2015 8th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge

I learned about the 2015 8th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge from my friend, Angel Rivera, of The Itinerant Librarian fame. I first saw his post in Google+ but would’ve seen it in my RSS reader in a few hours.

Taking a quick look at my Goodreads to-read shelves I found 30 books also on my graphic-novels. A bit of poking identified 12 more as graphic-novels; may even be a few more.

I intend to do the 8th Annual Graphic Novels & Manga Challenge in 2015. I am committing to the Modern Age for now [see below].

GN2015

How It Works:

What counts: graphic novels, collected trade editions, manga, comic strip collections, comic books. In print or digital. Anything else you feel is suitable. [Comment at sign-up page with any questions.]

Runs from Jan.1 – Dec. 31, 2015

Levels
Modern Age: read and review 12 books during the year (that’s only 1 book a month)

Bronze Age: read and review 24 books during the year (Can you handle 2 books a month.)

Silver Age: read and review 52 books during the year (Are you up to a book a week!)

You must sign up for a level, but once you complete that level you may move up and try for the next one.

I took the intersection of those two Goodreads shelves and added them to a new shelf, 2015-gnc. I have 42 books already identified as things I want to attempt.

As for other reading challenges in 2015, I will do the Goodreads annual challenge at 75 books again this year. I will count these books in that total. I am also making a largish list of books I hope to try and choose from to read in 2015. I didn’t do too well with those few I chose in 2014.

de Botton – How to Think More About Sex

How Think More About Sex How Think More About SexAlain de Botton; Picador 2013WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

I read de Botton’s How to Think More About Sex on 1-2 November 2014. It was not quite what I expected; I also expected more. Then again, I gave a mixed review to The Architecture of Happiness, which suffers from some of the same issues.

But first, the contents:

I. Introduction

II. The Pleasures of Sex

     1. Eroticism and Loneliness

     2. Can ‘Sexiness’ Be Profound?

     3. Natalie or Scarlett?

III. The Problems of Sex

     1. Love and Sex

     2. Sexual Rejection

     3. Lack of Desire: Infrequency, Impotence, Resentment

     4. Pornography: Censorship, A New Kind of Porn

     5. Adultery: The Pleasures of Adultery, The Stupidity of Adultery

IV. Conclusion

Homework

My comments and excerpts:

de Botton writes in an overly generalized fashion, he considers few alternatives, he is quite probably contradicting himself on a couple occasions, he is often anthropomorphic and reifies to no end, and he seems to have written this book from a healthy, Euro-skinned, heterosexual of reasonably decent (or better) looks perspective. Gays, transexuals, asexuals, whatever do not appear. Do not get mention. Nor do the vast majority of people who are of mediocre appearance at best. Apparently, the only ones who should be thinking more (clearly/intelligently/humanely) about sex are healthy good-looking heterosexuals. Not.

I know this book is short but it leaves so damned much out. And that is perfectly fine and certainly expected. But if you are leaving out that much of the human experience of sex without even mentioning that you have no space for it then you do not deserve to name your book How to Think More About Sex. It really is that simple.

Based on this alone, one probably ought skip this book. But it is short and it has great moments. There are things of import to think about that he brings up. Some of his offerings for ways in and/or out of things are fine and some are bunk. But he is trying to intelligently discuss sex. I appreciate the hell out of that! But this only hits on occasion and it misses by so damned much in its general approach to ignoring much of the world’s population’s individual experiences.

Let’s dive in.

I. Introduction

I really liked this bit in the Intro. The end of that first paragraph is a bit over the top but I can’t argue really with that full one after it. He does a decent but succinct job of showing how messed up our “thinking” is about sex and, thus, why we may need to think/talk/act more intelligently about it.

“…. We [are] bothered by sex because it is a fundamentally disruptive, overwhelming and demented force, strongly at odds with the majority of our ambitions and all but incapable of being discreetly integrated within civilized society.

     Despite our best efforts to clean it of its peculiarities, sex will never be either simple or nice in the ways we might like it to be. It is not fundamentally democratic or kind; it is bound up with cruelty, transgression and the desire for subjugation and humiliation. It refuses to sit neatly on top of love, as it should. Tame it though we may try, sex has a recurring tendency to wreak havoc across our lives: it leads us to destroy our relationships, threatens our productivity and compels us to stay up too late in nightclubs talking to people whom we don’t like but whose exposed midriffs we nevertheless strongly wish to touch. Sex remains in absurd, and perhaps irreconcilable, conflict with some of our highest commitments and values. Unsurprisingly, we have no option but to repress its demands most of the time. We should accept that sex is inherently weird instead of blaming ourselves for not responding in more normal ways to its confusing impulses.” 6-7

II. The Pleasures of Sex

He leaps right in trying to show that sex is messy and great and vengeful and loving and …. He does a good job showing that we truly are less in charge than we think when it comes to sex. This is also a bit thin for someone new to it (I am not) but he’s on the right track. Evolutionary biology can only explain so much (if it does at all) and one has to bring other theories to bear to explain more than mere biological sexual attraction for reproductive purposes. He does. Are they the right ones, or at least highly useful?

