Big Brother is Reading

It's not overanalytical. It's just analytical enough.

The (sur)reality moebius strip
People on an Island
bigbrotherreads
One of the recent Secret Survivor Clips features Sandra talking about being at the bottom of the tribe pecking order. It's not a particularly interesting clip- she's explaining basic strategy that frankly I could cover in my sleep- except.

(There's always an except, right?)

When the tribes merged a few weeks ago, they got paint. As a crazy fan, I will elaborate: Sandra used bright yellow to write Half my Heart is in Afghanistan (1) - a reference to her husband, a soldier currently at war- on the front of her dark red shirt, and Mom Send Help From Above (I think? - 2) in green on the back.

To put it visually, ever since the merge, (1) is Sandra's shirt with the message in yellow, (2) is the message in green and (3) is what we see in this week's the extra scene:



Things like this screw with the continuity enough that they make me wonder- how much do the producers really think we buy into it at all? How much do they realize that the audience is aware that it's constructed into a story? For the purposes of storytelling, once I file away what it means in terms of how it was actually meant at the time it was said, I can go with it, and I'm less suspicious of it than I am of most confessionals, because I know the placement isn't "real". When I'm watching a scripted program, I don't stop to think about how some scenes are shot before others and some happen in "real" time before they happen in the storyline. In some ways, being reminded of the artificiality of the construction of reality makes the linear storytelling seem more natural.

So basically, my question is: When something like this happens, is it a mistake, or are they hanging a lampshade on the manufactured reality of the genre?

Reflections on Survivor (--see? it's a pun!)
Wish We Had Video
bigbrotherreads
WARNING: Spoilers for 4/29/10's Survivor in this post

Every week, Survivor airs on Thursday, and then on Friday come all the reactions and reviews. (I read about a dozen of them, which I'd like to say is research, but really, I just want to analyze the show more.) There are also the extra clips from CBS, which offer "deleted scenes" from the previous night's episode: a more detailed view of who voted for her, the full goodbye speech, a few interviews cut from the show, and some clips from Ponderosa, which is where the castaways who've been voted out go. The extra clips are great, because they all tend to be more about the people and strategy than the drama. Not that I don't enjoy drama, but sometimes I need something to push me back towards what I'm interested in, and this was a big one:

"Survivor's like a mirror. So I think the first two times I played, I saw a lot of things about myself that I didn't like, that I wanted to change, and the last year and a half since I played, I've really been working on myself personally, and this time when I played I really felt like I jus had more control and I was more aggressive and I wasn't worried about hurting people's feelings, I went into it as more of a game, than, you know, I- My line between the game and reality was- was solid, whereas before, the line for me was blurred, and it makes it really hard to play this game if you have a blurred line between the game part and the reality part of this game."
(Amanda The Day After- it's worth sitting through the 15-second Pillsbury commercial)


I've been interning in publishing, I'm looking for a job in publishing (side note: hire me! I like childrens' books!), and I finally feel like I know enough about things like query letters that I can start working on all of this again, which is awesome, because the more time I spend on the reality TV project, the more work the former contestants are doing FOR me. This is great because (a) I have things to cite, but also because (b) self-awareness is one of the things people always think reality stars lack, and I think those people are wrong, and this proves it.

Amanda watched the show and learned from it! She had INSIGHT!

She also used strategy, won competitions, and had a wrestling match with another woman while both were in bikinis, so really, Amanda provided something for everyone last night. Well, everyone except Colby, but he had Treasure Island.

I really do love this show.

Cult of the Author
Pretties
bigbrotherreads
I have a lot of thoughts on the Cult of Celebrity and What It Means and What It Encourages. Because, I mean, I am ALL ABOUT being a geek. If you've seen me at ComicCon (or... anywhere, actually) you know that I have very little problem going and being a giant nerd about things I love. I don't have problems going up to ask questions at panels. But I've always had that little gut-pull of anxiety when I have an opportunity to do something one-on-one, and the power exchange feels weird.

Here I relate it to my feelings on reality television!Collapse )

Here I explain why I am thinking about it!Collapse )

And this is where I have two trains of thought.

One is that this blatant fannishness towards the author makes me uncomfortable. At one point John Green ran down the line and doing his entertainy happy dance that he does on the vlog, and all I could think of was his comment during the Q&A. Someone asked the real name of one of his characters who goes by a nickname, and he basically said that even if he knew, by not putting it in the book it's no longer up to him to choose, and the reader can bring to it whatever they want. Basically, he said that he thinks the author is dead, which is a school of thought to which I subscribe.

