Pond – Over Easy

Over Easy by Mimi Pond

Date read: 25 January 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Pond's Over Easy

Hardback, 271 pages
Published 2014 by Drawn & Quarterly
Source: Deschutes Public Library

A fictionalized memoir of the late 1970s placed in California when hippies were becoming punk rockers, drugs were rampant, as was causal sex still. Running out of money to attend art college, Madge gets a job at the Imperial Cafe where there is non-stop drama between the regulars and staff.

Enjoyable.

This is the 7th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Aesop, Five Centuries of Illustrated Fables

Aesop, Five Centuries of Illustrated Fables John J. McKendry, selector

Date read: 18 January 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016transl, 2016gnc

Cover image of Aesop, Five Centuries of Illustrated Fables

Hardback (Museum issue), 96 pages
Published 1964 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Source: COCC Barber Library

Gorgeous in so many ways! Boy did I luck out listening to the universe on Friday.

Four stars as many of the morals are as or more cryptic than the fables themselves.

There is a five plus-page introduction by McKendry, the Assistant Curator of Prints, that does a wonderful job of situating Aesop’s Fables as possibly the finest work to show “the history of the printed illustrated book,” along with providing an overview of the evolution of the illustrations made for it and the various translations, along with revolutions in printing and image-making technologies that accompanied it.

In this lovely edition the images paired with the fable are fairly contemporaneous. For instance, the first eight are translations by William Caxton in 1484 with illustrations from four different sources, with the biggest difference being all of thirteen years. There are a couple at the end translated by Marianne Moore in 1954 with the illustrations from between one and nine years difference.

The introduction mentions that:

“Although the fables had been illustrated from early times, the invention of the printing press produced a virtual onslaught of the illustrations and made them a major par of our pictorial history. Before the end of the fifteenth century, there were over twenty different illustrated editions of them. The earliest editions are those of Mondavi, Ulm, and Verona, all published between 1476 and 1479, which are among the best books of the fifteenth century” 97-8).

Holy cow! That is insane and seriously supports the selectors contention regarding their importance to the history of the printed illustrated book.

There are forty fables included, with translations ranging from William Caxton (1484) to Marianne Moore (1954) and including ones from every century in between.

If you read this book PLEASE read the introduction. It provides so much context and makes watching the evolution of printing/image-making technology as it advanced and is represented by the included illustrations far more understandable and interesting.

The copy COCC holds has a bookplate which states: “Donated by Dr. Orde Pinckney to Central Oregon Community College Library.”  

Highly recommended but more for its description and depiction of illustrated book history than for the fables, many of which are in hard-to-understand English, irrespective of when translated.

There seems to be copies in some shape that are affordable. May look into acquiring one.

This is the 3rd book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

On why Aesop’s Fables

I wanted to make myself a quick note so I could remember in the future why I chose to re-read Aesop’s fables in the upcoming immediate future.

Friday morning (Jan. 15, 2016) I wrote this in my journal:

“11:12 AM Just had my third Aesop’s reference this morning! The beer place, Brontë, and now my crossword.”

I figured the universe was trying to send me a message of some kind so on Friday afternoon while at work I grabbed myself a copy of Aesop, Five Centuries of Illustrated Fables, selected by John J. McKendry and published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1964.

My first reference came via Facebook to the article “Napa’s Mad Fritz brewery stakes out new terroir” in the San Francisco Chronicle. Mad Fritz’s beers are named after specific fables from Aesop, such as The Larks in the Corn, or The Viper and File. All in all, the brewery and beers sound fantastic and I might have to put a little effort into getting my hands on some. The labels are also beautifully illustrated and “The moral takeaway is noted on the back label.”

My second reference came while reading further in Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. On page 95 of the Oxford World’s Classics edition we read,

“If life promised no enjoyment within my vocation, at least it offered no allurements out of it; and, henceforth, I would put my shoulder to the wheel* and toil away, like any poor drudge of a cart-horse that was fairly broken in to its labour, and plod through life, not wholly useless if not agreeable, and uncomplaining if not contented with my lot.”

In the Explanatory Notes on p. 424 we learn that “put my shoulder to the wheel” is a “proverbial expression, from Aesop’s fable of Hercules and the waggoner. ODEP, 729.” [ODEP is the Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs, 3rd edn. (1971).

