Book Marks

bookmarks obamaIf this isn’t grounds for divorce I don’t know what is. Judy to the rescue!!!!

Lost F. Scott Fitzgerald novel to be published.

Dating advice from Simone de Beauvoir. votes to unionize. But it’s easier said than done.

How to figure out “how to write” books and how they can actually help you how to write.

Book Reviews: 50 Things Liberals Love to Hate About America by Mike Gallagher

50-Things-197x300Okay, liberals, tell me the things you hate. Off the top of your heads you probably mentioned the biggies like racism, sexism, homophobia and all sorts of bigotry. You hate environmental degradation, corporate greed, and the growing chasm between the haves and the have nots. You’re also probably not fond of the Bush administration, Fox News, the religious right, and the Tea Party.

However, according to Mike Gallagher, liberals hate things like apple pie, John Wayne, small businesses, and the American workforce. And he gleefully ruminates upon these topics and other things that inspire a liberal’s hatred in 50 Things Liberals Love to Hate About America.

You’re probably wondering, “Who is Mike Gallagher?” According to the radio industry magazine “Talkers” Mike Gallagher is one of the top talk radio hosts in America. He proudly calls himself “a happy conservative warrior.” He is also a contributor to Fox News and has been published in the New York Post, National Review, and

So what do liberals hate about America?

One thing liberals hate is the retail juggernaut Wal-Mart. Why? Because according to Mike “Wal-Mart works and liberalism doesn’t.” Why Mike is comparing a chain of big box stores to a political and social point of view is beyond me. There are quite a few reasons to not like Wal-Mart—its regressive employment practices and plundering of local businesses. But to this liberal, one reason to hate Wal-Mart is because the service is often surly and every single Wal-Mart I have patronized has been completely trashed!

Weirdly enough, liberals don’t just hate Wal-mart; they also hate small businesses and workers. Really? There are quite a few small businesses in my mostly liberal neighborhood, and they’re much appreciated. And I don’t think it was conservatives who were out supporting Wisconsin’s public workers fighting for their collective bargaining rights. But to Mike liberals hating small businesses and workers is more about him hating government regulation and unions, which he believes are things that completely destroy small businesses and harm workers.

What else do liberals hate? Well, we hate conservative women. Funnily, Mike doesn’t mention conservative women like Condoleezza Rice, Elizabeth Dole, columnist Kathleen Parker or the late Jean Kirkpatrick. A lot liberals of might not agree with these ladies, but Mike doesn’t mention them. Nope, instead he mentions conservative women like Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Malkin, truly vindictive, hateful women who seem to be more about contributing to their wallets and being famous, than America. Heck, I know conservatives who don’t like these women.

Liberals also hate Christianity, which is odd to me because there are quite a few liberal Christians and Christian denominations. But to Mike the only Christians that matter are radical right Evangelical Christians and more mainstream Christians don’t seem to exist in his world.

Charity is another thing liberals hate. Mike came to this conclusion by observing a few tax returns of some notable individuals, as if that’s going to tell the whole story on why liberals hate charity. I hardly think a handful of tax returns are a good gauge on how liberals view charity. And most of us know charity goes beyond donating money to a good cause. Charity is also about donating time, skills, and much needed supplies. And charity is not the same as social justice, and we all know how some conservatives feel about social justice. But that’s a topic for another book.

When it comes to entertainment liberals hate George Bailey, John Wayne, and talk radio. Liberals hate George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life? George Bailey is a film character beloved by people—liberal and conservative. And why would liberals hate John Wayne? Liberals hate John Wayne because he wouldn’t compromise himself to play a character he didn’t agree with. Well, call me crazy because but to me great actors take on challenging characters they might not totally like (see Julianne Moore’s brilliant performance as Sarah Palin in Game Change), but I don’t hate John Wayne. However, Mike may be on point with talk radio, especially considering talk radio is rife with truly toxic types like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Dr. Laura, and Sean Hannity.

Amongst the other things liberals hate is success, steakhouses (I guess all liberals are vegetarians), patios and pools, V-8 engines, science, the suburbs, both the West and the South, bright lights, boys and girls, and algae. And yes, liberals hate apple pie. Why? Because apple pie represents America and the number one thing liberals hate about America is America itself!

50 Things Liberals Love to Hate About America is a book that is too ridiculous to get all enraged about. I have an inkling Mike might not completely agree with what he’s written but he has to appeal to a certain base, the mouth breathers who think Fox News is credible journalism, Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9/11, and Michelle Obama’s toned arms are a Socialist plot.

