Thursday, May 27, 2010

Variations on a Theme: Zombie Attack!

The Boyfriend and I have been on a zombie kick as of late. Luckily for us, there has been a resurgence (rebirth? undead rising?) of zombie geek culture. I don't know what started the trend, but we're grateful.

As a side note: Everyone should check out Hamilton Carver, Zombie P.I. I know many of the actors and it is kind of spectacular.

Now onto the... Braaaaaaaaaaains!.. I mean... boooooks!

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie WarWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Wars
Max Brooks

This book is spectacular. If you want a more extensive review, please go check out my recent review. In short: If you only read one zombie related book, read this one.

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living DeadThe Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead
Max Books

I just finished reading this book. Keep an eye out for my upcoming review. This Brooks installment was not as addictive as World War Z but it was very good. Brooks has a scarily good way of not only making the zombie uprising feel possible but also imminent. Grab your crowbars and poking sticks everyone!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Muahahahahahaha - this is the book I used to get The Boyfriend to read Pride and Prejudice. Now if only I could get him to read the version without the undead. This books is very much like the original classic, but with lots and lots of zombie related snippets. It's not bad, but I have a feeling that Ms. Austen is rolling over in her grave. (My review is here.)

American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture
American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking DeadKyle William Bishop

This book is a more academic take on the undead. The Boyfriend is slowly working through it, and I cannot wait to read it. Bishop chronicles how the idea of zombies came to influence our culture. He chronicles their creation and appearance in films, books, society, etc. I don't think this text will be as frightening as those above. Then again, I could be wrong. Reality is scarier than fiction.

The Undead and Philosophy: Chicken Soup for the Soulless (Popular Culture and Philosophy)The Undead and Philosophy: Chicken Soup for the Soulless
Richard Greene and K. Silem Mohammad, editors

This books looks quite promising. The summary states, "The essays in The Undead and Philosophy ponder questions such as: Is it cool to be undead, or does it totally suck? Is a zombie simply someone with a brain but without a mind? Are some of the people around us undead, and how could we tell? Can the undead be held responsible for what they do? Is it always morally OK to kill the undead?"

Zombie Movies: The Ultimate GuideZombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide
Glenn Kay

There are a lot of zombie movies running around out there. Clearly the true zombie culture lover needs a guide to them all. This book was published in 2008. That is recent, but it may be lacking information on the most recent zombie flicks.

Other Zombie Related Titles
I am Legend - Richard Matheson
The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology - Christopher Golden
Rising - Brian Keene
The Zen of Zombie: Better Living Through the Undead - Scott Kenemore
Zombie Haiku: Good Poetry for your... Brains -   Ryan Mecum
Zombies: A Field Guide to the Walking Dead - Bob Curran
Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection - Don Roff and Chris Lane
Zombies for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead - David P. Murphy

Links and Stuff: May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Useful Things: The Ministry of Silly Talks

Since we have now hit summer pace at the library (joy!), today we celebrate the fun side of reference websites.

The Dialectizer is a tool that translates "normal speak" into a myriad (okay, just a couple) of other accents. This tool has almost no practical use (unless your writing a book, screenplay, or script), but it is a load of fun.

If you ever wondered why the internet was created, it was clearly for the purpose of translating a New York Times article into Swedish Chef speak.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Links and Stuff: May 20, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: Who You Gonna Call?

I wonder if they also do gremlins. Those annoying little buggers always mess with me in the stacks. If your curious about the video and how it came about, learn more at Improv Everywhere.

Hat tip to Katie for the video.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book 11: Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and IndonesiaTITLE: Eat. Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Gilbert
STARTED: April 25, 2010

FINISHED: May 5, 2010
PAGES: 334
GENRE: Memoir

FIRST SENTENCE: When you're traveling in India - especially through holy sites and Ashrams - you see a lot of people wearing beads around their necks.

SUMMARY: [From] Gilbert grafts the structure of romantic fiction upon the inquiries of reporting in this sprawling yet methodical travelogue of soul-searching and self-discovery. Plagued with despair after a nasty divorce, the author, in her early 30s, divides a year equally among three dissimilar countries, exploring her competing urges for earthly delights and divine transcendence. First, pleasure: savoring Italy's buffet of delights - the world's best pizza, free-flowing wine and dashing conversation partners - Gilbert consumes la dolce vita as spiritual succor. "I came to Italy pinched and thin," she writes, but soon fills out in waist and soul. Then, prayer and ascetic rigor: seeking communion with the divine at a sacred ashram in India, Gilbert emulates the ways of yogis in grueling hours of meditation, struggling to still her churning mind. Finally, a balancing act in Bali, where Gilbert tries for equipoise "betwixt and between" realms, studies with a merry medicine man and plunges into a charged love affair. Sustaining a chatty, conspiratorial tone, Gilbert fully engages readers in the year's cultural and emotional tapestry - conveying rapture with infectious brio, recalling anguish with touching candor--as she details her exotic tableau with history, anecdote and impression.

THOUGHTS: I could easily love this book, but I can't get around the fact that I'm not sure I like the author as an individual. There are moments I fell in love with Gilbert's story and writing, but there were other times I found her selfish and overbearing. In some ways, Gilbert felt bipolar. The story of Gilbert's journey is quite fascinating, but somehow I felt a disconnect between the author and her story. I guess it feels like Gilbert could not have possibly written this book. I don't know how to explain it, but there was an inherent separation between journey and author that makes the book feel slightly standoffish.

