Monday, December 12, 2011

Writing Movies for Fun and Profit by Robert Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon

If you want to read a book about how to write an Oscar award winning script, don't bother reading this book. As the authors point out, they are guys who wrote a movie where a monkey slaps Ben Stiller. If, on the other hand, you want to move to Hollywood and make a million bucks writing movies, read this book. That movie where a monkey slaps Ben Stiller made them a lot of money.

If you're like me and have no interest in being a screenwriter, it's a hilarious inside look at how the movie business works. They explain why almost every studio movie sucks donkey balls (yes, there is actually a chapter called that) and dish on everything from having lunch with Jackie Chan to their own true personal Hollywood horror stories. There's also a handy glossary at the back that explains what all those strange credits at the end of the movie mean.

Be careful where you read this one though. I think the cover scared the nice Korean waiter at my favourite lunch spot. I think he thought it was porn.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dirty Little Secrets

I've been putting off writing my maiden entry in this blog for a variety of reasons; few of them good and none of them interesting. One reason is embarrassing, but I will tell since this is just between friends...

... I've been reading crap.

Mind-numbing, stupefacting, brain cell rotting garbage. And I've been quite enjoying myself.

This whole 'not-working-but-instead-doing-whatever-the-heck-I-feel-like' thing has not been as easy as it sounds. There is of course some loneliness as I'm reminded how hard it is to find like-minded library geeks to hang out with... when you're not working in a library. Boredom is also a problem. I've had a lot on my mind as I contemplated what the heck to to with my life. Crappy garbage books have been the perfect fix for me while I juggled heavier thoughts.

I guess you could argue that there is no such thing as a 'garbage-book' Paige, but you and I both know that not all books are created equal *cough Twilight sux cough*. So I'll outline some of the better fluff I've been diverting myself with.

V.I. Warshawski Series by Sara Paretsky

Tunnel Vision (V.I. Warshawski Novels)

I stumbled upon this series when I was looking for J.D. Robb readalikes. I LOVE the In Death series more than any other trashy read because as you read them, the characters become like friends. Everyone falls in love with the billionaire Roarke, (what's not to love- he's gorgeous, rich and has an Irish accent!) and the series takes place about 50 years in the future which is also neat. ANYWAYS, since I'm not actually talking about this series, I digress.

V.I. Warshawski was born in raised in South Chicago, where the books take place. She's a public defender turned private investigator who runs her own (most of the time) one-woman operation, always struggling to make ends meet. Most of these books involve human rights issues, which makes for an interesting twist to your typical hardboiled detective novels. Bottom line, I enjoyed them.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8.

The Long Way Home (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Vol. 1)
Paige, I'm laying my secrets bare for you this week. My name is Quill, and I'm a closet Scooby. When Sean left for Baltimore, and I was home alone with no company or cable, I finally broke down and tried watching Buffy. Let me tell you- I mainlined the whole series in just 2 months. When I was finished with Buffy, I moved on to Angel (a spin-off series) and I was soon out of Smack. I tried detoxing on these graphic novels which stand in as the Season 8 that never happened. If you call 'detoxing' sitting up reading until 2am, waking your husband with frequent gasps of shock and surprise.

The artwork is fantastic, and while I admit the storyline seems to be geared towards a different target audience (namely horny man-children with absolutely no hope of ever having a real experience with a woman), they were pretty gripping, and I look forward to reading more.

Jamie's 30 Minute Meals

Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast
Can I tell you about a cookbook? We didn't exactly set very strict ground rules, so I'm going to go with it. Mostly because I've spent more time with this book that with any other book of any kind lately. I bought it from Book Depository in the UK when it first came out, but it looks like it might be printed as 'Meals in Minutes' here in North America (probably due to Rachel Rae's barftastic books of the same title).

This book and the accompanying series not only gives you great recipes, but teaches you how to 'Get your head on' to pump out an amazing meal- and I'm talking main dish, a couple sides, condiments and sometimes even a dessert, in 30 minutes. Okay, maybe 45 minutes the first few times you try it on. I love that there are a good number of vegetarian recipes and lots of fish too. I use this book about twice a week, and we haven't had a bad meal yet. Sean's favourite is the Summer Veg Lasagna (made with asparagus, peas, beans and cottage cheese) with tuscan tomato salad and mango frozen yogurt. All of the recipes are made with simple ingredients (no last minute scouring of the supermarket for things you can't pronounce), and can be made by just about anyone (though the videos help).

We liked the series so much that we invented a drinking game to go along with it! Here's a few of the rules;

  • If he says "sprinkle from a height" take a drink.
  • If he uses lemon, chili and olive oil together, take a drink.
  • If he uses one of those British words that sound made up, like wodge or whack, take a drink.
  • If he takes a few bits of something that is in the dish and garnishes with it "to tell the story", take a drink.
We did this once, but as we're not really the drinking type, once was enough.