The third reference came as I waiting on my sandwich bread to toast for lunch. I was working on the 2 September 2015 Los Angeles Times crossword when 65 across popped up with “Greek storyteller” as the hint and who, of course, should be the answer? Our friend Aesop.

I’m not one much for “signs” but something was prodding me here.

I went with it. I hope that I can find what it is the universe may have been pointing at.

I have since seen several other Aesop references but that is the way these things go, isn’t it?

Lee and Hart – Messenger

Messenger: The Legend of Joan of Arc by Tony Lee and Sam Hart

Date read: 16 January 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc  2016nfc

Cover image from Lee and Hart's Messenger

Paperback, unpaged
Published 2015 by Candlewick Press
Source: Deschutes Public Library

Another quick read which I quite enjoyed. I am counting it under my 2016 Nonfiction Challenge also as it is based on historical facts. Clearly, the conversations are not “accurate” and so on but that could be the case in any biography. Just because a biography is relatively short and adapted to a graphic novel format does not mean it is no longer a biography nor no longer nonfiction.

This is maybe an hour read so still not a ton of time invested. I am sure I could have found some other way to learn as much about Joan of Arc in as little time but the Wikipedia entry would not have been near as entertaining.

The final page is also accurate but oh so highly entertaining. The things the Church does in the name of God. History weeps.

Recommended.

This is the 4th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

This is the 4th book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Reading goals for 2016

My reading goals for 2016 are as varied as usual.

This is what I said near the end of my Books read in 2015 post:

“I want to keep reading things in translation; I feel I did well this year. I should try to read a bit more poetry and erotica, sex & gender this year. I am satisfied with the amount of re-reading, the number of ebooks, and of nonfiction. I hope to read a few less graphic novels and more varied things in literature & language; e.g., more actual lit, more on language and more poetry as previously mentioned. Maybe some re-reading there. Poetry books are close at hand.”

  • More poetry; re-reading encouraged here.
  • More Erotica, Sex & Gender.
  • Less graphic novels.
  • More literature.
  • Librariana? Didn’t read any in 2015. “Who have I become?,” one might ask.
  • Translations check.
  • Ebooks check.
  • Nonfiction check.
  • More essays and short stories.

In a more specific vein I offer the following up to myself:

Books currently reading being read [2016current].

Finish all nine of the books I am supposedly currently reading.

  • Dunegan – Best Hikes Near Bend (A Falcon Guide)
  • Kabat-Zinn – Full Catastrophe Living
  • Farhi – The Breathing Book
  • Bishop – Living with Thunder
  • Hornsey – Alcohol and Its Role in the Evolution of Human Society
  • Berlin – The Power of Ideas
  • Oliver – The Brewmaster’s Table
  • Gilbert – Collected Poems
  • Bennett, ed. – Japanese Love Poems

2016 Books To Read Challenge (personal) [2016poss]

Key: * = currently reading, [on pause] = on pause

Total of 44 books, including some 8 on pause and 2 that I am currently reading. Of these, I challenge myself to complete 12.

Beer and Brewing

  • *The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food – Garrett Oliver
  • Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers (Brewing Elements) – John J. Palmer and Kaminski
  • The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes – Joshua Bernstein

Central Oregon

  • Hiking Oregon’s History – William L. Sullivan [DPL]
  • Bend: A Pictorial History – Elsie Horn Williams [COCC]

Erotica, Sex & Gender

  • Straight: The Surprisingly Short History Of Heterosexuality – Hanne Blank [Summit]
  • Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation – Elissa Stein [Summit]

History

  • Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend – Karen Essex
  • The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse – Brian Cowan [COCC online]
  • Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage – Stephanie Coontz [DPL]

Librariana

  • Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age – Alex Wright
  • The Discipline of Organizing – Glushko, ed.
  • Everyday Information: The Evolution of Information Seeking in America – Aspray & Hayes, eds. [COCC online]

Literature and Language

Language and Related

  • Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything – David Bellos
  • Integrating Reality – Roy Harris
  • Integrationist Notes and Papers 2014 – Roy Harris

Literature and Literary Theory

  • The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language – Mark Turner
  • Imagination in Place: Essays – Wendell Berry
  • If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler – Italo Calvino
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Brontë [Summit]
  • Seven Gothic Tales – Isak Dinesen

