A podcast day with no podcast

Whiskey Jenny and I extend our sincere apologies: Here it is podcast day, and we have no podcast to give you. We are experiencing technical difficulties, and we greatly fear that our most recent podcast was swallowed up by a malfunctioning computer. It was a really good one. Whiskey Jenny made up a game, and we had a special guest star in to talk with us about mysteries. We are pretty sad, but we haven’t given up hope that we’ll recover that podcast and be able to share it with you soon.

Reading the End Bookcast, Ep.19: The Slap, Veronica Mars, and Listener Mail

What’s that you say? Veronica Mars is not a book and we should not be talking about it on our books podcast? SHUT UP YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF US. You can listen to the podcast in the embedded player below or download the file directly to take with you on the go.

Episode 19

Or if you wish, you can find us on iTunes (and if you enjoy the podcast, give us a good rating! We appreciate it very very much).

Here are the contents of the podcast if you wish to skip around:

Starting at 00:57 – We discuss Christos Tsiolkas’s 2008 book The Slap (affiliate links: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository). Short version: We didn’t care for it.

Starting at 13:03 – Whiskey Jenny and I could not have been more excited for the movie of Veronica Mars. Nor could we have been more excited to talk about it for a really long time on this podcast.

Starting at 39:55 – We answer a piece of listener mail! What book would you put on the guest room nightstand in preparation of a guest’s arrival?

45:50 – Closing remarks and outro.

Credits
Producer: Captain Hammer
Photo credit: The Illustrious Annalee
Song is by Jeff MacDougall and comes from here.

Reading the End Bookcast, Ep.18: Tournament of Books, The Golem and the Jinni, and a Literary Winter Olympics Game

The Tournament of Books is on, and the Jennys are here to talk about it! We also review Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni and play a literary Winter Olympics game. You can listen to the podcast in the embedded player below or download the file directly to take with you on the go.

Episode 18

Or if you wish, you can find us on iTunes (and if you enjoy the podcast, give us a good rating! We appreciate it very very much).

Here are the contents of the podcast if you wish to skip around:

Starting at 1:03 – We discuss our brackets for the Tournament of Books, the first two match-ups, and the Scott McClanahan scandal. Cut from the podcast is some talk about killing Hitler in fiction, inspired by this delightful article, “Time travellers: please don’t kill Hitler,” which we invite you to read.

Whiskey Jenny’s bracket:

WJ bracket

Gin Jenny’s bracket:

Gin Jenny's BracketCoin toss bracket (note that the “reader’s choice” books were selected using Random.org):

Coin Toss Bracket

(Note that as of this post, Whiskey Jenny and I are both doing rather badly on our brackets. Coin Toss is killing it.)

Starting at 9:54 – We didn’t like The Golem and the Jinni. We thought it was fine. We could live without it.

Starting at 20:59 – OLYMPICS OF BOOKS. I disagree with some of Randon’s decisions (both in my favor and against me), and I will give interviews saying so in the upcoming weeks, a la Ashley Wagner. (See that? I know Olympics stuff!)

Starting at 53:00 – I give my recommendation for next time. Five years later I’m finally going to read Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap. (Note from the future: What I thought about the book when making this recommendation was almost a hundred percent wrong. I had completely the wrong mental image of this book.)

53:46 – Closing remarks and outro

Credits
Producer: Captain Hammer
Photo credit: The Illustrious Annalee
Song is by Jeff MacDougall and comes from here.

Reading the End Bookcast, Ep. 17: Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and Matt Fraction’s Sex Criminals

Surprise comics podcast for you! Whiskey Jenny wasn’t able to record this week, so Randon and I brought back COMICS PODCAST for your delectation and delight. In this episode we read Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run on Captain Marvel, G. Willow Wilson’s new Ms. Marvel, and Matt Fraction’s deeply weird new comic series with Image Comics, Sex Criminals (hear us out). You can listen to the podcast in the embedded player below or download the file directly to take with you on the go.

Episode 17

Or if you wish, you can find us on iTunes (and if you enjoy the podcast, give us a good rating! We appreciate it very very much).

Here are the contents of the podcast if you wish to skip around:

Starting at 1:21 – We talk about Captain Marvel, a series of 17 comics in the Marvel Now initiative, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Captain Marvel is just how I like my comics: Heavy on bickering, light on prerequisite reading from elsewhere in the Marvel universe, and lots and lots of ladies doing stuff.

