Tags: books, divorce, elizabeth kostova, frannie flagg, friday night lights, fried green tomatoes, harry potter, imagination, middle school, reading, sarah addison allen, stephen king
I used to love reading. My mother and father read aloud to my sister and I – I remember distinctly lying on the floor in my parents’ bedroom listening in horror as my father read the beginning chapters of Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire, my imagination following his every word, conjuring the image of an evil pet snake slithering on the floor next to the Dark Lord.
In the sixth grade when my parents separated I began my quest to check out the most books of any student from the school library (I was under the impression that should I accomplish this feat I might be rewarded with a certificate). I spent lunch hours on the grass in front of my classroom instead of joining the customary handball games on the playground. My teacher – probably tipped off by my mother about my middle class adolescent turmoil – called me inside. If you want to talk…
7th grade. A new school. Fresh divorce. New library.
I wrapped myself in Tamora Pierce. I wanted to live in Tortall. I wanted Kel, George, and Alana to be my friends. But they stayed in my head, as I knew they had to.
8th grade. During one of my frequent wanderings through Barnes and Noble, I spot nearly an entire bookcase ruled by one author. Nora Roberts. I’m drawn to her awesome proliferation. I prick my finger on that first book, inundate the local libraries with holds on every Roberts book they had or could have shipped to them.
9th grade. I perched on the concrete wall outside the school, engrossed in Stephen King’s IT, as my classmates and I waited for the bus to take us to retreat.
And then I went to college and characters were shelved for Headings, clinical analysis, required fact finding.
My love for scripted television was one I could nourish between classes or research papers. A hallmate got me a few books for my birthday, which I lumbered through dutifully – even with a little remembered pleasure for the pasttime.
But it wasn’t until I left college – 2 years early, no degree – and moored myself with no bearings in a summer where I was expected to map my Way Back to a future – that I started reading again. Really reading.
In a new town. No friends. No school. No job. No schedule. I spent my time in the local libraries under the guise of being productive. In the past I preferred Barnes and Noble’s current stock to a library’s outdated, limited shelves. I also had Birthday and Christmas gift cards to feed my desire to own books.
With no disposable income and no storage for clothing let alone books, I found my reacquaintance with libraries to be less jarring than I’d expected. I put popular books on hold (current position 40 of 175 for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest; 70 of 190 for The Hunger Games) and judged books by their covers – picking those off the shelves who were most successful at peacocking.
I also found my relationship with reading to have changed.
I used to escape into books. Now I use them to unknot my brain. Defragment. I sit in my car, recline my seat, and power through Sarah Addison Allen’s The Sugar Queen in one sitting. I’m draining my car battery – door open to keep the lights on – so I can finish the last chapter as the sunlight is whisked away with my afternoon.
But I feel good. Just what the chiropractor ordered. Brain massage.
And when I close the cover on the last words, I feel righted.
Note: recent books finished
Fried Green Tomatoes and the Whistle Stop Cafe by Frannie Flagg (f)
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen (f)
Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger (nf)
Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Donald b. Kraybill (nf)
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (f)
I’m a Believer by Jessica Adams (f)
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy (f)
The Profiler by Pat Brown (nf)
Tags: art, comic, dinosaur, humor, microsoft paint, pet, pet care
Click to enlarge.
YouSillyGoose Comics and Microsoft Paint.
Tags: believer, faith, god, karl marx, matrix, philosophy, poetry, religion, theology
I wasn’t raised in churches, my nose clasped between Gospels. In my rather atheist or at the very least agnostic britches, I still found a need to poke and prod religion and figure out what makes it tick. Why is it so polarizing? Why is it a staple to some regions, some families, and a distasteful hobby to others? Rather than concern myself with fucking it and forgetting it – finding my butt on a pew or mattress come Sunday morning – I wanted to know why Religion sticks in my craw.
Religion wasn’t one of the “parts included” when I was growing up. It wasn’t an accessory I sought to acquire until high school during the final course in a long line of religious requirements. More correctly, I began to wonder if religion was an accessory or a missing factory part.
In my customary slumped, unladylike posture I listened as the teacher marked up the blackboard with Karl Marx’s philosophy of religion.
