Monday Muse: Day Off!!!

Hello, Nerd Cactuslandia! Welcome to something that likely won’t be a Muse of much importance, because it’s my first day off in two weeks and I’ve spent the greater portion of the day being a complete vegetable. I also cleaned the kitchen. Let’s not overlook that accomplishment. Oh, and I planted a basil plant! Because who doesn’t like basil? 

Well, anyway, here’s a thing I’ve been pondering lately… I’ve had to do a fair amount of commuting to and from rehearsals these past two weeks and my schedule on the whole has basically eliminated my reading time. As a result I began listening to audiobooks on my long-ass drives in the mornings and evenings. As a result, I did, in fact, finish two books in the month of February (as per my 2017 reading goals), but one of them was an audiobook… 

Now, audiobooks are a form of “reading” I’ve personally never gotten into, but having the ability to get the information I’d normally get in the pages of a novel while traversing the mindless commute home was a wonderful way to pass the time and feel that I’d accomplished something. I’m still not sold on the medium… mostly because I didn’t like the performance my narrator gave and I feel I would have enjoyed the book more if I’d read it in my own voice. Admittedly, this is only a small setback, but the voice of the reader can potentially make or break your view of a piece. The other issue I had was that I wasn’t sure I was absorbing as much as I normally would if I were reading it. I found myself spooling back quite a bit more than I would have liked, but in the end I finished a book, right?

So that’s what I’ve been debating recently… Whether an audiobook is the same as reading a book. Can I actually say that I read two books in February? Or did reading one and listening to another somehow put them in different categories? The best answer I’ve found is in this article which sites several studies that found reading and listening comprehension to be comparable. So yay! Though, quite frankly, I think I’ll stick to the physical copy when I can.

Happy Monday!

-A

Silly Sunday: Oh, the Cute!

Heyo! Welcome to today’s Silly Sunday! Today, we’re going to give you some cute. Exactly the cute we need– and deserve!

As you know, tonight is Oscars night. As of my writing this, Viola Davis has won and given one of the best, most inspirational, speeches I have ever heard in my entire life, the Wizarding World finally won an Oscar (YAY!) and Chris Evans wore a suit. No, no. What I mean is Chris Evans wore a suit. He. wore. it. There’s a reason he’s my number one Chris.

But that’s not what this is about. This is about songception, and one of the cutest things to happen ever. To one of the cutest humans to ever human.

Hamilton sings Moana to Hamilton, who sings La La Land.

Enjoy.

C

Shakespeare Saturday: Hamlet!!!!

Happy slightly-past-Saturday Shakespeare Saturday! I just opened another show so I apologize for the tardiness and inevitable brevity of this post, but I’m pooped. This particular rehearsal schedule really put me through the wringer so I need to go to bed like now.

BUT! The most awesome Shakespeare-related news came to my attention this week and I would be remiss not to share it with you. The Public Theatre is going to be putting up THIS production of Hamlet! Click the link and weep tears of nerd joy, minions! Click it!!!

C and I are working on plans to possibly go see it. And if it happens you better believe you’ll be hearing ALL about it. I mean, Oscar Isaac and Keegan-Michael Key? Sign me up.

-A

Boozy Books: Neil Gaiman Round-Up

Heyo! And welcome to this week’s Boozy Books! I was going to pair Neil Gaiman’s latest, Norse Myth, this week, but I didn’t get it done because I also read the latest Peter Grant book, The Hanging Tree. For those who don’t know the Rivers of London series, I’ve already paired it here: Rivers of London series. But since I decided to read that one first (the pairing continues with this book, definitely), I didn’t get Norse Myth finished on time. Sorry.

But because I adore Neil Gaiman with every fiber of my being, up to and including my politics and tendency toward basic human compassion, I didn’t want to NOT feature one of his books this week, so I decided to do a round-up of the posts we’ve already done. Plus, with all the amazing Neil Gaiman news coming out lately (a premiere date for American Gods, a mini-series–finally–of Good Omens, and a sequel (!!!!) to Neverwhere among them), I felt it only appropriate.

Also, and I reiterate, I adore Neil Gaiman.

First up, perhaps not surprisingly, is my favorite book in the history of books: American Gods. I adore it. And the fact that the world is finally getting a television adaptation is news that made me jump up and down in girlish glee. It premieres in April, so make sure you read the book before it begins! The gods–old and new–demand it.

Next is Good Omens, which Gaiman wrote with the late, great Terry Pratchett, is the best book written about the apocalypse ever. The anti-Christ gets lost, an Angel and a Demon end up training the wrong kid, and there are–briefly–eight Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Briefly. It’s hilarious, poignant, and oh-so-human. Basically, the perfect mix of everything I love about Gaiman and Pratchett. Also, if you read it now, you can join me in fan casting the upcoming mini-series! (Richard Ayoade for Newton Pulsifer! Or Aziraphale! Or, hell, anyone!)

