“So what are you doing?”I asked my mother.

“Reading,”she said.  “A terrible book.  Characters come and go.  There’s not background on any of them.  I don’t know who anyone is.”  And then  – “The writer is from England.” – as if that made it all the more egregious – “She’s won awards too.  I don’t understand it.  It’s like Margaret Atwood.  Her writing is atrocious and very vulgar.  I don’t understand it.”

I do.  People have differing preferences.  Whether we’re talking food or authors of prospective partners, it all comes down to personal taste.  I, for one, don’t enjoy eating kiwis or reading Canadiana or dating neurotic redheads with an affinity for scrapbooking and azaleas.

But let’s stick to books.  My question for you is this: What celebrated authors just don’t do it for you?  Which writers, that your friends simply rave about, have landed on your “Do Not Read” list?  I want to know.

From literature to fantasy football.  Looks like my Snow Monkeys are headed to defeat and a 500 record on the season (this unless the Baltimore Ravens defense manages to hold the jets to no yards in the second half of their Sunday night game).  Tracking my players throughout the day has thoroughly exhausted me.  And I’m not the only one.  Ivon and Lawren, who also came over to watch the games (and track THEIR respective fantasy football league players) had equally taxing days.  Rob Cooper, who doesn’t play fantasy football, had his spirit sapped nonetheless when his beloved Cowboys lost another heartbreaker.  Well, at least the spread was memorable.  I made New Orleans barbecue shrimp and caponata.  Akemi made crab mousse.  Ivon made his 8 hour slow roast pork shoulder…

Rob brought Valrhona chocolate brownies…

Lawren brought rugelach and, oh yeah, I made kasu (sake) ice cream.

Soooo sleeeeepy. Even Akemi was enjoying the game!

The dogs, meanwhile, hung out upstairs, away from all the shouting –

News of note:

Scientists identify the catchiest song of all time: Catchiest song ever scientifically proven

This is why I don’t like flying.  Or ferris wheels: Small plane crashes into ferris wheel

Woman discovers her boyfriend was hiding a shocking secret.  He’s a she: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2044361/Nicole-Lindsay-discovers-boyfriend-actually-lesbian-sex-offender-Samantha-Brooks.html?ITO=1490

34 thoughts on “October 2, 2011: Literature! Football! And News of Note!

  1. What celebrated authors just don’t do it for you? Which writers, that your friends simply rave about, have landed on your “Do Not Read” list?

    I know this will come across as blasphemous to a lot of people, but Stephen King. I can’t stand his writing. I find he tends to take 10 pages to say what could be better said in 1 or 2, which makes his stories very tedious for me to read, and I usually end up not finishing.

  2. <>

    Oh great, now my boyfriend is wondering why I insisted we visit Canada this year (yep, neurotic redhead here and proud of it). ;-/


    Mahatma Gandhi and J.K. Rowling……several family members have offered to let me borrow books from both and I am just not interested. But then, they don’t care to read the science fiction books I like either.

    Joe, I’ve only been reading your blog for less than a year now, but I like that you ask for comments from your readers. Makes it much more fun. Thanks.

  3. Food looks and sounds great. Love Akemi curled up with – Max I think.
    The other 3 babes are just too cute avoiding the noise.
    Nice seeing the Van homestead again and all your comfies of home!
    Dang…hungry again.

  4. If someone hands me another Stephenie Meyer book from the Twilight series I will shoot myself.

  5. Heya, Joe…really nice to see you and your friends all comfy in familiar digs!

    Celebrated writers I can’t read…hmmm.

    Two famous writers I have never been able to handle are Shakespeare, and Herman Melville. I don’t understand one damn thing Shakespeare writes, and Melville’s sentence structure just makes my head hurt. I would give him a second chance, however, since when I did try to read his work (Billy Budd) I was in a rather deep depression, and my brain wasn’t working right. Now I might have a better time at wrapping my head around his style. But Shakespeare? Sorry, I swear he just made words up.

