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John Hogdman knows how to host a book reading, he turns them into a variety show, complete with special guests. At Town Hall the other night the guests were all musicians,neo-nerd rock cult hero Jonathan Coulton, Sean Nelson (from Harvey Danger) and John Roderick (from The Long Winters). Also a heckler in the audience turned out to be John Flansburgh, shocking!  He later he walked awkwardly on stage to sing a song I did not recognize, it could be in Hodgman’s new book, That is All, he had it in his hand and opened it at the podium. I only just started it.

John Hodgman has had a bit of a conversion since I last saw him in Portland at Wordstock. Then, he was riding high as a “minor television celebrity”. He was in the Apple ads and on both the Daily Show and Battlestar Galactica. Since then his television presence has waned a bit and he has taken on the persona of a “deranged million” with burgeoning obsessive thoughts about Ragnorok. Hodgman should have a monthly television show, he is and entertainer and born host. He understands how to work a crowd, blending stories about the post apocalypse with one liners and the occasional back and forth with someone in the audience. We felt at home. The musicians would occasionally come out for comic banter and to sing tunes. I was never a Harvey Danger or The Long Winters fan, I only know Sean Nelson and John Roderick as local music guys, that alway pop up around town and in the local newspapers. I didn’t know any of what they played, I still liked what they added to the night. I have seen Jonathan Coulton every time I’ve seen Hodgman, he is a demigod to literary rock nerds, an heir apparent to They Might Be Giants. I think he is fine, very likable, his performance of “Nemesis” with Roderick was one of the best moments of the night.  Hodgman, Nelson, Roderick, and Coulton performing “Tonight You Belong to Me” is what did it for me. That song has become a personal favorite since I heard Patience and Prudence kill it. The evening was so entertaining, it wasn’t until a bit later I realized there was actually very little talk about the book directly. Once I finish the book, I’ll probably connect the dots, he can be a sly one.

Looking back at the books I’ve read over the last couple of month, I’m a little ashamed. For the most part they are all frivolous, easy reads. With moving to Seattle in July, and my work being uber-crazy chaotic for several months, serious reading wasn’t what I wanted.

Back in the days when I still had cable I would try to catch Chelsea Lately. Chelsea Handler is show is one of the funniest and honest shows about celebrity and pop culture. We were also fans of her earlier show, the highly entertaining Girls Behaving Badly. Turns out she is a fairly good writer also, her stories are often about drinking and sex and weave themselves into the tale of  her climb to late night success. Chelsea may not have the same memoir writing prowess of  some of her peers, but she does hold your attention and makes you laugh.

Shades of Grey is the start of a new series by Jasper Fforde, and is a hard book to describe. Shades of Grey starts the story of a society where people are judged and categorized  by how well they see certain colors, the government also controls the usage of color as a way of control. This book sets up the concept and introduces the characters that seem poised to lead the revolution and set the colors free. Much like all Jasper Fforde’s other books, I loved it. It’s well thought out with many layers and messages that will probably be the basis of an English class at some point. Hopefully the wait for the next books won’t be  long.

A good book about a family sitting Shiva for the patriarch. Full of colorful characters and will  probably be an indie film soon.

Morgan had never seen The Black Cauldron, although he had read the book  series as a kid, so we watched it a while back. I was the other way, the movie was a favorite when I was a kid, although I did read the Disney book. I thought I would give the series a try. The Black Cauldron is the second book in the series, but the movie is mainly based on The Book of Three, the first book. I didn’t love this book,  and I don’t blame the book.  I’m thinking the reason is we just watched the movie, so I knew all the twists and how it ends. I’ll be picking up the second book at some point, no hurry though.

A surprisingly good book, another look into the rise of another female comedienne. Kathy Griffin‘s book is better than both of the Chelsea Handler books. Kathy has had a rather interesting back story, plus it’s riddled with stories of other celebrities that are often hilarious. A great and very quick read.