Philosophy [loosely defined]

  • *The Power of Ideas – Isaiah Berlin
  • Culture in Mind: Cognition, Culture, and the Problem of Meaning – Bradd Shore
  • The Sovereignty of Good – Iris Murdoch [Summit]
  • You Must Change Your Life: Poetry, Philosophy, and the Birth of Sense – John T. Lysacker
  • Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals – Mark Edmundson
  • The Nature and Value of Happiness – Christine Vitrano [COCC]

Renewal

  • The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book: Protect Yourself and Your Family from Heart Disease, Arthritis, Diabetes, Allergies and More – Jessica K. Black
  • Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain – John J. Ratey, MD and Eric Hagerman
  • The Wayward Mind: An Intimate History of the Unconscious – Guy Claxton
  • Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict – Tsultrim Allione [DPL]

Tech & Software

  • Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas – Seymour Papert
  • Just My Type: A Book About Fonts – Garfield
  • Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation – Pollan [DPL]

Assorted/Too Lazy to Classify

  • How to Worry Less about Money – John Armstrong [Summit]
  • Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat – John McQuaid

On Pause

  • Second-Hand Knowledge: An Inquiry into Cognitive Authority – Patrick Wilson [Philosophy]
  • Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight – James Atlee [Assorted]
  • Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life – Chungliang Al Huang & Jerry Lynch [Assorted]
  • The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook – Rev: 250 No-Fail Recipes … – Beth Hensperger [Renewal, Assorted/Cookery]
  • Take Control of Automating Your Mac – Joe Kissell [Tech & Software]
  • The Good Rain: Across Time & Terrain in the Pacific Northwest – Timothy Egan [DPL ebook]
  • Healing Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain: Easy, Effective Practices for Releasing Tension and Relieving Pain – Carol Krucoff [Renewal] [Summit]
  • The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason – Mark Johnson [Philosophy, Renewal] [Summit]

There are, of course, tons of others and those I will come across this year, whether for the first time or not.

The only book not followed by a source [library x] that I do not own and did not find an easy source is the one on Bettie Page.

2016 Goodreads Challenge

My goal is 100 this year, up from 75 last year. I have been alternating between demolishing my goals and being a bit over here for several years.

Challenges hosted elsewhere

Nonfiction Reading Challenge 2016 [2016NFC]

Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

I did this one last year and this is how it turned out [per my Books read in 2015 post]:

“Completed 20 April 2015 [includes 1 reread from previous year + 3 in graphic novel challenge also; does not include 3 on pause or 1 I never reviewed]. I finished 68 nonfiction books but clearly did not review or link then to the challenge.”

Guess I’ll just declare myself for doing the Master level right now as I plan to read over 20 nonfiction books.

Books in Translation Reading Challenge 2016 [2016TRANS]

Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

I want to keep reading books in translation so this seems like a good one. It only takes 10-12 for the top level of Linguist and I read 21 titles in translation last year. Currently working my way through a book of Japanese love poetry which I started on January 1st.

2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2016GNC]

2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

I started this one slow last year and ended up creaming it early.

“52. Completed on 25 April 2015. In total, I read 99 graphic novels or manga [does not include rereads: 2015 2 + previous years 2 + 1 gave up] but did not post & link reviews for the challenge.”

I think I’ll begin with 12 for Modern Age this year also. Hoping to shift some of my graphic novel and manga reading into other things but seeing as I read almost twice what I needed in the end and that I had read and reviewed the 52 I needed before the first third of the year was up I think I’ll be fine.

Wrap-Up

These reading goals for 2016 should do it for now. I know there are many other reading challenges out there but seeing however as every last one requires additional work—such as keeping track, writing a review (which I want to do more of), placing said review online somewhere, linking to the proper challenge, etc.—I think this is a more than good start.

Now I need to go create 2016-possibles, 2016nfc, 2016transl and 2016gnc shelves in Goodreads and “stock” them.

Maybe I can actually get back to reading soon?! If I had spent half the time reading as I have on data and writing about reading in the last couple of days I would have finished a couple decent length books already.

Books read in 2015

It looks like I read 171 titles in 2015 with another 7 re-read which were previously read in other years and 2 re-read which were also first read in 2015. There were, of course, titles skimmed, put on pause and given up on.

