Yes, I'm still alive. Sorry. I was traveling and then got sick, and I'm just getting over that. And I'm trying to work on some writing projects that are cutting into my blogging time anyway, so the previous constant blogging schedule might not be viable right now. But I'm going to try to get back to posting at least once a day, more if I have more to say.
But it's Palm Sunday again, and I posted this quote last Palm Sunday so I thought I'd repeat it for you today.
Declaring oneself a Christian is easy. Putting Christian values to work in a dangerous and violent world is not.
Perhaps the best response to the tragedy of 9/11 was a preemptive war against a country that had nothing to do with the attacks. Tens of thousands of deaths later, perhaps it is still the right decision.
But it is not Christian.
Perhaps it is good economics to give me, an actor on a television show, over a quarter of a million dollars in tax relief over the last five years as the poverty rate climbs, as we burden our children with structural budget deficits and cut services for our most vulnerable citizens.
But it is not Christian.
Perhaps the death penalty is an acceptable way to punish criminals.
But it is not Christian.
Jesus Christ was the Prince of Peace, not the Prince of Preemptive War. He was an advocate for the poor, not of supply-side economics. And let's not forget that Jesus himself died in a bogus death-penalty rap. His was the original "bleeding heart," yet I am afraid he would be described pejoratively by many today as a "do-gooder."
Well, I have been more offline than I'd expected, but that means I'm having a great vacation in Texas, so I'm not complaining. I'll have lots of pictures and stuff for you, eventually. Hope everyone's having a great week!
Well, this means you if you are a fan of Bones or Glee or Smurfs or Joss Whedon or Neil Patrick Harris or Aerosmith. If you aren't a fan of any of those things, well, your life must be a little drab. I'm sorry. Anyway, there doesn't seem to be an embedding option, so you should head over to the Ausiello Files and watch the newest episode of ATV.
As you might have guessed, the books over in the Amazon widget are the ones I wound up with for Texas. I'm in a hurry, so click over there for links.
1) Goodwin's LBJ bio: I'll be doing a lot of the LBJ touristy stuff in Austin, and don't know much about him, so this is the book I'm bringing on the plane in, oh, eight hours.
2) Wolf Hall: NOT paperback, but Lizzie Skurnick made a really good case for it on Twitter, and I gave in. (She might have pointed out that the characters defied the pope, so the least I could do was carry a heavy book. How could I argue with that?)
3) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay: I am woefully Chabon-ignorant. Must remedy that.
A few people have asked me about Parenthood. If you want a real review or recap, you should probably look elsewhere. (I suggest Television without Pity.) If you want disjointed thoughts and excessive Peter Krause adulation, read on!
Here we go! I'm not exactly liveblogging, but I'm pausing at commercial breaks to write up my thoughts, and if you're lucky I'll edit this a little before I post. First of all: My love for Peter Krause can't really be expressed in words. Even just from the little promo thing with Lauren Graham at the beginning, I was all "Awww." He and Lauren Graham as siblings might be the most amazing concept ever in TV ever. (Well, okay. The most amazing concept in TV not affiliated with Aaron Sorkin. I don't want to go TOO overboard here.)
I'm always impressed with actors who can play a variety of different roles convincingly. That said, it can also nice when TV producers don't make viewers stretch too much and let us go on in our own little worlds of pretending that Sports Night and Gilmore Girls didn't actually end. Peter Krause and Lauren Graham both seem to be basically playing to type here, but they do it oh so well - Krause as the exceedingly well-meaning but somewhat bumbling hero who tries to take care of everyone, and Graham as the slightly crazed and hyperverbal single mom. In this case, Graham's daughter seems to be basically the opposite of Rory Gilmore, so it should be interesting to see how that plays out.
I'm sure that as the show goes on I will come to care about other characters, but I will admit that at this point, I'm so taken with the delight of having Krause and Graham back on my TV that I basically sat through the other characters' scenes waiting for one of those two to come back. (I love that Graham's boyfriend is a barista. She can't get away from the coffee guys.) And they did not disappoint. At all.
Given my current Picoult reading, I was interested to see how the show dealt with the Asperger's plotline. Better than Picoult does, I think! So far, at least, they've kept the character from being a caricature, and I think the parents' reactions to the potential diagnosis are extremely realistic.
Tommy Schlamme! Can't forget about him. I don't know how obvious it is if you're not looking for it, but there were several points at which I felt like of course he was directing. Something about the scene at the beginning with Crosby looking in the freezer, for one. And of course the big spinny scene going in to the opening title splash at the end of the teaser.
Things I wasn't crazy about: the family dinner scene (although really, it just needs to distinguish itself from Brothers and Sisters), the fact that one of the children is named "Haddie" (huh?), the teens getting almost immediately arrested (we're going there already?), the way Sarah apologized to her son for marrying his father (um, implying that the son shouldn't exist?).
