Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Magazines: Young, Old, Single, Married, Cat, Dog, …You Name It: We’ll Name Your Poison!! (Part1: Women’s Mags)

In Books, Should I Even Be Talking About This? on June 13, 2016 at 3:05 pm

How do I get so many magazines? Almost every day a new one comes in, and old ones go out- there isn’t enough time in the day-and anyway, I’d rather  read books.  However- since print media is so desperate as it’s being muscled out by the internet- I’m getting these magazines for free. There are recycling sites that offer magazines as rewards (ah- the irony!) and ‘Get a free year of Magazine X’  offers are all over said internet. There is a subscription to Maxim that has been coming into my house for ten years, that I’ve never paid for once (nor would I!)  More, Cosmo, Seventeen and Nylon that can’t stop, won’t stop- despite the fact that no wealthy, leaner’s in, single women, Beleibers or hipsters live here. So- at the end of each week, my yellow recycling bin is full. There’s a flurry of contradicting messages in that bin- let me tell you!


COSMOPOLITAN: Definitely one of the most sex-oriented of all of the women’s mags, it’s typical for a lot of women  to go through a Cosmo phase, often when under-25 years old. Although Cosmo claims to speak for the independent (rah!-rah!) working woman, it is uber-focused on trying to teach a woman how to ‘trick’ a man into loving her by perfecting a panther-like sexuality. Cosmo deals in the myth of ‘Good In Bed’ and mind-blowing, naughty sex. But what is ‘Good In Bed’ really? Does it even exist?  Don’t we  all suspect that there is no such thing as a magic position, and that ‘good in bed’ just means you’re having sex with someone you’re really attracted and they, in turn, feel the same way? 

Perhaps even the spikiest heels, the sheerest lingerie, the wettest lip-gloss will never win you the affections of a man who’s ‘just not that into you.’ Almost any women can get a guy into bed- the only ‘trick’ is having the opposite set of sex organs- but not all sex leads to a relationship or love. In fact, most don’t. We can argue forever over whether or not all women actually want love (it’s insulting, somehow to admit this-even though entire civilizations have been felled because of love) but I’ve yet to hear anyone in a good relationship curse their luck. Cosmo’s message seems to be: Work Real Hard At Your Office Job Until You Can Meet A Man You Can Trick  Into A Commitment’ Then they hand it off to the wedding industry.  It can never just be two people leveling with each other and not playing games. That, my friend, would be cray!

ALLURE, VOGUE: Vogue Magazine was once called the ‘Ground Zero’ for eating disorders, and I couldn’t agree more. But it’s not just that- it’s also very into Exclusion. Featuring ridiculous clothes no one can afford (though they love to imply that many people can) Vogue acts as the school bully of magazine land.  They bank on the fact that if –by some chance-you have access to anything vaguely (‘Voguely?’) approved by them, that you will be so flattered to make the cut, that you’ll forget what an asshole the bully is in the first place. ALLURE is basically the same magazine but for younger women who are in the market for LOTS of Botox and surgical beauty procedures.  The magazine tends to nit-pick their flaws until they cry. ( Allure will also often publish How-To articles on the latest insane way to lose weight (usually an eating disorder), under the guise of a ‘Warning!’ Readers often interpret this as an instruction manual. Wink, wink!

*TEEN Vogue, however…..is very good and politically aware.

Many Models keep their weight down by  actually walking around Naked with the Food Police.

Many Models keep their weight down by actually walking around Naked with the Food Police.

MORE: This magazine is for the older woman, but not just any older woman. If you are not at least borderline rich, do not pick up this magazine! MORE will insist that getting older is fine- as long as you  have fat stacks to spend on aging prevention. Botox, fillers, plastic surgery- it’s all on the table. The clothes and make-up are astronomically priced, and they begin almost every article about the mostly famous women they feature by writing some offhand wisecrack about how older women are not required to do cheesecake photos anymore (‘Oh, what a relief!’)-and then they proceed to show elegant, airbrushed photographs of middle-aged women doing cheesecake photos.

Women who look sort-of like twenty-five  year olds– but with something (we’re not sure what) a little ‘off’. They love to put a ‘stocking over the lens’ so to speak. They publish articles like ‘How Not To Be Old’ (don’t leave answering machine messages or visit Tuscany!) and feature twenty-somethings who tell the elders what bands, books and shows to pretend to like in order to be perceived as ‘hip’. (But if you’re NOT hip -how do you know what is? These twenty-somethings could be complete twits and you’ll be mimicking them! How embarrassing!) Every ad is for face cream, salads or cat food (the last one in case things don’t work out stellar for you) Although  the glossy celebs featured all insist they are thrilled to be aging (‘I can’t wait to be 65! they gush at 54), they spend millis on kick-boxing mother Nature through Expensive Gimmickry and Weird Science. I assume their readers see themselves in these airbrushed celebs and secretly think: Everyone else is going to age, but I’ll outsmart it!

The one thing all of these magazines have in common is that they are all dependent on your insecurity and willingness to spend money. No matter who you are, as a woman- YOU CAN ALWAYS BE BETTER!!  If you work out three times a week- you should do five, if you eat 1500 calories a day, cut it back 300 more, if you grow your hair, you should cut it- everything you do shifts slightly and constantly- so you can’t possibly keep up. The plates you’re spinning fall and shatter at an alarming rate!  And the only solution to any of your life’s problems as a woman (as we all know) is to look and dress better and the only way that can be achieved is by opening up your wallet to the very advertisers that pay for said magazine’s very existence. Which- call me crazy- but seems like a conflict of interest. But here’s the thing: the success of any of these advertisers depends completely on your buying into this stuff in the first place. A plastic surgeon can’t stay in business without customers. Designer clothes can’t sell unless someone buys them. Your happiness cannot be measured by the stacks (or lack thereof) in your wallet!


Alicia Silverstone – The Kind Mama Parenting Methods: Kinda Nuts!