This year I have been tracking my reading in a Google Sheet and at Goodreads. Still working out workflow for this mess of an activity; i.e., tracking book reading.

The first grouping will be data from my Google Sheet, followed by some from Goodreads, links to previous 2015 reading-related posts, and a list of titles read in 2015 by gross categories.

Google Sheet

This data consists of total entered in Sheet, breakdown of reading status of titles brought forward from 2014, titles entered in 2015 and their breakdown of reading status, reading challenges, books re-read, ebooks, “genre” breakdowns, and sources for the books.

Total

198 [all are in Goodreads]

Brought forward from 2014:

Total 7
Finished 3
On pause 3
Currently Reading 1

Entered  in 2015:

Total 191
Read 171
Gave up 4
Skimmed 3 [skimmed many I did not enter in Sheet; 34 in 2015 according to Goodreads]
On pause 11
Currently reading 8 + 1 started in 2016

Reading Challenges

My own reading goals for 2015: 9 Read [of 12 committed to] + 2 currently reading + 3 on pause. I may post on this separately but calling it met, if barely.

2015 Reading Challenge: 35* of 50 categories. I may’ve accomplished some of the others but I have no good way of knowing re a couple categories. Not concerned. I may post on this separately. Calling it met; had no real criteria in mind so 35 seems fair.

2015 8th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge: 52. Completed on 25 April 2015. In total, I read 99 graphic novels or manga [does not include rereads: 2015 2 + previous years 2 + 1 gave up] but did not post & link reviews for the challenge.

2015 Nonfiction Reading Challenge: 20. Completed 20 April 2015 [includes 1 reread from previous year + 3 in graphic novel challenge also; does not include 3 on pause or 1 I never reviewed]. I finished 68 nonfiction books but clearly did not review or link then to the challenge.

Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge: Goal of 75, reached 29 April 2015. Recorded 166 books for 221% of goal. These totals do not include ~3 books re-read nor those titles read and re-read in 2015.

Books Re-read

Total 11
Read 1st in previous year 8 [Nonfiction/Beer, NF/Literature & Language, 2 Graphic Novels, 4 Lit]
Read 1st & 2nd in 2015 3 [Nonfiction/Beer, 2 Graphic Novels]

Titles Re-read

Saunders – Dinner in the Beer Garden
Doyle – Through the Magic Door
Dingess, et al. – Manifest Destiny, Vol. 1: Flora & Fauna $
Folio, et al. – Agatha Heterodyne and the Sleeping City (Girl Genius 13) $
Vaughan & Staples – Saga, Volume One
Vaughan & Staples – Saga, Volume Two
Adams – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Adams – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Adams – Life, The Universe and Everything
Adams – So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Boak & Bailey – Gambrinus Waltz $

[$ = read & re-read in 2015]

Ebooks

Total 36 + 2 on pause (1 each)
Kindle 3 finished (2 Beer, Erotica)(incl. 1 re/read 2015 Beer) + 1 on pause (Tech)
PDF 34 (2 Assorted, 30 Graphic Novels + 1 on pause (Tech)

I read so many PDF graphic novels as they are all from either the Girl Genius series via a Kickstarter or from a Dungeons & Dragons Humble Bundle I bought earlier in 2015. I have done a couple Humble Bundles and have read few of them; I tend to forget them. So I wanted to get to work on that and chose these first.

Genre

NF [includes 6 graphic novels, 1 of which is of war poetry + memoir]

Total 92
Finished 68
On pause 11
Currently Reading 7
Gave up 3
Skimmed 3

Fiction

Total 104
Graphic Novels 93 + 1 gave up
Erotica 2
Lit 8
Poetry 1 + 1 currently reading

Other Breakdowns

Photo 6
Beer 26 + 2 currently reading
Graphic novel 99 + 1 gave up [includes 11 manga & 6 nonfiction]
Erotica 2
Poetry 3
Memoir 3 + 1 gave up
Central OR 4 + 1 currently reading
History 10 + 1 currently reading
Translations 21

Together

Read 1
On pause 1
Switch to ind. reading 1
Currently reading 1

Sources

Own 92 + 3 more bought after getting from a library
DPL 77 + 1 gave up + 3 on pause + 1 skimmed + 3 then bought (1 of which still reading) + lots more skimmed. 85 total.
COCC 6
ILL 0 [acquired 2 : 1 gave up and 1 on pause]
Summit 6 + 2 currently reading
Friend 1

Goodreads

This data from my Goodreads account includes, 2015 Goodreads Challenge status, reading status breakdown, and some numbers from specific shelves (mostly used to verify same info from elsewhere).