     1. Eroticism and Loneliness

          “It could sound disgusting — and that’s the point. Nothing is erotic that isn’t also, with the wrong person, revolting, which is precisely what makes erotic moments so intense: at the precise juncture where disgust could be at its height, we find only welcome and permission. The privileged nature of the union between two people is sealed by an act that, with someone else, would have horrified them both.” 22

          “Sex temporarily liberates us from the punishment dichotomy, well known to every one of us since childhood, between dirty and clean. Lovemaking purifies us by engaging the most apparently polluted sides of ourselves in its procedures and thereby anointing them as newly worthy.” 37

On fetishes:

          “In a clinical sense, a fetish is defined as an ingredient, typically quite unusual in nature, which needs to be present in order for someone to achieve orgasm.” 38

          “In this wider sense, fetishes are simply details — most often related either to a type of clothing or to a part of another’s body — which evoke for us desirable sides of human nature. The precise origins of our enthusiasms may be obscure, but they can almost always be traced back to some meaningful aspect of our childhood: we will be drawn to specific things either because they recall appealing qualities of a beloved parental figure or else, conversely, because they somehow cancel out, or otherwise help us to escape, a memory of early humiliation or terror.

          The task of understanding our own preferences in this regard should be recognized as an integral part of any project of self-knowledge or biography. What Freud said of dreams can likewise be said of sexual fetishes: they are a royal road into the unconscious.” 39

Tying our fetishes to issues of values and the good life which he’ll bring out later:

          “The pleasure we derive from sex is also bound up with our recognizing, and giving a distinctive seal of approval to, those ingredients of a good life whose presence we have detected in another person. The more closely we analyze what we consider ‘sexy’, the more clearly we will understand that eroticism is the feeling of excitement we experience at finding another human who shares our values and our sense of the meaning of existence.” 44

     2. Can ‘Sexiness’ Be Profound?

          “A consensus emerges about which sorts of faces we find most appealing. From these studies [cross-cultural], evolutionary biologists have concluded that a ‘sexy’ person of either gender, far from being an unclassifiable abstraction, is in essence someone whose face is symmetrical (that is, the right and left sides match precisely) and whose features are balanced, proportionate and undistorted.” 81

          “The discipline [evol biol] absolves physical attraction of the charge of being purely superficial. While conceding that we judge people by their appearance, it holds that appearances themselves are anything but trivial and indeed point towards some rather profound qualities.” 84

     3. Natalie or Scarlett?

          “Evolutionary biology confidently predicts that we will be drawn to people on the basis of their evident health, but it has not put forward any truly convincing theories about why we should prefer one specific healthy person over another.” 63

But what about people who clearly are not “healthy” who find love and are attracted sexually to others?

          Wilhelm Worringer’s theory on art appreciation; essay, “Abstraction and Empathy,” 1907 64-8

          Worringer’s theory applied to sexual attraction 69-72

          “We then declare people ‘sexy’ when we see in them evidence of compensatory qualities, and are repelled by those who seem prone to drive us further into our extremities.” 70

          “We need both art and sex to make us whole, so it is not surprising if the mechanisms of compensation should be similar in each case. The specifics of what we find ‘beautiful’ and what we find ‘sexy’ are indications of what we most deeply crave in order to rebalance ourselves.” 72

III. The Problems of Sex

This section attempts to offer possible remedies, or at least ways in, to mitigate some of the many problems with sex. Of course, only a few are covered in the short space allowed. I am not sure how effectively he deals with some of them either.

     1. Love and Sex

          “It’s time for the need for sex and the need for love to be granted equal standing, without an added moral gloss. Both may be independently felt and are of comparable value and validity. Both shouldn’t require us to lie in order to claim them.” 79

Amen! The data on this–and he does provide some; there is much more–show what a damaging idea modern love (and marriage) truly is. Maybe someday perhaps the two can be pulled apart in a more sane and sensible way but I have my doubts.

