Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Riding Rollercoasters

For Christmas, CJ got tickets to the Tame Impala concert that was scheduled for this past Thursday, February 21st. We stuffed it in Tame Impala's first album. Then Tim and I drew straws for who would take her to the concert since we only got two. It was a fight for who would NOT get to go.

After Osheaga, we (the old people) discovered that we are just too old for this shit. We knew we were too old for quite some time. When you go to a concert and you get pissed about everyone standing up, you're too old. When you think about: why can't they assign us seats and why can't everyone stay seated...as you watch Trent Reznor screaming and gyrating across the stage...you know you're too old.

But our trip to Osheaga and going (and standing for HOURS) to band after band after band, all fucking day and night for *three fucking days* just blew our wad of concert-fun. I missed The Black Keys at Osheaga because I was so god-damn burned out from the entire thing. And I LOVE The Black Keys.

So the idea of going to Carrboro, on a week night, to see a band I was not entirely in to was not appealing to me. At all. But the love for my ungrateful-moody-silent teen is overwhelming, even if it's conditional *from her*.

So begins our journey...

I was lying in bed, working, because, I am an adult and I have a lot of shit to do, when she comes in, all happy and shit. It's 5:15 PM and the concert doesn't start until 9PM.

Me: "What time do you want to leave?" (I am in a sour mood because I don't want to go, I'm tired, I have a lot of work to do, I don't like the music, I will be there all fucking night...but I only give a small indication of it to the very happy teen...who is never happy in any other occasion of my day with her except when she gets what she wants...)

Her: 5:30 (see two paragraphs before this...concert starts at 9)

I search for restaurants. I told Tim I wouldn't be drinking but hey, if I start early, I can get a small buzz during the early hours and deal with this and then the buzz will wear off by midnight.


We end up choosing Milltown and the drive over is uneventful except for Tame Impala playing in the car and me thinking: geezuz...i've got to listen to this for two hours? Oh, and the commuter traffic. That was lovely.

I give my status report to Tim via messaging. I know the bottom is cut off but you get the gist. :)














Milltown was a nice pub. Of course, I get a glass of wine (last page of a manual of beer offerings...it's a gastropub, for fuck's sake!), an order of Poutine (because CJ said "Let's go there! It'll be like being in Canada (where Osheaga was)), some sausage and CJ ordering fish-n-chips.  She ate a nibble of the Poutine...I ate most of the rest...and a nibble of the fish-n-chips when she asks "Do you think this will be good after the concert? I'm kind of full and excited."


Sigh. $30+ bucks of food. Down the drain.

She tells me doors open at 7PM. I thought I read 8PM (and I brought my book to read while we wait) but when we get to the door, I'm told it is indeed 8PM. It's 6:50.

I read that it's best to start a line for a great position and there's a few people standing around already. I don't know where the entrance is because we are told the side of the building but we can't get to the side because it's blocked off by fencing (we walked all the way to the street-side, as CJ hyperventilates walking beside the tour bus, which is parked directly in front of Cat's Cradle).

"Dely" is my mom. She says "See, I told you" a lot.
So, fuck it, I walk to the side of one guy that appears to be in a not-really-there-line.  Surprisingly, this guy immediately turns to me and says "How's it going?" as if we are not strangers. So we end up engaging in conversation. I never learn his name but I do learn the following: he drops acid, he wants to get a tattoo in his groin area because his mom has one there (??!!), he's in a band, lives right down the road, we should totally get into foxygen, either foxygen or another band's music makes him feel like he's done heroin, even though he hasn't (yet?).


He did leave us momentarily after he discovered that I was not 28 but 44, as old as his 45 year old mother...to which the 'guy' (kid) in front said "just like my mom!" He thought CJ was older and my sister. I told him, after he said I looked really young, that it was the lighting: "it's dark out here...you can't really see my face." At some point, I was going to take a self-portrait of me and CJ and the image of myself on my iPhone scared the hell out of me -- "I don't fucking look 28!!" So I took a picture of my feet instead...waiting for the doors to open at 8PM.




We finally make it in, CJ gets a shirt, and we make it to the front of the stage...well, second "row". Now the standing and waiting begins.