Other things I liked, not mentioned above: the awkward cousin interaction, the intergenerational parenting conflicts, "the donor is an Olympic athlete and a Rhodes scholar" (HEE), the generally realistic kids of various ages and types, "the real New Yorker?", the loving but fraught sibling relationships, "Oh my God, you Googled my sperm?", the music. And above all, I liked the general tone and feel of the show - lots going on without getting confusing. Loving but not perfect. Realistic while still being interesting enough for TV.
And: the baseball scene at the end just made me cry.
As far as it being any sort of normal week, at least. I'll try to get a few posts up today and tomorrow, but I'm pretty preoccupied with getting ready for my trip. Then I fly out very early Wednesday morning - my flight is at 6am, so I'm planning to leave the house at four. Eesh. I come back the following Wednesday, and then I leave for another quick trip on Friday and finally get back the following Tuesday. So there will be SOME blogging in there somewhere, but I have no idea how much. See you on the other side!
6:00 Here we go! It's Ryan!
6:03 Sam Worthington. I feel like he's going to be in something I was excited about, but now I don't remember what. A vampire thing, maybe? Dracula? NO, Ryan, you were not literally living in the movie.
6:04 Zac Efron's hair is unfortunately, but he's kind of cute being all fanboy with Worthington.
6:06 Blah, blah, Zac Efron is still talking, so I am eat. My dinner is delicious, by the way, and blogging while eating with chopsticks is not as difficult as I had feared.
6:07 WHAT IS WRONG WITH WHAT'S-HIS-NAME'S SUIT? Why can't I remember his name? Giuliana looks nice, but she seems so shocked by Ryan saying so. Oh, Jay Manuel. That's his name.
6:08 Apparently tonight is the Super Bowl of red carpet fashion. I'm not as thrilled with Olivia Wilde as they are, I have to say. Not revealing too much? It's down to her belly button! Lea Michele, however, can basically do no wrong. Oh! Lady Gaga! Is she going to be here?
6:10 Here's the Fug Girls' liveblog. Anna Kendrick looks lovely. I kind of adore here. Mariska Hargitay is... I'm unsure. It looks like one of those very constructed busts that doesn't actually fit her.
6:11 Not at all a competition? Really, Mo'Nique?
6:12 SOMEONE is coming in with dozens of purple tribbles attached to her dress. Who is that? Ooh, it's raining again? Can we hope for more red carpet umbrella hijinks?
6:17 I think I would love Mariah Carey's dress if it didn't have quite such a dramatic slit.
6:20 This fake background stuff with Giuliana and Ryan is boring. Show us more dresses! The crawl is saying something about the nattering nabobs of negativity, but I missed what it was, exactly.
6:25 Villaraigosa AND Zoe Saldana! She's the one in the alarming purple tribble dress. Or maybe it's more like muppets. And the top is very sparkly. This is confusing me. She is very coherently explaining the technology behind Avatar to Ryan, though.
6:28 Joel Madden and Nicole Richie? DJing or something? I don't care. I also don't care about their wedding, but apparently Ryan really REALLY does.
6:28 Vera Farmiga has one of those very alarming architectural type dresses. Apparently the stage is dangerous, and her dress looks equally dangerous. Hmmm.
6:34 Ryan Reynolds looks dapper but unexciting.
6:36 Jason Reitman. His companion looks lovely.
6:37 I need to see more of Maggie Gyllenhaal's dress. Is it... tie-dyed?
6:38 James Cameron and his wife, who is not Katherine Bigelow. I don't like her dress. It's weirdly assymetrical or something. It makes her look deformed or something. James Cameron keeps talking about money. Sigh. Apparently he doesn't know why people are seeing the movie three times, but obviously it's because they're seeing it in 2-D, 3-D, and 3-D Imax.
6:40 Aha! Maggie Gyllenhaal. I think I do like her dress. I always forget that she's married to Peter Sarsgaard. He was amazing in An Education, I thought. And Ryan didn't even MENTION that movie, even though it's up for several awards.
6:42 Elizabeth Banks. I had to look up who she was and I'm still kind of hazy on why he's here. She looks nice, though.
6:43 Tom Ford! I still really want to see that movie. He looks amazing.
6:48 Sigourney Weaver also looks amazing. As always. Also vaguely Roman.
6:49 Lenny Kravitz. Apparently he's in Precious? I did not know. I think that's his daughter Zoe with him.
6:50 Tina Fey! Her dress is . . . nice? I think? I am unsure. Her hair is a little alarming.
6:56 As my friend just said, Amanda Seyfried is doing The Tudors Go DISCO! Carey Mulligan looks cute. Sandra Bullock has too much going on in that dress, and it's not a great color for her. They are wondering if it is a tribute to the Olympics, for some reason. HEE.
