not dead yet

Just struggling with time management.  Oh, the tales I have to tell.  But first things first, blog maintenance and fixing problems and blah blah blah.  Consider this your warning.  I am planning on moving Click Clack Gorilla over to another server at the end of the week.  If all goes well, it will be back online and looking stunning by the beginning of the next.  If all does not go well, it will take longer.  Considering these things almost never go as planned, let’s just say “see you in August.”  (If things go terribly wrong, I will still be over on Book Punks and Young Germany, so you could always come by and WTF me.)

Then there will be stories.  And pictures.  And more stories.  Click Clack Gorilla is not dead.  It’s just sleeping.  Shhh, don’t wake the baby.

See you on the other side.


Tuesday July 22nd 2014, 9:27 pm 1 Comment
Filed under: conspiracies

if you can see this post, you have won a prize. and also: our kitchen!

And the prize is that you can see this post.  SIGH.  My radio silence lately has been the result of some technical issues.  I would describe them for you and whine a bunch in vivid detail, but really, who fucking cares?!  I owe you some pictures of our new kitchen, and today I am here to deliver.  That’s right.  Uh-huh.  Look at these beauties.

You’ve seen the outside at least a dozen times already, but, yeah, it is still awesome.

No fictisiously clean kitchens in my photos! I am not fast enough to take pictures during the three seconds that is remains orderly before the next Hurricane Pickle/cooking strikes.

I think food makes the best decoration in a kitchen. So I built narrow shelves and lined them with my extensive collection of glass jars. The jars also help keep the grocery moths at bay. I fucking hate those moths.

Note the beautiful floor. Done by our awesome floor who used to live in this space.

I still can barely fathom the luxury that is having a full stove with three burners and an over. OH HELLS YEAH. Also: isn’t the stove cute? I am in love. The Beard found it for sale online for 25 euro bucks.


I still think hanging shit is the best way to make use of your space in a small kitchen. And it looks pretty too. See that cow head hanging there? It makes toast. On the wood stove. More love.

Ikea. Making the world boring, but with a real nice selection of hanging bobbles for kitchens.

Like these hanging drying racks. Such good use of space. Now we just need to get a sink in here.

Another hanging drying rack, one I got for free from freecycle, but also originally from Ikea. It also folds up. Genius.

More glass jar porn.

This is where we store towels and things.

Pancake forms. Pigs, hearts, clover, bears. Cute as fuck. Making cooking fun again.

My coffee grinder will still work after the apocalypse. Will yours? Ok, ok, you’re right, there won’t BE any coffee to grind. So what. I still love this thing.

Ta-da! What do you think?

NOTE NOTE NOTITY NOTE: I started a book-ish website, and I would love it if you all came by and said hello and liked our facebook page and stuffs. Going to keep most of my book ramblings over there from now on, and the tiny house ramblings will all still live here. Once the CCG redisgn that is happening RIGHT NOW AS I TYPE is done (whoops, cat out of the bag huh?), even more so.  GO VISIT IT ALREADY: Book Punks.

Thursday May 01st 2014, 11:58 am 15 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,daily life,tiny house livin',wagenplatz

since i spend most of my time these days thinking about books

Who was that person who said, at the beginning of this year, that she wouldn’t buy any new books until she’d cleared off at least 50 books from the old to-read shelf?  It couldn’t have been me because that hasn’t happened at all.  In fact, obsessive list-maker than I am (at least when it comes to books and to-do lists), I started keeping a list of the books I acquire each month, in order to make clear to myself exactly how much I’m buying and how those titles correlate with the books I’m actually reading.  It is kind of fun.  I got the idea from Genre-Bending, which is currently one of my favorite book blogs.

It also inspires me to not buy all the fucking books, because then, when I unviel this new list at the end of the year (which I am planning to do around “the year in books” time), I will be less embarassed by the gaping canyon of disparity between what I buy and what I manage to read.  Which is really quite good.  So, yeah, I’ve gotten some books, but I’ve gotten a lot less books than I would have without that list to keep me conscious.  Yey lists.

I have now promised myself that I won’t buy any new books until I have read 20 from my to-read shelf.  As in 20 paper books; I’m not counting the ebooks that I keep reading in between.  Twenty sounds like a more reasonable number than 50, and a couple of books I am a’twitch for won’t be out for another couple of months.  This month, for example, I haven’t bought a thing.  So what if a publisher sent me three for review and I traded for four others on  Those don’t count.  Right?  RIGHT?!  Indeed.

