What Every Body is Saying / Joe Navarro

   I was going to start this post with "Hello, my name is Glynis, and I am a huge dork," but then I remembered my disdain for people who introduce themselves with caveats such as "I'm dumb" or "I'm stupid" or "I'm crazy" or "I'm weird" (UGH, people, stop saying you're "weird"). It's not that I get my hate on for self-depreciation, because it can be funny, but sometimes we take it too far and it just gets ridiculous. It's mostly women who do this. More than once I've been introduced to someone or just met them or am still getting to know them and they'll make one of these statements, "hello my name is ____, and I'm stupid," and I want to firmly grasp their shoulders, look sternly into their face, and say "WHAT THE HELL?" Because let's face it, introducing yourself with an insult is the worst.

   If some of the first information I have about you is that you claim to be stupid, then chances are I will file that away under "Truths About So-and-So, Direct From the Horse's Mouth". What I'm saying is: I will think you are stupid, because you told me to think so, and it will take actual work on my part to override that. And if you've ever done this in the secret hope that someone will say, "oh my gosh! No! You're so great/smart/pretty/whatever!" then please re-evaluate your compliment-fishing stratagem. One day people are going to stop contradicting you and you are going to be standing there with the words "I'm stupid" that you just declared about yourself hanging in the air, and people are going to be sick of bolstering your ego/self-confidence and guess what? That's going to suck.

   If you feel the need for a compliment or a kind word, then speak kindly about yourself. Ask for corroboration, not contradiction. Even better: if you wish to be complimented, then compliment the people around you! You know what's better than saying "I'm -insert negative thing here-"? Saying "hey, you are looking good today my friend, and that bit of info you added to our previous conversation was spot-on. It was great and you are great and I'm glad we're friends." Which do you think will add more joy to your life: disparaging comments about yourself, or uplifting comments about others? That question is rhetorical, obviously edifying other people goes way beyond putting yourself down.

   If you know me, you know that I'm not always the best at this. Just yesterday some disparaging comments about myself popped out of my mouth and I regretted them immediately after. Not only did I add ammo to a negative self-image which I have been working to undermine, I also put my friends in a tricky position. I'm not saying that we can't acknowledge the negative aspects of our character, because ignoring all that means it's not getting worked on, but that we don't celebrate or emphasize them, and we don't insult ourselves. Let's make a pact, shall we? Just be kinder. Kinder to others, kinder to ourselves, etc. Let's stop disparaging ourselves.

   WOW, okay.

   So: I read Joe Navarro's What Every Body is Saying and it was excellent and I recommend it to everyone. I've been trying to decipher body language the past few days, and while it remains somewhat difficult, it is good to know what kinds of things to look for and what kinds of things my own body is telling the world. Also, Joe Navarro is adorable, check out this quote: "I give hugs freely because they transmit caring and affection so much more effectively than mere words. I feel sorry for those who are not huggers, they are missing so much in their lives." OMGosh.

   The reason I was going to say something about being a dork is that I find body language studies fascinating. I watched Lie To Me for awhile and would try to figure out the tics and tells before the show revealed the solutions. I pored over the chapters Malcolm Gladwell wrote about facial tells. It all seemed strangely mysterious and like it would take eons to understand until I got my hands on this book and Mr Navarro made the whole thing simple and accessible. He splits body language into two simple categories, comfort and discomfort, and proceeds with interpretation from there. He also gave this gem of advice: if you saw some body language and you aren't sure what it means, try to recreate it in your own body and observe how you feel. So simple! So easy! I'm sure we've all read about those studies that say "hey, if you force yourself to smile/laugh, it'll make you feel way better, we promise" so it just makes sense that if I recreate a posture I'll understand a little better how the originator was feeling. Our bodies contribute to our minds! Wow.

   There's a TED talk about power posing, you should look it up and watch it and then exclaim, "WOW, the human body is AMAZING." Because guess what? It totally is, and it sure ain't dorky to think so.


"If people didn't try anything new we wouldn't have hardly any progress at all"

I know you're raring to find out what the movies are in this post and don't worry: I haven't forgotten you.
  1. Cat Ballou (1965)
  2. Dial M For Murder (1954)
  3. Escape Plan (2013)
  4. Notorious (1946)
  5. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
   These were all enjoyable, clearly in different ways. You can watch all of them. In this post, though, I'm only going to talk about that overlooked gem of cinema: Cat Ballou, and then I'm going to talk about something completely unrelated. Oh, Cat Ballou. First off: this movie has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes last time I checked and it deserves it. It is hilarious to the nth degree, and blissfully quotable. SO QUOTABLE. Here is a short list of events that take place in Cat Ballou:
  • Barn dance
  • Barn dance fight
  • Train robbery
  • Murder most foul
  • Several tantrums
   Obviously, it's great. Go and watch it, and then celebrate your new found "I will watch this at least once a year" movie. I mean, come on: Nat King Cole as a singing narrator.

   OKAY, I am not super into writing about movies right now so here is something else I've been thinking about, and that thing is a Postal Book Club. Not postal as in "going postal", but postal as in "posted in the mail". Here's how it works: a few people join form the club and they each choose a book and keep it a secret from the other club members. They read the book, write their thoughts (and things like why they chose the book and so on) in a notebook, and then pack both the book and the notebook and mail them to the next person in the club. The books make the rounds through all the people in the club until they make it back to the person who chose it, who then has the book and the notebook with everyone's thoughts. It all sounds delightful.

   I want to be a part of a postal book club and I want to know if you want to be in one with me.