6:58 Diane Kruger . . . why? WHY?
6:59 Bullock's hair looks lovely, but the more I see that dress the less I like it.
7:01 Tyler Perry looks . . . nice. Ooh, Faith Hill has some interesting stuff going on there. Hmmm. I cannot decide.
7:03 Amanda Seyfried. I think I actually love this. Apparently she's doing some sort of Red Riding Hood? Interesting.
7:05 Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and the kid from The Blind Side. They were pretty cute. Ugh, Miley Cyrus looks ridiculously awkward.
7:06 Jake Gyllenhaal looks fine. Nondescript. Aww, he's sending Maggie a message to the future, or something. Wait, why are we talking about sandals?
7:11 I am still excited about Clash of the Titans. In case you were wondering. (They're showing a trailer now.) You know, I think I'm going to liveblog through the red carpet part, but head over to some other liveblogs at eight. I'll write some sort of wrap-up post tomorrow.
7:13 Miley Cyrus's dress does not fit, and I have no interest in anything she's saying. Or her mom's tattoos. Ryan seems very convinced that the white floor is going to mess people up.
7:14 Sarah Jessica Parker's dress is AWFUL. I adore Matthew Broderick, though. Now I want to watch The Music Man.
7:17 Kathryn Bigelow! I really hope she wins. She looks lovely.
7:18 Stanley Tucci looks dapper. I didn't see The Lovely Bones but he was great in Julie and Julia.
7:18 Charlize Theron's dress has odd fake fabric breasts on it. Or something.
7:23 This should be hyperbole, but it seems that "Telephone" actually IS the epic video that everyone's waiting for.
7:25 Matt Damon is adorable as always. I will confess that I have loved him since Good Will Hunting.
7:27 Colin Firth! Do I even need to say that he's gorgeous? His wife's dress is nice as well. He also just said "hobgoblin."
7:28 Clooney really does need a haircut.
7:30 Meryl Streep looks lovely, of course. White is daring but I think she makes it work.
7:33 I love Rachel McAdams's multicolor dress. Jennifer Lopez, on the other hand . . .
7:37 Stella Artois commercial. I had one for the first time recently and wasn't really a fan.
7:38 What's with Keanu's facial hair? KStew and Miley are having a slouch-off contest, it seems.
7:39 Gabby's dress is great and she's just so excited and cute!
7:43 Robert Downey, Jr. Not really feeling the sunglasses. His wife is rather adorable, though.
7:50 Jason Bateman looks nice. Apparently I have run out of things to say about guys in tuxes. Well, I could say things about CERTAIN guys, but...
7:52 Jeff Bridges. His movie was good, but I'd rather have Jeremy Renner win.
7:58 Cameron Diaz looks nice, but I'm bored of these weird metallic non-colors.
7:59 Chris Pine! Adorable. He's with his mother. Aww.
And with that, we're out. Head over to the great liveblogs at Slate and EW.
1. Still with the way Jacob's sections are written. I guess I have nothing new to say about this, but it's either getting worse or bothering me more as time goes on.
2. When Oliver does the Fibonacci sequence thing, why does he get it wrong? Why doesn't Jacob mind? Why do so many characters think the sequence is nonsense? Didn't they go to fifth grade?
3. There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that Emma's twice-a-week newspaper column, in Burlington of all places, is a full time job with benefits. No way. This is nuts. It just seems so CARELESS.
4. The various descriptions just don't sound like the Burlington area, either.
5. It seems a little too convenient that Oliver lives above the pizza place where Jess, Mark, and Jacob went. I am waiting for it to become INCREDIBLY SIGNIFICANT at some point.
All that said, I'm still finding this a compelling read. I like Theo and Oliver more and more, and I still don't like Emma and don't know why. I don't think my predictions have really changed since last time.
These are what I WANT to win, not what I think will win. HS/NO means that I haven't seen any of the films and have no opinion.
Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
Actor in a Leading Role: Jeremy Renner
Actor in a Supporting Role: Have not seen any, so I'll go for Christopher Plummer because he's Christopher Plummer.
Actress in a Leading Role: I can't decide. I can't believe I'm about to pick Sandra Bullock over Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan, but I think I am.
Actress in a Supporting Role: Anna Kendrick
Animated Feature Film: Haven't seen any, but I want Coraline to win because it's Neil Gaiman.
Art Direction: Sherlock Holmes
Cinematography: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Costume Design: Haven't seen any, but I've heard amazing things about the use of clothes in Bright Star.
Directing: The Hurt Locker
Documentary Feature: HS/NO
Documentary Short: HS/NO
Film Editing: The Hurt Locker
Foreign Language Film: I've heard good things about The White Ribbon.
Makeup: Star Trek
Music (Original Score): Sherlock Holmes
Music (Original Song): Crazy Heart, although I thought other songs in the movie were better than the nominated one.
