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June 30, 2009

Birthday Month Fanfic Festival

In case any of you are into this sort of thing - over on my LiveJournal I'm doing a thing for my birthday month in which you give me fanfic prompts/requests and I write one each day. Go play, if you're so inclined.

Posted by Kat at 06:48 PM | Comments (1)

ScoopFree Shortage?

Note: This is completely unsubstantiated.

I don't know if any of you use the ScoopFree automatic litter box with cartridges, but just in case: The manager of my local PetSmart saw me buying a cartridge the other day and told me that he had just heard from his ScoopFree guy that they were having production issues and wouldn't have any more inventory until sometime in August. And, indeed, there were only a few cartridges left on the shelves. I have no independent confirmation of this, but I bought a six-pack from Amazon just in case. (They also have the three-pack and single cartridge.) Of course, all of those items are currently in stock, which makes me question the "shortage," but hey, better safe than sorry, right? It's not like they'll go bad.

Posted by Kat at 07:17 AM | Comments (2)

June 29, 2009

Daily Reading (6/29/09)

A really interesting essay: My Husband's Other Wife
The administration sounds more like The West Wing every day: Ax and Lesser. (Oh, God, I bet there's slash fic out there.)
A good take on Little Women: The Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves

Posted by Kat at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

Review: Smooth Talking Stranger

Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
Genre: Contemporary romance
Pages: 340
Rating: 8.5

(Note: This is actually the third book in a series. I'm usually a stickler about reading series in order, but I didn't realize this was a series until I was too into the book to make myself stop and go back. So you might want to read Sugar Daddy first.)

Ella is an advice columnist whose orderly, boring life is disrupted when her irresponsible sister leaves a baby with her irresponsible mother. Ella is called in to fix the situation. The sister won't name the father, but some of her friends suggest Jack, a millionaire businessman. Now, Jack isn't the father, but he and Ella of course fall in love, and have to straighten out various issues involving their families, their very different lifestyles, and, of course, the baby before they can live happily ever after.

This book was almost a perfect example of the light romance genre. The main characters were likeable but not ridiculously perfect. There was a big fun extended family, a la Nora Roberts. There was a baby, and the baby storyline was actually done well. (It seems that element can be very hit or miss.) The characters had real problems to work through, but there weren't excessive obstacles put in the way of their happiness just for the sake of it. There was a definite sense of place (Texas). I apparently have no recollection of how the sex scenes were, so I'm going to assume that they weren't ridiculous enough to ruin the rest of the book for me (as has happened with other romance novels). The writing was decent, and compelling enough that I read most of it in one sitting. It definitely made me want to read the rest of the series, and Kleypas's other books (historicals).

(SPOILERS AHEAD) I just had one main problem: Ella's relationship with her boyfriend Dane. At first, he's just sort of boring, but then turns out to be extremely self-absorbed, which - fine. But then, when Ella finds out that he's sleeping with someone else while she's away trying to figure out what to do with the baby, he tells her that they've had an open relationship for the past four years, and he just hasn't mentioned it. What?? And even after that, Ella keeps apologizing for getting involved with Jack before she and Dane have officially broken up. So that whole subplot was rather frustrating. (END SPOILERS)

But! With that caveat, this was definitely a great light summer read - perfect for the beach or vacation or one of those days when it's too hot and sticky to move and you just want to sit on the couch with a book.

Posted by Kat at 07:16 AM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2009

This is why I am not in sales.

I'm on the Social Committee at my church, which means that I help with things like dances and board game night and, at the moment, the parish picnic. Today I was assigned to sell picnic tickets by the door after Mass. (It's $5 a person or $3 a kid, basically just to pay for the food and the venue rental.) I asked every single person who walked by if they wanted picnic tickets, and do you know how many said yes? One. ONE! Now, I was at the side door, and I am theorizing that people who opt for that door instead of the main door are the ones who are trying to get away quickly and don't want to stand around talking. So I contend that the problem was not all just me. But still. It was rather demoralizing.

So then I bought a ticket for myself - and paid full price even though I won't eat most of the food provided (hamburgers and hot dogs) - so that's something. And I found a coworker who was there getting his son baptized and convinced him that he wanted tickets, too. That left my total at four, which was not QUITE as bad as one, but still. I am so not cut out for this "sales" thing.

(Anyone want to come to my parish picnic? I can get you tickets! Hah.)

Posted by Kat at 01:20 PM | Comments (1)

June 27, 2009


Dewey is feline leukemia negative and perfectly healthy. Thank God! I'm so relieved.

Posted by Kat at 11:28 AM | Comments (2)

Fingers Crossed...

Dewey may have been exposed to feline leukemia. I'm taking him in to be tested tomorrow morning. Any spare prayers/good thoughts/etc. would be most appreciated.

