Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Conversations on the bus

I take the bus to work. There's all kinds of bizarre, mostly harmless characters. One of them is this one lady in her 60s who works at the mall, and she looks like she jumped straight out of a 1930s MGM movie. Big, deep set eyes with heavy lids. Deathly skinny. Like a very old, very skinny Marlene Dietrich. I wonder about her.

Today she sits down on the bus, holding herself up like she's on screen. Someone from the back of the bus calls her, a very enthusiastic lady I couldn't get a clear look at. It was pretty obvious that Mrs Dietrich didn't want to give her the time of day. She even did that whole "I'm gonna pretend to talk on my phone right now to avoid talking to you" thing, but she was caught.

"Hey [Marlene]!"

"Oh, hi honey."
Voice like Gloria Swanson, I swear

"Have you seen [So and So]?"


"I miss her."


"You look so pretty today!"

"Aw, you're a darling."


"Ooh, where'd you get those pretty earrings?"

"Oh, honey, I don't even remember."

"They sure are pretty."

"You are a dear."

[Silence while Marlene goes through fake phone shennanigans]

"Hey, [Marlene], how's your cat?"

"Oh, she's good."

"What's your cat's name?"


Me: YES.

"Oh that is SO darling!"

[Marlene smiles, not looking up.]

[Long silence]

"My mom has a dog."


"Yeah. It's a little Shi-Tzu."


"His name is Reeses."


[End Scene]

I love the bus sometimes.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Book #5: "Something Borrowed" by Emily Giffin

I'm seriously annoyed that I spent $3 on this garbage.

Listen, I'll read trashy romance novels and enjoy them for the silly fluffhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif they are. I'll read the "diary" of a call-girl and forget about it as soon as I'm done. I'll walk away from a sappy Nicholas Sparks book understand why someone would read it and love it even if I didn't. But a book like this? It just makes me angry and resentful that I wasted my time and money on it. Because it's just crap. The fact that it was a best seller and that it got turned into a movie just pisses me off even more.

The story is stupidly basic. Rachel is turning 30. She's a lawyer in New York and though she has a pretty nice life, she does nothing but sit there and whine about it without bothering to do anything about it. Her best "friend" is an over-the-top attention whore named Darcy, who is engaged to the "perfect" guy, some boring pretty boy named Dex. On the night of Rachel's 30th birthday party, Darcy goes home and Rachel sleeps with Dex. Uh-oh. What to do? Tell Darcy? Not? Forget about it? WHO CARES.

See, some writers could do something with that story. Make it a real conflict, show us how the incident could drive apart Darcy and Rachel. The big problem here is that Giffin makes Rachel to be a completely insufferable character. She whines constantly. She resents Darcy for stealing her thunder at every turn since they first became friends in 3rd grade. But she's such a damned pushover that she has never said a single thing to Darcy that would make her stop acting that way. She does nothing about anything. She just whines, constantly.

This is how every single scene in the story plays out:

"I'm Rachel. I hate my cushy life, my job and my best friend. But everything would be so much better if I had a boyfriend! Darcy tried to get me to have fun last night, how dare she? We've been friends since the 3rd grade even though I totally hate her attention-whorey ways. In revenge, I'm gonna have sex with her completely bland fiance that I am inexplicably in love with (mostly because he's Darcy's boyfriend and he talked to me once), and not tell her about it. I am such a good friend, unlike that bitch, Darcy!"

Ta-da! Now you don't have to read it.

This book isn't just boring and generic, it's obnoxiously boring and generic. There are no high stakes for anything that happens. I didn't care about any of the characters or what happened to them. Rather, I wanted to take Rachel aside and shake some sense and gumption into her, because her endless whining was driving me insane.

Don't read this. Ever. Don't let your friends read it. It's obnoxious, insufferable, and will just make you angry. It's not even worth the clearance priced I paid on it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Book #4: "The Mist" by Stephen King

Oh, how I wish this one had been longer. Not that the length of this Short Story wasn't perfect-- I just didn't want it to end, you know?

This is King at his best. Short, quick sketches of characters, a terrifying phenomenon (a strange mist starts creeping over a small New England town, weird things happen), tense and scary action sequences and a look at what happens to normal human beings when confronted by the supernatural.

It's something every King fan has read before, and it's totally satisfying. We have the usual roster of characters: the Rational Family Man, the cute little kid (who, blessedly, isn't incredibly annoying this time), the Guy Who Goes Nuts, the Religious Nut (King just loooves his crazy Bible-thumpers, doesn't he?), the drunken rednecks. They're all familiar and we feel like we know them But as usual with King, it's not what the characters start out as but what they become that's so much fun to read.

How would you react if you were caught inside a crowded supermarket while something really horrifying happens outside? Sure, everyone would want to be the rational guy trying to keep things from falling apart, but who says we wouldn't be the one sitting by the beer cooler trying to drink away the crazy? King has always been great at this, and this isn't an exception. This is one of his best short stories--fast-paced, bizarre, and completely terrifying in parts.

But I do wish it had been longer, because it's one of those stories that you just want to see continue out into the larger world and--but I'll shut up and not spoil it. I'll just say that I was sad to find out it was so short. And that's a damn good thing in my book. I missed Old School King, and this was a good one to go back to.