mono as in one or me. rail as in to vent or complain. thus monorail.


what i'm looking for

what i'm remembering
what i'm eating
who i'm looking like
what i'm coveting

what i'm reading
me vs mla's top 100

me vs afi's top 100

what i'm hearing

The Net
what you're wanting


page me

MONORAIL: BY SUBJECT [current]   [random]
QUOTES, BOOKS, LIFE (permalink) 09.02.2016
so true. so obvious. so ignored.
Even if all the bright intellects who ever lived were to agree to ponder this one theme, they would never sufficiently express their surprise at this fog in the human mind. Men do not let anyone seize their estates, and if there is the slightest dispute about their boundaries they rush to stones and arms; but they allow others to encroach on their lives--why, they themselves even invite in those who will take over their lives. You will find no one willing to share out his money; but to how many does each of us divide up his life! people are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy. So, I would like to fasten on someone from the older generation and say to him; "I see that you have come to the last stage of human life; you are close upon your hundredth year, or even beyond: come now, hold an audit of your life. Reckon how much of your time has been taken up by a money-lender, how much by a mistress, a patron, a client, quarreling with your wife, punishing your slaves, dashing about the city on your social obligations. Consider also the diseases which we have brought on ourselves, and the time too which has been unused. You will find that you have fewer years than you reckon. Call to mind when you ever had a fixed purpose: how few days have passed as you planned; when you were ever at your own disposal; when your face wore it's natural expression; when you mind was undisturbed; what work have you achieved in such a long life; how many have plundered your life when you were unaware of your losses; how much you have lost through groundless sorrow, foolish joy, greedy desire, the seductions of society; how little of your own was left to you. You will realize that you are dying prematurely.

So what is the reason for this? You are living as if destined to live forever; your own frailty never occurs to you; you don't notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and overflowing supply--though all the while that very day which you are devoting to somebody or something may be your last. You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all the you desire. You will hear many people saying: "When I am fifty I shall retire into Leisure; when i am sixty I shall give up public duties." And what guarantee do you have of a longer life? Who will allow your course to proceed as you arrange it? Aren't you ashamed to keep for yourself just the remnants of your life and to devote to wisdom only the time which cannot be spent on any business? How late it is to begin really to live just when life must end? How stupid to forget our mortality, and put off sensible plans to our fiftieth and sixtieth years, aiming to begin life from a point at which few have arrived.
from seneca's On the Shortness of Life - life is long if you know how to use it

hihglighted passages represent my notes

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 01.30.2015
low and slow bro
photo credit goes to
On this trip I think we should notice it, explore it a little, to see if in that strange separation of what man is from what man does we may have some clues as to what the hell has gone wrong in this twentieth century. I don't want to hurry it. That itself is a poisonous twentieth-century attitude. When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things. I just want to get at it slowly, but carefully and thoroughly, with the same attitude I remember was present just before I found that sheared pin. It was that attitude that found it, nothing else.
excerpt from Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 01.16.2015
it this doesn't get you taking steps towards any goals you've been sitting on, it just may not happen
For the heart, life is simple: it beats for as long as it can. Then it stops. Sooner or later, one day, this pounding action will cease of its own accord, and the blood will begin to run toward the body's lowest point, where it will collect in a small pool, visible from outside as a dark, soft patch of ever whitening skin, as the temperature sinks, the limbs stiffen and the intestines drain. These changes in the first hours occur so slowly and take place with such inexorability that there is something almost ritualistic about them, as though life capitulates according to specific rules, a kind of gentleman's agreement to which the representatives of death also adhere, inasmuch as they always wait until life has retreated before they launch their invasion of the new landscape. By which point, however, the invasion is irrevocable. The enormous hordes of bacteria that begin to infiltrate the body's innards cannot be halted. Had they but tried a few hours earlier, they would have met with immediate resistance; however everything around them is quiet now, as they delve deeper and deeper into the moist darkness.
opening passage from karl ove knausgaard's My Struggle (book 1)

KIDS, BOOKS (permalink) 06.14.2013
king me, part 5
part one is over here

towards the end of king's memoir he penned a sample passage of a bar scene. in reading it bella ran into a number of words she didn't know. this turned into concern about fighting with the language and that this struggle might take away from her enjoyment. she expressed this to marty first. marty said she should maybe wait to read them. bella agreed.

when she mentioned this to me i reminded her we would be reading them together and i could help with any words she didn't understand. she said it wouldn't be the same and we should wait.

i'd be lying if i said the notion of sitting in bella's new bunk bed reading stephen king books with my daughter every night of the summer didn't have me bristling with anticipation. i already had it planned out. we were going to start out by reading them in the same order i met stephen king: pet semetary, it, tommyknockers, needful things. from there we'd branch out. i saw a large part of my summer hopes slipping away with my daughter's prudent decision making.

seeing my uncertainty, bella said, "it's like you say dad, sometimes wanting is better than having".

boy do i hate it when my good advice sinks its teeth into my own buttock.

update: in the end the pull of trying him out proved too enticing so on saturday june 8th at 10:03 pm, my daughter and i began our first joint-reading of stephen king beginning with the same book i first read when a little older than her, pet semetary. we would have started at ten on the dot but i had to pee. unfortunate timing that. but we sat on the porch with multiple candles burning. i read the first chapter, using my clearest and most measured reading voice. when i finished the chapter i excitedly looked over at my daughter who was sitting on a deck chair facing me. her hand extended toward me, palm up, requesting the book. she said, "nice try dad but you don't have what it takes. hand it over." so she now has the reading duties and she is quite good at it. i'm convinced she learned most of her character voice skills from her mother when marty read all seven of the potter books to alex and bella a few summers back, employing a wildly impressive array of voices and energy. after i handed the book over, bella leafed through the pages i just read, finding passages and telling me "this should have sounded more like this dad" and would then re-read the lines with am admittedly higher level of enthusiasm and skill. aside from struggling with the elderly neighbor Jud Crandall, who via bella sounds more like a young hiphop artist, she's knocking it out of the horror aisle.

and now that we have a few nights under our belt, i must say that these neat and tender reading moments i'm sharing with my eldest child makes all the early years, fumbles, questions, trials, sacrifices and challenges of getting to this comfortable, close spot we can share together and look forward to every day ... well ... it just makes all that early work and effort seem crazily trivial.

KIDS, BOOKS (permalink) 06.13.2013
king me, part 4
part one is over here

one thing i haven't mentioned through all of this is why bella is so ravenous to read stephen king. the reason is bella fancies herself a bit of a horror writer. she has written a number of scary short stories. they definitely are not what you'd expect to come out of a twelve year old girl, who otherwise seems as normal as bella seems at least.

she mostly has done this in her free time and just shared it with family and friends but one day she asked me to proof-read a school assignment for her. when i did it was one of her horror stories.

what is this for?

english class.

you can't turn this in at school.

why not?

because the department of family services would come here and take you away from us.


because this is twisted and deranged. i mean don't get me wrong, it's very good. the problem is its almost too good and thus twisted and deranged.

it turns out she was very excited to turn it in and had already talked it up to her friends and teachers. our compromise was she had to include an author's statement with the assignment. what she quickly penned to appease her stickler-father follows:
Dear Reader,
I'd like to start off my little Author's Note by saying that I'm not a psycho, if your son or daughter knows me they'll be able to explain my love for horror and gore, but for those of you who don't I'll explain.

My name is Bella DeArmitt (Isabella Walter DeArmitt), I LOVE to write horror. I first discovered that I loved horror when every year my horror stories at the camp-fire became legendary. I like to write horror (I think) because when I write I'm in control of what happens, I have the ability to make my reader's stomach twist and churn, I have the ability to be myself.

Those are some of the reasons that I like to write,

I hope that you enjoyed it,

Bella DeArmitt!

part five

KIDS, BOOKS (permalink) 06.12.2013
king me, part 3
part one is over here

yesterday's mention of bella giving up television reminded me of a related story.

now that bella is older, about a year back, marty suggested we get a proper television so she could comfortably have girlfriends over and for gatherings, sleepovers and the like. our conversation quickly and excitedly turned into a top-down redesign of our living room, sketching out a remodel to take it from its present state--which is about two steps from looking like the monkey cage at the zoo (we're missing simply a swing-rope from the ceiling)--to a fully re-imagined space that included an L-couch, a wall mounted flat-screen, surround-sound, a stained-wood mantle, matching built-in bookshelves lining the walls, and new natural-wood, funcitoning french doors (note: these were recently installed). marty envisioned herself curled up under a fleece blanket watching some of the series-tv she's missed over the last decade. i imagined myself buried in the couch's corner, watching weekend football, wearing a pair of tired sweats, a fresh bowl of stove-top corn on my lap and a few logs popping in the over-sized fireplace. both marty and i were plenty eager to assume these relaxed positions.

a few weeks later while out with bella on our dad-lunch, i revealed this plan to her. instead of the shriek i braced for, i received an inflectionless response that she kinda liked not having a tv didn't want to get one. i almost reached over to her feel her forehead thinking she must have taken ill in the time it took me to utter my sentence. this sorta moving target is one of the core reasons parenting is often named the hardest thing you will ever undertake.

later in the day when alone with marty i began a conversation with the words, "you're not going to believe this but ..."

you're not going to believe this but when i told bella about our plans for the living room, she said she didn't want a television.

MARTY (stopped what she was doing and looked at me)

yeah, she said she didn't want a television. she liked not having one. she said having one would change, ruin even, the tenor of our home.

