Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Huck Finn: Robotic Edition

I couldn't resist: I ordered the Robotic Edition of Huckleberry Finn.  I felt inclined to experience this culturally corrected edition, seeing as how it does the opposite of what the kerfuffle-edition did (changing every race-oriented-derogatory-term to 'slave').  Instead of making it tamer, less offensive, less about what it's about, this edition makes the point of the story that much more poignant.  By changing every offensive racial term to "robot", not only do we create some smiles, but we tell an important story in a way that has much more of the original impact for this day and age.  After all, our opinion regarding the humanity of robots is quite similar to the previously prevailing opinion about the real intelligence (etc.) of slaves.
Um...I mean...I'm of the opinion that the last version didn't go far enough in its censorship, and this version is best so that no one is uncomfortable and no point is made.

But that's just me.

An excerpt from the introduction:
'Banned from the Concord Public Library shortly after its first publication in eighteen hundred and something, "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" was criticized in the Boston Transcript by members of the library committee for being "rough, coarse, and inelegant, dealing with a series of experiences not elevating, the whole book being more suited to the slums than to intelligent, respectable people." 
While we have not taken the time to actually do the research to back up our claim, it is easy to infer that the sympathetic depiction of the African American character Jim as a human being worthy of freedom was one of the "rough, coarse, and inelegant" elements of the book to which many critics objected.  Which is ironic considering modern criticism has shifted to calling the book racist because of Twain's use of the word "n-word" more than 200 times throughout the text. 
Granted, that a lot of n-bombs—but Twain scholars (and other people who understand the book) counter it is actually an indictment of racism: the book shows a young boy's emotional growth from conforming to a racist society's values to gradually learning to think of people with higher levels of melanin production by the melanocytes in the basal layer of their epidermis as actual people.  But that argument has not stopped schools and libraries from keeping the book off shelves and out of classrooms.'

Good stuff, right?  
Robots are people too.
(Find out more here.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Photographic Recap of Summer

As expected, summer was crazy; and of course the advent of a new school year comes with promises of more to come. Sometimes the only proper way to combat the quick pace of life is with some time spent in reflection. Upon looking through my photos of the last few months I found many smiles, inspiring me to share.  This is what our summer looked like:
We began our summer with trips to Disneyland and Knott's Berry
Farm.  Here's my youngest varmint at Knott's.
One of those internet pics that reminds me so much of
one of my friends that I keep it on my phone.  Makes me happy. :)
My girls (the two in front) loved horse camp at the beginning of summer.
The stables are such a fun change in pace from the rest of the city.
As a precursor to viewing a failed fireworks show in San Diego for Independence Day,
we took our kiddos on a trip to the Wild Animal Park.  What a beautiful habitat
for these animals! A day to remember.
The part of Northern California where I grew up suffered from major wildfires
this summer.  Wildfires are much scarier than earthquakes, just so you all know.
My family!  Yes, we are a bunch of goofs.  This apparently seemed like
the proper way to pose whilst outside the capitol building in Sacramento.
Perspective:  this wall is 7.5 ft. high, but it looks like
so much more when your child is hanging off the edge.
In which I discover that the English language is indeed lacking.
Why don't we borrow many Japanese words?  We need this one.

I've learned how to knit this year!  Here's a shot of my foot modeling
my 5th pair of socks.  (Sweaters, here I come!)
My 11-year old made her first quilt.  Proud momma here.
My older brother got married in Australia this summer.
I was unable to attend, but did get to meet the joy of his life
when they came to California during July.  Happiness!
Decisions, decisions.  Designing our remodel absorbs brain cells
that could be put to use reading books instead.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde

I don't know if I like Oscar Wilde so much simply because he writes amazingly witty lines, or because I feel so bad for him having to do prison time and want to give him hugs.  I've only read two of his plays (The Importance of Being Earnest, and most recently, Lady Windermere's Fan) but they've convinced me that I need to read more.

I've heard that The Picture of Dorian Gray (his only published novel) tends toward the dark and depressing—have you found that to be true?  I bought a copy & plan on reading it anyhow, but like to know what the general consensus is before I jump in. (Just the overview, not the details...no spoilers!)

Lady Windermere's Fan is a play about a young married couple in the upper echelons of London society that find themselves (and their marriage) being challenged by rumors and a lack of proper communication.  As you may expect, it is filled to the brim with his characteristic wit and humor.  Not only is it entirely entertaining, however, but it is thought-provoking as well: a perfect combination and definitely recommended (it's super quick to boot.)

