What I’m reading.

So many obscene comments, so little time

There’s a new Bachelorette in town, and she means business. Please read my recap of Jillian’s adventures with her harem. I really do enjoy being able to snark on the show, but I want to get serious for a moment. It is hard for me to recap this stuff, especially on a day like today when the California Supreme Court California citizens and the support of the Supreme Court decided that same-sex couples are also second-class citizens. Whereas a show like The Bachelorette can carelessly use marriage as a ploy for a reality show. Where Jillian can decide on who she will marry based on trivial matters like what a guy puts on their hot dog and who can win a silly car chase set up by producers. Whereas many of my loved ones cannot marry the person they have chosen to devote their lives to for decades because of hate, ignorance and privilege. Thanks, reality television, for the slap in the face.

In other news, here are some other books I’ve read lately.

I love office culture, have been a longtime fan of the cartoon Dilbert, and would love a certain sitcom if it weren’t for an irritating Steve Carrell. Then We Came to the End book mesmerized me and made me feel part of the office culture described. The interesting part about Then We Came to the End is that it is written in first person collective narrative, which at first is challenging to get used to. Eventually I did get used to it, but I felt like at times it actually distanced me from the characters because no one truly had their own perspective. Highly recommended nonetheless.

Daniel Clowes is a graphic novel god. He continually amazes to wow me. This collection of his Eightball short works series  includes the genius Art School Confidential, which was later a mediocre movie. I recently went to a film screening where he appeared, and he shared that most of his earlier work is based on characters in Berkeley and he did most of his writing at Cafe Roma on College Ave in Berkeley, for you East Bay dwellers, which excited me. I wrote much of the early entries of this blog at that cafe. If you haven’t read Ghost World, it’s particularly awesome. And the movie adaptation is fucking incredible. Enid is my personal hero. Often I will ask people if they’ve seen the movie and squirm until they say, “you remind me of Enid” and I say “I WAS HOPING YOU’D SAY THAT!”

I couldn’t really call myself a horror/sci-fi fan until I read Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. I haven’t seen the most recent Will Smith movie adaptation and I don’t plan to. I Am Legend is short but totally captures the point and is so well read. And legitimately scary- usually I am not scared by books. Well, I take that back- clearly Christopher Pike books used to freak me out.

I’m weird and read about a gazillion books at one time, so the other ones I am working on are American Wife, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, World War Z, and Scar Tissue.

32 thoughts on “What I’m reading.

  1. Rio says:

    “. . . the California Supreme Court decided that same-sex couples are also second-class citizens.”

    You can’t place all the blame on the court for this situation. For them not to honour the results of the referendum would be judicial activism. It’s Prop. 8 voters who are really at fault. I have yet to hear an argument against same-sex marriage that has nothing to do with religion, but apparently that’s good enough for most of them.

    • Lemur says:

      I disagree, Rio. The Supreme Court of the State of California is sworn to uphold the Constitution of that state and all states as well as the Constitution of the United States. It failed to do that, as this is a case of the protections of the law being unequally applied to a specified group of people. Their job is not to uphold the will of the people, but to enforce the Constitution.

      Not that I blame them for effectively punting. They’re kicking this up to the Supreme Court and with good reason. This is not a state’s rights issue. This is a 14th Amendment issue.

      • Amber Tan says:

        Well said, Lemur. BTW, what people often refer to as “judicial activism” is actually what judges are supposed do. It’s their job to examine legal precedents, weigh all arguments, and then INTERPRET the law based on those factors.

        IME many lay people don’t understand this and conservatives in particular like to decry “judicial activism” as a liberal thing. However, all judges “legislate from the bench” regardless of political affiliation because that’s their role in the U.S. legal system.

      • Rio says:

        Legislating means MAKING laws; the judiciary is in place to interpret those laws.

        Now that this case is going to the federal Supreme Court, it is very likely that the decision will be overruled. But Prop. 8 was an amendment to the California Constitution; in their system, those are made by its citizens voting on ballot propositions. In effect, the California Supreme Court did uphold that Constitution.

      • Amber Tan says:

        Exactly, Rio! Which is why I put capitalized interpret in the and put “legislating from the bench” in quotes. Sorry if I wasn’t clear on that! 🙂

      • Amber Tan says:

        Oh how topical! Weren’t we just pondering how folks get these wacky ideas about judges “making law”? I guess they’re listening to that wacko Scalia. See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/28/antonin-scalia-judges-mak_n_208531.html

        Scalia totes sucks. He would be the Worst.Supreme.Court.Justice.Ever. but that title is reserved for his lackey Thomas.