Starting at 19:00 – Very briefly we talk about G. Willow Wilson’s new Ms. Marvel, which features Muslim teenager Kamala Khan. There’s only one issue of this so far but we’re excited to see where it goes from here.

Starting at 22:50 – We talk about Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s deeply weird and wonderful new comic, Sex Criminals. The cover of the first issue looks like this.

Sex Criminals

Hear us out! It’s really a very good comic, and we think you should check it out.

35:18 – Closing remarks and outro.

Credits
Producer: Captain Hammer
Photo credit: The Illustrious Annalee
Song is by Jeff MacDougall and comes from here.

Reading the End Bookcast, Ep.16a: Special Valentine’s Day Podcast!

Two podcasts in one week! How did you ever get so lucky?? This is just a quick one, in honor of Valentine’s Day: Whiskey Jenny and I talk about some of our favorite love story couples, and then we play a fairly unromantic (but fun!) game about ROMANTIC RIVALS. Can’t tell you how embarrassed I am about the Chatterley thing. Whatever. I know other stuff. You can listen to the podcast in the embedded player below or download the file directly to take with you on the go.

Episode 16a

Or if you wish, you can find us on iTunes (and if you enjoy the podcast, give us a good rating! We appreciate it very very much).

Credits
Producer: Captain Hammer
Photo credit: The Illustrious Annalee
Song is by Jeff MacDougall and comes from here.

Reading the End Bookcast, Ep.16: World War II in Books; Half-Blood Blues; and German or British?

The demographically similar Jennys return to talk about World War II in literary imagination! We review Esi Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues (affiliate links: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository), and we finish up by playing a game of Randon’s invention in which we must guess whether movie villains are German or British. You can listen to the podcast in the embedded player below or download the file directly to take with you on the go.

Episode 16

Or if you wish, you can find us on iTunes (and if you enjoy the podcast, give us a good rating! We appreciate it very very much).

Here are the contents of the podcast if you’d like to skip around:

Starting at 1:16 – Why is World War II such a recurringly popular setting for literature? What are some of our most favorite World War II books in all the land? Weigh in if you wish, and tell us some World War II books we should check out! (Please forgive me for sounding a little like my mouth is full in parts of this segment. My sister had made lemon cream cheese king cake, and it was insanely good.)

4:03 – I had a professor in England who gave a lecture about the American Revolution, and he looked very woeful when he talked about how damaging the American Revolution was to the British psyche. I felt terribly guilty. I just want y’all to know that’s what I was thinking about here.

Starting at 15:22 (ish)We review Esi Edugyan’s award-winning novel Half-Blood Blues, a story about jazz musicians in Nazi Germany in 1940 and in post-Communist Berlin in 1992. Highly recommended!

18:10 – Here’s the bit of Half-Blood Blues I’m talking about:

“Boys,” he said smoothly. “I’d like to stand you a drink.”

 

I was in love. Pure and simple. This place, with its stink of sweat and medicine and perfume; these folks, all gussied up never mind the weather — this, this was life to me. Forget Sunday school and girls in white frocks. Forget stealing from corner stores. This was it, these dames swaying their hips in shimmering dresses, these chaps drinking gutbucket hooch. The gorgeous speakeasy slang. I’d found what my life was meant for.

Starting at 31:00 – Randon wrote us a game. You should play along because it’s fun. Randon describes a movie villain and his/her plan; and we must guess whether the villain is German or British; what the movie is; and the name of the villain. If you get the names of the villains, color us impressed. We struggled with that section.

Starting at 44:41 – Whiskey Jenny gives her recommendation for next time, The Golem and the Jinni! We’ll see you back here in two weeks to find out what we both thought of it.

Starting at 45:36 – Closing remarks and outro.

Credits
Producer: Captain Hammer
Photo credit: The Illustrious Annalee
Song is by Jeff MacDougall and comes from here.

Reading the End Bookcast, Ep.15a: Special Super Bowl Podcast!!

On today’s bonus edition of the Reading the End Bookcast, we play a game in which Randon and I each match up NFL teams to a list of writers provided by Whiskey Jenny. Whiskey Jenny awards points to the answer that most pleases her. You can listen to the podcast in the embedded player below or download the file directly to take with you on the go.