    Also, I refuse to read anything that ever landed on Oprah’s reading list…just out of principle. 🙂

    I’ve had a big – and rough – weekend. First, two days having a yard sale (for non-Americans, that’s when you take all the crap from your house that you don’t want anymore and put it out in your yard, driveway, or garage, and people buy it for super-cheap). I had to sell about 200 items, but when I packed up the leftovers and put them back in the garage, I swear I had more than when I started!! It’s like the loaves and fishes, only it’s knickknacks and dishes!

    Both Thursday and Friday nights I only got about 3 and a half hours sleep, and last night I felt so sick because I was exhausted, and hadn’t eaten well at all. Saturday night I got a goodly amount of sleep, but still felt like crap all and into the evening. We spent tonight with friends and I thought I was going to die at first, I was just that exhausted (and that was after a 2 hour nap!). But then I got my second wind and I feel much better now, though I think the bean dip I was gobbling up has finally caught up to me… 😉

    In other news, I got two new (and newly available) DVDs: The tv version of Treasure Island (with Charlton Heston and Christian Bale – the best version, ever!) and Mother Lode, also with Heston, as well as Kim Basinger and Nick Mancuso. Good times, good times.

    Gotta go get some more sleep. Nites, Joey.


  6. Robert Jordan. I can’t get past the first page without being bored to death. I have 2 copies of the Wheel of Time cause people keep getting me his books thinking that since I love sci fi/fantasy I’ll love him. I tried to sell those books for a nickel at a yard sale, when that failed, I tried giving them away for free. No dice.

  7. What celebrated authors just don’t do it for you? Which writers, that your friends simply rave about, have landed on your “Do Not Read” list?

    I’m a Californian and due to a steady stream of mandatory Steinbeck readings in school I have sworn off any other books of his. I find his books to be so tediously, irredeemably grim and unforgiving to his characters. I don’t need to read that — blah.

  8. Which writers, that your friends simply rave about, have landed on your “Do Not Read” list?

    Off the top of my head? Joseph Conrad and Jane Austen. (I know I’m can’t be the only one, but I have never met another female who dislikes Jane Austen. Alternatively, I’ve never met another person who loves The Great Gatsby. It makes me feel alone in a crazy world.) I also don’t like Iain Banks (sorry, Joe), Madeleine L’Engle, or Nicholas Sparks. I don’t like Stephanie Meyers, either (and no, not due to the HP vs Twilight culture) and so it makes me really nervous to read The Hunger Games because everyone I know who is spouting off love poems to that series is also in love with Twilight; the correlation is 100% in my (admittedly small) sample. :/

  9. Despite having spent MOST of my Life working in Libraries [mostly Technical ones] and owning a rather LARGE personal Collection, I’ve only acquired a few actual “Novels” in the last few years… What with “costs” and all that…

    As to Authors that I’m not fond of… probably half of the “Acquired Reading” List in High School! — One of my most enjoyable “I-Hate-You”-Author-Moments was watching a close Friend in HS [who had a 98%-grade in English-Lit!], JUMPING up&down on the Westmintster “Grave” of a certain famous Author while we were on a School Trip! — So glad that I had dropped That Class before being subjected to said Author.

    Anyway, these days… I prefer to read a few Preview Chapters BEFORE whipping out the Wallet! ..Unless of course, a Novel happens to be by one of my Fav Writers… It’s a Short List…

  10. I could never make it through Moby Dick. I’m not a huge fan of Walt Whitman, either. I used to read a lot of Vonnegut, but now I can’t seem to stomach his stuff. Too depressing.

  11. Which writers, that your friends simply rave about, have landed on your “Do Not Read” list?

    Any rubbish from Stephanie Meyer. I hate her “books” with a flaming passion! To me, her “novels” are like badly written fan fiction that stemmed from a wet dream and are a complete waste of trees and paper. there’s so much wrong with this series that I don’t even know where to begin.

  12. Stephanie Meyers is a Mormon housemom who went to BYU, reason enough for me not to touch her poisonous books. Oh, and Terry Brooks. Sword of Snnnnoozarama.
    Shakespeare is accessible if you have the Asimov guide on hand.

  13. Oooooh…those brownies look scrumptious! Brownies are my weakness. 🙂

    Your baby doggies look all so sweet, and so happy and relaxed. How’s Maximus? Any news on him? I still pray for him.

