Sunday, November 1, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: October 25th to 31st

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by making my tiny and adorable dog pose with every book I read, barring the comics I get as single issues.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I edit them and appear here in digest form every Sunday.

Not pictured: my comics reading stalled again last week as the library gave me the third season of ARROW and I had to cram it into seven days. This made me grumpy, especially because the show persists in being not entirely about Felicity.

I now realize Netflix's greatest advantage isn't so much the way it lets you binge as the way it lets you not binge. I don't have to watch a Netflix-available show in a single week unless I want to, and that's totally worth $8.99 a month.

But alas, Netflix Canada doesn't license the majority of the CW's shows, so I'm stuck taking them out of the library if I missed them during their first run. Get on that, Netflix Canada. Canadians love the CW too.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, sits beside a trade paperback copy of Great Power and Great Responsibility. He sits facing the viewer and wears a black-hooded red costume with antennae on it. The book's cover features a drawing of many peoples' feet surrounding a tiled floor into which a seal reading 'The Philosophical Polics of Comics' is set.

Speaking of comics-related stuff...

Court put me on to GREAT POWER AND GREAT RESPONSIBILITY: THE POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY OF COMICS by Douglas Mann, and I promptly asked my library to buy it. They did, and I made a good start on it last week, and it's so interesting. I'm moving through it much more slowly than I'd like, thanks to some familial obligations and the sheer amount of television I had to watch, but I'm enjoying it a hell of a lot.

It also covers a few comics I'm not familiar with, so I've requested those from the library as well. I'll save the relevant chapters until I've got the prerequisites.

Moving away from the book, I'd like to draw your attention to Murchie's super-awesome Hallowe'en costume. I was going to make him a taco sweater, but my father found this ladybug getup at the dollar store and couldn't resist getting it. As soon as I saw that wee hood with its wee antennae, I was sunk. Murchie can be a taco next year.

Murchie stands beside the book in question, which is now laid on its side. His body is now perpendicular to the viewer to show off his ladybug costume, which has red-spotted black semi-circle wings in addition to the hood.

And here's a second, blurry-faced shot to give you a better idea of what the costume actually looks like.

Murchie sits next to a trade paperback copy of Winter's Tale. He wears a blue and white striped t-shirt and has his head turned so he appears almost in profile. The book's cover features a photograph of two people standing beneath a deep blue, star-studded sky. New York City appears behind them, brilliantly lit.

I needed a new in-between book, so I turned to an epic fantasy I started over a year ago and drifted away from: GARDENS OF THE MOON by Steven Erikson.

I had Plans, y'all. I was gonna finish this thing once and for all, thus heading another few steps down the road to being well read instead of merely well informed.

Except "over a year ago" might mean "upwards of two years ago" (I'm bad with time), and it turns out that's just too long to leave between the first chunk of a book and the second. If I'm to have any hope of enjoying the Malazan Book Of the Fallen, I'm gonna have to start GARDENS OF THE MOON again from the beginning. And I don't feel like doing that right now.

So I put it aside and picked up what I expected would be my next in-between book: WINTER'S TALE by Mark Helprin. And it, too, backfired spectacularly, at least as an in-between book, because I didn't want to put it down.

I still don't. I'll tell you, it's a sore trial to me how last week's reduced reading time kept me from wallowing in WINTER'S TALE for hundreds of pages at a stretch.

The book is gorgeously weird, not to mention just plain gorgeous, and within three chapters I loved it so much that I almost wanted to quit reading so it would never be able to disappoint me. This, of course, proved impossible. WINTER'S TALE got its claws in me and refused to let go.

It's apparently a modern classic, but I'd never heard of it until the Hollywood people released a trailer for the movie. There goes my theory I'm well informed even if I can't properly call myself well read.

I really, really hope I can finish it today. It's glorious in ways I'll no doubt discuss at exhaustive length in my eventual review, and I'm angry with myself for spending this much time with the sort of book I should've been able to gulp down.

Murchie sits on a red patterned carpet. He wears an orange t-shirt with brown trim. Beside him is a trade paperback copy of Pretty Deadly. Its cover features a pale woman in a long black dress cradling a person with an animal skull for a head. Behind them, a gunslinger of indeterminate gender stares at a butte in the distance.

Y'all, I'm not sure what I think of Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios's PRETTY DEADLY. It's a weird Western by a creative team whose work I've loved in the past, and it does all sorts of inventive things with storytelling, but I can't quite tell whether it intrigued me or left me cold.

