Thursday, September 30, 2010

We Interrupt Banned Books Week to Bring You:

The Ironic Virus.
Ah, I was so determined not to get sick this fall. The fact that I always do did not deter me from this goal. I've been taking Zinc and Bee Pollen, drinking carrot juice, but none the less here I am. Lying in bed with a throbbing head and achy body.
I have missed three classes (well am about to miss my third)so far. I have so much work I could be doing, but my brain can only focus in very short bursts.
I have bouts of low blood pressure- so last night when I started feeling weak with a head ache and slight dizziness, I assumed that my blood pressure had taken a dip. This is controllable with vast amounts of water and elevating my feet, which I did. Likely, my lack of proper nutrition (the only fruit in the fridge is apple sauce currently) and lack of proper sleep spurred this on, but later, the chills and hot flush to my face implied more than just low blood pressure (though the sickness likely accelorated that as well).
After a terribly uncomfortable night I awoke around 4 am covered in a cold sweat- the fever had broken, but I still feel dreadful. Since it is recommended not to mix in company with others within 24 hours of having a fever and since I would have to make an arduous half hour drive down one of the busiest highways in the country, I chose not to go to school today. Now it feels like my fever may be coming back and of course this poorly stocked Bachelor's Pad I'm currently residing in doesn't have any pain killers/fever reducers within their expiration date.
There is also nothing really for me to eat so I'm living off tea and apple sauce. Ah, wait, there are also crackers. Hooray- if I don't have time to do the shopping it doesn't really get done unfortunately.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Book of the Day: The Giver

Lois Lowry's book about a futuristic world where inhabitants are anesthetized for most of their lives is one of the most commonly banned young adult books. Dystopian novels don't always get a warm reception after all (sorry 1984) and one geared toward children has apparently been called "inappropriate for age group"- a very common assertion.
Personally, I read that book when I was about 12 and I loved it. Still, it is probably one of the most significant reading experiences of my life. It illustrates the importance of individuality and emotion, that sometimes unpleasant things in our life must be there- if we weren't able to feel the unpleasant, we would also miss out on all the beauty and all that gives life depth.
I would recommend this to any young adult reader. Expanding a child's awareness and making them more conscious is not a bad thing, making them thoughful will help them grow into better adults.
When I searched it to check the book's release date (1993), I discovered that there are two companion novels- Gathering Blue and Messenger. I probably never heard of them because they were released more recently, 2000 and 2004 respectively.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Banned Book of the Day: Rebecca

A classic tale full of lush language and suspenseful mystery; the story of a young woman haunted by the ever present reminders of her husband's first wife. Clearly this needs to be banned. Though my research has yielded little in explanation as to why Du Maurier's novel is found on the ALA's top 100 Banned or Challenged classics list, I'd like to put forth my theory. As nonsensical as most challenges are, I'm probably completely off the mark. There will be spoilers for those that haven't' read the novel, so tread with caution.
Last fall I took a film and literature class where we studied the novel and Hitchcock's adaptation to film. We discussed much about the fact that according to the movie codes of 1940, ~here come the spoilers~ according to the codes, no killer could go unpunished. in Du Maurier's novel, it is revealed that Max shot his first wife, Rebecca. For the adaptation this had to be changed and her death made accidental. Perhaps some readers also disagreed with the narrator's rejoicing over her husband's murder and his escape from punishment. ~End of spoilers~
Incidentally, in my research I found that Rebecca was the source for codes in World War II, but they were apparently never used due to the belief that security was compromised. Ah, the things you learn on Wikipedia.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Banned Book of the Day: Slaughterhouse Five