I tried to think of books that list the things conservatives hate about America. And though I’m sure there’s a few, but I couldn’t think of any. However, what would one such book cover? What do conservatives hate? Well, if I’m going to stereotype I’d say conservatives hate President Obama and the rest of the Obama family (including Bo and Sunny). They hate gay people, Democratic women (“Hillary has cankles!”), sensible gun laws, and non-Christians (especially those trifling Muslims). Conservatives hate vegetarianism, PBS, both coasts, “elitists”, libraries, and recycling. Typical conservatives hate film festivals, hip-hop, and art galleries. In fact, a conservative’s idea of art is a black velvet painting of that weeping Cheeto, Speaker of the House John Boehner.

What should we liberals do to counter Mike’s attacks? Well, enjoy a thick, juicy steak. Move to a red state. Watch Nascar. Wear a flag pin. Buy a gun. All of this would totally blow Mike’s mind!

Cleansing the Palate

I don’t think Mike Gallagher is a horrible person. I’m sure we’d get along if we ever met. Heck, I’d even eat at a steakhouse with him even though I’d prefer a plate of barbecue ribs. But he is part of the world of talk radio, a huge part of the divisive, mean-spirited rhetoric that has polarized our country, most coming from the right. Rory O’Connor writes about this phenomenon in his book Shock Jocks: America’s Ten Worst Hate Talkers and the Progressive Alternatives. Rory bravely uncovers the sleazy underbelly of right wing talk radio exposing the hatred, bigotry, and deep dysfunction of some of our most famous shock jocks while also profiling more progressive radio personalities that counter all the hate. Rory also interviews some hosts—liberal, conservative, and moderate. One host he interviews is Mike Gallagher who admits he knows some liberals. In fact, Mike’s late wife was a liberal. See, Mike, we’re not all bad.

Twenty odd years ago, journalist David Brock was a part of the extreme radical right. He wrote for conservative publications like American Spectator, The Weekly Standard and the Moonie-owned Washington Times. He deemed Clarence Thomas’ accuser, Anita Hill as “a little bit nutty, and a little bit slutty,” And later skewered her in the book The Real Anita Hill thus becoming the radical right’s golden boy. However, not was all golden for David. He found himself tamping down his more liberal social views to advance the conservative cause. He disowned proper journalistic ethics to promote his career. And he lived uncomfortably as gay man in a community that often denounced homosexuality. In his very candid memoir, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative Brock brilliantly captures how the radical right grabbed him and how he left the movement as he came to grip how the current state of conservatism poisoned our political climate. Blinded by the Right is not pretty, but it is an amazing and important read.

One thing that bugged me about Mike’s book is the stupid “group think” liberals supposedly follow. Liberals are a pretty sundry bunch. The book Proud To Be Liberal edited by Elizabeth Clementson and Robert Lasner is a great book featuring essays of many proud liberals including cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, columnist Eric Zorn, journalist and author Eric Alterman, history professor Blanche Wiesen Cook, and comedian, writer, and fellow cheesehead Will Durst. These essays are funny, diverse, and get to the heart of why so many people are proud to call themselves liberal in an age where liberal is a naughty word—and shouldn’t be. The essays are entertaining and enlightening, and make you wish these the Sunday morning political shows would feature these liberals more often and leave Ann Coulter and her slatternly black cocktail dresses in the dust.

Book Marks

MarkRuffaloJust when I thought my favorite actor, Mark Ruffalo, couldn’t get any more perfect, he suggests a book. Swoon!!!!!!!Thud!!!!!!!!!

Remember my review for Why Business People Speak Like Idiots? Local all-around bigoted asshole and so-called grocery store “consultant,” David J. Livingston is proof that this book is 100% spot-on!

As someone who has dealt with mental health issues since I was a little girl, I’d like to thank Poet Shira Erlichman for taking the mystery and shame out of mental illness.

Dear Corporate-Owned Media ™ stop focusing on Donald Trump and please start focusing on Senator Bernie Sanders. #whatliberalmedia?

Historical fiction writer, E.L. Doctorow, dead at 84.

Book Review: Entre Nous-A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl by Debra Ollivier

Entre Nous_bookWhat is it about French women? They eat rich, calorie-laden food, yet are impossibly thin. They are effortlessly stylish, doing more with one scarf than most women do with an entire outfit. They are sophisticated and intellectual, not crass and fatuous. French women just have that, how does it go? Ah, oui, je ne sais quoi.

Yes, I do know I just described French women using a few clichés (great French word, cliché, non?), but sometimes clichés are clichés because they are true. And being a huge Francophile, I couldn’t help but be drawn to Debra Ollivier’s primer Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl.

Ollivier is an all-American girl married to a French man, and she spent a decade living in France. So needless to say, she got pretty familiar with the French way of life, and how French women can inspire us to make our lives richer and more fulfilling.

