Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos

When Edith Wharton labels a little book the "great American novel," it's no longer a little book--it's one that deserves notice. I had never read Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or heard of Anita Loos before a few weeks ago. I had heard of the Marilyn Monroe movie, but hadn't seen it. All in all, until last week I was thoroughly deprived of an amazingly funny story that made me snicker, giggle, chortle, laugh uproariously, and probably grin mischievously when nobody was looking.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is the story of Lorelei Lee, along with her friend Dorothy, on a journey across the eastern United States and especially the big hits in Europe (London, Paris, etc.). Lorelei's more pertinent journeys, though, are her attempts to gain upward social mobility, "education" of the mind, and--of course--convincing men to buy her as many sparkly, expensive things as possible. She's hilarious in her honesty (the novel is written as her own diary), just as naive as she is cunning, and possibly the smartest idiot in literature.

The ending was so-so, but the first 90% of the book had already made me fall in love with Loos's writing style and spunk. I recommend this book! I'm not necessarily condoning Lorelei's behavior, p.s. Just loving it between the pages.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Classics Challenge 2008

My good friend Trish from my master's program has posed a reading challenge, and I am very excited because it will be my first online challenge! Trish is a very experienced blogger and book reviewer, and she has met a lot of interesting people online through her different challenges and blogs, which sounds like something I would LOVE to do more of if I weren't knee-deep in coursework right now for my doctorate. That said, however, I think if I do some more snooping around, I will be able to find some interesting challenges that I'm already reading for, whether I know it or not. For now, I'm thrilled to join...

The Classics Challenge July-December 2008! The following are Trish's guidelines:

  • Classics: We love them, we hate them, now we are going to challenge ourselves to reading more of them. Because there are so many different types of classics, different genres are acceptable and encouraged--for example, novels, short story collections, non-fiction, poetry, essays--I'm open for other suggestions!RULES (keep reading for the bonus):
  • OPTION 1: Read FIVE classics.
  • OPTION 2: Read FIVE classics from at least TWO different countries
  • OPTION 3: Read FIVE classics with any combination of at least TWO different countries and TWO different genres (see above for genres).
  • Cross-posting with other challenges is allowed (and encouraged!); Audiobooks are fine; books must be finished after July 1st to count for the challenge although re-reads are acceptable.
  • Lists don't have to be set in stone; you can change your selections at any time.
  • Have Fun. Oh ya...there will be a drawing for a prize or two. To be entered you must complete any one of the above options. You do NOT need a blog to participate.
  • Am I going to define what a classic is? Nope! There are lots of definitions offered on the Internet, but essentially we all have different opinions so don't stress too much--and see the bonus below.
  • BONUS!! (optional)
    As you can see, I'm requiring FIVE classics for six months. For the sixth book, I would like the participants to offer suggestions for books that may not be considered classics but that you think should be or books that you think will be a classic one day. Leave your suggestions in the comments below. I'll compile a list of the suggestions and you choose a book from the list and make that your sixth read. I realize this means you may have to wait to make your list if you choose to participate in the bonus round, but I'm hoping this is a modern twist on the old classics challenge.

Okay, so, I'm working on my reading list, but I'm pretty certain it will resemble closely the syllabus for Dr. Redfield's Nineteenth Century lit course for the Fall. I have a few other ideas, but nothing is solid. YAY BOOKS!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Catching up since the world won't slow down...

This has been a wild few weeks at the beginning of summer. Scott and I are trying to get back in shape, so we bought tennis rackets and have been playing tennis at a cute little park near the school. Scott’s Wilson racket is red and black, and “endorsed” by Roger Federer, according to the package. Mine is called the Wilson Hope Racket. Every time someone purchases a Wilson Hope racket (that has the pink ribbon symbol on it for breast cancer), Wilson makes a donation to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Since I have lost two precious family members to breast cancer, this meant the world to me. I was glad Scott picked this specific one out for me. I love it. It has a plum-colored floral design on the sides, and a soft, gray grip. I also bought some brand new tennis shoes (more on them later) that complete the look out there on the court. I’m not by any means a good player, but at least I am trying, and that’s half the battle. Maybe next year, for Wimbledon. It might be too late for me this time around. [insert wink here] Scott has been a sweet and patient coach for me (and he’s very handsome all at the same time). Most importantly, we’re doing something together, and we’re having a great time.