        Re: California ballot initiatives — IMO a big part of the problem with propositions in California is the relatively few number of signatures required to place them on the ballot.

        According to the Initiative Guide, only 694,354 registered voter signatures are required to propose a constitutional amendment initiative and 433,971 to propose a statutes initiative. The number of signatures for the former “must be equal to at least 8% of the total votes cast for Governor at the last gubernatorial election” while the number of signatures for the latter must be equal to at least 5% of the total votes cast for Governor at the last gubernatorial election.” Given the state’s large population (estimated at 36,756,666 in 2008), it’s pretty easy to fulfill the signature requirements.

        Reference: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/initiative_guide.htm

      • Rio says:

        I personally think Samuel Alito is the worst justice, but, evs. These two AND Sotomayor were referring to an unfortunate fact about the court system; none of them appear to condone it.

        A few years back, we tried to have a similar ballot initiative system put into place in Canada, but Stockwell Day’s (then-leader of the right-wing Canadian Alliance, I believe) plan would only require 1,000 signatures. A comedy show encouraged 1,000 viewers to write in to demand that Day change his first name to Doris. His plan died after that.

      • Amber Tan says:

        You mean “Scalito”? 😉 Yeah, he sucks too but Scalia’s suckitude level is operating at a Senior A$$hole Level while Alito’s is still hovering at a Junior Douchebag Level. But I’m sure he’ll catch up. After all, neither one believes in the existence of penumbras in the Constitution which is how most U.S. civil rights laws got codified. As for Thomas, he’s a hypocrite and legal light-weight who barely received a “qualified” rating from the ABA. He also votes in lock-step with Scalia. Of course my personal fave is Ginsberg, bless her bleeding liberal heart. But puh-tate-toe, pah-tot-toe… 🙂

        The Washington Journal aired an interesting segment on judicial empathy this morning. There seemed to be a lot of agreement from callers that judges are human and should be expected to behave as such but their first responsibility is to adhere to the rule of law and precedent above all else.

        Oddly enough, most of the recent USSC appointees have all played the empathy card during their confirmation hearings, some successfully (See: Thomas and Alito). Of course employing judicial discretion and/ or empathy does not necessarily equal “making law”. And judicial discretion can go beyond its powers (ultra vires) which is when the cry of judicial activism *should* be raised b/c it goes against the rule of law. That’s why judicial review and mandatory sentencing rules exist. No judge wants to be reversed on review. It hurts their reputation so there’s a real tendency to avoid bringing personal emotion into the courtroom.

        BTWm I hadn’t heard about Stockwell Day’s attempt to get the 1,000 signature initiative started in Canada, Rio — that is hilarious. Many thanks for the chuckle. Once again, jesters save the (Doris) day! 🙂

  2. Bart_Templeton says:

    I agree 100% with the sentiments expressed in the first paragraph of your post.

    I disagree 100% with your assaulting me with a picture of Jason Mesnick.

  3. ihatewheat says:

    Rio, you are right. I am speaking from anger right now. Right now I blame the mailman I am so frustrated.

    HA! I would love if jason showed up this season saying “I made the wrong choice, I want the THIRD runner up.”

  4. Namrata says:

    okay, do NOT watch the will smith movie, because after reading the book, you’ll just be disappointed. the book is amazingly paced and SO spine-tingly, no?

  5. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Interesting point you make. As if it wasn’t frustrating/bewildering enough that Prop 8 exists at all, here we have reality TV shows about marriage being sold off on a whim to horrible people who sell their story then break up. Or in the case of Spencer and Heidi, just keep selling their story. Uggggggh.

    Have you read “Personal Days” by Ed Park? Picked it up recently and as an office worker fell in love with the way the humour springs from things like spreadsheets and fonts and email subject lines. Recommended 🙂 and I LOVE Dilbert.

    • 1979semifinalist says:


      I second you on Personal Days by Park. I just finished it. I’m still deciding how it ranks next to Then We Came To The End since they have several common factors, but I really enjoyed it. It was lighter than End, but in some ways more interesting… What did you think about part three? Like End it was pretty revolutionary…not sure I’ve decided if I love it or not yet.

  6. maybeimamazed02 says:

    American Wife is one of my favorites. Not quite up there with Prep, but definitely better than The Man of My Dreams.

    I share your anger on Prop 8. I don’t want to get married, but there would be no problem if I changed my mind. My best friend in the world (who lives in L.A.) really wants a husband and family–and he’ll have a problem. Not okay.

