Monday, December 29, 2008


I'm not really sure where to start with this one. Have you seen Fight Club? Or better - have you read the book? If you answered "yes" to either of those questions, then you are fairly aware of the nature of Palahniuk's imagination and originality. Or insanity. I'm not sure. If not, then I highly recommend opening your mind to his prose. Start with this book!

Rant: An Oral History of Buster Casey tells the title character's biography using oral history interviews. Palahniuk introduces characters by their own narratives, one by one, and as the reader learns more and more about them, from their own interviews and those of others, he becomes fully entrenched.

The only character we never hear from directly is Rant himself, as he is dead. Or presumed dead.

As usual, I am wary of giving away too much plot for fear of ruining your own reading experience. I would feel awful if I deprived you of any sharp intakes of breath or any exclamations of incredulity.

But really, the main reason that I am having such a difficult time with this review is because Rant is a colossal, amazing, ridiculous mind fuck. And I mean that in the best possible way.

By blending science fiction and what we consider to be the "normal" human experience, Palahniuk created a world that seems completely plausible. And terrifying. The reader simply accepts that some of the citizens in this United States are "Daytimers," while others - the more undesirable lot - are "Nighttimers." Throw in a rabies outbreak, ports, "party crashing," and a healthy dose of fear, this mandated class-based society begins to unravel with even the threat of infection.

The real star of this novel is Palahniuk's writing. I even stopped to write down some of the best lines. When describing one of the characters as pretty, he wrote, "...the pretty you only look when you love the person taking the picture." I think that I mulled over that one sentence fragment for five minutes. Think about it - what a great thought.

This form of storytelling, the oral history, might be slightly unusual when reading fiction, but is not new. Palahniuk's writing is fluid and powerful, and its strength comes from the fact that the characters are "interviewed" after the true story has already happened. There are mini cliffhangers peppered throughout the text that found me flipping through the pages as quickly as possible, and never once did the story falter. Palahniuk cleverly included a "disclaimer" that easily explained away any inconsistencies in the text by explaining that oral histories may have contradictions because people remember their pasts differently than others.

But I never really noticed contradictions.

All of the "interviews" are mostly with people who knew Rant best: his family in Middleton and his "big city" compatriots - fellow Party Crashers. Additionally, we hear from anthropologists, epidemiologists, historians, and government officials. Because of Rant's actions, he's become both an urban legend and a hero. A boogeyman and a role model. He dared to question the status quo and for that he is both feared and revered.

Other reviewers have read Palahniuk's work before. I have not. They were not nearly as enthused as I was after finishing Rant, but still praised his work. I saw a lot of Fight Club in this novel, with an alternate reality and a secret otherworld, and they were similar enough that it helped me to understand the story. I'm sure that some readers might be annoyed by the similarities, but I found them refreshing. I do wonder, however, if this is the format followed by the majority of Palahniuk's novels.

The complexity of Rant is only palatable if one opens his mind to the possibility of a very different world. Allow yourself to be completely absorbed by this world and let go.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Need to Get Some Balls, Stat

I really think that my inherent pussiness is increasing exponentially.

I have been BAWLING while watching The Sound of Music. I mean, we're talking heaving sobs and huge elephant tears rolling down my cheeks. It is absolutely ridiculous and I have no idea why I am becoming so lame in my old age.

I mean, my New Year's Eve plans include meeting Mike for dinner at 5 pm and then watching all three Final Destination movies. We're hoping to be asleep by 10:30.

Oh. Wait.

Friday, December 26, 2008

'Tis the Season and Whatnot

For me, Christmas just seems to get better and better with each passing year. Even as old traditions fizzle out and we grow to realize that the holidays can be stressful and sometimes painful, we build new traditions in their wakes and we treasure the moments that make us thankful for who we are and lucky for having such amazing people in our lives.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I have two bird feeders on my back deck. One is filled with thistle and attracts finches. The other is filled with a smorgasbord of amazing food and is "patio-friendly." Meaning: no shells on any of the nuts and seeds contained within, thereby removing me from any responsibility when it comes to debris raining down through my deck onto my neighbor's.

She really hates that.

The problem? I use suction-cupped hooks to hang these feeders from my windows, and while the finch feeder clears the bottom of the window, the smorgasbord feeder is too long and I can't see a single perch and therefore, I can see no birdies. Additionally, I rigged up a little system to try and get the feeder in view, but it's kind of resting against the house and doesn't really swing. Birdies like to swing.

So the other birds (cardinals, jays, chickadees, etc.) haven't been stopping by Chez Heather. This saddens me.

But damn it all if the squirrels haven't been trying to get at that feeder.

