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Friday, May 30, 2008

Royalty Rules Challenge Wrap Up

The Challenge:
2-4 books about royalty (real or imaginary) Feb 1-April 30

Books Read:
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor

I enjoyed both of Frank Beddor's books.

I never did make it to my actual list. These were books I chose more for other challenges, but applied to this challenge nicely. I found I didn't have the patience for The Constant Princess.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bogged down in Email (and BTT)


I've just been sorting through my email. When I first started blogging, I wondered how to get the free books everyone kept talking about. Now I'm wondering how to find the time to respond to the offers I get, and manage to read the books I do actually request.

I not only sorted through my home email, but I also spent a good deal of time at work sorting through work emails. Does anyone else feel like sometimes email makes you almost less productive? Our phone and emails were down this morning for a few hours, and I was actually quite happy at the thought of not having to deal with it for a while.

On another happy note, I finally got my hands on Stardust, by Neil Gaiman. Finally. I'm almost finished. Oh yayness.

Booking Through Thursday

This week's question:

Suggested by: Thisisnotabookclub

What is reading, anyway? Novels, comics, graphic novels, manga, e-books, audiobooks — which of these is reading these days? Are they all reading? Only some of them? What are your personal qualifications for something to be “reading” — why? If something isn’t reading, why not? Does it matter? Does it impact your desire to sample a source if you find out a premise you liked the sound of is in a format you don’t consider to be reading? Share your personal definition of reading, and how you came to have that stance.

(Two weeks late for Reading is Fundamental week, but, well…)

Reading traditionally included novels, so let's set those aside for now. We can all agree that those are reading materials. Comics, graphic novels and manga involve written words, and they are in a format similar to a book. I would say that makes it reading. Exasperated moms who want their sons to put down their comics and read a real book aside.

E-books are reading, too, just a slightly different format.

Audiobooks are really the only ones that we can't technically read. However, I wouldn't differentiate between reading a book and listening to it on audiotape. Yes, they are both different experiences, but in essence, I'm absorbing the material that the author wrote. So are they exactly the same? No, but close enough. I really should read (I mean listen to) more audiobooks. I need something to keep me sane while driving home through rush hour!

Life is So Good

Author: George Dawson and Richard Glaubman
Rating: 5/5
Reason for Reading: In Their Shoes Reading Challenge

Cross-posted at In Their Shoes Blog

I won this book because of My Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge (Yay!). The cover and title don't make it sound like an exciting read, but in reality, this was a fascinating, sometimes gripping read. George Dawson, the grandson of slaves, lived to be 103. The reason he became well-known (and thus this book was written) is because at the age of 98, he made the decision to learn how to read, a skill that had been denied him as a poor black man in the early 1900's.

In this memoir, George writes about growing up in the segregated south. As a young child, he witnessed a lynching of a man he knew to be innocent. While trying to process the horrifying experience, he has an exchange with his father:

"I will never work for or talk to a white person again," I said with anger.... Papa swallowed hard and pulled up on the reins so that the wagon stopped. He turned towards me. "No. You will work for white folks. You will talk to them... Some of those white folks was mean and nasty. Some were just scared. It doesn't matter. You have no right to judge another human being. Don't you ever forget." My father had spoken. There was nothing to say. I didn't know it then, but his words set the direction my life would take even to this day.

George had a good many adventures during his life, from playing on the Negro Leagues to riding the rails all the way from Mexico to Canada and everywhere in between. He recounts his experiences during The Great Depression, the Civil Rights movement and other turning points of the past century.

I could outline all of the events of the book, and really it wouldn't capture what the book is exactly about. Yes, the book brings the reader through the dirty underside of racism, but that isn't what the book is about either. He experienced many of the things most of us only know from history books, and it included a great deal of hardship. I guess you could say that this book is an attempt to tell his story, and recount how he managed to maintain his dignity and optimism through all of it.

George Dawson is a truly remarkable man. After joining an Adult Education class, he stayed with it until he had earned a GED. He seems a bit incredulous that so many people are fascinated and inspired by him, but glad to talk to people and help them all the same. You'll be glad you read this book.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What? Another Challenge?

I have been trying hard not to get involved in more challenges than I can handle, but this one called my name. Literally. I heard it say "Kim, join this challenge!"

The challenge: Read 5 classics July 1-December 31. Recommend a 6th book that you think is a modern classic.

Okay, here's my list (completely subject to change based on my whim)

The Grapes of Wrath
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Animal Farm by George Orwell
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne

And my nominations for modern classics are:
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (okay just kidding)

And with no further ado, the Classics Meme:

1. My favorite classic is
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It just doesn't get any better.

2. The classic I had the toughest time finishing is
Wuthering Heights. Great Expectations took some extra effort, but Wuthering Heights was almost impossible. It's long, boring, and very unhappy.

3. I would recommend Animal Farm to someone who doesn't read a lot of classics or who doesn't generally like classics because its very engrossing, and even better, short.

4. To me, a classic book is a book that has been around for at least a couple of decades and is on recommended reading lists.

5. The type of relationship I have with classics is amenable. I like classics. I usually enjoy them. I always intend to read more of them and never get around to it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weekly Geeking

This week’s theme was suggested by Renay. She says, “I thought it would be cool to ask people to talk about other forms of story-telling.”

This week’s theme is once again one you could approach several ways. You might want to tell about the forms of storytelling (aside from books) you love. Maybe you enjoy TV shows, movies, music, narrative poetry, or Renay’s favorite, fanfiction. You could give us an overview of a type of storytelling, such as listing your favorite movies. Or you might pick a more specific story, one particular favorite. I just finished watching an episode of Lost, for example, so I could tell why I enjoy that series, or I could get more specific and focus on one character’s personal story. Some people might post youtubes of the songs whose stories they find brilliant, or some might share family bedtime stories.

I like movies. I watch a lot of movies these days, thanks to no cable, but plentiful netflix movies. Actually my sneaky reason for getting netflix at all was to watch Star Trek. From the time I watched The Next Generation with my mom as a child, I have been a Trekkie. I can't possibly afford to buy all of the seasons of all of the series, and even renting them from a movie store (supposing the movie store even has all of the title available) is also cost-prohibitive. But thanks to the beauty of netflix, my husband and I have watched the majority of the movies, the majority of The Original Series, and we are now on season 3 of The Next Generation.

