The Shelfie Project

This summer, I have been thinking of embarking on a reading quest that I would call The Shelfie Project. It took a while for me to get the courage to proceed. By the time I had, it turns out, I was not the only one with the idea. The ARTnews has begun their own Shelfie Project in which art world celebs take pictures of themselves with their bookshelves as an inspiration for summer reading. Read more about this here.

Here’s a shelf.

At first I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll just get on the bandwagon. After all, I do have a shelfie already.’ But my Shelfie Project is a very different animal. You see, I have a lot of books in my apartment. A LOT of books. I estimate that there are at least 1200 books here, probably more, since many of the shelves are double stacked. When people come over, they often ask, “have you read all these books?” I wish I could say yes, but I can’t. I have read a lot of them. I have read at least some of all of them–with the notable exception of recent purchases. But I began to wonder what it would be like to say “Yes.”

That’s when I came up with the idea for The Shelfie Project, or at least MY idea for A Shelfie Project. What if I took a shelfie every so often and then read through each book on that shelf, posting as I go along, until I really have read every book in the apartment?

It would be cool, but could I really do it? I think it’s possible. I don’t know how long it would take. Since I have a job, it’s not like I’ll get through one a day. I could justifiably write about but not read in their entirety reference books, textbooks, or large anthologies. And I suppose it would be easy enough to skim through the ones I have already read in order to write about them. Then there are those trips to Half Price Books where I always find something to add to the collection. I would definitely have to try to control myself in that area.

This may be a fools errand, but I think it will be fun. I’ll post a picture of the tier I’m starting on and then get into the first book on that tier. I will also add each book to my Goodreads account. Maybe I should change the name of my little endeavor since ARTnews is already using it. What do you think? The Shelfie Saga? ShelfieQuest?

Another one of my shelves

A couple more shelves

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A Late Sideways Look

Today I watched Sideways starring Paul Giamatti as Miles Raymond and Thomas Hayden Church as his former college roommate and best friend Jack Cole.

The plot can best be described as a coming of middle age. Two forty-something friends meet so that one can take the other on a bachelors week trip. Soon to be wed Jack is a washed up actor who will do whatever he can to prove that he’s still got it–Miles, a depressed and frustrated writer who teaches middle school English while collecting rejections from publishers. They journey into California wine country, where Miles shows off his knowledge of the grape while Jack works hard trying to get in that last fling before he is locked down forever. A good part of the humor comes from this clash of personalities as this odd couple visits bars, restaurants, and vineyards. However, the real narrative arc comes from Miles’s character as he tries to deal with his failure both in love and in his literary endeavors.

The film was a bit slow and self-indulgent. Long montages abound in which characters eat, chat, drink wine, hike. While the cinematography is lovely–with elegant shots of grapes and wine country, wine glasses and restaurant settings–the montages dragged, and might have been shortened or perhaps cut entirely with little loss to narrative flow. The acting was stiff in the early scenes. However, the actors seemed to reach a point of flow in the later scenes. Giamatti’s depiction of depression and anxiety was easily relatable as was Church’s despondent outburst as Jack reacts to the possibility of losing his fiancée. The angst of midlife crisis combined with the tension surrounding marriage was tangible and propelled the male characters to realistic outcomes. On the other hand, the female characters are flat; while wonderfully acted, with Sandra Oh as the fun-loving Stephanie and Virginia Madsen as the down to earth Maya, they only exist to position the males within the narrative.  In fact, Sideways could easily have been a stage play with just two actors reacting to unseen secondary characters. This fact calls the ending into question; it didn’t seem believable or necessary except to relieve the tension and get viewers out of the theater on a positive note.  Imagine, instead, the film ending with the classroom scene: a student reads from Knowles A Separate Peace, “I did not cry then or ever about Finny. I did not cry even when I stood watching him being lowered into his family’s straight-laced burial ground outside of Boston. I could not escape the feeling that this was my own funeral, and you do not cry in that case.” The student then asks if he should continue reading. The camera closes in slowly on Miles’s face, a study in melancholy. Fade to black. Credits. That would have been awesome. Or melodramatic, but certainly darker, and dark looks good on this film. 