Now that the ice is broken I will be writing again soon with a couple of good books to tell you about- keep it coming on your end! I'll definitely be looking for 'Dear George Clooney' on my next library trip.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielsen

Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom
Violet's life has been a mess ever since her dad left her mom for a younger woman with big boobs, and moved to LA. He's happily neglecting Violet and her sister for his new family in LA. Well, he was happy until Violet told her little half-sisters the cat turds in the sandbox were chocolates left by Santa. Meanwhile, back in Vancouver, money's tight, the house is falling apart, and Violet's mom has been dating a long line of losers.
When her mom starts dating a guy named Dudley Wiener, Violet decides it's time to step in and save her mother from herself. She's going to find her mom the perfect man, and who's more perfect for the job of Violet's new father than George Clooney? Violet's mom is a good catch, so convincing George Clooney to marry her shouldn't be too hard. Stopping the romance with Dudley Wiener? That might be.
I heard good things about this book when it came out, but didn't get around to reading it until now. Not every book lives up to its hype. This one did. I love it when that happens. I've put this book straight onto my fall booktalking list for when I go out to the schools.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum

The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
In the early 1900's it was easy to get away with murder in New York City, especially if you used poison. Poison was almost impossible to detect in a corpse, and most of New York City's coroners had no medical training at all. Coroners were political positions, and political parties often fixed elections to give jobs to their supporters. That meant that the guy who turned up to determine cause of death could be a plumber or the milkman.
Corruption was rampant, so even if cause of death was pretty obvious, you could always bribe the coroner to put down natural causes on the death certificate. Someone once tried to bribe a someone to put down suicide on the death certificate of a guy who'd been shot four times in the leg, arm, shoulder, and heart. Didn't want the stigma of a suicide attached to your family? Just bribe the coroner, and he'd conveniently write aneurism on the death certificate, despite the fact that the man was found dead with a gun in his hand and a bullet wound in his mouth.
The city coroner was notorious for showing up drunk for work. By 1918, the public outcry was so great that the city was forced to hire a real, qualified medical examiner. There were three men who passed the exam, but the mayor was mad that he couldn't reinstate his buddy, the old city coroner, into the position. He was so mad that he tried to get all three men arrested on trumped up charges so they'd be disqualified for the job. Luckily for the three men that didn't work. The mayor refused to hire the man with the highest exam marks. He knew he couldn't get away with hiring the man who came in last, so he picked the man who came in second: Charles Norris. Unfortunately, from the mayor's point of view, Charles Norris turned out to be the very best man for the job.
Charles Norris loved forensic medicine, and he was passionate about his job. He was determined to see that the victims' families saw justice. The first thing he did was hire a brilliant chemist named Alexander Gettler. When the city wouldn't give them any money to set up a forensics lab, Norris paid for it out of his own pocket. He was willing to do anything it took to see that murderers didn't walk free, whether that meant badgering the mayor for more money for supplies, or paying a man's salary himself during the Depression.
Like Norris, Gettler was a workaholic, and just as devoted to his field. If a test for a poison didn't exist, he'd invent it. If there was a test, he'd refine it until he could detect minute amounts of poison. Together, Norris and Gettler revolutionized forensic medicine, and made sure that poisoners couldn't get away with murder.
I stayed up two nights in a row to finish this book, although I did manage to creep myself out the first night by reading about murderers at two in the morning. Deborah Blum even made what should have been very dull parts on how poisons work at a molecular level completely fascinating. I am definitely going to look for her other books. I suspect she could make a scholarly treatise on the history of tablecloths gripping.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Meanwhile by Jason Shiga

Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities.

I picked up Meanwhile by Jason Shiga at Serendipity, which was all graphic novel artists this year. Meanwhile is a choose-your-own-adventure graphic novel, but you don't turn pages when it's time to make a choice. The panels are all connected by tubes, and you follow the tubes as you read. Sometimes the tubes branch off, and you have to decide which way you're going to go. The first choice to make is chocolate or vanilla. Oh yeah, there are also secret codes to find.

So far I have time travelled, killed myself, and destroyed alternate universes many times over. I once very nearly met myself in the past. Occassionally I catch tantalizing glimpses of other possibilities as I flip pages. I could be chased by an axe-wielding ice cream man! Or beat my past self up! Or maybe that's my past self beating me up. Either way, I am currently stuck in an endless loop and can't move on to other endings. I really need to find that secret code so I don't destroy the world. Again. Technically, I haven't finished the book yet, but since there are 3,856 story possibilities, that probably won't happen any time soon.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Once upon a time the two of us worked at the same library. We spent a lot of time talking about books, but then we once took six books on a three day road trip. We are that sort of people. Now that HollyMay has abandoned civilized BC for the wilds of Baltimore, getting together for caffeine and book talk is impossible. This blog is our attempt to keep in touch and make sure we don't miss out on any really good books. Because the only thing better than finishing a good book is being able to share it with someone.