20 August 2014

+JMJ+

Talking to You about Karaoke!
(Part of my series on Rob Sheffield's Talking to Girls about Duran Duran)

Now that we're done with the Children's Programme "Fake" Band Smackdown and postponing the Oryx and Crake readalong indefinitely (I'm still so sorry), I guess it's the best time to resume blogging through Rob Sheffield's tribute to 80s music. And how can we do that without exploring some karaoke?

I never sang karaoke in the '80s, but I spend my karaoke time rehearsing those years, long after the audition ended. I go to karaoke to live those years out in ways that weren't possible at the time, technologically and emotionally. Now I can step into the stilettos of Sheena [Easton] or Chaka [Khan]. These are songs I used to sing alone in my room--now I have a microphone and a crowd.

Well, actually, we could have returned to the 80s with some Paul McCartney instead--but when I asked people to choose between Macca and karaoke, the only vote went to karaoke. LOL! And why not? If music is a universal language, then karaoke is Esperanto. But I do wonder what my provincial karaoke "accent" would reveal about me in an international gathering.

16 August 2014

+JMJ+

Character Connection 46


Hosted @ The Introverted Reader

I might as well admit it: I'm a bad planner. I really should have made sure that the local bookstores stocked Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake before giving it a chance to be a "Two or Three" Book Club pick. One branch did have a copy two weeks ago . . . but it was being reserved for someone else. I consoled myself by imagining that the person who wanted it is one of my lurkers. If you're reading this, silent friend, I want to congratulate you on getting there ahead of me. But you realise we're all stuck now, right? ;-P E-mail me if you want to write the first readalong post!

While waiting for another copy of Oryx and Crake to arrive by special order, I have been indulging in a random and unscheduled reread of Leigh Greenwood's Western Romances, one of which gives me something to blog about today.

07 August 2014

+JMJ+

Life as a Reading Challenge, Chapter 15

Have you read David Wong's 60 Second Guide to Learning the Awful Truth about Yourself? If his name sounds familiar, that's because he's the guy who got me to make CLOSE my word for 2013. I appreciate his newer article as well--and not just because it gives me a challenge I can adapt to one of my own posts. Here's a sixty-second exercise for you . . .

1) Write down the names of the five authors whom you own the most books by.
2) Write down the names of the five authors who are the greatest literary influences in your life.
3) Use your Secret Decoder Ring for the twist: understand that the five authors on the first list are the real greatest literary influences in your life.

You already know which authors would be on my first list. As for the second, it would have (in alphabetical order) Charlotte Bronte, G.K. Chesterton, Nick Joaquin, F. Sionil Jose, and Madeleine L'Engle. Of course, the one who made both lists is also the one whom I try to shrug off these days. =P Does this matter, though?

Well, yes. Wong's original challenge was to write down five things you did yesterday and then the five things you think are most important in life--and [Secret Decoder Rings again, please] to realise that the first things are your real priorities. And his point was that the amount of time that we spend doing something is an objective standard about how much we value it. If you spend eight to ten hours a day at a job you hate, well, that does say something awful about you. Such as that you've swallowed, hook, line and sinker, the idea that a centralised mass production economy run by wage-slavery is your destiny. It's not the only thing about you, of course, but neither is it something you can shrug off.

Speaking of economies, there are also the amounts of money that we spend . . .

04 August 2014

+JMJ+

"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 99

Once again, we have a winner! And what we will be reading for the next two months (give or take a few weeks!) is . . .

The Handmaid's Tale - 1 vote
Oryx and Crake - 3 votes

That's not the most popular turnout we've had, but how can a Nichtwählerin like myself complain? LOL! For what it's worth, I also know from experience that books with "niche" appeal are often more effective at sparking discussion than books with mass appeal. So this should be interesting! =)

Since there are fifteen chapters, I'm going "to break" the readalong into five meetings on three chapters each. I'll call the next "meeting" to order later this week.

Image Source: Oryx and Crake by Atwood

29 July 2014

+JMJ+

Judging Readers by Their Collections

This Week's Theme:
Authors We Own the Most Books Of

My title is tongue-in-cheek, of course. I know as well as anybody that book buying habits can change over time and that collections can be "curated." (You know who'd have a field day with that word, though? George Orwell.) These days, I tend not to stick to a single author for very long, preferring to choose a new book to read according to how different it is from the book I just finished. But when I was young, my habit was to stockpile as many books as I could by the author I liked most at the moment. It was the first strategy I ever developed for choosing books--and a quick glance at the yellowing, crumbling editions on my shelves will reveal which writers wove the stories of my childhood and youth. But there's no similar "giveaway" for those who left an equally huge impact later on.

Then there were the years I was part of the online Romance community, where reading as many titles as possible by a single author was part of the culture--which, of course, I was determined to assimilate into. (I'm a good immigrant.) Although I don't read much Romance any longer, my holding on to my old books makes it easy for anyone to tell which authors I had "love affairs" with. I'd argue that their disproportionate representation in my personal library no longer says something substantial about me, but neither Alone of The Last Psychiatrist nor David Wong of Cracked.com's End Times Report would let me get away with that. =P

Nonetheless, in a world where reading a book and owning a book aren't always the same thing . . . with a market fond of pushing trilogies and series . . . how do we crunch the numbers? To take an analogy from a different medium, a friend of mine one described the TV series LOST as "a great novel": does this mean that all 121 episodes count as one? I could ask these questions all day, but I really ought to get to the point, aye? So while we're working out our answers, here is my list . . .


A Tenner:
Authors Whose Books Take The Most Space in My Personal Collection

28 July 2014

+JMJ+

"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 98

So what has everyone been reading lately? Thanks to last June's odd mix of Philippine literature and Plato's Dialogues, I've been feeling a little more critical of Philippine society and been adapting my reading accordingly. These days, I'm getting through more non-fiction than usual, the books which keep me the busiest being those which purport to answer the question "What's wrong with the world?"--though not including G.K. Chesterton's What's Wrong with the World. =P

I'm also feeling more tired than usual . . . not because of work, but because of life . . . and I almost decided to put off having another Book Club pick until September . . . before I realised that there happens to be a popular genre I do want to read with others right now, if you all are willing, too. That is, if Dystopian Fiction sounds good to you and you don't mind that my deadline for finishing the readalong is 30 September, please help me to choose from among the following two books by a critically acclaimed author . . .

27 July 2014

+JMJ+

Book Boyfriend #4

Meet "The Bad Boy King" and other Book Boyfriends
@ Stuck in Books

It seems that my status as "Sensor Librorum" is still official. Someone at work who knows that I read YA novels recently asked me if the book with today's "boyfriend" would be appropriate for "a mature ten-year-old" girl. Not having been around ten-year-old children for a while, I waffled a bit before finally saying no.

"But I thought you said there was no graphic violence and that the most sexual word in the text was 'kiss.'"

As I explained that you don't even need to kiss if you can play mind games, this post began to take shape. But as you can already tell, I'm looking at today's book boyfriend not from the perspective of someone who might want to date him but from the perspective of someone who would like her daughter to stay away from him . . . for at least a few more years.