This is Crazy Frank. He is a squirrel. He is trying to get to the smorgasbord bird feeder, currently to his left. Because of the way that the feeder is hung, there is practically no way for him to get to it, which annoys him greatly.

I was in the kitchen, thinking about food or wine or something, when I heard a bizarre noise from the porch. At first, I couldn't find the source, and as I have sheer curtains covering the back door to the deck, I didn't see him at first. But there he is, upside down on the screen, trying to get at the food.

One glance at me sent him scurrying, and I haven't seen (or heard) him since. I honestly don't care if he comes back - at least one creature is visiting.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


For days, I've had Britney Spears' "Crazy" in my head. (I know! "Stronger" is clearly the superior song.) It took me a while, but once I discovered the source of such mental anguish, I could only laugh.

Mike's boss got him a karaoke machine. And this isn't just some lame thing from Walmart, okay? It is top o' the line and super sweet. Like Rock Band and the like, it scores your performance. There are an assload of songs, which Mike has since added to, because apparently we like to sit at home and belt out Pat Benatar and Frank Sinatra. I'll let you try and guess which one of us likes which one of those performers.

Also, Journey.

I'm competitive. I don't like to lose, and I tend to make excuses for bad... um, ness. Mike's scared to play mini golf with me for fear that my temper will get us thrown out of the mini golf fun land. I can't say that I blame him - I have to watch my mouth constantly when I'm around my nieces, and it's HARD not to swear. Additionally, I had to promise Sarah that I'd tone it down around the docents at the museum because their young, impressionable minds probably can't handle the dark sewer that is my vocabulary.

(I'm trying really hard, Sarah, I swear, but sometimes there really is no other way to describe those bitchface callers than "fucktards.")

But really, my mouth would probably get me thrown off of a mini golf course if there were children around. It doesn't help that he's a really, really good golfer, either. I beat him once at Wii golf. That was awesome. But every. other. time? I lost. And I pouted about it. And swore. The game is messed up, I didn't have a good grip on the controller, my eye spasmed. Which it did.

I try to be a good sport, really I do, but that damn karaoke machine just pisses me off. I sang my HEART OUT on "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid (yes, it's on there. And it is glorious), and the jerkass machine gave me a 95 even though I was beyond perfect. And yes, I did get a 95, Mike, not an 82. YES I DID.

But you know how you know a song perfectly? You know exactly how Bon Jovi, Madonna, or say, Ariel sings the song and you know you sang it exactly the same? The stupid made-overseas karaoke machine expects you to hold out the last word of each stanza, and let me tell you, that is not easy. Nor does it abide to the original song. Not holding out a note will cause your score to drop. And that is not fair! Jerks!

Also, because of the fact that it's made overseas, some of the song titles... don't make sense. It took me five minutes to figure out that "That Don't I'm Press" was actually "That Don't Impress Me Much" by Shania Twain.

Whatever. I'm sure that my temper will improve someday.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tell Me How This Happened

In an indoor, underground parking structure.

Because I have no idea.

(I mean, clearly it was on someone's car and fell off, but off of what? This is what keeps me up at night, people.)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bad Monkeys

I bought Bad Monkeys because of the cover.

Okay, I had it on my wish list already, even before I saw it at the store, but really, the cover made my decision for me. I mean, look at it - it's pretty cool.

(For some reason, my exact paperback is not coming up in any image search, which is strange, but it looks like this is the one you can find now.)

Also, google gave me this gem...

...which is absolutely beyond awesome.
(Click to enlarge for hilarity.)

Anyway, the Bad Monkeys cover is kick ass, and just like studies have found that women buy more wine bottles with animals on the label (of which I am also guilty), I buy books with sweet covers.

But seriously, what a fun book!

Jane Charlotte is in jail. She was arrested for a murder that she committed and admitted as much. So why is she in the psych ward?

A very patient psychiatrist sits with her, day after day, to get to the bottom of her story. She claims to be a member of a secret crime-fighting organization - I'm sorry, an evil-fighting organization - called the Bad Monkeys. Meaning, she and other chosen few rid the world of exceptionally evil people. People that, alive, have been determined to be more of a harm to society than if they were dead.

The story is clever while never letting the ridiculousness of the plot waver. It is strong and proud in its ridiculousness! For example, Bad Monkey operatives kill using special guns that don't fire bullets. The MI-gun gives the victim a myocardial infarction, while the NC-gun kills the victim with natural causes. In fact, while the plot is completely out there, the novel takes a bit of a 1984 turn and causes the reader to wonder if organizations like this could exist.

I love Ruff's writing style. It's dry and funny, but also (and after the rambling and adjective-laden prose of Stephenie Meyer, this was more than welcome. And no, I still cannot explain my obsession with those stupid books. Of which I still pick up and read. Often. Kill me.) intelligent and insightful. Jane is a snarky, troubled, complete bitch of a character, and yet you just can't help but like her.