Look, I built some new bookshelves:

what i’m reading

I always have more than one pot brewing simultaneously.  Usually something nonfiction, some easy fiction for before bed, some fucking amazing (but sometimes hard) fiction for my more congizent moments, something in German, maybe even a couple of each.

I started the year with Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series as my “I’m too tired to really use my brain” nighttime reading.  While I enjoyed it (mostly because I liked the movie and the books allowed me to keep obsessing over the beautiful beautiful actors who play in it), it is not particularly good.  I wouldn’t recommend them.  At all.  (In their case the rather cheese-balls movie was actually better than the books themselves.)  I stalled out after three books and moved on to better things.  In this case The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce.

Somehow I missed this series as a kid, which is a big fat shame; I would have loved them.  The good news is that I am loving them as an adult (I’m in the middle of the third book right now).  Unlike Dealing with Dragons, a series that I did read and love as a kid and which I reread at the beginning of this year, I am finding myself completely immersed in the story and eager to read the next and the next and the next book.  (Usually I need a break between segments of a series.  With Dealing With Dragons I had fun, but could always feel myself reading; I couldn’t lose myself in them as an adult.)  And at about 100 pages each, they are delictable little morsels I can finish in a night, which is very satisfying.  They deal with sexism and gender stereotyping, and yeah, I always like books that do that.

Then there is Samuel R. Delaney’s DhalgrenHoly shit, this book.  The first two pages were so intense and so magnificently written, that I had to put it down for a while and read something else.  Mr. Delaney is a master.  I stand in awe.  Dhalgren is turning out to be one of those books that always makes it onto the post-apocalyptic (PA) reading lists, but isn’t really post-apocalyptic.  Usually that annoys me, but this is so good that I can’t be bothered to care.  Sure, there is a town that seems to have experienced apocalypse, but it is an anomaly, a mystery, maybe even a metaphor.  Whatever it is, it transcends the genre of PA and rides the air currents above us, out of reach and beautiful and god-like, a sun.

In the non-fiction arena we have Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs, which I have been trying to finish reading for, I kid you not, over ten years.  Someday, someday.  More recently, I started How to Cook a Wolf by M.F.K. Fischer which is about cooking during times of war and scarcity, and which is really interesting but something I don’t really feel like racing through at the moment.

Lastly there’s Momo by Michael Ende (you know, famed author of The Neverending Story, another book that is sitting on my to-read shelf), which is my current German read.  It hasn’t grabbed me yet, but I haven’t gotten to the time travel bits yet, either.  The characters keep telling tangential stories which don’t interest me (though I imagine they would go over very well with the much younger target audience).  Here’s hoping it gets better.  I am determined to school myself in German science fiction and fantasy this year, so help me cod.

publish it already!  the gorilla grows impatient

I have become an obsessive book blog reader.  Whereas I used to find out that an author I like had a new book (or that such-and-such tome of awesome from right up my alley had) come out when I saw it in the store.  Now I hear about them months in advance.  It is torture.

After the End by Amy Plum is the title whose as-yet-unpublished state is causing me the most pain at the moment.  It is the post-apocalyptic book I wish I had thought to write.  At least, as far as I can tell from the blurb: “Juneau grew up fearing the outside world. The elders told her that beyond the borders of their land in the Alaskan wilderness, nuclear war had destroyed everything. But when Juneau returns from a hunting trip one day and discovers her people have been abducted, she sets off to find them. And leaving the boundaries for the very first time, she learns the horrifying truth: World War III never happened. Nothing was destroyed. Everything she’d ever been taught was a lie.”  I can’t fucking wait to see how it pans out, which I will finally be able to do in May.

The second is a cookbook.  Specifically, The Real Food Cookbook: Traditional Dishes for Modern Cooks by Nina Planck.  I devoured (haha) her book Real Food for Mother and Baby when I was pregnant–I really enjoy her writing and her outlook on eating and cooking and food–and now that we finally have a full-out kitchen, I have been looking for a few new cookbooks for inspiration.  It doesn’t come out until June.  Gah!