Short Film (Animated): Haven't seen any, but A Matter of Loaf and Death is Wallace and Gromit, so...
Short Film (Live Action): HS/NO
Sound Editing: Star Trek, if only for the awesome stuff they did with Wil Wheaton's voice.
Sound Mixing: Star Trek
Visual Effects: Star Trek
Writing (Adapted Screenplay): An Education
Writing (Original Screenplay): The Hurt Locker
Yeah, notice how I changed that to "part three" instead of "day three"? The schedule is basically out the window at this point: Rachel is done and I'm behind, which is kind of funny seeing as she's the one with homework and kids and everything. I have no good excuse; I ended up opting for spending time with friends today rather than staying home as planned. I will likely finish the book tomorrow, though. I will post short updates as I finish each part, and then hopefully something longer at the end, although I may wait a day or so to digest the novel before my final post.
So! This section. As Rachel said, it was incredibly painful to read what Jacob and Emma and Theo were going through. I think Oliver and Rich are turning out to be my favorite characters, because they're nicely complex, sympathetic but certainly not perfect, and reasonably believable. (I had sort of forgotten who Oliver was by the time we got to him in this section, though. I think he was introduced too early and then not given anything to do for too long. Also, I would sort of like to date him. ANYWAY.) Emma is kind of driving me nuts, although I can't quite put my finger on the reason. I'm liking Theo more and more, so I really hope he doesn't turn out to be lying.
My feelings are mixed on Jacob himself. I think I like the character but don't like the way his sections are written. He uses extended metaphors to explain how literal he is. It's ridiculous. I guess Picoult just can't help herself, and fine, that's how she writes. But that means she should not have tried to write from Jacob's point of view. It's too bad, because the Jacob who appears in the descriptions by others is an interesting, strong character, and the inconsistent nature of his sections takes away from that.
Prediction time! Oh, I don't know. THEY'RE NOT PLAYING FAIR. Not that I really expected them to, since this is Picoult. Both boys have stated that they didn't do it by now, I think, but who knows whether they're lying. (After all the to-do about how Jacob can't lie, I'm expecting him to have at least one major lie at some point.) I still don't think it's actually either of them, though. Time to think outside the box. I'm going to go with Jess's father, the Very Important State Senator. That seems random enough to be Picoultian.
Is there a better band than Boston for those first days in March when it suddenly feels like spring? No, there is not. And apparently the local DJs agree with me, because I heard these songs over and over while driving around today.
Confession: I fell asleep reading last night so I read some of this today. I promise I'll be caught up by bedtime tonight, though.
Okay. This is actually getting good. Once again, I'll let Rachel do the hard work and crib her summary:
Ooh, so many possibilities are emerging now. To summarize, we know that Jess is dead; we know that Theo saw her right before she disappeared; we know that Jacob came home from an appointment with her in serious distress; we know that he moved her body and set it up so that the police would find it a few days later; we know that the cops suspect Jess's jerk of a boyfriend. Picoult is setting it up, though, like Jess fell and Jacob cleaned up and moved her body, perhaps (as Katie mentioned) thinking that he's "taking care of his brother" (House Rule number 5) by covering up for him. It also appears that Jacob's forensics obsession is at play here; has he set the scene up as a test for the local PD? It begins to look that way.
Actually, I didn't get that we were supposed to think she fell. I got that we were supposed to think that someone else killed her and Jacob was covering up, possibly because he thought it was Theo. Hmm. But Rachel could be right.
A line I thought was awesome, from Theo: "I make myself ramen noodles and eat them in my room with Coldplay blasting as I do my French homework." Instead of seeming fake, that level of detail was just REAL. And now I want to eat ramen. And listen to Coldplay. Moving on!
1. Again, the way Jacob is written, especially in his sections, seems very uneven. I mean, I get that he may not ALWAYS be completely literal, but they imply that he is, and then he just isn't.
2. Rich's behavior toward Emma was too blatantly unprofessional. I mean, fine, I get that he's supposed to be attracted to her, but it doesn't seem like he is in general sufficiently unprofessional to act that way during an investigation, does it?
3. It also seemed unlikely that Rich would discount Jacob as a suspect just because he's autistic.
4. I agree with Rachel about them Not Playing By The Rules. (See: fair play.) This drives me nuts, but I am slightly more likely to forgive Picoult since this isn't actually marketed as a mystery.
5. I still want Mark to have some sort of redeeming trait. And - Mark Maguire? Seriously? Isn't that a little too close to Mark McGwire? Maybe the twist will involve performance-enhancing drugs!
Overall, though, I got pretty into this section, and I can't wait to read more. She certainly knows how to pull the reader in.
I think my prediction will stay the same for now: Each brother thinks he's covering for the other, but a third party is actually involved. Oh, and about the metal thing - sure, I guess the iPod. Hm. Can't think of anything better at this point.