Granted, our viewing has been interspersed with many other movies, but we do watch a lot of Trek. I'm not going to lie. The concept has its flaws. The humans in the series are so perfect at times, they seem completely unrealistic. Plotlines get recycled (and in the case of TOS, costumes, sets, and props as well). The science is fuzzy. But even time I get annoyed at weak story-telling, an episode comes along that makes me love the series all over again.

Turnabout Intruder, where Kirk is forced to switch bodies with a woman and experience the frailties that go along with it. The Trouble With Tribbles, that classic of camp, where tiny fuzzball creatures that are born pregnant, multiply like crazy, coo when petted and hiss when close to Klingons, expose a Klingon plot to carry out dastardly deeds. (Best line ever: Kirk: well, where are the tribbles, Mr. Scott? Scotty: Oh, I beamed them onto the Klingon ship, where they'll be no tribble at all.)

My favorite character on Next Generation was always Data, hands down. Data is an android, who like Pinocchio and the Tin Man before him, just wants to be human. I think some of the most powerful episodes are about his quest to be more human. His first real test was in Measure of a Man, when an ambitious scientist wants to declare Data property, and then experiment on Data in order to create more androids. Data, with Picard's impassioned assistance, wins the fight, but when he creates a daughter, Lal (The Offspring), the Federation scientists are back again, trying to take away Lal in order to study her. Data insists she is his child, and that he cannot give her up. The ending of that episode makes me cry every time I see it.

There are plenty of other wonderful subplots, delightful heroes, villians and assorted characters I deeply love in this series, but can't possibly mention in the interest of not writing an entire thesis at 12:30 in the morning. I like Star Trek because it is optimistic about the future and humanity's ability to overcome present-day troubles. It imagines that one day racism, classism, in fact the need to use money will be things of the past. I like it, because Star Trek is really examining present-day issues from a science fiction perspective. When Kirk encounters two aliens that hate each other so much they've been hunting each other for thousands of years, long after their respective species have died, because one is black on the left side, white on the right side, and the other has the opposite coloring, we are looking at the futility of hating others based on their skin color. When Riker falls in love with an androgynous alien who confesses that although her culture forbids it, she identifies as female and loves him back, what we are really exploring is the nature of gender, love, and those who deviate from the "norm".

Ahem. Let me get back to my normal every day NON-GEEK rants. And case you were wondering, no I haven't gone to a convention in Star Fleet regalia. Although I did dress up as a Vulcan one year for Halloween. Yeah I know I looked hott as a Vulcan. Thanks for saying so.

Monday, May 26, 2008

We Have a Winner!

It seems so long ago, but I started a blogging tips meme a few weeks ago where nine brave individuals dared to offer their best blogging tips. I offered up a $15 Amazon giftcard. The winner is Deslily! Congratulations!!

Here is everyone's advice, by the way:

Nymeth advises bloggers to make their website easy to navigate
Melody talked about a number of great services and widgets for your site.
Andilit reminds bloggers to be themselves when they write. Personal stories can be the best part of blogging!
Aaron offered some great advice about finding a good hosting service and responding to comments.
Mrs S.' tips included promoting your feed, encouraging comments, and reminds bloggers to spell-check!
Eva talked about the importance of visiting other blogs and leaving comments for newbie bloggers to get to know people.
Deslily gave great advice for those non-tech bloggers. Backup, backup, backup! And don't make things pop up when you mouse over a link
chris' tips included how to make your blog interesting, which means widgets and an interesting header.
trish had some great advice on when to post, what to post about, and how to keep up to date on comments.
natasha at maw books had pretty much the definitive guide to book blogging. I added at least three of the tips she recommended already.

Even though I've drawn a name, please feel free to add your advice. If you let me know that you posted blogging tips, I'll link your post here. Wow, I feel much wiser already from all of these great tips!


Author: Karen Harrington
Reason for Reading: Intriguing premise
Rating: 4/5

Jane was a loving mother of two, until one day she filled up the sink and drowns her toddler son. She is eventually found not guilty by reason of insanity, but when a prosecutor decides that her husband, Tom is partially to blame, Tom finds himself in a new legal battle he isn't sure he wants to even fight.

Since the disintegration of his family, Tom has just barely been keeping things together, and he wonders if he is partly responsible after all. His new attorney, Dave, has other ideas. He plans to explore Jane's heritage using a clairvoyant to show that Jane was genetically predisposed towards violence, and thus the tragedy was unpreventable. The clairvoyant, Mariah, has the ability to look into the past, and so along with Tom and Dave, they begin to explore Jane's heritage.

There are two distinct stories in this book. One is Tom's narrative, as he goes about trying to pick up the pieces and understand what happened. The other is the exploration of Jane's ancestors, told in first person by each ancestor. Both are compelling and well-written, but ultimately, they don't mesh together quite right. Having a clairvoyant enlighten us about Jane's ancestors is kind of gimmicky, and I had a hard time buying it as a legal defense. But at the same time, I loved the actual stories. Each person's voice was unique, and their stories wove together into a dark pattern.

After Mariah relates a traumatic story from Jane's childhood, I could buy into the idea that Jane's loose upbringing with a terribly irresponsible parent may have contributed to her mental illness. However, I couldn't follow the next logical leap that the bad decisions her ancestors made caused her to be genetically prone to violence. It seemed to take all responsibility from Jane.

Interestingly, considering the fact the book is about Jane, the one thing missing from this book is Jane's voice. Tom tries hard to understand his wife, but he realizes after the murder how little he had really understood her, and we never get to hear Jane's side of it. Tom is presented as an uninvolved husband, who loved his wife, but got caught up with his job and had begun to ignore her. Presented from Tom's perspective, he seems to realize what he did and is now extremely regretful, but I would have been interested to get even a glimpse of how Jane felt about it.

Despite the flaws, I was really drawn into this book by Harrington's writing. She has a grasp on how to give the multitude of characters a unique voice.

Jane's mother as a young woman on the prowl for a husband:
She runs a polished finger under the pink and gold choker necklace resting on her slender throat.

A woman can discern a man's level of compassion by reading his response to a story. For example, some article in a newspaper may be helpful.

"Has anyone heard anything in the news lately?" she asks.

"It's all bad," a man named Steve says. "All about the war." Steve is kind, but he is older. Maybe too old. Still, he is a possibility.

"All of it?" she asks. "Isn't there something at least close to home? Something in town?"

"They found a family that was so poor they were sharing one bar of soap," another man offers. His name is Cleveland, and he wears a patch on his shirt that says Cleve. She hasn't decided if she wants to be the wife of a patch-wearing worker. Could she imagine herself ironing over the letters C-L-E-V-E for the rest of her life?
Each ancestor is given the chance to appear to the reader at least slightly sympathetic, which is not an easy task to accomplish when they have all contributed something negative to the next generation. Harrington is obviously a talented writer. That said, had she delved into one of the stories or the other, I would have thought it an even stronger book.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Fedora and Whip Are Back!

