Stupid Fucking WordPress

My dear Peopleaneous –

1. I’ve been swamped. With work shit. With house shit. With flood shit. With car shit. With recruiter shit. With personal shit.

2. Most of my downtime is at work (one of the reasons I detest my job). So that’s when I tend to do my writing and catch up on comments and posts and such. But it appears as though something has changed with WP. Either that, or corporate is toying with their security policies again. Yous see, they block a myriad of sites. Like…Kotaku or Instagram or Redtube. But you can spend your entire day on Facebook or Twitter or CollegeFootball.com (welcome to the South) should you wish. But now. NOW. Since sometime early last week, I’ve been able to get to my dashboard or whatever. And it appears I can make a post. But only in the HTML section. Not in the “Visual” section. And when I try to check comments or look at other sites? I receive this message:

Secure Connection Failed

The connection to the server was reset while the page was loading.

The page you are trying to view cannot be shown because the authenticity
of the received data could not be verified.

Please contact the website owners to inform them of this problem.

Isn’t that delightful? I’m trying to find a workaround, y’all, because this is a buncha pigshit.

Also…if this even publishes (because I can’t even preview) – in the meantime, love and harmony and music and wombats illicit things.

Word.

Ringing in the New Year: Book Tag and I’m it!

The Scene: A well-lit bedroom, strewn with clothes and books, drawing supplies and souvenir shot glasses, a Taylor guitar and an antique typewriter.

The Players: One Stephanie, sitting against the headboard in bed, laptop in place, surrounded by detritus of the evening – books, 2016 planner, prismacolor pens, iPad, chargers and Rolos. Two cats, both alternating between pacing and hiding under the bed in fear of the fireworks that have been sporadically going off all evening.

The Mood Music: Tricky’s Blowback album.

~

Ringing in the New Year Book Tag

Shaun at Tales in Anxiety tagged me to do this Ringing in the New Year Book thingy. I’ve been avoiding doing these – and please don’t be offended if you’ve tagged me to do something but I didn’t. I just couldn’t resist this one, though, cuz I’m nuts about books! By the way, carry your asses over to Shaun’s place – he’s a good writer. Not only that, but he’s a fucking cool dude – so go on!

Now. Y’all know how I do. Fuck the rules; let’s get right into the questions! (Which are really fucking tough, by the way.)

Best book/series you read in 2015?

I’m going to give you two books: one a non-fiction memoir and one literary fiction. These were my two favorite books of the year:

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban, by Malala Yousafzai. Malala’s story is not only important for the advancement of basic human rights the world over, but it’s also some pretty fucking important perspective. Things can always be worse – and for far too many people, they are. Malala is a brave young woman who stood up for her rights, and the rights of others in her situation. For that, she nearly lost her life. And you know what? It didn’t stop her – nay, it bolstered her and made her voice into a powerful force for good. Her memoir is the perfect blend of Pakistani history and political climate for reference with the recounting of what happened to her.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami. Murakami is my favorite fiction author, period. He has been for a few years now. I haven’t read all of his books…yet. But that’s only because I’ve forced myself to slow down because I’m dreading the day I’m caught up and don’t have any new Murakami to read. Murakami is this weird, magical realist and surrealist author. I don’t really know what to say. Perhaps Kafkaesque. All I know is that Murakami gives me characters that I can relate to alongside most unrealistic characters. I love his jazz references and the simple scenes and detailed minutia. But I also love the mind-boggling surreal scenes that are insane…and profound. He always makes me think – and good lord the caliber of his writing. Just. Just read him.

Authors you’ve recently found and would like to read more of in the new year?

Both of these are authors that have been around for a long time, but I only read a book by each of them this year. Both of them drew me in and taught me about different cultures – which I love reading about. So I would love to read more by Amy Tan as well as Chinua Achebe. Fantastic writers and able to draw you in to different cultures and lands. I read Tan’s The Joy Luck Club and Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

I’m also gonna take this as a chance to tell you about what’s next up from my TBR pile:

  • The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Kinda pumped about all four of those!

Most anticipated book turned movie?

Okay. This may be cheating, because the movie has already been out for quite some time. I don’t really keep up with books turned movies very well. But one I’ve been looking forward to seeing and haven’t gotten to yet is The Martian, based on the book of the same name by Andy Weir. I enjoyed the book – it was a super fast read. I kinda raced a coworker to see who could finish first. I know. Weird. Anyway! It wasn’t some masterpiece, but it was a decent book, and the main character was a snarky pottymouth. So I approved. I do think it’s one of those rare ones that could make a better movie than book, so I want to see it at some point.

Name a character you wouldn’t mind sharing a kiss with at midnight.

Westley from The Princess Bride. He’s loyal and funny and a smartass and did time as a pirate. He wins battles of wit, brute strength and sword fights. He comes back from the dead to rescue his true love. Definitely Westley. I want to hear, “As you wish,” to my silly little whims or shows of affection.

How many books do you hope to read in 2016?

I think my Goodreads goal for 2015 was 24 books. I’ve finished the year with a total of 42 books read. A couple of those were short comic books, but the rest were novels (or at least novel-length). I think I’ll keep my goal the same for 2016, because I like keeping track of what I’ve read – but I also don’t want to turn reading into a stressful thing that I feel I fail if I didn’t do a certain amount. 24 is perfectly doable for me, without being stressful or feeling I’ve failed myself. But it would be cool if I could make it to 50 this time!

Will you participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge? 

Yeah! See above!

Any New Year’s Resolutions? (Bookish or otherwise?)

Not really. I don’t really do resolutions. But, I do have ongoing goals that I will continue to work on. Goals such as: be a better person, be kind to myself, work on my health, and find courage to carpe the fucking diem! And somewhere in all of that, I will continue to be a reading machine!

