Tag Archives: Sopranos

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books That Everyone Has Read But Me

This week, the fine folks over at The Broke and the Bookish are wanting to know (for their Top Ten Tuesday bookish meme) about the top 10 books everyone has read … except for me.

And with the exception of #5 and maybe #6, I could probably add that these are books that I am guessing I will NEVER read.  I’m OK with that … although when you see some of them, I might get kicked out of the book blogging community indefinitely.

In no particular order, my Top 10 Books That Everyone Has Read But Me include:

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling.  Never read a single one, never saw the movies, never really had much of a desire to do so.  Yeah, I know. Something is wrong with me.

2. Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer.  As with Harry Potter, I’ve never read any of this series and don’t plan to.

3. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (#2 in The Hunger Games series).  I read The Hunger Games.  I even liked The Hunger Games.  But one book was enough for me.

4. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins (#3 in The Hunger Games series). Please see above.

5. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.  Now this is one I will probably eventually get around to reading.  It has been on my radar since it came out but given the hoopla surrounding the movie, it feels even moreso that I am the last person to read this.

6. Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden.  I own this one. I just haven’t read it yet. I almost did when Carmela was reading it in bed during one episode of “The Sopranos.” (God, how I miss “The Sopranos.”)

7.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson.  Same goes for all the others that follow this one.  (I’m not much of a series girl, if you haven’t figured that out by now.)

8. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold.  Owned it. Looked at it. Donated it. Decided subject matter was a little too intense for me.

9. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert.  With all the hype on this one, it feels as if I could recite the book verbatim.  Just no interest in this one.

10. Anything by Stephen King.  There’s a very good chance that I might eventually read (or listen to) On Writing. But it’s a good bet that I’ll continue avoiding everything else of his.  ‘Cause I don’t do horror and scary, and (correct me if I’m wrong) but I’ve heard Mr. King is kind of good at that sort of thing.

(I know this to be true because I’ve watched “Salem’s Lot” and “Misery,” the latter of which I absolutely loved.)

It’s funny, but if you peruse the links of those participating in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, many of these books show up on others’ lists too.

How about you? Have you read (or not read) any of these?

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Book Blogger Convention: Who I Saw, What They Said (Part 1)

After taking the (very) early morning train through three states into New York City (see my previous Book Blogger Con post here), I arrived at the Javits Center in time to join this table of bloggers (and others too) for breakfast. 

(That nearly didn’t happen, as Penn Station was never freakin’ announced as a stop on my particular Amtrak train.  There I was, engrossed in The Story of Beautiful Girl, and all of sudden there we were in New York!)
Anyway, breakfast.  Most of the bloggers I noshed with were ones already in my Google Reader, which was awesome.  And a few were new to me, which was fun. 

Pictured (standing) is Ash from English Major’s Junk Food, Megan from Leafing Through Life; seated are Teddy Rose from So Many Precious Books, So Little Time (and Virtual Author Book Tours.com), Teresa from Shelf Love, Jill from Rhapsody in Books, and Florinda from The 3Rs Blog.  Earlier, before the photo was taken, we also had the pleasure of chatting with Karen from Sassy Monkey Reads, Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness, and Rebecca from Rebecca Reads (and host of The Classics Circuit)!

I also had a chance to say hello to Midnyte Reader while getting coffee and Sheila from Book Journey stopped by our table to say hi. (I met both of these ladies at last year’s Book Blogger Con, so it was great to see them again.)

Then it was time to do the swag. (I loved the “build your own swag bag” component to this year’s BBC, even if the actual bag to swag with was a bit petite. As for the books, I’ll tell you more about them in another post.) I had a great conversation in line with Karin LeFranc, author of the children’s book A Quest for Good Manners.  Karin would later stop by our table during lunch, where I snapped this photo of her with my friend Michelle from Red Headed Book Child.  (Michelle and I met over lunch at last year’s Book Blogger Con, so having lunch together at BBC is now kind of a tradition for us.) 

But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here.  Before lunch, there was the keynote address by the hilariously funny Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Here’s one of my favorite bloggers (and Book Blogger Convention coordinator extraordinaire) Rebecca Joines Schinsky of The Book Lady’s Blog introducing Sarah. 
A rapt audience of bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists.

I know, could that photo be any worse?  (I admit, I didn’t edit all of these and my apologies for such.  Had I done so, you’d be reading this post next year.) 

I’ll also admit that I’m not much of a romance reader and I was only slightly familiar with Sarah’s blog, but that didn’t matter.  Her message was universal and reflected the sentiments in the book The Blessing of a Skinned Knee (which has been on my want-to-read list for awhile now).

“I am but a grain of sand,” Sarah said.  “And the world was created for everyone.”

Meaning that, even though there were an average of 72,000 blogs created in the past 24 hours, there’s room for everyone in the vast blogosphere, especially book bloggers. 

“Everyone’s opinion on a book is valid,” said Sarah. 

She also had the parents in the audience nodding knowingly when she said that having a website (or a blog) is like having a child.

“You have to feed it almost every day,” the self-described “fully-certified Jewish mother” deadpanned to the laughing audience. “You’re up at 3 a.m. with a child, and you’re up at 3 a.m. writing a post for your blog. You need to sort problems out.  There are viruses.  People vomit unexpectedly.”

One of the reasons blogging has exploded, Sarah said, is supported by Clay Shirkey’s theory that we’ve inherited more free time and this have a “cognitive surplus.”  This has made us more interactive with our entertainment and we crave such.

Sarah went on to say that the idea and desire of taking our blogs to “the next level” is something that is different for each of us.  It’s all about your own goals related to your blog.  Some want more comments and followers; others want to hobnob with publishers or speak at conferences; others want to monetize their blogs.  Sarah shared that her goal was to have Smart Bitches, Trashy Books make enough money through advertising to cover her children’s tuition at summer camp.  It does that, and more. 
Regardless of the goal, only one person can make it happen, she said.  “I only get somewhere by kicking my own ass.” 

And you get there by dealing in the blogger’s currency of being consistent and authentic.  That doesn’t, she clarified, mean “reveal all.”

It’s “the Mafia rule,” she explained.  “You don’t talk about the family and you don’t talk about the job.”  It’s also OK to admit that you were wrong.  (That might not fall into the Mafia rule all that much, based on my viewings of The Sopranos.) 

Sarah encouraged bloggers not to fear the bad review.  “It helps communicate what you like.”  In addition, she wishes that more authors would review books.  If they did, then the notion of authors reviewing books might become less controversial.  As it is now, they’re discouraged from doing so. 

She also wished that there could be a sales measure in the publishing industry similar to that in the music business.  When albums achieve certain sales benchmarks, they become platinum and then gold.  (Or is it gold and THEN platinum?  Eh … doesn’t matter.) The question is, why isn’t there a similar sales standard for books?   (Someone in the audience remarked that this is because the sales data isn’t there on the publishing end.  Sales of hardbacks might be counted as separate from paperbacks.)  Sarah thought that rectifying this would be beneficial to the publishing world, to authors, and to bloggers. 

Regardless, Sarah said, “[w]e [bloggers] are making an impact on how publishing happens. Look at us! We have our own conference!”

Indeed, we do.  And I’ll have more to tell you about our own conference (lunch! more panels! author speed dating!) in the next installment of my Book Blogger Convention wrap up posts. 

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Part 2 of Continuing the Conversation

You need to have read my previous post in order to fully understand this one. (Go ahead, I’ll wait … OK, you’re back? Good. Where were we?)

This evening, after dinner. I’m sitting on the sofa, pajama pants on, The Dean’s upstairs doing baths. I’m reading the comments on my previous post when the doorbell rings. I decide whether or not to answer it, since we’ve been getting a spate of door-to-door salesmen lately, usually folks wanting to scam us for a new deck and handing us a poorly photocopied flyer with an 800 number.

I look through the side windows and see a woman with a clipboard. I open the door.

“Good evening,” she says, politely. And flashes a badge.

“I’m with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations.”

Oh.
My.
Freaking.
God.

So this is what it’s like in real life when the FBI is at your front door. As opposed to an episode of The Sopranos when Carmela finds Agent Harris on the stoop to haul Tony away – again.

Thankfully, I don’t say something stupid to my real-life FBI agent like, “Oh, I think I know what this is about,” or “I thought you might be stopping by.” Believe me, it would be typical of me to say something (many things) stupid out of nervousness. Because with the FBI on the steps and given what I just wrote about (remember, I was reading the comments to that very post when the Feds knocked) this was just a tad surreal. And nerve-wracking, which is not how one wants to appear when discussing matters with the FBI.

Fortunately the reason for the FBI’s appearance was not regarding the situation I wrote about earlier but something else altogether. (It doesn’t really matter … we’re all fine and, last I checked, still have our freedoms intact.) Still, I asked the agent to give me her contact information – “just in case I had questions” about our very brief conversation. Or any other matters requiring the FBI’s assistance.

Like getting The Sopranos’ theme song out of my head, for starters.

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Book Review: Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm

I usually eschew most how-to-parent books, or at least take them with a grain of salt. I believe that, while all parents have their parental challenges, ours tend to be different than most quote-unquote typical, normal families, thanks to having a child with Asperger Syndrome and a sibling dealing with the fallout. But there was something about Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm that spoke to me from the New Releases shelf at the library, saying, “read me …read me now ….” The cover of the book also proclaims “Tame Tantrums, Calm Fears, Instill Good Sleep Habits, End Food Battles, Overcome Potty Problems.”

OK, sign me up. We could use assistance in three of those areas. Still skeptical, I decided to give the book a try.

And I’m glad I did. Author and child psychologist Beth A. Grosshans identifies four parental types: Pleasers, Pushovers, Forcers, and Outliers. I saw aspects of myself in all four categories, but Grosshans says that you are primarily one single type. She identifies communication styles of these parents, and how your words are heard by the cherubs in charge (and make no mistake about it, they are indeed in charge. Like that scene between Tony and Carmela Soprano in Episode 16 when, exasperated at daughter Meadow, Tony says, “Let’s not overplay our hand — if she figures out we’re powerless, we’re fucked.” The Dean and I love that line.)

Indeed, the concept of an imbalance of family power (IFP) is what frames Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm. Most families are suffering from IFP, born about because of the current parenting culture. By changing how we parents communicate to our kids, it’s possible to reverse this – which is imperative, according to Grosshans, because IFP festers and creates bigger issues down the road.

So let’s take yours truly as an example. I believe I’m a Pushover parent. When confronted with “You’re a mean Mommy!” or “You’re being so unfair!”, I tend to take these remarks personally. “Pushover parents, when confronted by resistance and protest in any form from their children, characteristically end up giving in with an air of resignation. They shrug their shoulders, shake their heads, or throw up their hands as if to say, there’s nothing more I can do …. Pushovers grope for power. Not feeling they have any of their own, they resort to the power and authority of others to gain cooperation. They warn of what will happen if their child doesn’t behave. “Santa won’t bring you any toys.” … They try to add weight to their parental directives by invoking authorities the child does respect: “You know the doctor said you have to eat your vegetables to be healthy.” …. Pushovers also tell their children a litany of things that could go wrong and a host of dangers and bad things that could befall them if they don’t listen to their parents” “Wash your hands before you eat. Remember, germs can make you very sick.”

Children are very skilled in listening to what isn’t being said when a parent says, “I just don’t know what to do with you,” or “Your teacher said you need to read for 15 minutes …” They’re hearing that you, as parent, have outsourced your power. You have none. They know this and they are more than ready to seize it. The problem with sharing potential consequences of what could happen (“Stop jumping on your bed! You’re going to crack your head open.”) is that what parents’ proclaim could happen rarely does – adding fuel to the child to continue his or her misbehavior.

Grosshans gives her reader concrete examples of what to say instead, and the tone in which they should be said. I’ve been trying this for the past few weeks, and I think that there’s been a subtle change for the better. She also advocates and outlines a disciplinary approach called The Ladder, which is where most of the criticism of Beyond Time-Out falls, because it does, in fact, involve placing the child in time-out. In one sense, it seems hypocritical to promote a book based on the premise that parents really do have something in their arsensal besides the oft-used and noneffective method of time-out, and I think those criticisms are valid. But it is the methodology of what comes before the time-out, and what happens during, and after, that is the most value to parents.

Another of the more controversial points of Beyond Time-Out comes when implementing rung 5 of Grosshans’ Ladder approach. Grosshans advocates a technique called the “parental hold.” This is the part of the book that nearly made me stop reading. Having worked in a residential facility for people with disabilities and having to deal with several PR inquiries from national media about our practices for restraining clients based on tragedies occurring at other facilities, it’s an issue that I am somewhat aware of. I think that parents need to make a judgment call as to whether implementing a Parental Hold is right for them. Some kids are physically stronger than their parents, so this might not be practical. Here’s what I did recently (not saying this is the correct means, but it’s what worked in this instance).

Friday night, Betty and I were heading out to a Girl Scout function. The outfit she wore to school would have been fine, but she wanted to change into a dress. That required the need for stockings, given that the temperature was in the 30s, if that. There were no clean stockings in Betty’s armoire, sans a pair with a hole in a spot that would not be seen. Wearing such damaged goods was horrifying to Betty, and she made that known. Attempting to use Beyond Time-Out language, I gave Betty a choice: she could wear those stockings with a dress, or she could find an alternative outfit. She screamed, threw a fit, and I put her in time-out. After about 10 minutes, I came upstairs to find her still upset, and gave her a tight hug (my version of the Parent Hold.)

“I’m sorry, Mommy,” she whispered. “I just don’t know what to do. I’m sorry.”

I presented the options. Betty calmly returned to her closet, and together we picked out a shirt and pants. We resumed dinner, went to the Girl Scout event, and had an enjoyable (albeit rather chaotic, thanks to inadequate special event-planning on the part of the organizers) evening. This incident could have led our evening in a whole ‘nother direction.

Bottom line: I’m giving Beyond Time-Out 4 stars for its practicality and for providing concrete examples of how to handle certain situations. I liked the descriptions of the different parental styles, and I would recommend this for parents struggling with power-and-control issues with their children. This rating, though, is given with strong criticism of Grosshans’ somewhat dismissive attitude of issues such as autism spectrum disorders as well as sensory integration disorder. Clearly, these issues are not Grosshans’ realm of expertise and I would hope that, when presented in her practice with families coping with such issues that Grosshans would refer them elsewhere. Beyond Time-Out doesn’t promise easy solutions, or that her approach is the right one for your family, but it does provide other techniques to try when you’re feeling powerless as a parent.

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Where’s Chris-tuh-phur?

Does this happen in other parts of the country too?

In the midst of concocting a crockpot macaroni and cheese dinner early this afternoon, the doorbell rang. The Dean was sorting laundry upstairs (no lie), and I answered it. As I did, a large tractor-trailer blocked my driveway.

“Can I help you?” I asked, thinking of the Chris Rock routine in his latest comedy special where he says he keeps a bag packed by the door for when the real people who own his house come back and reclaim it.

The guy explained that they were “up from North Carolina” and had a truckload of furniture available “for every room in the house” if I wanted to come aboard the truck and have a look. Indeed, there was a truckload of furniture with an open side door in front of my house. I, however, wasn’t born yesterday. (It was also a relatively sibling-squabble and tantrum-free day, otherwise I could have been very tempted to hop aboard the rig and let the “furniture dealers” chop me into cushion stuffing.)

“Thanks for letting us know,” I said, closing the door.

This has happened once before since we’ve moved here a year ago. I find it amusing every single time. I half expect to see Christopher Moltisanti or Tony Soprano (God, I miss that show) unloading flat screen TVs or something, like that episode when Christopher & Co. steals the truckload of DVDs. Weird.

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