Monday, September 30, 2019

Local Book Groups

Because I spend some time each month checking the visitors and such at each bookstore in the area, I have noticed that there are a growing amount of book groups that read both YA and romance. As someone who loves reading but resisted book groups because they always wanted to read the things that I did not (or told me I didn't have to read, which seemed not the point) this excites me.  
I stuck a roundup of the ones that I am aware of - heck some of them I even participate in - over here.  

Friday, September 27, 2019

Cover Reveal Link

A few of us have an anthology coming next month arranged around a second chance type theme, so as such it's called Do It Again. Jackie, who is participating via her alter ego, revealed the cover yesterday over on her blog, hop on over to see:

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1. This is from a while back, but in case, you, like me, thought that blinking meme gif guy was maybe Cary Elwes or something, here's the story behind it
2. Mariame Kaba in conversation with Eve Ewing about her organizing work, and what convinced her to stop removing herself from the narrative. 
3. It is Banned Book Week of Banned Books month, and Alex Gino is here to talk about why your book getting censored sucks

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Books and Theater: Jitney

Interestingly enough, the three books that came to mind for pairings with "Jitney" were kid books and none of them take place in Pennsylvania.  So, sorry Pennsylvania, my recommendations fall short in that arena.  
Renee Watson's This Side of Home looks at changing neighborhoods through the eyes of two twins who feel differently about what this means.  
Jennifer Dugan's Hot Dog Girl - is a let's fake date so I can be closer to my crush without him noticing story.  But it pairs well with "Jitney" in looking at what the loss of a childhood icon and summer job might mean, along with planning surprises for people who may not be prepared to accept such a surprise.  
Rita Williams Garcia's P.S. Be Eleven is the second in the Gaither Sisters trilogy, is set in the 1960's, so a decade earlier but includes a war veteran adjusting to life back home, substance abuse, and adjusting to a life that changed while you were away.  

Monday, September 23, 2019

"Jitney" at Arena Stage

Content warning: Alcoholism, gun pointed at a character threateningly, discussion of false rape accusation and murder , use of the n word (in period appropriate manner, all done by Black characters)
"Jitney' is at its heart about what we will and won't forgive. The play takes place in a shop in the 1970's used as a hub for a team of jitney drivers in Pittsburgh. It is part of August Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle.
The program was careful to note the parallels between jitney drivers and rideshares today. The shop is going to be condemned, there are personality differences between some of the drivers. The shop leader is also facing his son being released from jail, and one character is trying to plan a surprise for his girl and their kid.

But at its heart it is about forgiveness. Can you forgive yourself for your failures? Can you forgive others for not conducting themselves they way you would have? For not taking advantage of opportunities you yourself wished you'd had? And what do you do when the ways the city around you claims its improving mean it wants to tear down your place of business. At one point one character says essentially, I have changed but you keep thinking of me like I was.

The cast is stellar. The set was amazing. And while there is still only one woman character in this one, the treatment of her by both the play and the characters was much improved compared to "Two Trains Running". 

I realize I've made this play sound tough. It is. But there are moments of laughter. You get to know these characters so well that as the one keeps saying he doesn't butt into anyone's business, you laugh because we all know that person. One actor also cried on stage and I had already been feeling it, but those tears sent me over the edge. It was an excellent production that after it's DC run, will be moving to several other cities.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Three Intersting Things

1. Today is a hearing on DC statehood and voting representation.  DCist is here with the handy wrap up of what DC is today and what some of us hope for it to be.  Including the handy factoid that the reason some of the Virginian parts of DC were "returned" to Virginia so slavery could be banned in DC without messing up the good slave ports in the area.  
2. This story of a woman thought to have helped over 600 women poison their husbands in the 1600s is fascinating. 
3. Did you know the antaomy of the clitoris was not included in most anatomical textbooks for years.  Want to guess what year it was added? Did you guess 2019? 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Four Weddings and a Funeral Wrap Up