The previous year I’d written a paper for Psychology class examining whether religion is a figment of our imaginations. I just did an extensive Yahoo search of my old email address and was distressed to find no remnants of that paper. As my memory is equivalent to that of a goldfish’s – 3 months – on a good day, I can’t remember what my exact conclusions were.
Philosophy of Religion was my way of peaking behind the curtain and unmasking Oz.
On the surface, Marx wrapped my answer with a giant velvet bow. The opium of the people. Flowers adorning our chains. Religion is an addiction, the magic smoke to the law-abiding layman. It’s the flowers that mask the chains weighing us down in worldly suffering. Suffering. That vertex upon which religion rests, sending us into the ranks of believers and suspect. Why is there suffering if God is so good? If God is good. We prioritize. We’re realistic.
Point A: Worldly Suffering exists. If A is true, then what is the point of life? Where’s the end? Why does it exist? To balance that equation, we have Point B: religion and all its trial, tribulation, and redemption. Since A is true then B must be true.
“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” (Voltaire)
If religion is the chute that activates when we’re born and begin our decent into life, what happens when that chute doesn’t activate for some of us? We’re left to find a different means of landing safely.
Despite seeing religion as a symptom rather than a solution for humanity’s suffering, Marx does not condemn religion.
“Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun. Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.”
He condemns religion’s proffer of supernatural fixes to suffering. Religion, as i see it, does not encourage its believers to accept or even see reality. Religion is a matrix, engrossing its believers in a fabricated reality where every action and thought is mediated by a supposed kingpin running a fairytale endgame.
I understand that religion holds societies together, sewed in the seams of our justice, morals, our DNA.
But I don’t understand why we can’t pluck the living flower and live morally.
What disillusions me is the church’s grasp on religion. I think we need to wrest faith away from the church; turn away from religion and embrace spirituality.
Unnamed Angel #1.
want motley lives:
though I’m but a Pearl Gate
pantryman, grant faith a stay of
-2010 BMC. Cinquian.
Tags: anabella sciorra, college, faith, god, mormonism, religion, the L word
What’s that you see? Yes, it’s a post. I have returned to teh internets. At least this corner of it. I figure that since I have suspended my classroom education for the year (or two for reasons that are still shelved in the back of my brain to be dealt with at a later date) that I no longer have boring, badly copied readings and bullshit (I mean that endearingly) english papers clamoring for my time. Without future ado..
I met SJ in college. We hit it off immediately. Both from the west coast, we were marooned in Philadelphia and its fast east coast ways and lackluster sunshine. Our mothers bonded while they moved us into our tiny freshmen rooms. Well, my room was a tiny double. SJ’s roommate was a Pakistani girl that for reasons unclear withdrew at the last moment leaving SJ with a double, already slightly larger than normal, to herself. My mother and I were on the floor of my new room, transforming it into the set from one of those commercials Bed Bath & Beyond runs during college move in season. “Yoohoo. Anyone in there? We don’t have a key,” wafted through my ground floor window. And thus I met SJ’s mother.
I immediately saw in SJ my salvation. The world feeds us the line that college is where it’s at. College is where you meet your best friends (true for my parents), where you live and reminisce about it for the rest of your life. I stepped foot in my assigned hallway, opened my assigned door, and checked my subconscious expectation for an assigned best friend.
Which is all to say, SJ and I connected on a plane I hadn’t quite experienced before. Politically, culturally we were borne of opposite threads. I grew up in a household that wasn’t religious. My parents aren’t atheist, but we didn’t go to church. I did go to bible study – of my own free will – because I found the exercises fun and it was run by my neighbor’s mother. My favorite book for a long time was the Children’s Bible because I loved the pictures (one on every page) and the stories. But none of this molded me into a religious person.
I went to a high school stuffed with big ideas and liberal veins. The majority of my friends fit this mold and those who didn’t were considered naive and given more than one impromptu sex education demonstration with a spoon and a fist over greasy pizza and chocolate milk cartons in the cafeteria. We were lucky to go to a high school that encouraged us to fight our teachers, to debate our peers. Occasionally we dug ourselves into holes, but by the time we graduated we had tasted blood. We flipped our tassels, tossed our caps, and began our hunt for some college meat to sink our considerable (or so we thought) canines into.
So I expected myself to be frustrated with SJ. To stalk her conservative values and take them down one peg at a time. I admit that at first this is how I approached our friendship. We’d watch The Music Man – in love with the world our favorite musicals presented us on screen for 3 hours. Marian, the librarian. But at lunch, I’d bring up Prop 8 and ask again what she believed and why.
