Category Archives: very random thoughts

Modern fairytales

Maybe it was a clip of the current US Attorney General in all of his Puck-ishness. Or perhaps it was my full avoidance of a terrifyingly massive project that I needed to have finished months ago. Whatever the catalyst, I had a stray thought about what constitutes a Modern Fairytale. 

If we think of fairytales as a type of story we tell ourselves to make sense of a ridiculous and nonsensical world, what are those stories today?

I know the big trend is to re-tell the old stories we know with “updates” to more closely connect to our current lived realities. And these are a way to try to make sense of the world. But the best known tales reflect a smaller portion of the mass society, and they’re still rooted in a lived reality we are generations distant from with all the erasure that makes up the predominate values.

And I think, like the countries and communities and cultures that we palimnsest to create the current US culture, we’re still collectively creating our fairytales.

New semester. Last required coursework.

So today was my last first day of class.

Mostly.

To be nitpicky, I still have a couple of classes directly connected to my dissertation. But today is the last first day of class for required coursework.

And I didn’t realize it until my mom sent me a text congratulating me. I guess I’m so used to having classes, that I can’t picture a life without having a first day of school where I show up and will be evaluated 16 weeks later with regard to my success in mastering the content.

This turn of events means that I will need to figure out, finally, what to do with the rest of my life. Or at least the next 5 years. (I’ve heard Millennials only stick around for the briefest of times, and I’m told I fall into the category because ’83 )

I joke that this means I will have to become a real person. I think I’d rather continue making ends meet and acting like an adult. I don’t think I can commit to something so permanent this early. Perhaps if later finally arrives.

Most influential books

the lion & the library
A bit ago, I had a friend tag me in a Facebook thing (yeah, I can’t believe that either…) that had you list the top 10 (?) most influential books in your life. I didn’t do that list, because, what’s with lists without context? But I decided that it would be fun to create my own list and explain the impact each work has had on me. They aren’t in any order beyond how they pop into my head. Some are books, some are poems, some are short stories, and some are authors. And some are all of the above. Enjoy reading my collection! Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments 🙂

The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit/The Silmarillion by J.R.R.Tolkien – Not the Peter Jackson movies. The actual stories written by J.R.R.Tolkien. They are a beautiful story of the power of being boring and wanting nothing more out of life than to be able to stay home. And the Silmarillion has the most gorgeous description of a world’s creation out of anything that I’ve read.

Ray BradburyAll Summer in a Day is always my favorite story and has been since the first time I read it in 7th grade; I felt a little less alone for being the smart kid in class because Margot was ostracized as well. The Homecoming (made even more beautiful with art by Dave McKean) affirms the importance of going home – those spaces where everyone loves and accepts you, especially if you’re a little different from everyone else there. Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man all help shape how I interact with stories, and The Halloween Tree describes the joy and terror of my favorite holiday. Seriously, so many of the stories Bradbury wrote shaped my understanding of worlds I may never see, and fostered my love of short stories, in ways no other did. When I found out he died, I was at work and told my co-worker I would need a minute, because I cried.

White Noise by Don DeLillo – “What do you know about Dylar?” This book looks into the fear that we have regarding death and the many ways that we try to avoid it, particularly by distracting ourselves with the copies of the reality before us. It is also the origin of the name of one of my favorite bands – The Airborne Toxic Event.

The Modernist Authors – I could probably come up with an entire series of posts just on the authors/works in this category that are super influential. I have a quote by James Joyce tattooed on my side; the end of The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot is the tagline for this blog, and I read “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” on a regular basis; the first chapter of my M.A. Thesis is about Marianne Moore. I love these authors and the similarity of their life experience to my early-adult life.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones – Not the movie (probably the only one I don’t care for by Hayao Miyazaki), because it misses the point. The novel focuses on the power inherent in Sophie and how she can change her world simply through being wholly herself (despite her propensity to hide). The first time I read it, I immediately began re-reading it when I made it to the end.

