Second Look


2007 hollister motorcycle rally 5
Originally uploaded by 1115

I’d like to think that after all this time, my list of “Things I Should Know By Now” would be much shorter, but it isn’t. Worst of all, I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, so to speak, but I do. I admit it. My earliest memory of making judgements was when Dear Old Dad (a furry, well-inked Harley owner) took me to meet some of his friends (also furry, well-inked Harley owners). These were scary-looking men! Being a child, I was shy until the biggest and scariest of them all pulled two suckers out of the pocket of his leather vest. One for him, one for me. I sat on daddy’s bike* with my new sucker and listened to them all talk. Somehow, there weren’t scary anymore. Despite the facial hair and leather galore, I can still say these people were some of the most decent souls I’ve ever come across. The point is that I should have known better; even teddy bears have to act tough sometimes.

 My most recent lesson in thinking twice was based upon a recommendation from a close friend. I was told to read Firefly by Piers Anthony. I read a ways into it and was appalled by what I read, but I have to get my own words out before I read the reviews of others. This probably won’t end up being laid out as well as I wish it to be, so please be patient, dear reader.

When I began reading Firefly, it didn’t take long for me to pick up on the fact that it is best labeled as a rather explicit sci-fi novel. As I read on, it became more and more vulgar, leading me to question why this was on a High School Library’s shelves, but To Kill a Mockingbird was once banned. I was disgusted with the content, the plot and the author. All I could tell myself was this is trash! I feel that you don’t get the volume of this, so I’ll be perfectly blunt. Firefly depicts detailed scenes of rape, sodomy, and the molestation of a five-year-old. Re-read that sentence. Let it sink in.  Now… WHY would anyone write about this? I was thinking the same thing for a long time, and it took me a long time to find an answer. Here is why, ladies and gentlemen: because it happens.

 I’m not trying to defend Piers Anthony on any level, but I do have a better understanding of the book and the world. This is the most effective way to speak out against sexual crimes, and this is why it remains on shelves. People read about Little Nymph and Maddock and want to scream, vomit, burn the book, burn the author . . . which is exactly the kind of reaction I’d want, were I wishing to get a message out. I’m sure Anthony gets hundreds of letters every day saying “this is terrible!” and I’m sure he sends responses of “Yes, it is terrible, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you like to stop  such things from happening?” I haven’t decided if Anthony has my respect for that, yet.

 I’ve done my fair share of research on it since, and word on the ‘Net is that Firefly is not only hard to find, but hard to stomach. Comments have ranged from “Never have I ever seen such blatant abuse of the exclamation point in all my years of reading. . . did not enjoy this book and since I believe in finishing what I start, upon completion of this travesty, I promptly tossed it in the garbage. . . I found that the tone was much too sympathetic towards pedophiles. ” to “Those people who gave this book a bad review missed the entire point of the novel. He is bringing into light a topic that often gets swept under the rug even today. I am glad that we live in a country where we can write about whatever we choose to write about.’

 Books aren’t evil. I should have known this! It isn’t a bad book, it is just misinterpreted and inappropriate for some readers. Yes, I am thankful that it is on the shelves because Anthony’s book has taken away my reason for ignoring parts of life that aren’t pretty.

Let me say this again: This is NOT a book for children or those with a closed mind. It is like no book I’ve ever read, and I don’t think I ever want to again. I haven’t finished this book and I don’t think I will.

 

*NOTE: I did not have a normal childhood.

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Published in: on February 9, 2008 at 9:34 am  Comments (1)  

The Storm Has Passed!


Sailors’ Memoreis [HDR]
Originally uploaded by Hussain Shah (Kuwaiti Muwali)


It is much too soon to pause and reflect upon today, and what lies ahead for NovelDame. I will tell you this: I will continue. After all, there is so much left unsaid! So many books unread!

But in light of the technology fair, I would like to thank Seagate for my new 5.0 gig flash drive (expect more art! more videos! more additions!) as well as my dear readers (I have aquired readers!) for introducing themselves and singing songs of support and the new readers that discovered me today. The greatest gift I received was to see my work admired. A special thank you to those who approached me with requests for meetings, conferences and other such matters, I can’t wait to get started. As always, a big thank you to my wonderful fairy godmothers for willingly playing the roles of cheerleaders, mentors, messengers, mothers, collaborators and saviors when necessary.