And now I turn to you, dear readers.  What are you reading right now?  Have you read any of the books I mentioned?  You know I love a good book discussion…

PS The links above are affiliate links, which means if you click on them and decide you want to buy the books through those links, I get a little cut.  But hey, your library probably has these books too, and the library needs as many of us as possible in order to prevent extinction.  So there’s also that.

Wednesday March 19th 2014, 9:00 am 12 Comments
Filed under: books,conspiracies

put on some rabbit ears and dance

Yep, I’m the asshole who still hasn’t managed to take photos of the fucking awesome kitchen I keep promising pictures of.  But hey, look at this picture I took of Frankfurt graffiti when I first moved here a hundred years ago! (Nine.)  I’ve always liked that one.  While poking around for pictures of Germany I could use for work, I (re)discovered a lot of old gems.  Which I also won’t be sharing because the Beard is in them, and he doesn’t much like having his picture on the internets.  We were so young!  We were so carefree!  Look, we’re drinking beer!  We are sitting still in the sun!  We are having fun!  Aaaah, the good old days.

Fast forward to now where I feel like I am just one big bag under the eye.  Getting woken up two to three times a night for the past two years has started to wear on me.  I feel like I wake up with a new wrinkle every morning.  In reality, I don’t have any real wrinkles yet, but I just feel wrinkled.  You do what you have to do and you get by, but cod damn when will we be allowed to sleep through the fucking night?  When when when?! *Shakes fist at sky and snarls.*

We’re getting Pickles off of her nighttime milk addiction at the moment, which has been SO MUCH FUN.  Ha!  Hahahahahaha!  The idea is that she might actually start sleeping through the night sometime before her 18th birthday.  That we might get to sleep through the night before we reach a mental state where murder doesn’t sound like such a practical solution.  At least in prison we’d get to sleep through the night!  Ba-da-bing!  *Weeps.*

But I hyperbolize.  There have been some cod-awful nights lately, and we’ve all been much worse for wear.  Except for Pickles, who is still full of energy and wants to spend every second of the day running in circles outside, who doesn’t nap for me anymore (but does for the Beard, though I like when she doesn’t nap because then she goes to bed deliciously early, even though it means she is nutso for the last two hours of the day).  Still, spring weather has arrived, which feels wonderful, we built a little porch, and I’m putting in an herb garden.  And Pickles finally has parents willing to spend every minute outside with her all day every day.

I think things are about to get really awesome.  She’ll sleep through the night, we’ll move her into her own bed, she’ll go to the daycare whatever a few days a week (we’re looking for some of that for her right now because she talks about wanting to play with other kids so much), and our humanity will be returned to us, unused this past year, in a neat little package.

Tuesday March 18th 2014, 10:46 am 3 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,daily life

and then we had a kitchen and life was suddenly all marshmellows and cartwheels

The kitchen is done.  Almost.  Minus a sink, but who needs a sink when you, after three years without, suddenly have a stove with an oven for baking?!  And a table!  You probably have never imagined your life without either of those things, but I am here to tell you that you probably underestimate their awesomeness.  We’ve had ours for a few weeks a piece (at the time I was originally writing this post), and I still can’t stop gushing about them.  We have a table!  We have three flames to cook on!  I can bake things without walking to someone else’s kitchen!

A table!  A stove!  A table!  A stove!  See?  I could go on like this all day.

There was very little building involved in setting things up.  There were a number of walks to the building supply store with a little cart for wood and black paint for the shelves, and there were two very disgruntled trips to Ikea for the rods to hang all the utensils from (yeah, I love those lots) and more glass jars to add to my collection (not only does food in glass jars make the prettiest decorations, they also keep the grocery moths at bay).  I had to take out the bed that was where our table (thanks, freecycle!) is now, but otherwise, it was all painting and hanging shelves with a side of organizing.  I am totally in love with the results.

It is so exciting, that I don’t even mind the extra work of lighting a second wood stove every day.  Of course Germany is experiencing the winter of spring (mud, rain, really mild weather), so it’s not as hardcore as it might sound.  For now.  And when we put Pickles to bed we finally have a room to hang out in where we don’t have to whisper.  (Tangent: Did you know that there is a baby moniter app?  I was about to buy one of the damn things when I realized I could just tell me phone to call the Beard’s phone when Pickles made noise.  Whoa.  Thanks, technology.)

