This is the third night of shift work as we are almost at the apex of something called "dual media discharge." Without getting into the specifics of the thing - in so small part because they're classified, and I'd get in deep trouble - we are going to push a lot of very radioactive stuff overboard. It's a tightly scripted and controlled evolution, one which we have been training for since November. Right now there isn't much for the night shift guys to do, so we've been passing the time primarily by watching movies, reading, and playing cards. This will change next week; we'll be kept busy around the clock.
I just finished reading Everyone Worth Knowing, Lauren Weisberger's second novel (her first was the runaway hit The Devil Wears Prada). When I bought the book (for a measly four cents after discounts from Borders), the cashier opined that it was even better than the first - a tall task, given how hilarious TDWP was. I'd read the book in fits and starts in the two weeks since I'd bought it, since, if the options are available, I have a tendency to choose any or all of the following things over settling down to read: using the computer, watching a movie, drinking, stuffing my face with junk food, going gambling at Mohegan Sun, and going out (note: does not apply when in southeast Connecticut). But two twelve-hour shifts without my laptop allowed me plenty of time to absorb myself in this account of the glitz, glamour, and lunacy of New York's rich and famous and the people and companies hired to promote them. I definitely enjoyed EWK, and forcefully recommend it - but I think, on the whole, it does what most sequels do - it falls short. Fortunately, in this case, it doesn't fall short by much.
Weisberger's novels are characterized as "chick lit," and if so, I'm not ashamed to say that I read this small slice of the genre. I would say that both of her books are, for me, "train wreck literature." That doesn't at all mean that the works themselves are train wrecks. An apt analogy is this one: The Devil Wears Prada and Everyone Worth Knowing are to popular literature as Laguna Beach is to popular television. As a guy, I know I'm not supposed to be watching a show about rich, spoiled teenagers in southern California - a show primarily targeted at teenage females, not twentysomething males. But if I'm flipping through the channels and Laguna Beach is on, I'm stopping to watch, motivated primarily by disbelief that people actually live like that. Just the same, I couldn't stop turning the pages in these two novels. In EWK, Weisberger beautifully illustrates how those with money - whether acquired by circumstance of birth or sweat and toil - are consumed by the notion that the world should be wrapped around their finger, and that they will pay any price to achieve that vision. I've long been well aware that favorable press coverage is often bought, but I have to admit that I had no idea as to the extent to which such purchases were made, nor of the degree to which "free time" events (like nightlife) were staged. It evoked memories of Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, a book about spreading epidemics in popular culture, in much the same way viruses propagate. Making epidemics spread - gaining a product widespread acceptance - is the central focus of the advertising and public relations fields, and it was intriguing to read about the lengths to which public relations firms will go to accommodate their clients and the celebrities who promote them. Everyone - like Prada before it - brings the outsider inside, making you feel like a part of high-class, high-status New York; you're riding shotgun right alongside both Bette (Everyone) and Andrea (Prada). And there were plenty of moments that just made me crack up. When I bought EWK, I thought to myself, "Public relations in New York? That girl, ran her SUV into the nightclub in the Hamptons a few years ago...what was her name?" And when Lizzie Grubman's name surfaced three-quarters of the way through, I had to smile. There were several moments like that - although none like the "sleep debt" remark in Prada, which triggered a thought of "wrong university...Andrea went to Brown, not Cornell." The cherry atop this wonderful ice cream sundae was its ending; the way that the final few pages perfectly reflected the book's title was not lost on me.
All in all, Everyone Worth Knowing was a undeniably enjoyable read, and you do yourself a great service by sprinting to your local bookstore or logging on to your Internet vendor of choice.
February did not commence as I'd hoped; I dropped $320 in a long Wednesday night/Thursday morning session. Fortunately, I made back $270 in forty minutes yesterday morning after work. My tax refunds - a combined $910, federal and state - will likely finance a long, slightly-higher-stakes session after we come out of this hell of shift work.
So I wanted to make a screen saver of the pictures from my trip to Boston last weekend. I purchased some program that would let me do that. But the stupid registration key won't work, and the people who make the software haven't yet provided a solution. This was bad enough, but it got worse when I was putzing around on the computer tonight and discovered that Windows provides a utility that lets me make a slideshow from a folder of pictures! Waste of bloody money. If I hadn't been winning so much at twenty-one, I'd be much more perturbed.
So far tonight, we've watched Marine, Snakes on a Plane, Saw III, Crank, and now Candyman. I, on the other hand, have played through the first quest of The Legend of Zelda, watched An Inconvenient Truth (the Al Gore movie about global warming), played some Monopoly, and written this. Not bad for a day's work.