I went to see the new Indiana Jones movie this weekend. I kept waiting for them to screw up the movie. Although it wouldn't seem to hard to break an award-winning formula (Harrison Ford+beautiful women+lots of action+humorous dialog in the midst of action sequences), plenty of directors who've gone back and touched a previous money-making movie have managed to screw things up (Matrix Trilogy? New Star Wars movies? Etc.)

Anyhow. On to my 10 second movie blurb. Harrison Ford looks a bit more haggard than he used to, but it doesn't stop him from kicking bad-guy butt, the enemy this time being the Russians. So he manages to keep his wits and wittiness about him as he (SPOILER ALERT) goes off on the hunt for a crystal skull, uncovers the mysteries of Area 51, survives a nuclear blast in a lead-lined refrigerator and meets up with an old flame.

So grab your whip and fedora and head to the movie theater. What are you afraid of, snakes?

The Watermelon King

Author: Daniel Wallace
Rating: 4/5
Reason for Reading: My Year of Reading Dangerously

The tradition of the Watermelon King in the small town of Ashland, Alabama goes back as far as anyone can remember. The town is world famous for their watermelons, and each year they have a festival where a man is crowned watermelon king for the year.

Thomas Rider comes to Ashland in search of his past. He knows the basics. He knows that his mother, Lucy Rider, came here many years ago, gave birth to him, and died. But what he really wants to know is the details. What happened when she came? What did she do to stir up so many people, and why does her name still resonate with so many people in Ashland?

The first half of this book is stories from different people in town as they tell Thomas about the town, about his mother and about what happened that summer many years ago when she arrived in Ashland. This was my favorite section, because of the way each narrator's voice added a different piece to the story that Thomas unravels about his past.

Anna, who became a good friend of Thomas' mother describes her life before meeting her:

"I met your mother when I was eighteen years old and working as a waitress at the Steak and Egg, every morning serving coffee to anyone who had fifty cents and a shirt and shoes on. Dark days, for me, before she came. I mean, there I was, a high school graduate, without much hope that things would ever change. I would always think about how many actual cups of coffee I'd poured, and I though, I can't count that high. And if I could have and actually arrived at the number, I thought I might have to kill myself. It would have been too depressing because it would have been the biggest number there was in my life up to then. I had probably served more cups of coffee than I had dollars in the bank. More cups of coffee than kisses from a man. More cups of coffee than times I had told my nephew to straighten up and fly right, or told Janet, my best friend from high school, to leave her own husband because he was just no good."

This section just sums up Anna's life at the time so neatly. She goes on in the same chapter to describe why she didn't think much about how many cups of coffee she'd served on account of the fact it might cause her to have to kill herself. She is, in short, ready for a change. When Lucy comes into town and befriends her, life does change dramatically.

Anna isn't the only one affected by Lucy. Each of the narrators, either with great ease, or great reluctance admit the effect that Lucy had on them when she came into town. Every man loved her, it seemed. The women... while they didn't all take as kindly to an outsider who riled up their men.

Piecing each story together, we learn more about Lucy's stay in town. This is the kind of story where small details come back to connect to each other. But the second half of the book, which is told from Thomas' point of view, didn't keep the momentum going. The book is deliberately told so that tall tales are mixed in with reality, but there were some plot devices that took too big a suspension of belief. As we head towards the conclusion of the book, I found myself more and more disengaged from it. That was too bad, because there is a lot to like in this southern-flavored read.

Other reviews:
Becca's review
Nymeth's review

Friday, May 23, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

This week's question, suggested by: Superfastreader: Books and films both tell stories, but what we want from a book can be different from what we want from a movie. Is this true for you? If so, what’s the difference between a book and a movie?

Interesting question. Books give the reader the chance to imagine certain things, to delve into dialog or a character's thoughts in the way a movie can't. It can also be much, much longer than a movie could ever be. Books have the luxury of giving us millions of details and backstories about characters.

Movies obviously can be very connected to books, but a skilled director has to know how to present the events and ideas of the book in a visual way. Actors have to often times portray the thoughts of the characters using facial expressions instead of internal dialog. And where a book like Lord of the Rings spends lengthy passages describing the scenery of Middle Earth, in the movie, it is simply there. We see it as the director interpreted it to look.

Have you ever seen a movie that was all about the mood and the music and the visual aspects that you could never imagine it to be adapted into or from a book? The first movie that comes to mind is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. (An awesome movie by the way). It is about a guy who is trying to erase his memory of his girlfriend. Partway through the erasure, he decides he doesn't want to give her up anymore. A big part of the movie is dreamlike sequences, and presented in book format, it would have been completely different.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Weekly Geeks #4

Weekly Geeks #4 theme: Choose a political or social issue that matters to you. Find several books addressing that issue; they don’t have to books you’ve read, just books you might like to read. Using images (of the book covers or whatever you feel illustrates your topic) present these books in your blog.

There are a lot of social issues that I feel passionate about, but the one I am picking (arbitrarily based on the books laying around at my house at the time of writing) is women's rights. Yes, I'm a feminist, but in all honesty, women in the United States have it pretty good when compared to women in many other countries in the world.

I got Inside the Kingdom for my birthday last year and I read it from start to finish in one sitting. This riveting book was written by Carmen bin Ladin (does that last name ring a bell?) Although she grew up in Europe and spent a lot of time in America, she fell in love with a Saudi Arabian man, who happened to be a brother of Osama bin Ladin. They got married in Saudi Arabia, where she then lived for a number of years.

Her story of what life is like to be a woman in Saudi Arabia is chilling. In Saudi Arabia, most freedoms that women enjoy around the world are non-existent. Women can't go outside without a full veil called an abaya, and not without a male escort. They may not speak to anyone else in public. Even when out, there is little that Saudi women are encouraged to do.

"There were no books. There were no theaters, no concerts, no cinemas. There was no reason to go out, and in any case we could not go out: I was not allowed to go for a walk, and legally could not drive."

Even indoors, women cannot socialize with any men aside from their husband or immediate male relatives. Women in Saudia Arabia are completely dependent on their male relatives. When Carmen was pregnant, she notes that:

"Longing for a boy was not just a whim... it is a question of basic survival. In the event of a husband's death, if his wife has only daughters, then the wife and girl children - even if they are adult - become dependent on the husband's closest male relative. He is their guardian, and must approve even basic decisions, such as travel, or education, or the choice of a husband."