This is another stepping stone in the road that I am traveling as NovelDame.  What an amazing experience! I’m off to go brainstorm what to do next! Any suggestions? Maybe I’ll ponder doing some podcasts…

Published in: on February 2, 2008 at 3:25 pm  Comments (3)  

“Honest to blog?”

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This has definitely been a writer’s block type of week, so I’m going to be perfectly honest with you, dear readers; I have been avoiding this blog by reading other people’s blogs, and I’m going to blog about what I’ve found. That is as simple as it gets.

I began with the blogs of the students that contribute to Students20h.org and was delighted with what I found.

  • Lindsea K is all about Love and Logic, and posts art, videos, poetry and pictures whenever she gets the whim. Her blogs are fun to read because she holds nothing back and has a quiet honestly to them (I say quiet because she doesn’t seem like the kind of person to shout her truths from the rooftops) and I admit, I immediately subscribed.
  •  Two Penguins and a Typewriter also caught my attention. Anthony Chivetta is very realistic about whatever he writes and has the amazing gift of pointing out the obvious without talking down to anything at all. Most of all, he writes about what he knows. The archives show that he’s obviously a computer geek (I would be, too, if I had enough patience), but he’s a geek who can explain anything to anyone.
  • Partytime is another new favorite from Nicole in Korea. I instantly fell in love with her blog because she’s already vocalized so many of the worries that I’ve been having. She has the kind of blog that starts conversations. If I ever met her, I think she’d be my new best friend. Maybe its a silly thing, but I love the feeling of finding someone who shares the same feelings I do! She has such a passion (oh, the irony… read her latest blog.) for art and people. This girl has hopes of finding something more out in the world, and I hope the world doesn’t let her down.
  • Sean, The Bass Player, struck me as the kind of guy who would order hot chocolate from starbucks and just sit and chat. He has an opinion about everything, but he’s not closed-minded. He’s going to be a fun one to follow.
  • The Cloudy Dreamer has to be mentioned as well because she is so hilarious! My favorite post is, without question, her 2008 Resolutions. I laughed until I cried, then I finished the other half of the list. Reading her tagcloud alone says volumes.

These are some of the people that control our future, and this is rather comforting. I also had a few recommendations from one of my Fairy Godmothers, and Wandering Ink is at the top of that list. There is no easy way to explain the blog, so read it yourself. You could spend hours there. 2 Cents Worth, by David Warlick, is one of those blogs that will come in handy. I’ve only read a dozen posts so far, but I’ve already had three or four lightbulbs turn on.

In other news, this week’s goal is to get at least one video posted, get an archives page for all the quotes I use, as well as a page for my art, and another that “Documents my world” (I’m still trying to figure out what that means). I praise the Glorious Chaos.

Oh, and any suggestions for a new title? “…and Curiosity” just isnt working anymore. Any questions you’d like to see in the new interview videos I’m working on? 

1. Blog Title from Juno.
2. Photo by photbutt83 on Photobucket

Published in: on January 21, 2008 at 7:49 pm  Comments (1)  

A Mile a Minute on Pause

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Do you ever just forget? I do. Sometimes I get so involved in absolutely nothing that I forget everything else. Somehow, I have made a habit of registering for odd sites and never returning. It isn’t until i check my Spam Email that it occurs to me while looking at all the addresses that Hey, thats where all your time goes!

In fact, I ran across one of the most brilliant websites that is not so very well-known.

bookcrossing.com

I adore this site for many reasons: it promotes the sharing of well-loved books between complete strangers. You never know if the book you left on the bus stop bench will touch someone’s life, but its nice to think that it will. I love the idea of doing good and never seeing the results. Not to mention that it is a productive method of cleaning out book shelves! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve went through and thought to myself, I love this book too much to trash it, but I’ll never read it again!  This is a wonderful solution. My only problem is Where to release them?? answer: everywhere!

And after playing around on the website for a bit, I learned that BookCrossing is now open to schools! This is exciting because I can’t stop imagining all the possibilities! This promotes literacy in a fun way. It encourages reading, journaling and participation. There are so many ways to promote this program in the classroom that I’m surprised it hasn’t been picked up yet! It is applicable to Geography classes, Computer Tech and (obviously) English classes, it could launch a new program for libraries, or promote communication between schools, oh . . . I’ll get off my soapbox now.

