Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

I stayed at home for most of the day, reading Alex Kava's "Black Friday." It's about a terrorist plot that takes place at the Mall of America on the day after Thanksgiving. Last night I watched "Paul Blart, Mall Cop," which I had never seen; it's set at a mall (obviously) during a takeover attempt by some skateboarding criminals during the Christmas season. I had never seen it before, and I really enjoyed it.

I was thinking about the kinds of books and movies I like, and what kind of themes run through them. Lately I've mostly been reading thrillers and paranormal mysteries, with a little "women's fiction" thrown in. I read almost exclusively fiction, almost never non-fiction. I'll read a memoir occasionally, and sometimes short stories. I have kind of a problem with short stories, though. I love the idea of them, I love an anthology of stories all in a theme, for instance, but short stories kind of make me nervous, for some reason. I can't relax and enjoy them, I always seem to hurry through them. I don't really understand that. It's as if, if I know the story is going to end in a few pages, I need to rush to get through it rather than relaxing into a longer book.

My favorite fiction is urban fantasy, or magical realism (although that term seems to be applied mostly to Latin American writers)--normal, or realistic, life with elements of magic or paranormal aspects. The "Twilight" series, for instance, the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris, or the "Demon Hunting Soccer Mom" books by Julie Kenner. Normal appearing/seeming characters who happen to be vampires or demon hunters or something else fantastic. The idea of getting a glimpse into a hidden world that just might be there all the time.

I'm intrigued, in general, by stories set in contained "societies", i.e., airports, hotels, malls, theme parks. I'm not sure why. I don't shop at malls anymore, I can't remember the last time I went to one. But I enjoy the idea of them. One of my favorite fantasies as a child was thinking about what it would be like to live in the mall--sleeping in the furniture store, eating at the food court (although that was before food courts; the big department stores had restaurants of their own), etc.

I do love airports, the big ones, like Orlando International Airport, with stores, restaurants, hotels -- like in the Tom Hanks movie, "Terminal," I can imagine living in an airport indefinitely. Last night I also watched a Jennifer Aniston movie, "Management," in which her character, a traveling saleswoman, has a fling with a motel night manager who lives at the motel; that's kind of intriguing, too -- not the fling, but living at the motel.

Stuart M. Kaminsky has written a series of books set in Sarasota, Florida, the latest of which is "Bright Futures," featuring a down-on-his-luck character named Lew Fonseca. Fonseca's wife was killed by a drunk driver, in Chicago, I believe, and in his despair, he takes off driving south. His car breaks down in Sarasota, so he stays there and becomes a process server, lives in a run-down motel, and eats his meals at the Dairy Queen across the street.

We can see this mixing of the familiar and the unexpected in the way some works of post-apocalyptic fiction take images of enclosed malls, office parks, singles complexes, and theme parks, and use them as the raw material for depictions of walled-in high-tech cities full of inhabitants who have retreated from nature and the larger world. The contemporary mall, as an island of safety and comfort amid a desert of blacktop and crime, is transformed into a future city in a post-apocalyptic wasteland full of mutants and bandits. Mall security, watching the video screens from the central office, gets turned into a depiction of future armies and police monitoring distant events from their high-tech headquarters.

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction in Movies and Television

Earlier this week I read "Murderland" by Thomas B. Cavanagh, a murder mystery set in a thinly-disguised version of Walt Disney World called Empire Realms. There's also a wonderful science fiction novel by Cory Doctorow called "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom." I guess I need to make a definitive list . . .

I don't know why this kind of fiction appeals to me. It may be something about a somewhat closed society feeling safe. I love, for instance, the idea of Celebration, the Disney "company town" in Florida. But it's like a Stepford town, and I'm pretty sure that the rules and regulations would drive me crazy. So I doubt I would like it in practice, but in theory, it intrigues me. It's one of those dichotomies that make us human, I guess. We can be fascinated by things that we would never actually do in real life.