Of course, within the first two weeks out on the court, I hurt myself. That’s always how it goes in my life. Every time I try to get back in shape, I somehow hurt myself. It’s not bad—only a strained ankle—but that meant that I was unable to really get any exercise for about the past week while I’ve been letting it heal. I think Scott and I are going to get back out there tomorrow, though. It feels so good to be outside with the fresh air and the Claremont trees and the gentle breezes (as opposed to the dust and 50 mph gusts in the Texas panhandle). For the first time in a long time, I’ve gotten really sweaty doing something other than packing up trucks and moving across the country multiple times. And, boy, it feels good.

Pre-injury, Scott and I were going through a week of detox, which means that we put ourselves on a strict diet to try to repair our livers and get our bodies back in gear. No salt, no sugar, no carbohydrates, no caffeine, no alcohol, no fats except a tiny amount of olive oil on salad. This is a detox we’ve done in the past, and it definitely works for shedding the pounds and making us feel better. We only cheated a tiny bit, and I had lost about five pounds after eight days. I have gained back 2-3 of those pounds since we’ve been eating regular food again, but I think most of that is just the inability to exercise like I was before, since my ankle was in so much pain. So, here’s to shedding the pounds one at a time.

As I mentioned above, we have been wildly busy. We’re now officially 9-5ers, which means that our
summer jobs completely bombard our schedules and our hopes of getting very much else done. But, as we just got our first paychecks yesterday, it turns out that we’ll be getting decent wages and good work experience, and we get to spend all day every day side by side at computers, poking each other and making innuendos the whole time. Now, it’s a redundant, exhausting job. Don’t get me wrong. But, I get to be with my husband all the time, and that will be the best part about my summer.

We went to the mall about a week ago to look for some tennis shoes and shorts for me, since we had a $10 off coupon for JCPenney for a father’s day sale, and we certainly had no intention of buying our dads clothes. Get this: we got me a pair of jeans, a pair of Capri pants, a pair of shorts, a pair of snazzy tennis shoes, and 2 pairs of jeans for Scott all for under a hundred dollars. And, I had a coupon! So, all in all, even though we spent money, we spent way less than one would have expected for all of our purchases. And now I have some cute shorts and Capris for summer. I love the shoes, too. They are New Balances, mostly white, with dark pink and silver trim. They make me feel sporty.

I have been reading a ton—every chance I get when I’m not at work or cooking or spending time with Scott. I am reading quite a few books right now, but almost done with several. Expect updates when I finish! I’ll tell you one thing, though. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos is now officially on my list of books I would want with me if I were stranded on a deserted island. I laughed out loud more times than I can count, and I LOVE books that are clever enough to make me laugh. I may not be a gold-digger like Lorelei Lee, but now I know how to bat an eye-lash or two when I need help with the dishes. The book is witty, satiric, and utterly entertaining. Two thumbs (and a strained ankle, you know, to help with the swelling) up.

I am going to be telling you about my upcoming reading challenge soon. I am still formulating my list, but for now I’ll just tell you that I signed up to read (at least) six classics for this challenge between July and December. No sweat for a doctoral student! Plus, one of my very best friends from my master’s program is the challenge maestra, so here’s to catching up with old friends through reading/blogging!

Okay, now I have to go check on Scott. He’s been shouting things at the TV for awhile now, but as far as I know, he’s only watching golf. [Just one of the many things I never experienced in the pre-matrimony days!]