     2. Sexual Rejection

          “We don’t have to take sexual rejection as a sure indication that another person has looked into our soul and registered disgust at every aspect of our being. The reality is usually much simpler and less shattering than that: for whatever reason, this particular individual just can’t get turned on by our body. We can take comfort in the knowledge that such a verdict is automatic, preconscious and immutable. The one doing the rejecting isn’t being intentionally nasty; he or she has no choice.” 82

If we could already use reason in regards to love and sex then this probably would be less of an issue than it is. Realigning our views on the issue, as he suggests, would be useful but quite unlikely to be of use to more than a handful of people, statistically speaking.

     3. Lack of Desire:

          i. Infrequency

               “The solution to long-term sexual stagnation is to learn to see our lover as if we had never laid eyes on him or her before.” 97

               “While going about their quite different types of business, the lover and the artist nonetheless come up against a similar human foible: the universal tendency to become easily habituated and bored, and to decide that whatever is known is unworthy of interest. We are prone to long for novelty, kitschy romanticism, drama and glamour.” 99

               “We should try to locate the good and the beautiful beneath the layers of habit and routine.” 102

          ii. Impotence

     Argues that this is a “symptom of respect.” Not buying that for a second, except in some percentage (I’m going with small) of all cases. And the reason why is all the bullshit he says about men in these paragraphs. Again, overly generalized beyond all possible acceptance. Gamergate and #teamharpy, along with way too many other things today show us that most men have not “evolved” as de Botton seems to think.

          iii. Resentment

               “By overwhelming consensus, our culture locates the primary difficulty of relationships in finding the ‘right’ person rather than in knowing how to love a real — that is, a necessarily rather unright — human being.” 121

Yes. This bit is quite valuable. Again, shows the utter destruction caused by the currently prevailing (by those in power) views of love and marriage in Western society.

     4. Pornography:

          i. Censorship

I. Just. He seems to accept, and argues, that pornography is extremely dangerous to society and that some form of censorship is necessary. He is writing in particular about the Internet. Yes, indeed, let’s let nanny-state governments censor the Internet so we can get back to work. Jackass! There are so many intermediate steps.

I should explain that my vehemence here is he because he made no real argument for pornography being an immense destructive force; just assumed via anecdata.

          ii. A New Kind of Porn

I. Just. Don’t. But now he wants a new kind of porn. “Virtue porn.”

“Yet is is possible to conceive of a version of pornography that wouldn’t force us to make such a stark choice between sex and virtue — a pornography in which sexual desire would be invited to support, rather than permitted to undermine, our higher values.” 139

OK. This might work for a few folks; he should go back and re-read his discussion of fetishes though, as a first caution. And some of his examples later on make some sense; again, for a few folks. But his discussion. Oy! His example to lead us into pornography that might support our virtues is Sandro Bottticelli’s The Madonna of the Book, c.1483.

Seems to be contradicting himself in these two sections also. Porn must be censored. Oh, look, a new kind of “virtue porn.” Make a choice or choose a middle ground, sir.

     5. Adultery:

          i. The Pleasures of Adultery

               “However, the real fault in the situation lies in the ethos of modern marriage, with its insane ambitions and its insistence that one person can plausibly hope to embody the eternal sexual and emotional solution to another’s every need.

               Taking a step back, what distinguishes modern marriage from its historical precedents is its fundamental tenet that all our desire for love, sex and family ought to reside in the selfsame person. No other society has been so stringent or so hopeful about the institution of marriage, nor ultimately, as a consequence, so disappointed in it.

               In the past, these very distinct needs — for love, sex and family — were wisely differentiated and separated out from one another.” 152

          ii. The Stupidity of Adultery

This section brought out how also very middle-class and above focused it is.

IV. Conclusion

     “When every contemptuous but fair thing has been said about our infernal sexual desires, we can still celebrate them for not allowing us to forget for more than a few days at a time what is really involved in living an embodied, chemical and largely insane human life.” 175-6

I can certainly agree with this view, but while he did a decent job arguing this, if it was what he truly meant to argue then I suppose it would have been a somewhat different book. Or perhaps not.

Homework

This is the sources section.

Conditionally recommended is what I am going to say. That is, if you want to think more about sex. Then again, if you want to think more about sex then I would recommend this book [any edition would be fine], even if the focus of each is not the same.

Administrivia:

I had to create a record at Open Library so I could use John Miedema’s OpenBook plugin. I had hoped I was done with adding so many records there but is good to be writing again. And it is a nice record.

Variations on a theme – book spine poems

Earlier today I composed some book spine poems—all variations on a theme—once I found a good “punch line.”

