Thursday, November 17, 2005

Well, it's been seven posts since I did a REAL list, so I feel it's about time for another one...

The Ten Best Books I Read This Year
(in no particular order)
NOTE: These are definitely not books that came out this year, as I don't make a habit of buying the brand-spankin'-new hardcovers right off the shelf at Barnes & Noble. Whaddya think I am, made of money? Jeez.
1. Loser Goes First by Dan Kennedy -- one of the funniest books ever written.
2. Permanent Midnight by Jerry Stahl -- Ben Stiller made a suck-ass movie based on this book years ago. Don't ever see it. Read the book instead. It's some of the funniest, sickest, most twisted shit I've ever read, and I was barely able to put it down until I'd finished the whole thing. Not for the weak-stomached among us, but a totally fucking awesome read nonetheless.
3. The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green by Joshua Braff -- Having done time in a synagogue, I especially appreciated this novel about a Jewish boy growing up in the early '80s, forced to attend Hebrew school with his juvenile deliquent brother. My favorite part (and I'm not giving too much away, don't worry) was his brother getting expelled from schul for doing a particularly life-like drawing of the rabbi engaged in a "consensual three-way" (as he puts it) with a lobster and a pig. That totally rocked.
4. The Monk Downstairs by Tim Farrington -- I really loved this book. It's much more low-key than the ones mentioned above, but very still very engrossing and well-written. A very sweet love story that isn't the usual predictable crap, with characters that are complex and real.
5. Paperback Original by Will Rhode -- this was a wild read, a bit hard to get into in the beginning and somewhat preposterous towards the end, but otherwise very entertaining. And check out the author's picture. He's hot! (yes, I'm shallow).
6. Elysian Days and Nights by M.S. Valentine -- yes, this is pure smut. But it's pretty damn good, as smut goes. And no, you can't borrow it.
7. Getting Over Tom by Abigail Thomas -- a collection of short stories that don't really having a unifying theme, other than women falling in love and getting fucked over in varying degrees. But it's pretty true to life, and I liked the one about the 50ish woman who bones the young hot guy.
8. Hatchet Jobs by Dale Peck -- a collection of essays consisting of critic Peck ripping apart the works of various esteemed authors. It was fun to read, even the ones concerning writers I hadn't heard of. My favorite was where he ripped Terry McMillan a new one-- that woman cannnot write to save her ass. And, as much as I liked Portnoy's Complaint and Goodbye Columbus, it's nice to see someone call Philip Roth on the carpet for being such a flaming misogynist, (not to mention an irrelevant one).
9. Long Way Down by Nick Hornby -- the reviews for this book (his latest) have not been kind, but I think the critics are full of shit. I found it extremely well-written, hilarious and oddly other words, typical Hornby.
10. The Idiot Girls' Action Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro -- this woman rocks! She's written a series of books (I've now read them all) but this one is by far her best and funniest. Drop whatever you're doing immediately and go pick up a copy. Go on. Go. Now, dammit, now!
ETA: In the "Holy shit, I can't believe I forgot about these" category: Smashed--Memoir of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas (another one of those impossible-to-put-down books); Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch by Hollis Gillespie (she's awesome!); and Shanda: The Making and Breaking of a Self-Loathing Jew by Neal Karlen (nice "losing my religion"-type memoir).
Next time--the worst books I read this year (yes, there are a few).

Monday, November 07, 2005

Wow, one post per month--that's pretty pathetic. I have no excuse other than I've been busy (well, and kinda lazy, too--which can impair my ability to post).

I have a new temp assignment now, working for the guv'ment. Yep. I'm one of those. Government worker. Not as scary as I'd imagined, and the job is pretty much gravy, so that's good. There's a certain comfort in mindless and repetitive work.

I thought of this the other day and don't know how well it will look in print, but here goes nothing:

Things That Were Popular When I Was In High School
Whenever I happen to catch an old episode of 90210 or a showing of Doc Hollywood on the Fox Saturday afternoon matinee, I'm reminded of how truly hideous the fashions of the early '90s were. I'm starting to think that they were even more putrid than the worst of the '70s (Dorothy Hammill do's and brown courderoy gauchos) and the worst of the '80s (Madonna hairbows and pastel jeans). It's hard to even put my finger on what was so disgusting about the clothes and trends circa '90 - '93 --perhaps because I was in high school (class of '92) at the time and in the thick of it all. Yes people, I wore and did some of the same crap.
I will try to illustrate the sheer ugliness of that era through the following examples:
MC Hammer pants -- These were popular at high school dances. It was mostly a guy thing, but I do remember seeing a handful of girls inexplicably wearing these things. They were basically puffy pants--huge and billowy (I'm not kidding) around the thighs, then tapering off at the ankles. They came in various colors: blue, black, gold lame (I'm not kidding), red--mostly dark colors (pastels were seldom seen during this time, lest anyone be reminded of the eighties).
Air-brushed T-shirts -- a trend from the eighties that really came into its own ca. 1990-91. I was once felt up by a guy sporting an airbrushed T-shirt with "You Can't Touch This" (a nod to the MC Hammer song) emblazoned across the front. I was sixteen. I've never fully recovered.
Tight-rolled jeans -- Holy mother of God, everyone did this. There was an art to it; you took the cuff of your jeans and pulled it tight against your ankle, gathering the excess material on the outside of the leg. You then folded it over, then carefully and neatly rolled it heavenwards two or three times, according to preference. Then you put on your colored slouch socks (no pastels, you nerd!) and your brown loafers, grabbed your Liz Claibourne purse and hair pick, and you were good to go!
Giant sweaters -- I had 'em, you had 'em, we all had 'em. Many featured loud, clashing colors (in one of my senior pictures, I'm sporting a large orange and hot pink sweater with a cowl neck that threatens to swallow my whole big-haired head). The ones for boys were slightly more masculine and less fuzzy and featured geometric patterns in clashy hues. Even the "alternative" crowd wore these things (paired with black or leather pants, instead of tight-rolled jeans). Yes kids, in the early nineties, no one was safe from giant ugly sweaters.
Spiral perms -- Yes, I had one. Let's move on.
Cosmopolitan magazine -- With the advent of Teen People, Teen Vogue, and Sassy (R.I.P.), I imagine Cosmopolitan magazine has quite a bit more competition now than it did around '90 - '92. Back then, however, it was The Holy Bible of teenage girls. In my high school, wrinkled, torn, dog-eared copies of the latest Cosmo were passed around and memorized monthly. While we half-heartedly perused the fashion photo spreads and makeup tips, the real reason we worshipped this rag was one simple reason: sex. Cosmo was (and still is, I'm guessing) chock full of it. Sex articles, sex tips, sex info-graphs, sex pie charts, sex statistics, sexsexsexsexsexsexsex-sex-sexity-sex. The sex quizzes were the best. The thoughtful reader would circle her answers in pencil, so the next person who took it could erase her markings and write in her own. Unfortunately, this wasn't always the case, and sometimes the quizzes came to you so smudged with ballpoint ink that you had to transfer your answers onto a sheet of notebook paper and continously refer to the magazine so you could ascertain "How Kinky Are You?" (even if you were fifteen and had only ever gone to second base with a boy, it was important to be able to determine these things. You know, for when you turned sixteen). I don't think anyone over seventeen years old actually takes these quizzes, and (hopefully) no woman over twenty actually takes Cosmo's lame-brained sex advice seriously. If you know one who does, please slap her. Hard.