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Posts Tagged ‘book review’

They Might Be Hanging Out Without You

In Books, Television on August 15, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Right off the bat, I’ll make it clear that I am not a huge Mindy Kaling fan, though I  thought ‘The Office’ was well written. Mindy was co-executive producer of the show, and wrote many of the episodes (including ‘Niagra, a personal favorite) She was also a cast member, playing the insufferable Kelly Kapoor, a girl who just doesn’t get it! Therefore, I do respect for her career achievements, and I’ve fulfilled the ‘say something nice’ part of my opinion piece. haha.

I first really noticed Ms. Kaling   when I became aware of her book “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?’ which was heavily promoted even before it’s release, and had an avalanche of great press afterwards. I remember thinking: ‘This must be some book! Either that, or she knows a lot of heavy-hitters in the publishing industry!’ Although I found the character she played on ‘The Office’ extremely annoying (as she was written)- it wouldn’t be the first time someone ratcheted up my opinion of them based on their writing skills, and sense of humor.

i heart it

really?

In any event, I got my hands on the book, and settled in for an enjoyable, funny memoir, as I had no reason to suspect otherwise.  The book was high on all the non-fiction best-seller lists, and was selling up a storm. However,  from the get go, I got my back up, when Ms. Kaling casually compared her book to Chelsea Handler’s ‘Where Are You Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea’-a book I thoroughly enjoyed, and which stayed on the top of the best-seller lists for over a year. (Chelsea, though not a ‘writer’s’ writer, has several very readable books written in her deadpan delivery style and has been at the top of the New York Times bestseller list several times.. no mean feat!)

This being the case, I found it a little presumptuous of Mindy to just throw herself in the mix, like it’s something she thinks secretly, but probably shouldn’t say.  She also tries way too hard to assume a familiarity with the reader that she hasn’t earned. Similar to  when someone says ‘I know what you’re thinking’ and it’s not even close. But about half-way through the book,  I stopped reading, looked at the cover- just to be sure I had the right book, and thought ‘This is what all the hoopla is about?!’ Not only was it lacking in the ‘here are my interesting stories’ department, it also presented Mindy as a classic, high- school mean girl, very  clique-y and judgmental, and not all that nice. (Women don’t have to be ‘nice’- but there’s a certain self-effacing quality that I appreciate-the all important ‘down-to-earth’ quality)

In her book, Mindy trashes her friends in high-school- going as far as to say she hoped an equestrian loving ex-friend found a great horse to marry. I mean: Rrrearrr! She talks about how unpopular she was in high school (she wasn’t) and how high school doesn’t even matter- but she’s still really angry about not being the center of attention there. Which of course, happens to everyone on the planet, but famous people, I notice, are often very bitter about the first decade-and-three-quarters when they were treated like-God forbid!- everyone else!   When the world failed  to clamor around them, recognize how special they were, and shower them with adoration..  The bottom line is that I felt Mindy Kaling’s book was over-rated, and was disappointed because of it.  And it didn’t help that she seemed oblivious to the cattiness of her stories, like completely unaware.

People love this girl! I am clearly in the minority with my opinion. It’s to such a degree that I wonder if my initial impression is ‘off’. There are just too many good books rolling off the presses, for me to try hers again (and she has a new thing: a card game full of topics to talk about with your girlfriends. I can’t imagine needing to fish for topics, but I guess it beats another round of Monopoly) I will say,  that my initial review of ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me’ -wherein I point out how underwhelming this book is- has gotten way more ‘likes’ on a certain book reading site than the rest of my reviews combined- with a few ‘finally someone said it’ comments as well.

The above Flavorwire article about Ms. Kaling’s recent tv show (“The Mindy Project’ which I haven’t seen)  defends her personality based on the fact that she’s a woman- and says, in effect, that a man (who’s an asshole) would be applauded for the same things Kaling is criticized for. Alec Baldwin notwithstanding (they keep insisting he’s a pretentious bore and a jerk to boot- but I can’t stop loving him) I don’t think difficult men are revered- I think they are tolerated if they have creative powers. I believe people much prefer a John Ritter type (who I understood was a kind man) over a Charlie Sheen any day of the week. I don’t know the fate of Kaling’s show, but I do wonder if it is as overrated as her book.

I guess the point I’m making is that, according to the ‘Let Mindy Kaling Be An Asshole’ commentary, there is nothing obnoxious or arrogant  she can do or say that can’t be explained away by sexism. She’s got a license to do whatever she wants- like a foreign dignitary! That just because some successful men are pricks, women should be, too. Lean In and annihilate! Strap on your armor! Swing your big stick! Etcetera! But  I don’t buy it. As my mother used to say, in cliche-but-true mom-speak: Two wrongs, don’t make a right!….. And emulating the stereo-typical, brazen, self-serving jack-ass (think Donald Trump) does not seem the path to fulfillment! And it’s definitely not something to strive for.

Ladies-we’re better than that!

BOOKS: ‘SEX ON THE MOON’ by Ben Mezrich (Review by Lisa Purcell)

In Books on August 31, 2011 at 1:06 pm

SEX ON THE MOON

    First, let me say that this is a very good true crime  story-and I’m not a ‘crime-story’ kinda gal. It’s fascinating to get inside the head of Thad Roberts who, at age 25, thought he was going to become a millionaire by stealing-then selling- the actual moon rocks brought back by the astronauts on the Apollo Space missions.

   The fact that this guy was ambitious enough to get a job at NASA, and had a science-and-numbers kind of brain (smartmakes it all the more bewildering that he would attempt such a heist. His love for astronauts (the ‘rock-stars’ of the skies!’), space, science and theory point to someone for whom the hallowed halls of NASA (in particular, The Johnson Space Center, in Houston where he worked) would be sacred, and therefore revered by him, as opposed to being robbed by him! You would think….