Perusing my long list of book titles, compiled during DigiWriMo 2012, I came across these two in the midst of the list:

The way it is
In the next galaxy

I decided then and there to riff off of that. This is a kind of nice as these are two of my favorites out of our poetry books [both Sara’s].

I still like the first one I chose to be the set-up best, though [bottom]. Here are a few of them, while there are a total of eight in my Flickr album for DigiWriMo 2014.

Whether or not you check out the others, you should consider composing your own book spine poetry, and I would love to see comments in Flickr or your own photos suggesting additional titles that would make good opening lines. Comment here or in Flickr.

And, no, this isn’t really a joke. My main thrust—at least of those I prefer—are more of the “The grass is greener,” while the others are more of the “Oh. My. The Other” category. I am sad though that I couldn’t put my hands on George Steiner’s Grammars of Creation because I truly like that thought. Far more positive.

Tastes of paradise. The way it is In the next galaxy.

Tastes of paradise.
The way it is
In the next galaxy.

Tastes of paradise.

The way it is
In the next galaxy.

Slaves of the Machine. The way it is In the next galaxy.

Slaves of the Machine.
The way it is
In the next galaxy.

Slaves of the Machine.

The way it is
In the next galaxy.

There's treasure everywhere. The way it is In the next galaxy.

There’s treasure everywhere.
The way it is
In the next galaxy.

There’s treasure everywhere.

The way it is
In the next galaxy.

Temperance

Friday night at BTBS I had Dr. Evelyn Crook read my tarot. My question was “How will DigiWriMo go for me?” She decided to do one card with the possibility of more. [See my previous post for more context.]

I drew the Temperance card. We did not draw more.

Temperance tarot card [little processing]

Temperance tarot card [little processing]

Temperance in Emily’s deck was the Blue Heron, which got her excited. She said it was about self-determination and self-reliance and progress through evolution and compromise. [OK, that’s what my couple words of notes say when I reconstruct them.] I asked her about the water drops (tears?) and fire and she said it represents the calm in the midst of the two extremes. This is echoed in Pollack below [not quoted].

Looking in Mistress Quantum Sum’s books:

Pollack: Seventy-eight Degrees of Wisdom 105-

“Temperance, appearing below the Chariot, shows a person whose behaviour [sic] is once again connected to the real world but in a way more meaningful than ever before. … Temperance indicates the ability to combine spontaneity with knowledge.” 105

“The divinatory meanings, like the card’s ideas, begin with moderation, balance in all things and taking the middle path.” 108

Bartlett: The Tarot Bible 112

Keywords: Self-control, compromise, moderation, virtue

Key phrases: The blending of ideas, harmony and understanding, Alchemical process

My interpretation/commentary:

Moderation seems to be a key to staying away from the [what the fuck do I call one of my “attacks”?] pain and long-term elevated stress levels. Moderation is often a good guiding principal whether of natural, right action or as an ethics-backing one. In this case, it is focused on bringing opposites/dualities into balance/inseparability.

Compromise: between ambition and desire, between others and myself in the production of ‘writings,’ and between the many others that will arise.

Blending ideas, alchemically or otherwise, is definitely one of my goals and desires. Always a desire.

As I said at the end of my last post, “Temperance. Am going to have to spend some time with that concept.”

This is a slippery one; eel-like. More like chameleon eel-like. Slippery and changing its “appearance.”

Kick-Off Surroundings

I was unable to participate in the Digital Writing Month Launch Party celebration so this is my response, particularly to the Kick-Off Surroundings bit.

The kick-off happened at 12:01AM UTC 1 November which was 5 pm Halloween here in Oregon. I had just closed the library at a few minutes after and then had to catch a bus to the bottom of the hill to meet some folks. I was also having a discussion with one of my usual patrons while waiting. I did check my phone for the kick-off post and had a quick look. Saw I wouldn’t get any done on time. No worries. I was with friends and had a good grip on ideas already.

We were supposed to accomplish three tasks within the 1st hour:

  • Who are you? Post a Vine to Twitter, due by 20 min.
  • Where are you? [Environment] 3 photos to Twitter, due by 40 min.
  • What are you going to do? [Goals] Roster and abridged version to Twitter

I was not going to bother with the first. Just not interested. And that’s OK. “The point is creation; the method to the madness is up to you.” Sean Michael Morris in Invention, Ambition, Fearlessness: Digital Writing Month 2014

Sure. The idea is to push one’s boundaries, creativity, and so forth. I plan on doing that. And while I may well ignore some of the prompts and perhaps not participate in everything, I did the same last time. Some of the new things I did to push my limits worked and some didn’t. That’s OK, too.

