Books

Just A Quickie…

By Kiki Keane

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year’s Eve and I wish you all the best for 2013!

I know it’s customary to make New Year’s resolutions. I only have a few:

1) Redo the 50/50 challenge and actually finish! (I’ll be keeping track in the “Kiki’s 50/50″ tab and on Goodreads)

2) Blog more often

3) Write!

4) Get a paying job

5) Try, try, try to get that paying job in journalism

6) Do my own NANOWRIMO

Ok. That’s it for today. I’ve got some stuff to do, but I’ll be back in a day or two with a decent post. Promise.

 

Categories: Books, Celebration, Goals, Journalism, Life, Nerd | Tags: | Leave a comment

Dear Readers, My Apologies Once Again. From, A Very Broken Record…

By Kiki Keane

Sorry for the very long absence, folks. Obviously I have not accomplished all my goals. What can I say? The holidays, illness and general laziness got the better of me. I did, however, accomplish one goal. I finished Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. I also read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre.

There really isn’t much to say. Egypt had a MB Pharaoh, there was protesting, gun waving, death and then there was no longer a Pharaoh. A few days later there was a constitutional vote and the people voted yes and the Sura Council has started. Tharir still has its die-hards, but they are not winning any fans in this part of the city, especially since the square seems to be surrounded by thieves. (This what everyone is saying, anyway.)

Unfortunately, I missed reporting on much of the protesting because of a particularly bad bug I picked-up along the way. Saw most of it play out on TV, though. I had a very interesting flash back to my J-School ethics class. There was a particularly heated discussion about showing dead bodies (particularly babies) on the news. I don’t way it was heated since almost everyone agreed that it was, at the very least, hurtful to the families. Those of us who disagreed knew it was losing battle, so we let it go after awhile. I remember thinking that for a country that has free speech as its very first amendment we do an awful lot of self-censoring, especially in the  name of hurting someone’s feelings. Here, in a country that has no such thing as free speech, there is no problem showing dead bodies, uncovered and uncensored. Sometimes there is even a guy poking all the dead man’s bullet-holes for the rapt public.

I do realize that I have pretty much written the same blog post three times. I swear I’m going to rectify that. It will be my first News Year’s resolution!

New Goals:

1) Read Anna Karenina 2) Write at least 2 blog posts 3) TOFL homework 4) Write non-fiction 1 hour per day 5) Write fiction 1 hour per day

Hope everyone’s holidays were great. Enjoy your New Year celebrations!

Categories: Books, Free Speech, Goals, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Procrastination | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

I Am A Lazy Procrastinator With A TV Addiction…

By Kiki Keane

So… I have been absent for awhile. Again. I think we have established that I am a lazy procrastinator with a TV addiction, so I won’t bore you with excuses. Nothing much has changed since the last couple of posts except that I have traded in forensics for a holiday movie binge. Also, I have a new kitten. Her name is Haniya. She enjoys sleeping on my lap and attacking feet.

Other than the above mentioned, it has been life as usual. “How can that be?” you ask. “You live in a country that has been in the news non-stop for weeks!” you might exclaim. “The man that rules your adopted country is being likened to a Pharaoh by, well, everyone! He made weird, ambiguous comments about Planet of the Apes!” you might argue. To which I can only reply with the following: I am a lazy procrastinator with a TV addiction. I will also add, though I hate admitting it, that awful parasite called Writer’s Block, which took hold of the fiction part of me ten years ago, has spread to the non-fiction part. Maybe I’m trying to hard or not hard enough. I don’t know. I take comfort in the fact that Fran Lebowitz has suffered from it for 30 years.

I decided to try and set weekly goals for myself again. I know what you’re thinking. Why bother? I didn’t finish a single one before, why would this time be different? It might not be, but I have to try something. And yes, I do know what Einstein said about insanity.

Goals for the week of 30 Nov – 7 Dec

1) Finish Fall of Giants

2) Work related writing 1 hour a day

3) Certification work 1-2 hours a day

4) Blog related writing at least 2x a week

5) Fiction related writing 1 hour a day

6) Clean something (you have no idea how hard that is for me)

Categories: Adventure, Books, Elections, Goals, Journalism, Life, Nerd, Procrastination, Work | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

A Blog In Which I Admit That I Have A Productivity Problem. It’s Called Television.

By Kiki Keane

I must admit that once again I have been completely unproductive. I should be working. I have lots of writing and editing to do. I should have written a post or two or three for my other blog. I should have come up with something to write for this blog. I should have read some of my book club book. I should have written something for NaNoWriMo project.