Obviously spoilers ahoy.  
So the show made me happy and mad and everything in between. I'm going to tell you I watched the finale episode and didn't realize it was the finale. I had to recount weddings. 
Let's do the characters alphabetically. 
Ainsley. Here's the thing that seemed very only happens in sitcoms to me. Sure, after a break up, friends often demand that their friends take sides. But Ainsley knew Kash because of Craig. I realized that for me part of the problem was that the show did so much work to show why Maya and Kash were great together, it didn't really do any work to show me Ainsley and Kash were great. So I only felt a little bad for Ainsley about the failed wedding because I never believed it was going to happen. So having Ainsley take literal years to get over it, to say nothing of the length of the entire show seemed to much. Her friends gathered up and told her she was being a brat whem she wasn't sure she wanted to date an older American man. But apparently they were all like, well, whatever and stopped talking to both Kash and Maya because Ainsley said so.
Duffy ended up with Gemma. I would claim brilliance for predicting this but it was so heavily telegraphed by the show. He got the family he wanted. Even though he is apparently a terrible techer with awful boundaries, they seem to like him. And his ex who read his his whole manuscript found love.
Gemma would never was the note I wrote to myself. She would Duffy of course. And yes, when Duffy had to go back to the US to look after his mom, Gemma and her son would follow. And then of course decide to get married. However, New Jersey is a large state with a number of options even for weddings with short turnaround times. There is no way Gemma would go for a DIY wedding. Nope. With crimped hair? Nope. Do not believe it. But she's happy and that's the important part. 
Kash tried to go traditional and found his best friend a wife. (Basheer, I love you!) And then found success as an actor. And then, well we'll get to that.
I just want to point out that Maya got ping ponged the most by this show. She started in the US dating a married dude. Dumped him. Flirted with a dude who turned out to be her bestie's guy, Kash. (Oops.) Moved to the UK. Got a job with an MP who harassed her. Got a job with a different MP with generally awful politics. Dated her longtime friend Duffy. Broke up with him. Longed more for Kash. Had her friends try to set her up with her co-worker with no thoughts on how telling someone's coworker your friend is in love with them might create a hostile work environment. Decided to go for it with Kash. And get a job in the US. Kash said he'd go with. Then Kash decided to stay back. Then he was going with. Then Ainsley found out and was mad so Maya broke up with Kash but still moved to the US. Then she decided to run for office and hired her British co-worker because obviously politics everywhere are the same. And then finally Ainsley's boyfriend, who by the way met Maya once, was like hey maybe think about listening to your friend Maya who has been writing you letters for years. And so Ainsley forgave Maya and engineered for Kash to show up to declare himself to Maya. And Maya finally got some happiness. I still feel her happiness ratio was unfair.
Tony 2 never got to be just Tony but he did get to be a person, an actual gay Black person who turned out to be an immigrant with a thing for an MP who turned out to have plans to make a political deal to keep undocumented folks like himself out of the country. So he dumped his dude, but then dude proposed. And he said hi it's about more than me, so nope. And his MP made a speech. (In the hallway and not from the benches, have these people ever seen Parliament?) And he got citizenship and the MP of his heart. And yes, there did turn out to be gay people in the show. (Yay!)
And yes, I saved Zara for last. Zara, who seemed flighty and maybe not right for Craig. So he let her go. And then he crashed her dating reality show to show her he had realized the error of his ways. And then she hired a brand manager to figure out her legacy. And then decided her baby could be her legacy. And when her pregnancy reminded Craig he'd given up rights to his kid, she went to Julia herself. I honestly could have watched much, much, more of Julia, Craig, and Zara hanging out together and figuring out this co-parenting gig. They were such great examples of characters the show treated thoughtfully even when they made unexpected decisions.
Four weddings. One funeral. Technically no idea how Maya and Kash will work their London theater actor, US state rep life but let's pretend they worked that out. And that Ainsley got forgiven by everyone for engineering a scene in the middle of Gemma and Duffy's wedding.
Yep, that must be what happened.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1. If you've ever wondered why women's restrooms often have lounges, here is the historical answer.  
2. You may have heard the internet was talking about chicken sandwiches a lot of late.  One woman tweeted that DC area folks had an excellent local option.  The tweet went viral.  They have granted her free chicken for life in thanks.  
3. The local cat cafe was a crossword clue.  

Monday, September 09, 2019

In Which I Handsold a Book to a Stranger

Or, alt title, 7 Things About Book Recommendations.
1. In some places on the web, I refer to myself as a book evangelist. I take this role somewhat seriously and nothing irritates me more than seeing someone ask for something fluffy and seeing people suggest Gone Girl. Thrillers and mysteries may be your happy place and there is nothing wrong with that. But unless someone says tell me the last thing you read and loved, book recommendations are not a free for all.
2. To expand further on the point, some people are proving they read, rather than providing a recommendation. I get it. We lead busy lives and the average reader reads five books a year. One of those five may not be the thing the person said they are looking for. You may not have great recall for things you read prior years. Ansd you may never have read the thing they are looking for. But you want to prove you read.You love reading.
3. Here's what you can do. You can reply and say, nothing like this comes to mind, but I'll keep an eye on this thread to see the recommendations. See, now you've contributed without muddying the recommendation list.
4. But this book I read is so good, you say. Cool. There are a million places designed for people to share things they love. You can start your own thread, write a review, compose a song
5. If you think you have something close, you can ask follow ups. Would you be open to this? 
6. So now we get back to the original premise. I was in the bookstore and my friend and I, who were both there for the romance book group, were looking at the romance display from Read a Romance Month. A lady heard us and said she'd recently read a romance, liked it and wanted suggestions. 
7. I started with a novella, figuring low commitment. She felt it was too short. She told me she the author she had read. They didn't have that author there but we went to the romance section and I suggested another. She was lukewarm. My friend picked up a recent read of hers and I said oh yes, these are characters of a similar age to what you had read, this should work. She stuck it right into her basket. 
Now I will possibly never see this lady again. But in many cases this is a friend or someone you interact with regularly. The idea is not to prove you read. The idea is to prove yourself a person who provides good recommendations. You don't want them to read a thing that wasn't what they signed on for. Nothing deflates happy book sharing joy faster.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1.  I have been mostly attempting to not give more air time to certain op ed columnists, but Feinberg at Slate took a look at multiple the times they used the op-ed column in to rail against what turned out to be a tiny slight experienced on the internet.  
2. This hyperlocal story of two men in my adjacent neighborhood who provide music for all of us to share was wonderful.  
3. Julie Murphy talked about how "The Little Mermaid"s Ursula loved herself, and what that meant.  

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

National Book Fest

I was at National Book Fest on Saturday for the first session, since Ellen Hagan and Renee Watson were there to read from and talk about Watch Us Rise. I went to see Victoria Schwab (it's possible, I knew her interviewer and cared half as much about that). She talked about revisiting a story you had written several stories ago and how you and what comes next had changed. 
Misa Suguira and Mitali Perkins talking about cultural representation and cultural stereotypes and writing about the effect of those on characters (and real people too). 
Ngozi Utaku talked about researching hockey and her interest, after creating a romantic pairing in showing how they carried on together. 
After that I snuck off for some book chat and some writing in an alcove before making my way back up for the poetry slam. Elizabeth Acevedo hosted this year, and this year they revealed the group's each pet was from ahead of time so that I could demonstrate hometown favoritism. As always, the first round was good, the second round was amazing. The women next to me burst into tears listening to one poem. 
I am always grateful I stayed for the poetry slam.