Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday, Friday, Friday

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Lemonpeel-in-a-cup-of-hot-water-and-hope-for-the-best Man! Last week's diseased superhero contest champion was Helen, who came up with LiaCohWaHftB Man and his arch-nemesis, Scurvy Dog. Congratulations, Helen, you actually win a prize—I know, I know, I'm so giving. Please accept these sixteen e-Harlequin romances, that may or may not be free from Barnes & Nobles. Oh, what's that? More of you wish you had participated? Well, ok, you can click through to the romances, but only if you promise to participate in this week's contest below.

Those of you who love e-romance novels might want to keep an eye on Jane Friedman, former HarperCollins CEO, whose new media company is potentially acquiring a ton of backlist romances for e-books. Also check out these instructions for what you should do if you love a writer, and this terribly romantic love note to Borders. A very reputable blog has written that Borders is having some... issues. But, you know, book sales suck across the board and around the world. Canadian publishers were slapped in the face with the huge return rate from Indigo, and that's still better than Venezuela, where imported books require governmental certification (which not a lot get). Venezuelan book laws are so messed that the article mentions free copies of Les Miserables next to a single, $132 copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

That kind of price tag can be justified, though, because Harry Potter now bears the stamp of approval from American Christian academics. Seriously, ignore the rest of the links if you must, but break out your headphones and listen to that NPR clip—there's an extended analogy in which the wand represents the Father, the Sorcerer's Stone represents the Son, and the invisibility cloak represents the Holy Spirit. Plus, you get two Jesuses and two Judases, for the price of... well, seven books, which cost considerably more than a Bible. Sort of but not really more bang for your buck!

It wouldn't be a Friday if I didn't encourage blasphemous behavior at least once a post, so my contest for you: create a religion based around your favorite book. What do you worship? Let us know! Feel free to cast yourself in a position of leadership. No, you can't use one that already has a built-in belief system, and yes, victory is contingent on hilarity, as per always.

But you know what they say about Harry Potter (and, in fact, a lot of children's books): realism and grit don't necessarily make it better. They just make it more realistic. And perhaps reality is not for children! I know I struggle with it, and I am (theoretically) an adult. Some reply smarm cleans up children's classics—I especially liked this version of Peter Pan. Either way, keep your books away from that hungry, hungry caterpillar—not only is he a hungry paper eater, he now also has a crayon and will draw all over your pages.

Again I push the e-reader on you, to avoid paper destruction. Get the new Sony wireless e-reader, just in time for your non-denominational winter holiday. And you can load it up with everything from Google books (that is a lot of stuff). Sony is partnered with a ton of independent book stores. And you get the newest Dan Brown preloaded. Plus it also cures cancer, I hear.

Oh, wait, I won't be getting this reader, because this cancer curing machine isn't free. And I'm cheap. Also, I would miss book covers—they're what make the book an art object, more than just silly words. Something I can't get behind, though: books without jackets. The ability to remove the book jacket is half of the reason I buy hardcovers. How else am I supposed to read Eragon on the subway? Oh, I know, why don't I read something with a giant dragon face on it? Psh. No.

Yes, I know you're impressed by my reading habits. But I prefer it my way—I hear that all great literary authors are hypochondriacs. And would make terrible professors. And only some of them come with matching Ikea furniture, although my apartment is decked out in my own Ikea interpretation of China Mieville's The City and the City. I'm also investing in these literary wine pairings and this $1 million book on fine wines.

I only drink pure class, clearly, but what do I eat? Well, when I cook for myself I use the French cooking bible, now available in English (for those of you not cool enough to cook in French). You can also check out this book vending machine, for light, classy snacks.

Wtf, it seems like I'm out of space (what, I didn't say anything vulgar [Dad, email me and I'll explain what "wtf" means]. But I thought it. And would read this book about the f word. It's classy!). So contribute to my book inspired religion contest, or be deemed a classless boor. Horrors!


