Resident Moron

Bringing it.

Poetry Review: “I Cut My Finger” by Stuart Ross

Whimsical and surreal, I Cut My Finger plucks images from different ends of the brain to recreate our concepts of everyday objects in an absurd and original, yet accessible, fashion. From the quirky front cover, where scratchy penmanship and minimalist sketches depict the feature poems, to opening works “The Door” and “I Cut My Finger,” the reader is introduced to a world where up is not necessarily up, and where word play and philosophical observation of material things reveal poetry in unexpected places.

The title poem for this collection sets the lyrical tone to one of constantly restructuring or re-imagining ‘the world as we know it':

… I thought that for me
mountains are big solid things poking into the air,
like at god,
but for people for whom solid
is the absence of solid,
then they’ve got upside-down mountains
pointing towards earth. (I Cut My Finger)

For Stuart Ross, this process entails the deliberate examination of language, which he accomplishes in a true tongue-in-cheek manner. For example, in “I Cut My Finger” he flirts with the literal meaning of the word ‘recount': “Oh the adventures I had climbing, / let me recount them (in case I counted / wrong the first time).” Similarly, he draws attention to the peculiarities of the English language:

I let Misery have one
right in the stomach. (Not
the actual organ itself,
but the place on his body
where the stomach is under.) (How I Became Exquisite)

Not only is the composition and function of words confronted frequently, but also that of material, everyday objects, as in “I Cut My Finger” (“I tried calling Dana but there wasn’t any phone / and I cut my finger / dialing a rock”) and “50 O’Clock” (“Everything was made of something else”). Furthermore, Ross makes no assumptions about the reader’s familiarity with the mundane–he defines everyday forms as though explaining them to an extraterrestrial creature:

He racked his brains to recall
what “don’t” meant and meanwhile
he bumped his head on a building.
A building’s a square thing with a hole inside
where people live or maybe work. (A Guy, Some Flippers, A Building)

In doing so, he effectively demonstrates that words are just symbols of our experience as human beings, symbols that we take for granted in their consistency and meaning until otherwise challenged. Therefore, while the point of view employed by Ross may be uniquely obscure, his mode consistently investigates images from new perspectives to create a patterned art.

In a further exercise of word play, Ross seems at times to write–or organize–according to a stream of consciousness. At the end of “How I Became Exquisite” he writes about “approaching stray orphans,” and the next poem is titled “An Orphan.” This in turn ends with “beside an empty ocean,” and the next poem is titled “The Ocean.” Further along, “The Bed” ends with the attempted burial of a mother; the next poem, “Song,” describes the event of visiting his family members’ graves. This creates a flow within the collection itself, tying together poems and prose which otherwise explore a wide range of topics and experiences.

Another brief exercise of stream of consciousness can be found in “Mary is the Merry One,” where scattered images seem at first randomly organized, except that some association is found to exist among the words (though rarely behind the concepts they conjure or represent). Take the first stanza, for example:

Do you go to many parties?
We joined a party of hunters.
It pays to be particular in choosing a friend.
Sally is my particular friend.

The first line, a straightforward conversation-starter, is followed by a phrase that is unrelated other than employing [a novel exploration of] the word ‘party’. The third line, words of advice, follow semantically from the first (you go to a party with friends, generally). The fourth line restructures the grammatical role of the word ‘particular’ from the third line, accompanied by a repetition of ‘friend’. The remainder of the poem follows in somewhat the same pattern, though at times the method and message are harder to decipher.

Ross expresses throughout his collection some political and media influence, specifically within his piece “What’s Important Now,” thus dating himself to his particular culture and responding appropriately. Ross’s social and sometimes political observations are mirrored by  sharp self-explorations and questioning. In “The Bed” we encounter one philosophical exploration of consciousness and self-existence when Ross states that “A lighting fixture on the ceiling contained several dead flies, but only when it was on.” “Others Like Me” describes the actions we sometimes take or the rationalizations we provide to confirm that we are, in fact, alive, while “I Step Off The Plane” apologizes for the uncertainty and implications of consciousness:

A kitten is curled up, its eyes closed: I cannot tell whether it is sleeping or dead. Oh no, sorry – I cannot tell whether I am sleeping or dead.