I wrote all that almost two months ago.  And I still haven’t gotten any good pictures of the damn thing.  Every time I think of it, the light sucks.  So this is a little teaser, and here’s hoping that the unbelievable spring sunlight that has shown up with March provides a better stage for kitchen plus camera.

Also: My computer has been broken for a long time, but now it is fixed (FUCK YEAH) so I should be back here more often starting now.  Also also: There is a Click Clack Gorilla website redesign coming soon.  Exciting exciting exciting.

How are you?

Saturday March 08th 2014, 11:56 am 2 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,daily life,diy,trailer rennovation project,wagenplatz

daily life, february 2014

With three trailers (Wägen) our daily life has changed again.  It is always changing.  The nature of life, the nature of parenting, the nature of the passing of seasons.  It feels worth recording.  It feels like the more of these posts that I remember to write, the more interesting it will one day be to look back at them, wondering at the people and places I have been.

With a cousin visiting the chores spread themselves out among three instead of two, and the difference is a noticable sigh of relief.  He may sleep later than Pickles ever lets us, but he loves making kindling for the stove, washes dishes almost every day, cooks spicy Indian food that makes our noses run and our stomachs happy.

When does the day really start?  The first time that Pickles wakes me up, asking for a drink, at 1 or 2 or 3 am?  At 5 or 6 when she threatens to wake up for good, but usually falls back asleep for a few hours with milk?  At the very latest it starts at 7 or 7:30, if we’re lucky 8, when she wakes up for good, usually in a bad mood.  “Milk!”  “Eat!”  “Peepee!”  I vaguely remember a time when she woke up happy, and we played games across the pillow from each other until I could bear the thought of getting out of bed.  Now she wakes up cranky, demanding.  I can’t say I blame her.  I feel the same way.

Let’s just assume that this is a day when the Beard is at home.

He gets out of bed first, motivated, I can only assume, by the dream of coffee.  Whoever makes the coffee lights the woodstove in the kitchen.  Whoever doesn’t lights the woodstove in the sleeping trailer.  Except when the Beard is faster, which he almost always is these last few weeks.  Then he shoves paper and medium-sized logs into the woodstove and leaves it to relight itself on last night’s embers before heading to the kitchen to do the honors there.  It takes somewhere between 10 minutes and 45 for the stove to relight.  The pressed mulch briquettes we use to heat at night keep the trailer at a comfortable tempurature until we wake up, and leave enough embers to make relighting a hands-free process.  Long live pressed mulch briquettes.

Coffee is ground by hand, water boils on the stove, kindling crackles in two wood stoves, the Chemex is prepared, and it all results in a cup of coffee delivered to my hands.  While the Beard heads off to wash dishes or smoke or where ever, I get Pickles dressed, brush her hair (screaming), brush her teeth (more screaming; it is a nightmarish process that you have to hold her down for).  I attempt to sneak in a few minutes on the internet, alternatively, while she either plays happily or begins to scream “outside outside” over and over.  It doesn’t matter what the weather is like.  That kid loves the outdoors, the trampoline, and walking around the property anywhere that isn’t our direct yard.  Sometimes I actually wish that she liked tv more. HA.

The Beard and I trade off Pickles in shifts.  One goes to the park so the other can write a few emails.  I take her to play groups and dates (and on Thursdays, child care at the gym) so the Beard can fiddle.  The Beard cooks lunch, and we all eat together around the new kitchen table that I am already starting to take for granted.  Shifts are traded.  We bike to the grocery store.  We bike to the playground.  We bike into town.  We bike to a friends’.  Sometimes we are lucky enough to get a nap.  At home diapers have been replaced by a potty, like magic (the kid potty trained herself).

The Beard, or maybe my cousin, or maybe even I cook dinner.  We eat around the table again, reveling in the luxury of delicious food at every meal.  Talking about music.  Playing music.  Pickles refuses to stay in her seat and insists on sitting in my lap.  I refuse; eating is holy and I want my space.  She clings to my leg, whines, starts yelling and signing “sleep” over and over to signify that she’d like to go back to the sleeping trailer, and she’s not going to leave me alone until we do.  Sometimes the Beard takes her over, and she screams until I follow.  Sometimes I take her over, leaving my meal half finished, disgruntled.  Yesterday we brought her high chair back in from the shed and strapped her in, and she finally had no choice but to sit there until we were all finished.  It wasn’t even that dramatic.  What a relief.