    Some awesome nonfiction I’ve read lately: Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer (he takes on fundamentalist Mormonism, while exploring the roots and history of the religion–it’s both fascinating and repulsive), and Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell (frustrated NYC secretary takes on Julia Child’s first cookbook; it’s going to be a movie with Amy Adams and Meryl Streep). Also, if you want excellent YA with a believable and intelligent female protagonist (not to mention a realistic attitude toward sex), try How to Build a House, by Dana Reinhardt. And The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is AWESOME–everything Twilight wishes it could be (though it’s not about vampires).

  7. bookslide says:

    World War Z surprised the heck out of me. I kind of loved it.

    I was super moody last night because one of my cousins was like “Woohoo! One for the history books!” and I’m sitting there looking at my Facebook and saying, “Really? Really?” I love how he defends “traditional” marriage…while working on his third. I’ll defend his right to have made two mistakes; why can’t he defend mine to marry a nice girl and raise cats together?

  8. Jen S. says:

    My husband adores World War Z, which I bought him for Christmas. I also got him the zombie Marvel comic book for Valentine’s day, so I am the coolest wife in the damn world and he can neve divorce me!

    Unlike my freinds who were considering moving to The State That Does Not Deserve A Name until this latest idiocy–they can’t get divorced because they can’t get married!

  9. Sarah B says:

    When was the last time you watched The Office? Carrell’s Michael Scott has mellowed A LOT since the first season. But, if it’s been recently and you still can’t stand him then I guess you’re out of luck. Sorry!

    Also, I am trying to look on the bright side of the Prop 8 shenanigan, which pisses me off to no end, and the only bright side I can think of is the appeal (though, to whom?) and the marriages that are still valid. At LEAST it wasn’t retroactive.

  10. Amber Tan says:

    Ghost World (the book and the movie) does rock. And Prop 8? SUCKS.

    Growing up, I always considered California a super-progressive and enlightened state until I actually lived there and learned otherwise. Although I do miss Cafe Roma and could use a ham and pesto sandwich right now. 😉

  11. Vanessa Saxton says:

    I am trying to read American Wife but just can’t seem to get into it like I was able to get into Prep. What’s wrong with me? Does it have a slow beginning? When does it get good?

  12. Magpie says:

    I don’t know enough about American law to comment on the specifics of Prop. 8, but this week’s development is very bad news. It’s just mind-boggling to me that people feel they have the right to sit in judgment over other people’s rights to live and love differently from themselves.

    On another note, I LOVE Dilbert 🙂 If you haven’t already seen it, watching the original UK version of The Office would be a way around watching the irritating Steve Carrell. I could never get into the US version because I found Ricky Gervais so spot-on as the office manager.

  13. The Hershey Bar says:

    I just read Admission and it was really good. About a Princeton admissions counselor and the whole process. And it kind of plays into American Wife with all the Princeton stuff.

  14. Enid Rollins says:

    Hey, I’m looking for a great Judy Blume snark/review blog…’Are You There, Youth’ doesn’t have ”all” I need, especially a Deenie snark, anyone know anything?

  15. Fraser says:

    Richard Mattheson is awesome. Vincent Price’s Last Man on Earth is the closest of the three I Am Legend adaptations to the book.
    You might find Lavender Scare interesting: It’s an account of mass purges of gay government workers during the 1950s (probably more axed for that reason than for accusations of communism).

  16. bookharlot says:

    I made myself finish “American Wife” after waiting for months for a copy from the library, and was disappointed. It was OK, I just didn’t think it was earth-shattering. Maybe I liked “Prep” so much and this just wasn’t in the same vein.

    Right now I am loving “Twinkie Deconstructed” for my brain food and the House of Night series for my brain candy.

  17. 1979semifinalist says:

    It’s great to hear/read people calling out the “sanctity of marriage” bs for what it is – BS. A great excuse to try to take something (or keep something) from others. It’s disgusting.

    Also, I read all these books 🙂 Which makes me feel all insider-y. Yay!

    thought Then We Came To The End was very good. Like you I had trouble initially with the way it was written, but in the end decided it was brilliant, and the only way to effectively explain the corporate world we all find ourselves in.

    Smith’s I Am Legend is not a bad little movie, but it’s not the book. It’s a fairly interesting, suspenseful movie about vampires that kinda look like zombies, but it has none of the depth and questions and blow your mind-ness of Matheson’s original, which is too bad. They especially botch the ending. I Am Legend has been made four times now, and has never managed to convey was Matheson was doing (in 1954 no less!). I don’t know why this happens, but it ticks me off.

    What can be said about Clowes and Eightball? Nothing except that he and it are freaking genius.

    All in all an impressive reading list. I approve! 🙂

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