Ah, Slaughterhouse Five, the first Kurt Vonnegut novel I ever read. Though I read it about four years ago it's still one of my favorite novels and some of you may have noted a page image from the novel in my side bar.
The ALA's explanation for the challenges against it is a bit long, but here it is:
Challenged in many communities, but burned in Drake, ND (1973). Banned in Rochester, MI because the novel "contains and makes references to religious matters" and thus fell within the ban of the establishment clause. An appellate court upheld its usage in the school in Todd v Rochester Community Schools, 41 Mich. App. 320, 200 N. W 2d 90 (1972). Banned in Levittown, NY (1975), North Jackson, OH (1979), and Lakeland, FL (1982) because of the "book's explicit sexual scenes, violence, and obscene language." Barred from purchase at the Washington Park High School in Racine, WI (1984) by the district administrative assistant for instructional services. Challenged at the Owensboro, KY High School library (1985) because of "foul language, a section depicting a picture of an act of bestiality, a reference to 'Magic Fingers' attached to the protagonist's bed to help him sleep, and the sentence: 'The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the fly of God Almighty."' Restricted to students who have parental permission at the four Racine, WI Unified District high school libraries (1986) because of "language used in the book depictions of torture, ethnic slurs, and negative portrayals of women:' Challenged at the LaRue County, KY High School library (1987) because "the book contains foul language and promotes deviant sexual behavior” Banned from the Fitzgerald, GA schools (1987) because it was filled with profanity and full of explicit sexual references:' Challenged in the Baton Rouge, LA public high school libraries (1988) because the book is "vulgar and offensive:' Challenged in the Monroe, MI public schools (1989) as required reading in a modem novel course for high school juniors and seniors because of the book's language and the way women are portrayed. Retained on the Round Rock, TX Independent High School reading list (1996) after a challenge that the book was too violent. Challenged as an eleventh grade summer reading option in Prince William County, VA (1998) because the book "was rife with profanity and explicit sex:" Removed as required reading for sophomores at the Coventry, RI High School (2000) after a parent complained that it contained vulgar language, violent imagery, and sexual content. Retained on the Northwest Suburban High School District 214 reading list in Arlington Heights, IL (2006), along with eight other challenged titles. A board member, elected amid promises to bring her Christian beliefs into all board decision-making, raised the controversy based on excerpts from the books she'd found on the internet. Challenged in the Howell, MI High School (2007) because of the book's strong sexual content. In response to a request from the president of the Livingston Organization for Values in Education, or LOVE, the county's top law enforcement official reviewed the books to see whether laws against distribution of sexually explicit materials to minors had been broken. "After reading the books in question, it is clear that the explicit passages illustrated a larger literary, artistic or political message and were not included solely to appeal to the prurient interests of minors," the county prosecutor wrote. "Whether these materials are appropriate for minors is a decision to be made by the school board, but I find that they are not in violation of criminal laws.

Really North Dakota? You hated it so much that you had to burn it? I'm sorry, but that's ignorant. I think the county prosecutor's comment about the "larger literary, artistic or political message" was spot on. Vonnegut makes a strong comment about the traumas of war and the holes in society, every word he chooses is for a reason. Best of all, it's bitingly funny. Too many writers pile in sex, profanity and violence just for commercial appeal or shock value. Vonnegut isn't one of those.
I consider myself a tame person, especially in terms of the content of the entertainment I choose- apparently many of the books I enjoy are wildly inappropriate. That's a surprise.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Banned Book of the Day: The Great Gatsby

I'm starting my Banned Books Week celebration a little early because I'm feeling down and nothing perks me up like a lively literary discussion.
As some of my regular readers know, I read The Great Gatsby for the first time this summer. In spite of my hesitance, I discovered that I loved it. It was a beautifully tragic novel with a theme just as modern as when it was first published. Whether the ALA's list of top 100 Banned or Challenged Classics is in any sort of order or not is unclear, but either way, The Great Gatsby is the first book on the list. Also on the site, some reasons and instances of banning are listed. Here is the reason given for Gatsby:
"Challenged at the Baptist College in Charleston, SC (1987) because of "language and sexual references in the book." Source: 2010 Banned Books Resource Guide by Robert P. Doyle."

After my initial reaction of "What?" I truly thought about the content of the book and though there are themes that might be unpleasant or involved sexuality, there is nothing explicit. Not explicit enough to gain my notice. The language, I remember being quite mild especially compared to much of the film and literature present at 1987, the year mentioned for the challenging.
Perhaps I wouldn't recommend it for my eight year old nephew, but it is an important novel that I believe every high schooler should experience.

