Thursday, December 31, 2015

15 in '15

No records were broken as far as quantity of books read by me this year, but the ones that I read were enjoyable and interesting in a variety of ways, and here they are in all of their glory.  I really love these authors, and some of them will be on my reading list for this upcoming year, as well.

You'll see Piper Kerman in the mix, and a highlight of my year came early when I met her last winter and got to chat with her briefly and get a really lovely autograph and inscription in my copy of Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison.  That was about a month after the death of my father, and it was the first time I'd really gotten to go to an event that was enjoyable and gave me enough of a diversion that I was able to (sort of) forget about my loss for awhile.  I'll always think fondly of her for that!
In December of last year, I got proselytized (via great sushi) into a Japanese Literature group, which almost immediately went on hiatus because of changing circumstances in the lives of some of the members (moves, job changes, etc.) and not, as it turns out, due to my joining the group.  It was active just long enough for me to go to a couple of their dinners and read the first book club selection of the year, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.  I really loved this bizarre book, and followed it up with another from Haruki Murakami, The Strange Library, which is not really a graphic novel, but maybe a close cousin to one.  Also bizarre, dark and wonderful.  I have more of his books (freebies from work, fortunately), and plan to read his stuff again soon.
As far as diversity among authors goes, maybe I didn't do so hot.  There are several middle-aged white dudes in this list, which doesn't bother me really, but it doesn't hurt to read from a wider variety of perspectives.  I did read three books by two Japanese authors, four books by women, four books by three authors who identify somewhere in the LGBT far as I know, that is.  Checking the rest would just feel weird, as does rattling off stats like this.  However, I do think it's a broadening experience to read from authors of different worldviews, from locations around the world and with a multitude of life experiences.  I don't plan on strictly following some of the book challenges floating around the nets this time of year, but I want to take some ideas from a few of them to widen the scope of my reading a bit.  Also, it's fun to read from genres that I normally might not choose.  That's how I've found really great books and new obsessions in the past.  Here are examples of the reading challenges out there, one from Book Riot, and the other from Pop Sugar.  Click to 'embiggen'!

Looking over my books up there, I realize I had a decent mix of literary challenge, relevance and pure entertainment.  I want the same mix for this year.  I don't really do those challenges, like the Goodreads one, where the goal is to plow through fifty books.  I definitely want to read more in 2016, but not for the sake of scoring and 'winning' a challenge.  I find that a lot of times, those challenges are filled with crappy YA books that are no-brainers to read and/or the participant is cramming in ten of the shortest books they can find in December, just so they can finish successfully.  Bless them, and good wishes, but that's just not the type of reading I want to do!  There are definitely some dumb time-wasters that  I can cut out next year that will carve out more time for good book reading.  We'll just have to see if I follow through and do it! 
That's about all I have to say about books at the moment.  I wonder what books you all like to read, or liked reading in the past.  Who are some of your favorite authors?  Did you ever read a book that surprised you by how much you liked it? 

Happy 2016, everyone.  I really like reading your blogs, those of you who still write them, and those who don't, I'm glad you still pop in and comment now and then, and I'm really happy that I found this place years ago to come to and read and vent and have some fun and make some pals and write some run on sentences.  I like you all a ton.  True story.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Crime Doesn't Pay

More pictures!  At least I'm still giving them descriptions.  Hopefully I won't resort to smoke signals in 2016.

I was surprised and pleased a few weeks ago to get an email from the IMA, and see my pal Joe right at the very top!  He's a super intelligent man, and funny.  I wish his partner Brian was in the picture, too.  They've been together for 25 years (or at least close to that now--I'll have to ask).

This incident inspired the title.  I smuggled a drink into the library (NO DRINKS ALLOWED), and didn't tighten the lid all of the way.  I mean, why would I bother to be careful when I'm sticking a vat of liquid in my bag?  It leaked a bit, so I had to dry out the inside of my bag and a few of its contents.  Crime doesn't pay, and to make the justice poetic, the leak-er was my Sherlock cup.

Whenever I'm enjoying a beverage from this cup (legally or illegally), I catch a gander of this fellow, and think fondly of his turn as Richard III.

Speaking of which, I was really happy to accidentally stumble upon this picture from some kind stranger (it couldn't be my photo--my nails never look that good).  Kind stranger was breakin' the law, too.  No pictures allowed, not even of the set before the show.  I'm glad she took it--the production is long over, anyway, and it reminded me to get out my program and read all of the extra stuff that I hadn't had time to do on my trip.

I can't believe I still have this.  I was a nanny for three years (while having a day job--I basically chauffeured this kid around to school and to his sports, etc.), and my charge Thomas made me this bracelet.  It would be at least 12 years old now, and I wear it almost every day.  I still exchange birthday and Christmas cards with him, a grown-up college man.  I have come close to losing this thing so many times--it can slip off when I remove a jacket, for example.  I've found it on hotel room floors, in long sleeves, on the floor of my car.  You'd think I'd just rig it up to fasten tighter.  One day maybe I'll lose it for good, but I'll still be keeping track of Thomas!

Some of my Christmas decorations...

International Santas...