When she tries to distract herself from the tedium of her life in Saudia Arabia by tackling a redecorating project at her house, Carmen encountered a host of problems:

"Shopping for furnishing was almost impossible: There were no shops.... Then, how to carpet the house? Because I could not be seen or spoken to by the male workers, I had to assume that they knew their craft and rely on (a male secretary) to direct the team."

After spending three days cloistered in another part of the house while the workers fail to install the carpet correctly several times, Carmen finally goes out to order them around directly. "They would not look at me. I told them to tear out the carpeting again. They would not listen to me. The Sudanese worker who was laying down more carpeting simply laid down some more. I repeated myself. I raised my voice. Finally he turned his head slightly, still not facing me. "I do not take orders from women," he growled."

I can't imagine living in a country where social norms are so such that workers fixing my own house with my own money would openly refuse to obey. My own personal encounters with sexism absolutely pale in comparison.

Carmen bin Ladin writes a personal story that is thought-provoking, sad at times, and yet optimistic. Undoubtedly, sharing her story about what life is like for women in Saudi Arabia was the ultimate act of rebellion for her. I can't recommend this one highly enough.

I have not read Waris Dirie's entire book yet, but I did read a section of it in Reader's Digest, and it piqued my interest (and indignation). Waris was born in Somalia, and at the age of five, was forced by her mother to undergo female genital mutilation. (Follow the link for details, but I warn you it isn't pretty). FGM is a practice common in certain parts of Africa. It is hard to imagine justification for a practice that at best leaves young girls mutilated for life, if they survive the "surgery" (often carried out with little more than a rusty knife). However, it is considered necessary in order for a woman to be eligible for marriage.

After Waris was offered in marriage to a 61-year-old man in exchange for 5 camels, she ran away from home. She found her way to London, where she became a model and later an advocate against FGM. She wrote this book to tell her story and educate people about the truth of this terrible practice. Gosh, I really need to go pick up this book now. I'm feeling the need for my daily dose of righteous indignation.

I'm sure there are a multitude of other great books on this topic, so I will ask you: do you know of other ones I should really read? Please recommend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Goose Girl

Author: Shannon Hale
Reason for reading: Once Upon a Time Challenge, YA Challenge, Mythopoeic Award Challenge
Rating: 4/5

Am I the only participant in the Once Upon a Time challenge who hasn't read this book? It sure seems that way at times. I also had never heard of the fairy tale of The Goose Girl.

Ani is the crown princess of Kildenree. As a child, she was taught by her wise aunt how to speak to birds. She grows up, trying and forever feeling like a failure as the heir to the throne. So when her mother tells her grimly one day that she is destined to marry the prince of neighboring Bayern in order to keep the peace, Ani is crushed. Determined, though, to do her best, she sets off on the long road through the forest. Things do not end up as expected and the princess must learn to rely on herself and learn how to live as a peasant before she can hope to be queen.

This book is a very spare retelling of the story, written without a lot of fluffy, flowery language. For me, that worked in favor of the book, because you felt as if the writer was giving you a story set in a place so real they didn't feel the need to over-elaborate. At the same time, the book didn't grab me the way some fairy tale retellings do, because it was a very simple story.

It took me a while to get into this book, but I really thought that the dangers that Ani faces feel real. Sometimes in fairy tales, the monster or witch really doesn't convince the reader that they are evil enough, but in this case the odds that Ani were fighting against seemed insurmountable. And despite the fact I pride myself on predicting the outcome of books and movies, there were a few twists and turns that took me unexpectedly. I'm glad I managed to slip in one more read for the Once Upon a Time challenge

Eva's review
Stephanie (The Written World)'s review
Melody's review
Deslily's review
Annie's review
Debi's review
Nymeth's review

(And if I missed you, send me a link and I'll add you on!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Movies, Movies and more Movies

I have seen a really good bunch of movies in the last few days, and I feel the need to share short blurbs about each.

If you like fantasy and can handle a movie with talking animals, go see Prince Caspian. Of course, it isn't as good as the book, because nothing ever is. Nor will the casting director who picked Ben Barnes to play Caspian win any awards, but there is some pretty compelling parts that make the whole thing worthwhile.

Atonement. I admit it, I'm a multi-tasker. I try to blog and watch movies at the same time. I tried at the beginning of this one, but I couldn't. I got completely hooked by the movie, and I could not look away. I normally hate when movies jump around chronologically, but somehow this movie pulled it off. It is about perception, about how what we see isn't always what we assume it is.

Dan in Real Life. Get this, Steve Carrell can act. Really. And be more than an idiotic doofus. This is a romantic comedy, with all the same dilemmas and predictability you'd expect, but it is surprisingly good. I didn't even completely realize that it was a romantic comedy until the end, because up until that point, it was just an enjoyable movie.

There. You've had my $.02 on the matter.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Happy Monday To You!

(Note to self: Repeat the title of the post. Again. And again. Until Monday seems happy).

Oh hello, hope your Monday is fabulous. Mine involved a severe lack of sleep from waking up sick around 3 in the morning. I was the only one in my department scheduled to be there today, so calling in sick was just not an option.

Instead I sat at the computer screen blearily trying to remember what I do again at my job.

The upside is now I am at home, catching up on everyone's posts from the weekend, and trying in vain to convince my puppy that he should listen to me when I'm trying to practice our puppy school homework.

The other upside is that tomorrow is Tuesday, making the following day Wednesday, and thankfully the day after that Thursday, only one day away from my favorite of the week, which is of course Friday. Friday means just a little bit closer to me and husband's vacation to Colorado, coming up at the end of June.

I booked tickets and a rental car, but I have no clue what we're actually going to do in Colorado. Anyone from the area? What do you recommend?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Following up last week’s question about reading writing/grammar guides, this week, we’re expanding the question….

Scenario: You’ve just bought some complicated gadget home . . . do you read the accompanying documentation? Or not?

Do you ever read manuals?
How-to books?
Self-help guides?
Anything at all?

I pretty much always at least skim the manuals that accompany my electronic devices because without them, I'd never be able to use the dang thing. Yeah I'm kind of weird like that.

So yes, I read manuals when needed.