This post serves as my Kick-Off Environment post, which stands in way “late” for the three tweets. I did post my goals to the roster and had earlier tweeted my goals but did so again. It was definitely after the party was over by a couple hours but not many folks got to that part anyway.

Photo #1

Dr. Evelyn Crook and Mistress Quantum Sum before Halloween tarot readings for the Humane Society at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café.

Dr. Evelyn Crook and Mistress Quantum Sum before Halloween tarot readings for the Humane Society at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café. [somewhat processed]

Sara and Emily prior to giving their first readings of the night. They were doing Halloween tarot readings for charity at our local, Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café (BTBS). When I got there, Sara was with three of our friends who I joined until they headed out. Not a whole lot later another couple friends, along with two more new-to-me friends, joined me for much of the evening. While we love BTBS we do not spend many Friday evenings there. Halloween was a lot more mellow than I figured it’d be though.

Photo #2

Cooler case and BTBS sign [heavily processed]

Cooler case and BTBS sign [heavily processed]

I am (consciously) unclear as to what this image means to me or the story I am trying to tell. I have an as yet undiagnosed illness, since this summer, that is playing havoc with me in many ways. For some reason this appealed to me. I, and Sara, spend a lot of time in front of these colors. They are a refuge, of sorts. This image is anything but refuge-like though. The unprocessed image is. So. This. Is a story element. Yet to be fully realized.

Photo #3

Temperance tarot card [little processing]

Temperance tarot card [little processing]

For the significance of this photo you will have to read my next post, which is thankfully 95% written already. Past me doing current me a favor [Wickett’s Law/Rule].

This was a large part of my environment for the kick-off of Digital Writing Month 2014.

Temperance. Am going to have to spend some time with that concept.

DigiWriMo 2014

I have committed to participating in Digital Writing Month 2014, more commonly known as DigiWriMo, this November. I did it its first year in 2012 and made my goal of 50,000 digital words. Most people who know November as a writing month know it as National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo. There is also Academic Writing Month, AcWriMo. Wikipedia says there’s an Academic Book Writing Month, AcBoWriMo but that’s a new one on me. Well, on Twitter there is no #AcBoWriMo but there is plenty of #AcWriMo.

I have been driven to write lately—perhaps driven by the mysterious and as yet undiagnosed illness; which is neither here nor there. I have so many ideas and there are tons of old ideas not finished, or ever even fleshed out, to work with.

Preparation has involved recording these ideas as they occur and corralling old recorded ones too, prepping my Scrivener project file (my writing tool), and spending more time learning to use it well.

This year my goal is ≥ 1k words/day, with a total of ≥ 25k words/November. Yes. I am aware of the missing 5 days. I am trying to be gracious with myself. [If this illness can possibly help teach me that idea then, OK, I’ll take the rest. I’m not counting on this being an actual lesson, though.]

I do not know how much I will do with the, thankfully, re-expanded DigiWriMo folks’ official efforts but I will be “playing along at home” at a minimum. I certainly hope and plan to interact a fair bit. I just have to manage my stress triggers and adding a #digiwrimo twitter search window to my already overflowing two twitter accounts for a month ….

I also recently acquired a new phone making the leap from an iPhone 4S to a 6. I had been eligible for an upgrade for well over a year and $200 was the most they were ever going to give me anymore for my 4S. Or that anyone was going to give me. For a lot of hoops and a delay of several weeks, I got to pay roughly $100 and a $35 activation fee to move from a 16GB 4S to a 64GB 6. I took that deal.

It was particularly tempting as I use both TextExpander and 1Password on my computer. They have also both been on my phone but were basically useless. Finally iOS 8 allows them both to be useful. [Sadly, I will not be putting iOS 8 on my iPad 2. It is struggling already.]

The point of all this is that having those 2 programs actually doing good work on my phone may let me use it to do just a couple more tasks than I would’ve before. Also, the bigger screen isn’t to laugh at with my old eyes. They will also allow me to more productively write digitally even though what I “write” on my phone will still be pretty damned minimal.

Some of what I write will be public, much as now although even more will be. Much will be kept private. I really want to start doing a better job of journaling, in a couple senses of ‘journal.’ I hope DigiWriMo will spur me to do so, or at least take advantage of the illness’ urging me to do so. I hope to get a few more blog posts up here and definitely more written on By the barrel.

Poetry, 2015 goal planning, book reviews, tweeting, and all sorts of other writing endeavors are on the docket. Some of the topics I hope to address, whether public or not, include Facebook, gender labels (as language), gender on labels (as in depiction of on beer labels), sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, body image, altered consciousness, and many others. We will see what happens.