I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend Neverwhere. A good friend once described the Gaiman fandom as being made up of American Gods people and Neverwhere people, and, so far, she seems to have been entirely correct. While I am undoubtedly an American Gods girl, I still adore Neverwhere, especially since hearing James McAvoy as Richard
RichardMayhewDick. Have I mentioned my everlasting love for James McAvoy? No? Lucky you. Anyway, Neil Gaiman has recently announced that he’s writing a sequel, which is something I’ve been hankering for since I first finished the book.

If you’re not feeling like reading a book, perhaps a graphic novel might suit your fancy? A series, actually. And pretty much the thing that put Neil Gaiman on the map. Sandman is a revelation. It’s the reason I got into comics as an art form, and probably why I’m determined to write one of my own someday. Gaiman’s look at myth, folklore, comics, history… it’s just mind-boggling in its creativity and storytelling prowess. And if you need to understand what someone means when they say a thing is ‘Gaimanesque’, just go ahead and pick up the first volume.

One more. Perhaps you’re looking for something to read together with your kids. Older children, of course, since nothing Gaiman writes is going to be a walk through the carefully curated streets of Disney World. Unless you get stuck on It’s a Small World for a couple hours… Then maybe. Coraline the book is a ton creepier and much better than Coraline the movie, and the movie is delightful. So that should say everything you need to know. Read the book.

OK. That’s it from me today. Reminder: the links above are to our original pairings, so each is a complete review of the work in question, plus our usual alcohol recommendation. So go ahead and have fun reading! And drinking!

Tomorrow is Shakespeare! And I know A has something really, really exciting to share with you, so make sure to check in!

C

Monday Muse: Exhaustion Muse

Heyooo! Welcome to today’s Monday Muse. I am… really, really tired. Yesterday, I took a day trip to Ft. Meyers to the Edison and Ford Winter estates, which of course meant being awake during the day like a normal person…

I didn’t sleep for 24 hours. Then I fell asleep in the car on the way home and ended up sleeping for 15 hours. But that ended up getting me up at 7 this morning, which is pretty much when I usually go to bed. Yes, I have a vampire schedule. So my whole circadian rhythm is off, my eye is twitching, and all I want to do is curl up and go to sleep. But I can’t if I want to get my rhythm back.

So… this muse is brought to you by the fact that I can barely English right now.

First up: we’re back on Twitter! Our weird time out invisible period is over and we’re officially showing up in hashtags and notifications again. So… YAY!

Second: we got our third and fourth rejection for Killing Mercutio today. So not great news on that front. It’s about time to go find the second batch of agents to submit to, which has proven exceptionally difficult. I think the market really isn’t looking for this kind of story right now. Pretty much anyone looking for retellings wants YA, and this novel definitely isn’t that. This also seems to be the time for telling stories of resistance in all forms, and historical Shakespearean intrigue is definitely not that. So I think it’s going to take more careful research sifting through all the agents of the world to find the right now. It’s not going to be obvious. But I’m so tired right now, the whole idea just makes my bones feel like lead.

Third: Liar is going really well. I think it’s shaping up to be my favorite thing I’ve ever written. Lucky is the best. Ask around within the Twitter writing community; he’s a very popular bloke. Who doesn’t love a Trickster?

Fourth: I think I’m going to take a nap. The coffee isn’t working anymore.

Sorry this was a ramble. At least I managed to update you on Nerd Cactus happenings as I fall asleep on my keyboard…

C

Shakespeare Saturday: Ira Aldridge

Heyyyoooo! Welcome to today’s Shakespeare Saturday! While Nerd Cactus languishes in Twitter time out (our on-going battle of three days), we’re definitely not going to forget how we started: a blog about how much we like to read, write, and talk about Shakespeare (and giggle at funny internet pictures). Well, actually, we started as a couple of women who love Shakespeare but kinda hate Romeo and Juliet, so we were going to take matters into our own hands and make Romeo and Juliet great again. But the blog happened pretty soon after that (writing platform woo!), so… let’s get back to basics while Twitter is being dumb and ignoring me…

So, did you know that, once upon a time, it would have been considered HILARIOUS and perhaps even sacrilegious to have a black man play Othello? I am pretty sure people would’ve been less freaked out by a woman playing the role… especially once the Restoration happened and actresses started banging the King on the reg (See: Nell Gwynn). It wasn’t until 1997 that a black man played the role at London’s National Theater, and remained one of the final roles in which it was perfectly acceptable for men to don black face (See: Anthony Hopkins). But one of the first black men to play the role on the stage was a man named Ira Aldridge… back in the 1800s. And, England excepting, he was rather celebrated for his turn as Othello, the Moor of Venice (who later turns into a character in our novel, which I’m saying here because literally NO ONE has picked up on it yet).

