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Monthly Archives: October 2010

Lost: Etiquette. Reward if found.

Bookstores are a fun place to browse and relax.  You can go in, cruise the aisles for a few books, pick up a warm drink, and then sit down in a large, cushy chair to enjoy said books and drink.  It’s most relaxing.  That is, until some jerk on a cell phone decides he has to talk at the highest decibel to be heard on the other end of the line (and, apparently, the store).  Suddenly, you’re jarred from whatever imaginary world you were visiting in the pages before you.  Your muscles tense and your eyes narrow as the guy just keeps on talking, not realizing he’s disturbing those around him.

As is talking on the phone while in the bathroom (especially a public one), talking loudly on a phone in a retail establishment is a pet peeve of mine.  I find it utterly inconsiderate.  The reason people come to stores like mine and stay for hours is to relax, get away from the office or home, not to hear one side of a stranger’s personal conversation.  A coworker of mine once heard an older gentleman explain to his grown daughter why he left her mother for another man. Apparently, the pet section of a bookstore is a great place to have that phone conversation.

Another time I overheard a man telling his friend on the other line that all his checks were bounced and he was afraid to go back to the hotel because his credit card might get rejected at checkout.  He said he was tempted to steal food at the grocery store so instead he decided to hide out in the bookstore.  This guy had the conversation rather loudly, right in front of me as I worked (wearing a name tag, handling product, etc.).  Not only was he rude in talking so loud but also rather stupid.  I went around, first to each manager and then to each cashier, and told them not to take any checks from this guy.

Let’s not forget those people who stand in line and talk on their cell phones.  We see this a good deal of the time, but I imagine it happens in grocery stores and the like as well.  There is nothing ruder than this, I believe.  First of all, it’s a distraction to everyone around, even for the person on the phone.  A cashier may be calling and calling for the next in line but the jerk on the cell phone is oblivious and continues to hold up the line, pissing off everyone around.  Then, when the cashier is helping him and he continues to talk on the phone, the cashier cannot ask the required questions she is supposed to ask.  Not only that, but the cashier is trying to be of service and the customer is essentially ignoring the one person required to help him.

If the cashier is lucky, this is the end of the incident.  But I’ve on that side of the register before and seen that a complete transaction does not mean a complete interaction.  Once a lady came up on her cell phone and practically threw her book at me.  I rang it up and hit total and she swiped her card.  As the receipt printed, she took the phone away from her mouth (but not her ear) and asked if I got her discount card.  Let’s see.  Threw the book at me, check.  Threw discount card at me, no.  Apparently I was supposed to be psychic and know that she had a discount card and look it up for her by somehow knowing her phone number.  How dare I be so rude!  Of course, I had to completely redo the transaction and it further held up the line because one lady couldn’t put down the phone long enough to buy a book.  How long would it have taken?  Thirty seconds?  A minute?  Not as long as it ended up taking, that’s for sure.

So, next time you’re out in public and your phone starts playing “Baby Got Back,” alerting you to a possible booty call, think twice before answering it.*  Is the potential conversation one you want to be shared with strangers?  Especially strangers who will gladly put said conversation on the internet for others to read?  I thought not.

*Really, the why doesn’t matter.  The point is, the people around you are not your friends and family and should not be privy to your life.

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Posted by on October 23, 2010 in Rants

 

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Validation now comes in an upbeat song

According to you
I’m stupid, I’m useless.
I can’t do anything right.
According to you
I’m difficult, hard to please,
forever changing my mind.
I’m a mess in a dress,
can’t show up on time,
even if it would save my life.
According to you.
According to you.

But according to him,
I’m beautiful, incredible.
He can’t get me out of his head.
According to him,
I’m funny, irresistible,
everything he ever wanted.

These are some of the lyrics to the song According to You by Orianthi.  It’s a catchy and upbeat tune.  The first time I heard the song, I liked it (I still kind of do).  But the lyrics bother me.*  She’s thinking leaving a guy who is unappreciative of her (positive) but seeks validation from another man in order not to feel bad about herself: “I need to feel appreciated, like I’m not hated.”

