23 December 2015


i saw these prompts in an interview with an author in an email newsletter called "shelf awareness". they looked pretty good, so i thought i'd try them out myself.

on your nightstand now:
i don't have a nightstand and don't read in bed at home, so guess this would equate to what i am reading on my nook. you can see what i've completed in the list below. i have just started "night circus" and so far, it's bizarre and intriguing. i borrow my books from the library, and having to compete with other borrowers means what i want isn't always available. sometimes two or three books that i want come available at the same time, and i can only read one at a time which means the others can lapse before i get to them. unfortunately when a book lapses, it disappears and you have to search for it all over again. would be easier if lapsed books moved to the wish list and you could get in line to check them out again. (it's on my to-do list to email the library about this, so don't bother telling me to.)

favorite book when you were a child:
probably either "secret garden" or "a tree grows in brooklyn". i really enjoyed both of these books. when my eighth grade english teacher asked for suggestions for a book list, i suggested "secret garden". she said that was a ridiculous suggestion because it was a book for children, then the entire class laughed at me. at least, that's how i remember it.

your top five authors:
laurie r. king
kathy riechs
jk rowling
patrick rothsfuss

one or more of:
janet evanovich
alan bradley

i used to like john grisham and robert ludlum, but i got worn out on them.

book you've faked reading:
i don't recall ever having faked reading a book; however, i have certainly faked understanding a book -- :"old man and the sea", "moby dick", "heart of darkness", and "othello" all come immediately to mind.

book you're an evangelist for:
"andrew henry's meadow". andrew henry is an independent inventor who's parents aren't sure what to do with him. when he runs away from home, other children from the small town follow him into the woods where andrew henry builds a unique residence for each one. meanwhile, the parents are looking for their kiddos, and eventually, kids and parents are reunited, to much joy and dancing. when they get him home, andrew henry's parents provide him some space in the basement to do his inventing. the moral of this story is, to be understood by your family, your best bet is to run away.

also good: "we were tired of living in a house".

book you've bought for the cover:
"sister bernadette's barking dog: the quirky history and lost art of diagramming sentences" -- the diagrammed title, the subject, and the cute boston terrier all caught my eye. now, i cannot find the book anywhere. i probably gave it to goodwill, or maybe it fell behind the bookcase. either way, you can see how being intrigued by the cover panned out for really valuing the book itself...

book you hid from your parents:

book that changed your life:
as trite as it sounds, the bible. i read it on my own around age 9, got convicted, snuck into my brothers room and put back things i'd taken from him. i lived pretty scared for the next few years, until i discovered alcohol.

favorite line from a book:
i don't have one favourite line. i have like a million. however, here are two good ones:

"the day we fret about our future is the day we leave our childhood behind." ~~kvothe (the name of the wind, @patrickrothfuss)

"there is a mystery in silence that can never be matched by mere words." ~~@flavia_deluce (as chimney sweepers come to dust, alan bradley)

five books you'll never part with:
the bible (don't want to get struck by lightning now, do i??)
"pillars of the earth" - ken follett
"andrew henry's meadow" - doris burn
"harry potter and the sorcerer's stone" - jk rowling
"rhetoric" - plato

book you most want to read again for the first time:
"lord of the flies" - william golding

when i read this book, i was in junior high school. as i read the story, i identified with the boys and aged them up to my 13 or so years. at the end of the book when (SPOILER ALERT!) the ship's captain comes ashore and meets the boys, mr golding describes them as small boys. i think they were like 9 or something. it was a huge shock to me that the boys were so young, and i remember the incredible, palpable, nearly indescribable joy that accompanied that delicious shock. i was thrilled by what mr golding had done - that his words had enraptured me so completely onto the island with the boys that i'd lost sight of their extreme youth. for some people, an experience like that would light a fire to create the same thing, it would inspire them to write. for me, it inspired me to read.

best book about writing:
"elements of style" - strunk & white

09 December 2015

why are you hitting yourself?