    I heard about that plane that hit the ferris wheel. My question is….how can you not see a ferris wheel? It’s a BIG wheel! O_o Plus…he must’ve been flying awfully low. Think that guy needs his pilot’s license revoked.

    I will not read any Stephen King books. Don’t like horror stories. I scare easily. I’m a chicken when is comes to horror stories or horror movies. I’ll get nightmares and won’t sleep for weeks.

    I also won’t read Danielle Steele stuff. I don’t care for any of that soap opera stuff. Not my cup of tea.

  14. The food sounds great! Did you have to roll your guests out?

    I saw the Ferris wheel plane crash on Yahoo/Bing/CNN. Wow, that could have been a lot worse than it was.

    As for the lesbian “boyfriend”, ok…you’ve beat my weird story about the cop who shot himself (http://www.wreg.com/news/wreg-benjamin-arrested,0,5444140.story ) . Truth can be stranger than fiction. If those plots came up in a writing session, it would get shot down for being too out there!

    Celebrated authors that don’t do “IT” for me:

    I have a very hard time getting through a “Gregory Maguire” story. He has very imaginative plots but I feel like I’m plowing through a jungle; hacking down vines to get to the story.
    Ann Rice is on my list for her dark and pornographic writing style. I just don’t want that crap in my head.
    As for Margaret Atwood, I liked The Handmaiden’s Tale but it is about a dark/hopeless society. My mom likes reading more of the fluff books like Nicolas Sparks. I’m impressed your mother is reading a different genre.

    I do love reading authors in different cultures. It’s like I’m getting a tour of their country through native eyes.

  15. Yeah, I’m with Das on the Shakespeare thing. Can’t understand a word without reading it several times over. I long ago decided I needed a translator for his stuff since I just don’t get it.

    I also don’t care for Margaret Atwood’s writing.

    I’ve never read Stephanie Meyers or J.K. Rowling, and I don’t intend to, either since I’m not interested in Harry Potter or Twilight.

  16. Books I can’t read are anything tweenish and twilighty. I don’t make a stink over it tho, so many people love it and I get that, so I’m always polite but firm.

    This one minute play is gruesomely funny:

  17. J. R. R. Tolkein — I only made it halfway through “Fellowship of the Ring” before I had to admit I couldn’t take it. His movies are good though. 😉

  18. JK Rowling – read the first 2 – see no reason to read the rest.

    Anne Rice – too many words not enough substance.

    James Mitchner – really nice short story’s completely lost in the sheer “joy” of listening to himself talk about the back story that lead up to the story.

    Robert Jordan – also tried to read book 1 a few times – exactly when does the actul story begin>

    Yeah, I don’t like the long drawn out prose that just drone on about curtain colors and formative years….

  19. Hello I’m back to. From 3 weeks vacations time. I quote: ” Oh, yeah. Once the comic book launches, Paul and I will be heading to L.A. to pitch the property. Ideally, we’d like to set it up as a t.v. show. Idealier, shooting in Vancouver. Idealiest, involving a lot of the same talented/familiar individuals we worked with on the Stargate franchise.”

    That’s a great plan.

    Have a nice day

  20. Chiming in on Shakespeare: All through school and beyond, whenever I’d read his plays, I’d think I was somehow deficient. The man is lauded as the greatest wordsmith ever and none of it ever touched me – it must be ME, right? Well, a few years ago I decided that perhaps it wasn’t the material, it was the medium. After all, the plays weren’t meant to be read, they were meant to be seen. So, I embarked on my “Shakespeare Project” – one last stab at literary appreciation of the Bard – and started going to see the plays actually performed. It was like night and day – all of a sudden, all the Shakespeare hyperbole made sense – the plays, the emotions, the drama all knocked me out. It helps that I live near DC, which has several good Shakespearean theaters and top notch productions. I love Shakespeare now, but he still only works for me onstage.

    P.S. I loved “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand,” too. Great characters – who could not root for them?

  21. I tried to listen to Twilight on Cd in a desperate bid to relate to other women. I got half way through before the drooly description of Edward’s blue-veined forearms was just too much.