Not only does Ross succeed in expressing his thoughts and observations in a concrete fashion, but he also forces the reader to cogitate often odd images and sentiments to find a meaning that speaks to their experiences and understanding. “The Surface” is riddled with oddities of speech, from the self-awareness of the poem itself (“The words agonized over their own inertia”; similarly, in “Sediment,” “…a poet better than me / would insert a really good sediment / metaphor right here. (Or, more poignantly, / here.)”) to phrases that seem to express a sort of nostalgia for past ambitions and ideals. There is also a dreamlike quality and depth to these phrases, which emphasizes the irony of the title. For instance, “she slept urgently amid the words” may evoke a feeling of unease, because our experience of ‘sleep’ and ‘urgency’ are intuitively in conflict. Similarly, later, “I recognized / my eyelids. I could pick them out / in a lineup” seems an impossible phrase because the very act of exposing our eyelids is to give up sight, and so the reader shakes their head and tries again.

The dissonance with which the reader responds to the mixed images generation from Stuart’s mind will give cause to a double-take effect, so to speak, whereby the reader is forced to take better care in pondering their interpretation. This is because, while the descriptive qualities of Ross’s poems paint quite a picture for the reader, the scene is not familiar. In this sense, I would argue that Ross is imparting his imaginative abilities and successfully broadening the horizons of creative thought among his readers.

February 8, 2009 Posted by | Reading, Writing | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

‘The Mist’ Movie Review

I really enjoyed Stephen King’s novel Mist, but couldn’t possibly see how it could translate to film without coming off corny, with plain stupid special effects.

I eat my words.

The Mist does a great job of observing, not just imitating, the growing panic among members of a community trapped together when a strange mist encompasses them. Every time the door opens, somebody dies, so once a few Darwin awards are handed out they decide to stay put. Come nighttime, however, it becomes obvious that the …things on the outside can find their way in, and escape seems vital – but is it worth the risk? Two opposing camps form (the crazy lady and her religious converts versus the rational townsfolk: “Hey lady, I believe in God too – but I don’t believe he’s the bloodthirsty asshole you make him out to be”), and violence ensues.

There’s a lot of witty repartee amid the chaos. There’s some bitch-slapping and plenty nasty words exchanged (“The day I need a friend like you, I’ll just take a little squat and shit one out”). A bit o’ blood (a given). Sex (implied). Crazy creatures in the night that we actually get a good look at. A couple pretty ladies and a handsome leading man. Suspense. Conspiracy theory. Sacrifice. Guns. Punching. What more could you want?

The ending of the movie is spectacularly more depressing than that of the book. It’s a true mind-f***. You’ll be saying “damn, that sucks ass” for days.

It’s not a fast-paced film, so there’s not much more I can say – sans spoilers – other than, go for it. Keep a cuddly friend nearby, if necessary.

December 13, 2008 Posted by | Movies, Writing | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The biology of romantic relationships

I’m into psychology; I’m into evolutionary theory; I’m into self-improvement. Since my mother is a few months away from an empty nest, I bought her a book combining my interests and beliefs, but decided to breeze through it myself, first (if occasionally taking notes and marking sections of interest through 400 pages in a few hours can be considered “breezing”). It’s part of a group of “the owner’s manual to you” series by M.D.s Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz, my pick of which was You: Being Beautiful.

The book focuses on three main concepts of beauty: looking beautiful (i.e. attaining healthier-looking skin and hair), feeling beautiful (i.e. overcoming chronic pain, depression, or fatigue), and being beautiful (i.e. strategies for finding and embracing happiness through quality of life). The following is an excerpt from the third section, “Being Beautiful”:

You need to look beautiful – at least if you hope to continue the species – because it’s used to attract a mate. You need to feel beautiful to signal that you are healthy and worthy of parenting a potential mate’s offspring. And when someone indicates that he or she is attracted to you and interested in what it takes to perpetuate the species, it naturally gives you the joy and confidence you need to be beautiful. On every level, love, not to mention the intimate/exciting/body-melting sexual relationship that goes with it, is the biggest beauty boost of them all.

Great, now I feel unattractive and lonely. Time to go find myself a relationship self-help book.

December 1, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Reading | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Phantoms in the Brain

When I was reading one of my favourite books to date, “Phantoms in the Brain” by V.S. Ramachandran, I kept note of some facts that I found useful or particularly interesting. 