Posted by Kat at 12:55 AM | Comments (1)

Too Awesome for Words

Posted by Kat at 12:06 AM | Comments (1)

June 26, 2009

Out in the Woods

Now, I don't live in a particularly rural area. My town used to have lots of farms but at this point it's pretty much a standard suburb. According to Wikipedia, the population is around 25,000, and it's the eighth largest municipality in the state. But the specific spot where my house is located is far more "rural" than most of the town, by which I more or less mean that it's the last house on a dirt road, with a bunch of undeveloped (so far) woods behind it, and no other houses in sight. This has its positives and negatives: I love the quiet, but at night it can sometimes get a bit creepy; and I feel most at home amidst lots and lots of trees, but it's virtually impossible to keep the house completely clear of bugs and mice.

But the best part of living out here is what happened last night: I walked into the bathroom, glanced out the window, and saw two deer munching on grass (or something?) in my back yard. Just out there, hanging out. Now, there were deer where I grew up in Connecticut, but there it was more common to see them by the side of the road late at night (waiting to ambush your car) than just sort of wandering around in broad daylight like they own the place. Wild turkeys are everywhere, too, and I've seen other things out there that I thought were foxes (but I'm not positive). Because I'm me, my first reaction is to want to go read Sara Donati or someone. (Are there other good "frontier" type historical novels set in the Northeast?) It's amazing to get these sudden reminders of history and context.

Posted by Kat at 07:45 AM | Comments (2)

June 25, 2009

Buffy vs. Edward

I this this video does a good job of explicating some of the more problematic elements of the Twilight story. It calls itself "an example of transformative storytelling serving as a pro-feminist visual critique of Edward’s character and generally creepy behavior," and it's quite well-edited. The only problem is that some of the things it presents Edward as doing as similar to elements of the Buffy/Angel storyline, and Buffy didn't react to Angel the way that this video is making her react to Edward.

Posted by Kat at 06:47 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2009

Review: 3 Willows

3 Willows by Ann Brashares
Genre: YA
Pages: 319
Rating: 8

3 Willows is the first in Brashares' new series, The Sisterhood Grows. The sisterhood in question, of course, is the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, the wildly popular teen book and movie franchise. After four books in the Traveling Pants series, Brashares faced the problem of her teen protagonists not being teens anymore. So rather than try to continue with them, she moved on to a new, younger set of girls. They are based in the same town and, slightly weirdly, know of the Traveling Pants girls as a sort of legend around school. I don't know about you, but I never really got the impression that all that many people knew about the magic of the pants in the original books. But anyway. There are some tangential connections - one of the new girls babysits for the younger siblings of one of the original girls, one of them has one of the original girls' sisters as a romantic rival, etc. And it seems as though the original girls themselves will make occasional cameos in this new series. All of this, no doubt, will help appease readers who wanted the original series to continue.

Now, how about the book itself? It follows the now-familiar formula of a group of adolescent girls with differing interests and personalities who are nevertheless bound together by some sort of improbable friendship, and who each have a Big Issue that needs to be dealt with over the course of the novel. (Now that I think about it, I wonder if this sort of thing got its start with The Baby-sitters Club and the other 1980s girls' series books like that? Hmm. Are there earlier examples I'm just not remembering?) 3 Willows is good - not as good as the original books (especially the first) but better than most of the legions of imitators that are now being published. The girls are a little younger and their problems a little less mature, but that's fine. The girls themselves are all likeable enough, if somewhat cliched - the poor little rich girl whose parents are separating, the brilliant immigrant who ends up on one of those horrifying wilderness adventure camping trips instead of at an academic camp, etc. The beginning was a little slow, but after about fifty pages I didn't want to put it down.

There are definite lessons in these sorts of books, but Brashares manages to make this add to rather than detract from the reading experience. The main lessons here are: 1) Be yourself, but don't be afraid to try new things; 2) The real friends are the ones who are there when you need them, not necessarily the ones who are most sophisticated or have the right clothes; and 3) Remember that family is important but don't let it completely define you. Again, nothing groundbreaking here, but they're good reminders for the target audience of young teens (and the rest of us). If you liked the Traveling Pants books or other similar titles, give this a try.

Posted by Kat at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2009

Daily Reading (6/5/09)

So, Betty? You know, in Archie? Kind of nuts.
Can confirmation hearings really be "teachable moments"?
Fun new game: Michael Pollan or Michel Foucault?

Posted by Kat at 10:26 PM | Comments (0)

Infinite Summer

I've never read David Foster Wallace, except for maybe an essay or two, and have always meant to, so I figured I might as well join Infinite Summer, a group reading Infinite Jest over the course of the summer. Who's with me?

Posted by Kat at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2009

Daily Reading (6/3/09)

Will Sotomayor really be good for women?
Here are some of the interesting bits from Richard Wolffe's new book on the Obama campaign.
Researches found a manuscript that may be a medieval women's "magazine".
Here's Spencer Ackerman's write-up of Lt. Gen. McChrystal's confirmation hearing.
Make sure you're watching Political Theater, the new online video series from WaPo's Chris Cillizza and Dana Milbank, every Tuesday and Friday.
Sotomayor meets the Senate.
How to Drink Wine Like an Expert
Polenta: The Complete Guide
A People's History of the Republican Comeback
Star Trek: A Military Analysis

Posted by Kat at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

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