In Angreads: Reading Mixed With Anger, Books, Celebrities, Should I Even Be Talking About This? on April 24, 2014 at 11:47 am
I can hear the photographers and assistants:

I can hear the photographers and assistants: “Move up slightly, Alicia- we want to be able to read his tattoo”

I would have thought that no celebrity could make me roll my eyes more (while simultaneously making me nauseous) than Gwyneth Paltrow. Gwyneth has literally invented a new level of snobbery with her pathetic attempts at sugar-coating a nasty divorce with her tailor-made ‘conscious uncoupling’ from her husband (don’t even get me started on him) Even regular vocabulary is not good enough for Ms. Paltrow. The word ‘divorce’ had to literally be changed, so as to apply to her elitist self.  Never before has anyone put more time and energy into curating a false front, and that’s huge-because the competition includes every Facebook post, Christmas letter and Brooklyn Hipster Mommy blog in the universe.

But, in this case, another celeb took a shot with her custom-made pool cue, and sent Gwyneth soundly off into the left pocket with a loud ‘crack!’. That celebrity would be Miss Alicia Silverstone, a wealthy, pseudo-hippie (this means her ‘hobby’ is re-enacting hippie lore, much like some do with the Civil War, only with lots of money to cushion her lifestyle, unlike most authentic hippies)

Alicia- and her perfectly posed husband and child, has gifted us with her child-rearing guide. In it she makes common-sense suggestions such as encouraging children to defecate in the backyard. For real-and you just know some dimwit will follow suit! She’s against diapers (What a punch in the gut to working parents, daycare centers and babysitters everywhere. And people who Alicia has no idea exist: The Nanny-less.)

Another thing she’s against: vaccinations. No surprise there. Maybe her offspring can start a health epidemic and call it a ‘trend.’ How ironic would it be if human beings are wiped off the face of the planet by celebrities’ non-vaccinated kids? (Somewhere Chuck Palahniuk is writing that book) It would be just desserts for all of the ridiculous celebrity worship we have going on in this country. Imagine an entire civilization brought down by the Kardashians (even more than we are now)

What credentials does Alicia Silverstone have when it comes to child rearing methods? Well, for one, she was in ‘Clueless’, a fun movie that makes me nostalgic for when I used to like her. She was also in two Aerosmith videos. She wrote a vegan cookbook that Oprah ‘oohed and ahhhd’ over (long after Oprah jumped the shark, now she’s The Goddess of Consumerism) She’s also been so ‘yessed’ to death by her people that she believes she lives on an intellectual plane that rivals the current leaders in science, health, psychology and philosophy.

Lest any of us forget that she pre-chewed her child’s food before spitting it into his mouth, and proudly pimped it on Youtube, feel free to Google it .I can’t even stand it when my food touches other food! On my plate!

Alicia claims she can ‘cure your thyroid condition’, erase the need for any medicine ever,  lower your risk of contracting cancer, and cure infertility. What this does (besides make me very uncomfortable) is set up a scenario, in which should she get seriously ill (and isn’t she just asking for it?), she will need to enter the hospital through the back door (looking both ways for TMZ) or wearing a Burka like Giselle- at- the- Parisian- plastic surgery- center. Then, do you know what she’ll  do? She’ll pay through the nose for the finest medical care western medicine has to offer. And later claim eating kale sprinkled with mineral rich dirt was what ‘cured’ her.

If this woman was your neighbor and not a famous person, chances are you would take another route out of the neighborhood-however inconvenient- just to avoid her.

There is a video on YouTube about her book (@Rodale Books), which opens with some mellow guitar playing and stars Alicia (imagine being held hostage in Starbucks during a poetry reading by someone wearing Birkenstocks, trying to ‘heal’ you)

Here you are privy to ‘directed to look as if they aren’t directed’ clips of her perfect, high-end hippie aesthetic. It’s as if ‘Real Simple’ and ‘Organic Living’ magazines melded, then came to life. She’s very pretty- stunning even- but she has always been a card-carrying member of the good genetics club. I don’t think that eating  carrots grown in composted soil can take too much credit.

Did I mention she also refers to her uterus as a ‘baby house’ in the promotion, with nary a smirk. The clip ends with a very intimate invite: “C’mon- let’s go make a baby!” Alicia- we barely know each other!

In the book, she uses words like ‘yumminess’ and ‘chi-chi’ and ‘hoo-ha’ (what? no vajay-jay?) and advises women to steer clear of tampons. (Personally, I would build a statue in honor of the inventor of the tampon and bow before him or her)

There are few things as fascinating as the celebrity ego. To imagine a person with no credentials (or, to be fair, even with them) thinking they’ve found the key to parenting- in this case because she’s ‘been in the movies’, speaks to the insanity of someone whose ass has been kissed for a lifetime. The very essence of Alicia’s advice is: revolve your life around your kid and his fascinating every move (he’ll be devastated to discover the rest of the world doesn’t care about his free-range poo, or his ‘feels’ unless they’re playing to his celebrity mom)

A celeb’s ego is as distorted as a fun house mirror, and just as disturbing. That entire industries have thrived on that audacity (movies, music, publishing houses, etc) is a testament to our dwindling social I.Q. (Snooki-yes,that Snooki…wrote a book!) But I guess if you get your parenting advice from movie stars and people on television.. you get what you deserve.

RE: Alicia Silverstone – The Kind Mama Parenting Methods.

Reading: Literature vs. Pedigree-Free Books

In Books, Writing on December 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm
Magical Children's Books...

Magical Children’s Books…

I firmly believe that readers are born the minute they are gifted with a book that speaks to them. As a child, I remember being captivated by books about mermaids, kids who lived ‘alone’ (Pippi Longstocking), heartbreaking Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales (The Little Match Girl) and anything with animals who wore clothes, furnished the hollow insides of trees and spoke.