But how CAN the author be dead when there's this fannish convergence around the author? How does it change things to know when I'm reading Looking for Alaska exactly how John Green feels about Catcher in the Rye? If I buy Maureen Johnson's book the day it comes out because I follow her on Twitter, when I might have waited a few weeks if I didn't, am I still able to judge a book by its merits in a vacuum? And is it even POSSIBLE to judge within a vacuum, when virtually every school of thought says that you can't divorce the story from the culture surrounding it? Even the most stringent close reading can't make you fully divorce yourself from who the author is and what they represent, which is why people read different books for different moods, or have diferent reactions to seeing people reading different authors.

And why is the cult of the author so bad? I mean, I have this gut-instinct negative reaction to it, because I like to think I'm a serious scholar who judges books on their merits and is smore interested in that than anything else. But how much of my problem comes from the fact that there's a certain level of letting go and just being fully enthusiastic that's equated with stereotypes of hysterical teenage girls? Is there unconscious gender or age bias coming into play when I maintain a certain level of detachment? Or is that just a question of preference or personality or whatever?

And how much am I letting the way that I am an adult who reads YA novels get in the way of understanding how great that moment is to connect with an author, and feel like part of a community? When I was in fifth grade I met Madeleine L'Engle, and I was so freaked out and excited I couldn't speak, and probably if I could have gotten a shirt relating to A Wrinkle in Time I would have. So how, in a world where it IS possible to get a tee shirt with John Green's face, can I legitimately be critical of someone wearing it? If I'd met YA authors when I was a teenager (and let's say, for the sake of this hypothesis, that I wasn't in my "I'm too mature for YA" phase when I was actually a teen), when I wanted to be a writer, would it have been BAD if I was screaming over them like a Justin Bieber fan at whatever it is that Justin Bieber does? Isn't it a good thing that teenagers are idolizing authors of legit novels instead of passing musical fads? Or is that a variation on "At least they're reading," which gnomicutterance tackles quite nicely here? Can I really be saying that the Cult of the Author is a flawed way for people to choose books when I've grabbed some of my favorites based on cover design, despite the proverb?

Just- there are so many questions here. Am I implicitly saying that literature is more of an important text than movies or TV or music? Is there a difference between being a fan of the author as book producer and being a fan of the author as person (or manufactured character, as the case may be)? Why do I feel like I can be arbiter of what's too much and what's enough? Am I just showing signs of inadvertently being an ironically detached hipster?

And as a blogger, aren't I basically banking on a different facet of the cult of celebrity in the hopes that people will comment and engage me in discussion? I'm hoping that my credentials, in the form of masters degrees,give me some kind of prestige, and that my icons lead to image recognition, and that what I say leads people to subscribe to this via RSS or LJ friending. I want people to value my ideas rather than my personality or presentation style, but I know that I can't COMMUNICATE my ideas to more than a small circle of people unless I make a public face for myself, so I have to create/maintain a personality and presentation style that invites readers so that I can my ideas across.

Basically, what I'm saying is that I'm confused about how I feel.

What do YOU think?

Our whole relationship had been tainted by the Games. Normal was never a part of it.
People on an Island
bigbrotherreads
Listening to Rob Cesternino's podcast this week is freaking amazing. He had on Murtz from "Reality Obsessed" and Lex from Survivor Africa and All-Stars. It's almost two hours long- yes, I just spent two hours of my life listening to this podcast- and it talks a lot about what interests me most, which is the way that things that happened in previous seasons (both in the game and the show) influence later seasons, and who's playing for redemption and who's playing to further a brand and how people's edits do or don't accurately reflect what they did.

It's not so much that these conversations are giving behind the scenes gossip- they're not really supplying anything I don't know, because I am a crazy person who follows the lives of reality television personalities like it's my job- as they are discussing the aspects of it which, well, deal with media literacy: the way things change from when they happen to when they air, and playing the game versus playing the show. Although obviously no one is discussing it as media literacy, because they see it all as their own personal journeys and how they've been portrayed and also because they aren't nerds like I am, they're somehow managing to talk about it anyway.

The most interesting part for me is when Lex and Rob talk about how the game has changed because of a shift in the emotional level of play. It's something I've been noticing but haven't been able to articulate: the strategy's gotten better as more seasons have passed, but personal attachments have decreased because people know they're going to get played. It increases the strategy part of the game but decreases what Lex calls the "reality," noting how much we don't get time-at-camp stories anymore. I wouldn't call it the reality so much as the humanity. We still see that contestants are frequently brought down by a very human flaw- being too loud or too quiet, too tough or not tough enough, not good around camp or not good in challenges, not in the right alliance, whatever- but it's human flaws in a vacuum. People aren't struggling between their desire to win and their desire to maintain friendships.