This is a weird, lazy way to present this (a picture of my camera screen, rather than taking the time to upload from my camera), but here are my yucca cane trees at about a year or two old.

Here they are today, a full (human) head taller than I!  They live on my front balcony during the seasons other than winter.  In winter, they live in my living room, except for the weeks when my Christmas tree is up.

This was at 6:30 on a Saturday evening at the aforementioned IMA.  It felt like midnight--I wasn't yet accustomed to the early dark hours and chill in the air.  Not a great picture of the famous sculpture, but it was fun to see it in the dark.

A display of books in the entrance.  I think they're still up.

What I ate for lunch there.  I'm sure artichoke hearts are good for you, even under all of that cheese.  Good!

Failed attempt at arty-ness.  There's the fountain out there--it lights up different colors at night all year.  Beyond that is a large set of sculptures that are meant to be paint brush strokes.  Gosh, an outdoor up-close picture of those would have been cool, huh?  :)

This book was in the gift shop.  That dessert, for me, falls into the category "too pretty to eat."  However, I'm sure I'd find a way.

...And the reason I was there on this particular day.  I saw the film Tab Hunter: Confidential, which was by the same director and very much in the same style as the documentary I Am Divine, which I'd seen a few years previously at the fest, and is currently available on Netflix (US and maybe others).  Both films are smart and funny, and deal with serious issues with a sense of fun and great love of the subjects.  I'm glad Tab is alive and was able to take part in this and see it.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Arting Around Town...or...Another Photo Dump

As far as blogging goes, I got nothin', so here are some more pictures from the last few weeks.
This is the little college in my town, and it looks so much like
my alma mater.  I texted my best friend who I met in college
and said that I could have tricked him into believing I'd made
a trip there.  He responded that he would have believed me!

Took my mom to said hometown college for their visiting
artist series.  The Nai-Ni Chen dance company was there,
and their performance made it feel like we'd travelled to a
large city and paid a hundred bucks a pop for tickets.  Instead,
it was a fifteen minute drive and free tickets.  Free (well, sponsored)
arts are grand, indeed.

I'd had this picture for ages meaning to bedazzle it in some
way, and did so on Halloween.  Goofy fun.

Current gallery exhibit at the college.  Really interesting stuff.

Credit to the artist seen on the wall.  The year span is the gentleman's
career at the college, not lifespan.  He's alive and well.

Definitely click this one for a closer look, if you will.  Each small panel
is an individual canvas.  The artist took photos, then painted the images
in brighter colors than those in life.  Fantastic.  More info below.

I like sitting and reading at this coffee shop.  These pictures were taken
during a chilled out week off wherein I looked at as much art as possible around
town, and would end up here.  I was on an internet/phone ban, and it was nice.

I did complete one little project that week.  I re-potted my yucca
cane trees that really needed it, and always wonder why in the hell
they live in Indiana!  Poor things.  Don't worry, that sad peace lily
back there got re-potted, too (in the yuccas' old ones), and is
thriving now, along with its...sibling?  I got a peace lily from
my workplace and one from my bff when my dad died in January.

This is what a pile of ice cream shop looks like!  This business has been in
my town for 60 years.  It's not going away, just rising from the ashes.  I'm
curious as to what it will look like when finished.

The drive-up menu remains.

This was an oddball frame that my sister-in-law bought at a thrift store and
never used.  When she, my brother and niece moved to Florida this summer,
she gave this to me (and tried to give me a lot more...moving makes you
frantic to purge!).  I finally realized a good use for Edinburgh Fringe
Festival "poster" post cards.  They make me happy when I glance at them. 
To the left, you see a vintage Halloween mask that I got last year.  I was
surprised when it made a cracking noise when I pulled it out of my Halloween
box, and I realized that it was actually two of them stuck together.  The one
underneath was really well preserved!  They're from the sixties or seventies, and
 I got them for three bucks at a crazy vintage/thrift store in Lafayette.  I guess
 I owe them three more dollars!

I went to a dinner theater with my pal Amanda, who got us the tickets for
free.  It was a fun Halloween treat a few weeks before the actual holiday.
Since my brother moved, she is my main theater connect in Indy!  It was
such a nice surprise, because she called me just two days in advance, not
knowing that she was going to be given tickets.  Sweet!

Said pal, Amanda!  My brother is friends with "Morticia,"
so I said "hello" to her for him after the show.

Prop organ from "Phantom" as a decoration at the entrance.

Grand-mamah's cart of occult arts and doodads was parked right by our table!

Dinner was great!

This is what breakfast looks like when I'm on vacation.  When I'm
working...not so much.

This autumn, I've walked this trail as much as possible before winter comes.

Turn around or else! 

On the "Peanuts" movie website, you can peanuts yourself.  This is me!

Said niece from before, in Florida and

I forgot to add these to my last post.  That street is named
after my ancestor.  The spelling is different, hence the pun,
but when I discovered that they have this pub crawl
every year on "our" street, it made me laugh so much.  I
love it!  I found all of the posters for it online, and I
show them to family members whenever I can.  We
get a kick out of it.  I think if I ever go to Nashville at
Halloween, I should get in for free...or at least at a discount.  :)


That's all I've got for now.  Maybe I'll return to writing stuff again someday!