Fun Facts:

  • In multiple personality disorders, eye structures and blood chemistry can change with different personas
  • You can identify certain diseases by a person’s smell, for instance: diabetic ketosis – sweetish nail polish breath, typhoid fever – freshly baked bread odor, scrofula – stale-beer stench, rubella – newly plucked chicken feathers, lung abscess – foul smell, liver failure – ammonia-like windex odor, pseudomonas infection – grape juice, isovaleric acidemia – sweaty feet smell (yum yum)
  • Poetry is processed in the right temporal lobe
  • A distressed person who experiences a stroke in the corpus collosum might experience her left hand trying to strangle her – this is because the suicidal tendencies of the right hemisphere are no longer inhibited by the rational left hemisphere
  • A stroke in the left brain might result in a patient who is anxious, depressed, and worried about prospect for recovery; a stroke in the right brain, however, might result in a patient who is blissfully indifferent
  • There are two different smile circuits: (1) spontaneous smile – basal ganglia (no thought), (2) conscious smile (brain giving direction) – auditory to motor cortex. Therefore, a stroke in the right motor cortex means the instruction to smile results in right-side only, while a spontaneous smile is normal. A stroke in the basal ganglia results in a patient being incapable of a normal spontaneous smile, but an actual attempt at smiling works out alright
  • A paralyzed person may still lift their arms when yawning, because a different brain pathway is used than a conscious attempt to lift the arms (unconscious lifting linked to respiratory centers in the brain stem)
  • The Penfield homunculus is the name for the “little man in the brain,” whereby the body is mapped on the cerebral cortex. Brain circuitry can be remapped because the brain is flexible to change even in adulthood, which is why phantom limbs appear. These phantoms limbs can often experience sensation when the area mapped closest on the brain is stimulated on the body (see map below):

  • There are two visual pathways: (1) old – goes to superior colliculus in brain stem, then to parietal lobes, used for orienting behaviour and nicknamed ‘the zombie in the brain’, (2) new – travels to lateral geniculate nucleus (a relay station for primary visual cortex), used for identifying objects. Damage to the new pathway is what we know as blindness in the conventional sense. Damage to the old pathway is known as “blindsight,” whereby patients can be somewhat oriented toward an object or target without consciously knowing how or what it is. 
  • Charles Bonnet syndrome affects people whose vision has become compromised by glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy. Many people develop hallucinations though they are either completely or partially blind (as if to replace reality) – it goes unreported for fear of being labeled senile or insane
  • Everyone has a natural blind spot, called ‘scotoma’, but the region is automatically filled in by other visual areas of other brain

His distortions are due to the fact that the homunculus is proportioned according to the amount of cortex devoted to each body part (more devotion = more sensation)

October 30, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Reading | , , , , , | Leave a comment

75 Books Every Woman Should Read

A list of books that are essential for the heart and soul of every woman. Jezebel called on everyday readers to help with its compilation and came up with the following, in no particular order (books I’ve read in italics):