The last concert I was at was at The Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh to see American Aquarium. The first band didn't start until 9:20. I say "first" because I thought there would only be one band. But NOOOOO, a second band came out there at 10:30ish (I was wondering why American Aquarium all grew beards and oddly, looked NOTHING like I remembered them). And then about 11-something, American Aquarium finally came out. This is what I imagine while I stand. And wait. At American Aquarium, we were seated (since it was Tim and I).

Amazingly enough, the opening band The Growl started on time. And holy fuck, they were fucking awesome. I could not hold back my head-banging ways and just enveloped myself into their music. I knew these guys were so into their music because the lead singer, Cameron, constantly and consistently snapped his fingers (and what a good snapper he was) to a beat to get the music started, or clapped, or patted his chest. He was like Joe Cocker with his hands "I just can't help but feel the music in me".






There was a guy, Mark, who played a real bass. He played a bass guitar too but the bass was pretty cool. He eventually took off his beanie and looked pretty good. In this pic, I think he looks like some 30-something jazz dude.

There were two drummers and one drumset had a trashcan. The guy on the right side, behind Cameron, is beating on the trashcan.

These two guys would switch, the guy on the left and right. What was entrancing was seeing them drum in sync. Freaking amazing.

The guy on the left reminded me of the drummer for Faith No More (Mike Bordin...just looked him up...OMG he's 50!). He had a lot of curly hair, wrapped in a bun (his is blond where Mike had dark brown hair).

The lead singer, Cameron, moved like Mick Jagger. See in the picture where he has his hand on his hip? He sings like that...when he's not snapping or clapping or patting his chest. He has an uh-MAZE-ing voice, as depicted here .

These guys were *so* nice too. Just welcoming of the attention, their bandmates Tame Impala, just so sincere that you get with these small venues.

I downloaded their EP Cleaver Lever. This was one of the best bands I've seen since Osheaga and ever. Find their videos, they're great. But this one gives the best sense of being there: 

My iMessage to Tim
They change arrangements during their songs (like old Metallica) and have a bluesy sound. I'm re-listening to the video and I'm in love. See the drummers play in sync...










Once they are gone, it's back to waiting for Tame Impala. The guy behind me passes out right next to me. There's a girl holding him, who says a quiet but panicked "Help" and I look around for the bouncer dude (I want to be a bouncer!) and get close to dialing 911 when he gets up, dazed and confused. The girl asks "Are you sure you want to continue?" He nods a not reassuring Yes as I look at his eyes to see how drug-induced he is (he doesn't appear to be). The girl is shaken but doesn't move as he leaves to get water. She stays there for a long time, alone and I think: are you going to hang here while your boyfriend dies getting water? (I know it's her boyfriend because, of course, I have to ask her who he is, what happened, how good she laid him down on the ground, blah blah)

Once they finally came out, they had a trippy background playing on the screen behind them. The lead singer was barefoot and I noticed he sang a lot on his tippy toes. That was cute.

Initially, I was not excited or in tuned to their music. Everyone around me was. They have a pretty big following by alt-lovers.

A side note: I can't even begin to express how happy I am that CJ has discovered this type of music. While she will applaud Beyonce (and who wouldn't because she is fucking amazing. Did you see her  documentary "Life is but a Dream"???? I love her.) she despises (to an unhealthy degree) Bieber, One Direction and Taylor Swift (but respects that she writes her own music). She's offended if any of her music is played on the radio (I was like this except when I lived on Guam because Guam's rock station played Metallica's Ride the Lightning which was never meant for radio airplay and that station just played MUSIC they loved...not what the masses told them to play)...examples being Gods and Monsters (we saw them at Osheaga), Imagine Dragons, Mumford & Sons.

But Tame Impala follows the psychedelic music genre and if you are young and hip, you know who they are...or old like me and have a young and hip daughter who keeps up-to-date with what's cool in the alt-rock, underground music world.

And I'm not really into psychedelic music. I don't smoke pot (it makes me very extremely paranoid. I since learned - from a professional - if you are an anxious person, pot is a big no-no), or shoot heroin, or drop acid. I drink WINE, not beer (only because my anti-seizure/migraine medicine has taken the taste of carbonation out of my tastebuds...but mostly, I like wine over beer at 44 years old) and at this time, I am quite sober.