If any of you are participating in some kind of writing month in November let me know if you would like some support and hopefully we can find a mutual venue.

What’s up so far in 2014? Home buying, it seems

[N.B.: Mostly written 6 January with minor updates over next 2-3 days. Current follow-up follows.]

So what’s up in 2014 so far? 2014 got off to a great start. For one day.

Sara and I do a kind of annual review, along with a semi-annual review and weekly reviews using assorted tools such as calendars, OmniFocus and some text documents. Neither of us do resolutions but we do want to have goals for the year, and to check up on them now and again so that we might have a chance to actually accomplish most of them. We entered 2014 with this year’s annual review pretty much done. Mine was primarily complete except for final formatting as a document in Scrivener.

Then on the 2nd of January the mail was delivered. Our place was recently bought by some out-of-towners and we got notice that our rent was going up 15%! We are already stretched pretty thin and that is just ridiculous. We immediately jumped into “can we buy a house” mode. We have been considering that anyway but we figured it was at least 6 months to more like 2-3 years in the future for us. Nope. [We need to find out right now whether we can get a loan for enough to buy a house here in Bend or we need to find a cheaper place to rent until we can qualify for said loan. If we can get a loan then we need to be seriously looking for a house that meets all of [ok, much of, hopefully]  our criteria.

Either way, (update to follow)] almost everything I had planned for this year has now been indefinitely placed on hold. My 2014 annual review/plan has been scrapped by the second day of the year. Yay, me!

Thankfully a lot of stuff is still in boxes from when we arrived here in August 2012. That will make moving somewhat easier. But we also have not weeded out near enough stuff that we were supposed to have gotten rid of by now. And we have probably acquired more stuff than we have gotten rid of. My surgery in May put in a big damper on my weeding which I had hoped to do this past summer. Sara’s full-time job has prevented her from making any progress on her stuff.

I have jumped into weeding pretty heavy the last couple of days and hope to continue. We’re donating a bunch of stuff to the Humane Society Thrift Store, some of the better books to the public library, and recycling a crapload of stuff. There is, sadly, plenty more to go through though. As we free up a bit of room by getting rid of stuff I have a bit more room to get at and sort through even more. So I guess one can say it’s looking up.

It is, though, extremely demoralizing to have just committed to and documented one’s goals for the year and to then have to toss it all away on January 2nd.

So what were/are some of my plans for 2014?

  • Read 75 books http://marklindner.info/blog/2014/01/01/reading-goals-2014/
  • Wrangle our ebooks into some kind of order, usability, etc.
  • Do some more beer tastings
  • Help with Central Oregon Beer Week
  • Do another book talk this year for Central Oregon Beer Week
  • Meet some of the beer folks in Bend who I haven’t been able to yet
  • Do some beer trading
  • Finish my “article” on Prohibition in Bend
  • Perhaps work on my Cicerone certification
  • Blog some book reviews that I am way behind on
  • Learn to make better use of Evernote, OmniFocus, Scrivener, etc.
  • Meal planning
  • Get my new tattoo started
  • Track down a citation for that damned Paracelsus quote or show that it is not attributable to him
  • Exercise more and get back into some semblance of shape
  • Visit some places in Oregon: Broken Top, lava tubes, Crater Lake, etc.

23 January update:

We found a house, put in an offer, got their counter and accepted. We have the inspection set for Saturday a.m. and are meeting with the mortgage broker tomorrow morning to do more paperwork and get VA appraisal scheduled. If all goes well with those we’ll be moving late winter / early spring.

I have been in full-on moving prep mode for about a week now. I am so damned sore. But. I am much closer to being ready. I have a good idea of what is packed, more stuff was topped off and packed and many binders and articles were packed, it is mostly segregated from other stuff, and the inventory is updated. More books were weeded.

We should have a couple weeks to move in. It kind of comes down to when we close and the 30-day notice we give our landlord. Current estimated closing is March 17.

My only big concern is weather. Well, and will my aging body hold out: preferably for it to treat all the labor as weightlifting and other “good” exercise. Seriously though, moving in the rain or a snowstorm or having ice/snow on the ground are the worst for moving. So far our winter has included almost none of any of that, which is not good. We need snow, at least outside of town.

It is all moving so fast. Which, of course, has deepened even more the feeling of upended plans. Not all is a loss, though. I am reading some and not quite as slowly as I suspected. I am helping with Central Oregon Beer Week as a member of their team this year. If you need me for any Central Oregon Beer Week business feel free to email me at mark@centraloregonbeerweek.com. I am trying to figure out what I want to do as Bend Beer Librarian for COBW; not up for another book talk for this year. Considering things and talking with people but need to decide soon to save 15% as a returning sponsor.