I’m amazed at how easily inspired I am. Either way, I’m releasing (many) books tomorrow. Happy reading!

Published in: on January 12, 2008 at 1:17 pm  Comments (3)  

Happy New Year!

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So far, 2008 is off to a start. Whether a bad one or a good one, it is not yet known. My biggest New Year’s Resolution is to actually read all the books on my “To Read” shelf (previously known as the stack on my nightstand) from cover to cover. There isn’t any particular order I hope to go in, I just wish to get it done.

I’m having a lot of trouble mustering enough ambition to finish The DaVinci Code. It is well written, and incorporates a lot of interesting concepts and points in history, but I was more impressed with one of his other books, The Eternity Code (despite the sappy parts). Perhaps thats because I’ve been turned on to the more interesting properties of math recently, and the ways in which he explained various codes and their histories is more appealing to me now than a refresher course on DaVinci’s secret life.
Apparently he has another book in the works, and I’m curious as to what path he’s going to take with that one: mathematical or historical. Either way, the guy knows his stuff. I wouldn’t mind sitting in on a lecture sometime. One of the biggest complaints I’ve read concerning  The DaVinci Code is that he ignores certain historical points in order to make the theories accurate. I don’t think this is a big deal, to be honest. Dan Brown wrote a fictional book. It’s a good story, and that’s all.

I’m glad to see that comments are picking up: You know I love hearing from all of you. In any case, I’m always up for a few good recommendations, and the goal is to be through that shelf before I graduate. Wish me luck, and Happy New Year, book fiends!

* EDIT – 9:18 pm

I finished it, and I was unimpressed. Cute ending, I admit, but I dont want to be using “cute” in the future to describe another mystery/suspense novel. Dan Brown had great intention but there were far too many “iffy” parts to validate a flawless delivery. Would I recommend this book? Only to select people, and not because of the religious aspect. The DaVinci Code isn’t for everyone. Maybe the problem is that this particular book doesnt appeal to my generation. It was good, but not great. May I remind you that I already warned readers of my bias…

Published in: on January 1, 2008 at 8:37 pm  Comments (4)  

Let It Snow…

Cabin in the snowy woods

Once in a while something is so odd that you stop whatever you are doing and ponder that one thing until it makes some sort of sense to you – then you promptly forget it. This week has been one of those situations. After spending Christmas eve with friends of the family and aiding in decorating their tree (as is their tradition), I spent Christmas day with the larger part of my own family. It was by request that the whole family – Aunts, uncles, Cousins, Grand-kids, etc. – be present so dearest Grandma and Papa could get family pictures taken this year. The tree was overflowing, extra tables and chairs had to be pulled out for Christmas dinner, and all were merry.
While waiting for the family chefs to get dinner set up, I was to be found nestled in the corner of the couch with a blanket and a book. This is not unusual. yet only 30 pages into the new book, I looked up and was met with a strange picture. There, in the living room with me, were two of my cousins, each with book in hand. This still makes me smile, friends, because it was that moment when I figured out why no one was hassling me for bringing another book to a family dinner this year. This runs in the family*!

As for the book I was reading during the Family Christmas intermission, it was Digital Fortress by Dan Brown. It’s really an odd book. I neither love it nor loathe it, but its the kind of book that you talk at when another twist comes along. I praise Dan Brown for his writing style, because he has a way of making complicated ideas sound very simple, and there are quite a few ideas in this novel that were hard to wrap my head around. yet At the same time, I noticed is that the chapters aren’t that short in the beginning, but get progressively shorter as things go on and found the page-long chapters to be a wee bit annoying. I also found some of Brown’s action scenes to be more appropriate for an Indiana Jones movie than a book. Those scenes are enthralling as text. My family found it delightful to watch me read this book because my face was, apparently, quite expressive. I was talking to characters more than I was the people in the room. Overall, I liked it, but there’s no chance that I’ll re-read it.
I will continue my Dan Brown saga, because I just picked up The Da Vinci Code (YES I did read Angels and Demons). I’ve seen the specials on MSNBC, The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, and FOX news. I know what I’m getting into, yet part of me still thinks I owe it to “the public” to actually pick up the book before I shoot it down. I’m not one of those people who normally starts a novel while there is still so much hype about it, but its a convenient read (I’m all BUT snowed-in right now). We’ll see how well this goes; I’m not getting my hopes up.