I do not, however, read self-help books. I spent time studying real psychology in college, and I'm a bit snobby about pop psychology.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This and That


Come on my friends... you know you have a good blogging tip somewhere deep in your heart (or on the tip of your tongue maybe, depending on your personality) just waiting to be put to good use. You don't have to know anything about the technical side. Even if all you did was use a premade template for your blog, you can advise others the pros and cons of using a premade template. Or advise others to find a friend who knows how to do the technical stuff for you. At the very least, you can vent about things that you find annoying about other blogs or blog services.

Let others learn from your wisdom! Write a post about your blogging tips, and link back to me. I'm even offering an Amazon gift certificate! Does it get any better? I didn't think so.

Therefore, I'm tagging you. Yes... you! To complete the meme I started. Please donate a piece of your mind to the cause. Revive this meme from an early death! (Dangles carrot on a stick)


So there is this cool new thing I learned about called Book Blogs. It's kind of like Myspace where you can have a profile page and write on people's walls and friend other people, but cooler. Because this particular group is all book-related. And I just joined, so its really super-cool now, right? Right?? Guys??


I had what very well may have been the best idea of my life a few weeks ago. I am in love with Lord of the Rings, and for a very good reason. I had the books read to me by my father before I could even read, and they have fascinated me ever since. I've reread the books a few times, but my father lost track after 17 rereads. Don't take him on in a LOTR trivia game, because he knows how many stairs there were on the way to Shelob's Lair (and the name of the stairs which I can't recall right now). He can tell you the correct pronunciation of Cirith Ungol, and how many silmarils there were.

I herded my family (three siblings, a husband and a mother - it was much like herding cats) into a recording studio, and we each picked different passages from LOTR to record. A friend of mine put them together with music from the movie soundtracks and we presented it to my dad last weekend for his birthday.

I spent TWO WEEKS just dying to tell him about it, so this past weekend could not come fast enough! We finally got to give it to him, which we did by playing snippets of the recording for everyone at the birthday party.

And yes, he loved it. He wouldn't let us listen to the whole thing because he wanted to sit and savor each section first.

And yes, I am the world's best daughter. Why thank you for saying so.

Weekly Geeks #3: Favorite Childhood Book

Weekly Geeks asks us this week to reflect on favorite childhood reads.

You could approach this several ways. I’ll probably list my favorite childhood books with maybe a paragraph about each book: why I loved it, how old I was when I read it, where I got the book, etc. You could also just pick one childhood favorite and review it as you would any other book. Or, if you’re fast, you could make up a meme other weekly geeks might like to use. It’ll be interesting to see how everyone personalizes this theme. Don’t forget to come back and leave a link to the post in your comment once you’ve written your post. No wrap-up post this week; just the one childhood books post.

I was quite a bookworm as a youngster. I won't start listing books right now because

A. I have a terrible memory and
B. Too much thought involved

So I'm going to mention just one favorite childhood series. I read and reread The Chronicles of Narnia more times than I can even remember. I've noticed other bloggers reading or rereading this series right now, I've been comparing my memories of the books to their reviews (Becky has some posts here and here , Chris has a post here, and Dolce Bellezza has a post here) With the second movie coming out, I'm going to reflect on the first time I stepped through the wardrobe.

I don't remember the very first time I picked up the books, but I do remember that every time I reread them, I would sit and read one book, then find myself compelled to read all of them, greedily taking them all in. I tried reading them in both the 'chronological' order starting with The Magician's Nephew, where Narnia is created, and ending with The Last Battle, where Narnia is essentially destroyed and rebuilt. I also tried reading in the original publication order, where The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is first, and the creation and destruction of Narnia are read one right after the other. (I tended to prefer the original order. I'm weird about liking to read books in a particular order, in this case the order CS Lewis intended them to be in)

The Pevensie children were like old friends to me. I always thought it must be interesting to grow up and become adults, as the children did in Narnia, only to have the chance to become children again as they do in the first book. As they return to Narnia again and again, it seems that Narnia is more of a home to them than England ever was.

I think what draws people back to these books is the fact that yes, they are sort of allegorical, and yes they may introduce children to complicated theological subjects, but even better, they are just good adventure books, with engaging characters. The children are not always brave or good, nor do they understand everything perfectly all the time. They forget important things that Aslan tells them to remember, and they get tired and weary after sleeping outside for too long. The wonders and adventures they have are never the same in each book, and we rarely revisit the same area or idea more than once. I think because of the variety of each book, they have stayed fresh for as long as they have.

For me, there are certain scenes in the series that have simply stuck with me over time. Even after many rereadings, the scene where Aslan sacrifices himself for Edmund has the power to bring me to tears. Even though I know how the whole book is going to end. When I lost a good friend, this passage brought a lot of comfort to me, because when I read it, I knew that Susan and Lucy were feeling the same grief over Aslan that I was feeling over my friend.

And Aslan: no he's not tame, but he is good. In many ways, he is a minor character in the series because he tends to only show up to wrap things up after the children have pretty much resolved everything. Because of that, he retains a mysteriousness. What is it he does when his whereabouts are unknown? The Narnians often seem to forget about Aslan, or at least think he has forgotten them. Their unbelief comes to a head in the last book when an ape and a donkey try to impersonate Aslan, and for a short while, manage to succeed.

All this writing about the Chronicles of Narnia really makes me want to reread the books now so that I can write a better post. I've forgotten so many things since my last reading of the series that it isn't funny.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fables: Animal Farm

Author: Bill Willingham
Reason for Reading: Once Upon a Time Challenge
Rating: 3/5

In the second graphic novel of the Fables series, Snow White, deputy mayor of Fabletown, drags her estranged sister Rose Red along with her to an official trip to the farm where non-human fables live. Snow is hoping the trip will make the two closer. Little does she know what is awaiting them at the farm. First, they arrive to discover that the farm administrator has left, presumably overwhelmed by the job. Then one of the Three Little Pigs ends up with his head on a stake and the rest of his body missing.

This episode stars Goldilocks as a passionate revolutionary, with her trusty sidekicks, the Three Bears. I liked this episode overall, but the reason behind the animals' revolution confused me at some points. I kept thinking I knew what it was all about and then getting confused. However, it was fun to see the relationships between Snow and her sister, and Snow and Bigby Wolf develop. I'll definitely be reading more of these graphic novels.

Other reviews:

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Blogging Tips Meme

I posted the other day about some of my blogging tips, and commenters left even more advice. I am not technological, so take my advice as such:-) So, with no further ado, let me present my revised list of blogging tips:

1. Website Stats:

For Blogger users and Wordpress users who own their own domain, you can use Google Analytics, which gives you tons and tons of info on who visits your site, where they come from, what keywords bring people to your site, and how long people stay. Regular Wordpress users, I hear you already have a bunch of stats automatically (thanks Natasha and trish)

marg recommended Technorati to see who links to your post and Sitemeter to track visitors. I haven't used either of these yet, but they both look helpful.

