I read a list of banned books today and thought of this.

“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”
― Oscar WildeThe Picture of Dorian Gray

I stumbled across a list of “banned books” on the internet…somewhere, and as I was looking it over, I realized a lot of my favorites, books that changed my life, are on this list.  They changed my life for the better, books didn’t corrupt me or lead me astray, they opened my eyes, made me more compassionate, more empathetic, more tolerant of people in the world.  I’ve never read a book that made me a worse person, but I’ve certainly read ones that made me a better one.

Personally, I go to lists of banned books to find something to read when I’m not sure, so a lot of these I’ve read.  A few, I’ve reviewed here for you.  Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is on the ALA’s frequently challenged or banned books list for 2013-2014, and so is Looking for Alaska by John Green, both of which are wonderful books that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.  There were others I’ve read on this list, but these two jumped out at me for being extraordinarily good books.  You can go back and look at the lists from this and previous years along with the reasons the books were challenged and whether or not the school retained them.   They also have a Banned Books Week you can support as well.

Banning books…that just…it just makes me mad.  I’m putting a lid on the Rabbit Hole now, stepping down off my soapbox, and opening the floor for discussion.

Do you think the people who challenge these books have actually read them?  Tell me about some of your favorite books.   Did you parents ever stop you from reading something?  What was it?

‘Til next time,

Jessica

 


Evening Serenity

The time of year will soon be on us that I love the most.  When the evenings begin to stretch out, the bugs start to leave you alone, and I can sit out in the evening and just breathe it all in.  This makes me think of twilight spent on a porch watching the light fade after the kind of day you know you never want to forget.serein


I Should Have Known A “Bad Monkey” Would Be Funny

BadMonkeyHave you ever been innocently wandering down the aisle at a bookstore and have a cover reach out and smack you?  I mean figuratively not literally. (Although if this has happened to you literally, I think that’s a story I need to know!)  It happened to me.  Big, bold, neon orange and yellow with a screaming monkey in a pirate hat on the cover.  You know you’d pick it up to read if it were you.  If nothing else, I needed to take a closer look, because this is something my nephew would want to hear about.

Carl Hiaasen’s Bad Monkey was not the monkey I expected, but it was the monkey I needed…wait, is that Batman?  Anyway, the whole thing starts off with an arm that gets put in a cooler, and like a monkey it bounces all over the place from there.  You would think that with as many plot twists, sub plots and deranged animals (and thugs named Egg) things would get a bit out of control, but they don’t (well, except in a good way).  Hiaasen keeps a firm hand on the reins of this plot, and seeing all those lines that seem tangled come to a smooth controlled knot at the end, is immensely satisfying.  To say Bad Monkey is fast-paced would be an understatement, but it will take you on a wild, grin-filled, ride.

Although, I picked up the book with my nephew in mind, Bad Monkey is not for the 13-year-old.  However, the brief overview of the plot I gave him garnered me a smile.  A real one…like with teeth. (He no longer laughs out loud at the things adults say.  It is beneath him.  This is no reflection on my skill as a comedian…no, really!) The book’s comedic value comes as much from the crazy situations the main character Andrew Yancy finds creates for himself as the cast of characters surrounding him.  Escaped convicts from Oklahoma, a detective bumped down to roach patrol, the arm in the freezer, and a hurricane…oh, and you can’t forget that deranged monkey.

You know how I am about characters, and Yancy provides a flawed hero.  He actually does the stuff that most of us only fantasize about.  His girlfriend’s a bit kooky too (actually, so is the ex…you know the escaped con from Oklahoma?)  Yancy has the depth I like in a character without that filter that keeps most of us out of jail.  It’s kind of like letting your id run around mostly unchecked for a while.  He’s a good guy though, who wants to do the right thing, but rules get in the way.

This is the first book of Hiaasen’s I’ve read, but I will be looking for more.  Especially, if his others are as much of a fun-filled adventure as this one.  Sometimes you need out of the wizards preventing the end of the world, drug and alcohol addicted characters, or peculiar children and run with something a bit more light-hearted.  Hiaasen will be my go-to guy next time I need a lift out of the doldrums.

My mom and I were also talking about the book, and she mentioned that Carl Hiaasen was interviewed on NPR.  I haven’t looked to see if the interview can be found online, but it sounds like it would be worth the time to check it out.

First Lines:

On the hottest day of July, trolling in dead-calm waters near Key West, a tourist named James Mayberry reeled up a human arm.  His wife flew to the bow of the boat and tossed her breakfast burritos.

Today I cannot resist stealing The Nerdist Podcast’s sign-off.

Enjoy your burrito,

Jessica

 


A Higher Revelation

“Music is … A higher revelation than all Wisdom & Philosophy”
― Ludwig van Beethoven

I have a love/hate with Beethoven. His music is transcendent.  However, as a pianist (very amateur pianist) no matter how much I practice, I feel like the man is trying to tie my fingers in knots and my hands ache every time I finish a piece.  But Lord how I love to hear his music…I can hear this belief in every piece.

‘Til next time,

Jessica


I Just Love Trees

This is one of my favorite sounds.  I’ve spent a lot of time laying on my back on the trampoline at my parents house, under the trees, just listening to the sound of the wind in the leaves and watching the sunlight dance through the shade…there’s also been more than one argument between a squirrel and my dog.  Seriously, they were talking to each other and it wasn’t particularly friendly on either side.

‘Til next time,

Jessicapsithurism


Jim Parsons on Sesame Street

It looks like Jim Parsons and I share a common fear….


They’re Real!

They're Real!

One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. R.O.U.S.’s (Rodents Of Unusual Size) are real. Meet Patrick, 2-year-old wombat…that is one large rodent. Keep on the lookout for the six-fingered man, and I’m going to go watch Wesley and Buttercup.
As you wish,
Jessica


What Did Harper Lee Do After Mockingbird?