Neil Gaiman – Anything by him. Always. Here is the tag archive. I’m a little obsessed (but in the best, most friendly possible way.) with anything the Neil Gaiman creates. Instructions is my favorite gift to people who are having significant life changes. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is perfect; The Graveyard Book explains what I am most hesitant about regarding parenthood. “Trust your heart, and trust your story.” will be added to my collection of text written on my skin at some point in the near future (maybe the tattoo after next). And then Idris. Seriously – Neil Gaiman stories reflect parts of myself that I didn’t realize I needed to see.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy by Douglas Adams – I love all 5 of these books. They are the funniest nihilistic apocalyptic stories. They have some of the best asides and one-liners, and they pervade much of the English-speaking culture in ways that aren’t always acknowledged. And when I want to laugh at absurd situations, I read the first few books, and remember that sometimes the only response that keeps people sane is laughing. Or wearing bathrobes to face whatever the universe throws at you.

Unbounded Love by Clark Pinnock and Robert Brow – This book helped me better understand and make sense of wide swaths of the Christian Bible. The Bible helped guide my actions in a broad ways, and Unbounded Love helped me to better understand how I could explain my rationale. Both are focused in a deep and broad love for all people as an extension of a deep love for and of God.

The Giver by Lois Lowry – This was the first book I ever read a second time. I loved how it explained the sorrow and pain that is an intricate part of life because it made the negative sides of life less scary. I intentionally avoided the movie, because it looked like another example of completely missing the point.

Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal – It was while I was reading this book that I had a flash of insight into how I could apply some of the concepts in an English classroom. That flash propelled me into the Ph.D. program I’m currently in. So in a sense, this book helped redirect the trajectory of my life, which is kind of influential….

That’s a pretty good start to this list. I’m sure I’ll end up expanding on some sections and revising others as I continue to live. This has been fun looking everything up and figuring out the best way to share my love for all of these works with all of you. I would love to hear what you all have to share in a similar vein!

Review: Manifest Destiny #3

Manifest Destiny #3
Manifest Destiny #3 by Chris Dingess
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s actually a 4.5. I like the fast pace of the story. The rest will include spoilers – fair warning.

I enjoyed the take on the zombies. Having them be plants was interesting.

My favorite was the introduction of their girl guide, who can only be Sacagawea. I hope they follow through with the solid intro and keep her “I’ll guide you all across the country with a newborn” mentality, because that’s one of the many reasons I love her.

The story is really just starting to pick up, and I’m quite interested where it heads next.

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Australian Spiders

are the freaking scariest things.

Huntsman Spider

Seriously. They are huge; they eat birds; they eat snakes; they take over the trees. Driving through the outback, we would pass stands of trees that look like the picture below – a nice place to wander through and connect with the land. Until you get closer and see the massive spider webs between the tree blocking most of the paths (as we were driving and not stupiding braving the guardians of the trees, I don’t have any good pictures of those massive, Mirkwood level webs). Outback Queensland

And, just in case they weren’t scary enough, they also take over farm land (granted the move to the farm avoids drowning, but still the fact that Aussie spiders make places in Australia that haven’t seen snow in millennia look like they are ready for a white Christmas is terrifying).

I’m pretty sure Australian spiders were the nightmare kernel at the heart of the amazingly terrible Kingdom of the Spiders with William Shatner (embedded below because everyone should know this gem).

Australian spiders must serve some purpose beside keeping the tourist travel at a reasonable level or inducing nightmares of being wrapped up and eaten, but I’m not entirely sure what that is. The good thing about most of these spiders? They’re so large it’s hard to be surprised by them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HEvlkQeQV8

 

Review: Baltimore: The Plague Ships

Baltimore: The Plague Ships
Baltimore: The Plague Ships by Mike Mignola
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked this opening to a mini-series by Mignola. I’m not sure where it’s headed, but I really love that this series makes vampires scary again. These are not creatures anyone could fall in love with….

I’m also really interested in the backstory of Lord Baltimore. I don’t expect tho learn that story completely here, because that’s not Mignola’s style, but I’m looking forward to learning it.

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