Monthly Archives: August, 2011

Friday Five: Restaurants

Today, I’m just going to play.

  1. What is your favorite type of food? (i.e. Italian, Mexican, etc.) I love Italian food; I could eat pasta for days. Even though I live in Texas, I have only found one restaurant with exciting Mexican food, and it’s definitely a franchise. It did have free valet parking, though.
  2. What is the name of your favorite restaurant? I love IHOP. I hardly ever go there, though, because I don’t often have company and I hate eating in restaurants alone.
  3. Do you like fast-food? I do. I like some places more than others, though. Burgers from Hardee’s are enormous, but the veggies are always so fresh. They don’t have them in Texas, though. I don’t really like McDonald’s. Burger King has better fries anyway.
  4. Do you prefer to be alone or in a group when you eat out? Definitely in a group. Eating alone in public makes me feel like I have no friends. I do, but I still feel like I don’t.
  5. Do the waiters/waitresses at your favorite restaurant know you by name? The guy at the pizza place across the street from work definitely recognizes me, but I don’t think I go anywhere else frequently enough for even face recognition. Shouldn’t that be a good thing, though? Isn’t variety of any kind better for your health?

I never had breakfast there, but that sounds good. (photo by Steve W.)

The Friday Five

Booking Through Thursday: History

I had grand plans this week not only to keep with my memes, but to add a new Monday one. That plan, however, was made of fail. One of my favorite people in the world came into town, and spending face time with her is always more important than blogging.

Sometimes I feel like the only person I know who finds reading history fascinating. It’s so full of amazing-yet-true stories of people driven to the edge and how they reacted to it. I keep telling friends that a good history book (as opposed to some of those textbooks in school that are all lists and dates) does everything a good novel does––it grips you with real characters doing amazing things.

Am I REALLY the only person who feels this way? When is the last time you read a history book? Historical biography? You know, something that took place in the past but was REAL.

I am reasonably sure that the last biography I read was either Chopin’s Funeral or Forgotten Eagle: Wiley Post, America’s Heroic Aviation Pioneer. The former I have forgotten except for Chopin’s affairs with George Sand (who was a woman), and the latter I have forgotten entirely and it isn’t even in print anymore. When I was in high school, our English summer reading assignments always included writing a review of a recently published biography. I don’t really like history (sometimes Church history, but only sometimes), so I avoided them otherwise. Now, toss me some historical fiction, and it is on.

Friday Five: LJ

Ironically, I always post the Friday Five on my WordPress blog here, but this week, they’re about LiveJournal. (That is the correct usage of “ironic;” please take note.)

  1. When you log on to LiveJournal and open your friends page, what are you looking for first? I used to filter my friends list so it would give me a page for the Catholic communities I followed, a page for the journals of actual people, and one for everything else. It appears that friends list filters don’t even work anymore, which would explain why I never read that list anymore. The most frequent posters also just stopped posting.
  2. What is your main motivation to have a LiveJournal/blog? I originally got one because it made leaving comments on other people’s LJs so much easier. That was back in the old days when you had to have an invite code from an existing user, back before Facebook, even.
  3. If you look at your list of friends, do most of them have something like gender/sexuality/race in common, and what? Almost all of them are Marylanders I have met in person. Only Andra is not from Maryland.
  4. Do they have the same thing in common with you, or something else? Well, I really like being from Maryland, so I’m going to say yes.
  5. And why? Intentional or by accident? Modifying a phrase used occasionally around here, I’m an American by birth and a Marylander by the grace of God.

LJ does host my beloved F5, so it gets props for that, but otherwise I think LJ has fallen far out of the spotlight, even for web-centered people like me.

The Friday Five

Booking Through Thursday: Fluff

I had some technical trouble here at Lindsay Loves for the last few days, but I’ve got it sorted out now. It was so sad to not be able to post Booking Through Thursday on the day the prompt went up.

You’ve just had a long, hard, exhausting day, and all you want to do is curl up with something light, fun, easy, fluffy, distracting, and entertaining.

What book do you pick up?

