Are we gonna smush?

I confess I’ve been bad at this thing called blogging over the last week or so.  Life has gone into warp speed and I have no handy dandy bridge operators to work the thrusters.  

Last night I had to drive my mom into Bolton to meet Dad for dinner, and a car pulled up that Mom thought was Dad coming and she turned into Crazy Mother.  “Pull up, pull up! Flash your lights so he’ll know it’s us, WHY ARE YOU NOT FLASHING YOUR LIGHTS-Oh, that’s not him.” 
Later that night, while reading in the comfort of my living room, I heard the screams of what I could only assume was a dying cat being lit on fire and rushed into the living room to find Mom fending off Dad’s advances like he was a serial killer.  The crime? He was attempting to tickle her.  Keep in mind that Dad hadn’t even so much as poked her on the shoulder, he was just walking toward her with the intention to tickle.  Mom is absurdly, psychotically opposed to this.  If you make like you’re about to go in for the tickle kill, she turns into a howling banshee.  I’m shocked the cops weren’t called.
Side note: Is it bad when you do a workout titled “Billy Blanks: Full Throttle” and after it’s over you think “Any wimp could do that”? Eeep.
And now, it’s once again time for Ally’s Recommendations! This week: Books.
This list includes some of the books I read over the summer of 2009, but most of them are my favorites of all time.  Do with them what you will.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
A young student, Richard Papen, starts attending Hampden College in Vermont, an elite liberal arts school.  Originally from California, he fabricates stories of wealth and jet-setting while covering up the realities of a harsh working class home life.  He falls in with a tightknit group of students who give their lives to studying Greek classicism under their beloved teacher, Julian Morrow.  The group includes twins Camilla and Charles, closeted homosexual Francis, reclusive Henry, and bigoted slacker Bunny.  Their studies lead Richard to discover their attempt to recreate a Bacchanal, hallucinatory manias in worship of the god Dionysus.  Bunny discovers that in a bacchanal held without him, Henry accidentally killed a farmer.  He uses this to blackmail the group.  Out of desperation, the group murders Bunny.  The rest of the novel is spent dealing with this crime’s aftermath (this murder is described in the prologue, don’t worry I didn’t give the game away).  
Donna Tartt has fashioned a gorgeously written novel full of suspense and a kind of horrifying elegance.  If you’re a fan of Greek mythology, you will adore this book.
Jemima J, by Jane Green
Jemima Jones is the classic “you’d be gorgeous if you lost weight” case.  A a pretty but obese 28-year-old, she’s stuck writing copy at a crappy newspaper in Kilburn, London, and spends her nights dealing with two repulsive, slutty roommates.  Her only saving graces are her friendships with glamourous, gorgeous Geraldine and the seemingly unattainable love of her life, Ben.  While working with online chat for the first time, she stumbles into a friendship with Brad, a California gym rat with the looks of an Adonis.  Calling herself ‘JJ’, Jemima fashions a world in which she is a slim blonde at a fashion magazine, her ideal dream.  When Brad insists they meet, Jemima has six months to turn her fantasy into reality.  But is the dream really everything she thought it would be?
This book changed my life.  I can honestly say that.  Jane Green captures the isolation and overwhelming loneliness overweight people face.  Yes, Jemima does accomplish her goal: she becomes slim, tan, blonde and gorgeous.  But she comes to realize that life does not instantly become better when your looks change.  However, the book could actually be a guide for ‘DO NOT DO ANY OF THIS WHEN YOU LOSE WEIGHT.’ Jemima goes about her weight loss in a drastic fashion.  It’s not the winning edge, people.
The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern (Good Parts Version by William Goldman)
Adapting from the original Florinese, screenwriter William Goldman chose to keep only the better parts of a long and fascinating fairy tale.  Princess Buttercup is in love with her farm boy, Westley.  When he dies at sea, she is forced into a marriage with the overly vain Prince Humperdinck of Florin.  What follows afterwards has to be read to be believed.
If you’ve only seen the movie I urge and implore you to read the book.  So much more is in the book that the movie, for all its many many greatnesses, has to pale in comparison.  I first read William Goldman’s masterpiece when I was eleven years old because the back of the book made me laugh.  It read What happens when with most beautiful woman in the world marries the most handsome prince in the world…and he turns out to be a son of a bitch? That is one epic hook.  It’s like a giant, crushing hug whenever I read this.  It gives me tremendous giggle fits.  In my opinion, to not like it would be…inconceivable.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Aziraphale is an angel with a love for antique texts.  Crowley is a demon that didn’t Fall from Grace, so much as ‘saunter vaguely downward.’  Surprisingly, they’re friends, and have been since the Garden of Eden.  Now, the Apocalypse is at hand, and they can’t locate the Antichrist.  Along the way they encounter a reluctant witch-hunter, a passionate occultist, and the only entirely factual prophetic book ever written by a complete loony named Agnes Nutter, all while driving a car that only plays Queen.  
This book is what Douglas Adams would have written if he decided to use his zany, off-center humor to tackle the subject of the Endtimes.  It combines the witty grace of Neil Gaiman and the offbeat, laugh out loud hilarity of Pratchett and exploits them to the full.  The Rapture was never so hilarious.
My Life In France by Julia Child
The world-renowned chef and her adoring husband Paul make France their home in the formative post-war years.  Their life and love is chronicled with elegant care by Child in this, her second autobiography.  While the book detours into their time spent in Germany as well as Scandinavia, it is clear Julia’s true love will always be France.  
What is there not to love about this book? Full of loving descriptions of crammed apartments full of warmth (and pots and pans!), an almost-rapturous first taste of sole menuiere, and a love story that lasted for forty years.  Julia clearly shows her sense of humor, sharp tongue, and brilliant mind and enthusiasm. What I most love about this book is how much her joy leaps off the page (exclamation points permeate the narrative).  I have yet to see Julie and Julia, but I feel that Child’s story will be my favorite of the two viewpoints.
Now, off to work out, shower, and get ready for rehearsal.  Who’s rooting for who this weekend in the Super Bowl? I say “Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints? Who dat? Who dat?”

Published by The Curious Ally Cat

I'm a 34 year old adjunct professor and writer in Connecticut. People seem to like me because I am polite and I am rarely late.

3 thoughts on “Are we gonna smush?

  1. Good Omens and The Princess Bride are both made of incredible amounts of win. Do you subscribe to Bas Bleu's catalog? They specialize in good literature with a bit of depth to it.

    Your mom's not alone in the tickling thing- I've been known to wail like an air raid siren when my boyfriend tries it.

    Count me as a vote for the Saints. The Colts and Peyton Manning already got theirs.


  2. I read The Secret History years ago when living in Seatlle (I think it may have been 1993?) and absolutely loved it. I even remember the bookstore where I found it. Really excellent book!


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