After dinner she plays in the sleeping trailer for an hour or three.  We’re trying to cut back on what sick time has made a rather extreme television habit to a night time wind-down habit, so maybe she watches an episode of Baby Einstein on my computer.  It is a quiet, relaxed time most days, and I can read a page or two of a book between interuptions to look at cars or set up train tracks or kiss hurts.  Sometime between 8 and 11 she’ll show signs of tiredness, and I’ll whisk her into bed.  She usually doesn’t need more than 20 minutes to fall asleep, but they are the longest 20 minutes of my day, spent waiting in the dark.  Being kicked.  Feeling impatient.  Ready for a break.

Now that our kitchen is finished we sometimes hang out there post-bedtime, not worrying about how loud we’re talking or playing music or drinking beer.  What luxury!  But more often than not I am too exhausted and want nothing more than to lay in bed, reading by the light of my solar lamp, visiting fictional worlds, and finally winding down myself.

Friday February 07th 2014, 1:12 pm 13 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,daily life,gorilla parent (year two)

tiny house movement: a very tiny kid’s room

Imagine you live in a very small space. Let’s say seven by two meters, to take my own example. Your kitchen and bathroom are in another building, and you even have some space in another trailer for books and guests and piles of things, but those fourteen square meters are where you and the two other members of your family are going to spend the majority of their time. How do you divide it up? How do you make the most of the space? Where do you store shit? Fuck! How is that even possible?

When Pickles was born, she didn’t have her own room. She didn’t even have her own bed. She slept in our bed, and we built shelves with a fold-out changing table and quickly settled into the space as a family of three. You would think you would feel cramped, living in such a small space with so many people, but you would be wrong. It does help if you really like each other though. And did I mention how much money you save when you don’t have to buy any extra furniture? Seems to me that babies don’t need much besides their parents at the beginning. Very young children are generally only expensive if you want them to be.

Now Pickles is almost two, getting bigger and bigger, collecting more and more toys, and kicking us all over our bed. She’s not ready for her own trailer just yet (some kids could deal right away, I am talking her specifically right now), as she still doesn’t like to be far from the parentals, and I would be very very unhappy if I had to get up and go outside every time she woke up during the night, something that still happens at least twice every sleep cycle. But we are ready to start transitioning her into her own bed, and we needed a better system for storing her clothes and toys.

So I got obsessed and started planning a little room for her on the far side of our trailer. One side for her room, one side for the Beard and I’s room. I call them rooms, but there aren’t any dividing walls. Everyone has their own special little space, and when it is time to sleep, we still only have one wood stove to light and tend. (That’s a factor that I see keeping our sleeping room in one trailer for a long time to come.) She’s not spending the night in her own bed yet, but she has started napping or starting the night there.

The last little bobble I needed took forever to arrive (something to keep her from falling out of the lofted bed I built for her). But when we returned from America it was sitting here waiting. I got out the screwdriver and put on the last touches in a few minutes. I remember to take pictures when things were clean-ish. And I am very proud to present to you: Pickles room. In all its four squared metered glory. Turns out four square meter is huge for a two-year old.

And I am going to tell you all about it.  But first, behold!

Hanging storage, shelves on both walls, baskets to keep the toys organized.  And the bed!  I was inspired by images like this one, and lofting the bed helped us keep all the floor space free for toys and playing.  Who wouldn’t want a bed that looked and felt like a treehouse?  Like a little secret hide out? Like a blanket fort?  Every time I put Pickles into her new bed I get a little jealous. The pictures really don’t do its cuteness justice.

The building process. A neighbor had given me his son’s old mattress and part of the bed frame, which I put up on two long legs, attaching the wall-side right to the wall with a few metal “L” bits. The walls are tongue-and-groove boards. Then I painted.  The entire room took me one long weekend to set up.

The little window makes me really happy, and Pickles likes to play peek-a-boo through it. She sits up there and reads (it was too dark inside to get a good shot, but there is a small, narrow shelf in there with books) or relaxes with a drink. She’s not a kamikaze baby, so I’m not too worried about her just jumping out, but there is an accordion-like wood thing that I can pull out and secure the “door” with so she can’t fall out by accident.  It’s actually meant to keep dogs from leaving whatever room you want to trap them in, and it wouldn’t hold her weight if she decided to throw herself against it, but the point is not that she can’t get out, but that she can’t fall out by accident while sleeping.