  1. The Lottery (and Other Stories)’ by Shirley Jackson
  2. ‘To the Lighthouse’ by Virginia Woolf
  3. ‘The House of Mirth’ by Edith Wharton
  4. ‘White Teeth’ by Zadie Smith
  5. ‘The House of the Spirits’ by Isabel Allende
  6. ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’ by Joan Didion
  7. ‘Excellent Women’ by Barbara Pym
  8. ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath
  9. ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ by Jean Rhys
  10. ‘The Namesake’ by Jhumpa Lahiri
  11. ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison
  12. ‘Madame Bovary’ by Gustave Flaubert
  13. ‘Like Life’ by Lorrie Moore
  14. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen
  15. ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brontë
  16. ‘The Delta’ of Venus by Anais Nin
  17. ‘A Thousand Acres’ by Jane Smiley
  18. ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find (and Other Stories)’ by Flannery O’Connor
  19. ‘The Shipping News’ by E. Annie Proulx
  20. ‘You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down’ by Alice Walker
  21. ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ by Zora Neale Hurston
  22. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee
  23. ‘Fear of Flying’ by Erica Jong
  24. ‘Earthly Paradise’ by Colette
  25. ‘Angela’s Ashes’ by Frank McCourt
  26. ‘Property’ by Valerie Martin
  27. ‘Middlemarch’ by George Eliot
  28. ‘Annie John’ by Jamaica Kincaid
  29. ‘The Second Sex’ by Simone de Beauvoir
  30. ‘Runaway’ by Alice Munro
  31. ‘The Heart is A Lonely Hunter’ by Carson McCullers
  32. ‘The Woman Warrior’ by Maxine Hong Kingston
  33. ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Brontë
  34. ‘You Must Remember This’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  35. ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott (I knooow, how have I not read this yet?)
  36. ‘Bad Behavior’ by Mary Gaitskill
  37. ‘The Liars’ Club’ by Mary Karr
  38. ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou
  39. ‘A Tree Grows In Brooklyn’ by Betty Smith
  40. ‘And Then There Were None’ by Agatha Christie (one of my all-time favourites!!)
  41. ‘Bastard out of Carolina’ by Dorothy Allison
  42. ‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt
  43. ‘The Little Disturbances of Man’ by Grace Paley
  44. ‘The Portable Dorothy Parker’ by Dorothy Parker
  45. ‘The Group’ by Mary McCarthy
  46. ‘Persepolis’ by Marjane Satrapi
  47. ‘The Golden Notebook’ by Doris Lessing
  48. ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ by Anne Frank
  49. ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley
  50. ‘Against Interpretation’ by Susan Sontag
  51. ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’ by Julia Alvarez
  52. ‘The Good Earth’ by Pearl S. Buck
  53. ‘Fun Home’ by Alison Bechdel
  54. ‘Three Junes’ by Julia Glass
  55. ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ by Mary Wollstonecraft
  56. ‘Sophie’s Choice’ by William Styron
  57. ‘Valley of the Dolls’ by Jacqueline Susann
  58. ‘Love in a Cold Climate’ by Nancy Mitford
  59. ‘Gone with the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell
  60. ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ by Ursula K. LeGuin
  61. ‘The Red Tent’ by Anita Diamant
  62. ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ by Milan Kundera
  63. ‘The Face of War’ by Martha Gellhorn
  64. ‘My Antonia’ by Willa Cather
  65. ‘Love In The Time of Cholera’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  66. ‘The Harsh Voice’ by Rebecca West
  67. ‘Spending’ by Mary Gordon
  68. ‘The Lover’ by Marguerite Duras
  69. ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy
  70. ‘Tell Me a Riddle’ by Tillie Olsen
  71. ‘Nightwood’ by Djuna Barnes
  72. ‘Three Lives’ by Gertrude Stein
  73. ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ by Stella Gibbons
  74. ‘I Capture the Castle’ by Dodie Smith
  75. ‘Possession’ by A.S. Byatt 

Perhaps good gifts for the important women in your life. Many of these titles are unfamiliar – do any happen to hold a fond/significant place in your reading history? (List via Jezebel.)

October 7, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Reading | , , , | 1 Comment

30 Books to Read Before You’re 30

From Marc Chernoff at Brazen Careerist:

The 30 books listed here are of unparalleled prose, packed with wisdom capable of igniting a new understanding of the world.  Everyone should read these books before their 30th birthday.

The ones I’ve knocked off my list are italicized. :)