But...after dazing in and out of consciousness (as I thought about work, how many songs they have played, how many more they will play, how long do these sets last, will they go by #of songs or time because each song is like six minutes long, maybe 10 songs - that seems right, this is song #6, Tim told me to count, I'm counting songs, god damn my feet hurt so bad, I'm thirsty, would love some of that water that guy was going to get, my feet are KILLING me and I'm about to have a panic attack!, I am NOT going to see AWOLNation - a band I love and would WANT to see because this shit sucks, I shouldn't have eaten that much poutine...), I began to enjoy the show. These guys can play. I can't understand and fucking thing the guy is 'singing' (it was on one of those echo-mikes that most trippy music is made of) but they play FUCKING amazing and the guitar riffs and sounds (lots of effects) are pretty cool.

Again, SO NICE and humble and appreciative. These Aussies from Perth are gentlemen. I have since downloaded both albums to my iPhone so I'll judge which ones trip me out the best in the next few days.

As they ended their encore, my daughter turned into someone I didn't know. She turns to me quickly and says "Should we go to their tour bus?!?" Her eyes were crazy. I looked at her with my mom face and was like "UH, NO."  She turned away from me without a reaction and finally, I pulled her towards the exit.

We get out and everyone is heading home. They are walking right by the tour bus with no interest in it and CJ turns to me and says "Can we wait a little bit?" I think I said "For what?" in my most patient-but-curt voice but I resign to waiting a bit and sit on the curb to rest my feet.

But it was now 11:45 and cold and I realized that there were a group of girls who moved UP TO THE FRONT when everyone was leaving...and those guys will not be coming out anytime soon...so I told her - that's it, we're going home. She gave me a pleading WHY and I was like BECAUSE IT'S ALMOST MIDNIGHT and just proceeded to the car, with her dragging behind me.

We drove home in silence. I knew she was upset about not having to 'hang out' with the band. But really, she is not a social butterfly. What was she possibly thinking in her head about the scenario '...let's go to their tour bus?' I see it clearly: me standing there, trying to make conversation because CJ would NOT be talking..."hey, this is my daughter. she loves your band." Now what? Invite me on the bus? With me? With my *14 year old* daughter???? Yeah. Not creepy at all.

As I think about what has changed...why concert going for me is no longer the appeal as it was when I was her age...I don't have a real answer other than I'm too old for this shit. It's the same as my love for roller coasters. I was obsessed with them and while I still have ridden them at the fair, at Disney World (the yeti, not those other wimpy ones), I find myself less inclined, more scared, about getting on them. They've just outgrown their thrill for me.

But as long as I live, I will do this for my kids. I haven't forgotten how sad I was that my parents wouldn't let me go to see Bon Jovi or how thrilled I was to see Nikki Sixx on stage at my first Motley Crue concert. And those moments I want to do (when I can) and help create for CJ and MiMi.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

This one is also a book club choice but not until July. However, I've been on the waiting list at my library since August of last year so when I finally received it, I wasn't going to hand it back.

***Spoilers***
What an original (to me) concept. The earth's rotation slows down. Daylight lasts a few minutes longer, as well as night. The day is no longer 24 hours long. And every 'day' gets longer and longer.

The length of the day isn't consistent and initially, mankind tries to adjust to daylight vs. night-time but it becomes harder to live a normal life with these long days and nights. The government mandates that the 24 hour clock will be followed to bring some sort of normalcy to every day life. So sometimes, 9AM would be dark, the start of school for Julia, the 11 year old protagonist of this dystopian novel.

I enjoyed this book although I wouldn't say I loved it as much as the critics touted it. This book has made nearly every 'best of 2012' list I've kept up with. I didn't know what it was about (my usual MO with my book list) so it's not like I knew the hype to compare.

While other reviewers seemed to diss the scientific facts, or lack thereof, about the earth's rotation slowing, my beef was the endless minutia of details that I find needless. But overall, the science appeased me and I found it believable (but I'm easy to cater to and I'm not a scientist, so what do I know?): gravity sickness striking most humans, birds dying in the thousands and thousands due to navigational/gravitational issues, whales and dolphins beaching themselves in the hundreds and eventually, the magnetic field compromised and no longer blocks radiation from reaching the earth. Sitting out in the sun for any length of time causes horrific sunburns and blisters.