Once I escaped  into a good book, and deduced there were thousands more out there- as yet unread- I knew I’d found the key that would unlock doors to worlds I would otherwise never experience. As I grew older, I remained a voracious reader, and am, to this day, rarely without a book (or ten!) Truth be told, I don’t know how people who don’t read even get through life!


I’ve always had what I call a ‘book sense’- I can sniff out a book I’d like from a mile away. The cover art, the blurbs, the whole ‘feel’ of a book, all add up to an inkling that is usually on target. This isn’t to say that I stay within my comfort zone all of the time. As David Foster Wallace was so fond of saying ‘good reading is sometimes hard reading’ and I do flex my reading and vocabulary skills to keep them sharp. Sometimes I read four or five pages of my thesaurus, which is helpful for both reading and writing. I sometimes read to learn about a particular subject. The thought of a reading list is ludicrous to me- who could ever run out of books to read, and who (good lord!) needs Oprah to tell them what to read? I can steer my own ship, thankyouverymuch! (And Oprah, just because you stand next to a book, or read it, you shouldn’t get credit for the author’s precious ideas!)


I often wonder how many potential readers were turned off to reading by the books they were assigned in school. I loved a lot of the  reading we did- ‘The Cricket In Times Square’, ‘Charlottes Web’,”Black Beauty’, ‘Aesop’s Fables’ in elementary school, ‘Go Ask Alice’,  ‘The Outsiders’,’Watership Down’ and ‘Catcher In The Rye’ in middle school.  But there were others- the so-called ‘literature’ that turned me off- that somehow turned reading into a chore, especially in high school.  The Greek tragedies, the Romans.. Chaucer, Moby Dick…Don’t get me wrong. I get it (good reading isn’t always easy) but to me- if I wasn’t engaged, what was the point?

I just didn’t feel anything for these people and their (often) privileged angst and formal manner. The assignments that went along with these books were a constant interrogation- endless discussions and tests which graded my interpretation (there was always a ‘right’ answer for how I should have  ‘thought’ about these stories and writers. My thoughts and takeaways aren’t governed by mimeographed test sheets) If I could be turned off to reading (my favorite ‘sport’) by these books, god help the kids that didn’t like to read in the first place.


Who decides what worthy reading is? Who were the reading connoisseurs who decided what is good for us all? Schools believe we have to ‘prove’ we can ingest these works, but what makes them superior to other (more relevant) writing? It seems if writing is complicated and difficult, and reading a particular book is a chore, then one is rewarded with the gold star of having gotten through it. As though they survived a battle. Which they did, in my humble opinion. Why would it be such a crime to tailor reading to what someone might actually enjoy, a book that would set them on a reading path that may eventually lead them to the classics willingly, up for the challenge?

So much ‘snooty’ literature- that which are discussed over the finest of wines and moldiest of cheese, are tales of morality and woe -are lessons, if you will. Tales of those who had it ‘all’ (superficially) and one day gave into their human desires- be it lust, greed, cruelty, gluttony….People who wear masks for so long, the sweat drips down their faces, the elastic binds their skulls until -whoosh!-they snap! And (usually) reveal their ‘human-ness after all! (shocker!) -as if anyone believed for a second that they were anything but.

These books are being read at all of the ‘good schools’, by the children of inherited wealth, as they were read by their parents, and their parents before them. Books, filled with warnings and red flags, leather-bound books that line their private libraries (first editions!) Yet-somehow- no one sees themselves on the page. For people who consider themselves to be educated (though one must point out: never confuse education with intelligence) it is an amazing oversight. These stories present the foibles of man, but seem to speak to no one man in particular in these dens of the upper class.

The very people who brag about ‘literature’ they’ve read, are often committing the very same morality crimes themselves- for money or pleasure. They still fall on the same swords themselves, ne’er the wiser! Obviously, there is a disconnect between the reader and what they read! I want to scream: these are not instruction manuals! If they speak so deeply, why does no one seem to listen? Or better yet: did they really read them?


I like to think of the books that I have read and enjoyed, and the things I’ve (happily) learned from them. To look below the surface of a person, that our experiences are often universal, that humor is gold, that you should treat others as you want to be treated, that war is a horrible tragedy and never works, that animals and nature are fascinating, that introverts often have the loudest minds, that love is the only thing of real value, and that to be happy is the real lottery win. And the truth is-  I’d put an understated Anne Tyler novel up against a Greek tragedy any day of the week.

They Might Be Hanging Out Without You

In Books, Television on August 15, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Right off the bat, I’ll make it clear that I am not a huge Mindy Kaling fan, though I  thought ‘The Office’ was well written. Mindy was co-executive producer of the show, and wrote many of the episodes (including ‘Niagra, a personal favorite) She was also a cast member, playing the insufferable Kelly Kapoor, a girl who just doesn’t get it! Therefore, I do respect for her career achievements, and I’ve fulfilled the ‘say something nice’ part of my opinion piece. haha.

I first really noticed Ms. Kaling   when I became aware of her book “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?’ which was heavily promoted even before it’s release, and had an avalanche of great press afterwards. I remember thinking: ‘This must be some book! Either that, or she knows a lot of heavy-hitters in the publishing industry!’ Although I found the character she played on ‘The Office’ extremely annoying (as she was written)- it wouldn’t be the first time someone ratcheted up my opinion of them based on their writing skills, and sense of humor.

i heart it


In any event, I got my hands on the book, and settled in for an enjoyable, funny memoir, as I had no reason to suspect otherwise.  The book was high on all the non-fiction best-seller lists, and was selling up a storm. However,  from the get go, I got my back up, when Ms. Kaling casually compared her book to Chelsea Handler’s ‘Where Are You Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea’-a book I thoroughly enjoyed, and which stayed on the top of the best-seller lists for over a year. (Chelsea, though not a ‘writer’s’ writer, has several very readable books written in her deadpan delivery style and has been at the top of the New York Times bestseller list several times.. no mean feat!)