I met a few more Bend beer people, including one I wanted to meet in person, but, intriguingly, we met them in Portland. We attended the 1st Big Woody put on in Portland and a boatload of Bendites were there as attendees, volunteers, brewery folks representing, and event organizers/staff. That was nice and I finally met Matthew Ward (Bend Brew Daddy) and his wife Lisa. Definitely hope to hang out more with them. We also got to spend some time with non-Bendite but extremely nice guy Christopher (PortlandBeer.com) at Hair of the Dog. So possibly future trading and/or nice bottle swaps as it sounds like his are the kind of quality we are looking for. Maybe we can get Christopher to Bend, although we explored so little of Portland last weekend.

Blogging and other forms of writing have been practically non-existent, book reading is way down, research for either major topic of current interest is on hold, and most other projects listed above or not are pretty much forgotten about.

I hope this place works out and we can get settled in quickly. I’d like to get back to some of my projects recently put on hold and others, many of which have been a long time coming.

It is an adventure, and so far easier than expected, but its timing seems a little sudden.

 

 

Reading goals for 2014

For reading goals in 2014, I have decided to set myself up a short list/challenge. I will probably set my goodreads 2014 challenge number at 75 books since this year’s was so low. My TBR shelves are overflowing to no end but I pulled together 26 books of which I hope to read 12.

That’s my goal for 2014: read 12 of these 26 books plus whatever else comes my way for a total of at least 75.

Beer and Brewing

  • Beer: The Story Of The Pint: The History Of Britain’s Most Popular Drink – Martyn Cornell
  • Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers (Brewing Elements) – John J. Palmer and Kaminski
  • Extreme Brewing: An Enthusiast’s Guide to Brewing Craft Beer at Home – Sam Calagione
  • The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food – Garrett Oliver

Language and Related

  • Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks – Keith Houston
  • Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English – John H. McWhorter
  • The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention – Guy Deutscher
  • Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything – David Bellos

Literature and Literary Theory

  • Why Read the Classics? – Italo Calvino
  • The Literary Mind – Mark Turner
  • Tolkien on Fairy-Stories – J.R.R. Tokien
  • Imagination in Place: Essays – Wendell Berry
  • Dog Songs: Poems – Mary Oliver
  • Maidenhair – Maikhail Shishkin

Western World History

  • The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community – William H. McNeill
  • The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment – Roy Porter

Assorted/Too Lazy to Classify

  • Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction – Susan Cheever
  • You Must Change Your Life: Poetry, Philosophy, and the Birth of Sense – John T. Lysacker
  • Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight – James Atlee
  • Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants – Wolfgang Schivelbusch
  • Information: A Very Short Introduction – Luciano Floridi
  • Shaming the Devil: Essays in Truthtelling – Alan Jacobs

Philosophy

  • Real American Ethics: Taking Responsibility for our Country – Albert Borgmann
  • Tragic Sense of Life – Miguel de Unamuno
  • The Power of Ideas – Isaiah Berlin
  • How Philosophers Saved Myths: Allegorical Interpretation and Classical Mythology – Luc Brisson

That’s it. Try to read 12 of these books, several of which have been on other lists before. It would be nice to read (at least) one from each grouping but whatever. As always, more books than I can possibly read will come my way and my TBR shelves will continue to grow.

 

Books Read in 2013

My book reading goals were modest for 2013. According to last year’s books read post I had committed to 50 books read on the annual goodreads challenge “because that ought be easily doable.” Well, yes, that was. It seems I even met part of another goal: I read a bit less than half as much poetry, but I believe I failed to do any reading about poetry.

Seems I started 147 books and finished 141. Three came into 2013 as being read but they were all really on hold and never got touched in 2013. I am still reading 3, have 1 on pause and have given up on 5.

Of those books started, two were read and re-read this year but only counted once, and one was a re-read of something from a previous year.

For assorted reasons, none of my lists are perfect but I hope to simplify things in the future. I keep a spreadsheet of all books read (“definitive” document), a goodreads account which gives me a list by default, a shelf at Open Library, and a folder in Zotero. Here are this year’s goodreads and Open Library shelves. I have 138 things in goodreads, 142 in Open Library, 144 in Zotero, and 155 in the spreadsheet.

Neither is perfect but they give a great feel for what I read. The only things missing from both are a short graphic novel in pdf and a pdf about WordPress and responsive design.