Liz says: Soak-in speed: 4 For such a thick cream, it distributes smoothly over the hands and soaks in fast. Residual greasiness: 4While it's a thick cream, it's not too greasy, and it doesn't leave much residue. If anything, my hands felt moisturized but slightly powdery. How long it lasts: 3 A couple of hours after putting this cream on I could feel some dry spots re-emerging. Because of the cream's texture, it's a bit disappointing that it doesn't last longer. Fragrance: 4 Out of all the creams we tried, I liked the fragrance for this one the best. Light, slightly powdery-floral: It actually smelled like something without being overwhelming. Total: 15 This cream was similar to the Crabtree & Evelyn, but better - similar thick texture, less greasy, with a scent I prefer. Unfortunately it just doesn't last long enough for me to want to use it every day.
Katie says: Soak-in speed: 4 I was worried because it was so thick, but it soaked in almost immediately. Residual greasiness: 4 I sort of felt like my hands were coated, but not in a bad way, and it didn't interfere with doing things. How long it lasts: 2 After just a little while, I forgot that I'd put it on at all. Which means it's not greasy, but also that it doesn't last long. Fragrance: 1 This smelled EXACTLY LIKE BABY WIPES. Gross. Total: 11 I was really disappointed with this, since it was the most expensive one we tried. It's not awful, but it's definitely not worth the price.
We'll have a wrap-up at some point over the weekend!
The Oscars are on Sunday! I love awards shows. I'll be liveblogging the red carpet show from 6-8 and then the ceremony starting at 8, so if you're watching, make sure you come hang out. I'm expecting that there will also be quality coverage at Jezebel and Go Fug Yourself. (Oh, it looks like the Fug Girls will be liveblogging at NYMag. I'll give you the link once it appears.) I'll let you know if I find any more good liveblogs.
Of course, this ALSO means that this weekend I need to post my own Oscar picks and predictions. I'm hoping to see one or two more films on DVD before the ceremony, so I'm sort of waiting for that before I make my picks, but I promise that post will appear at some point over the weekend.
Friday List: Things I Want to Read/Watch Over From the Beginning
1. Jane Haddam's Gregor Demarkian series
2. Harry Potter (books and movies)
3. Gilmore Girls
5. Veronica Mars
6. Gossip Girl
7. All of Star Trek
8. Anne of Green Gables series (again)
9. The West Wing (okay, I sort of am already)
10. Studio 60
11. The Outlander and Into the Wilderness series (They seem to be inextricably linked in my head.)
When yellow ribbons started appearing everywhere in 2002 or so, I remember discussing with my mother how perplexed we were. I mean, we got that they were intended to support the troops, of course, but WHY? Doesn't yellow mean cowardice? I never really remembered to look it up, but my friend Adam has been tweeting about this story about a town in CT struggling over whether to allow ribbons on the Green. (It looks like they are now allowing them. I don't know the whole story here, but I personally think that citizens should get town permission for ANYTHING they're putting on town property. What it is doesn't really matter.) ANYWAY. I asked Adam if he knew where the yellow ribbon thing came from in the first place, and he found this article. It's an interesting read. It sounds like people THINK this is a Civil War tradition, but it probably isn't, and it actually has a pretty complicated history. There's a reference in a 1959 book on prison reform, but it's a white ribbon and it has to do with an ex-con coming home, so that's far from a clear-cut reference. The song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" was not copyrighted until 1972, but there's a song from the forties called "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" that IS associated with soldiers being away. The symbol was popularized during the Iran hostage crisis, but doesn't seem to be affiliated with the "Support the troops" slogan until 1991. At which point, of course, people started claiming it was an old tradition. Fascinating.
Liz says: Soak-in speed: 3 It can come on strong, but the lotion's light enough that it absorbs pretty quickly - a little bit faster, in fact, than I initially suspected. Residual greasiness: 4 Once the cream soaks in, my hands felt soft, but not too greasy. I did feel like I'd put lotion on them. How long it lasts: 4 My hands stayed soft until I washed them. Fragrance: 4 I don't usually like lavender, but the lavender scent of this this wasn't too strong. It just smelled a little spicy. There is a much stronger fragrance, though, than the majority of lotions we tested out. Addendum: [Liz later e-mailed:] The cap just came off in my bag. Luckily none squeezed out, but still: not cool. Also, this cream is pretty greasy when you first put it on. Total: 15 This hand cream was a strong contender. There are only a few reasons I'd be hesitant to use it all the time. First, it stung my developing calluses and the odd papercut. I think it would be a bad choice for anyone whose hands get cracked, or who tends to get little scrapes on their hands. Second, while the lotion is light, it is fairly oily when first applied. And lastly, the fragrance is stronger than would be my preference for daily use. Still, this is a cream I will hang on to.