I quickly abandoned the huntress and prey approach. I respected SJ’s ideals. I didn’t understand them, so I grilled her constantly about her religion and learned about it. I went to church with her, got a Book of Mormon, went to a bible study or two. Mormonism became my “Operation” game (a stand in for all general religious ideas). I poked my tweezers into its organs and mulled the result over.
I haven’t been convinced.
I’m still a spiritual person. I can Have Faith and Believe in the Universe to work things out, but “God” and His principles still stand to question.
I’ll leave my specific objections to Part 2. As I’ve been writing this post, I’ve been listening to the L Word in the background but now approaches the finale (with Anabella Sciorra) and I’d like to give it (and her) my full attention.
Also my nose is running – I shall vanquish ye head cold! – and it’s slowing down my WPM.
Tags: Bryn Mawr College, college, iPod, Kindle, Kindle DX, publishing, textbooks
Reprinted article I wrote that appeared in the Bryn Mawr College newspaper. It can be found online here.
The highly anticipated Amazon Kindle debuted in November 2007 and sold out in a matter of hours.
Amazon was hailed as a pioneer, paving the path for the e-book industry and leaving the Old Ways of print in the dust. Much as the iPod revolutionized the music industry, the Kindle heralded a new era for the publishing world.
This month Bryn Mawr College joined this new technological wave. A post on the tri-co library blog on Feb. 2 announced to the community, “Curious about the Kindle? Borrow one from Canaday!”
Berry Chamness, Head of Technical Services and coordinator for the tri-co libraries IT, and Melissa Kramer, Head of Bryn Mawr Library Access Services, worked together to get Bryn Mawr a Kindle.
“Melissa and I were talking about e-book readers — and this was actually over a year ago — and would there be any usefulness in libraries for us to possibly circulate an e-book reader of some sort,” said Chamness.
At the time, the Kindle was the best e-book reader on the market. Its competitors — such as Apple’s iPad and Barnes and Noble’s Nook — had not yet launched.
“We wanted to experiment with this and see what kind of use students might make of [the Kindle],” Chamness said.
He and Kramer hoped the Kindle might store course reserves, but found that there was no course that had a substantial amount of course readings available on the Kindle.
This might change as e-books become more popular and publishers tap into the market.
“What we ended up doing was saying, let’s just get some suggestions from students on what they might like to read on an e-book version,” Chamness said.
The post announcing the Kindle’s arrival also listed the several e-books loaded onto the device. These include Moby Dick, Great Expectations, The Mists of Avalon, and Evil Genius. To find a complete table of contents, search “e-book” in the tri-co library search bar. If a book is in the Kindle, it will show up in a search as an “e-book” and be listed as a Kindle edition.
Common anti-e-book reader sentiments include dislike for reading material on screens and a sentimental attachment to curling up on a chair and reading a physical book. Continue Reading Is the Kindle already extinct?…
Tags: humor, jamba juice, music, philadelphia, song, video
I am addicted to Jamba Juice.
Over the summer I house sat for my father and over the two weeks Original Citrus Squeezes served as entire meals twice a day. Jamba Juice is always within a 15 minute driving distance anywhere in the city (similar to Starbucks’ prevalence but less annoying).
I moved to Philadelphia for college two years ago and spiraled into a serious smoothie withdrawl. There is one cafe on campus that sells smoothies but they are pretty tragic. The nearest good smoothie shack is on Villianova’s campus, but I don’t have a car.
Che Faccia Tosta! I’ll let the song I made up on the way back from failing a calculus quiz tell you the rest:
and yes, I emailed this to them.
Tags: cartoon, comics, eclipse, edward cullen, humor, new moon, twilight, webcomic
click to enlarge.
with thanks to my A.D.D during lectures on probability.
Tags: ABC, Amanda Tapping, CBS, dollhouse, FOX, NBC, Sanctuary, scifi, syfy, television, torchwood, Wendys, YouTube
There are so many shows to watch. If we’re talking only new shows HitFlix posted a decent top 12 premiere watch list. And yes, all twelve are on my calendar scrawled over and under Mid-term and paper due dates. That thing nagging you to stop knowing me is my overpowering Geekdome. If we’re talking returning shows we’ve got a delicious platter for you this fall including Dollhouse, Dexter, Chuck, 30 Rock, Leverage, Sanctuary, and Legend of the Seeker (gotta get my Cheese fix somewhere).