Young women have so many mixed messages coming at them from the media and I think this could be a damaging one.  They should know they don’t need a man to make them worthwhile, that what they think of themselves is every bit as and even more important than that.  Growing up, I didn’t have many boyfriends and the few that I did have were very, very short-lived.  I was lonely and wanting a boyfriend and there was no public figure around telling me that it was okay if I didn’t have one.  It wasn’t until after college that I grew comfortable with the person I was when I was alone.  I don’t think that what I experienced is all that uncommon.  What I would really like to hear, and I think thousands of teen girls need to hear as well, are lyrics that go something like this:

According to me,
I’m beautiful, incredible,
everything you think I’m not.
According to me,
I’m funny, irresistible,
everything I want to be.

What a positive message!  Get out of a relationship with someone who does not appreciate you and be happy with who you are!  That’s what teen girls in this generation and the next (and the next, etc.) need to hear.  Men do not validate women.  We validate ourselves.

*In the music video, she rocks out really hard on the guitar, which is kick-ass, positive female imagery.  Hooray for her!

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2010 in Rants

 

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Not so lovely

***I will spoil this movie/book so anyone who wants to see/read The Lovely Bones, do not read on.  You have been warned.***

One of the few movies I opted to watch before reading the book was The Lovely Bones.  Mom was with me (taking care of me, actually, as I had pneumonia) and we both wanted to see it.  So we sat down one night and watched it.  For those of you who haven’t and won’t see/read it, the story is told from a dead teenager’s view from the place between Earth and heaven.  After Susie Salmon is murdered but before she can move on, she must first let go of her family.  She finds it difficult, though, as she watches them struggling to come to grips with her death.  Her father and sister try to find the killer while her mother takes solitude away from the family on an orchard.  Grandma (played by Susan Sarandon) comes to try to hold the family together despite her constant drinking.

The plot is good and the acting was great.  So why didn’t I like this movie?  For one, it was trippy.  When Susie is in the in-between, images move and change, sometimes with correlation between them and sometimes not.  At one point, I turned to Mom and asked, “Did I drop acid?” because I didn’t know how else to explain the weird and off-putting imagery.

The other thing that really drew me away from the movie was the end.  Susie watches from the in-between as her killer disposes of her body.  Earlier in the movie, she found that her body was hidden in a safe in his basement.  Scared that Susie’s father was on to him, the killer decides to get rid of the safe in the town sinkhole.  He drives out to the sinkhole and pays some guy to help him roll the safe across to it.  I realize that to build tension, the killer had to take a while to dispose of the body.  However, I kept yelling at the TV that he should have parked closer to the sinkhole and not a fucking mile away (it wasn’t really that far but it felt like it).  What an idiot!

Then there’s Susie.  She is watching all of this happen and decides to make a big move.  She comes down from the in-between and possesses a girl who lives by the sinkhole (and is watching the safe being rolled across the ground).  This girl has been hanging out with Susie’s crush since the murder.  So now that Susie’s in possession of this girl’s body, one would think she would alarm the people that her body is in the safe and that creepy neighbor is really the killer.  But she doesn’t.  Instead, she makes out with her crush as her body sinks to the bottom of the hole, lost forever.  No wonder she was murdered.  She was an idiot as well!

Now, this is to say nothing of the book.  I haven’t read it but I probably will one day.  I’ve heard the book is good so I won’t let the movie disparage me from enjoying it.  But let me save you the trouble with the movie.  Watch something else unless you like feeling like you’re on acid while you watch idiotic people make mistake after mistake.  In that case, this movie is for you.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2010 in Entertainment

 

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Bettering the (grammar) world one person at a time

I realize I’m not the world’s greatest speller nor am I perfect when it comes to grammar, but I do know quite a bit. I’m like Ted on How I Met Your Mother, always correcting his friends to the point of driving them crazy. (The episode that best explains this is Spoiler Alert.  Hilarious.)  My tendency to correct people got worse after living with a self-proclaimed grammar Nazi who taught me the difference between lay and lie.   Now I can’t enjoy Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars without screaming at the stereo but I know I am better for it.*

About two years ago when Jess was visiting, she kept saying “further” and I kept correcting her to “farther.”  It got to the point that she was so irritated she said them both in sequence and then glared at me, daring me to correct her.   I bit my tongue as I’m sure she would have gouged out my eyes if I hadn’t.  Well, a few weeks ago our parents were visiting Jess and they went out to the putt-putt course.  At one point after Jess hit her ball, Mom said, “Could you hit that any further?”  Jess replied, “Farther.”  Victory is mine.