2. Subscribe to your own blog and comments.

If you use a reader such as Google Reader, Bloglines or anything else, you already know that you can subscribe to people's blogs. Why not subscribe to your own blog? You'll be able to see what others see in their reader. For Blogger, you can subscribe to your comment feed by typing in

3. Don't be afraid to make changes to your layout!!

Go ahead and look for different templates and widgets. Just make a backup of your layout first! Then you don't have to worry about screwing it up. In Blogger, go to your layout, and make sure you click on Edit Html, then copy everything. Open up Notepad and paste the layout. I do that every time I make changes.

And lastly, if you are a non-tech-savvy person like me, don't be ashamed! Google has been my best friend as I learned how to blog.

Now I've shared a few tips here, but I know that out there in the great big blogging world, ya'll probably have tons more great advice. So I'm turning this into a meme. If you're tagged, just post your best blogging advice. It can be technical advice, you could share your favorite widgets, ideas on how to write a good post, ways to attract more people to your blog, how to keep your reading challenges organized... the list goes on. Even if you are completely new to blogging, I know there's a tip you can share.

When you write a post sharing your tip, leave a link to it via Mr. Linky and I'll enter you into a contest to win a $15 Amazon giftcard. I'll draw winners on May 25th.

So share your advice and you could win something!

I'm going to tag 10 bloggers, but feel free to tag as many or as few as you'd like.

The Story Siren
Maw Books
Gautami Tripathy
Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic
eva of A Striped Armchair

Friday, May 9, 2008

Blogging Tips from Bold. Blue. Adventure.

Some of you were curious how I discovered the keywords which I posted the other day. Here's my secret: Google Analytics. As far as I know, you can use it with any blog (or website for that matter). You insert a small html code on your site, and it tracks all sorts of things.
If you use Blogger, you can even use the same user name and password. I can see all sorts of things, like which internet browsers are being used to access my blog, locations of my visitors, whether visitors are coming back, and of course, keyword searches that brought up my blog. Creepy, huh?

I check Google Analytics every once in a while, and not surprisingly, my giveaway posts are the most popular. About half of you (49.87) use Internet Explorer, but a large number (46.88%) use Firefox. (And good for you! Firefox is WAY cooler). Most of you use Windows, but I've got a few Mac, Linux, and 1 Playstation 3 user. 2 minutes, 20 seconds is the average time spent on my blog (not bad, in my humble opinion).

Other cool widgets I've found are the Feedjit map which you'll see on the left hand side of the blog. It shows on a world map where visitors to Bold. Blue. Adventure. come from.

And it took me FOREVER, but I finally learned how to keep up with comments on my blog. If you use blogger, type in and you'll be able to see your comment feed. Then you just subscribe with Google Reader or Bloglines or whatever else you have and new comments will show up on your reader! If you are a wordpress or other service, jump in with your tips.

How about you? Do you have favorite widgets, good website stat trackers, or just general blogging tips? Leave me a comment and I'll add your advice to this post.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday's question this week:

Writing guides, grammar books, punctuation how-tos . . . do you read them? Not read them? How many writing books, grammar books, dictionaries–if any–do you have in your library?

I had a giant unabridged Webster's Thesaurus which I have lost track of. I used it occasionally, but I've grown dependent on google. I do, however, have several English-Spanish dictionaries and a book of "501 Spanish Verbs" with full conjugations. The later is practically falling apart from use. I also have a Spanish grammar book which I haven't picked up since I studied abroad in Spain, but it did save my life while I was there.

Otherwise, I generally rely on my instincts and spell-check when writing in English.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

So How Did You Find Bold. Blue. Adventure?

Here are a few of the keywords that have brought up good ole bold. blue. adventure.

A Lot of Blue
  • point of view in the bluest eye
  • blue in the bluest eye
  • bluest eye interesting character
  • bluest eyes-mrs. breedlove
  • book review cat with one blue eye
Book-Related Inquires
  • do you have to read american gods before anansi boys? - definitely not. If you are a obsessive like me and always have to read things in order, maybe. But if you are not obsessive, no problem.
  • comparison of fat charlie and spider - fat charlie is fat. spider has god abilities.
  • cat's eye "supposed to make me feel more powerful" - supposed to? If it hasn't worked yet, it probably ain't happening.
  • is great expectations an adventure novel? - not really. Too long, too slow.
  • dhl - grrr.
  • firefly what else to watch - nothing that I can recommend.
  • is firefly series good - ummm yes.
  • why firefly was so good - It kicked ass. That's all there is to it.
  • kim l - well that is my name.
  • any books that have statistics on negativity in the work place - hmmm... no statistics, stories only. But I don't like to talk shop on the old blog.
  • free blue paper blogger skins - must have been admiring my layout because they spent 2 1/2 minutes on my site. I don't deny my layout is pretty cool and yes I got it somewhere on the internet.
  • bold adventure or no - I say no regrets. If you want to have a bold adventure, go for it. Just don't have a blue one. Or I'm suing.
  • bold blue internet - I could be wrong but I think I may have typed this one myself to see if my blog popped up.
  • receptionist reception desk story - what an interesting idea for a story.
  • rhinoa's custom - rhinoa, any insight as to this one? Perhaps I've blogged about your customs before?
  • secret dalliance - ooh yes. I have them all the time. With books.
  • sneak snatch look - ???
  • telecharger bumptop, rethink your desktop - again ???
So what key words have brought up your blog? Let me know.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Interpreter of Maladies

Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Reason for Reading: Short Story Challenge
Rating: 4/5

This collection of short stories by Indian-American writer Jhumpa Lahiri are, on the surface, very simple. The characters are almost all Indian, and the setting is sometimes America, sometimes India. There isn't much suspense or drama in her stories. However, there is an understated power in the stories because Lahiri knows how to develop a relationship between characters in a minimum of words.

The stories range in theme, but all of them touch somewhat on cultural differences. The title story of the book is about Mr. Kapasi, an Indian man who works as a translator at at doctor's office and a tour guide on the weekends. As he talks with and observes an American family he is taking on a tour, his perspective changes on the job he considers menial. Another story is told from the perspective of a boy who watches his Indian babysitter's life slowly unravel from loneliness as she tries to adjust to her new life in America, far away from her family.