2015 Challenge goal 75
Read 163 [does not include 7 re-reads]
Currently reading 8 + 1 from 2016
Gave up 2
Skimmed 34
On pause 6

Shelves

2015-gnc 61 [does not include rereads: 2015 2 + previous years 2]
2015nfc 21 [includes 1 reread from previous year; 1 review not written]
translation 21
together 1 + 1 currently reading + 1 on pause + 1 switched to individual reading

Other 2015 reading posts [re challenges, etc.]

List of 2015 Books Read by Category

Assorted

  • Quadback-Seeger – World of the Elements: Elements of the World
  • Attlee – Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight [on pause]
  • Backes – Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana [on pause]
  • Kondo – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
  • Stilgoe – Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places
  • Stivers – Hair of the Dog: Irish Drinking and Its American Stereotype
  • Scerri – The Periodic Table: A Very Short Introduction
  • Rubel – Bread: A Global History (The Edible Series)
  • Jung – Man and His Symbols [gave up]
  • Bishop – Living with Thunder: Exploring the Past, Present, and Future of the Pacific Northwest [currently reading]
  • Rothenberg, ed. – White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism
  • Egan – The Good Rain: Across Time & Terrain in the Pacific Northwest [on pause]
  • Sahlins – Waiting for Foucault, Still
  • Babauta – Focus: a simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction

Assorted Cookery

  • Robertson – Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker
  • Steen & Noyes – The Great Vegan Protein Book
  • Scicolone – The Italian Slow Cooker

Assorted Memoir

  • Nguyen – Stealing Buddha’s Dinner [gave up]
  • Pollan – A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams

Beer & Brewing

  • Boak & Bailey – Brew Britannia: The Strange Rebirth of British Beer
  • Yaeger – Oregon Breweries
  • Allen and Cantwell – Barley Wine: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes
  • Mallett – Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse
  • Saunders – Dinner in the Beer Garden [re-read]
  • Dunlop – Portland Beer: Crafting the Road to Beervana
  • Amato – Beerology: Everything You Need to Know to Enjoy Beer … Even More
  • Fix – Principles of Brewing Science: A Study of Serious Brewing Issues
  • Coutts – The Perfect Keg: Sowing, Scything, Malting and Brewing My Way to the Best Ever Pint of Beer
  • Mosher – Mastering Homebrew: The Complete Guide to Brewing Delicious Beer
  • Barich – A Pint of Plain: Tradition, Change, and the Fate of the Irish Pub
  • Alworth – The Beer Bible
  • Nelson – The Barbarian’s Beverage: A History of Beer in Ancient Europe
  • Beechum and Conn – Experimental Homebrewing: Mad Science in the Pursuit of Great Beer
  • Acitelli – The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution
  • Hornsey – Alcohol and Its Role in the Evolution of Human Society [currently reading]
  • Boak & Bailey – Gambrinus Waltz: German Lager Beer in Victorian and Edwardian London [read & re-read this year]
  • Palmer – How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Beer Right the First Time
  • Bostwick and Rymil – Beer Craft: A Simple Guide to Making Great Beer
  • Mosher – The Brewer’s Companion: Being a Complete Compendium of Brewing Knowledge … [skimmed]
  • Foster – Pale Ale: History and Brewing Techniques, Recipes: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes
  • Papazian – The Complete Joy of Home Brewing 4th ed
  • Hughes – A Treatise on the Brewing of Beer
  • Zainasheff & Palmer – Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew
  • Oliver – The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food [currently reading]
  • Shales – Brewing Better Beers

Central Oregon

  • Dunegan – Best Hikes Near Bend (A Falcon Guide) [currently reading]

Central Oregon Memoir

  • Waterston – Where the Crooked River Rises: A High Desert Home

Central Oregon Memoir & History

  • Ramsey – New Era: Reflections on the Human and Natural History of Central Oregon

Erotica, Sex & Gender

  • Williams – Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History
  • Christina – Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories about Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More
  • Tyler, ed. – Luscious: Stories of Anal Eroticism