Big fan of John Hodgman. Trust me, you’ll enjoy this book.

I put off reading any of the Scott Pilgrim books until all of them were out, then I had to read them all before seeing the movie. I like the series and the movie a whole bunch.

I had to finish the series, and I had to wait for the paperback.  Don’t judge me harshly when I say that I loved the book.

The Hunger Games trilogy, two years in the life of Katniss Everdeen in post-apocalyptic America. I’m not going tell you too much about the books, it’s better that way. They are all great books that suck you in, for me the second book was the best. Looking forward to see how the heck they are going to make them into movies.

I wasn’t trying to become the authority on current female comedienne, it just happened. Morgan was given this for christmas, so I figured I might as well read it. It was alright.

 

 

 

 

think what you want about stephenie meyer’s twilight series, i’ve always been into the vampire thing, i can’t explain why. the world that meyer created for the twilight series,  and her version of the vampire, works for me. although i strongly disagree with the “glitter” thing, thankfully references were kept to a minimum in eclipse. the third part of a series are sometimes overlooked, often too full of character development and short on story, eclipse almost escapes. its main purpose is to get you ready for the finale so it feels a tad empty. biggest problems i had with it; the teen angst gets on my nerves and bella’s wishy-washiness is bothersome. i would have liked to see more of the volturi, and i’m glad the victoria story line ended. revenge is only interesting for so long. beyond that eclipse is pure escapism and it did get me excited for breaking dawn. it’ll be a while until i read that, i refuse to carry around that size of a hardcover.

i am a big fan of jonathan ames, transsexuals often play a role in his books. while doing research he read a fair amount of transsexual memoirs. finding them interesting he edited and compiled some into sexual metamorphosis. like most anthologies this is a mixed bag. there were a couple that i just couldn’t get into because they were writing styles that i don’t normally like. most of  the entries are really good, giving a look inside a world that very few can truly understand.

reading this book was almost like work. gregory maguire‘s “wicked years” series expands on the world of oz that l. frank baum created in the wonderful wizard of oz. a lion among men explores the life of the cowardly lion, named brrr here. his back story is filled in and the tale of dorothyfrom his point of view is told. the majority of the book is devoted to the time after dorothy left and oz is trying to put itself back together. i really enjoy the world that maguire created, wickedis a good book and the second book son of a witch is great. the problem with a lion among menis that it’s cluttered with too many characters and locations with names and connections that are too tenuous to be memorable. Also the post-dorothy plot involving the lion as undercover investigator looking into the rumors of the wicked witch’s child, is thin and not strong enough to carry the book. maguire is now writing the forth and final book in the series, i’m sure i’ll read it because i like closure, i hope it seems more natural less forced.

this is a different kind of david sedaris book, this is not a hilarious collection of musings. i was disappointed and a little confused with the lack of humor or  maybe i just didn’t get the joke. while  reading i realized he gets a bit more introspective with when you are engulfed in flames than his previous books. once i started reading it more as a memoir than a collection, i started enjoying it more. there are still funny moments, they’re just a lot less of them. engulfed shows us david sedaris seeming lost and trying to find a way or, possibly, trying to find something to write about.  it will be hard for david sedaris to match the comic quality his earlier work, they are witty genius. engulfed is better than dress your family in corduroy and denim. corduroy had me worried.

i finally got around to reading the amazing adventures of kavalier & clay. that and jonathan strange and dr norrel have been in my book pile for months,  mocking me, while i spent time with the sookie stackhouse series. kavalier & clay was just the sort of book to ween me off sookie.  i loved my trip into the world of joe kavaklier and sam clay, creative cousins that aspire to make a name for themselves in the world of 1940’s comic books. set largely in new york city and using world war two as another character michael chabon presents a dense and fully realized tale. every plot development surprised me. the story seemed so natural that i would swear that kavalier and clay were real. this is a book that will eventually be studied in high school, it’s a classic. now i have to muster up the strength for jonathan strange.