MARTY (after a brief pause)
well screw bella. i want a television. when she has a home of her own she can preserve the tenor of it all she wants.

this would be that target i'm trying to aim at picking up and moving again. and not just like moving two paces to the left but like moving in a fast and serpentining pattern that i'd need an uzi to hit, and as confessed before i'm working with a home-made slingshot. truth is, ninety percent of the surprises i contend with come from the two women in my life saying things i don't expect (and sometimes just the plain, darn opposite of what they said before). the other ten percent comes from the boys in my life doing things i don't expect, things like:
  • dropping toys down the neighbors sewer vent.
  • riding red wagons down hills while standing on top of them, surfer-style.
  • climbing trees so high you can't even yell loud enough for them to hear you screaming, "get down! now!"
  • or like, our six year old arriving at the dinner table with hundreds of dollars in his piggy bank and saying it's just his chore money from the last few months. of course when you combine (1) the fact that he gets fifty cents a week and (2) his brother and sister's banks are suddenly empty, his defense starts plummeting faster than his computer time over the next two weeks.
but at least with the boys, while i may not expect all the things they do, i do understand them. this is what makes raising men a more tenable undertaking for another man.

but moving back to the original topic, bella and television, don't think that the rapidity in which my daughter accepted stephen king's advice (mentioned yesterday ), which she encountered exactly once before mine (and having shouldered my advice dozens of times) has been lost on me. i see it. i see it most clearly. i also imagine it is not the last time she will accept notions from a fella new to our lives before she would take my own, identical, tested and trusted counsel. i'm sensible enough to see that coming and yes, i'm already saving money for the therapy i'm sure to need when the dark scenario actually happens for real.

and for any other people possibly fighting this fight, or other similar fights, with their small humans, i will share the closest i ever came to persuading bella to abandon her digital herion (without the assistance of a best selling author at least). the nearest my methods took me happened after we attended a school event (her induction into the national junior honor society--sorry, proud father, couldn't resist). before the ceremony began two students from the school performed for the audience, singing and playing acoustic guitar. they performed beautifully, so rife with confidence and composure, especially for two junior high age girls sitting in front of better than a hundred people. after the event the pre-show music came up in discussion. bella acknowledged who they were and said they were amazingly talented. i asked bella if she thought she would be as good as those girls if instead of watching shows on her computer time for the last two years she had practiced guitar. bella thought for a moment and said probably. i repeated her 'probably' and added had she done that people might be watching her playing guitar on television instead of her watching other people do enviable things on television. i watched her reaction, closely, and saw something happening but admittedly the success lasted about as long as a netflix login. that said, that brief moment is the closest i ever came to getting bella to put the media needle down.

part four

KIDS, BOOKS (permalink) 06.11.2013
king me, part 2
part one is over here

i put two conditions on bella's reading of stephen king. the first was that we would have to read the books together. the second was that before we start, she had to finish reading his memoir, On Writing, a book i had given her several months earlier.

the only issue with the first condition is she said i'd need to find five hours a day to give to the effort. i'm confident i do not need to go into the nine kinda ways this was not going to happen so we quickly negotiated that down to a more realistic thirty minutes a night, and maybe the occasional hour depending on my schedule and the plot line.

regarding the second condition, the moment we concluded our time-each-day bargaining she turned and ran from the room. over the next several days every time you'd see her she'd have king's memoir on her; either opened for reading, stuck in her armpit if walking, or resting on her thigh if sitting. a brief aside—on the top of bella's reading log for the library's summer program, she added the words 'you can't compete' followed by three exclamation points. i, the library staff, and multiple summers worth of other kids in the reading program can attest to the undeniable truth of this declaration.

an unexpected bonus from sir king totally came when he slammed, viciously, television saying time spent watching was wasted, forever lost and offered no redeeming value, namely in this case, to one's writing skills. bella said she got that and was considering fully giving up tv and computer, replacing it with reading and writing. while my mind furiously staved off a that's-what'-i've-been-saying message bella continued on, "so who would have thought you and stephen king feel the same way about television. crazy." spared.

but, for any ground i gained on the television front, my dinner table suffered as he also says that if you really want to be a writer you cannot let things like social norms stand in your way and to properly hone your craft you might need to read during certain social routines. he named family dinners specifically. bella informed me, so i wouldn't be surprised, that she will now be showing up to dinner with a book or writing pad in hand and i couldn't protest because she was just following the advice of someone i told her to read. un-spared.

part three

KIDS, BOOKS (permalink) 06.10.2013
king me, part 1
bella, who just turned twelve, has been asking pleading to read stephen king for the last two years. of course, each time my response has been a wordless glance over my glasses. she knows what this means. and she hates it. still without a word from me, she exclaims, "why not!". i explain she is too young for the likes of stephen king. to her huff i explain he will still be there when she isn't too young. to her second huff i explain she needs to save some things for when she is older because if she consumes it all now there will be less to enjoy later. to her third huff, i explain she only gets one childhood and it is my job to protect her from leaving it too early, for the wrong reasons at least.

that talk happened more than a year ago. over the last few months bella has built a shrine to King on our family bookshelf, meticulously organizing all of his works, all that i own at least, onto a single shelf. i've caught her a few times either (a) re-scanning the shelves for any books she may have missed or (b) staring longingly at the bindings of the collected works and maybe even placing her fingertips on the glossy wall of bindings in a way that could only be described as reverent. the other morning i walked by while she was in the second state. i asked what she was doing. she said sadly she was waiting until she was ready. i replied i thought she might be ready. her head snapped up and her eyes shot open. she asked me to repeat what i just said. i did. she asked me to repeat it one more time just to make sure. i did again. she danced in place. she hooted. she screeched. she whirled in circles. she reached her hand out towards the books touching them softly, letting them know they'd be together soon and softly, but excitedly, ran her hand down the length of the volumes reveling in the memorable moments awaiting her.

while we walked to the bus stop fifteen minutes later she asked why i changed my mind, what was different. i said she was different. she was more mature. she asked for specific examples. i recounted the night before how i asked her to walk a dog that was staying with us (due to bella's dog-sitting business). it was late and she didn't want to walk the dog and said as much. i explained that other people in the family had taken the dog out that day but she had not and it was her turn and she told her clients she would so she had to do what she said because someone was paying her money based on that understanding. she turned and left the room. she got dressed and took the dog out. and not just for a quick circle of the block as i expected her to do but for a good, proper walk. she came home still mad but instead of injecting her mood on the home, she retired to her room, went to bed and woke pleasant as usual. i explained that one of the reasons for green-lighting her was her more mature handling of problems which even six months ago would have been a big dramatic affair.

i added that it was also her evenness and reliability. not only is she consistently responsible in her chores and duties (jobs and school) but she has also been steady in her conviction to read stephen king. she has shown it to be more than just a passing fancy.

and there is a third reason. i didn't mention it to her but it is something i've discussed here before (i think) and that is the school bus. based on her reports, the conversations are every bit as salacious as anything stephen king has ever penned ... and at least he's a grown man who has experienced many of the things he's writing about which trumps information that comes from older siblings, cousins, uncles and neighbors. so if she's going to hear such things, she may as well hear them from a human, mr. king, that has actually experienced such things (and while i'm there to bandy about the questions that remain).

part two

BOOKS, QUOTES (permalink) 11.09.2012
what a great exercise, thoughtfully and thoroughly done
Yes, the relationships with our children matter most, but I found myself wondering if my son had learned enough from me, whether he was prepared. So what do I want him to have learned as I send him on his way, off on his own? What do I want him to understand about life? What will help guide him through any difficult times? If I could only just tell him.

Hey wait! I can!

Here is what I want him to know; some words of wisdom that will guide him reasonably happily through life.

Always know that—
  • No matter what happens to you in life—no matter what ups and downs life may bring—you have all the health and well-being inside you that you will ever need, it can never be destroyed, and it contains the wisdom and common sense to guide you through life.
  • All you need to do to hear it is to quiet your mind or clear our head (which you can do in any way that suits you), and it will speak to you in the form of common sense thoughts popping into your head—so all you need to do is trust that it's there.
  • When you feel frustrated or angry or irritable or down or bored or lazy, or any of those emotions, the more you know that those feelings are coming from your own thoughts, and those thoughts are coming only from the way you're seeing things at the moment—and that can change—the less you will be controlled by those emotions. The more you notice and are aware of what you're feeling at those times and the less you take those thoughts too seriously because those thoughts are just tricking you by giving you faulty messages, the less you will be controlled by those emotions. The more you can't let go of something, the further way you are from that healthy, but you're the one making it up—inadvertently.
  • The more you understand that everyone sees the world in a completely different way from everyone else because of their own way of thinking, and their world makes as much sense to them as yours does to you, and you can't talk anyone out of their world any more than they can talk you out of yours, the less you will be bothered and troubled by others.
  • The more you recognize your moods, and that you think differently about the same situation depending on your moods, and the more you wait until your mood rises before acting or saying anything, the better off you'll be and the better people will respond to you.
  • If someone does you wrong or treats you badly—it's just that he's lost—his world is telling him to act that way, and he is just doing the best he knows how to do at the time, given how he sees things. If you can see him as innocent because he can't see a better way at that time, and if you see him with compassion because he must be hurting to be taking it out on you, and if you don't take what they do or say personally, you will be protected emotionally from what he and others do [Note: This does not mean not taking appropriate action, when necessary.]
  • Whenever you're down in the dumps or caught up in your emotions and you can't seem to change your thinking, all you need to remember is that your thoughts will eventually change and, with them, you will see your situation or that person differently. What you see as "reality" or "the way it is" now will change as your thinking changes—and it always does. So you don't have to get so caught up in the way you think it is now—because how it looks now is guaranteed to change, eventually.
  • The way you treat others creates what you get back in return.
  • People who achieve what they want in life believe they can do it, trust that what they want will fall into place for them, if they work hard to get it and don't give up. And if it doesn't work out, have faith that you will be okay—it is all unfolding perfectly—no matter what.
  • We will always be there for you if you need us.
  • We will always love you no matter what you do!
excerpt from parenting from the heart by Jack Pransky

BOOKS, QUOTES (permalink) 04.06.2012
and how.
a friend of mine who is a university philosophy professor recently asked me to pre-read a book he wrote on happiness. i think i came to mind because i've probably read more books on positive psychology and happiness than most. of all the great points he illustrated in his book, my favorite line was, "One should not be an asshole in the pursuit of happiness." while it might seem overly obvious, i reckon we've all bumped into a soul or two who would benefit from such counsel.