Reading this scared the crap out of me. I would walk around everyday and think: OMG, I can't stay out of the mindset of the book. I felt moments of feeling like I was living in this world  I have yet something else to worry about.

The novel explores this new world through the eyes of an 11 year old: what she sees, hears, how she deals with her own normal transition into puberty, awkwardness, and adapting to life in a world that is dying.

A great, original novel...

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

This was February's book club choice. I had to purchase it (used) in order to actually have it available, since the queue with the library was ridiculously long. I have a bad habit, though, of NOT reading books I actually *own*. It's a ridiculous habit, I know.

The library upped the ante of me not successfully reading this one as scheduled. I had been on the waiting list for two books since August of last year: The Age of Miracles and Let's Pretend this Never Happened. I also had checked out books for my kids, who didn't end up reading them...in which I wanted to read them. Love, Ruby Lavender was one and the other has been hard to get to from the library, Why We Broke Up.

I was very tempted to read the library books before this one because I tend to freak out over books being overdue. I mean, I end up with overdue books but I worry about them constantly. It's like a dark cloud over me until I feel the satisfaction of turning them in. I like to be "on-time", or at the very least, *not* overdue. So the prospect of putting February's book club choice off, just so I could read the checked out books before their due date, was reeling in my mind as I wrapped up Love, Ruby Lavender.

In the end, I settled on my goal of 2013 which was to be more active in book club and I accepted the notion of being overdue (books that have a long wait list, such as The Age of Miracles and Let's Pretend this Never Happened are unlikely to be renewed, so the pressure is on to read these before my anxious mind deals with due dates).

***Spoilers***

Wow. What a wonderful, wonderful novel. From the first written pages, I realized I was dealing with a writer who wrote beautiful pages. It reminded me of reading Jane Eyre and just falling in love with the words, the prose. When I 'meet' a novel like this, I reflect on how amazing writers can be -- how much artistry is behind writing...and how I could never envision myself writing like this. Ever.

It didn't take me long to finish this one as, much like Jane Eyre, I took this book everywhere with me.

We meet the protagonist, Victoria Jones, as she moves out of a group home. It's her 18th birthday and life as an "orphan" has ended. Legally. She gets the opportunity to live in a halfway house for a few months, to find a job and get on her feet, but she squanders that opportunity by not looking for a job.

She ends up homeless, sleeping in a park, under bushes, where she has planted a garden of her own. Flowers, plants, the reader finds that Victoria knows a lot about the language that flowers have. Giving yellow roses meant "Infidelity" and rhododendron meant "Beware", a stem she gives to the mysterious flower vendor at the farmer's market.

He returns a message in the form of mistletoe, "I surmount all obstacles." And we read that the mysterious man is the nephew of the one woman that Victoria had entrusted, at 9 years old...a woman who almost adopted her and became her mother.

The book goes back and forth: Victoria at 18 and the life she is trying to make for herself, working at a florist, dealing with Grant, the nephew, the man who seems to understand Victoria's distrust. Then there's Victoria at nine, living with Elizabeth, the mother who loved her and also treated her with a delicate, but firm nature.

It's a heartbreaking tale. Victoria reminded me of a stray dog who has been abused. She doesn't trust anyone, sticks to herself, doesn't speak, eats heartily, and is just broken. The difference is that animals seem to forgive and Victoria does not. She does not feel worthy to anyone, nor is anyone worthy for her.

Grant is patient with her and amazing. He is also a broken man. But when Victoria finds herself pregnant, she retreats from everyone again.

Victoria's life as a mother is hard to read but I totally related. I think women should read this part of the book to realize how awful it can be to be a new mother. I doubt many women will admit to finding such frustration to motherhood when it comes to this precious life...but the crying, the total dependence on you, the mother, and not having any sense of independence is overwhelming. I remember this for myself. And I love that Diffenbaugh made this part of the novel, with no 'tie a ribbon on the story' and have motherhood change Victoria's life in a positive way.

And it does end, somewhat, in a positive way...but in a sense, what might be expected in a 'real' life. The journey for Victoria is wonderful to read because you can see her grow more trusting from the moment we meet her in those first few pages.

One of my favorites and definitely my favorite of the year.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles

I am a big fan of Deborah Wiles. This is her third book that I have fallen for.