Now I’m doing it to Mom.  Last night (and a few times before that) she asked for some Kleenex.  I told her I didn’t have any, but I had some Puffs.  “Isn’t Kleenex a generic name by now?” she asked.  “Nope,” I replied.  “It’s still a brand.”  Fred and I have had this talk many times as it frustrates him, too, when people use the incorrect word.  (I suspect that it irritates me more than him, though.)  “I’m going to Google that,” someone may say when really he’s using a different search engine all together.  Like Kindle does not equate all e-readers, Google does not equate all search engines and Kleenex does not equate all facial tissues.  Maybe if I correct Mom enough to the point of her wanting to write me out of the will, she will stop asking for the brand when she means the generic.  I may be out of the family but the world will better for it.

*If you don’t know, he should be singing, “If I lie here, if I just lie here, would you lie with me”.  If you need an explanation why, then go take an English class.

 
 

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A great way to start the work week

Monday was a day I’ve been anticipating for a long time.  It was the day I got to meet one of my favorite authors, James Dashner.*  Eager as I was, I sat in the second row (no one ever sits in the first).  About 10 minutes before the event was set to start, James asked everyone who was there early their names.  I introduced myself as one of the employees and then proceeded to cough profusely.  Once the fit was over I explained about having pneumonia a month ago but that I wasn’t contagious.  James asked if perhaps I had The Flare.**  “You tell me,” I said.  “You know the symptoms.”  “Have you been acting crazy lately?” he asked.  “Pah,” I replied, waving my hand dismissively.  “I always act crazy.”  (Okay, so this probably wasn’t the best thing to say to a favorite author I want to return to the store some day but I think he knew I was joking.)

When the seats were a bit more filled in, James started off with talking about his writing process and how The Maze Runner trilogy got to where it is today.  He shared a great story about meeting Judy Blume and getting to have tea and cupcakes with her (awesome).  Then he took questions from the audience and try as we might, he was very tight-lipped about the third book.  He was even a bit tight-lipped about The Scorch Trials because it’s only been out a week and he thought that most of the audience hadn’t read it yet.  However, I did (as did most of the staff) and I was anxious to ask him questions about stuff that happened in the book but I didn’t want to spoil it for anyone either.  (I admit this begrudgingly.)  After he was done signing everyone’s books, he hung out for a few minutes to chat with the staff.  James was very laid back and down-to-earth.  I hope that he’ll be back to the store when the third book The Death Cure comes out next October.  After all, I can’t own all his books and have only one of them not signed!

*Okay, if you don’t know who I’m talking about by now, then you really haven’t been paying attention.

**You must read his books in order to get these references so go read them already!

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2010 in About me, Literature

 

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Always take a book. Always.

One of my requirements for a purse is that it is big enough to hold a book.  I have this requirement because I’m always in the middle of three or four books and hope to snag a minute or two of downtime and get a few more pages read.  When Fred and I go on a road trip, he drives and I read until I fall asleep.*  I’ll mute the commercials on TV just so I can read.  Of course, this is a bit more difficult, trying to keep two separate plots straight in my head, so I don’t do it too much.  Stuck in traffic?  Not a problem!  I just whip out my book and start reading.

But the other night I was at Fred’s house with no reading material of my own.  I didn’t think this would be a problem, until I woke up at 5:30 in the morning, hacking and sneezing and unable to get back to sleep.  Usually when I wake up and I’m a bit restless, I read a few pages and it lulls me back to sleep.** Fred doesn’t own many books because he prefers not to own many material possessions, unlike me.  What few books he does own either don’t interest me or I’ve already read.  So, I did the next best thing: I played on the Wii.

My tired eyes stared at the big, bright screen as I urged Mario on to save Princess Peach.  It wasn’t until I stopped to go to the bathroom that I realized that it was 9.  Hours had been wasted away for some game when I could have been laughing along at Jen Lancaster’s misadventures or learned the history of Facebook.  Or, at the very least, read until I was able to sleep again.  But because of my little oversight of carrying one of two purses that I own that are too small for a book, I was sucked into a vortex of time-wasting.  This has happened before, when I’ve forgotten to take a book with me and I’ve regretted it.  But it was never to this magnitude.  Usually I just lose a few minutes, at most a half an hour.  But this time I lost hours.  Hopefully I’ll learn and remember that I should always take a book with me, wherever I go.  Always.

