research standards

Go Set A Watchman

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Novel Ideas returns with a rare venture into the topical, reading Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, the very hyped “sequel” to To Kill A Mockingbird. In this episode, we discuss why the word “sequel” might by appropriately contained within quotation marks, the murky ethics of this book’s publication, racism, and (of course) feminism. We also talk about whether this story takes place in a closely parallel alternate universe, shoddy research standards, how to get someone’s attention without backhanding them, and Ben’s utter lack of interest in Hank. And for a special bonus, we get at least two good Gabs rampages.

The sound quality is a little odd this week as I tried to use a more sensitive recording set up, but forgot to kill the fan in the background. Our voices are clearly audible, but the background is white noise city. My apologies. -Ben

The music bump this week is “I Wanna Go Back to Dixie” by Tom Lehrer, a satirical take on songs that glorify the south and things commonly associated with the south.

96 – Go Set A Watchman – Everyone Is People

Our Ratings:

Ben: 5/10. The flaws in the writing and Atticus’s heel turn bother me less than the fact that if TKAM didn’t exist, this book wouldn’t stand up for ten seconds under its own merit.

Gabs: 4/10. Didn’t hate it, but it was too unpolished. Also annoyed that a book dealing with racial issues only had black people in one scene.

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The Martian

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For those of you who were expecting Sherlock Holmes… it has mysteriously disappeared. In its place is The Martian by Andy Weir, a hard science fiction account of a lone man  surviving on the surface of Mars. We recorded this one with special guest, Adam Milton. In this episode we discuss the resourcefulness of astronauts, the geniuses at NASA, the realities of running an organization, and the power of the human spirit. We also comment on the lack of rain on Mars, the likely effects of months of loneliness on our respective psyches, wacky parody sequels, and potatoes. Because potatoes, that’s why.

The music bump is “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees because it is Mark Watney’s theme song, even if only through an utter lack of alternatives.

94 – The Martian – Snark Tank

Our ratings:

Gabs: 7/10 potatoes. It’s a good book if you’re stuck on a bus.

Ben: 8/10. Big points for science and snark!

Adam: 8/10. For managing to make science interesting.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

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We apologize for the lengthy interregnum, it was so long that we had to look up a new word just to describe it. Or possibly we just have trouble getting our act together sometimes. At any rate, Novel Ideas is back with Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, a story of a woman’s personal journey to self-realization. Listen to the episode to hear our conversation about dialect, ambition, feminism, and race. We also talk about white history professors, bees, how rabies works, and kickass deathbed scenes.

Quick scheduling note: We’re trying to post an episode for John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War next week, followed by our year in review episode for “Season 2” of Novel Ideas. There is likely to be a couple more missed weeks after that as Gabs gets married and goes on her honeymoon. Or maybe Ben will post something highly self-indulgent while we’re waiting. We’ll have to see.

If you have any comments or questions about anything we’ve talked about in the past year, please let us know! Also, if there’s anything you were hoping we might talk about outside those books, also let us know. We’d like to find some interesting and slightly different content for the end of the year episode if we can.

The music bump this week is “Janie Runaway” by Steely Dan, after our plucky protagonist.

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Too Dignified for a Mule Funeral

Recommendations:

A 20th century classic that is commonly assigned in school with a lot of conversation worthy content. A little tough to read due mainly to the use of dialect, but also rather short.

Gabs: 7/10 for literary value, 5/10 for ease of reading.

Ben: 5.5/10 because I liked it more than I didn’t, but just barely. This one felt kind of like assigned reading.

The Book Thief

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Novel Ideas makes a late appearance this week with The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is a YA? story about World War II Germany as told through the eyes of Death. More or less. Read the book to learn more. Listen to our episode to hear us discuss Death as an interesting character choice, the power of words, Nazis, and the horrors of war. We also talk about our research standards (low), our knowledge of German (also low), amalgams, and the lack of actual book thievery in this story. Also, weirdly, there is a fairly significant discussion of H.H. Holmes, who has nothing whatsoever to do with this book. Try to overlook the ambient noise in our studio, primarily generated by a squeaky office chair.

The music bump is “Roses of the South,” a waltz by Johan Strauss, performed on the accordion. Why you ask? Because READING.

The Book Thief – Amalgams and Archetypes

Our Recommendation:

7/10 books stolen. This one is an easy read despite its length and more poetic than average prose.

2012-13 Year in Review

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It’s time for our first year(ish) anniversary episode. We apologize for being a week late, but our recording from last week was corrupted somehow and we had to meet again and record the whole thing a second time. In this week’s episode, we cover our top and bottom five from the previous year, recount several old jokes, and even manage to make a couple of new ones. We plug a few of our favorite episodes and books, revisit old hatred, and are generally the same vainglorious, self-indulgent goofballs that by now you expect us to be.

The music bump is “It Was A Very Good Year” as arranged by Gordon Goodwin and performed by Take Six and Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.

42 – 2012-13 Year in Review

A quick correction: North Dakota did not pass a “personhood” law, they merely okayed putting a “personhood” law up for referendum.