This being the case, I found it a little presumptuous of Mindy to just throw herself in the mix, like it’s something she thinks secretly, but probably shouldn’t say.  She also tries way too hard to assume a familiarity with the reader that she hasn’t earned. Similar to  when someone says ‘I know what you’re thinking’ and it’s not even close. But about half-way through the book,  I stopped reading, looked at the cover- just to be sure I had the right book, and thought ‘This is what all the hoopla is about?!’ Not only was it lacking in the ‘here are my interesting stories’ department, it also presented Mindy as a classic, high- school mean girl, very  clique-y and judgmental, and not all that nice. (Women don’t have to be ‘nice’- but there’s a certain self-effacing quality that I appreciate-the all important ‘down-to-earth’ quality)

In her book, Mindy trashes her friends in high-school- going as far as to say she hoped an equestrian loving ex-friend found a great horse to marry. I mean: Rrrearrr! She talks about how unpopular she was in high school (she wasn’t) and how high school doesn’t even matter- but she’s still really angry about not being the center of attention there. Which of course, happens to everyone on the planet, but famous people, I notice, are often very bitter about the first decade-and-three-quarters when they were treated like-God forbid!- everyone else!   When the world failed  to clamor around them, recognize how special they were, and shower them with adoration..  The bottom line is that I felt Mindy Kaling’s book was over-rated, and was disappointed because of it.  And it didn’t help that she seemed oblivious to the cattiness of her stories, like completely unaware.

People love this girl! I am clearly in the minority with my opinion. It’s to such a degree that I wonder if my initial impression is ‘off’. There are just too many good books rolling off the presses, for me to try hers again (and she has a new thing: a card game full of topics to talk about with your girlfriends. I can’t imagine needing to fish for topics, but I guess it beats another round of Monopoly) I will say,  that my initial review of ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me’ -wherein I point out how underwhelming this book is- has gotten way more ‘likes’ on a certain book reading site than the rest of my reviews combined- with a few ‘finally someone said it’ comments as well.

The above Flavorwire article about Ms. Kaling’s recent tv show (“The Mindy Project’ which I haven’t seen)  defends her personality based on the fact that she’s a woman- and says, in effect, that a man (who’s an asshole) would be applauded for the same things Kaling is criticized for. Alec Baldwin notwithstanding (they keep insisting he’s a pretentious bore and a jerk to boot- but I can’t stop loving him) I don’t think difficult men are revered- I think they are tolerated if they have creative powers. I believe people much prefer a John Ritter type (who I understood was a kind man) over a Charlie Sheen any day of the week. I don’t know the fate of Kaling’s show, but I do wonder if it is as overrated as her book.

I guess the point I’m making is that, according to the ‘Let Mindy Kaling Be An Asshole’ commentary, there is nothing obnoxious or arrogant  she can do or say that can’t be explained away by sexism. She’s got a license to do whatever she wants- like a foreign dignitary! That just because some successful men are pricks, women should be, too. Lean In and annihilate! Strap on your armor! Swing your big stick! Etcetera! But  I don’t buy it. As my mother used to say, in cliche-but-true mom-speak: Two wrongs, don’t make a right!….. And emulating the stereo-typical, brazen, self-serving jack-ass (think Donald Trump) does not seem the path to fulfillment! And it’s definitely not something to strive for.

Ladies-we’re better than that!


In Books on August 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm


Books have always been my best friends. Even before I could read, I loved to look at the bright, colorful pictures and strange configuration of typeset (when you are three, and not yet a reader, English looks exactly like SPAM from Thailand) I would beg anyone taller than me to read me the stories, and when that didn’t work I’d make up my own story, basing it on the illustrations.

‘Girl plays with kitten Aww!! Now she run! ( Turn page.. gasp! Look! She came back!) Heady stuff. I’m told I had an imaginary friend, Annie, until I was about four. I used her to blame stuff on, and as an audience to my stories. So it wouldn’t be unusual to walk into a room and see me with a book in my lap, animatedly talking to no one, my arm draped over the non-existent shoulder of my invisible best friend, discussing the latest release in the Golden Press line. (I adored their hologram covers and puppet photographs! Or should I say “we” adored them…)

This just might be my favorite book ever...

This just might be my favorite book ever…

Learning to read was like mastering time travel: with the turn of a page, off I would go to other lands, and other lives, other generations, other universes! Backwards, forwards, upside down- books could go anywhere and do anything! I could live a million different lives if I could read as many books! To this day I don’t understand how anyone gets through life without reading all of the books they can get their hands on (and then some!) but I’m so grateful to be one of the lucky ones who’s hooked on books. Yeah- I could swoon about books for hours, but I’d like to talk about the best places to get them, and how I manage to get the most mileage-and bang for my buck- out of reading.




This is obvious- keep the book stores alive! This is how I do bookstores on a budget: When an author I really like is coming out with a new one, I make an effort to buy it from a bricks and mortar bookstore. It’s sporadic, but I purchase what I can, and I happily add these books to my permanent collection, on route to filling yet another bookshelf. Not only do I get a nice hardcover, but I also support my the wonderful existence of bookstores.


The library is essentially a FREE BOOK STORE! Think about it: if Barnes & Noble announced they were having a 100% off sale this weekend (‘We’re Giving It All Away!”) would you be there? Would you maybe sleep in the parking lot overnight to be among the first in the store when it opened in the morning? Of course you would! And this is why I can’t believe there are people out there who DO NOT use the library! You can get free DVD’s as well- and the selection is surprisingly good. You can use their computers, you can buy hardcover books for $2.00 or less! you can read the latest magazines for free-and even check out and bring home the back issues. The Library is Utopia.

The path to great places...

