Batgrl: Bookish Hooha

Previously in Western US, now in the East. Winter 2016: Nervously wondering where the snow is. While most of my paper book collection is in storage I'm living via my ereader, where I never get through my TBRs. Further babble about me found under *Batprofile* in the sidebar.

Because Only Other Bookfolk Will "Get" This Level Of Annoyance

So kindle had a deadline to get all the kindle software updated or by today you wouldn't be able to sync your ereader via wireless. We'll skip the bit where 1) I had no clue which generation my Paperwhite was and the descriptions for 5th and 6th gen are identical and 2) they didn't tell you how big the update was so that it took me a roundabout way to figure that the reason mine wasn't updating by wireless was because it didn't have enough memory space (too full of books). (I only found out because I started doing the manual update and then was able to see how large the downloaded update was. And then had an "ooooh, right" moment.)


So now the ARRRRGH annoyance bit.


Now that I actually look at my kindle - I'd say 50% of my collection folders are gone. I could live with that - but the one that I kept all my Currently Reading stuff in is one of them. Which, GRRRR. And there's no way to roll the dang thing back. Or easily figure out which books were in there, some of which I'd half finished.


Oh well, I'd already had to remove about 30 TBR books that I was planning to add back, which would have meant twiddling around with it anyway. I'll just mentally think of this as cleaning a bookshelf, but seriously, I have SOOOOO many other things I need to be doing. (Some like, you know, actual workplace work. Bleh.)


Aside grumble: on long list of to dos is helping mom figure out what's up with her tv cable setup, and it's one of those "the wrong button was accidentally pushed and now the tv won't turn on the usual way and we can't watch anything" problems. Seriously, figuring out each person's cable setup via different companies is insane. And I'm one of those folk who never had problems programming VCRs and was in video production field for a while, so I'm not intimidated by the boxes. Lack of manuals in meatspace and online, that is a problem.



So I have now just figured out that there is a way in the upper right (sigh) left of the screen to view things in the cloud vs on my device, and in those hundreds of collections (translation: folders with books) is my currently reading. I just have to dig through them all. So it's in there somewhere. Still, it seems really arbitrary which books they just left off vs the ones they kept. Weird. Still haven't figured this out, because it doesn't seem based on what I was recently reading. Ah well, joy of updated software.

Videogame I Fell Into Which Only Has the Vaguest of Book Reference

It's weird how sometimes the right media will pop into your hands at the right moment. Until I can manage to concentrate and read again - which will hopefully happen by my flight tomorrow - videogames are helping keep my mind out of the dark. And randomly Stardew Valley (Steam link) has been helpful for that.


If you liked Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon, you'll apparently have a good idea of what this game is - I've never played either. But every review begins with that comparison so I'm tossing that out first. I was actually drawn to the game because I read about the developer creating it by himself - the art, the music, everything - over the course of 4 years. He refused to put it into early access on Steam and only released it when it was complete.


An interview with the developer where he talks about this, and a review:


Interview: What's Next for Stardew Valley

PC Gamer


Stardew Valley review: A pastoral, contemporary escape

Ars Technica


I watched a little of someone playing it on youtube and figured it'd hit the mmo-love I have for wandering around looking at and gathering stuff - and it was under $15 so I hopped in. And I love that I can go all hyper farmer or just focus on getting syrup from the maple trees and go mining (and fighting monsters in the mine). Or do both. You can woo and marry npcs (and it doesn't matter what gender you or they are) - or just make friends with everyone. There are little stories here and there and conversations - nothing Bioware depth, but often up for interpretation that makes them different from many games I've played. (I'm purposely being vague because some people really hate spoilers.) And there's random weirdness, like the meteorites that fall on your farm sometimes (and are full of nice useful minerals). Or the wizard that's one of your neighbors. Or figuring out that you can grow a giant pumpkin. (Again, not spoiling some of the weirdness.)