  1. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse – A powerful story about the importance of life experiences as they relate to approaching an understanding of reality and attaining enlightenment.
  2. 1984 by George Orwell – 1984 still holds chief significance nearly 60 years after it was written in 1949.  It is widely acclaimed for its haunting vision of an all-knowing government which uses pervasive, 24/7 surveillance tactics to manipulate all citizens of the populace.
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – The story surveys the controversial issues of race and economic class in the 1930’s Deep South via a court case of a black man charged with the rape and abuse of a young white girl.  It’s a moving tale that delivers a profound message about fighting for justice and against prejudice.
  4. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess – A nightmarish vision of insane youth culture that depicts heart wrenching insight into the life of a disturbed adolescent.  This novel will blow you away… leaving you breathless, livid, thrilled, and concerned.
  5. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway – A short, powerful contemplation on death, ideology and the incredible brutality of war.
  6. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – This masterpiece is so enormous even Tolstoy said it couldn’t be described as a standard novel.  The storyline takes place in Russian society during the Napoleonic Era, following the characters of Andrei, Pierre and Natasha… and the tragic and unanticipated way in which their lives interconnect.
  7. The Rights of Man by Tom Paine – Written during the era of the French Revolution, this book was one of the first to introduce the concept of human rights from the standpoint of democracy.
  8. The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau – A famous quote from the book states that “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”  This accurately summarizes the book’s prime position on the importance of individual human rights within society.
  9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez – This novel does not have a plot in the conventional sense, but instead uses various narratives to portray a clear message about the general importance of remembering our cultural history.
  10. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin – Few books have had as significant an impact on the way society views the natural world and the genesis of humankind.
  11. The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton – A collection of thoughts, meditations and reflections that give insight into what life is like to live simply and purely, dedicated to a greater power than ourselves.
  12. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell – Gladwell looks at how a small idea, or product concept, can spread like a virus and spark global sociological changes.  Specifically, he analyzes “the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable.”
  13. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham – Arguably one of the best children’s books ever written; this short novel will help you appreciate the simple pleasures in life.  It’s most notable for its playful mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie.
  14. The Art of War by Sun Tzu – One of the oldest books on military strategy in the world.  It’s easily the most successful written work on the mechanics of general strategy and business tactics.
  15. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – One of the greatest fictional stories ever told, and by far one of the most popular and influential written works in 20th-century literature.  Once you pick up the first book, you’ll read them all.
  16. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens – This is a tale that lingers on the topic of attaining and maintaining a disciplined heart as it relates to one’s emotional and moral life.  Dickens states that we must learn to go against “the first mistaken impulse of the undisciplined heart.”
  17. Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot – Probably the wisest poetic prose of modern times.  It was written during World War II, and is still entirely relevant today… here’s an excerpt: “The dove descending breaks the air/With flame of incandescent terror/Of which the tongues declare/The only discharge from sin and error/The only hope, or the despair/Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre–/To be redeemed from fire by fire./Who then devised this torment?/Love/Love is the unfamiliar Name/Behind the hands that wave/The intolerable shirt of flame/Which human power cannot remove./We only live, only suspire/Consumed by either fire or fire.”
  18. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller – This book coined the self-titled term “catch-22” that is widely used in modern-day dialogue.  As for the story, its message is clear: What’s commonly held to be good, may be bad… what is sensible, is nonsense.  Its one of the greatest literary works of the 20th century.  Read it.
  19. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Set in the Jazz Age of the roaring 20’s, this book unravels a cautionary tale of the American dream.  Specifically, the reader learns that a few good friends are far more important that a zillion acquaintances, and the drive created from the desire to have something is more valuable than actually having it.
  20. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – This novel firmly stands as an icon for accurately representing the ups and downs of teen angst, defiance and rebellion.  If nothing else, it serves as a reminder of the unpredictable teenage mindset.
  21. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – A smooth-flowing, captivating novel of a young man living in poverty who criminally succumbs to the desire for money, and the hefty phychological impact this has on him and the people closest to him.
  22. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli – This book does a great job at describing situations of power and statesmanship.  From political and corporate power struggles to attaining advancement, influence and authority over others, Machiavelli’s observations apply.
  23. Walden by Henry David Thoreau – Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days writing this book in a secluded cabin near the banks of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts.  This is a story about being truly free from the pressures of society.  The book can speak for itself:  “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
  24. The Republic by Plato – A gripping and enduring work of philosophy on how life should be lived, justice should be served, and leaders should lead.  It also gives the reader a fundamental understanding of western political theory.
  25. Lolita – This is the kind of book that blows your mind wide open to conflicting feelings of life, love and corruption… and at times makes you deeply question your own perceptions of each.  The story is as devious as it is beautiful.
  26. Getting Things Done by David Allen – The quintessential guide to organizing your life and getting things done.  Nuff said.
  27. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – This is the granddaddy of all self-improvement books.  It is a comprehensive, easy to read guide for winning people over to your way of thinking in both business and personal relationships.
  28. Lord of the Flies by William Golding – A powerful and alarming look at the possibilities for savagery in a lawless environment, where compassionate human reasoning is replaced by anarchistic, animal instinct.
  29. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – Steinbeck’s deeply touching tale about the survival of displaced families desperately searching for work in a nation stuck by depression will never cease to be relevant.
  30. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – This anticommunist masterpiece is a multifaceted novel about the clash between good and evil.  It dives head first into the topics of greed, corruption and deception as they relate to human nature.
I’ve got 7 years left to set the tone for the rest of my life. (Link.)

October 3, 2008 Posted by | Reading | , | Leave a comment

Sense and Sensibility

While reading the novel ‘Sense and Sensibility‘ by Jane Austen (author of a personal favourite of mine, ‘Pride and Prejudice‘), I jotted down a couple of quotes that caught my attention.

On stubbornness

Elinor thought it wisest to touch that point no more. She knew her sister’s temper. Opposition on so tender a subject would only attach her the more to her own opinion. (Chapter 12)

Ha! Tell me about it. Could be talking about my mom here.

On rain:

“How horrid all this is!” said [Mr. Palmer]. “Such weather makes everything and everybody disgusting. Dulness is as much produced within doors as without by rain. It makes one detest all one’s acquaintance. What the devil does Sir John mean by not having a billiard-room in his house? How few people know what comfort is! Sir John is as stupid as the weather.” (Chapter 20)

Well, good sir, your face is stupid.