The path to great places…

The library website is a treasure trove as well. You can put books on hold (My hold list is never empty. I also currently have seven books checked out. At my local library, you have SIX whole days to pick up your holds. (Again, this would be like calling the book store, ordering a book, and picking it up for free! Amazing!) On the library’s website you can also access many resources, like Consumer Reports (free!) a plethora of Art and various niche magazines-even  Chilton’s Auto Repair manuals. You can even order free downloads of books, movies and music, which they will zap right over to your Smart- phone, Kindle or laptop. (Though why anyone wouldn’t actually prefer to walk into a giant building filled with books is beyond me! Every time I pull into a parking space at my library I think: ‘This  spot shouldn’t even be available. This place should be so full of people, I should have to park around the block!’) I adore my Library!




LibraryThing is a book website that I would recommend to any avid reader. Here, you can list all of the books you’ve read, are reading, or want to read- and you can even create a virtual library using the covers of said books. You can read and write reviews, and if you want you can interact with other readers. But the really great thing about LibraryThing is that they have an ‘Early Reviewers’ Program, which allows you to select soon to be published books, and win them in exchange for a review (you only need write a sentence or two, not the on-and-on I usually do) In five years, I have won 60 Early Reviewer books (!) with one on the way as we speak! The Early Reviewer program runs once a month, and you choose which books appeal to you. You then have a chance to be picked to receive a free copy.  I’ve gotten autographed books, as well as book bags and other ‘book swag’ from Early Reviewer books! In addition, there are also author giveaways (more freebies), book recommendations based on your likes, and a whole host of other book-related information and activities. LibraryThing is free for you to list up to 200 books, and after that they have a sliding scale of prices per year- from $3.00 and up- you can literally pick your own price. It’s beyond worth it if you are a serious reader. I LOVE LibrayThing! To see my book list, read my Early Reviews or just say hi- I’m listed as ‘Litgirl7′ (that stands for literature, not keg stands…although…I’ve been in the vicinity of a few keg stands…just sayin’)



Thrift Stores are an excellent place to find cheap and interesting books. If you have young kids, you can buy used copies of their favorite books (sometimes 4 for $1.00!) and let them go to town with their messy hands, drooling, crinkling and tearing.  It’s a great way to not have to hover over a $15.00 kids book that you’d like to keep in their collection sans teeth marks. Many of these books are in great shape- if not new!

Also, If you have a fondness for vintage books from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, the thrift store is the place for you. Not only can you find some childhood favorites, but in many cases you’ll be amazed at the absurd book titles, advice, and trends from the past- and all for a song! How else would I have found ‘The Drinker’s Cookbook’ from 1961, chock full of boozy recipes and comics about the hilarity of driving drunk? Or Cookbooks for Dads who Barbecue, with advice such as ‘pick the steak with the most fat’ and ‘keep the wife away from the grill?’ Or ‘Naughty Cakes’ with the step-by-step directions for ‘booty cake?’

Fabulous Bloody Mary recipe....

Fabulous Bloody Mary recipe….

If you’re crafty, you can buy cheap books and use the pictures or text for all kinds of projects (though it pains me to destroy a book, and I’ll always try and scan it first, then print out what I want to use, but sometimes a book is too busted for repair) You can make personalized cards for friends, wrapping paper, use pictures on your blog- the list is endless. You can also buy ‘gag’ gift-books for the the holidays. Say, a 1965 ‘I am a Beautician’ for a hairdresser friend’s birthday, or “Jerry Springer’s Wildest Shows Ever!” for your T.V. snob friend, or “Your Youth: Getting The Best Out Of It” circa 1971 for a 40th birthday. You might even stumble upon first editions of old favorites, like ‘Blacky The Crow’ or ‘The Lonely Doll’ series. Sometimes, you’ll even find notes or old  photographs tucked away inside! (This, to me, is nirvana!) Though it’s hit or miss, it’s a rare trip to a thrift where I don’t find something! 

In conclusion, books are everywhere, and they can take you everywhere as well. When I hear people say they are bored I think to myself: That will never happen to me. As long as the world has books!

I hear deer urine works...

I hear deer urine works…


In Books on April 27, 2013 at 2:57 pm



Every now and then, you read a book that makes you wish that you could be friends with the writer – be privy to their ruminations on even the most ordinary of things, be able to tap into their brain at a moment’s notice. Maria Semple is one of those authors. Not only her- but to know her characters in real life- well, that would really be an excellent adventure!

Bernadette is a smart, wisecracking, straight-shooter of a woman- a quirky, but loving Mom, former architect/artist, living in Seattle- the wife of a Microsoft big-wig/geek, a man renowned for having the fourth most viewed TEDtalk, a man some called a ‘Tech Rockstar’. I don’t want be a spoiler, so story specifics are out- but I will say- predictable this book is not!



It’s hard to ‘cherry pick’ favorite moments, and like I said, I don’t want to reveal any of the many twists and turns presented in the story, so I’ll just quickly discuss my second favorite character and be done with it. Bee (Bernadette’s extremely bright-but not perfect!) daughter. Take for example: upon traveling through a poverty-stricken barrio she says: 

‘Kids were kicking a ball among trash, running with mangy dogs among trash, even squatting to wash their clothes among trash. It was totally annoying, like, would one of you just pick up the trash?’

Only an affluent, private-schooled eighth-grader could come up with that one. (Not saying I don’t think environment can effect the esteem of it’s inhabitants. As the aforementioned scene just proved on both sides)

On the other hand, I like Bee’s very sophisticated outlook on her father’s invention, Samantha 2- a servant robot, who does menial chores through voice command- for me it also rings true for so much of technology and where we’re heading (for better or worse) 

‘What’s Samantha 2? It’s just something so people can sit around and have a robot do all their shit for them. You spend ten years of your life and billions of dollars inventing something so people don’t have to live their own lives.’

Amen, Sister! It made me try and think more clearly about what it is that bothers me about technology- while at the same time embracing it. We seem to be finding all of these ways to eliminate minutia and menial tasks, like we’re clearing the decks so we can finally concentrate and put our full attention on: what, exactly? So we can spend even more time being ‘watchers?’- watchers of internet content? Maybe it’s the chores, the effort of keeping  our life on track that make our lives fulfilling. What if we clear all of our decks just to find out we’re all assholes, and that we were better off being distracted from our narcissistic minds for at least several hours a day? What if a lack of purpose turns out to lead us down the idyll- minds -devils- workshop path,(symbolically, of course) only now we have 24/7 to hone our errant craft?  What if all of the things we do reluctantly are the very things that test (and build) our mettle?