So what have I done with my time? Watch television. I sat down to eat something and thought I’d watch an episode of CSI. Six hours later…

So, I’ve decided to try and actually divide up my day so that I can get something done. I know. I know. I’ve done this before and I came back with big red F on my forehead. But didn’t someone once say that if at first you don’t succeed you should try, try again? So I’m going to hope that my stubbornness and determination to be productive will win out over my tv addicted brain.

Also, for some reason I have a sudden urge to own a bookstore…

 

 

Categories: Books, Life, Media, Nerd, Procrastination, Work | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Finally Done With The Packing! Now On To The Panic Attack!

By Kiki Keane

Holy Moly! Rachel and I leave for Cairo in about 30 hours! I am finally packed. Everything. My whole life now fits in a large duffle bag, a much smaller bag, a backpack and a purse. Actually, it is probably entirely to much, but I figure I can dump as I go. Or, if I am really, really, really, really, really lucky, I will soon have an actual paying job and will be able to afford a small apartment or room in which I will be able to store all this stuff. (And accumulate more, of course!)

Anyway, with all the packing and unpacking I’ve been doing, as well as worrying myself to distraction, I haven’t really done much else. I’ve only paid a little attention to the news (how about that 48 minute speech by Bill Clinton?!) and bought a few Kindle books. Here are the few news stories/analysis I’ve noticed in the last week:**

Syria/Arab Spring: Analysis by Richard Engel

Afghanistan: A Suicide bomber kills six at NATO HQ in Kabul. This story includes a video about Prince Harry’s new deployment to the country.

Russia: This is just giggle worthy! Putin is all dressed up to lead some rare birds in flight.

Lebanon: The new smoking ban in enclosed public places has many Lebanese upset.

Mali: Islamists Rebels Seize Control of Douentza

China: Here are a few photos of a an HIV-postive boy in China and his teacher. He was denied admittance into the local school because of the disease.

And some “fun” stuff:

What does your bookshelf say about you? — From the Guardian

Mexico City’s Aztec Past Reaches Out to Present — From the New York Times

What is the point of exclamation? (Yes, I am well aware that I abuse the exclamation point!!!!!! I like it, okay?) — From the New York Times

Oh! This made me cringe. Huffington Post published this bit about the books that make you look hot. I would rank most of these titles at the very bottom of the “Makes You Look Hot List.” Actually, I would put them on “Not Even If I Were Desperate” list or the “Not Even If You Were George Clooney And Naked In My Bed” list. I might make an exception if it’s the Chandler, Hemingway or Murakami…maybe.

**Most of the news stories come from NBC.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Journalism, Life, Media, Procrastination, Punctuation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Perils Of Packing, Or Having To Admit To Myself That I Once Listened To The Backstreet Boys And I Want That Way…

By Kiki Keane

Wow! Nearly two weeks since we lasted posted anything. I will admit that, per usual, part of the reason is laziness and/or avoidance. However, I can also say, with much relief, that mostly the absence is due to trip related business. I wish that I could spend the time to write at length and post some links, but I am stretched thin.

I am amazed at how much time it takes to pack 28 years of a person’s life into a large duffle bag, a small briefcase-sized bag and a backpack. I am still not done. I have packed and repacked a dozen times at least. Adjusting, refolding, taking out and putting in. Should I assume that certain necessities are available wherever it is I end up? Are they really even necessities? How can I live without cocoanut Jelly Bellies and Reese’s peanut butter cups? Then there is the question of books. How many do I take? Which one’s should I take? Should I bring my favorites or take a chance on new ones? Uplifting or depressing? Fiction, nonfiction or poetry? Classics or contemporary? Tennyson, Keats or Naruda? Homer, Dickens or Gaiman? And why doesn’t Las Cruces have a copy of Zorba the Greek?

I have to admit that I am excited to embark on this new and adventurous life, but I am also scared shitless. I am not afraid of the physical risks I will be taking once the Egypt leg of the trip is over. I am not worried about where I’ll sleep or if I will have enough to eat. I am a bit freaked about the great potential for complete and total failure. However, today I learned that you will receive what you need when you need it. I received two things today: 1) A gift of great value both literally and symbolically and 2) a bit of wisdom or, if it is not exactly wise than at least something I can cling to when I feel like jumping of cliff when this adventure turns out to be a disaster. It is from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and it goes like this: “But the person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing. All we know about the future is that it will be different. But perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same, so we must celebrate the changes because as someone once said, “Everything will be alright in the end and if it’s not alright, than trust me, it’s not yet the end.”