What's funny is that I'm usually a graphics snob and have stayed away from pixely art in games like this. Mainly because back in ye olden days I had an Atari and then a long dry spell where I didn't have any other tech to play videogames on - so retro gaming graphics are something I don't long to revisit. But the content in this, and the ability to plan my gardens - it's somehow a nice and calming thing. (Also I have no fear of reading the wiki all the time if I have questions. Which has helped a lot at times.) And there are multiple areas I still haven't unlocked. It's been good to lose hours in here.


Extremely vague bookish thing: when it rains you'll every now and then see some worms wiggling in a small area on the ground. If you dig with your hoe you can usually find clay there, and sometimes other items. Well, it was somewhat surprising to find that sometimes library books would pop up. They then magically teleport themselves back into the library, and when you next visit you can read the contents. (I am such a sucker for reading books in games. These are extremely brief and nothing to gush over, just mildly fun.) I still haven't figured out how the worms have appropriated these missing library books - or alternately who's been burying them around town. The library also has a museum that you can donate artifacts to and help them rebuild their collection. (And get goodies for so many things donated.)


Meanwhile the dude running the library never has asked why the books have dirt in them. I mean, they must have some grime after being dug out of a hole full of worms, right?


Later: It occurs to me that I should add - if you get immersed and lose time in simulation type games like this you should definitely keep an eye on your clock. It's also kind of addictive. On the plus side it's easily paused, there are no microtransactions, and there's no way you have to play or things you're forced to do.


Book Recommendations/Stories for Getting Through Big Life Moments?

First two things: You don't have to worry overmuch about me comfortwise (have got therapist and friends alerted, check), though anything you comment will indeed go a long way to getting my mind off of what's going on, and I'll appreciate it anyway. Next, I don't know if I'd get around to reading what you recommend (not immediately anyhow) because at times when life tosses stuff at you, it's often hellishly hard to actually concentrate on anything. Er, and then there's the fact that I'm making myself not impulse buy as I already did that and now have some random toys and a few video games that I didn't have at the start of the weekend.


But if I can't read, it's sometimes just as nice to talk/write about reading, you know?


So the sad part - my dad died a couple of days ago. (I am now blanking on exact day...ah, Thursday. Had to check. Brain is so not working well.) Had a heart attack earlier in the week and surgery that day. I have a plane ticket to go home and help out since he was sent home from the hospital a day or so later, seemingly fine. And then suddenly another heart attack while I was on the phone with mom, then an ambulance came, and he didn't make it out of the house. He did not have a heart problem and was not ill. He was in his mid 70s. I'm an only child, and working out of state where my folks live. (I was planning on moving there in another year.) So I've got the next three weeks to help out my mom, who's not lived without dad (and for dad and taking care of dad) in over 50 years. And that about sums up the moment.


So what I'd love to hear is a book that you fell into and that made you forget a bad time. Or at least made it pass a little easier. Doesn't have to be a time as bad as this, that bit doesn't matter. While humourous books help, sometimes more serious fiction or history also works - doesn't matter. I'm not a genre snob.


I actually have a book that worked for me from my divorce in 2013 - a new translation of Orlando Furioso - here's my review (that I still haven't moved from Goodreads, sigh.) Yeah you'd think that'd be overly academic - but it's all down to that translation that made it funny, because the translator felt that this was a combo of D&D and B movie fodder (and comedy romance, and battles, etc etc etc) that current students were missing out on. (My review ODs on quotes, be warned, it's long.) Now it's a fun and comforting book to look back on because dad - a one time college prof who studied Spenser, Shakespeare, etc. - was the first person I talked to about it and said "you'll LOVE this translation, I'll send you my copy when I'm done." But he couldn't wait and bought his own. And then we talked about it over the phone and enjoyed it even more. (And he started writing his own text version of Spenser's poem, Faerie Queene afterwards, but that's another post I should write.) That's one of the hard parts in this - one of many of course - but he's the last person I could geek out to in meatspace over this genre. All my other bookish friends aren't into this sort of book. I'm going to miss that so much. He and I always used to share book talks.


I'll be peeking in and out of this so can only answer as I have time. If you want to go full on blog post of your own and just link me to it in the comments that's cool too.


Now back to packing and ignoring laundry. I am so not into laundry right now. But then, I'm usually never into doing laundry, so that's kinda life as usual.