*For some reason, riding in cars makes me sleepy.  Ten minutes in and I’m out like a light.

**Playing games on my iPod also works but I didn’t have that either.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2010 in About me

 

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Author visits are a bibliophile’s dream

For me, hearing my favorite authors speak is like seeing a favorite band in concert but far better.  For one, it’s a lot more intimate.  Also, chances are a lot higher that you can get a picture taken with the author as well as speak with him as he signs your books.  Sure, the hysteria may not be as high, but that really depends on the author and his fan base.  I’ve never seen gobs of screaming teenage girls trying to bust down the door to meet some author.  Still, people will line up hours ahead of time for a chance to hear and speak with the author.

Over the past seven years I’ve had the opportunity to meet several authors who’ve come to the bookstore.  Twice I shook Tony Dungy’s hand.  He was very polite and nice (some authors can be divas).  I also got to meet Janet Evanovich, although I didn’t have a chance to talk with her except for a hello.  I was too busy working; she was too busy signing books.  At the end of the night, though, she gave thanks to all the booksellers who worked the event and we got a group picture taken with her.  Then she signed my t-shirt, which our Community Relations Manager had made special for staff during the event.  It read “Team Evanovich”* and then gave the date of the signing.  You wouldn’t believe how many customers were offering to buy the shirts off our back!  Hearing Elizabeth Berg talk was great.  She was quite funny.  Of course, when Nicholas Sparks came to our store, I didn’t meet him.  I wasn’t scheduled to work and that was fine by me.  It was probably a good thing, too, because who knows what might have come out of my mouth when faced with him.  (Probably I would have said something like, “It gives me great hope that if someone like you can get published, then I can, too.”)

In exactly one week, one of my favorite authors, James Dashner, will be coming to my bookstore.  I’ve written about him before on my blog but in case you don’t remember or are too lazy to look at older posts, he is author to The 13th Reality series and The Maze Runner trilogy.  The second book in the trilogy, The Scorch Trials, comes out tomorrow.  You can read my short, non-spoiler review of it here.

Why do I love his books so much?  The concepts of the books themselves fascinate me.  What would I do if I woke up in the middle of a maze with no memory other than my name?  What would I do if I was told I could save not only my own Earth but other parallel versions of it, though it might mean risking my life?  Dashner creates worlds of fantasy while keeping at least parts of the real one in tact so it’s easier (for me, at least) to believe that these events actually could happen.**  Not only that, but Dashner takes the awkward kid and makes him the hero, but does not shy away from admitting that even they have their faults.  He keeps his characters human rather than building them up to be superior and completely flawless.  Humor, suspense, action, teen angst and awkwardness are just some of the elements that Dashner puts into his stories.

The thing that I love most about the books is that they grab you from the start and won’t let go until the very end.  When I first read The Maze Runner, it was really hard to put down.  I didn’t want to go to work; I wanted to stay home and read (and, no, that doesn’t happen very often for me).  The book took me through a tough journey, then another trial with lives lost, and then settled in to comfort me that all the hardships the characters went through were over.  Just as I was feeling relaxed about where the characters ended up, the last two pages of the book ripped that away.  Suddenly, nothing was what it seemed.  The characters weren’t safe and there was a whole other twist on top of that, too.  And the most frustrating part about it all: I had to wait almost a year before finding out what happened next.  Now, after reading The Scorch Trials, I have to wait at least another year before the final book will come out.  At least I have the next 13th Reality book to read first, but that’s not until April.

Next Monday, though, I will get to meet the man who so easily grips my attention through his writing.  I’ll be waiting with my camera, books in hand, trying hard not to jump up and down.  Hopefully I won’t make a fool of myself and say something stupid to him.  Hopefully I won’t be so in-his-face that I scare him away from ever coming back to our store.  I’ll tell you one thing that definitely won’t happen at this book signing or other book signings for that matter: I will not fling my underwear up onto his podium while he’s speaking.

*The signing was for the release of her book Motor Mouth which was about a woman race car driver who stumbled upon a mystery to be solved.

**I know they really can’t, but it’s a lot more likely than a bunch of dwarves with magic powers defeating dragons.  That’s the kind of fantasy I can’t buy into when reading.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2010 in Entertainment, Literature

 

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