    The book was an easy read, and a somewhat geeky one as well. This is because there is tons of info relating to the Space Programs, both the past-involving the moon, and the future that is now Mars focused. The timing couldn’t be better for this book to be made into a movie, what with the recent and (for some of us) sad ending of the Space Shuttle moon missions, which ended this year. It’s especially hard for those of us who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, when Space travel was such a big deal, almost a back-drop to our culture. As kids, we watched ‘Lost In Space’, drank Tang  and watched the first moon landing on our black and white console tv sets! We have a deep, abiding nostalgia for the moon!

    In many ways the book reads more like a punched-up screenplay. Ben Mezrich, the author-who wrote ‘The Accidental Billionaires’ on which the movie ‘The Social Network’  was based, must have been thinking movie adaption.

   I must point out that Mr. Mezrich comes across as vaguely ‘pervy’ in his descriptions of the women in Thad’s life…..Because evidently, every female that Thad Roberts comes in contact with is at least a ten, if not eleven. At first, the descriptions are harmless: ‘her beautiful, reddish blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, and her white sweater tight against her curves. She pulled up the bottom of her sweater to reveal the flat plane of her toned stomach’ This, of Thad’s wife Sonya. Then, at an impromptu pool party at NASA, he watches a random girl, also swimming: ‘She brought her hand up behind her head, pinning back her flowing hair-and the motion did wonderful things to her bikini top’ I began to feel like Mr. Mezrich might want to be alone?Even though NASA is a place where brain-power rules, every female’s value in this story is tied to her appearance. Which is the norm, but I was hoping maybe not at NASA.

    Meanwhile, Thad’s young wife, a model (they married very young, they were each other’s firsts, and grew up in strict Mormon families) was left behind in Utah, while Thad broke ground in Texas.  Sonya is ‘always off  modeling’ or ‘always hanging out with her model friends’ in all sorts of shallow pursuits. But just when you might actually buy into Sonya and her hip modeling world you read this passage: ‘He (Thad) didn’t know how many of the buffed and polished specimens were gathered (at his house, while he’s visiting home) but he didn’t think he could handle another evening of mindless conversation in some loud, overpriced, overly trendy restaurant’…so…’He didn’t even notice as his green Toyota Tercell started up in the driveway, the tires spitting gravel as the group headed out to dinner without him’ and that’s when you’re ‘boinked’ back into the reality that this is the hard-core ‘modeling scene’ of Utah- where models are ‘buff’, and cruising the cool, mean streets in green Toyota Tercells.  (BTW: Who knew there were-overly trendy restaurants in Utah? Trendy, maybe- but overly?)

    Eventually, there’s almost a slip in girl-ogling, when (finally!) a girl at Nasa is described as ‘mousy’. Coincidentally, this is the only girl Thad ‘rebuffs’, though clearly she wants him! The ‘Mouse’ engages (entraps?) Thad in some innocent skinny-dipping (she started it!) until: ‘Thad could see the hint of pink nipple beneath the crook of her elbow, but he really tried to avert his eyes’ Since it was pitch black, and took place in the dead of night, I’d have to say-Thad sure had some x-ray-like, nipple seein’ eyes!  Likewise, when Sonya visits the Space Center, a gruff scientist, who barely speaks to anyone, despite being a ‘scientific legend’ immediately ‘softened upon the sight of her: ‘the nervous smile on her bee-stung lips, the way she pushed the hair out of her eyes’. Why- he even gifted her with a (nerd alert!) calcareous meteorite, though thankfully, Mr. Mezrich didn’t write that Cranky-Science Man slapped her playfully on her tight, well-rounded, rosebud of an ass before sending her on her way, though I won’t say I wasn’t expecting it!  But nothing could compare to the description of Rebecca (real name: Tiffany Brooke Fowler) the girl he would soon steal moon rocks with and for:

    ‘Physically, she was stunning. Her hair was jet black, framing a face that looked as if it had been carved from polished porcelain. Her cheekbones were unnervingly high, and her playful blue eyes lit up in a way that reminded Thad of the bio-luminescent algae they were on their way to see [that’s a new one- I’ll give him that!]  She was wearing a white t-shirt and extremely short shorts: even from a glance, it was easy to discern her tight, athletic form. The sliver of bare skin between her shirt and shorts sent chills down to his spine, and he actually found himself turning his eyes away. To his utter surprise, he was intimidated by this ninety pound girl.’ [One can only wonder how he managed to weigh her!]

    Thad’s stoner friend and accomplice Gordon (real name: Gordon Sean McWorter) was described so stereo-typically that I was literally picturing Jeff Spicoli. From the very moment we meet him, he’s toking away on a joint and talking in whacky circles- ( the same way I picture Matthew McConaughey always talks)- claiming the moon landing was a hoax and spouting Mormon scripture. Can anyone really be this one dimensional? His role-as deemed by Thad- was to help find ‘moon rock buyers’ on the internet, but it’s hard to believe that anyone with an ounce of intelligence would have trusted this guy with a litter of kittens, let alone priceless moon rocks!

    The book was fast-paced and full of insider NASA info. It made me wish I’d considered science more, as both an interesting subject and possible career path. Of course, I  don’t know if I’d have been hot enough to work at NASA even in my prime. It’s a model-superstore over there!

    I do recommend the book because it holds your interest, and it’s one of those stories that plays out in your head like the movie it’s destined to be.                                    LP

“That is one tight, well-rounded moon!’

   

 

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