Rain is Obnoxious...

So I finally not only get motivated but remember what I wanted to get around to - posting some links in here - and just as I sit down to it the rain decides to really let go. Oh it's been pouring on and off all day, but this is the real downpour type where you hear thunder rumbling closer and closer. And since we're good at having the occasional power outage when we get a lightning strike at the nearby power station - yeah, I shouldn't dawdle much before hitting the save button.


For now, just one link and a list!


Eight Classic Female Bildungsromane You Should Know About If You Don’t Already
Anne Boyd Rioux, The Toast, February 18, 2016


"The female Bildungsroman (or novel of development) is, in some ways, a contradiction in terms. Novels about the transition from girlhood to womanhood have historically been more about “growing down,” in Annis Pratt’s famous phrase, than growing up; they show their heroines learning to conform to gender norms rather than discovering themselves as individuals.
... While the following examples of the female Bildungsroman might be encountered in a college course, they are not widely known, and it is entirely possible to receive a degree in English without reading a single one. The movement to recover women’s voices of the past has waned somewhat in recent years, and thus each of these texts (although almost all are currently in print) are in danger of being forgotten again."


And even with that English degree I'd only heard of one of these in passing - that I remember. Sadly. All the more reason to make a booklikes list in hopes that I'll get around to reading a few:


Female Bildungsroman


I should add that several of them are available free on kindle, which means they'll be on gutenberg and other places as well. Only one was just in paper format - that I could find at the moment.


And bam, massive thunder, we're having the lights go dimmer and I hear hail. Time to save and perhaps get offline? Seems a better idea to be reading rather than on the computer!

Amazon and Spelling/Formatting Errors - and "Disappointing Content"

Krazykiwi has all the info and links in this post here. Sounds like this is pretty much what Amazon has been doing in the past - alerting authors to mistakes - but this time there might be a little more push to get them to fix it. Of course with the huge amount of spelling/grammar fun that's out there, that's a ridiculously large job, so I wouldn't think there'd be any significant difference in quality for some time (if ever).


Fun part for me - I had no idea Amazon specifically defines "disappointing content," and was amused. Read the following and ponder how broad some of these statements are as far as what can be considered disappointing. (Some I'd rate much higher than the word disappoint and more towards "rarrrr inducing.")


Guide to Kindle Quality (scroll to end):


Disappointing Content

We do not allow content that disappoints our customers, including but not limited to:

• Content that is either marketed as a subscription or redirects readers to an external source to obtain the full content
• Content that is freely available on the web (unless you are the copyright owner of that content or the content is in the public domain). For more information, you can refer to the sections titled “Illegal and Infringing Content” and “Public Domain and Other Non-Exclusive Content” in the Content Guidelines.
• Content whose primary purpose is to solicit or advertise
• Content that is not significantly differentiated from another book available in the Kindle Store
• Content that is a non-differentiated version of another book available in the Kindle Store
• Content that is too short
• Content that is poorly translated
• Content that does not provide an enjoyable reading experience


Apparently all this time I could have been complaining about all those people selling public domain works with little change from the free online ebook versions. Did not know that. Though I might have had to purchase one and return it to be able to send that message - not sure.


They repeat the idea over here:


Content Guidelines:


Poor Customer Experience
We don't accept books that provide a poor customer experience. We reserve the right to determine whether content provides a poor customer experience. See the Guide to Kindle Content Quality for examples of content that's typically disappointing to customers.


Anyway it's great to have these sorts of standards, but as usual the real problem is making sure the sellers follow them. I'm specifically thinking about having enough staff to manage all that content review and communication in a way that doesn't take years to fix each issue - because as we all know, it's usually always an issue that companies never seem to hire enough staff to do all the work.