Mainly why I decided to post on this tonight is because The Elevator Repair Service is doing another production of Gatz starting the 26th at the Public Theatre in New York. After Performing it all over the world, ERS is finally bringing it to New York City. The six hour performance (with two intermissions and a dinner break) performs the complete text of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel.
The company is also just coming off the run of their adaptation of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Incidentally, another top 100 Challenged Classic, number 20 on their current list.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's Almost That Time of Year Again

September 25th kicks off Banned Books Week once again! That does cheer me up greatly. From the 25th to October 2nd (all of the week) I'll be posting my thoughts on various banned books I have read each day. Join me in celebrating by adding your thoughts or reviewing some on your own blog.
Visit the official website for events and information (check out their map to see where books have been challenged or banned around you)
Or visit the ALA's site where lists of commonly banned books can be found.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Maybe it's just because...

I'm extremely menstral right now, or the fact that someone I love has hurt me like never before this past week, but it's been a tough day. (Also, not "hurt me" as in black and blue, but emotionally- just to clarify).
I keep wondering about what I'm doing here- not in an existential way, in a more practical, geographical way. Why am I at college studying English? Why am I on the newspaper staff? Why am I so lacking in organizational skills? Why do I let myself take on positions where I really need organization? And why is it so hard for me to find somewhere to live that will make me happy? I feel like a refugee, nothing is mine, I'm just camping out. It was my own choice and I definitely feel I made the right one, but I'm still waiting for everything to work out and be livable in my life.
Obviously it would be easier to give some of these things that are bothering me up, but I've always felt that the turmoil was outweighed by the rewards. Sometimes though, I have days where it's really hard to feel a sense of accomplishment or fulfillment.
Lately I've been too busy to do laundry or eat a decent meal let alone do any pleasure reading or creative writing and that is a major part of how I keep mentally balanced- journaling especially has helped me rationalize some of the darkest moments of my young life.
I hope to be back in line in a week or so, but I just feel like pulling a Thoreau and building myself a hut in the woods. Just to get away from the buzz of everyone on their cell phones and spend my days writing and working in my herb garden- that would be bliss. Perhaps I'd feel lonely, but it's always easier to feel lonely when alone than to feel lonely when surrounded by people and noise.
Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, I'll be back when I'm feeling more cheerful.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Day Off

For the first time in several weeks I have had a morning to myself. Truthfully, I should be camped out at the laudromat with my laptop doing homework between feeding quarters into the machine. Honestly, I probably won't be able to do laundry for another week, but I woke up with a massive headache, so instead I'm camped out in my room. Yes, I'm still working on homework, but I'm also cuddling with my cats and wearing the baggy band tee I sleep in- I couldn't do that at the laudromat... well I'd have to be wearing jeans as well. I should be okay on the laundry thing, I can hand wash neccesary pieces and I just bought a new pack of underwear. It'll be fine.
Truthfully I'm valuing my precious quiet alone time very much. I have been two weeks without any and it's taking its toll. I may start snarling at passerbys and hiding under tables to avoid customers at work. Which I do have to work tonight, so this sweet repose it but short lived.
Now I must get back to listening to The Doors and writing my articles for the paper.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Finally a Date for Sherlock!

Sherlock will premiere on the PBS Mystery! programming October 24th. The literary society on campus wants to do a screening party for the first episode.
Once again, it seems that I cannot include a video without it devouring my sidebar.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: All's Well That Ends Well

I had to take a break from my reading of Sons and Lovers to begin reading All's Well That Ends Well for my Shakespeare class. It's very interesting, different than most of Shakespeare's better known comedies. Apparently it wasn't very popular in Shakespeare's life either, but presents a strong satire about class and also has several very strong female characters. From the very start, there's a constant discussion of sex and virginity and its importance and implications. This foreshadows events that lead to the conclusion of the play.
Here's a quotation from the end of act one spoken by Helen:
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet in this cap'cious and intenible sieve
I still pour in the waters of my lover
And lack not to lose still.

I've never seen the play performed, but I would like to. We'll be reading another play I have no experience with later this semester, Troilus and Cressida.