We have about a week until we leave for Cairo. Hopefully one or both of us will be able to at least do some short posts before we go.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Excuses, Excuses, Or Why We Are LAME!!!!!!!

 

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Sorry about the long absence, Ladies and Gents. We have been busy (Yes, even Kiki!), sick and perhaps a bit lazy.

Kiki:

I spent the week writing, tailoring, shopping, buying lots of crappy free ebooks from BookBub to load my Kindle with so that I have something to waste my time with while away and reading (Oh yes I am!). I am reading Odd Apocalypse (don’t judge!) by Dean Koontz to review for Toonari Post and The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes for my book club. Don’t let my productivity fool you. I am still my TV obsessed self. I have watched a whole season of Lost Girl. It’s not really my thing. I mean I don’t really do the whole orphaned-P.I.-Succubus-meets-Wolf-and-human-doctor-while-solving-murders-and-saving-the-Fae-from-war thing. But I just can’t stop watching it.

Anyway. Goals. I think I accomplished half of one goal. I finished my book club book. No word on the Visa, so I think we are going to wing it.

New Goals: 

1) Read a fiction and non-fiction book 2) Watch less TV (I gotta kick the habit!)

Rachel:

I am sick! Sick, sick, sick! I just knocked my water onto the floor dramatically because I was attempting to sweep up crumbs on the table. That is how coherent and smooth I am. So my goals.

I did complete one book: The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins, I sort of solved my credit card issue in a roundabout way, and I did complete moving in. Hurray me! 2.5 out of three!

New goals:

1)Read another book! 2) Get everything sorted for the trip 3) Get healthy.

 

Categories: Adventure, Books, Life, Nerd, Procrastination, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Lot Of Nothing In The Name Of Procrastination And The News…

By Kiki Keane

Rachel is still MIA. She has moved into her new place, but is without internet until tomorrow. I have been busy shopping for the trip and trying not to die in this terrible heat. I am sitting in my Papasan trying to protect my cup of coffee from my caffeine loving cat, Alia Atreides (Alia or Ollie for short) and studiously avoiding reading my book club book, Istanbul Passage. I want to read it. I do. I just … I’m a champion procrastinator. And lazy. (I think we have more than established that fact on this blog.) In fact, I am writing this post not because I have anything to say, but because I am avoiding the 133 pages I have to read today. If the procrastination goes as planned, I will have 266 pages to read tomorrow or the entirety of the book to read on Saturday.

I finished my orientation, or onboarding as the folks at Toonari call it, on Tuesday, which means that I can/should start turning out stories. I might try to get that War Tax piece we mentioned a few months back published on Toonari before I go. No one else seems particularly interested in it.

Besides shopping and studiously avoiding the things I should be doing, I have also seriously considered and decided to get rid of my Facebook account. I really love social media. I love being able to connect with all kinds of people all over the world. However, Facebook has been making me claustrophobic lately. Also, it’s a time suck. I sometimes feel that way about Twitter, but Twitter has been more useful than Facebook. Twitter has allowed me to connect with journalists, activists and others around the world, most of whom seem willing to help each other with their various pursuits. That does not mean that I won’t be purging some accounts that I follow. I will be sticking to a few friends, the news, activists and journos. That may only get rid of 100 or so accounts, but probably a 1000 or more tweets a day. I love Scott Baio, but I don’t care about his, or any of his fans, junk drawers.

And the news:

1) Herehere and here are Richard Engel’s latest on Syria. And here is a piece by CNN’s Ben Wedeman. Also, Assad has picked a new PM. This article is from NBC News (formerly MSNBC) and includes a few other pieces on Syria. And Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi is expected to replace Kofi Annan as the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria.

2) Libya has picked Magarief to be president.

3) The murder trial of Gu Kailai started and ended today.

4) Here you will find the hottest places on Earth.

5) In Mali militias train to oust Islamists.

6) This isn’t news, but it’s an interesting article written by Douglas Preston about the time he spent in Italy trying to solve a string of 14 murders committed by a serial killer dubbed “The Monster of Florence.” He wrote a book about it called The Monster of Florence.

 

 

Categories: Adventure, Books, Life, Media, Nerd, Procrastination, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Is A Truth Universally Acknowledged That When One Is In Need Of A New Pair Of Pants No Store Within A 300 Mile Radius Will Have A Single, Solitary Pair In Your Size…

By Kiki Keane

Ugh! I’ve dropped several dress sizes this year, which means that I have to do the thing I dread the most: Shop. I hate shopping. I really, really do. I thought I would love it. I thought things would be easier. Sad truth is, it still takes going to every store within a 300 miles radius to find a single pair of jeans in my size! Where did they all go? Everything below an 8 that does not show one’s ass-crack or cut off one’s circulation have disappeared from the shelves of New Mexican stores. Also, size 6 shoes. They have all vanished. I suspect everyone has been replaced by body snatching pod-people with large feet. Or maybe (Gulp!) I’m the pod-person…

Okay. Enough grumbling.