I really have no life, but I’m okay with that because I love experiencing new stories through books and, well, TV. Perhaps I’m just fumbling to justify my television addiction (is watching Dollhouse every night any better than an addiction to America’s Next Top Model?) but there is a lot of well written, acted, and imagined tv out there. You just have to find it…and give it a chance (Fox/ABC/NBC/CBS-hint, hink, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, PUNCH). Continue Reading So you have a TV and it’s throwing the Fall 09 broadcast schedule at you. What should you watch?…
I love movies. I love TV (good TV).
Netflix’s birth brought joy into my life like a long awaited-wailing-newborn baby is the light of her mother and father’s eyes.
Then came Netflix’s Instant Watch.
A miracle, like I was five years old staring at the presents under Grandma’s tree. How did Santa know where I’d be?
At first the Instant Watch stocked rare documentaries and some long cast off TV series. Random flicks, foreign films, Law and Order (of course).
No worries. New movies appeared in the New on Instant Watch page every day. A deal with Starz, nickelodeon. Until we are here today, with full seasons of 30 Rock, Weeds, Leverage, and Dexter available and B movies you never had the time to check out but as long as it’s on the computer (practically for free) – hey why the dickens not?
(Practically) free movies and TV shows are great – DAMN expensive these days, up to $70 a pop for one season on DVD – but the most pleasure I get from Instant Watch is from the discoveries. Instant Watch is like walking through Blockbuster with an aimless desire to pick up a movie, only you can pick a movie and try it out for five minutes and put it back if it’s a bust. No late fees, no lines, no busted DVD players that can’t read your disc, no scratches (Huzzah!). There’s no pressure to watch the Big Hollywood Hits because you don’t want to waste money on a possibly interesting indie film.
Thank you Netflix. Thank you Instant Watch.
I’ve belly laughed off my computer chair onto the floor watching all seasons of Coupling. Caught the charming Season 1 of 30 Rock, became a huge fan of Dexter after spending a sick day at home watching the entirety of season 1, developed a lifelong obsession for Xena: Warrior Princess, worked my way through seasons 1-3 of Law and Order: Criminal Intent in order, and discovered a few fantastic indie films I’d never have heard of if it weren’t for you, Netflix.
This open love letter to Netlix is also a love letter to every movie I ever watched on Instant Watch.
Twelve and Holding.
Xena: Warrior Princess.
Dead Like Me.
Pheobe in Wonderland.
Those are just a few.
I’ve spent this summer with a $13/month 2 DVD at a time plan (unlimited Instant Watch). I was determined to make the best of the plan. Thanks to Feedflicks: my efforts amount to $1.25 a movie. (That’s a load of films to month ratio, and no life to summer ratio).
I shall also give a shout out to Redbox which spent the summer bleeding my dry (ever so slowly) one dollar at a time.
Tags: bouncy ball, Daily Urinal, DU, tamagatchi
Cleaning house on my computer and so i present Yet Another DU Article:
Will’s account of his needy Tamagatchi brings to mind an anecdote of my own.
Several years ago my sibling obtained a rubber bouncy ball. The toy was one of those sparkly affairs with a noise making mechanism embedded in the middle that activated when the ball hit a surface. At first, it was all fun and games – bouncing the toy off our heads and chucking it at each other’s butts. And then things changed. The ball made noises when it lay in a corner, untouched. Nothing could stop it. We tried exorcism, the Ghostbusters, and forcing it to listen to NPR. The dog refused to fetch it. We resorted to stuffing it inside a teddy bear, inside a blanket, inside a pillowcase, inside a shoebox and under a pile of clothes in the sibling’s room that had been there so long MapQuest listed it at its own address. Our peace did not last long, for within days it was at its antics again, blasting its alarm – through the clothes and shoebox and pillowcase and blanket and teddy bear – at an ungodly morning hour. My father was not pleased. He stormed into the sibling’s room, extracted the ball, marched to the end of our street, and catapulted the toy into the canyon.
Sometimes, if you listen closely at night, you can hear it screeching with the coyotes at the moon.