Episode 15a

Or if you wish, you can find us on iTunes (and if you enjoy the podcast, give us a good rating! We appreciate it very very much).

If you’re wondering how Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham look at each other (per Randon’s last answer), I refer you to this video, in which Drew Brees gives a manly giggle-shout in response to Jimmy Graham’s athletic prowess. Oh how I love those two people. Here’s the video of Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman giving Super Bowl tickets to little twin girls. You will love it. You should watch it twice.

Reading the End Bookcast, Ep.15: Awards Season, The Luminaries, and New Zealand or Not New Zealand

Julia joins us again for a discussion of book awards and what we like/do not like about them; a review of Eleanor Catton’s award-winning novel The Luminaries (affiliate links: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository); and a thrilling game, written by me and inspired by these guys, called New Zealand or Not New Zealand? You can listen to the podcast in the embedded player below or download the file directly to take with you on the go.

Episode 15

Or if you wish, you can find us on iTunes (and if you enjoy the podcast, give us a good rating! We appreciate it very very much).

Here are the contents of the podcast if you’d like to skip around:

Starting at 1:31 – We talk about award season! What do we think is the value of book awards, and what new book awards would we like to institute, if we had a whole bunch of money and time?

Starting at 17:09 – We discuss Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, a book described variously by podcast participants as “Wilkie-Collins-ish”, “structurally brilliant”, and “so cool”. You will notice that Julia and Whiskey Jenny are much much more deliberate and careful readers than I am, but this is not news.

At 38:30 – Here are our choices for the songs that would be on an EP of The Luminaries. My choice is the Decemberists’ song “Down by the Water”, and Julia’s choices are “Hey Hey What Can I Do” or “Going to California” by Led Zeppelin. She also pulled up, I swear to God, a Cantonese opera for us to listen to.

Starting at 40:01 – The game is New Zealand or Not New Zealand, and there are many things to learn here. Here is the video of Stephen Fry meeting a kakapo, the world’s only flightless parrot.

Starting at 52:38 – I answer a piece of listener mail about how to best appreciate Elizabeth Peters, an author I truly love.

Starting at 53:48 – I give my recommendation for next time, Esi Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues.

Starting at 54:58 – Closing remarks and outro.

Credits
Producer: Captain Hammer
Photo credit: The Illustrious Annalee
Song is by Jeff MacDougall and comes from here.

Emma Readalong!: Part One

I have seen Clueless … a few times. It’s not germane to know exactly how many, and also I’ve lost count. In my defense, Clueless is amazing. I’ve seen it so many times, in fact, that I can’t read Emma–even for a readalong where Emma Approved is the adaptation to discuss — without a thick overlay of Clueless: When Emma first starts spending time with Harriet, all I can think of is this:

THE INTERNET MADE THIS GIF FOR ME

Occasionally I worry that I’m not addressing the novel on its own terms, but mostly I feel glad that Alicia Silverstone’s fundamental adorability and goodness makes it possible for me to keep liking Emma Woodhouse even when she’s being terrible. And she is being pretty terrible in the first volume of Emma.

Where other Jane Austen heroines are slightly outsiders, or teetering on the brink of the possibility of outsiderdom, Emma Woodhouse is wealthy, beautiful, and happy to remain single all her days.

“But still, you will be an old maid! and that’s so dreadful!”

 

“Never mind, Harriet, I shall not be a poor old maid; and it is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a general public! A single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable old maid! the proper sport of boys and girls, but a single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as any body else.

Her motivation isn’t achieving any kind of security — she’s as secure as a person can be. It’s really just finding ways to fill her empty days, whether that be with charitable works (likeable!) or pseudo-charitable works like fixing up Harriet with a posh guy (ick). Jane Austen admitted from the outset that Emma was a heroine nobody but herself would much like, and a big part of that is the privilege Emma’s lived in all her life.

Luckily, Alicia Silverstone! Look how cute she is when she’s self-satisfied!

Awww. But also, ew.

Jane Austen is a smart lady. The storyline that frames the first volume of Emma is about someone who takes Emma’s obsession with class to its logical conclusion. Mr. Elton, the match Emma wants for Harriet, thinks of Harriet the way Emma thinks of the Martins: Good enough in her place, but not a person deserving of any serious consideration or respect. His mindset isn’t the least bit different to Emma’s, just aimed in another direction.