Rant over. Bernadette is by far the best fictional character I’ve ‘met’ in a long time. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a thought-provoking, fun, satirical look at family, parenting, the importance of following your own drummer, and a whip-smart, middle-aged woman who’s the most interesting woman in the room-and I’m talking any room!

Kids Books: In Kids Own Words

In Books on January 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm

I’ve already talked about the joy I find in hunting through thrift stores for kid’s books- especially when I find those from earlier decades – with their outdated story-lines (many far from politically correct) and heart warming innocence. But my absolute favorite find is a child’s book that has been commented on by the former owner themselves. Here’s are some examples :



This is an adorable book- a kind of journal documenting the kitten experience. It includes stickers, glittery photos, lots of thought provoking questions, and sensible information about all aspects of kitten/cat care.


However, I was quite concerned (and  burst out laughing) when I opened this book to the first page and was greeted with this:


So I had my doubts when I saw this a few pages later-even though I admired our Kitten Owner’s self-esteem:


But it seems that it all turned out okay, at least according to the picture on the last page (although, the journal did end up being tossed, so there’s really no way of knowing…)


MY BEST FRIENDS, year unknown


This is an autograph book of sorts, that gives each person a place for contact info and also asks questions relevant to the likes, dislikes and hopes and dreams of those signing:


Hey- that’s funny! I had a friend who drove an Eldaroto! And he liked Jass, too!


Some of the entries are just adorable….(above) and below, where the book’s third grade ‘owner’ allowed her little sister a page. And then, some are not quite as sweet: (and you can’t help but wonder how this person is turning out)


And sometimes you can’t be sure exactly what’s being said, but you hope for the best!




You know without even checking that anything written in a prayer journal will be interesting, so you cross your fingers and open it up- and often enough: instant pay-off:


Something about kid’s confessions make me sad- it’s almost like they don’t know what they’re guilty of, but have been convinced they are guilty of something (and that seems a little sad, no?)


However, if they think long and hard enough they can usually come up with some horrible transgressions:


They also sometimes have some pre-conceived notions of themselves that you can’t help but think have been pointed out to them by others:


Sometimes they have casual conversations with God almost as though he’s  friend:


They often turn to God in trying times- even if they don’t fully understand why certain things happen in life:


And like some of us, they question where God may have been before the bad thing happened. I think in most cases, kids just believe whatever their parents or caregivers teach them.


Kids Books: 1

In Books on December 31, 2012 at 12:59 pm

A Look Inside Some Thrift-Store Finds: Bookshelf Edition:


I really love this thrift-store find “MUD PIES AND OTHER RECIPES’ by MarjorieWinslow, illustrations by Erik Blegvad. This charming little book was published in 1961, and is ‘a cookbook for dolls.’ It is written for ‘kind climates and summertime’ and kids who actually play outdoors.. It includes recipes for Rainspout Tea and Dollypops: (pick a dandelion from the lawn carefully, so as not to disturb the fluff. Hand it to your doll and tell her to lick’)


This book brings such fond memories of a different time, when as children we spent practically the entire day outside, entrusted to ourselves and able to play very intricate and involved games of house and school, tell each other stories, make up games, improvise, share, argue, and resolve (without parents stepping in) We didn’t have ‘play-dates’ we just played. And, as very smart person once said “Play is the highest form of research”. 


It’s an adorable book, that touches the heart of anyone who remembers games of make-believe played outside with good friends, in all four seasons, incorporating all of nature’s offerings into our play and our lives. 



This is an interesting throw-back, full of television watching rules (don’t wear sunglasses when you watch tv) and although much of what they present is true, you can’t help but think that television was like an avalanche, one that would not -could not- be stopped. Nowadays we walk around with tv on our phones, and it’s hard to find a person in public that isn’t looking down at them! Or who isn’t constantly occupied and/or distracted by them. It’s almost as if ‘they knew!’ (the authors)


This book lays all the television rules out for kids and then warns about the dangers:


TV might tempt a child into creating a bomb, or worse (imagine what the authors think of the Internet!)


…and not only might the child get into mischief, but he will be flagrant and defiant about it!! The child in this picture has not only gotten his hands on a stick of dynamite, but has also sought out warning signs against what he is about to do and parked himself in front of them like the flagrant little anarchist he is. Not to mention that his location an outright taunting of Smokey The Bear!


Television can also lure children into biker gangs. I know this is true because every time I watch  ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ I have an urge to ‘take a ride’ with Jax Teller, and I have no doubt that I would if the situation presented itself. Ahem!


I think this is the best page in the book. Relevant to how we live now, and the place that Entertainment (TV, Internet, Social Media, etc) has in our lives. Some might say we’ve gained a lot- while others lament that we’ve lost a lot. But either way- it’s obvious- you can’t un-ring a bell.



I was surprised to see that this book is only eight years old. I figured it to be from nineteen-seventy something. Anyway- it’s all about race relations. Evidently, Goliath is a closet racist, and has been one all along. It’s quite jarring:


and then he goes all Archie Bunker on the visiting dog!!


But Davey’s got his hands full with his good friend’s cousin, Scottie:


You have to wonder just how racist this Scottie is, if his reputation precedes him this blatantly! (If only this were published in the seventies! It would have made a great After School Special: “Scottie: The Boy Who Hates White Kids’) Anyway- Davey rushes over to hang with the kid who hates him (who could resist?) only to discover a twist in the days plans:



Turns out, Scottie has had a little accident (I suspect he’d been watching tv and was under the influence of it: see ‘A Kid’s Guide to TV’, above )…..one that has rendered him blind for the week (that’s one precise diagnosis!) and therefore, ripe for Davey’s psychological experiment. 