The book I just finished (Almost Alice) was definitely fluffy. I don’t really enjoy any of the Alice books anymore–I’m too old–but I have been reading them for so long that I can’t give up now. The series is almost over. I have to see how Alice turns out when she’s 60. Sheer determination and the ready availability of the books at the library has made me dive back in even though I’m embarrassed to be caught reading them. Alice also gives me something good to break up my reading between the books I review for ACNM. I’m not that old; I don’t have to be serious all the time quite yet.

Kaboom! (Review: “Beauty Queens”)

For the first time in weeks, I have a non-ACNM book review to post. I am a frequent reader of Forever Young Adult (FYA), a fabulous find via my college friend Sarah wherein I can hear about great and not-so-great YA books without having to read them. As a bonus, it is run by YA lovers who are actually older than I am, so I don’t have to feel like I’m the only mid-twenties creeper in the teen section at the library and Barnes & Noble. FYA has had a book club in Austin for quite some time, but it meets when I work. I didn’t have to work at meeting time this past Sunday, so I decided to grab the book (Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray) and go.

My reading experience was definitely marred by the breakneck pace I employed while reading. I bought the book on Thursday using a gift card from when I switched cable providers, and I dove in that day. I’ve never read a Libba Bray book before, but I had some idea of what I was getting into since her last book was about a teenage boy suffering from the human version of mad cow disease who hangs out with a dwarf and a fairy. The other members of the book club noted that Beauty Queens is not like Bray’s other novels, but I think I still got a decent sense of her style.

The bandolier actually has a couple dozen different shades of lipstick.

The premise of Beauty Queens is that a plane full of contestants for the Miss Teen Dream competition crashes on a deserted island, killing everyone except about a dozen contestants from as many states. What is a girl to do with a limited supply of water, no food, and almost no eyeliner? The problem is that every one has a secret, even the island itself. Beauty Queens is an over-the-top satire, which is evident from its omniscient narrator’s addressing the reader directly, the thinly veiled caricatures of boy bands and politicians, and the commercial breaks that come every few chapters. There’s nothing in this book that made me want to reread it or recommend it, but I did throw back my head and laugh a few times. In FYA terms, I might give this book my BFF charm, but I would never wear my half, and I’d be okay with that.

(Here be spoilers.)

The suspension of disbelief required to enjoy Beauty Queens is immense. I appreciated, though, that Bray acknowledged that by reminding us that Miss New Mexico still had a tray stuck in her forehead and by not revealing her name for a good reason. I missed a few of the satires (even J.T. Woodland, and that was staring me in the face), which is normal for me, but I managed to call the arrival of the Captains Bodacious 4 cast just before they appeared. I definitely expected them to come with secret TV cameras, though (and I was half right). Of course the two brown girls become BFFs; clearly they couldn’t just coexist. Of course the non-heterosexual girls hook up, because clearly no one can resist a hookup. Of course Adina meets a boy who challenges her hard-line feminism. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if it hadn’t fit so closely into desert island/political thriller stereotypes. There was so little original humor and so many, many pages (nearly 400 in the hardcover). I also maintain that it dates the book to this specific historical moment, and not in a quaint Pride and Prejudice way.

Although Bray’s beauty queens were generally all hilarious, I liked some of the major ones much more than others. I got tired of Adina’s heavy-handed feminism. I didn’t want her to be so thoroughly used by Duff, but I didn’t like her, either. Neither Nicole nor Shanti offered any new perspectives on the misunderstood minority. Mary Lou’s story confused me; I thought it might become a paranormal romance parody, but she was really just a caricature of purity ring-wearers, which I found somewhat insulting. (I hate that waiting until marriage is somehow not an acceptable choice.) I liked that, even if Taylor was a witch, she was committed to something. That something was a beauty pageant, but she was in it until the bitter end. I also found her turn toward the insane fascinating. She reminded me of Hamlet. She was definitely unhinged, but she was smart enough to prepare and execute Plan B during the final showdown. Perhaps the Mind’s Flower darts just gave her the release from the pageant mentality she wanted all along.

Regarding the FYA book club, it was good to discuss a book with other people in person for a change. I haven’t done that since I left teaching. The loud, liberal opinions of some of the other participants reminded me that I definitely live in Austin, but I can’t stay in a like-minded bubble all the time. Reading Beauty Queens and discussing it was worthwhile at the very least because it pushed me out of my comfort zone. Just the same, I will be joining Goodreads’ book swap program and sending my (free) copy off to what is hopefully a home where it will be appreciated for more than its fantastic cover.