I was introduced to Wiles via CJ's 4th grade teacher. That teacher encouraged her students to go to Deborah Wiles's guest visit at (my favorite) Quail Ridge Books. CJ loved this teacher and of course, was excited about going. It would be nearly a year later that I would actually read a book by Deborah Wiles, which would be each little bird that sings. We have that copy at home, signed by this amazing author.

Soon after, I would read The Aurora County All-Stars, another phenomenal book...a book considered "Children's" fiction. Ha! This is more than that as I think of her books as so much more than that...

Imagine, nearly five years later and MiMi's 4th grade teacher is the same teacher CJ had. And as CJ did, she absolutely loves and thrives on her teacher's every word and encouragement. And coincidentally, I decided to get this book for her at the library, in my encouragement to have her read. I had forgotten that it was her teacher that got us started on Deborah Wiles, so it feels like we've come full circle.

Only...I _read_ the book. MiMi stopped after chapter one. So maybe she's not as captivated by Wiles as I am...but I am.

***Spoilers***
Ruby Lavender lives in Halleluia, Mississippi (see her map...hilarious). She is a spunky nine-year-old that steals three chickens from the retiring Peterson's Egg Ranch, who was going to put all his chickens on death row. Oh. And Grandma Eula happened to aid and abet the chicken-stealing crime.

Ruby and Grandma Eula have a strong bond. They write letters to each other and leave it in a hole in the truck of the big silver maple tree off Sandy Lane. One day, Grandma Eula tells Ruby that she is going to visit her son in Hawaii, who is about to have his first baby. Ruby is not at all happy about that situation and begs her not to go. Grandma Eula explains that, after losing her husband, Grandpa Garnet, nearly a year ago, she needs to get away and move on with her life.

Ruby is bitter and doesn't even say goodbye to Grandma Eula, on the day she left Halleluia, MS. Ruby writes her grandmother nearly every day and makes it plain as day how upset she is. Her first letter starts:
Dear Miss Eula,
Well, you are gone. I hope you are happy. I am not.

and adds within the letter:
I am reading up on new babies and I have some free advice: Do NOT hug that grandbaby too much. It isn't good for her.
And signs it with:
Woe is Me,
Your (almost only--darn!) granddaughter,
Ruby L.
More advice in subsequent letters:
More free advice: Always jiggle babies after they eat.
Free advice: Mama says pineapple is NOT good for young babies, so don't give any to that kid. Try hot chili peppers. Or poi.
Her letters, and those from Miss Eula, are delightful and hilarious.

While Miss Eula is away, Ruby takes care of the three stolen chickens: Ivy, Bemmie, and Bess. Ivy has laid three eggs and Ruby watches over the jealous Bemmie and Bess, to make sure Ivy gets to take care of her eggs. She reads the dictionary to the chickens and also 'speaks' for them. It's just so adorable and delightful to read.

She makes friends with the new 4th grade teacher, and now-owner of Peterson's old Egg Ranch, Dove, who is studying to be an anthropologist. She also has a hate-hate relationship with Melba Jane, whose father was also killed in the accident that took Grandpa Garnet's life.

Deborah Wiles does not back away from death, as she has done in her two previous novels. And Grandpa Garnet and Melba Jane's dad's deaths are a touchy subject matter for a children's novel...I guess for some parents...not for me. There is some deep-rooted emotions between Ruby and Melba Jane and it results in tragic consequences for Ruby's chickens.

While my eyes watered for this one, I didn't shed actual tears but my heart grew heavy and uplifted so many times in this novel. Ruby Lavender is one character you don't want to forget, or even stop reading about. Deborah Wiles is an amazing author and, as I've said before, I look forward to reading more and more from her. You should too.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

This was another book club choice but this one with the virtual book club that just started this year. We haven't met yet so not sure how that whole concept will work...

...But the book itself was an enjoyable read.

***Spoilers***
The novel is set in Marshall, NC, which made this even more delightful for me since I tend to enjoy local fare. I guess I like Southern fiction too (in addition to my realization that I like fantasy) because the writing style and mood reminded me of Michael Parker, a local author who I enjoy reading. His novel, If You Want Me to Stay, was my favorite book of the year for 2007 and I've read two more with the rest on my must read list.