Anyway… I’ll let this article discuss it, but do be sure to pick up a biography when you’ve got a chance.

http://shakespeareandbeyond.folger.edu/2017/02/17/ira-aldridge/

C

Boozy Books: The Underground Railroad

Happy -um… Not-quite-Friday! Welcome to a slightly late edition of Boozy Books, which I would have written earlier had I not slumped into a useless blob after rehearsal today.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m working on upping my reading game so I have more pairing selections to share with you. And it’s working! Today’s book is The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. This novel is admittedly a tough read, given the horrific history and nature of slavery in this country, but it is beautifully written, tracing the heritage of a race that has fought, endured, and risen in the face of incredible adversity, unfounded prejudices, and imagined superiority.

Though the storyline is fiction, it reflects upon the problems of racial conflict by exploring the very roots where they were born. Namely, in the deep south. The story follows Cora, a girl who is the third generation of her line to be enslaved at the Randall farm. Having already lived a hard life, made harder by the disappearance of her mother (assumed to have escaped north), Cora lives day by day, resigned to get life with no hope or dream to reach for freedom. It is Caesar, a would-be freeman whose previous owner neglected to write a will that ensured his freedom, that proposes an escape to Cora. 

From the moment they begin to run the book is filled with tension and the constant wariness of being hunted. Every moment of assumed safety is questioned and the running never stops. But the willpower, hope, and determination grow stronger despite setbacks. And Whitehead’s message is clear: you may never stop running from oppressors or fighting for your freedom, but it is better to do so then give up and go back to the dark days of the past.

Due to the heavy nature of this book and the weight of its importance I’m pairing this book with something light that won’t affect your ability to process and retain what’s on the page. Consider a pear cider.

Happy reading!

-A

Monday Muse: Read More for Less!

Hi there, friends! Welcome to the Muse! This week I’m going to be covering the importance of reading and how to go about it on the cheapy cheap. It’s becoming increasingly clear that reading – and the general fortification of our brains – is of the utmost importance right now… What’s really cool, though, is that a lot of people seem to be picking up on this necessity, as witnessed by the huge jump in sales of books such as 1984, March, and The Handmaid’s Tale. So as the demand for good reading material increases I’ve got a few suggestions to get all your reading done for less!

1. Go to the Library

I know. This one’s super obvious, but if you love holding on to, and re-reading your books (as I do) the library may not always be your go-to option. However, if you want to get a ton of reading done for literally no money… Just saying.

2. Buy Used

Thrift stores, half.com, garage sales… As long as you aren’t looking for a specific or brand new title, buying used can get you lots of books for just a few dollars. Also, the potential for discovering forgotten gems and giving new life to an old book is limitless!

3. Shop Around

I’m a big believer in price comparisons. If you’re looking to buy new, consider comparing the prices at Barnes & Noble, Target, Amazon, etc. Also, do a coupon search and compare your potential savings! I am also a hardcore Ebates shopper so I typically take that into consideration as another potential coupon. 

PS did you know that Barnes & Noble’s prices are waaay cheaper online compared with the brick and mortar prices? Just be aware.

4. Book of the Month Club

This last one is more pricey than buying used, but it’s an awesome option that keeps you reading the latest titles. The monthly subscription includes one hardcover book of your choice out of a monthly selection of four or five books. The price typically works out to much less than the current list price AND you have the option to add up to two extra books from past selections to your monthly box for $10 each. Given that the books are hardcover and all brand new titles, this works out to a better deal than you’ll find anywhere else. Trust me, I’ve looked.

Happy reading!!!

-A

Silly Sunday: Shakespearean Valentines

Heyo, guys! Welcome to today’s Silly Sunday. We’re sort of combining it with yesterday’s Shakespeare Saturday because today’s silly is also Shakespearean!

So… as we all know (unfortunately), Valentine’s Day approacheth (ugh), so it’s once again time for this year’s saccharine celebration of marshmallow fluff love. Actually, I like fluff in small doses, so that might be an unfair comparison.

Valentine’s Day is stupid.

But if you wanted to make it less stupid, you couldn’t do better than to inject some Bard into the proceedings. Because, well, Shakespeare has some damn good lines. This and some chocolate is fine. Totally OK. Trust me.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

 

Any one of these will work.

C