If I appreciated anything about this book, it was that Gilbert was truly introspective and honest about herself. In her favor, Gilbert understands that people may not "get" her. It is clear throughout the book that Gilbert knows people may not like or respect her or her needs. The whole point of the book is that Gilbert sets out on a journey to find herself. It sounds cliche, but the whole journey of the book actually works. Gilbert's time in all Italy, India, and Indonesia is beautifully explain in emotional prose and narrative. There are moments of emotional (or philosophical) clarity  that I wish I could create or encounter. Gilbert has a dry sense of wit and a keen knowledge of her own shortcomings that lends this book a feeling of (I hate to say it) authenticity.

Additionally, Gilbert has a way with words. Throughout the book she discusses her love of language and this passion shows in her writing. More than once I Gilbert made me crave the food she was discussing. I need that pizza from Naples, gosh darn it. I think the words lush and vivid would aptly describe her ability to write and describe scenes, people, and emotion. I can see why this book is being turned into a movie - it's very heavy on imagery.

Sadly, my inability to fully like the author makes this book just an okay read for me. If I had liked her, I have a feeling I would gush praise about this book to anyone who would listen. Gilbert's journey is fascinating and extremely well written, I'm disappointed in my own ability to get over my dislike for the author herself. I wanted to like her, but too many times it felt like she was leeching off the emotional stability and insights of those around her.

There is just one other thing about this book that irritated me. Gilbert clearly states that she decided to write the book before she went on the year-long journey. She even had a book deal in place. This bugs me because it leads me to believe that Gilbert could have fabricated parts of her story. I have a feeling she didn't, but the fact that her trip had a financial and professional incentive rubs me the wrong way.

I read this memoir for book club and here is what a fellow member thought.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Links and Stuff: May 13, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book 10: World War Z

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie WarTITLE: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
AUTHOR: Max Brooks

STARTED: April 15, 2010
FINISHED: April 24, 2010
PAGES: 352
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: It goes by many names: "The Crisis," "The Dark Years," "The Walking Plague," as well as newer and more "hip" titles such as "World War Z" or "Z War One."

SUMMARY: [From] Brooks, the author of the determinedly straight-faced parody The Zombie Survival Guide (2003), returns in all seriousness to the zombie theme for his second outing, a future history in the style of Theodore Judson's Fitzpatrick's War. Brooks tells the story of the world's desperate battle against the zombie threat with a series of first-person accounts "as told to the author" by various characters around the world. A Chinese doctor encounters one of the earliest zombie cases at a time when the Chinese government is ruthlessly suppressing any information about the outbreak that will soon spread across the globe. The tale then follows the outbreak via testimony of smugglers, intelligence officials, military personnel and many others who struggle to defeat the zombie menace. Despite its implausible premise and choppy delivery, the novel is surprisingly hard to put down. The subtle, and not so subtle, jabs at various contemporary politicians and policies are an added bonus.

THOUGHTS: Man did I ever love reading this book. It's a terrifyingly entertaining romp that had me alternatively laughing, cringing, and hoping I didn't have nightmares. In a word, this book is spectacular. The Boyfriend has a "thing" for zombies - I end up tagging along for the fun. I started reading this book just cause he did; I certainly did not expect to fall in love with it the way that I did.

Brooks takes your typical zombie apocalypse concept (Brrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains!) and creates, what I would argue to be, an unexpectedly great work of literature and social commentary. I mean, seriously, who could turn a book about zombies into an enlightened view of human reactions to famine, disease, and war? Not only that, Brooks made the whole work compulsively readable. That takes oodles of talent.

The format of World War Z plays off of Studs Terkel (College honors program shout out - What! What!). Brooks creates a series of oral history interviews. Every word of this book, aside from the introduction, is a verbal account of how various people survived the plague of undead. Brilliant, I say! This layout gives an all-encompassing view of the zombie war. Brooks is able to craft a myriad of  individual stories that just feel real. No, seriously, the way he writes makes each person seem alive. It's almost hard to believe that the people in this book don't exist. The oral history form also means that Brooks explores all areas of the zombies' effect on the world. He covers everything from doctors to politicians to soldiers to refugees. Even better he covers the affect the zombie attack had on air, water, and land. Brooks has practically written a "what if" of the entire world.

The one minor quibble I had with World War Z is that it sounds the same - as in you can tell one author wrote the book. Sure the military men use a few more curses and acronyms but, for the most part, there is no variance in tone, vocabulary, or emotion to distinguish between interviewees.

RATING: 10/10 [Best. Book. Ever.]

Useful Things: Just the Facts, Ma'am

This website may look like it belongs to an elementary school, but the content is stellar. Fact Monster is the place to go for all thinks Jeopardy answer like. Want to impress (or annoy) your friends, start clicking around an learn things like nautical measurements.

Fact Monster is geared toward helping students with homework - they have a homework help center and sections focused on math, science, and the United States. These subject divisions, however, make the website easy to navigate, use, and search.

If you're in the mood to procrastinate, I suggest spending a copious amount of time on the games and quizzes page.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Links and Stuff: May 6, 2010

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: Study Break

It finals week! While I'm stuck dealing with the incoming book avalanche, there are those poor souls stuck studying all day. (Take home finals rule! - see my previous entry to see why I'm excited.)

I wish, for these students' sake, that some one would bring a burst of fun into the building.

For example:

Monday, May 03, 2010


I submitted my last final. Unless something catastrophic happens...