These types of novels are not easy reads. They are depressing and sad, with characters that have a hard life. Wiley Cash divides his chapters into characters (hmmm...George R.R. Martin anyone?) viewpoint. In this case, there are three narrators: Adelaide Lyle, Jess Hall and Clem Barefield. They are all wonderful and we learn a bit of history of the town folks - the other main characters involved in the story - as we read about the shit going on in the now.

The story centers around a crazy church, where there are snakes involved, tongues are spoken, and people attempt to heal a 13 year old boy who has been mute from the day he was born.

The mom to Christopher Hall, AKA "Stump", is caught up in this church and especially in the pastor, Carson Chambliss. Despite being shocked by the first healing, which Jess Hall, the younger 9 year old brother to Stump, witnessed without permission, Jess's mom returns with Stump to continue the "healing", which results in Stump's death.

Adelaide Lyle is no fan of Pastor Chambliss after witnessing a parishioner years earlier get bit by the poisonous snakes from Pastor Chambliss and dying in the church. Instead of fessing up to the tragic death -- but proclaiming the parishioner was brave for finding faith to attempt this 'holding of the snake' -- the pastor and other members of the church placed her dead body in her garden in an attempt to make it appear that she was just gardening and got bit by a snake.

It worked. But Adelaide knew the truth and kept it to herself. She kept it but she bullied the sinister Chambliss to keep the children out of the church and watches over them...also being one that doesn't return to the church.

But she is a religious woman, a righteous woman. And after Stump's death, Chambliss summons her to the church to speak to her. He wants to ensure she doesn't say anything to the authorities, as they investigate Stump's death. He knows she does not approve of what happened to Stump because he knows how she felt about the death, years earlier.

He asks her if she knows her bible...about Matthew 9:33, where it says 'when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke'. He also brings up Matthew 17...'about the man who brought his son to Jesus because he was sick with a disease brought on by a demon and the disciples didn't have the faith enough to heal him.'

Adelaide, again, a very religious woman, replies how she 'knows both of them stories' and has read them many, many times. Chambliss replies that if the parishioners had a little more faith, the boy would have been healed and the demon cast out. Adelaide responds wonderfully (like I know this woman):
"You ain't no Jesus," I said. "And Christopher didn't have no demon in him. He was born that way; I was there when he came into this world, and I can tell you God makes us how he needs tus to be. I'd think about that the next time you go off on some idea about trying to change things you ain't got any business changing. I might be afraid of tempting that kind of power."
Ah yes. Wouldn't I like to tell many people this...snakes or no snakes...

Jess Hall is also a great character who watched for his older brother. He tried to keep him from going back to the church, after seeing the congregation nearly suffocate him in their "healing". He witnesses a terrible end to his family life at the end of this great story and his perception on the folks around him is well beyond what a 9 year old would normally think like.

Lastly is Clem Barefield, who is sort of the stereotypical sheriff a small town: confident, got the town under control kind of guy. But his story is sad too and we read about how his son was killed in an explosion many, many years ago, under the supervision of Jess and Stump's no good grand-dad, who just happened to come back into town. As he recounts the death of his son (Jeff), to which he was called to the scene, not knowing if it was his son or not, he says this:

I couldn't keep from thinking about how unfair it would be if it was Jeff. But since then I've learned to just go ahead and take fairness out of the equation. If you do, things stand the chance of making a whole lot more sense.
I look forward to reading more from Wiley Cash.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

A friend of mine recommended this book to me many years ago...before the movie was even thought of. But I just got around to reading this for book club. I haven't made a book club read or meeting in at least a year so my new goal for 2013 was to get back into it. I actually tried last December with Looking for Alaska but I missed it by a day.

First of all, I was pretty happy to have made it since I started on >700 page tome January 11th and I finished it the weekend before our meeting. I don't consider myself a fast reader so to manage to get this done in time, well, I am pretty pleased with myself. It helped to have my friend Kerry rooting me on via Goodreads with my status updates on my reading progress.

I enjoyed this novel. As one reviewer described this novel as "Faction", I was intrigued by the 16th century era and couldn't wait to finish it so I could look up the 'facts' behind the historical characters I was reading about.

***Spoilers***

As the title suggests, the book is about Anne Boleyn...and her sister Mary Boleyn. The "other" sister goes back and forth between Anne and Mary.