Reviews of Sideways are overwhelmingly positive and it has won numerous awards. I watched the film on a cable TV “on demand” service, which does color my perception since I did not have to spend extra money on tickets and overpriced snacks. I think if I had seen this in the theater, I might have been disappointed. The funny parts weren’t that funny, and the slow parts might have led to uncomfortable fidgeting and irritation without the ease one has at home to step out or become distracted with something else. Nevertheless, I strongly relate to Miles and his feelings of low self-worth, having failed to accomplish anything he sees as worthwhile by middle age, and the hopelessness that comes from loss. The film was visually engaging, the acting was great, and the jazz score by Rolfe Kent was snappy and delightful. All in all, I liked Sideways.

One last thing: as a cat lady, I was especially pleased to see listed in the credits Editorial Cat, Lulu. She seems to have done an excellent job, and I cannot wait to see more of her work.

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Shopping Blues (with Stripes)

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I hate shopping. There are a number of reasons, but here is the one that struck me today.

My purse broke, so I went looking for a new one. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, but I did hope to find something that I might like.

I went from store to store, but the purses I found were either lousy or just OK. Every time I found one that might suffice, the price was over $100, even at the cheap stores. Now, I don’t mind paying a high price for an awesome purse, but no one wants to pay over $100 for “merely adequate.”

After so many stores, I began to get tired and grumpy. Why do all these purses suck? Why are the only purses that are halfway decent $200? Why is a $200 purse only halfway decent?

Finally I found a $20 purse that was merely adequate and decided to go with it. I grabbed it and took it to the counter. It would have to do.

This is the purse.

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In the car, I pulled the new purse out of the bag to switch my belongings from the broken purse into the new one. That’s when, to my horror, I saw this:

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I hate animal print!!!  I particularly hate cheap crappy animal print. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t even looked at it carefully. Maybe I can dye it, I thought. I pulled the tags off. One of the tags was a little envelope. I opened it, and found this card.

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REALLY? WTF!

It’s not enough that I have a mediocre (and ugly) purse that, who knows, might also break, but I have to be insulted too?

I hate shopping.

NB: My husband just saw the inside of the purse and laughed his ass off.

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ABE : Psychotic Robot Butler

Reason & Existenz

London filmmaker Rob McLellan;s straightforward short film ABE takes some heavy minutes out of Silence of the Lambs, speciifically where serial killer Buffalo Bill interacts with the girl in the well. The twist: gender enraged psychopath making a “girl dress” is replaced by Robot Butler looking for a human suit. Great!

 

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Women Must be Sexy and Cute?

Women Must be Sexy and Cute?

According to Lisa Wade, PhD,

The sexualization of girls and the infantilization of adult women are two sides of the same coin. They both tell us that we should find youth, inexperience, and naivete sexy in women, but not in men. This reinforces a power and status difference between men and women, where vulnerability, weakness, and dependency and their opposites are gendered traits: desirable in one sex but not the other.

Behind the cultural Imperative for Women to be Sexy and Cute

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#Bartoli and #Sexualization

When will women cease to be viewed only as sexual objects? This article demonstrates how this kind of bigotry still infects our medias

Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Marion Bartoli wins the Wimbledon championship. The crowd cheers, she celebrates and rushes to hug her father and former coach. And BBC Sport announcer John Inverdale chooses that moment to comment upon what he considers Bartoli’s lack of good looks. On Twitter and other social media sites, tennis fans let loose with attacks on the player’s looks, sexual attractiveness, even questioning her biological sex.

This is what sexualization looks like. It is assigning all of the value that a woman has to her physical attractiveness. It is discounting her achievements because, no matter her level of physical prowess, intelligence, or strength, she is not meeting the primary expectation of a woman: to be sexy. When female athletes, politicians, activists, and others in the public eye cannot achieve anything without having their physical appearance commented upon, we know that sexualization and objectification are alive and well. And it hurts all…

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Franz Kafka by Piotr Dumala

Based on the Diaries of Franz Kafka. Happy Birthday, Franz!

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