BOOKS, QUOTES (permalink) 03.08.2012
i wish more people were preaching this message
Ritual, Willpower, and the Final Push
When writing his most recent book, Be Excellent at Anything (2010), Schwartz structured his day into three ninety minute writing bursts that allowed him to complete the book working only four and a half hours a day for three months. Our brains, Schwartz discovered, become easily fatigued. They need breaks in order to refuel, to be able to refocus, create, and produce. When we don't give them the needed time to refuel, they more or less start to shut down and ratchet up the mood crank factor until we have to listen. By then we've often spent hours at work, without actually accomplishing a whole lot of work.

But it's not just the lost creativity, cognitive function, and productivity that take a hit when we don't stop to refuel on a regular enough basis. Willpower is annihilated and fear and anxiety run amok when you don't give your brain a chance to refuel.

In his book How We Decide (2009), Jonah Lehrer points to the part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex (PFC) as the seat of self-control or willpower. The problem is, the PFC is easily fatigued.


Willpower, it turns out, is a depletable resource. Tasks that involve heavy thinking, working memory, concentration, and creativity tax the PFC in a major way and ... it doesn't take all that much to draw your willpower tank down to near zero.

Why should you care? Two reasons. What we often experience as resistance, desire, distraction, burnout, fatigue, frustration, and anxiety in the process of creating something from nothing may, at least in part, be PFC depletion that reduces our willpower to zero and makes it near impossible to commit to the task at hand—especially if the task wars with our creative orientation. In addition, what so many creators experience as a withering ability to handle the anxiety, doubt, and uncertainty as a project nears completion may actually be self-induced rather than process-induced suffering.

Think about your own process. As you near the launch of a new venture, the completion of a manuscript, or the creation of a collection of artwork for an upcoming show, you tend to put in more hours. You work for longer periods of time without breaks. You sleep less and do so more fitfully. You stop exercising, meditating, listening to music, and creating deliberate space in your day. You eat like hell (or don't eat enough) and push away conversations and activities that take you away from your endeavor because you just don't have the time (or so you think). You abandon your more humane creation routine and rituals in the name of getting it done.

What happens? All those things stack on top of each other to systematically juice your PFC and empty your willpower tank, then keep it empty. You'll very likely experience that loss of willpower and hit to your ability to self-regulate your behavior as the evil, nasty resistance getting stronger as you get closer to completing your endeavor. In reality, a series of subtle shifts in your own behavior are causing much of the distress.

If you're someone who creates largely in a vacuum, as you get closer to the end of your endeavor you're also starting to get to the place where you've got to go public or at least reveal your creation to the first line of your potential "judges." Exposure to judgment and risk of loss begin to become far more real to you. That kicks the amygdala's fear and anxiety responses into high gear at a point when your PFC is too wiped out to do much to counter it.

Well-planned, burst-driven creation rituals with recovery periods go a long way toward taming the evil nasties that arise as a project progresses by allowing the PFC to refuel along the way. I experimented with this when writing this book. When I wrote my earlier book, Career Renegade, I spent the final week slumped on the couch in the tattered remains for an extra-heavy Champion sweatshirt from college-writing, sweating, thinking, muttering, spinning, and randomly cursing for the better part of sixteen hours a day. Not fun. I felt a bit like I was waging creative warfare.

This time around, I committed to a ritual that was much closer to Schwartz's. I still donned the ancient sweatshirt. And the week before the manuscript was due, I still had a ton of work to do on it. But i stuck to my bursts, took breaks to meditate, eat, play guitar, walk outside, play with my wife and daughter, and talk to friends. Amazingly enough, the work still got done, the the process became substantially more humane. lesson learned.
excerpt from uncertainty by jonathan fields

BOOKS, QUOTES (permalink) 02.10.2012
evidence of why he's special
imagine if you were asked to write about a runaway horse crashing into a family's wagon on a narrow wooden bridge. would your rendition be close to this?
the horse still galloping, galloping its shadow into the dust, the road descending now toward the creek and the bridge. It was of wood, just wide enough for a single vehicle. When the horse reached it, it was occupied by a wagon coming from the opposite direction and drawn by two mules already asleep in the harness and the soporific motion. On the seat were Tull and his wife, in splint chairs in the wagon behind them sat their four daughters, all returning belated from an all-day visit with some of Mrs . Tull's kin. The horse neither checked nor swerved. It crashed once on the wooden bridge and rushed between the two mules which waked lunging in opposite directions in the traces, the horse now apparently scrambling along the wagon-tongue itself like a mad squirrel and scrabbling at the end-gate of the wagon with its fore feet as if it intended to climb into the wagon while Tull shouted at it and struck at its face with his whip. The mules were now trying to turn the wagon around in the middle of the bridge. It slewed and tilted, the bridge-rail cracked with a sharp report above the shrieks of the women; the horse scrambled at last across the back of one of the mules and Tull stood up in the wagon and kicked at its face. Then the front end of the wagon rose, flinging Tull, the reins now wrapped several times about his wrist, backward into the wagon bed among the overturned chairs and the exposed stockings and undergarments of his women. The pony scrambled free and crashed again on the wooden planking, galloping again. The wagon lurched again; the mules had finally turned it on the bridge where there was not room for it to turn and were now kicking themselves free of the traces. When they came free, they snatched Tull bodily out of the wagon. He struck the bridge on his face and was dragged for several feet before the wrist-wrapped reins broke. Far up the road now, distancing the frantic mules, the pony faded on. While the five women still shrieked above Tull's unconscious body, Eck and the little boy came up, trotting, Eck still carrying his rope. He was panting. "Which way'd he go?" he said.
excerpt from William Faulkner's The Hamlet

BOOKS, QUOTES (permalink) 11.09.2011
i'd like you to find a stronger review for any book, anywhere.
an anthony reflection.
i wish half the world was made out of candy and the other half was made out of amulet books.
the amulet is a graphical novel which is quite good, especially if you liked the Bone series.

BOOKS, QUOTES (permalink) 09.23.2011
food for thought. a supermarket's worth of food
Old age can be both miserable and joyous. It all depends on the facets we choose to examine. But one thing we do know is that positive aging must reflect vital reaction to change, to disease, and to conflict. Thus, perhaps there is a third way for us to view old age - one that does not try to paint old age as either black or white. A 55-year old Study poet underscored the dignity even in dying. He rhetorically asked, "What's the difference between a guy who at his final conscious moments before death has a nostalgic grin on his face, as if to say, 'Boy, I sure squeezed that lemon' and another man who fights for every last breath in an effort to turn time back to some nagging unfinished business? Damed if I know, but I sure think it's worth thinking about."
excerpt from Aging Well by George E. Vaillant

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 06.03.2011
a crazily quote-worthy book
Next I followed a practice learned from the best officer I ever had. He was Charley Edwards, a major of middling age, perhaps a little too far along to be a combat officer but he was a good one. He had a large family, a pretty wife and four children in steps, and his heart could ache with love and longing for them if he allowed it to. He told me about it. In his deadly business he could not afford to have his attention warped and split by love, and so he had arrived at a method. In the morning, that is if her were not jerked from sleep by an alert, he opened his mind and heart to his family. He went over each one in turn, how they looked, what they were like; he caressed them and reassured them of his love. It was as though he picked precious things one by one from a cabinet, looked at each, felt it kissed it, and put it back; and last he gave them a small good-by and shut the door of the cabinet. The whole thing took half an hour if he could get it and then he didn't have to think of them again all day. He could devote his full capacity, untwisted by conflicting thought and feeling, to the job he had to do—the killing of men. He was the best officer I ever knew. I asked his permission to use his method and he gave it to me. When he was killed, all I could think was that his had been and good and effective life. He had taken his pleasure, savored his love, and paid his debts, and how many people even approached that?

another excerpt from John Stienbeck's The Winter of Our Discontent

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 05.27.2011
wordsmithyan footwork
Communities, like people, have periods of health and times of sickness—even youth and age, hope and despondency. There was a time when a few towns like New Baytown furnished the whale oil that lighted the Western World. Student lamps of Oxford and Cambridge drew fuel from this American outpost. And then petroleum, rock oil gushed out in Pennsylvania and cheap kerosene, called coal oil, took the place of whale oil and retired most of the sea hunters. Sickness or the despair fell on New Baytown—perhaps an attitude from which it did not recover. Other towns not too far away grew and prospered on other products and energies, but New Baytown, whose whole living force had been in square-rigged ships and whales, sank into torpor. The snake of population crawling out from New York passed New Baytown by, leaving it to its memories. And as usually happens, New Baytown people persuaded themselves that they liked it that way. They were spared the noise and litter of summer people, the garish glow of neon signs, the spending of tourist money and tourist razzle-dazzle. Only a few new houses were built around the fine inland waters. But the snake of population continued to writhe out and everyone knew that sooner or later it would engulf the village of New Baytown. The local people longed for that and hated the idea of it at the same time. The neighboring towns were rich, spilled over with loot from tourists, puffed with spoils, gleamed with the great houses of the new rich. Old Baytown spawned art and ceramics and pansies, and the damn broadfooted brood of Lesbos wove handmade fabrics and small domestic intrigues. New Baytown talked of the old days and of flounder and when the weakfish would start running.
excerpt from John Stienbeck's The Winter of Our Discontent

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 05.20.2011
that there be some mighty fine storytellin'
He didn't take the Spettle boys with him, for he had brought no spare horses. But the boys started at once for Lonesome Dove of foot, each of them carrying a blanket. They had one pistol between them, a Navy Colt with half its hammer knocked off. Though Call assured them he would equip them well once they got to Lonesome Dove, they wouldn't leave the gun.