I really wish that I had something interesting to write about, but my life is currently uneventful. (I know. I know. Enjoy it while I can!) One would think with all this downtime, I would find something productive to do. I have not. I have not studied Arabic. I have not read more than 30 pages in a book. I have not read my book club selection. I have not exercised. Mostly, I just move from my bed to my Papasan and back with a few trips to the kitchen. Okay. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. I’ve made some trips to the library for books I most likely won’t read. I have also gone on a wild book hunt for used mass market copies of my favorite noir novels. (I can handle anything except an extended period without my hardboiled private dicks and femmes fatales.)  I came up mostly empty. I can find them in trade and ebook form online, but trade are big and sometimes heavy and I just can’t carry all that with me on my travels. And there is just something repulsive about reading classic noir on a kindle. However, I did find my favorite Science Fiction novel, Invasion Of the Body Snatchers, in a first edition Dell mass market. It’s a little musty and little worse for wear, but at least I’ll be able to take it with me! I’ll also be able to have my favorite spy (007) with me.

Needless to say, all this moving from bed to chair to bed has left little time for news gathering. I am not proud. However, I have been paying some attention. Here and here are the latest from Richard Engel who is still in Syria.

Categories: Books, Life, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Are Back! No, Really! We Are! Promise!

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Okay. We have been really, really, really bad at this whole blog thing as of late. Rachel is still in the process of moving into her new place and I have been busy reducing my life into a backpack and medium sized duffle bag and watching a truly terrible show called Femme Fatale. It’s like driving by a car wreak; you know it’s wrong to look, but you do it anyway.

Also, I would like to share some happy news. I will be working for Toonari Post. It is unpaid and I still have to go through orientation, but I least I will have a place to publish and an extra set of news credentials. Yay!

For our first collective blog in weeks we are going to share our new goals. I don’t remember what mine were, but it’s a safe bet that I didn’t do them. I swear I’m going to get better at this whole followthrough thing.

New Goals:

Kiki:

1) Read a fiction book 2) Finish one of the trip related books 3) Make a Visa decision (they still aren’t answering the phone or responding to email)

Rachel

I do not remember my previous goals either but it is a fairly safe assumption that I have completed few to none of them.  Here are my new goals:

1) Complete a book either fiction or non-fiction 2) Work on my credit card issue (the issue is I don’t have one!) 3) Complete the moving process 4)Relax a little bit

Moving is really no fun, I can only console myself with the fact that soon I will be in a new home. There are 5 or 6, no joke, FOR RENT signs up in front of my house so at least once a day somebody comes by poking their head into the windows and asking me 5o questions about the place. Couple that with the fact that the tiny widow air conditioner is so completely ineffective that I cannot sleep  more than a few hours a night due to the stifling heat and you have a very cranky Rachel indeed. Yesterday I rode the bus for an hour simply because it was air conditioned.

In Other News:

I (Kiki) thought I would have to avoid the news for the duration of the Olympics, but thankfully news organizations have been good about putting other news on their websites. So, I have been able to avoid that jock-fueled, Nationalist weirdness as I read/watch the news. Although, I haven’t been able to filter out the Olympics completely. As it turns out this is the first time that all nations taking part in the games have women on their teams and there are two Saudi Arabia women able to participate.

Here are some stories I’ve been following:

1) Syrian rebels finally got a couple of missiles and Assad is rallying the troops. Also, Foreign policy experts urge US to get involved in Syria.

2) Is Mali a haven for Al Queda?

3) Clinton will be making her first visit to South Sudan.

4) The situation is deteriorating in eastern Congo.

5) Violence nearly at two-year peak in Iraq.

6) Netanyahu told Panetta that time for a peaceful solution to the Iran nuclear dispute is running out.

This isn’t news, but I love this article (the book is about to come out). It’s a wonderfully articulate article (with lots of examples) about why some of the most touted “literary” writers are actually bad writers. He makes a very valid point: just because you don’t understand what the heck they’re saying, doesn’t mean they’re literary or that your stupid. Actually, it most likely means they are actually bad writers.

 

Categories: Adventure, Books, Goals, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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