Wish my life gave me more opportunities to say this.

Another piece of brilliance by Jane Austen is that she’s given us an unreliable narrator, and it’s fun — because the stakes are low — to watch Emma’s certainty and enthusiasm as she races full-tilt towards disappointment. You know that Emma is basically good-natured, and also that she’s untouchable by external forces, so she’s only going to do damage to herself. While, you know, growing as a person, and fighting with Paul Rudd over the remote control.

If you aren’t watching Emma Approved, by the way, I recommend it to you once again. Currently it’s on hiatus, and you can catch yourself up before its return in February. The series so far runs to basically the end of the first volume of Emma, when Mr. Elton hits on Cher in the car.

The writers do a fantastic job at making Emma difficult to like at first, and then letting you see the chinks in her armor of self-confidence. Joanne Sotomura, who plays Emma, has wonderful chemistry with Brent Bailey, who plays Mr. Knightley; they perfectly capture the mixture of affection and mutual bossiness (is that fair to say, mutual bossiness?) that these characters have for each other in the book.

Oh Joanna Sotomura, you are just as cute as a little button.

EMMA APPROVED I MISS YOU SO MUCH PLEASE COME BACK.

(Nota bene: I have started rewatching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries as a substitute for Emma Approved. It’s interesting to rewatch it, having seen the new stuff they tried with Emma Approved. I’m watching one episode on a Monday and one on a Thursday, and it is great. I will still be really excited when Emma Approved comes back. Emma and Alex Knightley are adorable, and I want to see poor nervous Harriet find happiness.)

Reading the End Bookcast, Ep.14: Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman

This week on the Reading the End Bookcast, we welcome special guest star Julia of The Card Catalog, and recurring guest star Randon, as we talk about comics once again! On the docket this time are Scott McCloud’s wonderful nonfiction book Understanding Comics (affiliate links: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository) and Neil Gaiman’s foundational comic book Sandman. You can listen to the podcast in the embedded player below or download the file directly to take with you on the go.

Episode 14

Or if you wish, you can find us on iTunes (and if you enjoy the podcast, give us a good rating! We appreciate it very very much).

Here are the contents of the podcast if you’d like to skip around:

Starting at 1:08: We discuss Understanding Comics and the ways it helped us or didn’t help us. Here’s the more in-depth “picture plane”, if you want to see what we’re talking about. If you’re interested in reading the interview with Brian Vaughn that I mention, head over to the AV Club and check it out.

Starting somewhere between 14:00 and 15:00 but it’s tough to say exactly where because my segue is JUST SO SMOOTH: The discussion of Sandman: Overture and a few issues of classic Sandman commences. If you’re interested in knowing which issues I’d have chosen given my druthers, I’d have selected “The Sound of Her Wings” (still); “Calliope”; “The Parliament of Rooks”; “A Tale of Two Cities”; and that one issue from “The Wake” where Hob Gadling is at the Renaissance Festival complaining about how the real Renaissance had a lot more poop and plague everywhere. Here is the Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem classic “Don’t Blame the Dynamite.” They come up in the Sandman conversation, but mainly I just want you to have that.

16:05: The Hugo and Nebula Awards are not the same thing. In any case, neither of those awards is the one that was won by Neil Gaiman’s Sandman issue “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” That issue won a World Fantasy Award. I was just completely wrong about this. I’m sorry.

34:39: Randon is such a guy right here.

38:05: Public service announcement: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is on board to produce the Sandman movie. I did not really know that this was in his area of interest, because I didn’t see any of those Batman movies.

40:12: Here are the Lil Endless, as delightful as ever they were:

Lil Endless

41:14: For next time, Whiskey Jenny has recommended that we read Eleanor Catton’s award-winning novel The Luminaries. Woohoo! Enormously long book alert! I am not the only one who picks tremendously long books!

Starting at 42:56: Closing remarks and outro. I am a jerk and did not mention Randon in the outro. I’m the worst. We love having Randon on the podcast too! Obviously! But he feels less like a guest because he’s always there when we record a podcast. And what with one thing and another, I forgot to thank him for joining us. I’m sorry, Randon! Thanks for joining us for this podcast!

Credits
Producer: Captain Hammer
Photo credit: The Illustrious Annalee
Song is by Jeff MacDougall and comes from here.