Monday, September 13, 2010

William Blake: The Lamb and The Tyger

This post is a total rip-off from tonight's literature class with one of my favorite professors. We were reading the two poems by Blake and comparing their themes as well as their very basic sounds and meter. It's very interesting to look at them side by side, I thought others might enjoy the comparison as well. It might not be a new revelation, but many people quote Blake's Tyger and less seem to pick out "The Lamb" as its companion.
First, "The Lamb"
Little Lamb, who made thee
Does thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing woolly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice.
Making all the vales rejoice:
Little Lamb who made thee
Does thou know who made thee

Little Lamb I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb I'll tell thee;
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by His name,
Little Lamb God bless thee,
Little Lamb God bless thee.

...And now "The Tyger"- note the reference to this first poem in its sequel, one of Blake's most famous poems.
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And What shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Archery Excursion

In America this Monday was the Labor Day holiday. It is the unofficial end of summer and a day where the American people celebrate how hard they work all year by not working that day and usually barbecuing something. Though I had the day off from classes, I had to go work on putting the paper together Monday evening. However, my morning was free.
What better way to spend my last day of summer than by shooting arrows into a heavily padded target? Exactly, there is no better way. Last time I went to the range I received a bit of bow-burn on my left arm from the string snapping forward to release the arrow, this time I wore long sleeves along with my leather bracer and finger sleeves and I was relatively unscathed.
Another archer was leaving when I arrived, he was using a compound bow with lots of fancy features. He seemed moderately impressed that my starter bow was such a serious one- that made me nervous. Whenever people say their impressed or proud in regards to something I'm doing, I'm afraid I'll screw it up like an idiot and disappoint them or invoke their scorn. (It's a bad habit, I didn't even know this person which makes it all the more ridiculous.)
When I was preparing to take my first shot, I was anxious that he would be watching (sometime I over-shoot and find it buried in the ground behind the target later). So, full of self-conscious anxiety and all too aware of the wind ruffling my hair and the trees, I drew back and shot. Somehow, in spite of myself, I hit almost a dead bulls eye.
Of course, I'm lacking in consistency. I still over shot a couple times, but nearly all my arrows ended up in the target and several were bulls eyes or near enough for me. I'm getting better, so next time I'll try some more distant targets. I'm an over-thinker and in archery you can't think too much, you just have to feel it and trust yourself. This is good for me to force myself to stop thinking once in a while.
Arrows are so strange to watch in flight. When I saw an interview with Russell Crowe during the filming of Robin Hood he kept saying that arrows are alive, that they swim, which seems strange, but I understand now. They move through the air like they are searching for the target, skimming on a current and moving with a strange fluidity. It's crazy to think of yourself setting that in motion.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Sons and Lovers

It's slow going through Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence. Here's an interesting passage from the end of the first chapter (page 26 in my edition):

Mrs. Morel knew him too well to look at him. As she unfastened her brooch at the mirror, she smiled faintly to see her face all smeared with the yellow dust of lilies. She brushed it off, and lay down. For some time her mind continued snapping and jetting sparks, but she was asleep before her husband awoke from the first sleep of his drunkenness.

I'm comparing Gertrude Morel to Connie Chatterley of Lady Chatterley's Lover as I read- I've read excerpts of L.C.L. before. It's interesting that Lawrence seems so fascinated by marriage from a woman's point of view, especially about a woman's view on a bad marriage. A theme of going into marriage with one set of expectations and finding disappointment in marriage, in the person you thought you loved pervades his text. Lawrence is quite obsessed with these ideas as a matter of fact. He also plays a lot with class and the lifestyles of an emerging, industrial workforce and that of the somewhat antiquated nobility and the upper class in general.

Friday, September 3, 2010

~Error Alert~

Yesterday I posted an entry about Treasury Lists on Etsy that was supposed to go on my crafting blog, not here.
Due to lack of sleep and the stresses of a new semester and new leadership roles I posted it here. Please forgive me this, I was distracted by Sociology homework and really good iced chai.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Treasury Lists

I've found it's a very good idea to do a search for yourself on Etsy Treasury.
It turns out I've been featured in three different Treasuries, only one was to my knowledge. That's encouraging.
Things are still painfully slow on both my shops. I am a bit discouraged, and don't really have the money to buy more supplies or list more items until I sell something else. The craft show for this October looks like a go, at least that's good news. I have to work on recruiting other crafters now. So, any Pennsylvania crafters should be sent my way.
Now I must finish my chai tea and get to class. I also have to get to work on the hat I'm knitting for my professor's new baby.