Basically, within the first three or four years from the beginning of the current reaity rush (which I pinpoint at 2000 with Survivor), reality television went from a social experiment to a place where contestants aren't here to make friends. Friendships seem to sprout up much more post-show, based on the family created by the shared experience of the game and of reality television, rather than from the events of the time in the house or the island or whatever. It's not something quantifiable, where I can produce evidence; I keep trying and then realizing I'm contradicting myself. It may just be that audience perception of events has changed since these things started. But I think it's more than that. Survivor especially went from being a life-or-death situation, where you seriously depended on the people around you for survival and had to vote out people you really like just because it's the game, to a competition for who can orchestrate the most impressive blindside. I'd argue that the show of Survivor has become more important than the game of Survivor.

Big Brother doesn't seem to follow the same type of patterns, likely because (a) they're not directly responsible for each other's well-being and (b) three months is a lot longer than 39 days and (c) the emotional attachments were never as much a part of the game to begin with. And possibly also because (d) the average Big Brother contestant is much more likely a sociopath than the average Survivor one- which is possibly the only way in which Hunger Games is more like BB than Survivor.

Someday, I'm going to write up my big paper on how The Hunger Games is like Survivor seasons 1-7 and Catching Fire is like Survivor All-Stars. I'm rereading Catching Fire now, to see if I can spot any paralells to Guatemala, Fans v Favorites, or Heroes v Villains, but so far, I'm not really turning up much. Maybe five years from now, we'll start seeing books about the more calculated interpersonal aspects of reality television. I know I'd be interested.

Objects in the camera may be closer than they appear
Wish We Had Video
bigbrotherreads
All-star seasons of reality shows are basically my catnip, because the returning players are all aware of how they were portrayed the first time.

This season of Survivor is particularly great. Part of that is that some of these people are threepeaters, so they know how they were portrayed, then how they changed and how they were portrayed again. This doesn't mean they understand the game of "Survivor" any better than anyone else- that is, the game to win the million dollars- but they aren't necessarily playing for that, so much as playing the game of Survivor, where their interactions with the cameras and the ways they are ultimately edited actually become more important than winning. It becomes like theatrical improv, where they can make adjustments based on perceived audience reaction.

The second reason is that the fairly arbitrary designations of "heroes" and "villains" are actually influencing gameplay. I don't know why someone decided that Cirie's amazing social game makes her heroic and Parvati's makes her a villain (or, for that matter, why dudes are "charismatic" and ladies are "deadly flirts"). But I do know that what's happening this season, because of those labels, is actually making these scenes MORE meta. People want to be known or remembered in a very specific way- some of them have built their entire lives since the show off these charactesr they see themselves as. People like Rupert have a hard enough time choosing between playing the "game" and playing the game to begin with, and being labeled a hero is like the nail in the coffin. Heroes don't backstab their alliances, even when those alliances are making idiotic moves.

The effect is most significant on the heroes, because a lot of them seem to see their heroism as largely part of being a leader, and that means most of the alpha males (plus Steph) can't fathom how to maintain their label while actually taking someone else's advice. But while it's making the heroes tribe completely fall apart, it's not exactly doing the villains any favors either- they all want to be the MOST conniving, because they have to be the best of the best villains. It becomes a weird, Rube Goldberg-esque parody of the game.

Whenever I try to think of an easy way to explain critical media theory, I fall back to this kind of game. Even setting aside the extratextual information which makes it better (like the pre-show interviews where they explicitly address these points), there is SO MUCH HERE. Watch Survivor Australia, then watch All-Stars, and then Heroes vs Villains, and you can actually see the progression of how Colby and Jerri have developed their characters.


Every day I am that much more disappointed that neither "reader of children's books" nor "discusser of reality television" is considered a valid career path.

(no subject)
I Will Always Wave My Finger In Your Fac
bigbrotherreads
The reason Big Brother is my favorite reality show (side note: every time I say that, a little part of fifteen-year-old me dies) is that it offers the most opportunities to match up what ACTUALLY happened and what the show says happened. I think a lot about the representations of "reality" on BB, because it's the only one where it's possible to side-by-side it. With Amazing Race, you know that they're manipulating things for drama, but it's really hard to know WHAT, because the forty-two minutes are all that you have. You have to put lots of things together to get a coherent story. For example, the show always makes it seem like lots of teams are coming in right on top of the other, but because every team leaves exactly 12 hours after they get in, after episode (x+1) you can see how the timing actually worked on episode (x).