Snow Report from My Area (Eastern US)

I haven't tried sharing photos in here for a while - is it still cranky about uploading certain sizes? Because I want to share photos! Now that I've asked - a winter storm update from my area:


So on Friday a friend/coworker noted that I was probably going to be stuck wherever I was after Friday and might it be a good idea to come crash at her house? Yes, yes it would be. And so here are two before and after photos I put on tumblr. Her husband spent a good 5 hrs today clearing sidewalks and stairs to house, and then part of the driveway. Will dig out his car tomorrow. But none of us will be going anywhere because there's about 2 ft of snow in the street outside the house and the snowplows might not make it into our area by Monday. Now my apartment is next to a major road, so that'd have been plowed out - but I'd have had to walk to the stores and the bus - so I'm still better off here. Plus we have enough food. It's kind of like a vacation. 


Work is closed Monday anyway. And who knows about Tuesday?! (Down side is that I'm on contract to finish by a certain date, so that'll have to be worked out. But I'm working very hard on not stressing about that.)


So I have oodles of ebooks all ready - but I have not been reading them just in case we had a power outage. It seemed a good plan to play video games until the power did it's thing (it loves going off in this area) and then I'd have my fully juiced ereader to go to. (Yay backlighting.) And then have one paper book, just in case. Only it appears we may have missed having power problems - maybe I shouldn't have typed that out yet though...


Ok, now going to play with photos in another post to test things...

The Fall Fields Tragedy, Or True Crime I Bump Into And Mean to Read Later

The Falls Field Tragedy! - Sarah E. Littles

One of the bookish things that consistently happen is that I'll find mention of an obscure (to me) thing, then I'll find an old book about it that's actually been ebookenated, and then add it to my TBR list. And then I forget all about it. So now I've decided I'll at least pop it in here and share it, even if I have no clue how interesting or dull the thing may be.


Tonight's entry - which I can't linked thanks to help from Murder by Death to an image now that because I don't think it's in BookLikes yet:


The Falls Field Tragedy! : The Confession of Sarah E. Littles : Being an Authentic Narrative of the Facts Connected with the Murder of Her Husband, Charles W. Littles, at Rochester, N.Y., on the Night of the 19th of December, 1857, for which Her Brother, Marion Ira Stout, was Hung, and She was Sent to Sing Sing State Prison ... a True Statement, Made by Mrs, Littles, at Sing Sing, on Saturday, Oct. 30th, 1858

[That's a Google books link]


That's the full title - you must love the 1800s publishers for trying to squash as much info in there as will help sell things. (You can see the equivalent of this on Amazon in products like Bestselling Womens Touchscreen Texting Driving Winter Warm Nappa Leather Gloves Fleece or Cashmere Lining - someone is trying to hit ALL the search engine nouns there. ...Yes I was gloves shopping. Nope, not for those.)


Haven't heard of this murder? I'm not surprised - it's not in wikipedia, which is a fair meter for how well known something is (but I'm not epic at searching today, so let me know if I missed it). The jist is that Sarah Littles and her brother, Marion Ira Stout, killed Sarah's husband, Charles Littles. And there's an incest allegation in there. This happened in Rochester, NY, where I was able to find this via a local into history research:


The High Falls Murder, May 14, 2012

Which has a lot of footnoted quotes, that led me to:


The Heinous High Falls Murder

Epitaph Newsletter Volume 19, Number 2, River Campus Libraries, Rochester, Spring 1999


Also this popped up via google: 

Murder and Mayhem in Falls Field

Blog: Local History Rocs! Rochester Public Libarary/Local History & Genealogy Division, August 2013

Two source links for that one, at the end of the text.


So there you have it - some links to the basic story if that's what you want, and places to look for primary docs if not. I have a feeling that if I'd grown up in the Rochester area I'd have heard of this at one point.


Where I bumped into it in the first place:

Has a Stopped Clock Ever Really Helped Solve a Crime?

Straight Dope column, Nov 29, 2013

I suppose I could have picked all of them to look up, but I got side tracked after just the one. As usual. Oh and the citation linked there is to an 1858 NYT article, which I'm not going to get to without coughing up funds.


LATER: I just now notice this is some 20+ pages long - I really should peek into it later.

David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books

Reblogged from It's a Mad Mad World:

So Study-ish is Kind of Bookish? Or: Straight Dope Columns and Conversations That I Google

So this isn't exactly book related, but this is one of those "I want to save the links and read up more on this later" posts, so skip entirely if the subject is dullish!