    Stephen King’s writing can be a bit transparent at times. I’m not that snobbish about that – just not always in the mood to roll with it.

    Some writing I won’t read because it’s too tedious and I practically memorize something when I read. I listen to that kind of writing on tape and it solves the problem of tedium quite nicely that I can be doing chores at the same time.


    Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare tick me off for not putting enough action text in their scripts. There’s no way to understand them without a lot of head-banging and re-reading unless you’ve seen the play already.

    Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch//
    What? Did you just poke your eye? What’s going on?

    And TV and movie scripts get frustrating to read when the writer is afraid (and sometimes it’s been beaten into him so I can’t fault the writer) to write any duplicate information. Information can end up presented too out of order, where an important visual detail isn’t stated in action lines because it’s mentioned later in dialogue, so you have to keep reading before you can judge if the story makes sense despite the earlier omission. I love solving puzzles, but when I’m reading, I want to enjoy a story.


    I hate knowing the politics of a writer if I know them to be too statist. It makes me paranoid that they’ll say something that jerks me out of the story because I have shaken confidence in their ability to predict behavior.


    Lots of people hate Great Expectations with a passion, but it’s still worthy of mention because I feel like it stole months of me being 17. I had to read each line so many times because I just didn’t care what happened to the whiny little punk.


    Heinlein was way too preachy about his invented religion in Stranger in a Strange Land. That the good guys turned out to be right and everyone “good” joined in willingly and agreed about everything was only because the author wrote it that way and it sort of ticked me off. It wasn’t how things had to turn out. It was forced to turn out that way through the magic of writing.

    Everyone was okay with murder because Michael did it and said it was okay. Everyone was okay with homophobia and chauvinism because the good guys were okay with it. Blech. If he’d only stopped the story exactly half-way through, it would have been an awesome and satisfying conclusion, but Heinlein couldn’t stop preaching.

  22. Wonderful topic… I have a few of those:
    -Ernest Hemmingway, cannot stand ‘Old Man in the Sea.’ To be fair my ninth grade English teacher shares the blame, how much symbolism can you interpret in one sentence about a hand?
    -Steinbeck, another ninth grade book: ‘The Pearl.’ Again, super boring.
    -Nick Hornby, I tried to read one of his books, it was just so vulgar, crude, and dull, it’s one of the only books that’s ever gone in my recycling bin.

  23. My all time least favorite book — ‘Ethan Frome’ by Edith Wharton. I don’t know if it was how it was taught or what but it’s the first time I ever hated a book.

    Hemingway, Steinbeck …

    @Patricia — ‘Chiming in on Shakespeare’ I agree. It takes me a while to wade through Shakespeare on the page; but on the stage (or screen) it’s pretty amazing.

    @das — “In other news, I got two new (and newly available) DVDs: The tv version of Treasure Island (with Charlton Heston and Christian Bale – the best version, ever!) ”

    I had to chuckle when I read this; I think my friends and I wore out my VHS copy of that version of ‘Treasure Island’. (Pre-teen girls- cute boy with English accent = new appreciation of pirate stories ;)) Which lead to Kenneth Branagh’s version of ‘Henry V’ (Christian Bale has a small role.) and my appreciation for Shakespeare.

  24. Ian McEwan. I read his book “Enduring Love” in college, and it was good, don’t get me wrong, the characters were brilliantly crafted, they felt real, the growing sense of dread from an obsessed stalker and the main character’s escalating panic, it all felt real in a way that almost no other author has managed… but I won’t read any more of his books simply because I don’t want to be depressed by what I read. I remember being told that one of his more celebrated books (I forget the title) was about parents having their child kidnapped, and they never find out what became of her. The whole book was about how the parents suffer and deal with the loss. Pass! If I wanted real life, I would get out the house and meet people. If I wanted depressing real life, I’d watch the news. I read to escape real life, not to rub my face in more of it. So with all due respect to the very talented Ian McEwan, I’ll stick to Terry Pratchett and my comic books, thank you very much.

  25. GO RAVENs! What is the Snowmonkies standing now?

    As for authors I detest; pretty much everything that was on the required reading list of my high-school including JD Salinger and Richard Wright.