"We've never shot airy other gun," Swift Bill said as if that meant they couldn't.

When he took his leave, Mrs. Spettle and the six remaining children scarcely noticed him. They stood in the hot yard, with a scrawny hen or two scratching around their bare feet, watching the boys and crying. The mother, who had scarcely touched her sons before they left, stood straight up and cried. Three of the children were girls, but the other three were boys in their early teens, old enough, at least, to be of use to their mother.

"We'll take good care of them," Call said, wasting words. The young girls hung onto the widow's frayed skirts and cried. Call rode on, though with a bad feeling in his throat. It was better that the boys go; there was not enough work for them there. And yet they were the pride of the family. He would take as good care of them as he could, and yet what did that mean, with a drive of twenty-five hundred miles to make?

He made the Rainey ranch by sundown, a far more cheerful place than the Spettle homestead. Joe Rainey had a twisted leg, the result of an accident with a buckboard, but he got around on the leg almost as fast as a healthy man. Call was not as fond of Maude, Joe's fat red-faced wife, as Augustus was, but then he had to admit he was not as fond of any woman as Augustus was.

Maude Rainey was built like a barrel, with a bosom as big as buckets and a voice that some claimed would make hair fall out. It was the general consensus around Lonesome Dove that is she and Augustus had married their combined voices would have deafened whatever children they might have produced. She talked at the table like some men talked when they were driving mules.

Still, she and Joe had managed to produce an even dozen children so far, eight of them boys and all of the them strapping. Among them the Raineys probably ate as much food in one meal as the Spettles consumed in a week. As near as Call could determine they all devoted most of their waking hours to either growing or butchering or catching what they ate. Augustus's blue pigs had been purchased from the Raineys and was the first thing Maude thought to inquire about when Call rode up.

"Have you et that shoat yet?" Maude asked, before he could even dismount.

"No, we ain't," Call said. "I guess Gus is saving him for Christmas, or else he just likes to talk to him."

"Well, step down and have a wash at the bucket," Maude said. "I'm cooking one of that shoat's cousins right this minute."

It had to be admitted that Maude Rainey set a fine table. Call had no sooner got his sleeves rolled up and his hands clean than supper began. Joe Rainey just had time to mumble a prayer before Maude started pushing around the cornbread. Call was faced with more meats than he had seen on one table since he could remember: beefsteak and pork chops, chicken and venison, and a stew that appeared to contain squirrel and various less familiar meats. Maude got red in the face when she ate, as did everyone else at her table, from the steam rising off the platters.

"This is my varmint stew, Captain," Maude said.

"Oh," he asked politely, "what kind of varmints?"

"Whatever the dogs catch," Maude said. "Or the dogs themselves, if they don't manage to catch nothing. I won't support a lazy dog."

"She put a possum in," one of the little girls said. She seemed as full of mischief as her fat mother, who, fat or not, had made plenty of mischief among the men of the area before she settled on Joe.

"Now, Maggie, don't be giving away my recipes," Maude said. "Anyway, the Captain's likely et possum before."

"At least it ain't a goat," Call said, trying to make conversation. It was an unfamiliar labor, since at his own table he mostly worked at avoiding it. But he knew women liked to talk to their guests, and he tried to fit into the custom.

"We've heard a rumor that Jake is back and on the run," Joe Rainey said. He wore a full beard, which at the moment was shiny with pork drippings. Joe had a habit of staring straight ahead. Though Call assumed he had a neck joint other men, he had never him use it. If you happened to be directly in front of him, Joe would look you in the eye; but if you positioned a little to the side, his look went floating on by.

"Yes, Jake arrived," Call said. "He's been to Montana and says it's the prettiest country in the world."

"It's probably filt with women, then," Maude said. "I remember Jake. If he can't find a woman he gets so restless he'll scratch."
excerpt from Larry McMurtry's LonesomeDove

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 03.10.2011
i could have really tripped some people out in late night dorm talks with this one
If we equate the age of the earth to the period of our familiar twenty-four-hour day, the time that elapsed prior to man's appearance equals twenty-three hours and fifty-eight minutes. And of the two remaining minutes, representing man's time on earth, the period of civilized man is less than the last half-second!
Two sentences from Thomas H. Greer's A Brief History of Western Man, a book that has many, many more that are almost as tantalizing.

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 09.24.2010
only honest boys get candy
Years later Nordstrom pondered the degree of accident in human affection as do all intelligent mortals. What if it hadn't rained that Friday? How tentative and restless an idea: he ended up marrying Laura because it rained one Friday afternoon in May in Madison, Wisconsin. The rain led directly in specific steps to the Sunday afternoon which began in a light rain and a drive in her car into the country with a half-gallon of red Cribari wine. Then the rain lightened and it became warm and muggy and they walked through a woodlot into a field of green knee-high winter wheat. At the far edge of the field he spread his trench coat at her insistence and they sat down and drank the wine. She wore penny loafers, no stockings, a brown poplin skirt and a white sleeveless blouse. Sitting there while she laughed and talked he felt totally lucky for the first time in his life. Her legs were brown because she had gone to Florida for spring vacation. She stared upward at the marsh hawk skirting the field in quadrants. He was transfixed and wanted to lay there until the green wheat grew through him.

"You're looking up my legs," she said.

"No I wasn't."

"If you're honest you can kiss them."

"I was."

He kissed her legs until neither of them wore anything. And the hawk now perched in a tree in the woodlot could see an imprecise circle of flattened green wheat and two bodies entwined until late in the afternoon when it began to rain again. The man tried to cover the girl with the coat but she stood up, did a dance and drank more wine.
excerpt from Jim Harrison's novella The Man Who Gave Up His Name

BOOKS (permalink) 08.03.2010
a new BOOK REVIEW was posted today.

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 07.14.2010
move you ass!!!
"A textbook case. Trust you me, young man. Go after your girl. Life flies by, especially the bit that's worth living. You heard what the priest said. Like a flash."
"She's not my girl."
"Well, then, make her yours before someone else takes her, especially the litle tin soldier."
"You talk as if Bea were a trophy."
"No, as if she were a blessing," Fermin corrected. "Look, Daniel. Destiny is usually just around the corner. Like a thief, a hooker, or a lottery vendor: its three most common personifications. But what destiny does not do is home visits. You have to go for it."

excerpt from the shadow of the wind by carlos ruiz zafon

BOOKS, QUOTES (permalink) 05.20.2010
fact once again schooling fiction, even internationally best-selling fiction
excerpt of an email i received from a second year law student and in regard to my Girl with the Dragon Tattoo review:

I had never heard of Stieg Larsson or his novels until I wrote a paper about him earlier this year. He died intestate and his live-in girlfriend of 30 years received nothing from his estate. Everything went to his "estranged" father and brother (at least his girlfriend claims they were estranged). Larsson was a heavy smoker and died of a heart attack after walking up five flights of steps because the elevator was broken. He died before any of his novels were actually published so he never lived to see literary success. His fourth and final novel is on a laptop that his girlfriend is holding as ransom. So maybe it's only fitting that the technology reference probably references the computer that holds Larsson's last novel.

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 05.11.2010
What the hell happened to all these sons of the rich in Wally's generation, these well-brought-up boys who went off to the private schools? These damned schools were producing a new kind of scion of the elite: a boy utterly world-weary by the age of sixteen, cynical, phlegmatic, and apathetic around adults, although perfectly respectful and maddeningly polite, a boy inept at sports, averse to hunting and fishing and riding horses or handling animals in any way, a boy embarrassed by his advantages, desperate to hide them, eager to dress in backward baseball caps and homey pants and other ghetto rags, terrified of being envied, a boy facing the world without any visible signs of the joy of living and without ... balls ...

excerpt from tom wolfe's A Man in Full

BOOKS, QUOTES (permalink) 11.13.2009
a dressing down to rival all dressing downs since the inception of the dressing down
what follows is a two-paragraph excerpt from philip roth's indignation. the latter paragraph quickly became my favorite all-time, ever paragraph ... and i've read a fair share of paragraphs.

Never before had I witnessed such shock and solemnity—and fixed concentration—emanate from a congregation of the Winesburg student body. One could not imagine anyone present who even to himself dared to cry, "This is unseemly! This is not just!" The president could have come down into the auditorium and laid waste to the student assemblage with a club without inciting flight or stirring resistance. It was as though we already had been clubbed—and, for all the offenses committed, accepted the beating with gratification—before the assault had even begun.