Katie says: Soak-in speed: 4 I could function after just a few minutes. It feels thick but isn't really disruptive. Residual greasiness: 4 It was slightly greasy at first, but nothing really residual. How long it lasts: 3 It didn't last as long as some of the other ones we've tried, which I guess is the trade-off for having it feel so nice. But it didn't wear off so quickly that I felt like it was a waste, either. Fragrance: 5 I loooove lavender, and strongly scented creams (when I like the scent). Total: 16 This is my overall favorite so far. It worked decently and the scent and texture were enjoyable enough that putting it on felt like a treat rather than a treatment.
Every time I hear Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" on the radio, I am baffled by these lines:
Now, the dudes are lining up cause they hear we got swagger
But we kick 'em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger
What? Really? I mean, look at him. He wasn't even cute when he was young. Last week, I e-mailed my dad: "It seems like there were an improbably high number of really attractive British boys in 1963 who became musicians." His response? "As long as you forget about the Rolling Stones?" Yeah. So. What is going on in these lyrics? I'm thinking it must mean something entirely different that I'm just missing. Help!
(Rachel's post is here. I will quote and/or refer to some bits of it, but you should go read the whole thing.)
Well! I am fairly impressed so far! I have not wanted to throw the book across the room yet! As Rachel said, it's a pretty quick read, and the fact that it changes narrators every few pages helps this - there's a fair amount of white space. The font switches aren't driving me crazy quite as much as I thought they would.
Some specific things:
1. As Rachel says, the sections from the point of view of Jacob, the character with Asperger's, just don't ring true. Everyone goes on about how literal he is, but he doesn't think literally. Hey, Rachel, how does this compare to Curious Incident? (Should I bring that on vacation?)
2. Again, as Rachel says, infodumpy and advocate-ish. And not necessarily in a good way, although I suppose I can't fault Picoult for saying what the character believes. But the bit about vaccinations drove me nuts, because Emma said "The jury is still out on this" but then admitted that no studies have shown any connection. And ALSO that section had nothing to do with what came before or after, so it was thrown in there JUST to be issuey.
3. On the other hand, for someone who is trying to be such an advocate, it seems like Emma (and Jacob) goes around casually "diagnosing" people with Asperger's a lot. YOU ARE NOT A PROFESSIONAL. STOP IT. Especially WHILE COMPLAINING about parents using it to justify having bratty kids.
4. I also thought the crime scene was fairly obvious, although I do read/watch a lot of mysteries. Regardless of the hypothermia part, though, I thought it was really dumb that Rich (the detective) was all "Sexual assault seems like a given" when the victim's underwear was on and there were NO SIGNS of sexual assault. This just makes Rich look stupid, when the rest of his section doesn't really support that. I get that this was a vehicle for showing how clever Jacob is, but I feel like Picoult threw it in there without considering how it would make other characters look.
5. Theo (the younger brother) is creepier than I expected, and Rachel is totally right about Picoult BEATING US OVER THE HEAD with "Oh! He's doing this creepy stuff because he wants a normal family!"
6. I have mixed feelings about Jess. I don't know. The whole "Jacob didn't realize she was being paid" thing seemed somewhat unlikely, and it would be nice if her boyfriend had ANY redeeming problems. They're basically just caricatures so far.
And now, predictions! Rachel says:
I'm still leaning toward Jacob as the guilty party, and it will have something to do with Emma's family's House Rule Number 5, which states, "Take care of your brother; he's the only one you've got." (hence the title, see?)
I think at this point I will predict that it is NEITHER brother, but each brother thinks it's the other and is trying to protect him. Maybe it is the evil boyfriend. Also, I am expecting the father to reappear soon, and/or Emma and Rich to get together. I am also expecting the advice column to end up holding CLUES somehow.
I have just been informed that I shouldn't be wasting my time on Jodi Picoult when there are authors like Michael Chabon I haven't really read. And I need several books to bring on trips this month. So now's your chance. Tell me what to read! Here are the criteria:
1. Absorbing/not difficult to get into.
2. But not TOO fast-paced - don't want to finish a book in two hours and then carry it around for a week.
3. Clear enough to follow while picking up/putting down a lot while waiting in lines, etc.
4. Out in paperback.
5. Will not clash with vacation locations (Texas and Florida) - so nothing really wintery, I guess. Bonus points for actually coordinating with the location in some way.