Ollivier divides her book into several parts. She describes French women and how they view food, family, fashion, work and the home. French women view food as both sustenance and celebration. You probably won’t find French women freaking out over carbs or living on power bars. They eat food that is seasonable, fresh and probably local. Yes, French women love their cheese, bread and wine, but they eat smaller portions and truly savor what they are eating. Plus, most of them do not snack between meals (wait Doritos and Red Bull aren’t a balanced meal?).

French are practically synonymous with fashion. And French women look totally chic. They often do this with a few quality items rather than a bunch of mediocre pieces bought in haste at a huge sale or a store like Wal-Mart. Their clothing is rarely hyper- trendy, but always flatters their figures and their unique style. French women work with what they got, and don’t try to fit into some narrow mold of what they think they should look like. And yes, French women really know their way around a simple scarf. Fortunately, Ollivier adds some scarf tying tips scarves for our perusal.

In the home, French women surrounds themselves with items that give their lives meaning and have an element of history. It’s not rare that a French girl has trinkets in her home that have been handed down from generation to generation. When it comes to careers, French women work to live, not live to work. In their interpersonal relationships, French women open themselves up slowly. They don’t reveal things to quickly whether it’s to a potential lover or a potential best friend. This is quite a difference from some people who have to reveal their life stories right away or are TMI on Facebook.

Sprinkled throughout Entre Nous are factoids about French women like Edith Piaf, Catherine Deneuve and Coco Chanel. Ollivier enthuses over French movies, both the well-known like Chocolat and Jules et Jim, and small gems like 8 Femmes and Contes Des Quatre Saisons. Ollivier also mentions good books that help you delve into the French experience.

Does Ollivier stereotype? Perhaps. There are French women who do get fat. I can walk around my neighborhood and find plenty of stylish people. And many Americans have adopted eating locally-grown produce and quality food over overly-processed junk food and Burger King. Ollivier has embraced the idea of the French woman, but she doesn’t bash her American sisters. She appreciates America’s friendliness, diversity and openness. And guess what? There are plenty of things about America the French like, and not just Jerry Lewis. For instance, the French have embraced our pop culture, especially our music. And I can’t say I blame them. Have you ever heard French pop music? Total merde.

I guess you could say Entre Nous is a self-help book, but most self-help books just lead to more self-loathing. Entre Nous is about loving experiences, good quality in both food and fashion, and appreciating one’s desires and appetites. It’s a fun and inspiring read that you might refer to again and again. Entre Nous is très bien.

Brag Book (Not Just About Me)

dancing leslie knopeJust so you know, I’ve put a couple of book reviews on hold. I was recently approached about writing a couple of articles and will be working on these for a couple of weeks. However, I will dip into my treasure chest and post some old book reviews I wrote a while back at this blog amongst a few other things. I appreciate your patience.

Also, Nora wrote a great review of the U2 concert and posted it at Ticketmaster’s website. Here it is:

“Ok. I’ve been to many U2 shows and they are the best band alive live!!! This show is not as “immediate/viseral” as their other tour shows, but it “lingers” with you. U2 evolves visually with every tour and always brings something new to the table. The wall of lights is amazing and transcends their show into part art gallery, movie, musical theater, and museum worthiness. The walkway is almost “runway” and there are parts that are almost “Oz” like, or if God wanted to speak to people, he would use U2’s wall of lights. Very trippy, digital and spiritual all into one.

U2 shows, afterwards, used to make me want to storm an embassy but this show makes me want to draw, or make videos or something fine artsy. New and interesting feeling coming from the band that I loved for the past 31 years! Always something new to think about with this band!

Favorite moment: Kickass version of Gloria!

Opening act(s): None”

And it’s been years, but I finally got Larry Mullen, Jr in bed!

Larry. Bed. Enough said.

Guest Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins-Guest Reviewer Rosie Blythe

Girl on the trainYes, it’s another guest review. This one done by that lovely British lady Rosie Blythe who you might remember as the talented author of the book The Princess Guide to Life, which I gave a rave review a while back. Rosie and I have struck up a on-line friendship and I’m thrilled to publish her first guest review. Learn more about Rosie Blythe below.

When a book debuts at number one on the New York Times Best Seller List and remains there for over three months, it’s a fair bet that it will be an enticing read (and one with the inevitable film adaptation already in the works).

The story begins slowly, innocuously. Rachel travels into London every day, and like many commuters, she passes her time on the train by looking out of the window. As the 8:04 to Euston trundles slowly past the houses which back onto the railway tracks, she gets a fleeting glimpse of their occupants. The train always stops at the same signal, and Rachel gets a perfect view of her favourite house. She can see the couple inside as they go about their everyday business, and in her boredom, she makes up stories about them and their sublimely happy relationship. She names them Jason and Jess, and they come to represent everything Rachel wants – everything she used to have. “They’re Tom and me, five years ago.”