Several of the stories feature the complicated relationships between married couples. Traditionally, Indian marriages are arranged by the family, and Lahiri brings a reader with no understanding of that custom right into the thick of what it is like to be marry and be married to someone you didn't know well if at all before the wedding. Here in my favorite story, This Blessed House, we are introduced to the newlyweds Sanjeev and Twinkle.

"Guess what I found." Twinkle walked into the living room, lined from end to end with taped-up packing boxes, waving (a bottle of malt vinegar) in one hand and a white porcelain effigy of Christ, roughly the same size as the vinegar bottle, in the other.

Sanjeev looked up. He was kneeling on the floor, marking with ripped bits of a Post-it, patches on the baseboard that needed to be retouched with paint. "Throw it away."



"But I can cook something with the vinegar. It's brand new."

"You've never cooked anything with vinegar."

"I'll look something up. In one of those books we got for our wedding."...

"Check the expiration. And at the very least get rid of that idiotic statue."

"But it could be worth something. Who knows?... It's pretty."

"We're not Christians," Sanjeev said. Lately he had begun noticing the need to state the obvious to Twinkle. The day before he had to tell her that if she dragged her end of the bureau instead of lifting it the paraquet floor would scratch.

She shrugged. "No, we're not Christians. We're good little Hindus." She planted a kiss on top of Christ's head, then placed the statue on top of the fireplace mantel, which needed, Sanjeev observed, to be dusted.

I love that introduction because right away we can have an idea of the relationship between the fastidious Sanjeev and Twinkle. We can guess that Sanjeev isn't quite sure what to make of his free-spirited bride. They will argue further about the Christ figurine, but their fight won't even remotely be about the actual figurine. And chances are, they will have no clue why it's so important.

These stories move at a slower pace, perfect for a lazy afternoon. Aren't you glad the weather is getting nicer? (That is unless you are lucky enough to live where the weather is warm year round). Pull this one out while you enjoy your deck or hammock or lawnchair.

Here are some other reviews:

Ravenous Reader's review
Nymeth's review

Monday, May 5, 2008

6 Things You Didn't Know About Me

Andilit tagged me for this meme.
  1. Every job I've had in my life has been in the social services field save one, where I built props for the fall play at my college. I worked in several group homes, as a PCA, and though I'm in the HR field now, both HR jobs I've had have been for social service agencies.
  2. I'm the worst snob about what restaurants I eat at. I blame my husband, a confirmed foodie.
  3. My new favorite TV show is 30 Rock. My old favorite TV show was Heroes. But the TV show that holds a special place in my heart that will never be replaced is Star Trek.
  4. I really like writing forms. When I see a form that is confusing, my fingers itch to rewrite it. I will sit and draft and redraft a form all day.
  5. Ever since I studied abroad in Spain, where I had to watch my money like a hawk 24/7, I have become paranoid that someone will steal my purse. I won't bring my purse into the grocery store anymore, and if I'm at Target, pushing a cart, I won't set my purse down in the cart.
  6. When I was engaged to my husband, I was randomly at Joann Fabric one day and spotted a 90% off sale going on. I ended up buying about so many fake flowers, wreathes, pots and watering cans that my entire trunk, back seat and part of the front seat was full of flowers. I spent the summer before my wedding making the centerpieces and corsages for the wedding. My parents probably had the harder end of the bargain because they had to store all of those blooms and transport them for me.

In the vase is one of the bridesmaid's bouquets.

One of the centerpieces. We had green apples as our favor.

My brothers, modeling the corsages I made.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Weekly Geeks #2

I like this week's theme for weekly geeks although I'm cringing a little because it sounds like a lot of work. The idea is that when I post a review, if you have reviewed the same book on your blog, you can let me know and I'll add a link to your review on the post.

This is a cool idea, for a couple of reasons:
  1. Most of the book ideas I get come from other book bloggers.
  2. This is a great way to access many different points of view on the same book.
  3. It's a great way to get to know other bloggers.
Being a simplicist (is that a word?) I am in favor of starting this policy from now on, rather than trying to make it retroactive. So if you'd like me to link to a review of your's, please leave me a comment with a link to your review and I will add it in.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper

Author: Diablo Cody
Reason for Reading: In Their Shoes Reading Challenge

Also posted at In Their Shoes Blog

After reading this book, I feel the need to justify why I wanted to read it so much. If you'll recall, I blogged about reserving it at the library back in January. The book is about how Diablo Cody (the genius behind Juno) went from working a normal 9-5 job at a copy-ad agency to becoming a stripper. At the time she impulsively switched careers, she was living in Minnesota, my home state. So I knew the book was set in Minnesota, and of course I knew it was about stripping, but I was perhaps a bit naive about the sex industry, since my closest encounter with it is walking past an upscale strip joint on the way to a favorite Irish pub. So that's my excuse as to why I was reading a book about a stripper. Naivete.

I am naive no more. After she is finally burnt out with stripping, Diablo describes the stripping scene as:

"Hundreds of girls on the floor at some clubs, all reduced to begging dogs for an army of smug little emperors. The rules of attraction were reversed at a strip club. Girls that could halt midday traffic at Nicollet Mall were rejected by fat guys wearing Zubaz. Joe Punchcard with $20 could toy with several dancers over the course of an afternoon, finally selecting the one who'd receive the dubious privilege of entertaining him for three and a half minutes.... It's like a girl buffet."

Now granted, throughout most of the book Diablo finds stripping hard work but a definite thrill. She is drawn to an "Amateur Night" sign at a seedy dive and first gets a taste. Soon she finds herself working 2 nights a week at Schiek's (incidently the very same upscale strip joint that I walk past on the way to the pub) while still holding down her regular job. Eventually she quits her day job and gets into stripping full time, eventually working at the peep show in Sex World (another Minneapolis institution that I've driven past frequently).

So what is the book about? (besides stripping of course). It's a fish-out-of-water story. It's about the various people, some funny, some nice, some disgusting, that Diablo encountered while stripping. It's about what actually goes on behind the scenes at the strip clubs. It's about her journey from seeing stripping as her last chance to rebel against convention to finally burning out and leaving the business just as suddenly as she entered it. Diablo is a very funny, sarcastic writer.

"At a strip joint... a new girl might as well don veal underwear and dance the Watusi through a gauntlet of jackals. Most veteran strippers are punch-drunk on Haterade and they'd sooner dredge their Vuitton clutch in a cow pie before mustering a pixel of common courtesy toward their fellow woman."

Throughout the book, Diablo continues to try and explain what made her stick with stripping. The main things are the money and just getting a thrill out of doing something as un-normal as her life up to this point has been normal.

