Saturday, December 31, 2011

I ran across this cool time lapse video of an artist drawing a picture of Emma Watson.  I am endlessly fascinated by both time lapse images and all things Harry Potter.  This makes me want to learn how to draw!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Dan Band - "Ho, Ho, Ho"

Wrong on so many levels, but funny nonetheless.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue VS Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Having just finished reading another disturbing novel based on a crime that seems to be happening more and more frequently, I felt the need to process the icky feelings brought up by these stories.  Even though I can't really say that I enjoyed either of these books, they shine a light on a dark part of our society that begs our attention.  These are books that I believe should be read, but I hesitate to recommend them to my friends.

The following are my reviews of Room and Living Dead Girl, two very different stories of girls who were abducted and imprisoned by men who used them for sex.  Room is adult fiction and Living Dead Girl is young adult fiction.  Anyone who thinks that YA literature isn't worthwhile for adults should consider what C.S. Lewis said about children's books:  "A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest."

Room by Emma Donoghue  

Unlike many other reviewers who seem to either love or hate this book, I find myself solidly in the middle of these two extremes.  First of all, the subject is an icky one, ripped from an all-too-common lurid headline.  A sicko kidnaps a young girl and imprisons her for years so that he can repeatedly rape and abuse her.  Second, the story is narrated by Jack, a five year old boy whose entire life has been contained in Room, an 11' x 11' space he shares with Ma.  Having a child narrate the story takes a bit of the edge off.  Since Jack's mother protects him from the reality of her situation as best as she can, and he is very young, he doesn't understand that he and Ma are prisoners.  The downside is that we don't get the whole story, simply because Jack can't tell us everything.  I found Jack's voice extremely annoying at first, though he did grow on me as the novel progressed.

Ma has done her best to care for Jack and to provide a happy life for him, despite the limitations of their captivity.  She keeps him busy during the daytime and at night puts him to sleep in Wardrobe, where "Old Nick" won't see him when he visits.  It's hard to know what else to say in a review, as the story is definitely more powerful if allowed to unfold without spoilers.  I'll just say that I was compelled to keep reading, even though the book is not perfect and the subject matter is disturbing.

My review:  THREE STARS

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

"Alice" was abducted by Ray when she was 10 years old. Now 15, she has been his captive for five years. She has been repeatedly brutalized by Ray--raped, starved, threatened, and beaten physically and emotionally until she is nothing but an empty shell, a living dead girl that nobody sees or hears. She knows it's only a matter of time before Ray kills her and finds a new "Alice." But instead, he comes up with a new plan. He wants her to find a new girl for him and then help him train her. 

This is not a happy story. It is horrifying and will haunt you long after you turn the final page. For mature readers only.

My review:  FIVE STARS

In the end, though these stories are based on a similar premise, Living Dead Girl is the one that grabbed me by the throat and kept me riveted from the first line to the last.  The language is spare and beautiful. Room, for me, simply didn't execute as well.  It did eventually draw me in, but felt more gimmicky and lacked the haunting beauty that so enthralled me in Living Dead Girl.  

Friday, December 9, 2011

God Doesn't Believe in Rick Perry

Rick Perry's most recent campaign video is so heinous that I at first thought it was some kind of sick joke.  

Thankfully, America is still a country based on religious freedom.  That means every citizen has the right to believe (or to not believe) in whatever higher power they like.  It does NOT mean that they have the right to shove those beliefs down the throats of others who hold different beliefs.  Being free to practice YOUR religion must include the right for others to practice THEIRS. 

It amazes me that the GOP candidates spend so much time talking about smaller, less invasive government when it comes to regulating corporations, taxing people who make more money every year than most of the world could spend in a lifetime, and protecting our food supply and our environment.  However, when it comes to infringing on personal freedoms, they are all about being up in everybody's business.  Can anyone explain how this makes one bit of sense?

It seems to me that keeping religion out of government is critical to maintaining both freedom of religion and freedom from religion.  While a theocratic government might seem like a fine idea to some, believers would do well to consider history (anyone remember the Inquisition?), or even to take a look at the horrors that still occur under the repressive religious regimes in the Middle East.  For an example, check out this article about a young Afghan woman who was raped.  When she reported the rape, she was found guilty of a "moral crime" and put in prison (where she later gave birth to a daughter as a result of the violation).  Sadly, this is not unusual in places where religious leaders make and enforce the laws.  It is hard for me to imagine that even the most rabid Christian fundamentalists REALLY want to live in this type of society.  