(Most people don't bother to do this, obviously, which is the basic divide in types of reality TV viewers, which is not unlike the split in Lost fandom between "people analyzing different timelines" and "people distracted by shirtless Sawyer.")

The cool thing is that, due to new social media, the lines between shows like Big Brother and shows like The Amazing Race are blurring, big-time. CBS and EW.com both upload "missing scenes"- fully edited glimpses into either confessoinals or camp life, if not both, usually between a minute and a half and eight minutes long- totalling between ten and twenty scenes per week, not counting interviews. Ethan Zohn, Jenna Morasca, Ashley Trainer, and Stephen Fishbach all have columns at various websites. Eliza Orlins can't get though five minutes of an episode without posting to her twitter about it. Jeff Probst's EW.com blog, designed to give an "inside look", is almost more interesting based on what you can get reading between the lines, filled in by obsessive fans (I count myself in those ranks) who know entirely too much about these people's lives. This week on Rob Cesternino's podcast, he and Jonny Fairplay dished gossip about the most recent episode for one hour, thirteen minutes, and forty-eight seconds- almost twice the length of the episode itself. And then there are the current Survivors themselves. Between Facebook and Twitter, they're everywhere, and they're not quiet about it. My personal favorite was Jessica "Sugar" Kiper, the first person voted off this season, tweeting that "I was never attracted to Colby,and J.T.slept with me pregame and told me we'd stick together.That edit really confused my friends & fam." But there's been plenty of gold from all sides.

Here's an example of the kind of conversation you have with me if I find you on IM while I'm watching the show, reflecting on the show, and then catching up on my Survivor gossip:

Bad language, no segues, and EVERYTHING I LOVE ABOUT MY STUPID SHOWCollapse )


In an older podcast, RobC talked about how he thought social media was really improving the fannish experience, and I couldn't agree more. The best thing about all-star seasons, in my not-so-humble opinion, is the way the text becomes inherently self-reflexive. Rob refers to being on "the buffoon tribe" and it's an explicit reference to something he said before. When Jerri says that she can state, from personal experience, that the villains' shelter isn't actually the worst shelter ever made on Survivor, it's a clear reminder of Rupert's rock shelter on the first All-Stars season. Jerri's reaction to Coach taking down Colby isn't just a response to their budding relationship on s20, but also to her interactions wtih Colby on 2 and 8. People talk about seasonal alliances (most commonly Palau- Steph and Tom- or Micronesia- Amanda, James, Cirie, and Parv) and it's hard not to start drawing the mental maps.

If you're interested, castaways on s20 who've previously been in tribes or seasons togetherCollapse )

And what's interesting here is that this doesn't actually include who knows who because of the incestuous social circle that is reality television in general, and CBS reality in particular. There are a bunch of references during the episodes about possible past-season alliances (the "Micronesia Alliance" seems to be the biggest concern), but what's carefully edited out is the references to the ways that these people know each other in a social context. Just look at Facebook, or at Twitter, or MySpace. Hell, just look at the guest list on any given night at Les Deux or Dolce. There's this really interesting double-play going on, where All-Star seasons acknowledge that these people have been on previous seasons and know each other's televised personalities, but pretend that that interaction hasn't brought them into this bizarre pseudo-fraternity where there are actual real-life interactions on the line. For all that I laugh at Lex's "stack of greenbacks" speech from the first All-Star season (and will continue to laugh at it, to infinity), it's the natural result of superficial relationships becoming real and then being forced back to superficiality again.

Reality TV is a sociological goldmine, is basically what I'm saying here. And that's what makes it fascinating.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have about a million Sporcle quizzes on reality television to do embarrassingly well on for this Saturday night. I have the most exciting social life EVER.

As if he had never seen the world from up so high before.
Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!
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Finnikin of the Rock came out yesterday. Today was a snow day, which is good, because I read straight through until I finished it at 8 AM this morning.

Here are five nonspoilery and five spoilery reactions to the book, with the note that this is all day-after-first-read first-impression stuff, and doesn't get into a lot of the things that I thought were the biggest issues of the text:

1. The writing is gorgeous, and the book is impossible to put down. When penmage told me that, I figured she meant it makes more sense to read it all at once, not that once you pick it up you can't make yourself stop reading. That is why I was up until 8 AM.

