06 October 2009

A Right Scummer

I just got through (and it was a chore) Dixie Cash's Don't Make Me Choose Between You and My Shoes. Please don't judge me. I read it because the ladies in my book club were raving about this woman and told me I had to read something by her! Never one to disrespect my elders, I reluctantly checked out the flashy trashy paperback adorned with red satin sequined cowboy boots and every indication of 'chick lit' smattered across the pages.
For the first week of my posession of this rare jewel, I kept it hidden beneath a Christopher Buckley novel (would you believe). Usually Buckley's works make me feel a little ashamed of myself, but next to this little novel, Supreme Courtship (Political satire on the Supreme Court...not a romance novel) looked positively cerebral.
I did absolutely no background research on this author so I know nothing about this woman other than she is thoroughly Southern and seems pretty proud of it. I did enjoy that aspect of her writing to be fair. She caught the slightly trashy, slightly prissy, slightly Dolly Partonesque attributes of Southern culture. So I have to say I did chuckle a little over some of the mannerisms and idiomatic speech.
Miss Cash (a pseudonym...shocker!) tells her readers the story of two gutsy beauty shop owners who moonlight as detectives. Their partnership has been comically named The Domestic Equalizers, because in down home Salt Lick, Texas the only thing needing investigation is a cheatin' spouse. These ladies are invited up to New York to speak in a conference run by the National Association of Private Investigators. While there they meet up with a fellow Texan and cause all kinds of bootscootin' kneeslappin' pandemonium in the Big Apple. Also they solve a murder case while looking fabulous in an overpriced pair of Jimmy Choos! What a hoot!
That was a painful paragraph to write. Needless to say this sort of literature doesn't exactly float my boat, but some might find it passingly amusing. In my estimation Miss Cash reads entirely too many romance novels and female detective stories and unsucessfully combined the two. While slightly a little more sucessful with the detective part, the "bad guy" was entirely too predictable and there were no scenes of danger. The only time one of the characters even got close to the murderer himself, it was turned into over-the-topic comedic dialogue, and the conversation amazingly got around to shoes yet again.
Verdict: Pass! Two thumbs down!

Scripture of the Day: (Ephesians 5: 15-21)See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Reading Recommendation: I think we could all use something to wash that down with. So, I recommend Michael Jackson's Beer Companion. Not the late King of Pop, I actually was confused myself. This Michael Jackson is my current hero. The man travels all around the world tasting beer. At the risk of sounding sophomoric, that is freaking awesome! Anyway, this book will help people who make bad beer choices (which is like everyone who even considered: Bud Light; Keystone Light; Miller Light; Anything Light; PBR; Anything in a can, excluding Modelo; And that weak wannabe brew you are holding...yes you...put it down). There will be an upcoming blog on beer pretty soon. I think I will add that as a whole new section, but for now we will stick with this super long rabbit trail.

Quote of the Day: "Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches necessary comptencies that daily life requires and provieds; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become." ~C.S. Lewis

01 October 2009

In Media Res

So I realize that I have already laid out a mission statement for this blog, but I have changed my mind as to what direction I want to take this. I was laboring under the impression that I had to have just one blog doing one thing, but I have decided that I don't have to be hemmed in like this. No one puts baby in a corner!
I know it's a little odd to put a new mission statement after quite a few blogs that already hopefully convey what I am doing here, but I don't want to erase what I have already wrote. So, let's just pretend for a moment that my blog is one giant 'epic poem.' Usually an epic poem begins "In media res" (hence the title) which basically means, in the middle. It then goes into a series of flashbacks to explain the beginning. Think of this as one giant flashback.
Some of you may know that I spend some time volunteering at my library. Overall I've found it rather uplifting and fulfilling being around books and some very sweet ladies. As I was shelving in the young adults section (a rather wretched section by all literary standards) I came across a Darren Shan "Cirque de Freak" book that some unfortunate young person had checked out. I quickly glanced over my shoulder, as I usually do when I find those books returning to us. One of these days I just know the child who reads such trash will eventually come in with a handgun and shoot the whole place up. Happily for me, the young ignoramus was not there, and I merely put Mr. Shan back on the shelf with the rest of his putrid ilk and attempted to push them as far back as I could and turned one particularly sensational looking one backward so it would no longer attract the eye of a hapless misguided teenager.
As I performed this small duty to my community I began to think about the deplorably low amount of reading we do in this country. Earlier this year I remembered being very much heartened by a statement made by the National Endowment for the Arts saying that the amount of people age 18 and older who had read one book, article or poem in the last year, was on the rise. I later learned that though it has jumped from 46.7% in 2002 to 50.2% in 2008, the percentage is nowhere near the 56.9% it was in 1982. But then I thought, why on earth am I even yearning for that 56.9% of people 18 and older reading one book in a year. Why isn't it more than that? It's a whole year and all they had to read was a poem? It's a real travesty.
And then, once you get past that you have to deal with the type of literature they are reading. When the NEA did their survey in 2008, they did not differentiate between reading online and reading on the page. So a poem could be one of my myspace poems, and although that is good literature not every teenaged poet produces much in the way of quality. Then you have people like Stephanie Meyer and her "Twilight" series. I could go on for a while about her, and I believe I will in a different blog. All I will say for now is that if Stephan King is criticizing your writing skills, it's time to find a new job.
Thus, this blog was born. I believe that a nation is only as great as its people, and we need to step up our game. If we aren't doing such a basic thing as reading, what right do we have to be a world power? We cannot call ourselves civilized if we shun the sole exersice that broadens our minds and empowers us. We must take advantage of the opportunities we have in America and not let these vast resources of knowledge slip through our fingers! My mission is to spark interest in literature and to get America reading.