As the therapist tries to pull information from her, bit by painful bit, we learn more about Jane's past: her childhood, her drug-filled existence, and the organization that has given her life meaning.

The reader cares about Jane and wants her to succeed - every twist of the plot is juicy and entertaining, and the finale is worth the short read (227 pages). The revealing conclusion actually got a ecstatic "HA!" out of me. Bad Monkeys is a quick, enjoyable, unpredictable read.

Friday, December 19, 2008

So Much Snow

The weather has been less than delightful as of late, and while I love a nice snow-filled Christmas, this is going a bit too far for my tastes.

First, happier times:

Bunny tracks!

Last night from my porch.
Just a little snow...

But now? Oh holy Jesus, did it snow last night. It started around midnight (so the newscasters say - I was passed out, drugged to the max with Tylenol Cold PM - or as drugged out as one can be on Tylenol) and is to continue until 4 p.m. today. It is straight up insanity over here, and after hemming and hawing for a good twenty minutes, I reluctantly trudged into work.

I walked the two miles. Digging out my car would have taken an hour.

It didn't help the situation that there were already a good few inches of snow on the ground (we got that treat on Tuesday night). Add four more inches, coupled with the fact that only one person on my block ever shovels the goddamn sidewalk, and it equals a painfully long commute for me.

I live near an elementary school, so you'd think that access to cleared sidewalks would improve, but there was no relief there - school was cancelled for them. As for the plows, my side of the city is generally ignored and saved for last, so walking in the street was not an option, either.

I decided that waiting for the bus was a retarded choice, and continued on past my usual bus stop. Once I got near the business district of Main Street, the sidewalks got a little better and my walking wasn't as forced. I still wanted to turn around and go home. Luckily, the snow was gorgeous and fluffy, and I didn't care that I looked like a complete weirdo walking with my umbrella. I stayed dry and the snow stayed out of my eyes!

Once I got near campus, it was clear that I was going to be one of the few people at work today. It was deserted.

That's my museum above. I'm stuck there until five. And it's STILL SNOWING.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gee, THANKS, Netflix

Thank you, Netflix, for delivering just one of the three discs that were supposed to arrive today. Sports Night season 1, disc TWO. Forget for a moment that I expected discs one, two, and three, and that I only watched the show sporadically when it was on ten years ago, thereby ensuring the necessity of watching them in order.

I'm sure you loved the fact that the last three discs I rented sat on top of my DVD player for over two months, saving you money while wasting mine. So what better time to extract a little more cash, right? Right?


(I wouldn't care so much if it weren't for a predicted snow and freezing ice BLIZZARD that is supposed to hit around midnight tonight, kicking the city's ass and leaving me with nothing to watch but my own DVD collection. Life is HARD.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

At Least I Have Running Water


My fucking shower broke this morning. Fuck. Awakening to four new inches of snow on the ground had already put a nice damper on the morning, so taking a forced bath just pissed me off even more.

I love baths. I love them. But I love them when I decide to take one, not when I am forced to take them.

It doesn't help that this house has horrible insulation and lots of windows. With the temperatures in the low teens most mornings lately, I've taken to running the space heater for several minutes before getting in the shower. It certainly makes getting undressed easier to stomach.

As I started to fill the tub, mentally calculating the time before the hot water runs out, I realized that my plan for a hot bath was not going to work out. This angered me.

I love my morning shower. A hot shower takes my mind away from the fact that I will soon be trudging the two miles to work in the snow. A hot shower helps me forget that the wind chill generally places the temperature at six degrees. Six! A cold shower tricks me into thinking that I am warm and cozy in bed. Well, not really, but at least I'm warm.

With the tub semi-full and the space heater toasting up the room, I took the plunge and climbed into the tub. First in my morning shower routine? Washing my face. But my shower shelfy-thing was hanging from the shower head and I was sitting way down on the floor of the tub. Dilemma. I stood up, shrieked as the cold air hit me, grabbed the cleanser and plopped back down.

I splashed my face with the tub water to rinse off the cleanser (gross), and slowly stared back up at the shelf. Soap. Way up there. Away from the warm water. I had to go through the painful motions again. And then again with the shampoo. Washing my hair posed another question: how do I do this? I couldn't rinse my hair under the faucet - the hot water was gone. In desperation, I dunked my hair backwards into the tub several times.


I managed to extricate myself from the tub, which didn't turn out to be that difficult, considering the now tepid, semi-murky water (okay, I wasn't that dirty, but still. It felt... gross), toweled off and grabbed my robe. My teeth were already chattering.