As school starts up again, I started thinking about books (What?  I can’t help it.  I love books) and what students are going to be assigned to read this year.  Some of them can be a struggle to finish (believe me, I remember) but not all of them are dry dusty old tomes that you’ll never pick up again.  To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee grabbed me the first time I read it in school, and, for a girl who was constantly reading anyway, finding a book that grabbed my attention and got included on the required reading list was a bit of a revelation.  As with much of the required school reading, we watched the movie starring Gregory Peck after we finished reading the book.   This is a story I’ve never forgotten, and will read again every time I come across my battered paperback copy.  It always made me a little sad that I never got to read anything else by Harper Lee, so this article on 4 Awesome Things Harper Lee Did After Mockingbird really caught my interest.  Have you read it?  What did you think?

‘Til next time,

Jessica

 


Take A Deep Breath, The New Doctor Has Arrived

August 23, 2014 ushered in a new Doctor for the well-loved series, Doctor Who as Peter Capaldi takes over the role from Matt Smith.  Okay, as you know, I’m anti-spoilers here, so please email any spoiler-y comments or questions to me at ilovegeekology101@gmail.com.  There are a couple of spoilers for The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor (mostly discussing 11’s regeneration scene), but I’ll put a note before the paragraph with the big spoil-y pieces of information, and it is pretty far down, and in reality, unless you have completely avoided social media you already know about this stuff.

We knew going into this series that the new Doctor would be older and perhaps a little darker, and this first episode, Deep Breath, certainly enforces that.  The transitional episodes have been interesting ones.  My reaction to the new Doctor has always had a bit of the Doctor’s reaction when a regeneration redecorate the TARDIS, “I don’t like it.”  Of course, it didn’t take long until I adjusted to the new face and form and was ready to pick up my feet and run with the new guy.

I don’t think I could say that Who had become boring, but maybe a tad bit predictable.  Capaldi certainly has an opportunity to breathe new life into the series and take us in a direction we haven’t been since Eccleston revived things in 2005.

 

This time though, I didn’t feel the uncertainty of whether I would like the new Doctor, but then again, I think Capaldi’s doctor felt more like he was struggling through the memories of previous generations more than either Eccleston, Tennant or Smith.  They all had their moments of settling into their new faces and bodies, but the aspects of the Doctor’s personality they embodied were quick to shine through.  Capaldi’s Doctor takes longer to shrug off not just 11’s face and form but the others as well, and I think they’re playing up 11’s comment during his regeneration that he will never forget a moment of when the Doctor was me.  References to a lot of previous forms of the Doctor flowed through this first episode of Season 8, and I felt that 12 had to sort through who he had been to figure out who he is going to be.  He still has the wit and humor we expect from the Doctor, but there is an air of unpredictability and uncertainty after this first episode that hasn’t been there in a while.

Fans know that the circumstances of the regeneration play into who comes out the other side(look at Tennant’s comments to the meta-crisis doctor who went home with Rose), and 11’s focus at the end was remembering.  I have a sneaking suspicion that will impact 12’s doctor a lot. The lines on his face reflect the memories he tried so hard to hold onto when he regenerated, because a lot has happened.  Seriously, how old is the Doctor now?  Capaldi, as a fan of Doctor Who since childhood, has an opportunity to resurrect aspects of all the Doctors who’ve come before with this regeneration. We’ve already seen a bit of 10 & 11 for certain, and I’m not nearly as well versed in Classic Who to be certain about earlier Doctors.  Possibly a little 9 snuck his way in, but I’m not sure.  I know I saw a bit of Tom Baker’s 4th Doctor with the finger alongside his nose.

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: SPOILERS FOR DAY OF THE DOCTOR AND TIME OF THE DOCTOR AHEAD

doctor-who season 8

11 began as the Doctor who wanted to forget, as revealed in The Day of the Doctor, but went into his regeneration as the Doctor who wants to remember.  That 50th anniversary episode exposed that insecure, wounded side of the Doctor, and events in that episode did quite a bit of healing.  Of course, in true Doctor Who fashion, some of those were ripped open, and began to heal again in The Time of the Doctor.  Really, he destroyed Gallifrey, he saved Gallifrey, the Time Lords nearly start another Time War to come back into the universe, but end up staying where they are and giving the Doctor another regeneration.  All because Clara tells them “if you love him, and you should, help him.”  However, he wasn’t there to hear this plea or recognize the gift was one of love, and that could be something that pops up later on.  Even for the stalwart Doctor this is a lot to take in.

Another thing that has been commented on is that this Doctor will be a little less empathetic, and it brings to mind Moffat and Gatiss’s other project, Sherlock.  Sherlock’s brain holds a lot of information, but he has to make room by “deleting” things.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what this Doctor has “deleted” in order to bring back all of these other memories. Somewhere, I got an idea that the Doctor read a book “Dealing with Humans 101″ or something like that, and from what I’ve seen so far, it looks like maybe this is some of the information that has been pushed out or  to the side to make room for the memories of his previous regenerations.

This paves the way beautifully for what should be a whirlwind ride this season.  As anyone who has gotten caught up memory can attest, it can be a beautiful trip down memory lane when you’re remembering the good stuff, but life ain’t all good.  The Doctor’s life especially, hasn’t been, and the weight of those darker memories…well, I see a lot of ups and downs in our future, but that just comes along with being a Whovian.

What do you think?  Please send me your theories too! What impressions have you gotten of the new Doctor?

‘Til next time,

Jessica


A Feeble Attempt at Humor?

I don’t compulsively tell puns…that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy it from time to time…I can be very puny!  Fine, occasionally I just can’t resist.

witzelsucht


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