I took down the shelves that had been a part of the fold-out changing table, painted them, and put them up across from the new bed.  We keep a lot of the small bits—socks, underpants (dude, she suddenly just started potty training herself, a story for another day), and the like—in baskets, and even more of the small bits—cloth handkerchiefs, burp cloths (which are useful for pretty much everything you can think of), small toys—in the hanging net tube pictured below.  Everything we have fits perfectly, in part because I make sure I don’t buy more than we can fit on her shelves.  Whoever said our stuff grows to fill whatever space we live in was right.  And it also shrinks.  (Or should, lest madness ensue.)

Beneath the lofted bed are more shelves, both filled with toys and books.  Below it I strung two pieces of cord.  I laminated a handful of pictures I had printed out at a nearby drugstore, and hung them up with safety pins.  Pickles likes to take them down and look at them or play with them.  It was cheap (20 cents a print, 7 euros for the laminator at the flea market—though I think you can get this done somewhere for pretty cheap as well), and the string and clothespins were just laying around the house collecting dust.  And how fucking cute right?  Best part is, we can change the pictures easily and often.  And, yeah, more baskets for organizing and because apparently I’m obsessed. (All of which came from the flea market, by the way.)

The space is small, but it is Pickles’ own, and she loves playing in her bed and spreading her toys across every surface in the trailer.  But because we finally have a great system, it is easy to stay organized and keep the madness at bay another day.  I don’t know what we will do when she outgrows her treehouse bed, but it is going to be a sad day for me.  For now, though, we’ll enjoy every second and every square centimeter.  Here here!

Questions?  To the comments with you!

Thursday January 16th 2014, 6:45 pm 14 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,diy,gorilla parent (year two),tiny house livin',wagenplatz

oh, the places we’ve been

We left over a foot of snow and arrived in a false Spring.  The air has a warm touch, and if I didn’t know better, I’d think tulips were going to be sprouting any day now.  They might be already.  And soon February through April will kill them.  The fucking birds are even tweeting like green leaves and blue skies are just around the corner.  I think we are all going to be disappointed on that front for another four months.  At least.

The calendar page has turned, and here we are back in Germany and in 2014.  I like the sound of that number.  It has a pleasant evenness about it. Rag on 2013 as you will, but it was a good year too. I published two articles in the ever-charming magazine New Escapologist and wrote a mini-guidebook of Frankfurt for The Hunt guides.  (If you’d like to hear about some of my favorite places in the city, you can read an e-version here for free.  Just click on “buy guide.”  You won’t actually have to buy it.)  I started my first fiction story in almost a hundred years, something I hope to have wrapped up and sent away in the next couple of weeks.  I wrote and edited a shit-ton of stuff for Young Germany too, though the world still seems to be infinitely less impressed by writing that is published digitally.  Joke’s on you digital skeptics!  Web writing is where most of the regular pay checks are at.

as I was saying

We went to the States.  Things happened.  We paced up and down the east coast.  We introduced Pickles to her American family, stuffed ourselves at Thanksgiving and at Christmas and at pretty much every opportunity in between and slept in a lot of beds that were a little bit too small for three people.  There was singing and snow and a trip to the aquarium.  There was bad-to-non-existent public transportation, there were peaceful car rides, there were glorious thrift stores, and there were cold playgrounds and books.  It was fun and stressful, as traveling with a kid just under two can be.  We saw a lot of people, and missed a lot more.

A few visuals of our travels (there wasn’t a lot to choose from, what with not wanting to post photos of any people, but still):

Friday January 10th 2014, 6:21 pm 8 Comments
Filed under: america,conspiracies

the year in books 2013 and a book-lover blog hop

FURTHER NOTES FROM THE FUTURE: I am not sure if people are still having problems seeing the newest posts, but just in case, I’ll be posting links to them all here so that no one misses a thing.