Graphic Novels

  • Foglio, et al. – The Secret Blueprints For Volume One (Girl Genius 0)
  • Foglio, et al. – Agatha Heterodyne & the Beetleburg clank (Girl Genius 1)
  • Foglio, et al. – Agatha Heterodyne and the Airship City (Girl Genius 2)
  • Foglio, et al. – Agatha Heterodyne and the Monster Engine (Girl Genius 3)
  • Foglio, et al. – Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams (Girl Genius 4)
  • Bendis & Maleev – Scarlet
  • Foglio, et al. – Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess (Girl Genius 5)
  • B. and MacOrlan – The Littlest Pirate King
  • Pham – Sumo
  • Foglio, et al. – Agatha Heterodyne and the Golden Trilobite (Girl Genius 6)
  • Abnett and Culbard – The New Deadwardians
  • Foglio, et al. – Agatha Heterodyne and the Voice of the Castle (Girl Genius 7)
  • Kerascoët and Hubert – Beauty
  • Foglio, et al. – Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones (Girl Genius 8)
  • Vehlmann & Kerascoët – Beautiful Darkness
  • Foglio, et al. – Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm (Girl Genius 9)
  • David and Lopez – Fallen Angel
  • Foglio, et al. – Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse (Girl Genius 10)
  • Foglio, et al. – Agatha Heterodyne and the Hammerless Bell (Girl Genius 11)
  • Mina, et al. – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Book 1
  • Mina, et al. – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Book 2
  • TenNapel – Ratfist
  • Moon and Bá – De: Tales: Stories From Urban Brazil
  • Tobin and Dewey – I Was The Cat
  • Merveille and Tati – Hello, Mr. Hulot
  • Foglio, et al. – Agatha Heterodyne and the Siege of Mechanicsburg (Girl Genius 12)
  • Cruse – Stuck Rubber Baby
  • Pedrosa – Three Shadows
  • Perlow, et al. – Watson and Holmes: A Study in Black
  • Dingess, et al. – Manifest Destiny, Vol. 1: Flora & Fauna [read & re-read this year]
  • Collins & Rayner – Road to Perdition
  • Moning, et al. – Fever Moon: The Fear Dorcha
  • Lucke – The Lunch Witch (#1)
  • Wilson and Alphona – Ms. Marvel: No Normal
  • Wilson, et al. – Ms. Marvel: Generation Why 2
  • Dingess, et al. – Manifest Destiny, Vol. 2: Amphibia & Insecta
  • Bunn and Hurtt – The Sixth Gun: Book 1: Cold Dead Fingers
  • Bunn and Hurtt – The Sixth Gun: Book 2: Crossroads
  • Greenberg – The Encyclopedia of Early Earth
  • Bunn and Hurtt – The Sixth Gun: Book 3: Bound
  • Bunn and Hurtt – The Sixth Gun: Book 4: A Town Called Penance
  • Foglio, et al. – Agatha Heterodyne and the Sleeping City (Girl Genius 13) [read & re-read this year]
  • Bunn and Hurtt – The Sixth Gun: Book 5: Winter Wolves
  • Bunn and Hurtt – The Sixth Gun: Book 6: Ghost Dance
  • Bunn and Hurtt – The Sixth gun: Book 7: Not the Bullet, But the Fall
  • Nolan – Hunters of the Great Forest
  • Vaughan and Staples – Saga, Volume One [re-read]
  • Vaughan and Staples – Saga, Volume Two [re-read]
  • Vaughan and Staples – Saga, Volume Three
  • Vaughan and Staples – Saga, Volume Four
  • McCloud – The Sculptor
  • Carey, Willingham, et al. – The Unwritten: The Unwritten Fables, vol. 9
  • Carey & Gross, et al. – The Unwritten: War Stories, vol. 10
  • Miller & Varley – 300
  • Vance & Burr – Kings in Disguise: A Novel
  • Hagio – A Drunken Dream and Other Stories
  • Remender – Strange Girl Omnibus
  • Fawkes – The People Inside [gave up]
  • Moore & O’Neill – Nemo: Heart of Ice
  • Ralph – Daybreak
  • Kelso – The Squirrel Mother
  • Selznick – The Marvels
  • Doctorow and Wang – In Real Life
  • Fleisher, Mishkin, et al. – Dungeon & Dragons Classics, Volume 1
  • Grubb, Mishkin, et al. – Dungeon & Dragons Classics, Volume 2
  • Mishkin, et al. – Dungeon & Dragons Classics, Volume 3
  • Mishkin, et al. – Dungeon & Dragons Classics, Volume 4
  • Salvatore, et al. – Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms: Cutter
  • Grubb, et al. – Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms Classics, Volume 1
  • Grubb, et al. – Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms Classics, Volume 2
  • Grubb, et al. – Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms Classics, Volume 3
  • Grubb, et al. – Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms Classics, Volume 4
  • Greenwood, et al. – Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms, Volume 1
  • Zub, et al. – Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate
  • Salvatore, et al. – Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt – Neverwinter Tales
  • Salvatore, et al. – Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt, volume 1: Homeland
  • Salvatore, et al. – Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt, Exile
  • Rogers, et al. – Dungeons & Dragons: Shadowplague
  • Rogers, et al. – Dungeons & Dragons: First Encounters
  • Rogers, et al. – Dungeons & Dragons: Down
  • Foglio, et al. – Girl Genius: Second Journey Book One: The Beast of the Rails