We discover that Rachel has become something akin to Bridget Jones – if Helen Fielding’s creation had taken a really dark turn. She drinks too much. She’s put on weight and finds that men regard her with a mixture of contempt and pity. She makes nuisance calls to her ex-husband – she’s not being malicious, she just misses her old life. It all started going wrong when she couldn’t get pregnant, and her husband had an affair – now the other woman is his new wife and they have an adorable baby daughter. It’s not surprising that Rachel drinks herself into oblivion as often as possible in her rented single room – and now her alcoholism is also destroying her professional life. Meanwhile, we have a change in narrator, with alternate flashback chapters from one year earlier, voiced by “Jess”, the woman living beside the railway tracks. In reality, her name is Megan and her life is far from the perfect idyll Rachel has imagined. Can her past confessions shed any light on the events of today?

The story begins to deepen when Rachel spots “Jess” kissing another man; this evidence of trouble in paradise rocks her to the core, bringing back memories of her own ex-husband’s infidelity. Rachel knows how devastating affairs can be; should she somehow contact “Jason” (who is actually named Scott) and tip him off about his wife’s indiscretions? It’s all rather too close to home – quite literally, as Rachel’s old house is on the same street as Scott and Megan’s. Her ex-husband Tom has remained there, joined by his new wife Anna – who also contributes the odd chapter just so we can hear her side of the story.

Rachel decides to return to her old stomping ground to suss out what’s going on with Scott and Megan – “I just want to see him. I want to see them… what harm can it do?” –  but it all goes horribly wrong. She wakes up with the hangover from hell and no memory of what happened on that fateful night – but Megan is now missing. Can Rachel piece everything together, or will she walk blindly into danger?

While many writers create effortlessly cool and sexy protagonists (no doubt with one eye on Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt for the movie version) Paula Hawkins dares to make Rachel, well, not particularly likeable. She’s a busybody, and her desperate desire to be involved with the action results in her spinning a web of lies which tightens around her as she gets pulled deeper into the murkiness surrounding Megan’s disappearance.

Often, thrillers lose credibility because the main characters have to be smart enough to solve crimes, yet just stupid enough to make the irrational decisions which will prolong the book (entering the dark alleyway with the stranger, hiding in a cupboard instead of calling the police etc.) Paula Hawkins cleverly sidesteps this; Rachel’s alcoholism provides a realistic reason for her to make unwise choices (such as drunkenly contacting people she shouldn’t), and leads to her becoming more and more isolated as people shut her out of their lives.

Rachel may be a frustrating narrator, with her erratic behaviour and dramatic lapses in memory, but we sympathise with her. (While wishing she could get her act together and stop being so self-destructive.) The rest of the characters also have an admirable collection of flaws – Megan has a dark past, and her husband may not be such a strong and selfless protector, after all. Due to Rachel’s stalkerish tendencies and harassment, we might have felt sorry for our third narrator, Anna, but then she admits that she liked being the other woman and doesn’t care how it affected Rachel. In fact, all Anna cares about is protecting the secure little family unit she has created.

The book has been described as “Alfred Hitchcock for a new generation,” and I agree; as well as a slow-burning creepiness, it has that classic Hitchcockian theme of knowing that the police aren’t going to listen and take you seriously, no matter how urgent your information, because they already have you down as crazy and delusional.

I found the story perfectly paced, with new twists and turns coming from the most unexpected directions. If you’re a binge-reader who can finish a gripping novel in one breathless sitting, be warned: you’re likely to end up reading under the covers at 3 am, and jumping out of your skin every time a floorboard creaks.

Rosie Blythe lives in London (hence all those crazy British spellings) and when she’s not writing, works as a stylist in television and film. She enjoys reading everything from self-help and biographies to cosy mysteries and lurid thrillers. She’s written two books: The Princess Guide to Life, and the much sillier The Princess Guide to Being a Cat.

Writer’s Block

Beautiful DayHello everyone. I hope everyone is having a good week, and I hope my fellow Americans had a fun and safe 4th of July.

Due to the holiday, I was fortunate to have a four-day week-end, which I kicked off the week-end by spending both Thursday and Friday in Chicago with my lovely friends Nora and Elaine. But I didn’t just go to Chicago to visit with my friends. Nora, Elaine and I went to see U2 at their final show at the United Center. We’ve been huge U2 fans for years now, and though we joke that U2 are total corporate rock, they are still the most amazing band to see live. I’m still kvelling.

Here is a link to U2 thanking Chicago and their fans. Awww, right back at ya, lads!

Instead of staying with my friends, we camped out at a hotel room. This is what greeted us. My fellow Criminal Minds fans will get the reference.


What else? Well, I should have a guest review up tomorrow. I’m about to start writing review for book that is both a memoir and collection of essays. And I’m half-way through reading another book that I’m going to review once I’m done. Ah, yes, a blogger’s work is never done.