2. This is a big departure for Melina Marchetta: high fantasy instead of realism or magical realism; third person instead of first; male protagonist instead of female. I was pleased to see, though, that even though a lot of the main characters are male, this is not a story lacking strong female characters. And the fantasy is rooted in reality, the way all really good fantasy is. The world doesn't make perfect sense to me the way the Jellicoe one did, but I don't think it was supposed to.

3. This is a dark book. This is a really, really, really dark book, and as much as I loved it I am not entirely sure I'd recommend it to nearly as many people as I tried to push Jellicoe on. This is the story of an idyllic kingdom which is destroyed and cursed, and the book doesn't pull any punches. People are killed. People are enslaved. People are raped. Like Jellicoe, this is a story about ultimately finding a way back to a better path, but while Jellicoe was more emotionally wrenching, this book is more viscerally violent.

4. I've only read the first book in the Attolia series, but this reminded me of it a lot, and reminded me I want to read more of that series. I liked this better than I'd liked The Thief, actually, but I fully own that is largely because I am predisposed to like anything by Melina Marchetta, and this made me want to go back to read the Megan Whalen Turner books, so... good job? :D?

5. I'm back to wanting to decorate my walls with quotes from Melina Marchetta novels. As I was reading, I was remembering pages to go back and look at when I had time to go slowly, rather than devour the story.

and these are the spoilery ones!Collapse )

I cannot think of a better use of my snow day than drowning in this book.

Reading Rainbow
Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!
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It's ALA Midwinter right now, obviously, which means lots of people are in Boston having an awesome time. I considered it, honestly, but couldn't justify going. Besides, this gives me more time to read 2009 books in the hope that I'll read the winners of the Newbery and Printz sometime before they're announced tomorrow.

Since my last post, I've read Eyes Like Stars, which I probably would have appreciated more if I could remember any Shakespeare I've read, and Flygirl.

I want SO BADLY to discuss Flygirl at length at some point. Specifically, I want to talk about war and passing, in conversation with Leviathan. Both books take place during a world war, where a girl's love of flying prompts her to disguise herself so that she can be a part of the effort. I liked Leviathan a lot (well, the Deryn parts of Leviathan), but despite the text's repeated assurances that she could get in serious trouble for masquerading as male, even the most tense parts of Leviathan I felt less anxiety about her being caught than at the idea of someone revealing Ida Mae isn't white during the calm moments of the story.

Anyway, it was good and I recommend it.

I also reread When You Reach Me, which I liked well enough on first read but absolutely loved on second. I feel like being a giant dorky fan of On the Jellicoe Road has made me better at reading a book closely. I mean, the structure of WYRM is less convoluted than the structure of Jellicoe, but I had a moment where- well, like in the book. The veil lifted for a minute. I am terrible with understanding time travel narratives in general (just ask the poor people who tried to explain it to me at ComicCon a few years ago after the Sarah Connor Chronicles panel), but I feel like this one clicked for me, which is huge. In fairness, I also give credit to Lost, because once you see Locke telling Richard to tell Locke something because he remembers Richard telling it to him, your brain breaks and then repairs itself as best it can. But mostly I give credit to Jellicoe, and to me growing as a reader, which I don't think is entirely unconnected. Since I started reading children's books seriously, I feel like my critical literacy has skyrocketed.

Right now I'm reading The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, and I'm hoping to finish both that and (probably) Ash before the awards are announced tomorrow morning. I have a half-dozen other library books sitting around, which I'm hoping I'll read even if they don't win anything. I'm not sure how much I trust my commitment to Sparkle Motion on this one, though. Last year, after ALA, I opted to take a break, and I don't think I even read Graveyard Book for a good six months, never mind all the honors. Plus, once THESE are done, I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It comes out, and then Scarlett Fever, and then of course Finnikin on the Rock, which I could not be more excited about if you paid me, and I should finish Looking for Allibrandi before I get to that one, and also I ordered a few out-of-print books from Amazon so I should be getting those soon.

The problem with books- and by "problem" I mean "aweosme thing," in case that is unclear- is that you never run out. There's always something else just waiting to grab your attention and refuse to let go.

For example, Calpurnia Tate, which is really a perfect companion to relaxing at home on a cold day in January. Even better, I would say, than my Lost DVDs, which is high praise right now, but also completely true.