6. Long is good.
7. Bonus points if you suggest books I already have.
Liz says: Soak-in speed: 1 This stuff will stay on your hands FOREVER unless you use a teeny, tiny amount. I used a normal-sized dab on my first use, and 45 minutes after applying, I had to go wash my hands off, because it hadn't soaked in at all. Residual greasiness: 1 That first application traumatized me a little bit. I felt like I'd dipped my hands into a bucket of petroleum jelly. And - as above - IT WOULDN'T GO AWAY. The "active ingredient" is 41% petrolatum. At first I couldn't figure out why it sounded familiar - then I realized it's because that's also an active ingredient in Bag Balm, which I use on my lips overnight because when I wake up in the morning they're still soft. It's made for cow udders. I would never normally put it on my hands. How long it lasts: 1 Okay, so I know I just complained about how the greasiness stayed forever and wouldn't go away, so you would think that I'd rate this highly for being long-lasting. But here's the thing: When I used too much and greased up my hands, it wouldn't go away. When I used a tiny dab with the idea of actually being able to, you know, do things, it didn't last very long at all. In fact, if I used a small-enough amount to be able to live my life, I didn't feel like my hands were sufficiently covered - it certainly didn't make enough of a difference to my dry spots. So, when I actually used a reasonable amount, it didn't last long enough for me. Fragrance: 1 Mostly it didn't smell, but when it did smell, it smelled bad (again: petrolatum!) Total: 4 I actively avoided using this, my first experience was so bad. In the name of science I did reapply (sparingly) a number of times, and the Aquaphor never redeemed itself. Not only would I never use this again, I wish it were environmentally sound for me to throw it in the river so that I would never have to see it again.
Katie says: Soak-in speed: 1 I put this on before a meeting, thinking it would sure soak in before I went back to my desk and had to type, but it did not. I had to wash my hands to be at all functional. Residual greasiness: 1 So greasy, forever. I can only imagine what the people at the meeting thought. How long it lasts: 5 I actually thought this lasted a REALLY long time. Fragrance: 2 Unscented. Bonus: +1 This made my hands so soft and smooth, for so long! Immediate improvement. Total: 10 Basically, I thought this was very effective, just not very enjoyable. I will save it for times when my hands are REALLY dry and I need to break out the heavy-duty treatments.
My friend Rachel and I are going to be reading the Jodi Picoult book that came out yesterday, and liveblogging it more or less as we go. I'm going to just quote her here:
Why this book? Well, it's almost kind of an inside joke between Katie and myself, but not quite: Picoult is an author with whom we each have a kind of love/loathe relationship (I could be wrong but I think on my part it's more love than loathe, and on Katie's it's more the reverse), and one day not long ago we were chatting about how we should read Picoult's next book together and blog about our predictions for the obligatory Twist Ending (if you've ever read Picoult, you know that every ending must twist; it's the first law of Picoultdynamics)
Well, on my part, it's more that I adore some of Picoult's books (Plain Truth, Salem Falls, most of Nineteen Minutes) but others leave me wanting to throw them across the room. (I'm looking at you, My Sister's Keeper.) And the Twist Endings sort of drive me nuts at this point, because she does them so often that they're just predictable. What would REALLY be a twist at this point would be if there WERE NO TWIST. (Just an idea!)
We're both fairly busy (okay, Rachel's really busy), but we're going to try to read this in a week - 76 pages a day - because I inconsiderately planned a vacation starting next Wednesday, and I don't want to lug a great big hardcover with me, especially if I'm mostly done with it anyway. Since I set up my blog posts for the upcoming day in the evening or early morning, I'll probably look like I'm a day behind, but I'm not. (I hope.) So I'll read through page 76 today, Wednesday, but the post about it will go up on Thursday. (Hey, Rachel? Since the sections are so short, do we want to finish whichever little section we're in rather than stopping exactly on the designated page?)
Rachel summarizes the book so I don't have to:
The jacket blurb tells me that this is a book about a mother of two sons: Jacob, who has Aspergers and is SERIOUSLY into crime-scene analysis, and Theo, who, reading between the lines, been completely neglected and shunted to the side by his single mother in favor of his older brother's issues. Somebody kills somebody, and some people think that the older crime-obsessed son with Aspergers did it.
I would just like to point out that Picoult seems to have a son named Jake, so I find it hard to believe that she's going to have a murderer named Jacob. BUT MAYBE THIS IS PART OF HER OBFUSCATION.
And now, predictions! Rachel:
Without further ado, my first prediction re: the twist ending, based on my not-insubstantial experience with Picoult's previous works: We will be set up to believe that Jacob is innocent and that his brother Theo is the killer, but in fact Jacob will be GUILTY.
I am TORN. My first thought was that the mother will be so focused on clearing Jacob that it won't even OCCUR to her that it could be Theo, so obviously it will be him. My second theory is that Rachel is right, but that Theo will somehow be trying to protect Jacob. Oh! OR it could be the opposite: it IS Theo but Jacob is making it LOOK like it's himself, so our Big Moral Lesson can be something about how Kids With Asperger's Care About People Too. (My dark horse candidate is someone entirely unrelated who the mom thinks is on their side, leading to some sort of dramatic conclusion in which she realizes She Has Trusted The Killer With Her Children.) At this point I suppose I have basically accused everyone, so I guess I'm not really predicting. Oops.
