Archive for April, 2007

The Blackest Bird

As you know I was reading the Blackest Bird by Joel Rose.

It is nearly 500 pages, and much to my chagrin, I was unimpressed with the ending.  I really hate investing so much time and energy into a book only to be disappointed by the end!

There are a few things I really liked about the book  (mainly in the first half)

It paints a picture of nineteenth century New York, so much so you feel like you are there.  The book combines fictional characters and characters taken from real life and uses both in an interesting manner.  For example, it talks about John Colt and his murder of his publisher Samuel Adams with a hatchet.  John Colt is real and is the brother of the arms manufacturer Samuel Colt.  And he really did kill his publisher.    The book follows his story from the trial all the way through his time on death row and is interesting reading.  

There is another character that is also well drawn, that of Tommy Coleman.  He is a leader of one of the Irish gangs populating New York at the time, and I believe his is mainly fictional.  But it follows his story and the murder of his wife, one of the young women who sold hot corn on the streets of New York.  He pleads his innocence, but is also placed in a cell on death row, one facing John Colt.

The third character that makes an appearance is Edgar Allen Poe.  Poe is writing a story about the death of Mary Rogers (who he has renamed Mary Roget in his work), a woman who worked in a cigar shop and was found by the river bank in New Jersey.  Mary Rogers’ tale is also true.  You can read about her on the Internet.  And Poe really did take this story and turn it into one of his tales.  Poe is an interesting character and it is always fun to read about him.

But halfway through the book the story changes and John Colt and Tommy Coleman, for various reasons, leaves the pages.  Then, the book turns into a history of Poe’s later career and his penning of the “Raven”.  Not that this is a bad thing in itself, it is just that the book started out as the mystery behind Mary Rogers death and has turned into a history of Poe, with some elements of the mystery thrown in to keep you on your toes.

Rose comes up with a solution to the crime, from left field, and it left me a little cold.   But I have to give him that the research he put into the work was masterful and I did learn things about the life and death of Poe that I did not know. It also made me want to read more of Poe’s work and become more familiar with it.    I am not sorry I read the book.  And I think I could give it to someone who likes historical fiction.   I would even consider reading something else that Mr. Rose has on offer next.   

I mean, if you live in Baltimore, you need to read about Poe, right

April 30, 2007 at 12:50 am 2 comments

The Introvert In Me

Yesterday I had the day off.

Basically, I stayed in the house all day.  I had my car, I could have gone somewhere and yet I didn’t.  This is the same old story with me when I am home alone.  I can’t get the courage together to actually get up and leave the house.   Even when I make plans for myself,  I tend to stay in.  And if I plan to go to Barnes and Noble for a coffee and actually make it there, I drink my coffee quickly and get home as fast as I can.

So it almost isn’t worth it to go out in the first place.

I seem to be getting worse as I am getting older.  I used to be more active.  I went out with friends, stopped at bars to listen to music, went  out to eat, sometimes went downtown just to walk around and window shop.  I used to have more of a life.  Then I turned forty.  And every year I seem to sink further into myself.

Chris does get me out.  He refuses to let me stay home when he is around and we do go out to eat or run errands.  Last night we went out for dinner and ice cream.   It was Friday night and it was crowded and that began to make me uncomfortable.   Why do I retreat? Why do I like to be alone?

My Aunt Eileen died a few years ago.  She had a drinking problem.  She died in her apartment and no one knew for several days.  Aunt Eileen was a recluse.   My dad used to try and visit her and make sure she was all right, but then my dad died and it was hard for us to keep in touch.  Hard for me to keep in touch, because even though I have a phone, I rarely reach out and call anyone.  There are friends I could call but I don’t.  I spend the day alone, with my pets, with my books.  

My dad filled his time through work.  He would often work 60 hours a week or more and that was how he would spend his time.   When his depression got the better of him, the rest of the time he would spend at home, sleeping.  My family in a nutshell.  My inheritance.   Reclusiveness and depression.

And I know that it is up to me to change.  If I want more out of life, I have to make the decision to go and get it.  But then I have to ask myself “what do I want out of life?” and I don’t rightly know. 

I love feeling safe. I love feeling secure.  I love my books and my pets and feeling protected from the world.  But is that love a product of depression?  Should I want more?  And what will it take to change my ways?

As I get older, will I get worse? 

Chris is off today.  He is spending the day at Six Flags with a friend. Something I would never do.  (aside from the fact that I hate amusement parks.)    I guess that is what I am lacking.  A friend.  Someone other than Chris that I can do things with when he is at work.

And you, my cyber friends are all so far away.   But I connect with you.  And we have good times in cyberspace.  And if I can connect with you, there must be something about me that is good and pleasant and fun.   And if I can tap into that, maybe I can get out and make new friends.

Ah, if I had the courage.

April 28, 2007 at 4:24 pm 5 comments

Kids and Work

Today was take your children to work day.

Personally, I think that if you do not have kids and do not plan on having kids, you should get this day off. No questions asked.

Not that I mind children, but children are not known for their attention spans.