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(New York, NY) December 7th, 2015, -- Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.
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Jeb Bush Verified account
Donald Trump is unhinged. His "policy" proposals are not serious.
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Hillary Clinton Verified account
This is reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive. @RealDonaldTrump, you don't get it. This makes us less safe. -H
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people, people, people.

here's the thing: donald trump says radical stuff because he is trying to maintain the spotlight. and? it's working.

some of the stuff trump says is offensive - even bigoted or misogynistic. he can be flippant and he can flip-flop. he's an impulsive hot-headed big mouth. a clown. a bully.

remember how everyone always told you to ignore the bully, ignore the class clown, ignore your little brother, and they'd go away? deny them the attention they so mightily crave, and they will go away and seek attention elsewhere.

and yet, the pundits postulize on his popularity. the opponents opine on his oppressiveness. or, something else equally as alliteratively explanatory. they are all barking on and on about how he is not worth the attention which is only increasing the attention. AHEM. IRONY ALERT.

trump is popular. why? well, people admire how he speaks his mind and verbally mows down his enemies. who hasn't had that situation where you're caught unprepared and miss a chance for the bon mot, only to have the perfect comeback come to you after you've stomped out of the room and slammed the door. "oh, i should have said..." who hasn't had that? trump, that's who.

his seeming immunity to attacks from press and political opponents is compelling. people want to be getting themselves some of that teflon mojo. in pursuit of the mojo, people try to get close to him. in trying to get close, they get as close as they can, which is to support him, to parrot his words, to become A Follower.

so people admire him and want to be close to him and want to be like him - or, BE him - so they do the best they can, which is, they join the group who support him. thing is, they aren't supporting him because they support his ideas. they are supporting HIM. they like HIM and want more of HIM. they really don't give a fuck what he believes, but damn if they won't bloody defend whatever nonsense he spews, defend it tooth and nail.

trumps supporters have taken support to new heights. they are true believers. being trump supporters isn't a thing they do, it's a thing they are.

aaaand, here comes jeb. and, here comes hillary. here they come saying trump is unhinged, his policies can't be taken seriously, he is reprehensible and prejudiced and divisive. "@RealDonaldTrump, you don't get it." meanwhile, all the talking heads and pundits say trump can never get the nomination. they say his popularity will fade, that this is a passing thing.

how does this work out for them? oh, let's see... here it is: trump gets even more popular.

why? because people don't care if he's right. they care if he's teflon mojo man and they really really really need him to keep on being teflon mojo man because they've tied up their identity in being teflon mojo man's followers. that's what it means to be a true believer - it's part of your identity.

so. what to do, what to do, what to do....

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Try to understand why your little brother behaves this way. You may think that it's just because he's impolite, never listens to you, and can't help sticking his nose into your life. That's not truth. The reason is that your brother wants your attention. Actually, all children behave like that, and your parents might understand it, but you don't.

Now you know what your brother wants from you, so let's proceed to the ways how you can deal with him. First, you can ignore your brother. Ignoring doesn't mean putting your hands over your ears and shouting “la-la-la”. Your negative reaction is also attention, well, kind of. That's why ignoring your brother means that you don't look, listen or respond whatever your brother does in your room. Soon he will be bored and leave you alone. However, till that time you may be really pissed off.

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the only way
he will go away
is if we look
the other way.

(yes, i have also contributed to the problem, but since, like, two people read this blog, i think the universe is safe.)

08 December 2015

the other night, we were watching hunger games on TBS.

commercial stations, movie channels, pay per view - they're all pulling hunger games out of the mothballs because of the final installment of the trilogy is out in theatres. personally, i have hunger games about memorised. i could use a refresher of catching fire and mockingjay part 1. why'nt they show those? you'll see that sort of thing a lot, really. for a while, it was harry potter chamber of secrets. they wore the fuck out of that reel of celluloid.

so anyway, there we were, partaking of a wee morsel of katniss and whatnot when all of the sudden, i am noticing the soundtrack. it's everywhere and vibrant and filling in the silent gaps and empty spaces which i would have mere seconds before sworn on my mothers ashes were silent and empty. it was truly an odd experience and i made him stop the movie so i could ask him what the hell??

at first i thought TBS had added the music but fairly quickly realised that that was not practicable. although it meant calling into question my powers of perception, it made much more sense, in an objective sense, to admit that i'd simply never noticed the music before.