"Does any one of you here," President Lentz began, "happen to know what happened in Korea on the day all you he-men decided to bring disgrace and disrepute down upon the name of a distinguished institution of higher learning whose origins lie in the Baptist Church? On that day, U.N. and Communist negotiators in Korea reached tentative agreement for a truce line on the eastern front of that war-torn country. I take it you know what 'tentative' means. It means that fighting as barbaric as any we have known in Korea—as barbaric as any American forces have known in any war at any time in our history—that very same fighting can flare up any hour of the day or night and take thousands upon thousands more young American lives. Do any of you know what occurred in Korea a few weeks back, between Saturday, October 13, and Friday, October 19? I know that you know what happened here then. On Saturday the thirteenth our football team routed our traditional rival, Bowling Green, 41 to 14. The following Saturday, the twentieth, we upset my alma mater, the University of West Virginia, in a thriller that left us, the heavy underdogs, on top by a score of 21 to 20. What a game for Winesburg! But do you know what happened in Korea that same week? The U.S. First Calvary Division, the Third Infantry Division, and my old outfit in the First War, the Twenty-fifth Infantry Division, along with our British allies and our Republic of Korea allies, made a small advance in the Old Baldy area. A small advance at a cost of four thousand casualties. Four thousand young men like yourselves, dead, maimed, and wounded, between the time we beat Bowling Green and the time we upset UWV. Do you have any idea how fortunate, how privileged, and how lucky you are to be watching football games on Saturdays and not there being shot at on Saturdays, and on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays as well? When measured against the sacrifices being made by young Americans of your age in this brutal war against the aggression of North Korean and Chinese Communist forces—when measured against that , do you have any idea how juvenile and stupid and idiotic your behavior looks to the people of Winesburg and to the people of Ohio and to the people of the United States of America, who have been made aware by their newspapers and the television of the shameful happenings of Friday night? Tell me, did you think you were being heroic warriors by storming our women's dormitories and scaring the coeds there half to death? Did you think you were being heroic warriors by breaking into the privacy of their rooms and laying your hands on their personal belongings? Did you think you were being heroic warriors by taking and destroying possessions that were not your own? And those of you who cheered them on, who did not raise a finger to stop them, who exulted in their manly courage, what about your manly courage? How's it going to serve you when a thousand screaming Chinese soldiers come swarming down on you in your foxhole, should those negotiations in Korea break down? As they will, I can guarantee you, with bugles blaring and bearing their bayonets! What am I going to do with you boys? Where are the adults among you? Is there not a one of you who thought to defend the female residents of Dowland and Koons and Fleming? I would have expected a hundred of you, two hundred of you; three hundred of you, to put down this childish insurrection! Why did you not? Answer me! Where is your courage? Where is your honor? Not a one of you displayed an ounce of honor! Not a one of you! I'm going to tell you something now that I never thought I would have to say: I am ashamed today to be president of this college. I am ashamed and I am disgusted and I am enraged. I don't want there to be any doubt about my anger. And I am not going to stop being angry for a long time to come, I can assure you of that. I understand that forty-eight of our women students—which is close to ten percent of them—forty-eight have already left the campus in the company of their deeply shocked and shaken parents, and whether they will return I do not yet know. What I reckon from the calls I have been receiving from other concerned families—and the phones in both my office and my home have not stopped ringing since midnight on Friday—a good many more of our women students are considering either leaving college for the year or permanently transferring out of Winesburg. I can't say that I blame them. I can't say that I would expect any daughter of mine to remain loyal to an educational institution where she has been exposed not merely to belittlement and humiliation and fear but to a genuine threat of physical harm by an army of hoodlums imagining, apparently, that they were emancipating themselves. Because that's all you are, in my estimation, those who participated and those who did nothing to stop them—an ungrateful, irresponsible, infantile band of vile and cowardly hoodlums. A mob of disobedient children. Kiddies in diapers unconstrained. Oh, and one last thing. Do any of you happen to know how many atom bombs the Soviets have set off so far in the year 1951? The answer is two. That makes a total of three atomic bombs altogether that our Communist enemies in the USSR have now successfully tested since they have discovered the secret of producing an atomic explosion. We as a nation are facing the distinct possibility of an unthinkable atomic war with the Soviet Union, all the while the he-men of Winesburg College are conducting their derring-do raids on the dresser drawers of the innocent young women who are their schoolmates. Beyond your dormitories, a world is on fire and you are kindled by underwear. Beyond your fraternities, history unfolds daily-warfare, bombings, wholesale slaughter, and you are oblivious of it all. Well, you won't be oblivious for long! You can be as stupid as you like, can even give every sign, as you did here on Friday night, of passionately wanting to be stupid, but history will catch you in the end. Because history is not the background—history is the stage! And you are on the stage! Oh, how sickening is your appalling ignorance of your own times! Most sickening of all is that it is just that ignorance that you are purportedly at Winesburg to expunge. What kind of a time do you think you belong to, anyway? Can you answer? Do you know? Do you have any idea that you belong to a time at all? I have spent a long professional career in the warfare of politics, a middle-of-the-road Republican fighting off the zealots of the left and the zealots of the right. But to me tonight those zealots are as nothing compared to you in your barbaric pursuit of thoughtless fun. 'Let's go crazy, let's have fun! How about cannibalism next!' Well, not here, gentlemen, not within these ivied walls will the delights of intentional wrongdoing go unheeded by those charged with the responsibility to this institution to maintain the ideals and values that you have travestied. This cannot be allowed to go on, and this will not be allowed to go on! Human conduct can be regulated, and it will be regulated! The insurrection is over. The rebellion is quelled. Beginning tonight, everything and everyone will be put back into its proper place and order restored to Winesburg. And decency restored. And dignity restored. And now you uninhibited he-men may rise and leave my sight. And if any of you decide you want to leave it for good, if any of you decide that the code of human conduct and rules of civilized restraint that this administration intends to strictly enforce to keep Winesburg Winesburg aren't suited to a he-man like yourself—that's fine with me! Leave! Go! The order has been given! Pack up your rebellious insolence and clear out of Winesburg tonight.
excerpt from indignation by philip roth

BOOKS (permalink) 11.04.2009
can the next one have pictures?
marty is part of a book club, or two. in these book clubs the one thing the participants have in common is not that they've all just read the assigned book, it is that they all have children and are desperate for a evening away. it's a guilty pleasure for marty but i'm in full support of her attending them. and not because i feel for her or want to support her interest or even because i feel it would be restorative to her psyche, it is because she always, always, always comes home with great and dirty and unbelievable stories about the woman at the gathering. entertaining stories. stories far more whimsical, slutty and enticing than one would find in some tired, formulaic overly edited tome.

my favorite morsel from the last outing was about this hyper cool woman/chic/mom from the neighborhood. when she lived in new york she was part of a book club and it was her turn to name the next book the group would read. running late, she dashed into a book store to grab the title she planned on suggesting but the store was sold out. desperately behind, she grabbed the neighboring text by the same author and presented it as one she vaguely recalled but liked and recommended the author.

over the next week as she read her last minute selection, she learned that this was an experimental work by the author and completely unlike her other works. and not only was it an experiment, but it was an experiment in erotic literature and one that seemed bent on testing the bounds of both sensual quantity and depravity. the woman was mortified. but she was also rapt by the pages and plowed through the epic, each libidinous tale of debauchery mortifying her more and more.

when she timidly arrived at the next book club ready to both explain and apologize, she was interrupted the group who insisted, unanimously, she pick the next book as well.

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 10.30.2009
if you can't see it you're not reading it
The stairway leading up to Doctor Reefy's office, in the Heffner Block above the Paris Dry Goods Store, was but dimly lighted. At the head of the stairway hung a lamp with a dirty chimney that was fastened by a bracket to the wall. The lamp had a tin reflector, brown with rust and covered with dust. The people who went up the stairway followed with their feet the feet of the many who had gone before. The soft boards of the stairs had yielded under the pressure of feet and deep hollows marked the way.

At the top of the stairway a turn to the right brought you to the doctor's door. To the left was a dark hallway filled with rubbish. Old chairs, carpenter's horses, step ladders and empty boxes lay in the darkness waiting for shins to be barked. The pile of rubbish belonged to the Paris Dry Goods Company. When a counter or a row of shelves in the store became useless, clerks carried it up the stairway and threw it on the pile.

Doctor Reefy's office was as large as a barn. A stove with a round paunch sat in the middle of the room. Around its base was piled sawdust, held in place by heavy planks nailed to the floor. By the door stood a huge table that had once been a part of the furniture of Herrik's Clothing Store and that had been used for displaying custom-made clothes. It was covered with books, bottles, and surgical instruments. Near the edge of the table lay three or four apples left by John Spaniard, a tree nurseryman who was Doctor Reefy's friend and who had slipped the apples out of his pocket as he came in the door.