If you liked it then you should have put a shiny gold sticker on it
Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!
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I've been neck-deep in books from 2009. I've got a bunch from the Cybils- as a second-round judge, I got two gorgeous books sent to me from publsihers, and just looking at the other picks in the library motivated me to purchase some others, although I'm not mentioning which because we are supposed to be maintaining levels of secrecy re: the final results- and, of course, it's almost ALA time, so I'm in overdrive from that.

Let me tell you something, internet! Children's and young adult authors produce some amazing books. I mean, you probably knew that already, because I already knew that, but when I'm all of a sudden drowning in what different lists have picked out as the best books of the year I think it's natural to get overwhelmed with just how awesome everything is. I'm up to reading a middle grade or YA novel a day, give or take, and every single time I'm just blown away. Since January 1- well, let's say since January 5, because that's when I stopped spending all of my time sneezing and feeling dead- I've read Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr, Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Going Bovine by Libba Bray, The Doom Machine by Mark Teague, Claudette Colvins: Twice Toward Freedom by Phillip Hoose. Upcoming books from my shelf make me giddy, although I'm thinking I may take a break from all the new books to go for a few rereads of the best from 2009.

I've been assuming some of the awards will go to the most likely candidate. Pigs Make Me Sneeze</i>, for example, will probably get the Geisel, and I'd say The Lion and the Mouse has a near lock for the Caldecott- although, of course, last year everyone said that about Wabi Sabi. When You Reach Me is my pick for the Newbery, in terms of what I think will actually happen, although I enjoyed a few other middle grade books (Confetti Girl, for one) just as much if not more. So I'm hoping Confetti Girl gets at least a Belpre honor, although I don't know how likely that is, and out of the "likely" contenders for the Newbery which I've read, WYRM is definitely my favorite. I'm reading Flygirl by Sherri Smith right now because that was my completely random pick for the CSKing award, but I want to see if I actually believe that or if I've been swayed by all the discussions on the blogosphere about what does/does not count. I think Lion and the Mouse could be a contender here for the award for illustration. I would be pretty shocked if Claudette Colvin didn't at least get a Sibert honor.

I don't really feel like there's a standout book in YA that's definitely going to be Printz material, which is why most of the books I'm reading right now are YA. I was hoping it would clarify what I think, but no. I just keep squealing over how good whatever book I happen to be in the middle of is.

In short: This field is so great. So great.


(What? One post for children's books, one for reality TV. That's how it works.)

Not dead, just sleeping
Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!
bigbrotherreads
I haven't updated here in a while, because I got a seasonal job at Barnes and Noble in the children's section. On the one hand: LOTS OF EXPOSURE TO BOOKS, YAY! On the other hand: LOTS OF EXPOSURE TO GERMS, LESS YAY! What I thought was a cold that lasted for close to two months turned out to be a bad case of bronchitis. Um. Oops?

I feel like I'll be a much more pleasant person to be around once I'm no longer made entirely of disease.

A lot has happened since I've updated here. Two months of exposure to kids' books (and let me tell you, the BEST PART of working in a bookstore is spending my lunch break every day reading kidlit)! The season finales of Survivor and Amazing Race! The fall and rise of Kirkus! My finally seeing a doctor!

(Some of these are more globally important than others.)

And now that I can spend more than 15 minutes without lapsing into a disgusting coughing fit, I can get back into blogging here.

Reality TV-wise, Twitter has been an amazing boon; I am drowning in gossip and commentary. I want to talk about last season of Survivor, because it's sparked a lot of discussion about what makes a good player of a reality show. The upcoming season of Survivor is going to be another all-stars season (heroes versus villains), and I've already started a post about what that means. I adore all-star seasons, because from an academic meta standpoint they're the most fascinating thing you can hope for. Jordan and Jeff from Big Brother are going to be on Amazing Race, which I hope will showcase their talents at not being able to tell time or spell as much as BB did. Oh, and the scandal about this season of the Bachelor (which I don't even watch)!

Children's lit has just as much exciting stuff happening. I want to start making predictions for the ALA Midwinter awards, because I predicted Jellicoe last year literally an hour before it was announced and was so freaking proud of myself you don't even KNOW. I read a few books that I kind of fell in love with and want to press onto everyone I know. The Baby-Sitters Club is being rereleased, which is kind of the epitome of joy for me, because those are my favorite preteen guilty pleasure series, but I am upset about the changes they intend to make. I have Thoughts about the Children's Literature Ambassador thing.

Plus I'm on the Cybils picturebook committee! That's pretty awesome.

Happy 2010, everyone!

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