Neverhome / Laird Hunt

   FIRST OFF: I need all of you to go out, get a copy of Neverhome, read it, and then talk about it with me, at length. I want to drink some sort of hot beverage and wave my hands around while I talk to/at/with someone about this book. After that I think I will stalk the shelves of the library for more by Mr Laird Hunt, and hopefully I'll want everyone to read those and then talk about them too. I wish I had a hard copy of this book that I could wave in your collective faces until you said "ALRIGHT ALREADY, I will read it, are you happy now?" But I wouldn't be happy until you finished it and spoke with me about it, and we exclaimed over that one thing and that part at the end and what a genius Laird Hunt must be.

   Do you love stoicism in the face of adversity?? I sure do, and Ash/Constance delivers it in SPADES. Our narrator is matter-of-fact and brusque and I love it. (Side note: I also just finished reading True Grit / Charles Portis and wow that book is grand and Mattie Ross kicks butt and takes names. STOICISM!)

   Ach this book is just so excellent and complex and I don`t know how to tell you about it without putting IDEAS into your head about the plot etc AND SO: here I am telling you to please read this book and then please talk to me about it. I have a strong desire to have a bookclub and to read this book and talk about it with a group of people who are excited about it and about reading in general. 

p.s. I am now reading The Shining and spooky scary October is WELL underway.


I Capture the Castle / Dodie Smith

   As it turns out, a person doesn't necessarily have to be rich to live in a castle, as we quickly learn from Cassandra Mortmain as she narrates her life. No sir, you need not be rich, and by all accounts you can live in abject poverty and still live in a castle, so long as you have a long-suffering and understanding landlord.

   So! Cassandra et al live in a castle - what is left of a castle - on the grounds of a grand old house, and who should come round the cucumber frame but Mr MacGregor and by that I mean: single American hunks move in next door. Rose, Cassandra's older sister, decides that poverty really isn't all it's cracked up to be and sets about catching herself a rich American. She isn't very good at it at first on account of reading too many Victorian romances, and there are some misunderstandings, hiccups, etc on the road to love and let's just say that I'm really not doing the book justice so far and it is quite delightful.

   Back to the story: Simon (older American bro) has an awful beard but he also has an inheritance and owns the grand house and the grounds and the castle, so Rose sets her cap at him. He also has a penchant for literature, which proves to be a bonus since Cassandra and Rose's father once wrote an avant-garde novel that Americans simply eat up and Simon practically worships the ground he walks on. Neil (younger American bro) loves ranches and being, in general, American. Cassandra is all about the love of words and books and writing, and records the shenanigans that take place surrounding Rose's quest for love and money.

   Cassandra, it turns out, is charming and charismatic, although sometimes she is very earnest about various things, but aren't we all sometimes? If you can't be earnest every once in awhile then what are you doing. All this jibber jabber aside, let's get to my favorite character: Topaz.

   Topaz! She is the best. She loves art and she loves keeping her family as warm and fed and comfortable as she can and she also "communes with nature" which means she's an occasional nudist. She poses for paintings! She makes Rose and Cassandra clothing! She encourages Mortmain (the father, her husband) as best she can! The best lines come out of her mouth! There's no way Topaz is her real name but she owns it and she's great.

   A more complete cast of characters:
  • Cassandra, our narrator
  • Rose, our marriage-plotter. I feel like I haven't done Rose justice here. She's brave and she sticks to her guns.
  • Thomas, Cassandra and Rose's younger brother. He's very bright.
  • Mortmain, their father
  • Topaz, their step-mother (not evil, as Cassandra points out)
  • Steven, the farm boy
  • Simon, American bro
  • Neil, American bro
  • Mrs. Cotton, their mother. I didn't like her. 
  • The Fox-Cottons, awful people in some ways, not awful in others. 
  • The librarian whose name I forget but who is a lovely woman.
  • The Vicar, who is also great.
   As stated above, it's a delightful number and I encourage y'all to read it and enjoy it. It gets several stars out of however many.



   This year I resolved to read at least 52 books; friends, yesterday I read my 53rd. High-fives all around!

Invasion of the Body Snatchers / Jack Finney

   If there is a vibe that I love in scary books, it is the "it doesn't seem like anything is wrong on the surface but if you look closely there is totally something off about this situation what is it oh my gosh" vibe. Enter Jack Finney's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where the very thing that is the most sinister is that it is so difficult to tell who has been body-snatched and who hasn't. Miles, our narrator, is describing the town and says "there wasn't anything out-and-out strange or remarkable to see", and that is essentially the theme of the book.

   Written in 1955, the book sometimes posits some uncomfortable notions, but all in all it is quite enjoyable, and maintains a sinister feeling. However, I do have a complaint and I do think it is warranted. WTH is up with the plethora of deus ex machina endings in aliens-invading-mother-earth science fiction? "It was germs done killed 'em" "Earth has water and other planets don't, ergo: water = alien poison." OR "they decided that it just wasn't worth it."


   I was half expecting the ending to be "un/fortunately, Miles and Becky's struggle was unsuccessful so I guess we are all aliens now, and you didn't even know it. You're an alien, your mom's an alien, your aunts and uncles? Aliens. You dog too, probably, if you have a dog. Although why would you, since you are an emotionless husk carrying a parasitic alien life-form which will perpetuate itself throughout the earth until there aren't any non-alien entities left for it to take over, at which point it will revert back to spores and move on to ravage other planets. Well! Have a good sleep." 

   Wouldn't that have been a better ending?? I certainly think so. I guess I've sort of given this story away, but really: it was published in 1955. You've had some time to read it. Also: Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a part of our cultural psyche. You already know the story, or at least the ingredients.