At middle age Doctor Reefy was tall and awkward. The grey beard he later wore had not yet appeared, but on the upper lip grew a brown mustache. He was not a graceful man, as when he grew older, and was much occupied with the problem of disposing of his hands and feet.
excerpt from sherwood anderson's winesberg, ohio

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 08.21.2009
are you the user or the used?
The conviction was growing in me that the besetting problem was our culture's blindness to the distinction between the tool and the automatic machine. Everyone tended to treat them alike, as neutral agents of human intention. But machines clearly were not neutral or inert objects. They were complex fuel-consuming entities with certain definite proclivities and needs. Besides often depriving their users of skills and physical exercise, they created new and artificial demands - for fuel, space, money, and time. These in turn crowded out other important human pursuits, like involvement in family and community, or even the process of thinking itself. The very act of accepting the machine was becoming automatic.
excerpt from eric brende's Better Off

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 07.10.2009
possibly why it's good to move away from where you grew up
Perhaps by definition a neighborhood is the place to which a child spontaneously gives undivided attention; that's the unfiltered way meaning comes to children, just flowing off the surface of things. Nonetheless, fifty years later, I ask you: has the immersion ever again been so complete as it was in those streets, where every block, every backyard, every hour, every floor of every house — the walls, ceilings, doors, and windows of every last friend's family apartment — came to be so absolutely individualized? Were we ever again to be such keen recording instruments of the microscopic surface of things close at hand, of the minutest gradations of social position conveyed by linoleum and oilcloth, by yahrzeit candles and cooking smells, by Ronson table lighters and venetian blinds? About one another, we knew who had what kind of lunch in the bag in his locker and who ordered what on his hot dog at Syd's; we knew one another's every physical attribute — who walked pigeon-toed and who had breasts, who smelled of hair oil and who oversalivated when he spoke; we knew who among us was belligerent and who was friendly, who was smart and who was dumb; we knew whose mother had the accent and whose father had the mustache, whose mother worked and whose father was dead; somehow we even dimly grasped how every family's different set of circumstances sent each family a distinctive difficult human problem.
excerpt from american pastoral by philip roth

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 05.05.2009
do or die
Why did football bring me so to life? I can't say precisely. Part of it was my feeling that football was an island of directness in a world of circumspection. In football a man was asked to do a difficult and brutal job, and he either did it or got out. There was nothing rhetorical or vague about it; I chose to believe that it was not unlike the jobs which all men, in some sunnier past, had been called upon to do. It smacked of something old, something traditional, something unclouded by legerdemain and subterfuge. It had that kind of power over me, drawing me back with the force of something known, scarcely remembered, elusive as integrity—perhaps it was no more than the force of a forgotten childhood. Whatever it was, I gave myself up to the Giants utterly. The recompense I gained was the feeling of being alive.
excerpt from a fan's notes by frederick exley

BOOKS (permalink) 03.31.2009
you can tell me you wouldn't buy that book but i wouldn't believe you.
if i had to buy the life story of someone i know i would choose a friend of marty's. i would do so based upon the following facts.

1. she grew up with the last name of Grief in a small, midwestern town.
2. in her family there were six girls and one boy, born last, which made them known around town as The Grief Girls, even after the arrival of the seventh.
3. her home had a communal underwear drawer which meant on any given day you could be wearing a lean pair of jockey briefs or a tattered pair of hip-huggers worn by your mother the week before.

if you don't think the above points to a house, a home, or a group of lives of interest, you and i do not agree on what is note-worthy.

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 12.20.2007
for those resolutions you'll be penning soon.
First, how many minutes a week does the average father spend with his children in on-on-one conversation? According to a study done a few years ago, the number is seven minutes - seven minutes in an entire week! Is it vital that we spend time with our children, one-on-one? I think everyone would agree it's vital; it has great value. But is it urgent? No. Why not? Because the child is always there. We can do it anytime we want. So we tend to put off the highly valued task because we're dealing with urgencies all day.

Second, how many minutes a week do the average husband and wife spend in one-on-one conversation? According to the study, the number is twenty-seven minutes. Is it vital to spend time with your spouse? I think we'd agree, it's vital. But is it urgent? No. Why not? Same problem - the spouse is always there.
excerpt from hyrum smith's ten natural laws of successful time and life management ... a book i've read this time of year for seven years now.

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 11.01.2007
for those who thought halloween was frightening
As the audience filed back in, I began, cartoonishly, to envisage the fatal malady that, without anyone's recognizing it, was working away inside us, within each and every one of us: to visualize the blood vessels occluding under the baseball caps, the malignancies growing beneath the permed white hair, the organs misfiring, atrophying, shutting down, the hundreds of billions of murderous cells surreptitiously marching this entire audience toward the improbable disaster ahead. I couldn't stop myself. The stupendous decimation that is death sweeping us all away. Orchestra, audience, conductor, technicians, swallows, wrens - think of the numbers for Tanglewood alone just between now and the year 4000. Then multiply that times everything. The ceaseless perishing. What an idea! What maniac conceived it? And yet what a lovely day it is today, a gift of a day, a perfect day lacking nothing in a Massachusetts vacation spot that is itself as harmless and pretty as any on earth.
excerpt from Phillip Roth's The Human Stain

BOOKS (permalink) 10.12.2007
my reading list just got adjusted
an email excerpt:

As you turned me on to the original I thought you should know, if you had not already heard, Ken Follett just came out with the sequel to Pillars of the Earth. It is called World Without End, I have a copy and will be commencing reading in the next few days.

five minutes after reading this message i jetted to my local bookstore and made one of their copies mine. i've been waiting over fifteen years for follet to produce something along the lines of his original pillars, which for me has been one of the very finest tales i've been lucky enough to enjoy (via a college class marty took dealing in european architecture).

thanks for thinking of me snake. and for those of you who don't know pillars, fix that. for those that do, you know what to do.

KIDS, BOOKS (permalink) 06.19.2007
please bring it to my study jeeves
a note about yesterday's photo. yes, bella is sitting in a dresser-drawer. she pulled it from the dresser on the very left of the frame about six months ago. after removing the drawer she stacked the clothes that were in it back into the newly created void. she then lined the drawer with a blanket and pilfered a pillow from the tv room to use as a backrest. she calls it her reading box and she uses it everyday, sometimes for hours a day. she's less than a month out of kindergarten and reading series based chapter-books. and she has a cooler reading room than me.

BOOKS (permalink) 03.13.2007
i can now say a bona-fide celebrity has slept in my home.
one of my brother-in-laws wrote a book. like a for real one. real enough that as i'm leafing through the sunday times book section, i see them talking about it. i must say that it is pretty stinkin' cool to be reading the sunday paper on your porch during the first spring day and seeing someone you've shared holiday meals with written up in the ny times.

i'd be much more covetous of this achievement had i not heard about, even on the periphery, the many years of labor that went into the effort. i absolutely marvel at folks with the perseverance and patience to bring such an ambitious endeavor to fruition. well done and congratulations michael.

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 02.02.2007
i love me some purty words
i have been quite neglectful of my reading commitment for almost a year now (new job + new baby = no read). for about the last ten years, it has been my personal goal is to read 25 pages a day (and 50 on weekends). back when i used to ride the subway to work, this was easily achieved. my subway ride has been replaced with a walking commute and three children, so, i've slipped, drastically. but beginning this month, i'm dusting off the precariously tall stack of books sitting on my windowsill and committing to getting back in the game.

additionally, i've decided to raise the stock of what i choose to read. i've always justified plugging lots of tripe into my reading rotation by saying i needed the fluff pieces to give my mind some downtime. then i considered all the terrible television and film i subject my ever-softening brain to and feel it is already spoon-fed generous quantities of pointless information and would benefit from being forced to get off the couch with a little more frequency. also, i liken reading authors who know what the hell they are doing to listening to the amelie soundtrack in a dark and quiet room. in example, here's a few bytes from my current tome, All the Kings Men:
There were a good many folks in the store, men in overalls lined up along the soda fountain, and women hanging around the counters where the junk and glory was, and kids hanging on skirts with one hand and clutching ice-cream cones with the other and staring out over their own wet noses at the world of men from eyes which resembled painted china marbles. The Boss just stood modestly back of the gang of customers at the soda fountain, with his hat in this hand and the damp hair hanging down over his forehead. He stood that way a minute maybe, and then one of the girls ladling up ice cream happened to see him, and got a look on her face as though her garter belt had busted in church, and dropped her ice-cream scoop, and headed for the back of the store with her hips pumping hell-for-leather (*) under the lettuce-green smock.
or this example:
   I took the card out of my pocket and gave it to him. He looked at the card for a minute, holding it off near arm's length as though he were afraid it would spit in his eye, then he turned it over and looked at the back side a minute till he was dead sure it was blank. Then he laid the hand with the card in it back down on his stomach, where it belonged, and looked at me. "You done come a piece," he said.
   "That's right," I said.
   "What you come fer?"
   "To see what's going on about the schoolhouse," I said.
   "You come a piece," he said, "to stick yore nose in somebody else's bizness."
   "That's right," I agreed cheerfully, "but my boss on the paper can't see it that way."
   "It ain't any of his bizness either."
   "No," I said, "but what's the ruckas about, now I've come all that piece?"
   "It ain't any of my bizness. I'm the Sheriff."
   "Well, Sherriff," I said, "whose business is it?"
   "Them as is tending to it. If folks would quit messen and let 'em."
(*) on the first excerpt, while i've heard it used, it occurred to me i hadn't the slightest notion what 'hell-for-leather' actually meant. even so, my mind could somehow picture the vigor behind that hip-charging woman. but, remaining mystified by the the phrase, i located the following explanation:
Hell for leather is a statement that is often confused with "Hell bent for leather". Hell for leather, in American vernacular, refers to an arduous walk that may have been strewn with difficulties and was a strain on footwear. A long and difficult walk, such as over rough terrain, might be referred to as hell for leather because of the abuse the leather footwear sustained during the walk.

"Hell bent for leather" has many uses and the most popular american use goes back to the 19th century american west when a particular livestock animal, such as a cow, bull or horse would be particularly difficult to handle. One of these troublesome creatures would cause their handler so much trouble that the owner or handler considered slaughter of the animal and turning the carcass into leather. When a horse or cattle became difficult to handle they were called "Hell bent for leather" meaning that the animal was hell bent to become a leather good.
source :
oh, it feels good to be off the bench and on the court again. i can already sense the irregular dance-steps of those neurons moving about.