Liz says: Soak-in speed: 2 It took a really, really long time before I felt like I could do normal things with my hands again after applying this cream. Because... Residual greasiness: 2 As my roommate told me, "It looks like you were just handling a pizza." I felt like I'd dipped my hands in oil. I could practically see my reflection in them. But... How long it lasts: 4 Once it *did* soak in, my hands felt really, really good. 30+ minutes after I first applied the lotion, my hands felt uniformly soft and smooth - without any kind of residue. That final, end effect was awesome. But is it worth the wait? Fragrance: 2 This smelled overwhelmingly of marzipan. I know this rings some people's bells, but personally I hate smelling like food. Total: 10 Man, was I upset after I used this for the first time. My first, knee-jerk reaction was, I HATE IT. Of course, once all that grease soaked in, my hands felt great. I think ultimately, though, it wouldn't be worth the wait, because at the end of the day my dry spots still reappeared. If the cream were more actively healing, I wouldn't mind putting up with the greasiness and the smell. I would be very, very careful about when I put it on, though!
Katie says: Soak-in speed: 3 For such a thick cream, I thought it soaked in reasonably quickly. Residual greasiness: 3 My hands stayed pretty greasy, although I'm not sure I'd go as far with this as Liz did. :) How long it lasts: 4 I found myself forgetting to reapply it, so I think that means it lasted for a nice long time. Fragrance: 4 I love marzipan! Deduction: -0.5 for being in a tub. Harder to deal with. Total: 13.5 I was pretty happy with this overall, although there are some other Burt's Bees products I really love, so I was disappointed that this did not quite live up to the expectations that I had based on those. I'll probably leave this one at home because the tub form factor makes it more difficult to deal with, but I can definitely seeing using it during the evening.
Famous Person You Should Follow on Twitter: Tim Matheson
(Yes, this is going to become another Occasional Series, I guess. A lot of celebrities have boring Twitter accounts, but there are some who are actually interesting/talk to fans/etc. I shall tell you who.)
Who: Tim Matheson
Twitter account: @Tim_Matheson
Why he's famous: He was Hoynes on The West Wing and has done a million other things. He's directing some of the new show Code 58.
Why you should follow him: He has a nice mix of everyday life stuff and updates on his various projects. (Some of us are following anyone affiliated with Code 58. Ahem.) But the best part is that he occasionally delves into politics and is perhaps better at it than Hoynes was.
Sample tweet: "Jim Bunning isn't acting alone.He's not running for reelection so he can be "point man" when doing the dirty work for ALL Republicans."
You know what drives me freaking nuts? People who make a big show of putting a flag up, because they are just so much more American than the rest of us, but then don't actually show any respect to the flag by following the rules. They leave them up at night. They leave them up in the rain/snow. They leave them up in tatters. It makes me insane.
Parenthood premieres tonight on NBC. I'm excited because:
1. Peter Krause! (Casey from Sports Night)
2. Lauren Graham! (Lorelai from Gilmore Girls)
3. Monica Potter! I don't think I've actually seen her in anything, but I love "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby" so much that I'm excited on that basis alone.
4. The previews actually look reasonably good. Reviews aren't bad either.
5. Oh! Oh! Tommy Schlamme (Sports Night, West Wing, Studio 60) is directing! I had somehow missed that until just now. Now I'm REALLY excited.
Do you love Maureen Johnson? If not, well, why not? Go get one of her books. Read it. We'll wait. (I'd start with Suite Scarlett, I think.)
Okay, now that you all do love Maureen Johnson, you should head over to We Love Maureen Johnson. See, one of the most important things to know about MJ is that she loves her fans, and she goes to great lengths to connect with them, primarily on Twitter but in other ways as well. So this new site is for her fans to give something back to Maureen. It's headed up by Spencer Martin, one of her characters. Go check it out. It's a neat project.
I don't know if anyone DOES, but I signed up for formspring.me for the heck of it. If you click on that link, you can ask me anonymous questions. I won't promise to answer everything, but I'll do my best, and post the questions and my answers here.
February always seems to go on forever, given that it's such a short month. And this year, it seems like everyone's very ready to see it gone. So here are a few things to which I'm looking forward in March:
March 2: Parenthood starts. Lauren Graham and Peter Krause, back on my TV!
March 5: Alice in Wonderland opens.
March 7: The Oscars!
March 8: Gossip Girl comes back. Finally.
March 10-17: Vacation to Texas
March 20-22: Quick family trip to Florida
March 26: Hot Tub Time Machine opens.
I came back from CT yesterday afternoon, and discovered that my electricity had just come back on and things were more or less okay. Hurrah! I'm still getting myself sorted out, but blogging will resume today and the hand cream series will probably come back tomorrow.