In the past I have a chunk of posts that have loads of links thanks to Googling stuff in books - in case you wonder why you don't see those as often it's because work has drained my energy/free time. I have an annoying amount of saved links in a file for whenever I get back to posting, so it's not like I've stopped finding things. (I'm home sick atm with stomach fun, so that explains this current posting.)


Anyway! Short version: subject here is roughly about safety measures and whether having them causes humans to assume they're safer and it's less possible to get hurt than is actually the case. Especially in football with helmets and armor ("padding" in my world = armor), and in vehicles, seatbelts and other safety measures. Those two things aren't equivalent really, except in the way it may cause people to believe they have less of a chance of being injured than is actually the case. People do seem to be really certain of how safe they are inside their cars in certain situations - like how to drive in bad weather, for instance (in the US not everyone knows to drive slowly).  


This started with a random conversation with friends about injuries and football, and how hard helmets caused tackling methods to change and thus injury to change. My grandfather was a football coach and as a player years before that he wore the old leather helmets. In our conversation I did wonder what he’d have to say about all this - always sad to think about conversations you can’t have. (Though not too sad because this time it isn’t one of those “if only I’d spent more time with X” - this is a conversation that’s all about current events in sports.)


The idea of greater safety leading to greater risk reminded me of a study I’d heard cited from back in the 70s about seat belts. Seat belts are mandatory in the US now but it may surprise people to know that, despite the logic of it being a safety thing, back in the day people did NOT like being told what to do. ...Or depending on how much you know Americans, this may not be a surprise. (Same thing with laws making motorcycle helmets mandatory - and there are still people out there who refuse to wear them. Having seen a motorcycle accident where the cyclist didn’t wear a helmet, I have um, feelings about this.)


As always when I google odd things, it’s fun when I bump into answers in the Straight Dope columns (answers to random odd questions), which I’d recommend for interesting reading. No matter your feelings on the results, each column has a bibliography at the end with links, so you can move onward if you want more research. In any case, it’s a fun and interesting read, and a good starting point. (Not unlike a lot of wikipedia pages.)


And here are two relevant column excerpts, so if you're interested in longer quotes, here we go...

-read more-

For any of you experiencing post holiday blahs - or even just a meh moment - I give you one minute of ferrets going bananas in a plastic swimming pool of styrofoam packing peanuts.



Kittens wearing knitted airplanes advertising some kind of airline thing I can't even tell what but you guys, kittens!


These marketers are too clever by half. They need to be watched lest they go to the dark side. Ok, they're already in advertising - so maybe further into the dark side?


Dammit, now I'm into the dark side too because they got me to share an ad! I'd ask for help but it may already be too late...

Just Tell Me There Is No Murder Poetry Now...

The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock - Lucy Worsley

This is one of those books I enjoy a lot (still not done yet) but wonder if others would like it as much. Mainly because Worsley doesn't go into minute details on all of the historic murders themselves - you get the what was done and how - but she's focusing more on the social reactions, not just the crime. Which is fine because she also leads you to other books that will give you more detail if you're interested. (I was kinda gleeful that I'd already read some she cited. I'm such a history fangirl.) And there's always wikipedia for a quick review.


Which brings me to the 1823 Elstree Murder, or Radlett Murder. (Elstree had other murders, so you can see the need to clarify.) And this poem/song:


They cut his throat from ear to ear,
His head they battered in.
His name was Mr William Weare,
He lived in Lyons Inn.


Whatever you think of the tabloid/internet press today, at least it's not posting little songs for us all to sing about the latest murders. Which, in the age where not everyone could read, street ballads (broadsides) would do for you. You'd nip into the street (or send your child, servant, etc.), purchase a copy, and then be able to learn it and sing it to an already known tune. Which you could then share at the pub or, I dunno, sing around the family hearth? I've read a bit about street ballads but besides the pubs and streets I'm not sure where you'd end up singing them. Meanwhile, now we have youtube, but thankfully I've never bumped into any area where folk are singing current-day murder songs. (Moment of gratitude here.)