back when the movie was new and i was i the theatre watching it, i was all entranced by books-come-to-life setting and plot and characters. when all that was new and held my attention, i didn't notice the music. why? well, obvs, i was busy noticing all that other stuff. durr. okay, really, why would i notice the setting and not the music? the plot and not the music? the characters and not the music? the costumes, the make up, the props.. and not the music?

why didn't i notice the music? here's my theory: there's no music in the books.

i'd read the books and i was looking for how they had interpreted all those things i'd read. did they get district 12 right? katniss and gale's interactions? pru's dress? the reaping bowl? haymitch's eccentricities? the train, the capitol, the parade, that scene where katniss (spoiler alert!) shoots an apple out of a pig's mouth, the costumes, the arena, the cornucopia, the tributes, the interactions and the challenges and the makeup and the blood... did they get it right? did they get it all right?

it was a case of having-read-the-book induced compulsive quality assurance. i was so busy with this QA responsibility - which the universe had cleverly chosen me to fulfill - that i had no time or mental capacity for anything that wasn't in the book.

that makes sense, right?

alternately, when in the theatre, the music presented itself as integral. or maybe, the movie presented the music as integral? either way, the music was integral. could have been a result of the movie theatre itself, the acoustics and sound system. or, opposite-wise, the whole effect is the result of our inadequate home sound system elevating the winkles and tinkles of the music out of proportion, making them more prominent, calling inappropriate attention to them. what the hell, home sound system? stop interfering with soundtrack integration!

probably it was some of this, some of that. some of the equipment in use, some of having seen the movie multiple times. having recovered from the shock of noticing an integral feature which i'd completely overlooked to this point, i am left wondering only one thing...

what else haven't i noticed in hunger games, and [drum roll] in life??

02 December 2015

leaping onion jesus rockets

well here we are again. watching the story of another mass shooting unfold.

at 11am pacific time today, three people attacked a holiday party in a conference room at a community center in san bernadino, california, leaving 17 wounded and 14 dead. now, eight hours later, we know little more about what happened than we did immediately after the occurrence.

has this mere trickle of new information put a damper on news reporting? oh, no no no. don't be silly. there are anchors and reporters and analysts all booked for the day, all hoping for the scoop, all eagerly anticipating a chance to give their opinion.

the coverage is constant and live and granular. every tiny tidbit of information is reported and examined and analyzed and re-reported and re-examined and re-analyzed and rinse and repeat until the next tiny tidbit drops into the center ring, to be spotlighted in the attention of the nation's most brilliant spin-masters, who begin immediately to speculate a structure around the tidbit, twirling it in the web of their worldview. they will all say they aren't sure, will admit the speculations are speculatory, will all use all the right vocabulary about hypothesis and supposition so as not to mislead us into false faith in their winding web, while simultaneously yearning for us to make that very leap.

press conferences (uh... pressers) are hyped like rocket launches, complete with anticipatory countdowns and live video of an empty podium waiting like a lonely manger for the wee baby jesus*, because pressers are where the Officials deliver Real True Facts and as good as the tidbits are, Real True Facts from Officials are many many orders of magnitude better. whereas the heads can twirl a worldview web from the tidbits, they can Claim Knowledge with the Real True Facts. worldviews are ephemeral. Knowledge Claims are power.

thing is, a major story such as the aforementioned act of violence is complex. simple stories aren't big news and complex stories are... uh... complex. you know -- large things made of many smaller, interconnected things? complex. the complexity which factors into the producers' deeming the story worthy of scrutiny, that very complexity naturally contributes in the story's unfolding slowly.

the coverage is constant, and the facts are sparse, thus the result: everyone says the same things, watches the same scraps of video, talks to the same eye witnesses and experts. over and over, tearing into this great onion of a story and coming back with a mere scrap and subjecting that scrap to thorough examination.

the extreme inspection of minutiae elevates the minutiae. the scarcity of fact de-elevates the fact. the worldview webs, being more prominent, distract from the Knowledge Claims.

in all the constant coverage, ironically, the story itself is lost.

*rocket and jesus in one sentence. boom.`