Posts you might have missed:

If you can see this post you’ve won a prize/Kitchen photos

Oh the places we’ve been

A very tiny kid’s room

Daily life February 2014 (a low moment in time)

And then we had a kitchen and life was suddenly all marshmellows and cartwheels

Put on some rabbit ears and dance

Since I spend most of my time thinking about books

NOTE FROM THE FUTURE: Things on the blog are broken.  There are new posts, and many people can’t see them.  This will be fixed, but it is taking time.  Lots of it.  For now, I am here to tell you that you can visit the newest post by clicking here.  And also, that I started a book website with my buddy Erika Jelinek, and I love it if you came by and said hello.  Here it is: Book Punks.  So, hope to have these web problems solved soonish.  Until then…

The bell has tolled.  The time has arrived.  I can now reveal the Click Clack Gorilla Year in Books. There are still two reading days left in 2013, but there is no way that I am going to finish any more books before 2014.  There is jet lag.  Psychedelic zombie ponies are stomping on what is left of my brain.

But look!  Previously, my brain did work, and I read a lot of things (links lead to reviews I’ve written of said books, or read all of the year’s book posts here).  I even reached my goal of reading 100 books in one calendar year.  That felt like a fucking lot of books at the time.  Then I met a lot of really voracious readers who accomplished even more.  And who I will duel to the death next year by attempting to read myself out of all life outside of the printed page.  Just kidding.  Pickles has already seen to that.

If you also like to read, please join in the Year in Books Blog Hop at the bottom of the page.  Basically what “Blog Hop” means is that you blog about your year in books (and if you didn’t keep track, posts on a favorite book this year or any other related book topic are also welcome) and add a link to the post to the linky at the end of this post.  Linky etiquette requires you to link back to this post in your post, but I won’t flog you if you forget.  (Still it is nice, and makes google like us all more.)

If you want to hear some more babble from me about the year’s highlights, you’ll find that after this very long list that I expect almost no one to read, but hey, there are pictures too.  If you do read it, I’d also love to hear if you’ve read any/many of these and what you thought of  ‘em.  To the comments with you!

1. The Scourge of God by S.M. Stirling
2. Origin of Paranoia as a Heated Mole Suit by Rupert Wondolowski (reread)
3. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin (reread)
4. Whore Diaries: My First Two Weeks as an Escort by Tara Burns
5. The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin (reread)
6. The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin (reread)
7. The Sword of the Lady by S.M. Stirling
8. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (audio – reread)
9. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
10. Ten Thousand Miles by Freight Train by Carrot Quinn
11. The Giver by Louis Lowry (reread)
12. Gathering Blue by Louis Lowry
13. The Scar by China Mieville
14. Messenger by Louis Lowry
15. Son by Louis Lowry

16. Blood Red Road by Moira Young
17. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
18. The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson
19. Boating for Beginners by Jeanette Winterson
20. The High King of Montival by S.M. Stirling
21. The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
22. Blindness by Jose Saramago
23. Gut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson
24. Export A by Lisa Kränzler (first German read of the year)
25. An American Plague: The True & Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy
26. Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven
27. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
28. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
29. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
30. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
31. Wild Seed by Octavia Butler
32. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle (audio book – reread)
33. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
34. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
35. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
36. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
37. The Battle of the Sun by Jeanette Winterson
38. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
39. Begegnungen auf der Trans*fläche by kollektiv sternchen & steine
40. Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson
41. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
42. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (reread)
43. The Wind’s Twelve Quarters by Ursula Le Guin
44. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
45. Sabriel by Garth Nix

46. Unnatural Creatures edited by Neil Gaiman
47. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
48. Hothouse by Brain Aldiss
49. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
50. Witches by Roald Dahl (reread)
51. Gremlins by Roald Dahl
52. The Word for World Is Forest by Ursula Le Guin (audio book)
53. Someone Like You by Roald Dahl
54. Finding Life Beyond Trauma by Victoria M. Follette and Jacqueline Pistorello
55. Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
56. Sorry Please Thank You by Charles Yu
57. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (reread)
58. Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl
59. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (audio book “reread”)
60. Marcovaldo by Italo Calvino
61. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
62. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (reread)
63. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl (reread)
64. The Wasp Fastory by Iain Banks
65. Makers by Cory Doctorow
66. Adventure Rocketship!: Let’s All Go to the Science Fiction Disco edited by Jonathan Wright
67. The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl
68. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
69. The Tears of the Sun by S.M. Stirling
70. Von Bänken und Banken in Frankfurt am Main by Bernd Kostering & Ralf Thee
71. Cursed Pirate Girl by Jeremy A. Bastian
72. The BFG by Roald Dahl (reread)
73. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
74. Tintenherz by Cornelia Funke
75. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

76. Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler
77. Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
78. Wicca for Beginners by Thea Sabin
79. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
80. Mockingbird by Walter Tevis
81. The Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K. Rowling
82. Book of Shadows by Phyllis Curott
83. Wool by Hugh Howey
84. Beauty in Decay: The Art of Urban Exploration by RomanyWG
85. Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams
86. Beauty in Decay II by RomanyWG
87. The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers
88. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
89. Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss
90. Steering the Craft by Ursula k. LeGuin
91. It Will Live Forever: Traditional Yosemite Indian Acorn Preparation by Beverly R. Ortiz
92. The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks
93. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald (reread)
94. The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald
95. The Boxcar Children 1 by Gertrude Chandler Warner (reread)
96. An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski
97. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread)
98. Slow River by Nicola Griffith
99. Chick Days: Raising Chickens from Hatchlings to Laying Hens by Jenna Woginrich
100. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (audio)

Mieville, Rothfuss, Lynch, Doctorow, Murakami, Butler, Gaiman, Winterson, and so many more talents have made the year’s reading pretty damn staggering.  I mean, sure, I also read the Twilight series, but the rest, the rest!  If you forced me at gun point to choose one favorite, my first answer would be Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.  Then I would remember that I also read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline this year and chose that.  (I liked it so much that I listened to the audio book immediately after finishing the paper book.)  Then I would re-read the list and become very agitated because look at this fucking list.  There is no way to pick a favorite and mean it forever and ever in stone.

I was deeply impressed by Nicola Griffith’s Slow River, and I really disliked Brain Aldiss’ Hothouse.  I revisited a number of classics from my childhood, and of those, The Boxcar Children was the weirdest.  I still enjoyed it for its “kids surviving in the woods, living in a boxcar, and going scavenging at the dump” aspects, but damn, cookie-cutter gender roles anyone?  I found Doomsday Book by Connie Willis incredibly boring for a long time, and then spent a sick day listening to it for hours and became obsessed to the point of relistening by the end.  Still don’t love the reader of my audio copy of that though.

Fourty-five of the year’s books were written by women.  Four of them were written in German.  (Guess I really went after last year’s goal to read more German language books, huh?  Cough.)  Seventeen were re-reads.  Sixteen were non-fiction.

The Year in Books is one of my favorite blogging traditions.  Actually, it is my only blogging tradition, so BE APART OF SOMETHING UNIQUE TODAY.  Or something.  At the very least I hope 2014 brings you as many awesome books as it looks like it is bringing me.

My goals for 2014 include not buying any new books until I’ve read at least fifty from my current to-read shelf and writing more reviews when I do.  I am not even going to pretend to try to read more in German, though for tradition’s sake, I should probably promise to finally read Kafka in the original (on my to-read shelf for eight years and running).  Which I guarentee I will not have done by the end of 2014.

What did you love reading this year?  What reading goals have you set for 2014?

You can read the Click Clack Gorilla Year in Books Past by clicking your mouse–2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012–and then go check out what other Click Clack Gorilla readers have been reading this year.

Monday December 30th 2013, 4:28 pm 25 Comments
Filed under: books,conspiracies

thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d

Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway. They stayed long in that good house, fourteen days at least, and they found it hard to leave.

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Here, here J.R.R. Tolkien, here, here.  The Hobbit is just full of tasty lines that apply seamlessly to our own travels. Luckily we are not likely to encounter any trolls. But I suppose that really depends on who you ask.

There have been witches. And possibly ghosts.

Though a comfortable stay in a cozy house with ample food and drink may not make for much of a story, I can tell you this about our first two weeks in the U.S.:

Pickles can now pedal a tricycle and say a lot of new English words. English is winning the language race now that we’re surrounded by people speaking it.

I can now say, tried and tested!, that this recipe for Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread is the best cooking decision you will ever make.  (Oh. My. Cod.)

Sculpture parks can be creepy and fun.  (See photos.)

Jet lag with babies sucks more than you ever could have possibly imagined.

There are air mattresses in this world that are actually comfortable.

Tonight will find us on the highway heading south.  Who knows when we will make it back to New Jersey.  Next year?  In three? In five?  But it has been fun.  And off they drove, tra la la!

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Wednesday November 27th 2013, 8:54 pm 3 Comments
Filed under: america,conspiracies