    I tried to like JRR Tolken, but all the meandering story lines just ended up annoying and boring me. Also, I don’t really care for anything to do with teen vampires; zombies or teenage angst. I’m sensing similar tastes among your other commentors…

  26. @ stephanie re Tolkien– blasphemy. My daughter will hunt you down. 🙂

    Oy.. I like Stephen King in some things but not into ghosts and crap so really maybe 3 of his books (the stand, firestarter… wait make that 2).

    Rawling– I applaud her getting kids to read, but I think her writing is terrible. But not as terrible as acclaimed Lois Lowry. I have read all her books because her IDEAS are great. But honest, she should write ideas and let someone else write them, awards or no. ((sad aside– I blanked on her name. Called my daughter — the one who is tracking Stephanie– and said “Who is that writer I hate who I said writes more like outlines than books?” Keep in mind its been years since that comment. But she knew. Old age sucks. Enjoy youth and a brain while you have one.))

    I have read all of Shakespeare and most the classics. Charles Dickens — great writer and thinker screwed by the greed of per word payment/wordiness. Yawn. Not much into the Russian depression books (said daughter adores them). Twilight and Charlaine Harris make me gag (tho I LOVE the tv’s True Blood 🙂 ) OMG and Nicholas Sparks… read one, read them all. Yawn. Okay maybe it took 2 to know them all, to be fair.

  27. Hey Joe

    Arthur C. Clarke – Never could get through one of his books.
    Terry Brooks – Like maggiemayday said…

    Other than that I’m fairly easy going.


  28. Hi Joe. I’ve been a longtime fan of Stargate, and have watched every episode of SG-1, SGA, and almost every episode of SGU. I dabble in fanfic, and in some of my research in Gateworld, was reading the transcripts and summaries of a few episodes for backstory. As I was reading, I remembered a few episodes that left me feeling very uneasy, and led to a serious question that I wondered if you would be so kind to answer. There have been a couple of episodes that involve rape, namely Hathor and Irresistible, and yet, in both episodes, the entire topic was brushed under the rug and no consequences were ever seen. In both episodes, a character or characters were drugged so that they had no ability to refuse, and then were involved in a sexual relationship. (Daniel in Hathor and Lucius’ wives in Irresistible.) Both of these episodes were done as comedy, and yet, I can’t bring myself to watch either one after a single viewing. Did any of the writers ever consider that this was rape? As a woman, I can’t see using rape for comedic purposes. Did the absence of women in the writing room lead to a missing viewpoint? I do know that there are women who may have enjoyed the episodes, but I just can’t watch them without viewing certain aspects in that light.

    I know this is an odd topic to bring up in my first post, but it’s been bothering me a little lately, and I wondered if you had any comment. Is that something that anyone thought of in the discussions in the writers’ room?

    Thanks for taking the time to read my question, and I’d be quite interested in reading any response you care to give about this. (And yes, I do realize that Hathor was before your time on the production, but wondered if there was ever any discussion on this while you were there.)

  29. Okay, for all of you Stephanie Meyers haters (surprisingly enough I own to copies of her books too…from people who thought I’d love them ugh) what do you think about the idea of an undead impregnanting a woman with a half undead/half living creature who drinks blood?

    I heard that is what happens in the last book. Bella gets knocked up and baby undead tries to claw it’s way out which apparently hurts…I have no interest in actually reading to find out if she explains it, but an undead bloodsucking monster baby? I hope she doesn’t plan on breastfeeding the thing. (Seriously, WTF was Meyer thinking when she wrote that?) lol. Just rambling thoughts. I know, curiosity killed the cat, it’s more safe to forget that stuff even exists.

  30. I enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale – I generally enjoy dystopian / post apocalyptic stories. I don’t enjoy most fantasy though – too wordy for me, speaking in some weird old english like dialect distracts me from the story. I also can’t stand John Steinbeck, and I have no interest in Nicholas Sparks – a book shouldn’t depress me and make me want to stab myself in the eye at the end.

    Twilight bothers me – but this is more due to the sparkly vampires. I’m sorry, I firmly think vampires should combust under direct sunlight.

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