Friday, May 18, 2018

Five for Friday

And Friday has rolled around again. Mid-May already, too, although by our 95+ degree weather this week you'd think it was July.

Here's what's making me happy this week:

1. Krusteaz brand lemon square mix. Yes it's better if you make them from scratch. But seriously, this mix isn't bad. It's lemony and the crust is tasty and it comes out of the pan smoothly and honestly, that's about all I want in a dessert with a 2 buck price point.

2. The soup at Local Foods. Today I tried chicken posole and it's quite the cup of yummy goodness. Yes, I had soup for lunch on a 95+ degree day. Deal with it.

3. My Brazos colleague Ben because he can quote almost all the dialogue from Young Frankenstein. Possibly he can quote all of it; I haven't actually checked this scientifically. Also, I have to admit that I do judge people who never quote favorite lines from movies. How can you not have favorite lines? How can you not love using them when the moment is right?

4. This season of RHONY. If you watch, you know why we all love it. If you don't, well, I guess it's like that whole crazy Yanny or Laurel thing that's burning up the internet right now. (For the record, I hear Yammy -- which is close to Yanny but not exactly.)

5. The news that Nathan Fillion is coming back in a police drama called The Rookie. So what if it feels hugely derivative of a million things including Castle. It's Captain Mal, people! Wearing a police uniform. Having a mid life crisis. Giving earnest speeches. Being wryly funny. Occasionally showing the darker edge like he did as evil Caleb in Season 7 Buffy. Okay I think it was Season 7. Maybe it was 6. Either way, Nathan Fillion is returning to prime time. I'm in. Yup.

And that is 5 things that make Joy happy this week.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Monday Musings on Books, Customers, the Difference Between YA and Adult, and Other Stuff

 I love my job. I mean I seriously adore it. I get to play with books for part of my living and work with colleagues who are creative and clever and talk to customers who value independent bookstores and are willing to pay full retail to keep them going, keep them a center of literary life in the community. Customers who will call us first and consciously not press that seductive buy button on the A--- site because they want us to exist and thrive. So as my manager says, Bully for that. (Actually what he frequently says is, Bully for you, Joy when I announce something that I'm excited about.)

But still. People are...people, you know?
And sometimes they say stuff. Goofy stuff.
An example for your Monday morning pleasure:

At least three times a week I field a phone call that goes something like this:
Customer: "Hi! I am looking for an obscure book on Glockenspiels of Iowa from 1897 - 1895, a topic only I care about but hey, you're a bookstore."
Me: "Well, let me see what I can find."
Me: Does some spiffy quick research on our distributors sites and elsewhere and holy moly, it exists! Ingram has one in stock.
Me: "Great news! I've found one. It can be here in 4 business days."
Customer: "No thanks. I needed it this afternoon."

In other news, I am reading the WICKED KING arc, the sequel to Holly Black's fabulous CRUEL PRINCE. It is as absolutely wonderful as I want it to be. In fact, it's better!

Other books on my nightstand:

NIGHT FILM by Marisha Pessl. This one came out in 2013, but we're hosting Pessl for her new YA next month and I wanted to read some of her back list and holy cow this  one makes your heart pound!

MARLENE by Julie Buntin, which is about female friendship and a tragic event in the past that's defined everything that's come since then. It reminds me a bit of THE GIRLS by Emma Cline (which honestly was a depressing read for me) but I'm liking it so far although there are spots where I wish the writing was sparer. That said it is always interesting to read about teen characters told from an adult vantage point and always interesting to note how different that feels in terms of character development and narration than actual YA. You'd think it wouldn't be that different, but it is. Because the adult narrator knows how an event has shaped and formed and destroyed. The teen in the moment does not. Both have value in story telling. But you really can tell the difference.

On that same note, I'm interested to read the new Michael Ondaatje book WARLIGHT which looks back at two teen characters in 1945 in post war London and then moves them forward into adulthood, carrying their scars and secrets.

But for now I need to finish my own manuscript. And so it goes.
Happy Monday!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Tears, Tears, and Yup, More Tears: My Adoration for Call the Midwife

Truth? I didn't start watching it right away. But one friend and then another and then another (all writer friends, which was interesting) kept saying watch it. You need to watch it. And so I did. Made the husband watch it, too -- assuming it was not his thing but hey it was Sunday night at 7 PM and he had ended up loving Downton Abbey more than I did -- stuck around for the PBS after show with Eddie Manous--who I recently got to meet when he was in conversation with Sean Penn the other night for a store offsite even, but that is neither here nor there.

And here's what happened: I fell in love with this show. It shouldn't have worked for me. I am snarky and jaded and I can see a plot line coming a mile away and sometimes the characters are a bit too broadly drawn and the happy resolutions are a bit too happy and there are nuns! Lots of nuns. Although honestly I'm a sucker for stories with nuns and not just that movie/play (you know the one) where the hills are alive with the sound of music and the Nazis get outplayed and the Von Trapps walk to Switzerland in lederhosen and capes, singing.

And yet. I love this show. Its characters feel real. Its birth scenes definitely feel real.Which is a good time to mention that its about Nonnatus House -- a group of Anglican nuns who served for years in the East End of London as midwifes. (And yes, I love when they say, "Midwifery" pronouncing the i as a short vowel like in 'if'.) Sometimes I say the word aloud just for fun.

Seven seasons ago it began in the late-ish 1950s, with London just about a decade out of WWII and National Health Care just coming into play and if you've never seen it, although over the years some birthing hospitals came into play, most of these births were home births and the pre and post natal care (which was meticulous) often occurred though cheery home visits as well. Season 7 finale has crawled us up to November 1963. The Nonnatus nuns are augmented by a team of lay nurses who live in the house with them. And let's just say everyone has a story.

I won't do a character analysis for you today, but I feel one coming. I have loved them all -- even if occasionally Dr. Turner is a bit much for me because despite his backstory the man is just too damn nice. A few of the most lovable have been killed off in incredibly sad ways -- one this season and her funeral was last night in the Season 7 finale and it was immeasurably sad in a million ways that should have been treacly but worked. So many sad and happy/sad things last night and then because we'd eeked up to November 1963, in the middle of everything JFK was killed over in America and so the world felt like it was falling apart, as the world often does.

The show is about life and death and all the stuff in between and last night was about grief and how we navigate this new, terribly unfamiliar world after something awful has happened and we are strangers to ourselves. And damn you Fred Buckle (a character I shouldn't like but adore) who made me weep uncontrollably while he was helping (I'm trying to avoid spoilers) a grieving and recently widowed husband.

There was a birthday celebration for Sister Monica Joan at some point after that and Trixie made a surprise appearance and if only Miranda Hart had returned as Chummy I probably would have never needed to watch TV again because it would have been that perfect.

Yeah. You need to watch these 7 seasons. And the Christmas specials, one of which I still haven't seen because my local PBS showed it on New Year's Day and then it disappeared into the ether and not even Netflix has it and what is up with that?