Graphic Novels Manga

  • Mori – A Bride’s Story 1
  • Mori – A Bride’s Story 2
  • Mori – A Bride’s Story 3
  • Yoshinaga – Ooku: The Inner Chamber, vol. 1
  • Mori – A Bride’s Story 4
  • Mori – A Bride’s Story 5
  • Yoshinaga – Ooku: The Inner Chamber, vol. 2
  • Mori – A Bride’s Story 6
  • Yoshinaga – Ooku: The Inner chamber, vol. 3
  • Yoshinaga – Ooku: The Inner chamber, vol. 4
  • Anno – Sakuran: Blossoms Wild

Graphic Novel Nonfiction

  • Redniss – Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love & Fallout

Graphic Novel Nonfiction History

  • Wilson, Dickson, et al. – Fight the power!: A visual history of protest among the English-speaking peoples
  • Stavans and Alcaraz – A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States
  • Bagge – Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story

Graphic Novel Nonfiction Memoir

  • Abirached – I Remember Beirut

Graphic Novel Nonfiction  War Poetry

  • Duffy, ed. -Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics

History

  • Schivelbusch – Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants
  • Swaby – Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World

History Memoir

  • Coe – Frontier Doctor: Observations on Central Oregon & the Changing West

Literature & Language

  • Ozecki – A Tale for the Time Being
  • Adams – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, #1) [re-read]
  • Adams – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #2) [re-read]
  • Adams – Life, the Universe and Everything (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #3) [re-read]
  • Adams – So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (Hitchhiker’s Guide #4) [re-read]
  • Johnson – Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia
  • Brontë – Wuthering Heights
  • King – Euphoria [2016 DPL A Novel Idea Selection]
  • Harris – Integationist Notes and Papers 2009-2011
  • Harris – Integationist Notes and Papers 2012
  • Harris – Integationist Notes and Papers 2013
  • Doyle – Through the Magic Door [re-read]
  • Ramsey – Thinking Like a Canyon: New and Selected Poems, 1973-2010
  • Gilbert – Collected poems [currently reading]

Literature & Language Graphic Novel War Poetry

  • Duffy, ed. – Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics [also listed above]

Philosophy

  • Wilson – Second-Hand Knowledge: An Inquiry into Cognitive Authority [on pause]
  • Wellmuth – The Nature and Origins of Scientism
  • Berlin – The Power of Ideas [currently reading]

Photography

  • Atkeson – Oregon, My Oregon
  • Atkeson & Miller – Ski & Snow Country: The Golden Years of Skiing in the West, 1930s-1950s
  • Atkeson – Oregon II
  • Atkeson & Ross – Oregon III
  • Marbach and Pokarney – Oregon Harvest
  • Curtis – The North American Indian: The Complete Portfolios