(For more scholastic-oriented quotes from ‘Sense and Sensibility’, see this link.)

September 25, 2008 Posted by | Reading | , | Leave a comment

I Have a Love Affair

With books. Ha ha, bet you got all excited.

I cannot pass a book store without an extreme longing to go in; my friends know better than to let me, unless they are prepared to wait a good half hour while I browse. I don’t ever know what I’m looking for, but I can be certain I will find happiness.

So statistics like the one I just read on brip blap blow my mind.

From bookstatistics.com:

  • 58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.
  • 42% of college graduates never read another book.
  • 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
  • 70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

I…don’t understand. I once dated a guy who had never read a book. Obviously, I didn’t get to know him too well first, because if there’s one thing I’m picky about, it’s that a healthy love of learning exists in my counterpart. When we broke up, I gave him a copy of one of my favourite books, and guess what? He discovered that he loved to read.

There is so much out there, to appeal to any taste. Check out what’s on your friends’ bookshelves. Remember also that the more you read, the better you write – picking up that book could be a smart investment in your future.

As a bonus (woohoo!), the following is a poem I wrote in middle school, inspired by a poster in the library which gently suggested that patrons “please don’t eat the books”:

Please Don’t Eat The Books

These books are meant for sharing
Please show them love and caring
They’ll make you smart
Please show them heart
Please don’t eat the books

You can fold the pages
Or even read in stages
Do as you will
But hear me still
Just don’t eat the books

The paper makes you sick
It tastes like candle wick
I’m ashamed to say
I know this way
Because I ate a book =(

September 7, 2008 Posted by | Reading, Time to Kill, Writing | , | Leave a comment

For the ladies…

How to get over a heartbreak/breakup/male-based disappointment or emptiness:

Read Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight (*and sequels).

Now. Seriously. :)

*A good deal of the second novel, New Moon, follows the main female character through painful and stagnant heartbreak. If you are still in a bad place, stick to Twilight!

And yes, as a matter of fact I am reading a book a day. What’s it to ya? :P

September 2, 2008 Posted by | Reading | , , | Leave a comment

Famous words on humanity

Julian Barnes, “A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters”

“You keep forgetting things, or you pretend to. I can see there might be a positive side to this willful averting of the eye: ignoring the bad things makes it easier for you to carry on. But ignoring the bad things makes you end up believing that bad things never happen. You are always surprised by them. It surprises you that guns kill, that money corrupts, that snow falls in winter. Such naivety can be charming; alas, it can also be perilous.

Blame someone else, that’s always your first instinct. And if you can’t blame someone else, then start claiming the problem isn’t a problem anyway. Rewrite the rules, shift the goalposts. Simple case of mistaken identity. Problem disappears.”

Carol Shields, “Larry’s Party”:

“No one knows my eyes are blinking, adjusting, making leaps, asking the question inside the question…”

“Solstice, equinox. He loves the sound of those words, and remembers how a teacher back in high school once wrote them on the blackboard, putting a slash across the middle of equinox, equal night and day. What beautiful logic. The twice-yearly miracle. And here it is. Today. The vernal equinox. About time.”

On the rich: “They’re out of touch, they’re out to lunch, they breathe the dead air of their family privilege.”

“These words aren’t really me, they’re just the clothes I wear.”

T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:

“In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”

“Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
But at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;”

“I grow old…I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”

“We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.”

Simone de Beauvoir, “Le Deuxieme Sexe”:

“Je veux l’amour qui traverse l’ame de frissons ineffables, l’amour qui me met en pamoison…” (585)

Voltaire, “Candide”:

“Helas! dit l’autre, c’est l’amour; l’amour, le consolateur du genre humain, le conservateur de l’univers, l’ame de tous les etres sensibles, le tendre amour. -Helas! dit Candide, je l’ai connu, cet amour…”

“Qu’est-ce qu’optimisme? disait Cacambo. -Helas! dit Candide, c’est la rage de soutenir que tout est bien quand on est mal.”

Emile Durkheim:

“We must not say that an action shocks the common conscience because it is criminal, but rather that it is criminal because it shocks the common conscience. We do not reprove it because it is a crime, but it is a crime because we reprove it.”

Theodore Roosevelt:

“The credit belongs to the man… who is actually in the arena… who strives valiantly, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy…cause… who, at the best, knows the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails…at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls… who know neither victory nor defeat.”

August 26, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Reading | , | Leave a comment

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