  1. I have always wanted the Christian community to stop bashing Harry Potter and realize the small bits of good that are in it. But seriously, the cloak as the Holy Spirit? Ack.
    I appreciate their efforts, but I would have preferred them to just say "It's okay to read these books now." and leave it at that.

    Also, though it is quite outrageous, I smile that Harry Potter (or any book) is being sold for so much. In my head I value a good book that highly. It's definitely worth it. I would never pay that much because it's ridiculous, but I've always sensed that a really good story that puts me on the edge of my seat is worth qutie a bit more than what I pay for it.
    It's one of the best business transactions I could make: Buying a book for $10 that gives me a lifetime of thought and humor to think about. Priceless.

  2. My contest entry:

    The Church of the Rye Catcher!

    Come one, come all (except all you phonies) to the holiest of places, where we worship the immortal words of Holden the Rye Catcher, the holy prophet who gifted us with the mission to the protect the innocent and punish those who he deemed the "phonies" of this world.

    Repent all ye sinners! Follow not the devil Stradlater or the false prophet Ackley. Defeat the phonies in your life and receive the blessing of Phoebe the Catcher Sister.

    Rejoice in the words of Divine Holden!

    Blessed art thou who follow the Rye Catcher.

  3. Just want to point out that Anne Fine was mis-represented by The Times, she wasn't advocating Fifties style happy endings for children's book, her comments were taken out of context. You might want to read about it on my blog

  4. Hypochondriac? Ikea? I MUST be an author! lol
    Thanks for another fun post.

  5. I hereby declare the initiation of The Church of the Flies

    Venerated Scriptures: The Lord of the Flies

    Prophet: Members of The Church of the Flies follow our fearless savage leader who will kill you by spearing you or crushing you with a rock should you disobey his commands

    Redemption: Followers of The Prophet have an eternal goal to be rescued from the hardships of life and taken to a kingdom in the sea where our Heavenly Sailor Savior turns the other cheek on your misbehaviors

    Meetings are held ad hoc; listen for the sound of the conch to know when to assemble for the pronouncements of new edicts.

  6. On the Religious Practicing of Hobbits (or Burrowing into the Hillside and Back Again).

    While only practiced irregularly, Hobbits of Middle Earth are predisposed to profess a deep fondness for one of nature's lowliest creatures, the Mole. Hobbit history contains no specific mention of religious structures, but it is commonly acknowledged that Hobbits' building practices are a reflection of their spiritual beliefs. Most often, they celebrate the Mole by hoisting a good glass of beer and creating boisterous, rhyming songs in praise of each others' comfortable abodes, or Burrows, as they call them.

    Modern Moleism practices are most commonly observed by Men, Hobbits having passed out of recent history, if not fashion. Most often, one can recognize Men who have Moleist beliefs in cities and towns, at various Construction Sites. Typically, the Moleists gather around the outside edges of the Holes in the Earth, and stare in reverent awe of the other Men who are digging or creating the Holes.

    The Moleists do not typically assist in the actual creation of the Holes--their faith in the Spirit of the Mole often strikes them incapable of any activity other than a fascinated sort of trance, wherein they attempt to contemplate the Deep Mysteries unearthed in the bottom of the Hole.

    Moleists are also fond of adjourning to Pubs and Inns at the end of the work day. They all raise many glasses of beer and take turns creating elaborate and reverent Fantasies that describe, in great deal, the difficulty of their Endeavors at the Hole where they contemplated the Deep Mysteries earlier that day.

  7. I agree with Reesha, and I am Christian (although not as conservative as the groups that continually bash the Harry Potter books, and I've never considered the invisibility cloak as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit). It's always baffled me how much opposition there is to them; the "witchcraft" practiced in the book is more of a natural force than calling on demons and the like, so that comparison's never had weight with me, and while I don't think JK Rowling was trying to retell the gospel stories, the books are filled with Christian elements and allusions (as well as allusions to other cultures, faiths, and the like). Even without those devices, though, the entire series is a morality tale, classic good-vs.-evil. Ahh, it'll never make sense to me.