I don't usually take super-long showers (except at Mike's because his hot water supply is never-ending). Ten minutes in the morning is usually all it takes. My stupid bath was borderline painful and did absolutely nothing to warm me up.

I combed leave-in conditioner through my hair and pouted about the situation for a while before leaving for work.

The bus was fourteen minutes late.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Deal of the Fucking Day

Shane just alerted me to what is probably one of the best deals ever to be dealt.

Amazon has a "Deal of the Day" promotion where they pick something from their warehouse of inventory and massively mark it down to unbelievably asinine levels.

Case in point, today's deal is all three seasons of Arrested Development for $28.99. If I didn't already own them all, I'd be buying them now. In fact, I'm almost considering it. Just in case.

And I will now leave you with this:

Buy the DVDs! Buy them now!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


With classes done for the semester, the campus (and city) is slowly shrinking. I simply can't hate winters in Ann Arbor, because even though the temperatures are evil and full of snow and freezing rain and douche-tastic drivers who refuse to go above fifty on the expressway, there is a long, blissful period when the students leave for semester break.

For a lovely three weeks or so, they're gone. Gone! All of sudden, finding a parking space is no longer an exercise in futility. I don't have to listen to asinine conversations, the bus is practically my own personal purple limo, and going to lunch doesn't have to be planned out in advance, allowing time for something as annoying as waiting in line behind backpack-clad undergraduates on their cellphones.

Of course, there are a good number of people left. We're smack dab in the middle of exams, and the climate on campus is... tense. I remember that feeling. And I don't miss it at all.

I do miss the student paper though. It's published daily, but only when classes are in session. So not only do I not get my daily dose of "feeling like an old, wizened lady" by giggling at their emo-angst in the op-ed column, I miss out on the crossword puzzle.

I was never once for crossword puzzles. They were difficult! But on my first day of class as a freshman, I remember timidly climbing the steps to Angell Hall and watching as person after person paused to pick up a copy of the paper. Then in my first lecture (philosophy at nine in the morning? Yeah, great idea, jackass), as the professor leaped and jumped across the stage screaming about brains in vats, I noticed that every other person was either reading the paper or sleeping.

(I never fell asleep in lecture in all my years of higher education, but I did fight nodding off more than once. The only way I ever got around that was watching other people try to stay awake. It was infinitely entertaining.)

When I left class that morning, I picked up my own copy of the paper. I attempted the crossword. I did not do well. But I kept at it, and I eventually got better. I started to copy the guys in my hall and began taping my completed puzzles to my dorm room door. Then in my apartment, I would put them on the fridge, probably annoying the piss out of my roommate. Yeah, I was full of myself.

When I relocated to Washington, DC, I didn't know what I was going to do without a free paper. I would only be at GWU twice a week for classes, and I didn't want to pay for a copy of the WaPo every day. I know that I could print out as many crosswords as I wanted, but there was something about the smell of the newsprint and the way I folded the paper to have the crossword conveniently located that kept me from wasting my ink cartridges. For weeks, I ignored the people in the yellow vests at the entrance to the metro, because I thought that they were just handing out flyers. I gave in one day and realized that I had been a moron - it was a condensed version of the WaPo. For free!

It then became my goal to try and complete at least half of the crossword before I arrived at school or at my internship. It helped that the WaPo's crossword was significantly easier than whichever one The Michigan Daily carried. With frequent delays and getting stuck under the Potomac between stations, the paper was usually the only way to keep my mind from wandering to thoughts of murder when that one woman just wouldn't. stop. talking. and that one couple would just make out until one of them departed at Rosslyn.

(Oh, did I loathe that couple.)

Now, I use the crossword to wind down at night. I like my little routine, and it helps me to fall asleep. So until classes resume in January, I'll be stuck to my book of Sudoku puzzles. They're almost as good as crosswords.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Oh, Hi There! Where Have You Been?

Okay, maybe it wasn't your fault. Oh my gosh, but where have I been?

I know, it's ridiculous. I don't think that I've ever gone this long without writing. I'm going to blame the weather (obviously, as it's snowed every day for the last six days), the job (there is always something to do! Never a second for myself! Well, except to read TV Guide and TWOP. Because what am I going to do? Read those at home?), and my period.


I never really know when the hormones are going to hit, but I got my answer last night while watching The Girls Next Door. Yes.

They were auditioning girls to be the 55th Anniversary centerfold. It. Was. Riveting. (Also, "Oh, she'll be alright. Silicone is buoyant." Anyone?)

Anyway, Hef, in all his wrinkled glory, narrowed down the field to three, and when he finally made his decision, he summoned the girl to his library to tell her the good news. She was so happy that she cried. And SO DID I.

I mean, I cry at West Side Story and The Princess Bride. I cry at scenes in movies that I've seen twenty times. But The Girls Next Door?