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 01.24.2006
i judge happiness by how easily i can concentrate on the book i'm reading
First, let no one rule your mind or body. Take special care that your thoughts remain unfettered. One may be a free man and yet be bound tighter than a slave. Give men your ear, but not your heart. Show respect for those in power, but don't follow them blindly. Judge with logic and reason ...
excerpt from eragon by christopher paolini

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 11.09.2005
you're young, you got your health, what you need with a job?
If there is a recurring theme in (President James) Garfield's diaries it's this: I'd rather be reading. That might sound dull and perfunctory, but Garfield's book fever was a sickness. Take, for example, the commencement address he delivered at his alma mater Hiram College in the summer of 1880. Traditionally, these pep talks to college graduates are supposed to shove young people into the future with a briefcase bulging with infinitive verbs: to make, to produce, to do. Mr. Loner McBookworm, on the other hand, stands up and breaks it to his audience, the future achievers of America, that the price of the supposedly fulfilling attainment of one's personal and professional dream is the irritating way it cuts into one's free time. He tells them,

It has occurred to me that the thing you have, that all men have enough of, is perhaps the thing that you care for the least, and that is your leisure - the leisure you have to think; the leisure you have to be let alone; the leisure you have to throw the plummet into your mind, and sound the depth and dive for things below.

the only thing stopping this address from turning into a slacker parable is the absence of the word "dude." Keep in mind that at that moment Garfield was a presidential candidate. The guy who theoretically wants the country's most demanding, hectic, brain-dive-denying job stands before these potential gross national product producers advising them to treat leisure "as your gold, as your wealth, as your treasure." As Garfield left the podium, every scared kid in the room could probably hear the sound of the stock market crashing him back to his old room at his parents' house where he'd have plenty of free time to contemplate hanging himself with his boyhood bedsheets.
excerpt from sarah vowell's assassination vacation

BOOKS, KIDS (permalink) 08.05.2005
american lit, bella-style
bella likes books. she will often sit around the house or on the front porch with her head in one of the books out of the family library. obviously she can't read yet but watching her you wouldn't know this given the way she moves her finger along the lines of text and how she turns the pages in appropriate measures. many a passerby has stopped while bella is sitting on the stoop with a hefty tome in her lap and me mowing the lawn to ask if that little girl is reading that book. my reply, why the hell wouldn't she be?

she mostly reads out loud so any around may enjoy the story as well. i will say with parent-like conviction that there's nothing quite like a bella-reading. if she's enjoying a nancy drew, she may rename her colleen. and if nancy, or rather colleen, runs into some bad guys it's not that unusual for her to be set on fire. but since she's the star and smart and strong, she knows to jump into a conveniently ever-present pool of water thus extinguishing the flames. and then, as with all good adolescent fiction, a bursting can of whoop-ass gets opened up on the dastardly saps who chose, unwisely, to set poor nancy, uhm, colleen, on fire in the first place.

QUOTES, BOOKS, FAITH (permalink) 06.01.2005
i just can't get enough of this stuff. never ever.
During pretrial hearings, Ron's behavior in the courtroom served to underscore his lawyers' contention that he was mentally incompetent. He appeared with a cloth sign attached to the seat of his prison jumpsuit that read, EXIT ONLY; his attorneys explained that he wore the sign to ward off the Mormon angel Moroni, who Ron believed was an evil homosexual spirit trying to invade his body through his anus. He believed that this same sodomizing spirit had already taken possession of Judge Hansen's body, which is why Ron made a point of shouting profanities at the judge and addressing him with such epithets as "Punky Brewster" and "f*cking punk."
excerpt from Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

QUOTES, BOOKS, FAITH (permalink) 05.18.2005
do you have faith? this guy does.
Under the new rules, Matilda was no longer allowed to drive, handle money, or talk to anyone outside the family when Dan wasn't present, and she had to wear a dress at all times. The children were pulled out of school and forbidden to play with their friends. Dan decreed that the family was to receive no outside medical care; he began treating them himself by means of prayer, fasting, and herbal remedies. In July 1983, when their fifth child was born, a son, Dan delivered the baby at home and circumcised the boy himself.

They began raising much of their own food, scavenging the rest from dumpsters behind grocery stores, where stale, unsold bread and overripe produce were regularly discarded. Dan turned off the gas and electricity. No publications of any kind were allowed in the home, except Latter Day Saints books and magazines. Dan even got rid of all their watches and clocks, believing the should "keep time by the spirit." When Matilda disobeyed Dan, he spanked her.

Spank was the verb Dan used. According to Matilda, the blows he delivered felt more like "thumps". And when he thumped her, he often did it in front of Dan's mother, his brothers, and all their children. Afterward, he warned Matilda that if she continued to disobey, she would be forced out of the marriage without her children - who, according to the principles elucidated in The Peace Maker, were the father's property.

Dan also announced that he intended to engage in spiritual wifery at the earliest opportunity. And the first woman he proposed taking as a plural wife was Matilda's oldest daughter - his own stepdaughter.
excerpt from Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

WEB, BOOKS (permalink) 03.03.2005
it's about time
my goal was to read four books on my two week holiday break in december. on the down-side, i only got through two and half books. on the up-side, the exercise woke up my hibernating literary sex-drive. so much so that this is the first time i've updated the reading section in several months or six books, however you prefer to look at it.

QUOTES, BOOKS, SCIENCE (permalink) 08.03.2004
one of the most enticing book openings i've EVER read
Welcome. And congratulations. I am delighted that you could make it. Getting here wasn't easy, I know. In fact, I suspect it was a little tougher than you realize.

To begin with, for you to be here now trillions of drifting atoms had somehow to assemble in an intricate and intriguingly obliging manner to create you. It's an arrangement so specialized and particular that it has never been tried before and will only exist this once. For the next many years (we hope) these tiny particles will uncomplainingly engage in all the billions of deft, cooperative efforts necessary to keep you intact and let you experience the supremely agreeable but generally under appreciated state known as existence.

Why atoms take this trouble is a bit of a puzzle. Being you is not a gratifying experience at the atomic level. For all their devoted attention, your atoms don't actually care about you - indeed, don't even know that you are there. They don't even know that they are there. They are mindless particles, after all, and not even themselves alive. (It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time, you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had once been you.) Yet somehow for the period of your existence they will answer to a single overarching impulse; to keep you you.


Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth's mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life's quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result - eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly - in you.
excerpt from the introduction of bill bryson's, A Short History of Nearly Everything. detail here

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 06.03.2004
what does that mean?
The Wart did not know what Merlyn was talking about, but he liked him to talk. He did not like the grown-ups who talked down to him, but the ones who went on talking in their usual way, leaving him to leap along in their wake, jumping at meanings, guessing, clutching at known words, and chuckling at complicated jokes as they suddenly dawned. He had the glee of the porpoise then, pouring and leaping through strange seas.
excerpt from t.h. white's the once and future king

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 03.11.2004
i think bush and this guy have the same agent
How the agent explained his plan to me was, we weren't targeting the smartest people in the world, just the most.
excerpt from Survivor by chuck palahniuk

BOOKS (permalink) 11.12.2003
parenthood hasn't changed me
giving.jpgin college i read shel silverstein's the giving tree in about 4 minutes and thought it both cute and well executed.

when reading this book to my daughter last sunday morning in front of the fire, i almost couldn't finish it because i was on the brink of crying.

it's going to be a long fatherhood.

BOOKS (permalink) 10.17.2003
i hope it's still not warm

in college i majored in english. unfortunately i was not a member of the cool and sexy camp of creative writing, that was better left to the james kelly's of our world. my specialty was in analyzing the literary greats. while my first college roommate wrote a three page study on the black jellybeans left in the base of his mother's easter dish i was dissecting d.h. lawrence's rocking horse winner, explaining how the young boy was having sex with his mother and dying on the cross all while madly riding his wooden, rope-maned steed (the key was in the eyes, the boy's eyes crack the mystery wide open). i didn't exactly seek this discipline out, it's just what came easy to me, it's how my mind operated, and by the end of it all i was pretty good at it if i may for once make this site about me.

last tuesday night i was forced to use my powers not on the likes of Nabakov's Lolita but instead on Frankel's Once Upon a Potty. the task at hand, making isabella understand what was passing through the main character's skull when she defecated not in her potty but right next to it. many would think that explaining this simple scene would be an eyes-closed kind of exercise for someone trained in the craft. but i spent forty minutes on it before looking into bella's tired eyes and giving up. i accept that in the very near future i will find a tiny, toppled turd on the floor inches from bella's very own portable lavatory, all because i was unable to effectively convey the nuances of prudence's thought processes to my eldest child.

furthermore, when i find this misplaced turd on the floor, somewhere in my home will be a content and proud isabella. when i find her she will be smiling and by the time i pick her up i will be smiling too. but, i won't be smiling for the reasons you may think. my grin will come from the fact that i will feign ignorance of the mishap and marty, ever true to her nature, will be the one to scrape human feces off our breakfast room floor with a not-thick-enough paper towel.

QUOTES, SOCIETY, BOOKS (permalink) 03.13.2003
i think i'd get my hate on
My mother's mistress had three boys, one 21, one 19 and one 17. Old mistress had gone away to spend the day one day. Mother always worked in the house. She didn't work on the farm in Missouri. While she was alone, the boys came in and threw her down on the floor and tied her down so she couldn't struggle, and one after the other used her as long as they wanted for the whole afternoon.

Mother was sick when her mistress came home. When the old mistress wanted to know what was the matter with her, she told her what the boys had done. She whipped them and that's the way I came to be here.

Mary Estes Peters, former slave

i've often heard people comment on the 'misdirected' hate of our oppressed towards the living ancestors of these evil-doers saying things like "i didn't do it" or "you can't hold me accountable for what someone did a 100 years ago". i may have even uttered this a time or two myself. that said, if this happened to my mother or grandmother, etc i think i may harbor some ill-will, however ill-logical it may seem to someone who doesn't have this as part of their family tree.

the un-correctable nature of this history totally sucks. but the even sadder fact is that this history is still being written.

