Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Crime books I read

I don't usually read crime books. There has to be some special reason or gimmick, like they're set in Galway or they're written by someone I know. This year I read two crime books with gimmicks or hooks attached. The first was Michael Chabon's fine The Yiddish Policemen's Union, which is set in a fictional Alaskan present. In this fictional present, President Roosevelt's idea to have the displaced Jews of Europe come and live in Alaska was fulfilled, but they are all about to be displaced again because Sitka, which they were given as a homeland, is about to revert to being a U.S. state, and residency is not guaranteed for all. Into this complex situation comes a tired police detective, a dead heroin addict, and the world's greatest pie. It's a fine book, as you'd expect from Chabon. Heaps of atmosphere, fun, the usual American hangups with fathers, and detective work.

The second book, which I got so bogged down in that it actually took me months to read, was Andrew Taylor's DULL AS FUCK The American Boy (of course, it didn't help that every time I picked it up, the Estelle song ran around my head).

This book is set in London in 18-bippety something, not long after the Napoleonic wars and the war with America. It concerns a young school teacher who is assigned to accompany two of his young charges to London, but OH NOES! one of them is Edgar Allan Poe. DO YOU SEE?? Creepiness can only ensue. Except it doesn't really. There are a couple of murders, I don't care. There is a bit of flirting with young women, I don't care about that either. And there is rather a lot of language that, I'm sorry to tell you, I'm fairly sure is lifted from Patrick O'Brian. I know they're both old-timey and everything, but there's just something about a few of the exact phrases that seemed awfully familiar. "I tried to move, but my legs wouldn't answer," and the good old "I should like it of all things". It suffered a lot from tell-don't-show, and also from the fact that the protagonist basically does nothing, things merely happen around him that he witnesses or falls over. It's really dull. However, I understand they're planning on filming it, and it probably would look good on screen.

(By the way, Edgar Allan has absolutely no bearing on the plot at all. The whole thing is a mess.)

Ways in which dogs are like children, No. 1 in an occasional series

If they find a noisy toy in the kitchen in the morning, then you don't get to hear the radio.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The new year is coming. Look busy, everyone!

This time last year I posted my list of resolutions for 2008. Naturally, I kept very few of them.

Did I read 50 books? I'm not sure I even read ten this year, and blogged even fewer than that (what is with the not reading thing? I don't understand it, I truly don't).

Did I get my week's work done in five days? No. And frankly, I'm shocked at how long my crappy work habits have been going on for. Over a year now! That's bad, and it needs to be addressed or, even more frankly, I could lose my job if jobs are around to be lost.

I also failed to write a new novel, although I did get about 30,000 words of a Nanowrimo novel written, and although it might not have been very good, it was sufficient to scare the bejesus out of me. So, possibly there's scope for another crack at it this year.

I did, however, manage to start volunteering again. I've been working in the bookshop on Thursday afternoons this year. It has been difficult, though, and maybe it's contributing to the not getting my week's work done in five days business. I also (well, we also) started dog fostering again, as astute readers will have noticed. And I love doing that. Somewhere in there I also tried to help this unfortunate crazy lady in the community, but it didn't work out. She is too far into whatever her particular thing is for me to help her, and she asked me for the key back because (I suspect) she was afraid I was going to take her cats away and give them to the rescue, something she's very afraid of. So I gave it back, and that's the end of that.

I have also been donating stuff to Oxfam, and will continue to do so.

So, do I have new resolutions for next year? They're more like revised ones. Here they are, look!

Two books a month
Get my work done in five days
Learn to play a song on the ukulele
(did I mention I got a ukulele for Christmas?)
Finish the zombie novel
Get a zine into every Franks mailing

That's it. Simple. Let's see if they're doable.

By the way, does anyone else notice just how hard it is to italicize and then normalize fonts on Blogger?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Here's Lulu

Lulu was picked up outside Homebase on the Donore Road last Wednesday. She might have strayed from somewhere, but it's also possible she was dumped. She's the right age for it (about seven months, which means she needs to be spayed soon, which is expensive and troublesome), it's the right time of the year for it, and she's terrified to get into the car. Drogheda Animal Rescue are still hoping that her owners will come forward and reclaim her, although I kind of hope they don't because, hey, they don't deserve her.

She's a sweet little thing, a leggy collie type who just wants to be your best friend and cuddle up to you. She has had no training of any kind that we can discover. She doesn't know how to sit, she is not housetrained, and she can't walk on a lead to save her life. But she loves to be praised and she comes back immediately when you call her name, so I'm hopeful that she'll be easy to train when she settles down a bit.

She is going to make Christmas Day a little tricky, because we can't bring her to Mrmonkey's parents' house, so she'll just have to stay here and make a mess. But, oh well.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Make sure your Christmas goes up to 11

With thanks to Sinead Mac, and to the people at Optophonic and Phonic Studios.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dear Dublin City Council...

...the more I look at it, and the more depressing the recession becomes, the more I come to the conclusion that your idea of a Christmas tree is unacceptable. A big pile of lit up razorwire balanced on top of a public toilet cubicle is not a Christmas tree.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Busy, busy time

I have been helping out in the local community, feeding the cats of an unfortunate old woman who lives in a container down in our village. She had many cats once upon a time, but now she's down to three. She may have to go into a nursing home soon, and then we will have to find homes for the cats, because my house is full. Also, one of her cats has cat flu, so I can't bring him into the house or all of ours will get it.

I tell you what, though. I have seen my future here, and it's not pretty. Maybe I should have had a child when I was younger, so I could guilt it into taking care of me when I'm old. I'm certainly getting rid of all my cats by the time I'm 60. For some reason an older woman living on her own with cats seems tragic. An older woman living on her own with a dog seems less so.

It is hard work trying to help someone like this, who is used to being on her own and is perhaps not as in possession of all her faculties as you would like to hope. I'm not really sure of what I'm doing, even, or if I am actually helping at all. I wonder if I shouldn't just let her see how bad it is when she tries to do it on her own, so that she will go into the nursing home sooner. I don't want her to depend on me. I am not a dependable person.

We've also had a short-term foster dog. He is a setter cross called Jack, and is the most beautiful dog I've ever seen anyone throw away. Neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, trained, and beautifully behaved. I can only imagine how much it must have hurt his owners to leave him into the pound to be put down, because someone obviously loved him. He's off to Sweden in the morning. Maybe he'll meet up with Woody and they'll be best friends.

By the end of this week we should have another dog.

Man, my life has just not panned out the way I thought it would. Not at all. But let's hope the animal thing is as weird as it gets.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Nanowrimo FAIL

I did not succeed in getting my novel, The End of Innistown, written by the end of November. In a way, this is no bad thing. I don't know anything about creating suspense or writing action sequences, although maybe I could learn. In another way, though, I feel that the novel could have made a substantial contribution to the zombie literature, because I had a couple of good ideas in it that even I was proud of.

Oh well. There's no point in saying that I'll finish it, because I won't finish it. But I did enjoy writing it. I'm pleased to see that now that I've stopped taking Lexapro, I've started being interested in writing again. Hooray!