Luckily, we’re now privy to Scottie’s completely valid and rational reason for being a racist:


Davey and Scottie have quite the day together- sharing hot dogs, hanging out in the hood (I think?) and bonding:


A somewhat creepy conversation about Davey’s sister commences……leaving me with a hefty dose of that ‘Wait.What?’ feeling…


Finally, the day the bandages come off arrives. Davey, of course, is front and center for the unveiling. (I know I always brought my friends to my doctor’s appointments as a young child.) And much like George Jefferson meeting Jenny’s parents for the first time, our Mr. Scottie is less than pleased:


Just when it seems that Davey will expire from the sadness he feels about Scottie rejecting him, Goliath confesses that he’s no longer racist, and will now be hanging out with the white spotted dog. And for reasons very unclear (Pssst! I think I know the secret: the book is near the end) Scottie ‘Jefferson-Bunker’ has decided to open his mind and befriend other races.  The End. Someone cue the music. (May I suggest Aerosmith/Run DMC’s ‘Walk This Way’ perhaps?)


Fifty Shades of Cray

In Angreads: Reading Mixed With Anger, Books on November 15, 2012 at 10:16 am

Recent Headlines: ‘Woman Divorces Husband For Not Being Sexy Enough, After Reading 50 Shades Of Gray’ ‘Fifty Shades Of Gray Now Grounds for Divorce’ 

most un-sexual category ever!

Okay. I’ve made it this far without commenting on ‘Fifty Shades Of Gray’. I hate to give it another second of attention, because I haven’t been as turned OFF to a book since Oprah’s Book Club hi-jacked decent books, years after their release- and slapped her reverend- like praise all over their covers.  (The only thing worse are movie-adaption covers which should be avoided at all costs. Even on e-books.) 

But now that the book is being cited in actual divorce proceedings…..I’ll reluctantly throw my two cents in.

Before ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ hit the shelves, the book that affected me with such visceral loathing was ‘The Secret’, released in 2006, and touted on Oprah.

‘The Secret’ basically rewarded materialistic people with their own bible of affirmations, not only patting them on the back for being so shallow, but encouraging them to create home-made ‘storyboards’ covered with all of the ‘stuff’ they desired, kind of like a cutesy shopping list for the Universe-(the part of the Uni where wishes go! Wink-wink!) A cardboard Pinterest board, if you will.. Suddenly adult women were sitting cross-legged on the floor, snipping out pictures of cars and shoes from Cosmo and In-Touch, and pasting them onto construction paper in all seriousness. It was embarrassing to watch.

Oprah must have wished for photoshop!

Which brings me to ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’. I can’t tell you how relieved I am that Oprah no longer has her afternoon talk show because I can only imagine the ‘Fifty Shows’ this book would have spawned (and is there any doubt whatsoever that ‘Fifty Shades’ would have been in Oprah’s Book Club?) There would have been the Sex Therapist show, The Sex-Toy show, The Cougar/Pool Boy show, The Frigid Wife-and-or-Husband Workshop, S & M Demonstrations, Real Life Single Billionaire shows, Dr. Oz’s Best Vitamins For Sex show, the cast of ‘Girls’ as Sex Correspondents- on and on ad- nauseam. Then the clips from these shows would spread like the flu, infecting us all.

most awkward Oprah Book-Club ever- and I watched the James Frey one!

But that isn’t even the worst part (perhaps only because none of it happened) In fact, the absolute worst thing about ‘Fifty-Shades Of Grey’ has nothing to do with sex whatsoever. It’s really about THE BAD WRITING, the ridiculous, one dimensional characters and the incredulous plotlines! The fact that so many people who DON’T NORMALLY READ- read this book, and rather than laugh at the lame idea of a handsome, 27 year old BILLIONAIRE as the main character (what are we, twelve?) and the ‘quiet, bookworm’ of a sex-student (do most women see themselves this way despite the fact that so few are even reading? And  isn’t the idea that this guy is a billionaire really what’s making their panties damp?)

I’ve witnessed countless ‘intelligent’ people reading these books, never once even mentioning the bad writing! In fact, many ripped through all three in the series with laser speed. And this rewards an author who turned a Twilight-like YA Vampire book into a  last minute sex romp in a rewrite, spawning a bestseller that has sold a staggering amount of copies.

Which brings us to another problem and it’s that I’m really freakin’ jealous. What aspiring writer wouldn’t be?  It’s the kind of jealousy that mixes with a dull ache, like when you read that the Kardashian’s made 50 million dollars last week,  or when someone in the newspaper wins the Powerball and it isn’t you. It all seems so……depressing? (And yet no-one stopped me from writing a mediocre bodice ripper, except maybe embarrassment, which unbeknownst to me, might have turned into an embarrassment of riches!) 

so much for my theory about where the most intelligent people I know live…

 The ‘wild’ sex scenes seemed typical of  experimentation done by everyone in their early twenties (without all the bells and whistles, billionaire accouterments, and weirdo dynamics)  with a sadly naive young woman, who I’m pretty sure could be sold the Brooklyn Bridge in less than a minute. After all, she was sold the idea that an abusive boyfriend is a good thing- as long as he’s a white billionaire and good looking (and evidently, hundreds of thousands of our fellow female citizens are buying into this bull shiz- touting it even! Can you say ‘dumbing down?’)

 The truth is- I guess I’d rather people be reading anything, than nothing at all. However,  if you’re citing this book as an actual reason that your relationships aren’t working out-just stop. You might as well blame Harry Potter….and my God, at least the writing is better!


BOOKS: ‘SEX ON THE MOON’ by Ben Mezrich (Review by Lisa Purcell)

In Books on August 31, 2011 at 1:06 pm


    First, let me say that this is a very good true crime  story-and I’m not a ‘crime-story’ kinda gal. It’s fascinating to get inside the head of Thad Roberts who, at age 25, thought he was going to become a millionaire by stealing-then selling- the actual moon rocks brought back by the astronauts on the Apollo Space missions.