~

I nominate all y’all, cuz that’s how I roll. Anybody wanna do it? Do it. You no wanna? No do it.

The Book Review That Wasn’t: Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Once in a while, I stumble upon a book that I just cannot find it within me to finish. I hate not finishing books, but sometimes it simply can’t be helped. Life is too short to finish books we’re not diggin’. Seriously, it is way too short for that shit.

Unfortunately, Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds is one such book for me. I bought it on the recommendation of a coworker. I think he had listened to an audio version of it, so I couldn’t exactly borrowed it from him. Plus, I have a real problem with books. It’s a damn stroke of luck that I haven’t had my house foreclosed upon on account of my reckless non-budget when it comes to book spending. I’ve gotten better lately. Mostly because I fell into a reading lull – aka a time of epic suckitude when I just can’t get into books. Any books. So yeah, of course, if I can’t even be arsed to read things I know I’d like, then my wallet stops weeping money for a spell.

Cue Blackbirds, the first book I’ve bought for a while (hmm, at least a month…probably closer to three – which is an absolute eternity for me). So that makes it doubly shittastic that I can’t finish the crapfest that is Blackbirds.

Dig the cover art.
Dig the cover art.

Here’s the deal – I knew going in that it’s outside my preferred genre. It’s a gritty thriller, which isn’t really my thing. But sometimes things that aren’t my thing can be my thing if the writer tricks me into thinking it was really my thing all along. (Bullshit. That sentence was not convoluted. I do not convolute. Hmph.)

99 Problems, and the Bitch is the Biggest One

Beware of spoilers.

I get it, okay? Miriam Black has a horrible ability that has caused her to live life in the fringes of society. Which means it’s dirty and foul and dangerous, and so she has had to toughen up. The shit upon girl with a heart of gold and balls of steel, hardened to survive. Vicious as a defense mechanism. I get it. It’s totally cliche, but fine. People can still write about cliches and make them good. I’m fine with tropes when done well. But Miriam is filthy. I mean, she’s downright gutter trash filthy. I’m half way through the book, and I haven’t found a single redeeming quality. And she’s the one I’m supposed to be rooting for! She’s hateful and spiteful and opportunistic and cruel and sadistic. I hate Miriam. I feel sorry for her, but it’s a tough sympathy to maintain when I despise her character so very much.

All Guts, No Glory

There is so much gore in this book. I can handle some gore in horror films, emphasis on some. But horror and gore lit are definitely outside my realm of interest. Too many gut splattering, eyeball gouging, blood pooling scenes for me.

Is this Snuff? No, really, is it?

Miriam will do anything to survive – at least that’s what we’re supposed to believe. But really, halfway into the book and all I can see is that she uses her ability to manipulate and rob people in their last moments. Hell, she stalks them for weeks, months…by keeping their dates of death in her planner. She justifies her actions because they’re going to die anyway. She’s just an opportunist, capitalizing on their deaths.

Among the anythings she will do is sex. Any sex, any flavor, any style, anywhere, anybody. There are graphic moments where she’s being fingered. Look, I can handle a sex scene. If written and incorporated properly, it can be hot without being porny. But this shit right here…this shit Wendig writes is at least borderline snuff. There’s a lengthy scene (I thought it would never end) where Miriam is having a death vision while having sex. She reaches orgasm while having a vision of the man’s death – the man she’s fucking. And Miriam thinks to herself that it’s the best orgasm she’s had in ages…because she was picturing his death at the same time.

That. That. Was some twisted, gross shit. And it’s just not my thing. It makes me uncomfortable – and not in a challenge my philosophies and worldview kinda way. More like I just ate something rotten and feel nauseated. That kinda discomfort.

~

For people who dig books that fall into the same genre as Blackbirds, you’ll love it. It’s easily written. It’s definitely no head-scratcher. I could finish it tonight if I wanted to. But I just can’t muster up the will to read any more of it. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth – it doesn’t help that I’m a visual reader. I picture Everything I read. Everything. So that’s not helping.

If you like Stephen King (rant rant I hate Stephen King), you’ll dig it. If you liked American Gods by Neil Gaiman, you might like this. (Dudes, I love Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Perhaps I’ll talk about that later. But American Gods was not my jam.) If you’re into horror, scary sex, and way more cursing than even I do – then you’ll be fine with this book.

Now what the hell am I supposed to do with my copy? Tossing it is out of the question. One does not simply toss a book! Bleh. I hate not finishing books. Thanks a lot, Chuck.

The Velveteen Rabbit

I made brief mention of The Velveteen Rabbit in a previous post. There, I gave you the following quote:

From The Velveteen Rabbit, written by Margery Williams:

“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

As mentioned before, this is one of my all time favorites. Right up there with The Wind in the Willows, Small Pig, Charlotte’s Web, and the list goes on. I don’t mention The Hobbit, because of course! That’s got to be the most important book to me as a child. So it probably deserves its own post someday. What children’s books am I missing? Which made the biggest impact on you?

After I made that post, I made a serendipitous find. A velveteen rabbit pendant! Ohmygoshohmygosh I had to have it. So I bought it.

image

It’s perfect, and I’m wearing it right now. It’s such a sweet little reminder of the joys and sorrows of life and love and belonging. What it means to age gracefully in the company of loved ones. A reminder to embrace our “flaws” and appreciate them for demonstrating the character we’ve earned through the struggles and joys and myriad experiences of life. Embrace them. They’re visual reminders, signposts, of what made us who we are, in the end.

As for The Velveteen Rabbit, you may read the story here. But I encourage you to purchase your own copy, particularly if there are any children in your life that need to be introduced to it. My copy was stolen long ago. One of these days, I’m gonna buy a supernice one. Just for me. Because. Well because maybe I deserve it.