So I have, as of this moment, three blogs. If you are lucky enough to find my profile on homeschoolalumni.org you will be able to view my poetry blog. It's where I dump all my poetry good and bad, but I will no longer bore you with them on here. I also throw them intermittently in the "notes" on Facebook, but I don't count that as a blog.
This blog will purposefully be for book reviews and literature in history/news. I hope to make this one a more erudite discussion where I and my readers can interact with good literature and revel in the great conversation of the ages.
But where is your third blog, you may ask? Well, *shuffles feet and shifts eyes nervously* before I was good at anything web related and knew relatively little of social networking, I had a Myspace. I still have a Myspace partly because I have my 'everything' blog on there, and partly because I have a friend who adamantly refuses to switch over to Facebook. So, my third and final blog is my Myspace blog, into which is thrown the refuse of my intellectual blogs. As far as Myspace goes it's fairly classy so you can feel free to check it out.
And now I will copy my good friend Emily, and state that this blog you are currently finishing reading is (*crosses fingers*) the last time you will hear personal details form me unless they directly influence the book or the literature topic I am discussing.
Thanks for reading!

Running in Flip-Flops

Today I would like to do something a little different and talk about a children’s book , and how it pertains to the real world. This book is called, Love You Forever and it’s written by a man named Robert Munsch. I have to admit, it’s been quite a while since I read this book, and I actually had to do a quick search to even find the author. But recently some events in my life have made me think a lot about this book.
The book itself is a (perhaps syrupy) sweet story of a young boy growing up with his mother who rocks him to sleep every night singing the same refrain, “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m with you, my baby you’ll be.” We, the readers, get to see this charming bond between mother and son develop as the boy becomes a young man, and eventually the roles are reversed and the young man is rocking his frail and aged mother singing, “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m with you, my mommy you’ll be.” At the end of the book the young man is seen with his own daughter singing the song his mother used to sing to him.
Maria Shriver, who reportedly cannot read the book through without crying said, in an issue of O, The Oprah Magazine , “It says so much about the circle of life, youth, parenting, and our responsibility for our parents as we grow older.” Ms. Shriver does have a point. The scene where the young man is finally rocking his mother is rather touching, and the fact that he can pass on the legacy of his mother’s love to his own children is very heartwarming.
But, (we all knew there was a ‘but’ right?...the cranky critic just can’t be satisfied with sweet, can she?) there is a moment in the book where the young man’s mother crawls through his window at night to sing to him. I have to say for me this was slightly creepy, and looking back on the book it did add a certain tone to the book I was a little uncomfortable with, but it isn’t really that bad. Most will probably find it noble that the young man, instead of becoming frustrated with his mother for "smothering him," goes back to his mother in her old age and sings to her. I would like it if all the people who do end up reading this book look back on the love their own mothers showed them, and perhaps extend some love in return. Just don’t crawl through any windows or try to move back home, give the woman some space!
I did end up going to Robert Musnch’s website, and the very first thing I noticed about this book is that it began with the song in the book. He apparently wrote the song when he and his wife lost two children. After I heard that, I no longer minded about any of the overly sweet sentiments, and I no longer even cared about the mother crawling through the window. Sometimes if you think someone is doing something stupid, weird, or creepy, you should just ask them what their motives are. You end up becoming much more sympathetic.

Quote for the Day: "Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings" ~Heinrich Heine

Scripture of the Day: Psalm 119:30 "I have chosen the way of truth: Thy judgments have I laid before me."

Reading Suggestion: 2BR02B, It's pronounced, To Be Or Not To Be by Kurt Vonnegut. It's an amazing short story that I would eventually like to dedicate an entire blog post to, but I would like you all to read it first.