   The fact that this guy was ambitious enough to get a job at NASA, and had a science-and-numbers kind of brain (smartmakes it all the more bewildering that he would attempt such a heist. His love for astronauts (the ‘rock-stars’ of the skies!’), space, science and theory point to someone for whom the hallowed halls of NASA (in particular, The Johnson Space Center, in Houston where he worked) would be sacred, and therefore revered by him, as opposed to being robbed by him! You would think….

    The book was an easy read, and a somewhat geeky one as well. This is because there is tons of info relating to the Space Programs, both the past-involving the moon, and the future that is now Mars focused. The timing couldn’t be better for this book to be made into a movie, what with the recent and (for some of us) sad ending of the Space Shuttle moon missions, which ended this year. It’s especially hard for those of us who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, when Space travel was such a big deal, almost a back-drop to our culture. As kids, we watched ‘Lost In Space’, drank Tang  and watched the first moon landing on our black and white console tv sets! We have a deep, abiding nostalgia for the moon!

    In many ways the book reads more like a punched-up screenplay. Ben Mezrich, the author-who wrote ‘The Accidental Billionaires’ on which the movie ‘The Social Network’  was based, must have been thinking movie adaption.

   I must point out that Mr. Mezrich comes across as vaguely ‘pervy’ in his descriptions of the women in Thad’s life…..Because evidently, every female that Thad Roberts comes in contact with is at least a ten, if not eleven. At first, the descriptions are harmless: ‘her beautiful, reddish blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, and her white sweater tight against her curves. She pulled up the bottom of her sweater to reveal the flat plane of her toned stomach’ This, of Thad’s wife Sonya. Then, at an impromptu pool party at NASA, he watches a random girl, also swimming: ‘She brought her hand up behind her head, pinning back her flowing hair-and the motion did wonderful things to her bikini top’ I began to feel like Mr. Mezrich might want to be alone?Even though NASA is a place where brain-power rules, every female’s value in this story is tied to her appearance. Which is the norm, but I was hoping maybe not at NASA.

    Meanwhile, Thad’s young wife, a model (they married very young, they were each other’s firsts, and grew up in strict Mormon families) was left behind in Utah, while Thad broke ground in Texas.  Sonya is ‘always off  modeling’ or ‘always hanging out with her model friends’ in all sorts of shallow pursuits. But just when you might actually buy into Sonya and her hip modeling world you read this passage: ‘He (Thad) didn’t know how many of the buffed and polished specimens were gathered (at his house, while he’s visiting home) but he didn’t think he could handle another evening of mindless conversation in some loud, overpriced, overly trendy restaurant’…so…’He didn’t even notice as his green Toyota Tercell started up in the driveway, the tires spitting gravel as the group headed out to dinner without him’ and that’s when you’re ‘boinked’ back into the reality that this is the hard-core ‘modeling scene’ of Utah- where models are ‘buff’, and cruising the cool, mean streets in green Toyota Tercells.  (BTW: Who knew there were-overly trendy restaurants in Utah? Trendy, maybe- but overly?)

    Eventually, there’s almost a slip in girl-ogling, when (finally!) a girl at Nasa is described as ‘mousy’. Coincidentally, this is the only girl Thad ‘rebuffs’, though clearly she wants him! The ‘Mouse’ engages (entraps?) Thad in some innocent skinny-dipping (she started it!) until: ‘Thad could see the hint of pink nipple beneath the crook of her elbow, but he really tried to avert his eyes’ Since it was pitch black, and took place in the dead of night, I’d have to say-Thad sure had some x-ray-like, nipple seein’ eyes!  Likewise, when Sonya visits the Space Center, a gruff scientist, who barely speaks to anyone, despite being a ‘scientific legend’ immediately ‘softened upon the sight of her: ‘the nervous smile on her bee-stung lips, the way she pushed the hair out of her eyes’. Why- he even gifted her with a (nerd alert!) calcareous meteorite, though thankfully, Mr. Mezrich didn’t write that Cranky-Science Man slapped her playfully on her tight, well-rounded, rosebud of an ass before sending her on her way, though I won’t say I wasn’t expecting it!  But nothing could compare to the description of Rebecca (real name: Tiffany Brooke Fowler) the girl he would soon steal moon rocks with and for:

    ‘Physically, she was stunning. Her hair was jet black, framing a face that looked as if it had been carved from polished porcelain. Her cheekbones were unnervingly high, and her playful blue eyes lit up in a way that reminded Thad of the bio-luminescent algae they were on their way to see [that’s a new one- I’ll give him that!]  She was wearing a white t-shirt and extremely short shorts: even from a glance, it was easy to discern her tight, athletic form. The sliver of bare skin between her shirt and shorts sent chills down to his spine, and he actually found himself turning his eyes away. To his utter surprise, he was intimidated by this ninety pound girl.’ [One can only wonder how he managed to weigh her!]

    Thad’s stoner friend and accomplice Gordon (real name: Gordon Sean McWorter) was described so stereo-typically that I was literally picturing Jeff Spicoli. From the very moment we meet him, he’s toking away on a joint and talking in whacky circles- ( the same way I picture Matthew McConaughey always talks)- claiming the moon landing was a hoax and spouting Mormon scripture. Can anyone really be this one dimensional? His role-as deemed by Thad- was to help find ‘moon rock buyers’ on the internet, but it’s hard to believe that anyone with an ounce of intelligence would have trusted this guy with a litter of kittens, let alone priceless moon rocks!

    The book was fast-paced and full of insider NASA info. It made me wish I’d considered science more, as both an interesting subject and possible career path. Of course, I  don’t know if I’d have been hot enough to work at NASA even in my prime. It’s a model-superstore over there!

    I do recommend the book because it holds your interest, and it’s one of those stories that plays out in your head like the movie it’s destined to be.                                    LP

“That is one tight, well-rounded moon!’



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