Category-wise:

  • Fiction: 82
  • Nonfiction: 41
  • Poetry: 15
  • Graphic novels: 67 (most are also F, but several are NF)
  • On-pause: 1 NF
  • Gave-up: 5 (2 NF, 2 GN/F, 1 F)
  • Currently reading: 3 (1 ea P, NF/translation, NF)
  • Together: 11 (6 NF, 3 F, 1 F still reading, 1 NF on pause)
  • Same author: Charles Bamforth 3 + 1 re-read + 1 edit + 1 co-edit; Michael Lewis 1 + 1 co-edit; Gail Carriger 2 F; Michael Jackson 2; Carolyn Edwards 1 NF + 1 F; K.W. Jeter 2 F (Excludes graphic novels/comics)
  • Translations: 5 (4 F, 1 F/GN) (+1 NF/Ebook on pause, 1 NF currently reading)
  • Ebooks: 7 finished (Kindle 3, PDF 3; Overdrive 1; Together 2 + 1 OH; 1 on pause; 1 still reading)

Things learned:

In goodreads if a book has a begin and end date then it is considered read if on any home-made exclusive shelf, such as gave-up. (Not tested if only has ending date.) But even if you have a start date, if you don’t have or clear the end date then it doesn’t show up on the provided yearly reads shelve (see Stats page).

Open Library is doing a lot less maintenance or importing of records, so I keep having to add more and more of what I read. Much of it. It has grown tiresome. Sad to hear coming from a cataloger, if I say so myself, but it’s the solid truth. I am probably not worrying about Open Library next year.

There’s no grand lessons from any of this or from my reading. I have gotten a lot out of many of the items I read (and perhaps re-read) this year. I guess this post is just a continuance of something I have done for a while now.

Previous Books Read posts

What are my reading plans for 2014?

I have decided to try a little “challenge” of my own for 2014. Although, honestly, it is more like a nudge in a general direction than like an actual I care whether I achieve it or not. See next post for details.

[Updated several minutes after posting}

Beer and Brewing: Realized I ought comment on this as it was a large part of my leisure reading and personal and professional learning reading this year. I finished 24 books on beer and brewing across diverse angles and approaches. One was an Overdrive ebook from the public library, one was fiction (also from DPL), one was a re-read of a book from late last year, two were re-reads of books first read this year. One other I am still reading, and two others were given up on.

Spamalot

Thursday night we went to see Spamalot at the Tower Theatre. It was incredible!

This was a Stage Right Productions performance presented by the Tower Theatre Foundation.

On Friday, Sep. 6th, which being the first Friday of the month was Art Walk, the Tower opened their doors to the first rehearsal by the cast in the Tower itself. Previously they had been practicing in the 2nd Street Theater where they generally perform. We popped in just before they opened the doors and stayed for 3 or 4 numbers. This was without costumes, props or any amplification but we could still tell it was going to be hilarious so we immediately purchased tickets. We were able to get seats in the second row, just house right of center for a show that eventually sold out.

On Wednesday I watched the DVD of Monty Python and the Holy Grail that we got from the Deschutes Public Library. I wanted a good frame of reference for Spamalot since it is “a new musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture” and I hadn’t seen the movie in a good while. You can pillory me now if you must but I really don’t think the movie has held up very well.

Anyway … the show was stupendously excellent! The serious amount of work that the cast and crew had put into the production was evident. I thought everyone was quite good but I want to point out a few of my favorites.

Gary Fulkerson as King Arthur was a great choice. “Solid as a rock,” one might say.

Tommy Kuchulis as Sir Lancelot (also as French taunter and Tim the Enchanter) was particularly good in his early scene and was absolutely superb in the gay song and dance number. He threw himself into it with total abandon and the fun he was having was clearly evident.

Randy Brooks was very good as Sir Galahad with long blond hair and—except for one still to-be-named actor/part—after his earliest scenes I thought he would be my favorite of the evening.

Michael Stumpfig as Sir Robin was exceptional! (Also as Guard #1 and Brother Maynard.) I loved pretty much every second he was on stage. His facial expressions and body language/movements were perfect for his role. He was almost my favorite of the evening.

That “honor” goes to Russ Pennavaria as Patsy. Patsy was so far beyond superb in every way! Even if he hadn’t been the one to sing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” I still would have been totally enchanted by his performance. Everything he did, from galloping along clomping his coconut shells to being put out when Arthur is complaining about being alone to his soul beaming forth when Arthur calls him family, was the epitome of stagecraft.

As I said, everyone did a wonderful job and the musical was immensely hilarious. I am so very glad we went. Thank you to all involved and congratulations on an incredible show!

Be sure to check out 2nd Street Theater’s website for upcoming shows and ticket information.