This treatise got away from me! What I started out to write about was that I stayed at home most of the day, then went out around 3:00. I deposited a check in the bank, then went to Panera Bread for an early dinner, then went by Half Price Books. I seem to have lost my copy of Ladder of Years, or at least haven't been able to find it, so thought I'd look there for another copy. They had a couple, but they were pretty used looking, so I'm going to wait until I get a good Borders coupon, and buy a new copy. That was all I really needed to do today.

Bob had to work today, and won't be home until around 10:30 or later. I wasn't really ready to come home yet, so I stopped at Kohl's to browse. I ended up buying some Christmas cards there, then went to Target and cruised through the Christmas aisles. I kind of wanted to get out there and get into the Christmas spirit a little. It kind of worked. Tomorrow I'll put up the wreath on the front door and maybe do some other little things around the house.

Nothing seemed to be very busy, although it may have been late enough when I went out that if there was a rush, it was over. I'll have to ask Bob tonight if his store was busy. It was kind of nice that there weren't any crowds, but I actually would have felt better about it if there were. It would have been an indication to me that maybe the economy is improving. But either way, the Christmas season is upon us, time for me to watch "Christmas With the Kranks," much of which is set at the mall . . .


Interesting link with a list of books set in malls: Shopping Mall Studies

Library Thing / Shopping Malls / Fiction

Books set at Disney Theme Parks

Overbooked: Books set in or featuring amusement parks or theme parks

city of sound: A review of "A Week at the Airport" by Alain de Botton

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Thursday, November 26, 2009


50 things to be thankful for, in no particular order:

  1. My sweet husband
  2. Our wonderful families
  3. That all four of our parents are doing well
  4. That we both have good jobs
  5. Crystal Light Peach Mango Green Tea
  6. A place to live
  7. Sunshine
  8. Clinique Skin Care products
  9. Target
  10. Running water
  11. Netflix
  12. Working cars
  13. Books
  14. A great library
  15. Bookstores
  16. Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses
  17. Handknitted socks
  18. Audio books
  19. My box of blank notebooks waiting to be written in
  20. MacBook Pro
  21. My iPhone
  22. The Food Network
  23. Sleeping with the windows open
  24. Our bed
  25. Self striping sock yarn
  26. Chai tea
  27. Mittens
  28. Sunglasses
  29. GPS on my iPhone
  30. eBooks
  31. Etsy
  32. Self-service postal stations
  33. Jojo, Connor, Takoha, Olive Oyl, Sunny, Clark, Dexter, Dolly and Dixie
  34. Especially Jojo
  35. All of my wonderful co-workers that make going to work a blessing
  36. Aaron and Adam, who make my life easier
  37. And Big Dave
  38. Yankee Candle Christmas Wreath and Mistletoe candles
  39. Peppermint ice cream
  40. Ben & Jerry
  41. Desktop artificial Christmas trees
  42. Dinah
  43. The years we had with Pyewacket and Doña
  44. My blog readers for SO very long
  45. Birthday cards
  46. Good friends
  47. Dominic
  48. Christmas music
  49. Vacation days with no specific agenda
  50. Reading in bed

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Saturday, November 21, 2009


We had Thanksgiving dinner at Bob's parents' house tonight. It was a small crowd, about half what it normally is. Some of the relatives had other things going on tonight, but that's okay. It was kind of nice to have fewer people, not quite as much commotion and confusion, easier to talk.

Bob made the mashed potatoes and gravy, and I made spinach dip and stuffed celery, and Bob's mom did the rest. It was a nice evening. We're having Thanksgiving for my family at my sister's house on Thursday; Bob has to work, so I'll go out by myself. I'm in charge of napkins, cups, ice, and drinks, and I'll make something to take, but I haven't decided what yet.

I'm on vacation next week. I don't have anything in particular to do, but I have about a week and a half of vacation left that I haven't taken, so I figured since next week is bound to be quiet, it was a good time to take three days off before the long Thanksgiving weekend, especially since my birthday is on Tuesday.