Not only does Wilde's writing spur the imagination, but his name does as well.  In Patrick Taylor's An Irish Country Doctor, one of the main characters is named after Wilde—an homage paid to Irish literature in general, and a tribute to those Irish authors, such as Wilde, who may not have received such honors during their lifetimes.

An Irish Country Doctor is the beginning of a series, and is a cozy read for those days when you wish you were back in Ireland (or wait, is that just me?) Filled with humorous anecdotes and endearing characters, the town of Ballybucklebo will be one you'll love visiting (especially with the audio version read by John Keating—love that accent!)

Wouldn't it be fantastic to see one of Oscar Wilde's plays performed live?  I've decided that's one of my goals in life.  :)  How have your Wilde experiences been?  Any other works (of his or about/inspired by him) that I should put on my list?  (As an aside, did you see these 10 interesting facts about Wilde?)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

For the Record: August 2012

It's been three weeks since I've finished reading a book.  Unfortunately that's not because I'm busy throwing back some impressive chunksters, but because I'm busy running around doing a billion other things. (pout)  Still and all, I did read 6 books (which, all things considered, isn't half bad.)

6 Books Read in August: (81 year-to-date)
1 for Book Club:
  - A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (3.5)

5 for Fun/Challenges:
  - One of Ours, Willa Cather (4)
  - Lady Windermere's Fan, Oscar Wilde (4)
  - Hell and Ohio, Chris Holbrook (4.5) [highly recommended short stories]
  - Quiet, Susan Cain (4) [read-along, reviewed here]
  - The End of the Affair, Graham Greene (4)


This month I read 4 books of 51 (33 year-to-date) for my various year-long challenges.
   - Willa Cather: One of Ours (done!)
   - Pulitzer: A Thousand Acres (1 more to go)
   - TBR Shelf: Hell and Ohio (6 more to go)
   - Back to Classics: Lady Windermere's Fan (2 more to go)

2 Current Reads:
  - Moloka'i, Alan Brennert.  I'm behind in my book club selections, this one is first up.
  - Into the Blue, Robert Goddard.  This book club meets soon too, so this book is next.


On My Nightstand:
 If you saw my recent post, you wouldn't ask.  ;)  Seriously though, I'm looking at Redemption Falls and Les Miserables, both for read-alongs that are starting soon.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I bought Les Miserables with full intentions of joining a read-along, only to place it on my nightstand and discover what 2+ weeks of being too busy to read has done to my perception of realistic reading goals.

This is ridiculous. (she says as she recalls another read-along book needing to be started that isn't even in these stacks.)  That stack on the left contains books I'm currently "reading" (a very theoretical phrase, seeing as how I haven't read a drop in the last two weeks.)  The other stacks are ARCs, loaners, book club books (due soon) as well as an Indiespensable book, some new arrivals from PaperbackSwap, and some classics I was craving.

Where do I start?  By putting some of these books away!  One book club is discussing Moloka'i in 7 days, the other book club is discussing Into the Blue a week later.  I certainly have work to do.  ;)

Friday, September 7, 2012


I've just come off two weeks of insane craziness and am simply starved for some time to read and blog. The fact that I am typing this post must mean that life has started to shed its frenetic energy, slowing to the point of Very Busy, but my Google Reader is over 600—the highest it has ever been—so I have some work to do!

In addition to designing a major remodel, packing to move for the duration of the project, and preparing to home-school a high school student for the first time, the last two weeks have been consumed by the production of our 9th annual Joshua Fest—a Christian rock festival in Northern California that we* put on as a ministry** for teens (and others) that may not feel connected in the traditional Christian setting.

It isn't my style of music, but I love seeing the friendships and community formed while people are camping and enjoying the music.  This year held a special treat for some of the old-school kids with bands like Five Iron Frenzy, Relient K, OC Supertones, and MXPX, and we went out with a bang Sunday night with Switchfoot as our headliner.  I ran our official merch booth, (which means that I spent 13+ hours a day in a little room selling t-shirts, energy drinks, and ice,) which held the benefit of getting to meet a wonderful assortment of people who were completely jazzed to be there.

So that's what I've been up to.  I have a lot to catch up on, and tons of reading I want to do (pictures of my nightstand coming soon) but all in all, life is good.

* "we" meaning my husband and a close friend...with the amazing voluntary help and support of family and friends, without whom we could never pull it off.

** it's an event that takes tons of volunteer hours and never makes a cent, but we've got an incredible group of people that all summon super-human strength and endurance for the week to make everything work perfectly.