Renewal

  • Huang and Lynch – Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life [on pause]
  • Kabat-Zinn – Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness [currently reading]
  • Johnson – The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason [on pause]
  • Segal – Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression: A New Approach to Preventing Relapse [on pause]
  • Levine – Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences
  • Farhi – The Breathing Book: Good Health and Vitality Through Essential Breath Work [currently reading]
  • Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning
  • Smalley & Winston – Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness
  • Krznaric – How To Find Fulfilling Work
  • Black – More Anti-Inflammation Diet Tips and Recipes
  • Wahls – The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine
  • Gunaratana – Mindfulness in Plain English
  • Krucoff – Healing Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain: Easy, Effective Practices for Releasing Tension and Relieving Pain [on pause]
  • Moore & Gillette – Lover Within: Accessing the Lover in the Male Psyche [on pause]
  • Cooksley – Seaweed: Nature’s Secret to Balancing Your Metabolism, Fighting Disease, and Revitalizing Body and Soul [skimmed]
  • Brantley & Millstine – Five Good Minutes in Your Body [skimmed]
  • Fallon – Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

Tech & Software

  • Kissell – Take Control of Automating Your Mac [on pause]
  • Martinez and Stager – Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom [on pause]
  • Rawlins – Slaves of the Machine: The Quickening of Computer Technology [gave up]

Final Comments

I think this slices and dices this data more than enough for me this year. I would not mind having a breakdown of authors by gender but that is loaded with many problems (multiple authors, determining gender of some, etc.) and I am not that concerned about it. I read fairly widely and try to read from a diversity of diversities, knowing that I can always do better.

I want to keep reading things in translation; I feel I did well this year. I should try to read a bit more poetry and erotica, sex & gender this year. I am satisfied with the amount of re-reading, the number of ebooks, and of nonfiction. I hope to read a few less graphic novels and more varied things in literature & language; e.g., more actual lit, more on language and more poetry as previously mentioned. Maybe some re-reading there. Poetry books are close at hand.

All in all, I’m calling 2015 a good year for me and reading. I met all of my goals, and only one of them I feel could have been more solidly met.

I am very happy to be ending some part of my 2015 with a great score for the year. Particularly happy to have the thought documented.

Here’s to your (and my) reading in 2016.

[Post(s) coming soon]

 

Morton – Tortillas: A Cultural History

Morton, Paula E. 2014. Tortillas: a Cultural History. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Date read: 16-31 December 2014

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cover of Paula Morton's Tortillas: a Cultural History

Cover of Paula Morton’s Tortillas: a Cultural History

Paperback, xxiii, 157 p

Published 2014 by University of New Mexico Press.

Overall I enjoyed this book. Throughout it kept me exceedingly hungry for “proper” nixtamilized corn tortillas made completely from hand. Of course, the horrifically gendered work that went into them is a non-starter. The work that went into them—no matter who’s doing it—is a non-starter.

Despite being on an academic press this is definitely a general audience book. There is a notes section in the back with a couple of paragraphs per chapter but not proper notes. There were one or two claims made that I wanted to look into but could find no references to them.

I chose a lot of categories for this post as the author does cover issues of gender, language and word issues, pop culture, technology, and so on.

The book is an easy read but I really wanted more out of it. A bit more scholarly, perhaps, but not enough to throw most people off. The author is a journalist so it has some of that feel. My biggest gripe is the easy nonchalance in which the author reported on wholesale cultural genocide. “Aw, shucks. It happens eventually to everyone [paraphrase].” The sheer bloodiness of European expansion into Central America and Mexico is enough to make us sit up and reconsider our own cultural heritage. At the least. And as European expansion was pretty much bloody everywhere, it simply cannot be “Aw, gee shucks” awayed.

Near the end as she’s wrapping up loose ends (somewhat) and bringing us fully up-to-date, the author provides some statistics. I believe they are completely and utterly incorrect and highlight an utter fail of editing (on everyone’s part):

“In 2002 in Mexico the average daily consumption of corn tortillas per person was 548 pounds. In 2010 the daily consumption was 346 pounds, according to the Mexican National Household Income Expenditure Survey (ENIGH in Spanish)” (124).

Um, No one, I say no single person, is (or was) eating either 346 or 548 pounds of tortillas per day! Not even once on one day. That figure could be the annual total per person perhaps or it could be the weight eaten by all Mexicans in a day but for that it seems way low. Either way, that last cock-up sealed the feeling I’d had about the book all along. I wanted—I expected—more. So I only gave it 3 stars.

Still I learned a fair bit and will be on the lookout for much better tortillas on occasion.

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.

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.

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.