.

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The books! I got one for my bff, one for his mother, one for a friend who’d just praised an author and I happen to see her new book there, a handful of Kimani titles and a memoir (?) for Mahasin in the Morning, and I do believe the rest are for meeeee!  I’ve already read Landline (of course), Afterworlds (whoa, trippy), and the new R.L. Stine Fear Street book (um…).  Will be reviewing them soon.

I have a book club read to get to next, and then back to this beautiful pile!  I’m thinking Scalzi…

BEA 2014 in crappy pictures

June 5, 2014

I did NOT bring the iPad.  It was too big.  So I used the iPod again, which means I had to take about five pictures per person to get a decent one.  I really should just get a camera since I have no desire to upgrade my phone to something that can not only take good pictures, but actually get them off of the thing–unlike mine, which can’t even transfer contacts between two of the same model phone, let alone send or receive photos.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted.

 

Friday!

 

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Neil Patrick Harris was signing excerpts of his upcoming autobiography, which has a Choose Your Own Adventure theme and the fantastic cover to go with it.  I always joke that I have a shut-down switch somewhere in my body when it comes to gay men, so when I say that he was one of the most handsome men I’ve ever seen in my life, that means something.  Very nice, and good at moving the line along.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: You know what I loved you in?  What was that show you were in with Tony Shaloub?

Him: Stark Raving Mad.  Tony’s a genius.

Me: No, YOU’RE a genius.

…I was incredibly surprised by how fangirly I got.

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I am a big fan of taking pictures when I’m one person back, but it makes for terrible pictures.  This is Ann M. Martin of Baby-Sitters Club game, signing her new book, Rain/Reign.

Me: I feel like I’ve been reading your books forever. [Way to make her feel old, Alana.]  But you know what my favorite it?

Her: What?

Me: Sweet Valley Twins #1.

Her, bursting out laughing and turning to her friend: I DID write that one!

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Anjelica Huston from afar.  I couldn’t not take a picture of Morticia Addams.  My daughter would’ve been so disappointed in me.

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“Jovial Bob” my butt.  No, seriously, RL Stine was very nice, AND I didn’t tell him that Christopher Pike is better (but he is), but the poor man looked exhausted and it was only day one.  I got a picture of the two of us as well, but my eyes are closed.  Note to self: if no camera next year, remind people to take like twenty pictures with that thing and I’ll just delete the crappy ones next year.  Second note to self: Don’t believe someone who says “That’s a good picture!” when they’re using my old iPod.

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How goddamn adorable is John Scalzi?  I just want to snuggle up with him on a couch and watch nerdy television shows.  I want to play board games with him and invite him to be on my superhero team during RPG Sundays.

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Jo Walton is what we call “a chatter.”  She wanted to talk to everyone.  It was one of the slower-moving lines I was in, but she was so sweet.  I told her I was there because of a friend, and she signed two books–one for me, one for the friend.  Such a sweet lady, I would’ve actually gone back and talked to her again.

 

Saturday!

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Dear Raina (Telgemeier), Remember when I said the picture wasn’t going to be all forehead?  I didn’t lie; I was just wrong.  See, when I take a picture, there’s a status bar across the top.  And that’s where your forehead was.  So I cropped the picture.  You’re welcome.  And adorable.  We’re so excited to read your new book!

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That is a pile of Fault in Our Stars tissue packs that you got if you lined up for the movie poster.  The poster also came with a flyer that says how to get two free tickets to If I Stay.  The tissues were probably the best marketing device I saw at all of BEA.

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Brad Meltzer, second year.  Did not embarrass myself this time.  He’s so pale.  Can that be healthy?  I know part of it is the bald thing, but SO PALE.

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Scott Westerfeld, another chatter.  I’m reading his new book Afterworlds right now, and it is so good.

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The Stan Lee line moved SO FAST.  It was really amazing because it meant EVERYONE could stand in front of him and hear that famous voice.  You basically got a “How are ya?” and “All the best!” and you were handed the book, and you let the next person have their three seconds.  I loved it.  Picture by Alison Pitt.

Alison also sent me this great picture of Jason Segel:

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who I did not see.  But what a great picture!

 

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Terrible picture from the back of the Event Hall of Tina Fey and Jason Bateman on the big screen talking about their new movie, which is based on a book.  The two sound very different, both good, and I will probably watch the movie if it gets to Netflix.

 

Sunday!

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David Levithan and Maggie Stiefvater and the nice kid who put up with my babbling in line.  Levithan is Stiefvater’s editor, and I talked to him more than her because we read Two Boys Kissing for the book club and I’ve never been able to get a hold of the first of any of her books at the library.  Now I have a new one!  But I hear it’s a companion and I should STILL read Shiver first.  Sigh.

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The madhouse around Cary Elwes, who was handing out excerpts of his Princess Bride book.  Dude needs glasses to break up the bland sameness of his face.  I think I was the only woman over 30 who didn’t have a huge crush on him because of that movie.

And that was it for me Sunday.  I didn’t do much, having been annoyed by how BookCon was set up, and I ended up leaving early.  But I’ll get into that next post.

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