I'm probably gonna have to get back to you after Volume Two makes it into my hands.

A pumpkin carved with Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West's face appears in an otherwise dark space. Beside it is an iPod with the cover of What We Talk About When We Talk About Running on its screen. It features a person running across what appears to be a beach.

Story time!

Pumpkins are my absolute favourite thing about Hallowe'en. Every year, I head on over to Superstore on the day itself, when the pumpkins are discounted to anywhere from $0.25-$1 each, and I buy a couple.

Then I stick my audiobook on and carve 'em up. It's a great day.

Except last year, my whole fucking city ran out of pumpkins. Safeway had a couple of teeny tiny ones, but every other store was completely and utterly out. You couldn't even buy 'em at an exorbitant price.

I wasn't taking any chances this year, so I went to Superstore first thing in the morning on Friday. The bloody things were still $3.50 each, but at least there were some left. I bought the biggest frickin' pumpkins I could find, and yesterday I started a new audiobook and carved away.

The carving itself takes very little time, but scraping out the pumpkins' innards can be a lengthy process--especially when you're determined to get your $3.50's worth by saving and roasting the seeds. I listened to almost all of Haruki Murakami's WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNING while I cleaned and carved and hauled each pumpkin into my darkened bathroom to make sure it turned out okay.

I promise Elphaba is much nicer in person. Pumpkins always give me grief when I try to photograph them. Murchie at his worst is still easier to capture than a lit pumpkin.

The book was wonderful, too. Y'all know I love sports stories, so I had a wonderful time listening to Murakami's take on running in general and triathlons in specific. He also delves into other areas of his life, like his writing and his early career as a jazz club owner, when they intersect with his athletics. Now I'm even more curious about his fiction, which I've been skirting around for years but have never actually ready. I'll have to prioritize it in 2016.

A lit pumpkin carved to look like the Mona Lisa.

Here's my other pumpkin, too, just for fun. I debated doing Darth Vader or Dancing Groot, but I eventually went with the Mona Lisa because she always goes over well. Together, she and Elphaba have an Iconic Women thing going on.

Next week: definitely some Zen Cho, and hopefully some Tiffany Reisz. A new in-between book. Probably some more Bujold. Comics.


  1. This was our first year in forever that we didn't carve pumpkins. I was a little sad about it but instead got two edible ones and made puree and have been baking pumpkin goodies. It's an acceptable trade-off!

    1. I wish my grocery store sold edible pumpkins. I ate a lot of savoury pumpkin dishes in New Zealand because pumpkin is huge there, but Canada hasn't really caught on to the pumpkin craze except where sweet stuff is concerned.

      A couple years back, I did try to eat a small carving pumpkin. It backfired. Spectacularly.

  2. Your Elphaba is already pretty impressive not in person! Damn, girl! You are on a whole other pumpkin-carving level from me with that.

    I felt just the same about Pretty Deadly after I read it, and then I ultimately concluded that it was leaving me cold. I'll probably pick up the second volume when it comes out in TPB, to see if anything's changed, but my hopes aren't high.

    Anyway, you're reminding me that I haven't done a comics binge in a while! There are many, many things available to me that I should hasten to read, and I shall do so soon.

    1. I've been carving pumpkins since I was eight, so I've got a bit of experience. :) These patterns are both fairly simple, assuming you've got lots of knives (which I do). I never like to muck around with the ones where you peel off bits of the skin because I have to scrape the inside of the pumpkin so thin to get the proper effect, and that makes me grumpy because it takes forever. Simple carvings are quick.

      Y'see, I'm sad that it looks like the next volume of PRETTY DEADLY is gonna follow Ginny, because I liked Sissy and I'd rather see what she's up to. Maybe their stories will intersect again.

      I'm planning my own comics binge this week, assuming I can ever actually, like, sit down and read.

  3. Holy snap, you are amazing at carving pumpkins. And Murchie looks so adorable as a lady bug. Was he into it or just "another day as an awesome person's dog" about the costume?

    1. He was fine with it, for the most part, but he did get a bit squirrely about the hood. I think that was mostly because it wasn't quite tight enough to stay up, though, and it kept flopping backwards whenever he moved his head. I had to adjust it before I opened the door to each kid, so they'd get the maximum cuteness effect.