Life Issues in the News

As you might imagine, I try to keep abreast of pro-life issues that wander into the news. Two articles of note popped up this week. The first I found through the Facebook profile of an acquaintance of mine whose baby is due today, actually. The second I found through another friend who has two children, a boy and a girl. Both made me think a little more about the perspective of most of the United States on family, life, and pregnancy.

I first heard the term “selective reduction” when I read about it in a WashPo Magazine article in 2007, “Too Much to Carry.” It described a doctor treating a young Hispanic woman who was pregnant with triplets through IVF. They were observing an ultrasound of all three babies, labeled by letter, and trying to determine which of them would receive the saline injection. I remember my heart breaking when the mother asked, “It can’t be three?” Her own mother refused to let her keep all the babies, calling it one of the “unpleasant things” one “must” do to have a family. The one easiest for the doctor to access was aborted. No magazine article has ever made me cry before. That one did.

photo by Erin Ryan

This past week, a feature article in the NYT Magazine, “The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy” detailed a newer trend in selective reduction: reducing twins to single births. I’m even more heartbroken and horrified. In all of the cases detailed in the article, women simply refused to have twins (most conceived artificially). Their reasons included being over 40, already having a child of the gender of one of the twins, and in the case of a lesbian couple, both partners trying to conceive artificially and miscarrying or reducing in various combinations. A doctor quoted in the article is noted for initially resisting reductions below twins, but then doing a complete reversal on his own statements as his patients aged. Nothing else had changed. Honestly, since abortion laws permit you to terminate a pregnancy at any point, this new development makes perfect sense. But, as Jennifer Fulwiler points out in the National Catholic Register, why is it that no one thinks mourning a miscarriage is silly, but regretting an abortion somehow is?

Finally, I read a WashPo Magazine article and the follow-up Web chat of a family in Rockville, Maryland, with eleven children ages 1 to 12. It was one of the most balanced big-family articles I’ve ever read. The mom noted that they family does not ask for help from anyone beyond carpools to sports practices, but people give it anyway: meals during illnesses, clothes at various times. That’s not “taking charity,” as one chat participant claimed, but accepting a gift. She also realistically admitted that, in the future, Catholic school may simply not be financially feasible, but they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it. She and her husband have a system that works. The chat participants brought up the usual arguments of the parents’ selfishness and large carbon footprint, but she replied graciously. In general, the article and chat reinforced the common implication I’ve found that the only acceptable way to have a family is to do whatever you can to get one of each gender, and maybe another, and then you must stop.

In the end, laws and science and changes in the medical field will never change real people’s choices and desires. Only hearts will. Change hearts, change the world.

Rewind (Review: “Vantage Point”)

I don’t go to the movies very often (which is good for my wallet), but the beauty of DVR has let me catch several movies that I wanted to see but never got around to. Juno was the last one I saw that way. Today, I finally managed to watch a movie I recorded in May, Vantage Point.

Imagine the plot of the movie walking along one "side" of this mobius strip, and you get the idea.

Only half the premise of Vantage Point drew me in. I can usually handle political action thrillers if they have something else to pique my interest. In this movie, it was the storytelling technique. The plot is that the president of the United States is giving a speech to begin an antiterrorism summit in the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, Spain. He is suddenly shot while news cameras, all the people filling the plaza, and various important characters watch. An ordinary film would follow a single action hero struggling to thwart the bad guys. In this case, the story is retold from the beginning several times from the points of view (the “vantage points”) of several people. Just when you think you know what’s going on, even from two different angles, it turns out that something else is up and your vantage point changes.

I loved it. I have a soft spot for this dramatic technique, which has been used in everything from Groundhog Day (the movie) to episodes of Xena, Dawson’s Creek, and Buffy. I was surprised at the number and particular combination of well-known actors: from Sigourney Weaver, Forrest Whitaker, and Dennis Quaid to Matthew Fox and Zoe Saldana. Their acting was great, and the effects were fantastic, especially the big chase scene. Although the plot was nothing special, the technique took it over the top. Vantage Point is definitely an “oldie but goodie”.

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