If you want to check out the contents of this book via Worsley's documentary on the subject, I'd definitely encourage you to try it - it's the gist of what the text covers. (And again BBC, I'd pay money to watch this stuff, but it's always years later that it pops up on PBS here in the states.) This search should lead you to it: Lucy Worsley English Murder (The bit about street ballads is in part one.)


Bookwise I'm still on the section where she's discussing the Golden Age of Mystery Writers, specifically the women. And enjoying it hugely. Huzzah for self-gifted books!

Snoopy's Christmas Album Cover
Snoopy's Christmas Album Cover

So yesterday I shared a video of Snoopy's Christmas song that I loved as a kid. Now for the rest of the story!


Here's the album cover of the lp - pause to note how creepy Santa is there. Not that Santa is actually present in the Snoopy song, so perhaps that's the Red Baron disguised as Santa? No one knows.


I eventually wore out this record over time because yes, I was a child that would play the same song over and over. This might have been why my parents had my record player set up in the basement where they couldn't hear it. Anyway, this was a Peter Pan record, which meant that all the songs weren't actually sung by the originators of the songs - you know, music for children still does this today. The results are usually not good. This one, eh, not sooo bad as some.


Youtube links, for those who care enough to listen to this song more than once (hello there, welcome to my weirdness):


Snoopy's Christmas, Peter Pan version.


Snoopy's Christmas, Royal Guardsmen version.


Of course if you find the song annoying, the second might not be the better version? I'm seriously DELIGHTED that in New Zealand and Australia this is a song to play obnoxiously, knowing it will pester other listeners. And alas, we in the states have forgotten it. Because we're too busy pummeling listeners with Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, which I'm not going to find a youtube link for because even mentioning it put the damn thing in my head, because all of the words are in there. Though I have always loathed it. Ugh.

Review: Max and Moritz by Wilhelm Busch - Children's Horror Story!

Max and Moritz (A Story of Seven Boyish Pranks) - English Illustrated Version - Wilhelm Busch

Once upon a time this paper book sat on my grandmother's bookshelf, given to her by a student who thought she'd find it funny. Written in rhyme, the book had German on one page and the English translation on the other. And it was wildly creepy thanks to the illustrations. I was of course fascinated by it, and had an idea that it wasn't at all meant to be read by kids.


Happily you don't have to take my word for it, here's the full book online, with those drawings:


Max und Moritz

Read online only, but it's short - split into 9 brief chapters including intro and epilogue. Seriously worth it just to check out the drawings.

Wikipedia: Max and Moritz


The two boys are awful, and do not come to a happy end. This is one of many old stories where horrible things happen to children who aren't good - the Victorians seemed particularly fond of them. There are loads of them out there, and here're some examples:


Six Cautionary Tales That Terrified Kids of Yesteryear

Mental Floss, 2013


Which is where I was able to bump into Max and Moritz again, because I wasn't able to remember their names.


Snoopy vs The Red Baron/Christmas Bells - The Royal Guardsman


This one needs a bit of an intro. This was a song I played LOADS on a worn record player, and can't remember what else was on the lp. But it's the one song I knew of about Snoopy and the Red Baron and Christmas. Well, it's actually a follow up to this one:


Snoopy vs The Red Baron - The Royal Guardsmen


That's a lot less seasonal.


And of course it's weird that this is even kid material, since it's all about dogfights resulting in people dying and all. But then, I was a weird kid. And since this was filed under Novelty Records, it's not a surprise that I later stumbled upon Doctor Demento and Weird Al, and have been a fan of both. 


Wikipedia info:

The Royal Guardsmen

Snoopy's Christmas


The Damned - There Ain't No Sanity Clause


Another seasonal favorite!

Currently reading

Their Noble Lordships: How to Tell a Duke From an Earl...And Other Mysteries Solved by Simon Winchester
The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon - The Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World by Steven L. Kent
Transformers: Robots in Disguise Vol. 4 by Andrew Griffith, John Barber
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Rebel Heart: The Scandalous Life of Jane Digby by Mary S. Lovell
Progress: 120/371pages
Plutarch's Lives, Volume I by Aubrey Stewart, Plutarch, George Long
Progress: 30%
The Sofa by Claude-Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon