All tagged wtfery

List-O-Rama: In Praise of... Awesome WTFery

It's no secret that I have a soft spot for a bit of awesome WTFery in my books. I mean, what's better than a random ghost or punny names for one's body guarding agency?

No, I'm not exaggerating. Some people like sweet, fluffy reads, and that's great--but me, if I want fluff, I want it to be ridiculous, nonsensical and downright nuts. I call it Awesome WTFery. 

Here are some of my favorite WTF elements.

The Random Ghost

Dude. Hate on the ghost that pops up and gives characters advice all you want, I freaking love it!

Take Nora Roberts' Chesapeake Bay trilogy-cum-quartet (the existence of the fourth book still confuses me). Each of the three brothers is visited by their adoptive father's ghost and then at the end of the series, they all realize they've all been talking to the same ghost and it's an awesome brother bonding moment. Of course.

Could these books have worked without the random ghost? Sure.

Would they have been as awesomely crazypants? No way.

Ten Wishes for the Year in Reading

I’m not one for resolutions—I completely agree with the theory that goal-setting can actually lead to failure or mediocrity. In fact, the lowest-functioning organizations and people I’ve worked with have all been extraordinarily preoccupied with goal attainment.


I participate in the Goodreads reading challenge for the sole purpose of having that handy count of books read in the sidebar, not because I want to reach a specific threshold. (Though I will admit, two years in a row, I’ve been a couple of books shy of 150 during the last week of the year and have power read through to ensure I have a nice, round number.)

So in the spirit of ignoring the idea of goals, I’m eschewing the reading resolutions posts that abound on the web today and would like to share a bit of what I’d like to see in the upcoming year in reading, publishing and book culture.

#1 An end to the divisive, unproductive, ridiculous discussions of e-reading versus print reading.

Why anyone cares in what format people choose to read books is beyond me, particularly in a culture in which a quarter of the United States population has not read a single book in the last year. Whatever helps ensure people get a book—digital, print or etched in a stone tablet—in their hands is fine by me, and it should be for anyone who truly cares about promoting reading culture. 

#2 An end to the term, “Mommy Porn.”

Thanks to the legion of ridiculous articles about 50 Shades of Grey, “mommy porn” is used to dismiss the reading choices of women by people who are threatened by women reading about S-E-X. I wrote about this early last year and it continues to frustrate me. 

List-O-Rama: 8 Reading Confessions

We try to maintain the guise here on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves that we’re Extremely Intelligent Individuals. But, I’ve got a few confessions that will blow that image right out of the water.   

Clear Eyes, Full Shelves: 8 Reading Confessons - I didn't finish the Harry Potter series.

#1 I didn’t finish reading the Harry Potter series.

Renegade almost threw her pie in my face when I off-handedly mentioned this to her awhile back. There’s no particular reason for this, except that was an actual adult when this series came out and I started reading and then got busy with life and didn’t finish. I think I left off around book five. I should probably finish reading them, but I’ve seen the movies, so (assuming the storyline follows the books) I kind of know how everything shakes out. 

Clear Eyes, Full Shelves: 8 Reading Confessions - I never read Lord of the Rings

#2 I’ve never read Lord of the Rings.

(Or any of the associated books.) Nor have I seen the movies. I’ve never had any interest. I think I read a couple of pages of The Hobbit when I was around 13 and was all, “What the hell is a hobbit?”

Clear Eyes, Full Shelves: 8 Reading Confessions - I don't read fantasy, even Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

#3 Related: I actively avoid reading fantasy.

I adore urban fantasy. However, straight-up fantasy just doesn’t work for me. Once swords, castles and the like come into play, I lose interest. This extends even to some of my favorite authors. I made a valiant effort to read Melina Marchetta’s fantasy series, and I think I only made it through a chapter. I am currently fretting over the fact that the Daughter of Smoke and Bone sequel sounds a lot like a fantasy novel, instead of the very cool urban fantasy of the first book. I will be inconsolable if this is the case. 


True Blood Snark-Cap - Episode 5.10: Gone, Gone, Gone

Guys… I am so sorry! I literally (literally literally, not figuratively literally) forgot to watch True Blood this week. So, this snark-cap is late.

You know what makes True Blood seem particularly stupid? If you watch three episodes of Friday Night Lights after watching this week’s episode of True Blood. That’s exactly what I did—and, boy, that was a mistake. It hit me: there is absolutely no character development on True Blood anymore. I mean, there was never a ton, since it’s a soapy smutfest, but at least in the first few seasons Sookie & Co changed and were kind of interesting. 

So, I thought I’d recap this week’s show in pictures…

Some dude in Bon Temps got turned into a vampire and Sookie staked him with chopsticks, in possibly her most resourceful moment on the show.

And, like all vampire chopstick-slayings, it was messy.

Very messy.

Bill’s still staking people with the handy-dandy iStake App. (Available in the App Store, I’m sure.) 

On Niceties and Negativity

Who doesn’t love random cute dog photos? This is one of my dogs, Ruairi (Rory) Boy.

One of the most inexplicable things I read last week (and there were a lot of them) was Jacob Silverman’s critique of readers and writers in Slate, in which he claims that both groups are far too nice online, and makes a rather bizarre argument against enthusiasm. 

Whereas critics once performed one role in print and another in life—Rebecca West could savage someone’s book in the morning and dine with him in the evening—social media has collapsed these barriers. Moreover, social media’s centrifugal forces of approbation—retweets, likes, favorites, and the self-consciousness that accompanies each public utterance—make any critique stick out sorely.

Is this Silverman’s backdoor method of slamming amateur reviews such as myself who enthusiastically evangelize about books we believe in? Is it just another example of the literary establishment being threatened by regular ol’ readers’ influence? Perhaps it’s push-back against a publishing climate which requires that authors self-promote and engage (gasp!) directly with readers? Does he have a problem with the success of so many female authors via social media?

I won’t speculate as to the motivation behind this anti-enthusiasm manifesto, but for me as a reader, all of those messages ring loud and clear as the real root of Silverman’s piece. But mostly, I am very bothered by the following premises of his argument: 

  1. That readers and reviewers online are expected to only be cheerleaders of books and authors; and
  2. That we need more negativity.

I am also extremely troubled by two other points in Silverman’s piece that aren’t as overt: 

  1. That this culture of niceness is women’s fault; and
  2. That negative opinions are somehow more “true” than positive ones.

There’s something to be said for being nice. 

True Blood Snark-Cap - Episode 5.9: Everyone Wants to Rule the World

BREAKING: This week’s True Blood didn’t suck (ha!) as much as the last few weeks’ episodes at least. 

We finally got resolution to the smoke monster WTFery, we said goodbye to Noel and it looks like maybe the hate group story is winding down. We’ve finally got some good ol’ fashioned True Blood double-crossery happening and the vampire war with humans is heating up.

However, there are only a few episodes left and we’ve spent all season waiting for something—anything—to happen. 

Obviously, the following “analysis” contains spoilers for Sunday’s episode of True Blood. If you haven’t seen it and want to remain free from spoilage, please don’t continue reading. Instead, I suggest checking out Rebeca’s review of Sarah Mayberry’s latest novel, which sounds really wonderful.

Thoughts & Reaction

  • Why do I subscribe to HBO again? 

Gratuitous Eric profile screencap.

  • Oh… right…  Hi, Eric.

Are you reading YA?

An Easy Guide to YA Book Identification

Around the ol’ interwebs, there seems to be some confusion about what “YA” is and what books fit into this category.

To clarify quickly, it does not stand for “Young Age” nor does it stand for “Yeah, Anything.” It stands for “Young Adult,” meaning—loosely—“teen.”

It is a book category (not a genre, which is another one of my linguistic bugaboos) with an teenage audience in mind. It is not a reading level. 

These mis-categorizations never cease to annoy me. I think it has to do with that it symbolizes some adults’ insistence on invalidating the entire teenage experience. Instead of pointing to legitimately young adult/teen titles, they look at nostalgically on books they loved as children, or point to books written for adults that see teens through the lens of the adult experience.

The teen years are very important in the path to becoming an adult, and by disregarding books that depict that experience, adults are saying something, aren’t they?

Here are my quick tips for identifying if a book is a young adult title.

NOT YA. The title should’ve been the tell. Or possibly the mention of life as a third grader.

Is the book shelved as a “chapter book”? Then, no, you are not reading YA.

Most bookstores and libraries have sections labeled “Chapter Books” or “Juvenile Fiction.” If you are in this section, you are not reading YA. And yet, this continues to confuse many, many people. The Atlantic’s book coverage is so absurd that I’ve largely stopped paying attention to it, but everytime that outlet mentions YA, the amount of wrongness invariably makes me laugh out loud. But they are one of the worst offenders of this. They included Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (age 8, people—that should’ve been the first clue), Harriet the Spy (WTF, just WTF) and Little House on the Prairie as book featuring their favorite girl characters from from YA literature. No, just no.

Like I said, YA stands for “Young Adult,” not “Young Age.”

Was it on your third grade reading list? Nope, you’re not reading YA.

Yes, Flavorwire, I’m talking about you.  Good grief.

True Blood Snark-Cap - Episode 5.6: In the Beginning

I have some things to say about this season of True Blood.

Many, many things.

There is absolutely no reason for my inclusion of this image in this post. But that sort of makes sense given the inexplicable WTFery of this season.

First off, why oh why have they completely removed both Bill and Eric from Sookie’s world by enveloping them in the Authority world? The whole appeal of the show was the various entanglements of these three and now it’s just Bill and Eric wrapped up with this political stuff and Sookie angsting. It’s like they’re trying to actually be a mystery/adventure type show rather than the soapiness that it did really, really well. Where’s the drama? Where’s the smut? Come on…


On a related note, it’s becoming more and more apparent that Sookie’s character is not strong enough to stand on her own without the Bill-Eric drama. We see her occasionally going to work, stressing about how to get rid of her fairy powers, conversing with her brother about their parents, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… And none of it matters because her character was essentially undeveloped for four seasons because it was all about her getting some hot vampire booty. Or whatever. 

No, Sookie, we really don’t care. At all.I used to really enjoy Lafayette’s character. He had a dash of humanity that many of the other characters lack—you could almost imagine knowing Lafayette. And now he’s brooding and possessed by demons or whatever and it has done absolutely nothing to develop his character. He’s just there. It’s pointless and frustrating. 

There are so many random, unexplained subplots introduced this season that it’s actually really hard to follow the show at this point—and True Blood is not at all complex. It’s just that each scene is so short that there’s not a lot to go on in terms of understanding how it all knits together. It seems like there’s less crossover between the characters, like they’re all in little plot bubbles. We’re seven episodes in and we still don’t see how everything that’s going on relates. 

I’m not sure I can keep this up all season, you guys. I mean… this season of HBO’s True Blood is just nonsensical. At this point, the Orgy Season seems classy and well-written. 

Anyway, this episode featured masked gunmen shooting at shifters, the continued search for Russell, Sookie yacking on Alcide instead of, you know… Basically, the whole episode felt like a prequel, a setup for… something. And yet, nothing continued to happen. Please, please, please, HBO: I committed to “analyzing” this season and you’ve got to give me something to work worth!

Obviously, the following “analysis” contains spoilers for Sunday’s episode of True Blood. If you haven’t seen it and want to remain free from spoilage, please don’t continue reading. Instead, I suggest checking out my review of Courtney Summers’ fabulous zombie novel, This is Not a Test. If you haven’t added that one to your to-read pile yet, I don’t even know what to say (and that’s a feat). 

Laura suggested I use this screencap to illustrate this season until it gets its act together. This is a suggestion I very much like.

Thoughts & Reaction

  • Sigh… “Brief” nudity? Come on, HBO… you can do better than that! Because at this point, that’s all we’re sticking around for. 
  • I wish I could remember what TV blog called Bill & Eric’s staking devices “iStakes.” I’m still laughing over that. EW? Paste? I don’t know…
  • *yawn*


I have a confession: I have never, ever felt guilty about reading.

Clearly, I’m doing something wrong.

Why? Because as summer reading season heats up, more and more book sections of magazines, newspapers (yep, they still exist… sort of) and online media are proclaiming that now is the time to read those “guilty pleasure” books. It’s made even worse this year since every journalist with access to Google has written some variation of a ridiculous, alarmist piece about Fifty Shades of Grey. 

Take this random “observation” from Michael S. Rosenwald this week in the Washington Post

There are no book covers on e-readers, meaning you can read all the steamy sex you want and tell your friends that you’re reading the new Robert Caro. This is one of the key advantages to e-readers — lying about your reading habits — and it probably helps explain why guilty-pleasure fiction is the most popular genre of reading on e-readers, according to the Book Industry Study Group. (I had to ask my wife last month whether she was reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” on her e-reader. Yes, she was.) 

Let me get this right… ereaders are popular because because it’s easy for readers to lie about what they like to read? 

Um, no.