They care about what mommy is doing for about fifteen minutes and then need to be entertained the rest of the day.  You have to provide coloring sheets, crafts, a video

And they take over your workspace. They are in the office. You can’t avoid them.  They are sitting at the conference table, running about the room, sitting at the staff room tables when you are trying to read and eat your lunch.

I mean, really.   Why can’t we have “bring the dog to work day” or “hang out with your cat day?”

And what is up with maternity leave?

I know I am not planning on having a baby but I sure would love to have two months off in a row.   You have to put up with the cramps and the contractions and the labor, that is for sure, but you get two months off to stay at home with your newborn!  Of course, you won’t be sleeping either, you will be up all night while the baby cries, unless you get a really good nanny.  So, forget the maternity leave.

We had some children at work  today but they were very well behaved.  And they didn’t stay the entire day, just a half day.  And we put them to work! 

So what am I complaining about?

April 27, 2007 at 12:56 am 4 comments

What am I thinking?

As per yesterday’s post.

I was excited about the Netflix watch it now service.

It seems I spoke far too soon.

I wanted to watch a movie tonight.  I logged on to Netflix and found the movies available.

After scrolling and scrolling, I realized that the only things that you can pick from are the worst of the worst films of all time.  Not even films that are well known, but straight to video drivel.  Most things they have only rate one or two stars. Just horrible.

They do have a section on classics, but the ones I would watch, I already own.   And sometimes I am not in the mood for a classic.   It sure is putting me in a mood, though.

I would think if you are going to offer a service, you should make it good.  People should want to use it.  They shouldn’t have to waste a half an hour scrolling through titles that no one in their right mind would want to watch.

And this is just my opinion.

Why am I telling you? I should be mailing Netflix!

April 26, 2007 at 1:06 am 2 comments

Learning Something New

Last night I learned something new.

Did you know that if you have a Netflix account, they have hundreds of movies that you can just watch online? I mean, right then and there at that moment.  Whenever you want to watch a movie. Right on your PC.  I’ll admit the collection is hit or miss but there are several things that I could see myself watching.  And I won’t have to wait for the red Netflix envelope.  Even in the middle of the night, I could watch a film.  Uncanny. 

I mean, I already can watch many prime time TV programs whenever I want. Why not movies?  If this is the way things are heading, I like it!  It means you really don’t have to go out and deal with people. You can stay in and be entertained with the click of a mouse! The world opens for those of us that are anxiety challenged! 

So last night  Chris and I avoided speaking to one another. Chris was watching a Netflix movie on his laptop and I was watching CSI on mine.  Makes for a great relationship. No arguing over the remote!

Other than that, I am still slogging through the Blackest Bird by Joel Rose.  It is interesting but not the page turner that I would like it to be.  It gets a little bogged down on historical detail.  Oh, but Edgar Allan Poe makes an appearance as a character. This is the second book that I am reading this year that features Poe.  I liked the other one, the Pale Blue Eye, a bit better.  But I am only on page 100 of this book so things might improve.  Honestly. I don’t dislike it!

I will write a full review when I am done. 

April 25, 2007 at 12:05 am 1 comment

This and That

Last night I finished reading Sharp Objects.   What a read!  It is about a severely dysfunctional family, one that puts mine to shame!   It involves Camille Preaker who travels from Chicago back to her hometown in Missouri.  Camille is a cutter and has spent years carving words into her own flesh, due mainly to the family situation I mentioned earlier.  Camille works for a Chicago paper, and the reason she must return to Missouri is that two girls have been murdered, nine months apart, and the paper really needs her to get the story.  So, she travels home to stay with her mother, step father and half sister Amma. 

Gillian Flynn, who wrote the novel, really captures small town life and the characters that make up the town.  It seems not only the Preaker family are in desparate need of help.   Tongues wag and gossip flows and Camille must fight her own demons to try and get to the bottom of this case.   This is also one of the novels up for the Edgar award, this one for the category of best first novel, and Amazon has rated it one of the best of the year.  It really is an interesting story and character study and does keep you on your toes.  I really enjoyed it.

Now I have started the Blackest Bird, a story of murder in nineteenth century New York. I will keep you posted.

The other thing I have recently discovered is that you can go to cbs.com and watch episodes of CSI, CSI:NY and CSI:Miami!   I was well aware that you could watch shows on ABC.com but didn’t realize other networks started to do it to.  Who needs cable! I just get the laptop fired up and I can watch all sorts of prime time offerings, whenever I want! So, I spent the weekend catching up with CSI.  Modern technology. Who knew?

I slept pretty badly last night. I could not fall asleep and kept waking up.  I tossed and turned and therefore am quite tired. And in the middle of the night I received a little four legged visitor in the form of my dog, who decided to leap up onto the bed to say hello  (she doesn’t usually do this, which is why it surprised me!) but how can I deny lovin’ to my little dog.

Well, off to scrounge around for something for dinner!

April 23, 2007 at 11:00 pm 2 comments

Love…

Erasure has a new video! “I could fall in love with you!”   I really like the video. It makes me happy.  And anything new from Erasure is always a treat.  I can’t wait for the new album.

Have a great Saturday!

April 21, 2007 at 4:04 pm 3 comments

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