I'm thinking I might go see New Moon (I read that, as well as the third and fourth books in the Twilight series, one after the other about a week ago, so I'm looking forward to the movie), and possibly 2012, although probably not, since I think Bob would like to see that one, too.

I also have a pile of books -- I picked up Charlie Huston's Already Dead on audio CD a couple of weeks ago at the library, and as soon as I put in the CD player, I was hooked. It's about Joe Pitt (an assumed name), who is a vampire and a sometime-enforcer for the vampire coalition. He's hired by a wealthy family to find their runaway daughter, and in the process finds out that there's a lot more to that task than it first appeared.

As the book opens, Joe is tailing a group of zombies (or as a politically correct acquaintance prefers to call them, "VOZ," or "Victim of Zombification." He takes care of the ones he finds, but is still seeking the carrier -- the one who created the zombies.

The vampires in this world can eat and drink regular food, but they need an occasional meal of blood to survive. They can't go out in the sun, so when Joe has to go out, he wraps up in a burnoose and tries not to let any part of his body be exposed. He isn't always successful.

There are four more books in the series, and I picked up three of them at the library today. The same time I picked up the Already Dead audio book, I picked up a book called Head Games, by Thomas B. Cavanagh. It's about a retired policeman turned detective hired to find a missing member of a boy band, "Boyz Club." The detective, Mike Garrity, has a brain tumor (which he's named Bob), a teenage daughter, and two ex-wives, so he has a fairly busy life.

I really loved the book, so I went looking for more by Cavanagh. He has written another Mike Garrity novel, Prodigal Son, as well as a standalone mystery titled Murderland, set in a Florida theme park. I couldn't find either of these at my library, so I requested them from interlibrary loan, and I picked them up today. I also have Under the Dome, Stephen King's latest, so I'm pretty well fixed for books this week. Oh, and I've also got a couple of Raymond Benson mysteries -- Dark Side of the Morgue and A Hard Day's Death, both dealing with murders of rock musicians investigated by Spike Berenger's "Rockin' Security" firm.

If I could just stay in bed all week and read, I think I would be happy. I won't, though, of course, but I plan to spend at least some of the week doing that. That's probably the best place to read Under the Dome anyway, since at over 1,000 pages, it's not likely that I'll be carrying it anywhere.

Upcoming reading:

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Saturday, November 07, 2009


It's 11:45, and I'm getting ready to head out of the house. Bob left a half hour ago or so to go downtown to Arthur Bryant's and pick up some barbeque for his lunch; he said he'd come home and watch football this afternoon. I'm planning on getting lunch at Chipotlé, then go to the library, pick up a prescription, and I don't know what else.

The weather is absolutely beautiful--68° right now, with a projected high of 75°. I guess this is the belated Indian Summer that we didn't have last month.

I'm finally getting over the cold that I've had for two weeks. I still have a cough, but it's not too bad, and I feel fine. I've been trying to take good care of myself over the last couple of weeks, and getting a lot of sleep. Last Friday I took some Nyquil when I went to bed, but I hate the stuff, and didn't take enough. So a couple of hours later Bob told me to get up and take some more, and I did, but I was still waking up coughing, so I got up and took a couple of cold pills around 2:00 in the morning.

By the time I woke up, it was after noon, and I had slept for 15 hours! I guess I shouldn't have done that, but on the other hand, I think I needed it. The next night I slept for 12 hours without any drugs at all, and during the week I've been going up to bed at about 9:30 or 10:00 most nights. I haven't gotten a lot of work done at home, but at least I haven't gotten sicker. I was worried for awhile that I might be getting bronchitis, but apparently not.

So I'm heading out into the beautiful day to run some errands. I decided I needed to read "New Moon" before the movie comes out, so I started that this morning in ebook form on my iPhone, so I'll probably read that while I eat lunch. I also need to go to the office supply store and replenish my supply of padded envelopes--I sold one of my knitted scarves on Etsy this morning, the first knitted thing I've sold, which I was pleased about. I want to get it into the mail tomorrow.

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