In other news, I finished Tithe about three days ago, and its nothing to shout about. Cute fantasy novel, if you’re into that fairy thing. I don’t think I’ll pick up the second one, sadly. Usually I love fantasy novels, but this one didn’t quite ignite that spark in me.

*The fact that, through an odd family system, I am of no blood relation to these two cousins is of no consequence.

Published in: on December 27, 2007 at 7:10 pm  Comments (1)  

Oh, baby!

sticky notes

With teens being subject to peer pressure more than ever in this era of technology, its becoming increasingly hard for authority figures to keep up with the times. How can the media expect parents to censor the messages kids receive when its the media that makes young adults the target audience in the first place? This is tough for even me to understand.

     The lines between “right” and “wrong” have always been subject to interpretation, and any lawyer will most likely answer any legal question with “it depends,” because, when you think about it, it really does. We as a culture ask a lot of our educators and parents. They must follow the guidelines of “to each his own” but have to be all-inclusive. To be quite honest, being a teen is even crazier! Between the 2008 election campaigns being aimed at the young voter population, latest Teen ‘Zine on the stands and the tabloids chasing after the hottest gossip, teens are being told what to think instead of how. Do we not have enough faith in the future to let them try? Do we not think we “raised them right”?

     I was saddened this afternoon to read that Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant. She’s younger than I am, folks. She clearly didn’t plan on it, seeing as how she’s the star of Nickelodeon’s Zoe 101. I feel for this kid, I really do, and I don’t use “kid” in a condescending way. She really is just a kid, no matter how mature. Will she have to give up her career? If not, what kind of message does this send to all the young girls who watch her every day? I babysit three sisters once a week, ages 3-9, and I don’t want to have to be the one to tell them that dear Zoe is going to be a mommy. Does this make Spears a bad person? absolutely not. Heaven knows the poor girl has had it hard enough, and only her older sister Britney to look up to.

     For a lot of people, this news will bring up the age old argument of Roe vs. Wade, or abortion. If you’re an avid reader, then you already know that it becomes quite easy for writers to drop their own personal opinions into their novels without even realizing it. If you’re an avid reader, then you already know that pregnancy and abortion is a reoccurring theme in young adult novels. If not, here’s the long and the short of it; Crank presents the story of a crack addict who discovers she’s pregnant near the end of the book, after having been raped by a dealer. She keeps the baby and stays clean until its born. After that… your guess is as good as mine.
Meanwhile, The Perks of Being a Wallflower only features a snippet of the ordeal. Charlie writes about a confession made to him stating his sister is pregnant and got dumped when she told the boy. She decides to have an abortion, and Charlie has to drive her there. It takes an emotional toll on them both.
Hanging onto Maxput a twist on the should-I-or-shouldn’t-I, since the child is kept and raised by the father, who continues to attend school. My Darling My Hamburger isn’t well known, but is recommended. Abortion as dealt with through the eyes of a friend and doesn’t serve as the main plot. Growing Up in a Hurryoffers much more positive feedback on pregnancy, seeing as how an antisocial gal is brought closer to her family by the trials they are all put through.

      Kids read what they can relate to. You can tell a lot about a person by the last ten books they picked up. This is why Banned Book lists are growing, and the reigns are being tightened on teaching materials. Ok Grown-ups, here’s our secret: we young’ns turn to books when no one else teaches us how to think.* Books hold nothing back because they have nothing to prove. They have no one to answer to for their opinions, and can argue amongst themselves without resentment (sit in a quiet library sometime and tell me books don’t argue). Have faith in the next generation, and thank J.K. Rowling for being a catalyst for literacy in the 21st century.

* Here’s the funny part, for Christmas I received a cute little gift from My Fairy Godmothers that simply stated “I’ve learned everything I need to know about life by reading banned books.”

Published in: on December 19, 2007 at 2:53 pm  Comments (2)