QUOTES, BOOKS, HUMOR (permalink) 12.12.2002
it's not just me that talks about em
Like anyone else, I maintained a healthy interest in farts, all ten varieties - the silent but deadly, the slow leaks, the hissers, fizzers, poppers, croakers, bangers, cheek-flappers, tail-gunners, and cargo farts, the ones that deliver a load - and this one was in a class all its own. A small dark cloud of a fart such as an alien from outer space might deliver to Earth, necessitating the evacuation of cities.
excerpt from garrison keillor's Lake Wobegon Summer 1956

QUOTES, BOOKS, KIDS (permalink) 10.02.2002
what it's all about
He was remembering the nights he'd sat upstairs with one or both of his boys or with his girl in the crook of his arm, their damp bath-smelling heads hard against his ribs as he read aloud to them from Black Beauty or The Chronicles of Narnia. How his voice alone, its palpable resonance, had made them drowsy. These were evenings, and there were hundreds of them, maybe thousands, when nothing traumatic enough to leave a scar had befallen the nuclear unit. Evenings of plain vanilla closeness in his black leather chair; sweet evenings of doubt between the nights of bleak uncertainty. They came to him now, these forgotten counterexamples, because in the end, when you were falling into water, there was no solid thing to reach for but your children.
excerpt from The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

BOOKS (permalink) 04.11.2002
no library is complete without it
one of the worst things about being married is having to share the free selections from the quality paperback club membership with your spouse.

walt and i were in a heated argument as to whether one of our selections should be the newly available The Clitoral Truth or not. i?ll let you intuit who was voting against us getting it.

in a fit of frustration i suggested that she use one of her selections to get the book How to Make People Like You. i further suggested that she might even consider using both of her choices on that so she can get two copies given that amount of help she needed.

suffice it to say, we will not be getting The Clitoral Truth with this order.


QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 03.27.2002
all facades one day crumble
And, in that moment Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later. For the first time he realized that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps, love, adopted a role called Being a Father so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life. And now that boy, that good actor, had grown old and fragile and tired, wearier than ever at the thought of trying to hoist the Protector?s armor back onto his shoulders again, now, so far down the line.
excerpt from The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

QUOTES, BOOKS, HUMOR (permalink) 01.07.2002
i won't have it
The woman in charge of costuming assigned us our outfits and gave us a lecture on keeping things clean. She held up a calendar and said, ?Ladies, you know what this is. Use it. I have scraped enough blood out from the crotches of elf knickers to last me the rest of my life. And don?t tell me, ?I don?t wear underpants, I?m a dancer.? You?re not a dancer. If you were a real dancer you wouldn?t be here. You?re an elf and you?re going to wear panties like an elf.
excerpt from Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 10.11.2001
another sucky day at the office
At the Chatelet de Paris there was a long, wide cellar, which was eight feet below the level of the Seine. It had neither windows nor ventilators, the only opening was the door; men could enter, but not air. For a ceiling the cellar had a stone arch, and for a floor, ten inches of mud. It had been paved with tiles, but, under the oozing of the waters, the pavement had rotted and broken up. Eight feet above the floor, a long massive beam crossed this vault from side to side; from this beam there hung, at intervals, chains three feet in length, and at the end of these chains there were iron collars. Men condemned to the galleys were put into this cellar until the day of their departure for Toulon. They were pushed under this beam, where each had his irons swinging in the darkness waiting for him. The chains, those pendent arms, and the collars, those open hands, seized these wretches by the neck. They were riveted, and they were left there. The chain being too short, they could not lie down. They remained motionless in this cave, in this blackness, under this timber, almost hung, forced to monstrous exertions to reach their bread or their pitcher, the arch above their heads, the mud up to their knees, their excrement running down their legs, collapsing with fatigue, their hips and knees giving way, hanging by their hands to the chain to rest, unable to sleep except standing, and constantly woken up by the strangling of the collar: some did not wake up. In order to eat, they had to drag their bread, which was thrown into the mud, up the leg with a heel, to within reach of the hand. How long did they stay this way? A month, two months, six months sometimes; one remained a year. It was the antechamber to the galleys. Men were put there for stealing a hare from the king.
Excerpt from Victor Hugo?s Les Miserables

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 08.09.2001
And, I thought this book was a comedy
If anything is horrible, if there is a reality that surpasses our worst dreams, it is this: to live, to see the sun, to be in full possession of manly vigor, to have health and joy, to laugh heartily, to rush toward a glory that lures you on, to feel lungs that breathe, a heart that beats, a mind that thinks, to speak, to hope, to love: to have mother, wife, children, to have sunlight, and suddenly, in less time than it takes to cry out, to lunge into an abyss, to fall, to roll, to crush, to be crushed, to see the heads of grain, the flowers, the leaves, the branches, unable to catch hold of anything, to feel your sword useless, men under you, horses over you, to struggle in vain, your bones broken by some kick in the darkness, to feel a heel gouging your eyes out of their sockets, raging at the horseshoe between your teeth, to stifle, to howl, to twist, to be under all this, and to say, ?Just then I was a living man!?
Excerpt from Victor Hugo?s Les Miserables

QUOTES, BOOKS, HUMOR (permalink) 07.20.2001
There is beauty in all things
It was Easter Sunday in Chicago, and my sister Amy and I were attending an afternoon dinner at the home of our friend John. The weather was nice, and he'd set up a table in the backyard so that we might sit in the sun. Everyone had taken their places, when I excused myself to visit the bathroom, and there, in the toilet, was the absolute biggest turd I have ever seen in my life - no toilet paper or anything, just this long and coiled specimen, as thick as a burrito. [more]
excerpt from Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

A fortunate few of you have already heard tell of my similar experience while visiting the nearby and ominous Amish country, mid-west chapter. For those who questioned my motives for sharing this taboo yarn, I now present the academic work of Mr. Sedaris as my evidence that it is noteworthy, it is interesting, and it is very, very funny.

The word 'turd' appeared six times in this short story. I actually had to add it to my word processor's local dictionary for convenience.

While Microsoft Word does not recognize the word turd, it can automagically change "Ameria" to "America".

Nicholson Baker, in his work the Fermata, referred to the male member approximately 67 times and never used the same descriptor twice.

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 02.08.2001
And, you thought you were having a bad day II
Think of it - think of that black slave man filled with fear and dread, hearing the screams of his wife, his mother, his daughter being taken - in the barn, the kitchen, in the bushes! Think of it, my dear brothers and sisters! Think of hearing wives, mothers, daughters, being raped! And you were too filled with fear of the rapist to do anything about it!
excerpt from The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley

BOOKS, WEB (permalink) 02.04.2001
Are you reading over my shoulder
Still looking for something to read? Perhaps I can encourage or deter you from a particular book. Feel free to have a look at what I've been reading and get my two cents on the work. It aint the new york times, but neither is your subscription price.

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 01.16.2001
And, you thought you were having a bad day
We crouch behind every corner, behind every barrier of barbed wire, and hurl heaps of explosives at the feet of the advancing enemy before we run. The blast of the hand-grenades impinges powerfully on our arms and legs; crouching like cats we run on, overwhelmed by this wave that bears us along, that fills us with ferocity, turns us into thugs, into murderers, into God only knows what devils; this wave that multiplies our strength with fear and madness and greed of life seeking and fighting for nothing but our deliverance. If your own father came over with them you would not hesitate to fling a bomb at him.
excerpt from All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

BOOKS (permalink) 11.01.2000
check your mate
i am currently reading b. franklin's autobiography. for any who have not yet experienced the father of self-improvement's insights, i loftily recommend it. in researching some of his ancillary efforts, i ran into this item, the morals of chess, he wrote for someone somewhere comparing life to the sport of chess. for any who play, i intuit that you would appreciate.

BOOKS (permalink) 09.13.2000
I was looking for something to read
Are you ready to celebrate banned book week (September 23-30)? Your local library is. And, to commemorate the event they have published their list of the most challenged books so that we can all enjoy.

Each time I look at one of these lists, I am astounded anew. I mean I guess we should count ourselves lucky that the people challenging these books are not well-read. So many of the books listed are laughable (i.e. huck finn, tom sawyer, pillars of the earth (gasp), james and the giant peach) knowing other works that are out there. And of course, at the same time I love the list because it provides me with books I would not have otherwise read (i.e. the stupids, the face on the milk carton, the boy who lost his face).

Pretending "stuff" doesn't exist is not helping your child. I would think that any parent would want to expose their children to said "stuff" while they are there to offer guidance and explanation, intellectually addressing their questions and curiosities. Because, if you don't, someone else will (insert crazy organ music here) and odds are that someone may not deliver an interpretation you find acceptable. Wake up!

BOOKS, FILM (permalink) 07.22.2000
The Best of ... whatever
In my list of the best things to come out of the new millennium, all of the BEST OF lists rate as number one. There was a "Best of" list for every conceivable topic around. See how you fair against myself in exposure to what the pundits say we should have all read or viewed. On paper, I'm not half the renaissance man I thought I was.
And, make sure to check out the readers poll. You wanna talk about people being all over the map. I wouldn't try to make sense of it, cuz it just don't add up.

   AFI's top 100 films
   AFI's top 100 comedy films
   Modern Library's top 100 novels
   Radcliffe's top 100 novels
   Modern Library's Readers top 100 novels
   NEA's Top 100 Children Books

Welcome Professional MonoRail TroyScripts Gallery