Anne is portrayed as a selfish, queen-wannabe, no matter what it takes. Initially, she is not happy that King Henry VIII makes his moves on her sister, Mary, who is quiet and already married. But the Boleyns (and the maternal side, the Howards) were hell bent on having ties to royalty and having Mary as the mistress to King Henry was fine and dandy with them. This also meant she would be an adulteress, since she was already married to Sir William Carey. The marriage was still intact but William was told to back off and allow Mary to have her sexual liaisons with the King.

Oh. And he was still married to Catharine of Aragon. But Catherine would 'look the other way' with this (and apparently others before Mary) affair.

The relationship between Anne and Mary was competitive and not so loving, yet some strange loyalty to each other, and to this family that would pimp out their young, married daughter to the King. Mary, as young as she was (14), was initially enamored with the King and high on the fact that she "won", or was better, than her sister Anne. Anne, while doing what she could to help Mary seduce the King, was envious throughout.

Mary bore two children to the King but had to always be at court, so her children were raised by nursemaids at one of the Boleyn family estates. After bearing children, Mary is seen as someone who would rather abandon the royal fare and stay in the country with her children. But, again, the loyalty to her horrible sister and family was more strong than the desire to be with her children.

Eventually, Anne caught the eye of the King and turmoil begins: seeking the annulment of his marriage to Catherine, even though they had a daughter together (Elizabeth, who, in real life became Elizabeth I...you may have known this but *I did not*), separating the Church of England from the Catholic Church and subsequently being excommunicated. All of this losing favor with the people, who started to see Anne as evil woman and feeling sorry for Catherine, the woman scorned.

The portrayal of Anne Boleyn was hard for me to take. I had a very romantic (ignorant) notion of Anne Boleyn and the way Philippa Gregory decided to portray her in her "faction" novel was awful. Anne was a horrible sister to Mary and eventually, when she became close to queen (and eventually *the* queen), it all went to her head and she treated every one like her minion, including her brother, George, and her family who pushed her (after giving up on Mary) to becoming queen.

The novel is scandalous and wow, all the sex and debauchery that took place in the 1500s is mind-blowing. George Boleyn may have had sex with Anne to produce a son to fake an heir to King Henry's throne. The baby that was miscarried was developed enough to come out deformed that Anne was accused of witchcraft and sorcery to make such a baby.

George is also gay, which is a big no-no in the 16th century, despite women doing everything else in a sexual nature...

Henry is portrayed romantic, then a downright asshole, especially after sending Catherine of Aragon, his wife of 24 years (but annulled the marriage) to a nunnery. He becomes even more of an asshole when he plans Anne Boleyn's demise. He had already fallen for Jane Seymour and Anne's spoiled brat attitude was too much for him...he took all the accusations against her, both true and false, and used it to accuse her of treason, adultery and incest. As in real life, Anne was beheaded in front of the people, with Henry nowhere in sight.

It ends with Mary fleeing the court right after Anne's beheading, with her second husband, William Stafford, to be with her children and live happily ever after. Both lived, supposedly, well into their 40s, which back then, was pretty darn good.

It was a great novel to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I may entertain the idea of reading some of the other novels, as this is one of The Tudor Court novels, which covers some of Henry's other wives, and so on to Mary, Queen of Scots.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Women Are Already There Motherfucker

This is what Samantha Bee says during this great bit she did from The Daily Show. It's hard not to BE a feminist when you still have men who say the shit this guy - and others - say about women serving in the military.

"Girls become women by getting older. Boys become men by accomplishing something, by proving something."

Yes. This is what this motherfucker said about why women should not be in combat zones.

I certainly have not had any ambition to be in the military. I think I had one fleeting thought when I was thinking about college, my future. It's, I believe, a natural impulse for military brats to consider following in the parent's footsteps (in my case, my dad) and consider the military life. Many of my friends did, including my gal pals. More power to them and thank goodness for Panetta, and a more contemporary time where we have women heroines like:

  • Vernice Armour - an Army helicopter pilot who flew in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. 
  • Commander Lenora C. Langlais US Navy nurse who received the Purple Heart, during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006
  • Air Force Major General Margaret H. Woodward - in March 2011, she oversaw the US combat air campaign in Libya. The first woman ever to do so.
I got these tidbits from Women in warfare and the military.