  8. The whole idea of "returns" from book retailers to publishers baffles me. I spent (more than enough) years in management at clothing retailers, and "returning" merchandise that didn't sell well doesn't happen. If the buyers make a bad choice, trends change, or the price point didn't work - well tough you-know-what. As a small business owner I have to make choices constantly. Sometimes I shoot and score, other times I miss - those bolts of fabric can't be returned because I guessed wrong about what the customer might want. If only! I'm not aware of another industry where returns of wholesale purchases are allowed for reasons other than defect.

    Seriously, it boggles my mind.

  9. can all great literary authors be both hypochondriacs AND alcoholics...?

    actually, yeah, i could see that.

    thanks for the link :) "terribly romantic." why, everyone calls me that ;)

  10. Oooo I wasn't aware Ikea was making pretty things now, that fluffy flower chair screams curl up and read in me. Now to find someone with a truck...I don't need walking room in my dorm if I have that!

  11. My Contest Entry:

    The Holy Church of St. Plum (i.e. Stephanie Plum of Janet Evanovich Fame)

    Here are my religion’s basic ten commandments:
    1. Thou shalt not carry a loaded glock, unless thou art being stalked by a sex-crazed boxer. At all other times thou shalt only carry unloaded weapons, generally housing thy weapon in thy cookie jar when not in use.
    2. Thou shalt only wear stiletto heels when in persuit of a felon. No sensible shoes shalt thou wear lest thou be struck down with flying boxes of pizza (or some other sloppy, sauce-covered Italian food).
    3. On Sundays, thou shalt bless thy birthday cake and beer with holy vulgarities before enjoying its fullness in communion.
    4. Honor thy father and thy mother with thy presence whenever thy refrigerator is empty.
    5. Thou shalt not fornicate without the use of birth control, bearing in mind the predictions of Joe Morelli’s psychic grandmother.
    6. Thou shalt not jog in the morning without the presence of a sexy male counterpart, and even then, thou shalt cut thine exercises short when better things present themselves (like hot dog stands and donut shops).
    7. Thou shalt remember to replace the batteries in thy holy taser of power… at least once every six months or… six years or so.
    8. Thou shalt leave thy vehicle in plain site of persons with violent or kleptomaniacal tendencies.
    9. Thou shalt commit all manner of atrocities against thine arch enemy, Joyce Barnhardt, which may include the use of dog poop, electric mixers, handcuffs, flypaper, spandex, superglue, and/or toys purchased at adult-only stores.
    10. Fill thine apartment with all manner of creatures, be they transvestite rock stars, overweight Black prostitutes in tight leopard-print pants, or stoners in superhero long underwear. Thou shalt bring forth these multitudes of oddballs on a bust. However, let not the felons be captured until the final chapter, thus instituting a fantastic climax (of the literary variety).

    Mechelle Fogelsong

  12. It may surprise a few people (including Christian fundamentalists) that JK Rowling is a churchgoing woman. Before she became famous she was a regular participant at a liberal Church of Scotland in Edinburgh, and her congregation did joint activities with a church that's headed by a minister who is also a friend of my parents.

  13. A religion?
    Based on a book?
    Catch 22

    We pray to Yossarian, fog of our lives, muddler of thought, god of evasion and trickery.
    We constantly search for Major —— de Coverley, may we attain salvation under his stern and fatherly gaze.
    In times of need we pray so St. Orr, patron of sailors, may he may grant us guidance and tenacity.
    Milo Minderbender shall be our light in all financial ventures and everyone shall have a share and you shall not buy Egyptian cotton!
    When you are unsure in your ways and feel lost in the world, worry not little sheep: Sit down and meditate. Chant the Major Major Major Major-Mantra. Your mind will clear and it shall be revealed to you, whether you have a feather in the cap or got yourself a black eye.