She doesn't romanticize stripping or shy away from showing what it is really like. This was just my take, but her descriptions of how the whole thing worked made me more sad than anything. As Diablo quickly learned, the line between strippers and prostitutes is thin at times. The best money is made by taking customers to private booths and simulating sex. While strippers can make a great deal of money in a night, they pay a large cut to the house. She describes meeting the owner of one of the stripjoints and realizing that the outlandish cuts she's been paying out have been lining his pocket much more than her own. Though she never uses the word exploitation in her book, it was clear from her book that it is the whole premise of a strip club.

Do I recommend this book? Yes and no. Definitely no if anything in my review made you squeamish, because I have not even come close to describing some of the most graphic parts of her book. Yes, if you like Diablo Cody's sense of humor in Juno and if the premise is appealing to you. For the second book review in a row, I can't possibly hope to rate this one accurately. I thought it was excellently written, but the subject matter got to me after a while. Despite that, I will say that I'm glad I read it.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Translator: Seamus Heaney
Rating: As if I could possible rate an ancient mythic poem that's like 1000 years old.
Reason for reading: My Year of Reading Dangerously, and I'm going to call this a mythic/folkloric fantasy, thus falling under the Once Upon a Time challenge.

Beowulf was not high on my list of books to read. Come on, there's a movie out now, what's the point, right? Well somewhere along the line (I can't remember where exactly) I saw the cover of this relatively recent translation, and it struck me. I couldn't even tell you what it was, but the cover art intrigued me. Something about the simplicity and starkness grabbed my attention.

As far as I can remember, I haven't read more than a short section of the poem once in a high school class, and so the idea of reading Beowulf just as pleasure reading without the intent to analyze and write a paper afterwards was a little foreign. I thought it was going to be awfully boring and hard to follow. As it turns out, I was completely wrong on all accounts.

The poem, in this translation anyhow, was very easy to follow. There is a lengthy introduction setting the scene and short sidenotes throughout the book to explain things (Beowulf tells of his ordeal in the sea. King Heremod remembered and contrasted with Beowulf. Beowulf and the boys get a little drunk on the mead and start a bragging contest. Beowulf and the boys start another bragging contest but Beowulf just killed a superhuman monster so yeah, he wins already. Etc.) At the end, there is a family tree, so the reader can keep Hrethric straight from Hrothmund and Heoroweard.

And as far as being boring, I shouldn't have worried. As long as I took the time to pay the story my full attention, I was quickly lost in the larger than life world of Beowulf.

Beowulf is described as

"formiddable in battle yet behaved with honour
and took no advantage; never cut down
a comrade who was drunk, kept his temper
and, warrior that he was, watched and controlled
his God-sent strength and his outstanding natural powers."

Beowulf, a Nordic warrior looking to make a name for himself, sets off across the sea to help the neighboring Danes with a nasty monster problem. At night the murderous creature, the "fiend out of hell", Grendel, comes out to play. Except Grendel's idea of fun, of course (being a monster and all) is eating people.

No warrior has been able to stop Grendel, but Beowulf boasts to the king of the Danes that he will not only kill Grendel, he will do it sans weapon. And so he does.

After a ferocious battle, Grendel runs off with a mortal wound. There's a big feast, but in the morning, everyone wakes up to discover that not only did Grendel have a mother, the mother is a monster too, and she is out to avenge Grendel's death. Sadly, one of the old King's dearest advisers was murdered in the night.

I love the advice that Beowulf gives at this point, because I think it pretty much sums up the whole Norse fatalistic attitude towards life.

"Wise sir, do not grieve. It is always better
to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning.
For every one of us, living in this world
means waiting for our end. Let whoever can
win glory before death."

Beowulf fights Grendel's mother in an underwater battle, and wins by stealing a giant's sword from her lair and killing her with it. He leaves with the Danish king's everlasting gratitude and returns to his homeland. Eventually, he becomes king and rules for a long time, keeping the peace because everyone else is afraid of taking him on in battle.

After ruling for 50 years, Beowulf is faced with a final supernatural monster to fight. This time, he must fight a dragon, and though he kills the dragon, he loses his life as well, going out in battle like a warrior.

I can't believe it took me this long to read this poem! Beowulf is the archetype for the so-strong, so-confident-he-doesn't-even-have-to-bother-bragging-but-brags-anyway type of hero. To read this book is to understand where the whole idea of the ultimate warrior-hero came from. As I read the book, there were many passages that in the back of my head were bringing to mind other books or movies, like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, and other characters that are practically mythological, like Batman.

I loved the way that the poem gave very little description of the monsters, and the battle scenes are surprisingly brief compared to the length of the sections where everyone feasts, retells stories of kings past and boast about their various exploits. So for those parts, the reader can imagine the scene however they wish. I'm still debating whether or not to watch the recent movie version, because it will probably ruin whatever I had imagined before.

So in closing, let me leave you with this thought about Beowulf. It's mythological. It's epic. It's legendary. And it can be read without the need to write an entire paper afterwards.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Good Day Is...

...coming home after a long sucky day at work and your puppy curling up on your lap.

...watching a really good movie. like Waitress.

...realizing that that classic of epic poetry, Beowulf, is just plain good reading.

...going to bed early (which is what I'm going to do as soon as I post this).

Booking Through Thursday

Quick! It’s an emergency! You just got an urgent call about a family emergency and had to rush to the airport with barely time to grab your wallet and your passport. But now, you’re stuck at the airport with nothing to read. What do you do??

And, no, you did NOT have time to grab your bookbag, or the book next to your bed. You were . . . grocery shopping when you got the call and have nothing with you but your wallet and your passport (which you fortuitously brought with you in case they asked for ID in the ethnic food aisle). This is hypothetical, remember….

Well if I'm going to be stuck at the airport for a while and presuming I have enough money, I'd buy some random book from an airport shop. I once was stuck at an airport in Cancun for 8 hours. I read Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood during the wait.

But okay I think the point of the question is what would I do besides read. Well crosswords maybe, although I have trouble finding ones that aren't so easy that they bore me and aren't so hard that I can't even get started.

I've been known to curl up and sleep, or just people watch if all reading is taken from me. Usually I don't have enough brain power to do any writing, but maybe some journaling if it came down to it.

Other ways to pass the time include taking those moving walkways as far as they'll go, exploring the nooks and crannies of the airport (Did you know that the Amsterdam airport has a museum in it?), and perusing the assorted trinkets at the duty-free shops.