To end on a lighter note, take a look at this version of Rick Perry's hate ad, much improved by the satire of Second City.  "Rick Perry may believe in God.  But, judging by his poll numbers, God doesn't believe in Rick Perry."  


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Free Speech Matters to Me

What a treat to run across this video that features several of my favorite authors of young adult literature (and several more who have been added to my TBR list) talking about why free speech matters.  All of these authors have had books challenged and/or banned.  Highlights of the video (for me) include Jacqueline Woodson's comment about teaching kids to write well before encouraging them to try to  silence others, John Green getting bleeped, Heather Brewer's librarian story, and Lev Grossman and Nina LaCour talking about our need to confront ideas that are difficult or that we disagree with.  And my hero, Chris Crutcher.  ALL of his books have been banned somewhere.

As an avid reader and teacher, I am passionate about the power of books to open up whole new worlds.  

When I was a kid, my mom took me to the library every few weeks and I would check out a huge pile of books.  She was sometimes skeptical about my ability to read so many books, but never once stopped me from reading something that caught my interest.  Back in the dark ages when I was a teenager, there wasn't the huge selection of YA literature that there is today.  Even as an elementary and middle school student, I read mainly adult fiction; children's books were too easy and there weren't many other choices.

My first experience with censorship involved Forever by Judy Blume when I was in the sixth grade.  I remember hearing that this book I had never heard of was banned at my middle school.  Anyone caught with it would be in SERIOUS TROUBLE.  I was a good student, a teacher's pet kind of kid, and a voracious reader.  The idea that someone could stop me from reading anything I wanted to read was a huge shock.  The ban awoke a little passive-aggressive monster in me and I immediately went to the public library, checked out the offending book, covered it in brown paper from a grocery store bag...and took it to school.  I read that book cover to cover in a few hours, and then read it again, giggling with my friends over the "good parts."

One could argue that, at 11 years old, I was too young for that particular book.  Perhaps I was.  But I read it and I survived.  Giggling about "Ralph" did not make me sexually active.  I didn't start smoking or doing drugs.  I continued to be (mostly) respectful to my parents and teachers.  I still cared about my grades.  At the time, I found the book more funny and gross than titillating.  Had it not for the school-wide ban, I doubt I would have even picked up Forever.  At that time, I was much more interested in fantasy (thank you, J.R.R. Tolkien for being awesome).  Thanks to the book banners, I discovered a wonderful book that might otherwise have escaped my notice and developed a lifelong fascination with books and authors who aren't afraid to tackle controversial topics.

A few years later, in ninth grade, I ran across a copy of The French Lieutenant's Woman in my school library.  I tried to check it out and the librarian wouldn't let me have it.  I was floored.  Then I went home and saw the book on our bookshelf at home.  So, of course I took it to school and showed it to my friends.  I was quite a little snot about it, smack-talking about the situation, when my friends suddenly got very quiet.   I turned around, only to find myself face to face with the evil librarian.  I looked her right in the eye and said, "Luckily, my mom had this at home, so I can read it anyway."  It was out of character for me, but I took that act of censorship as a personal offense.  I did apologize to the librarian later, but I found it unfair that she was not asked to apologize to me.   

People who want to protect their children from ideas in books may be well-meaning, but in the long-run, they do much more harm than good.  Sooner or later, children grow up and are expected to navigate through a world that is often brutal and cruel and filled with difficult choices.  If we never allow our children to explore difficult or uncomfortable ideas in books, we seriously impair their ability to make good choices about their own lives.  How can our children be expected to make mature decisions when they can't even be trusted to make choices about what to read?  Keeping your own child from reading a particular book is one thing, but banning a book and taking that choice away from EVERYONE'S children is simply wrong.   

Especially in our internet saturated world, where we can find anything, from porn to dirty bomb recipes, censoring books seems kind of pointless.  Instead of trying to take books off of library shelves and out of our children's hands, we should be encouraging them to read as much as they can, and then having open and honest conversations with them.  This is how they will clarify their own ideas about the world and the kind of adults they aspire to be.  This is how they learn to think critically and to make the decisions that they will be called upon to make when they are in charge of running the world, when THEY are responsible for US.

"This is America.  We have the freedom to read here.  We have the freedom to think here....Freedom of speech matters to me.  And it should matter to you, too." --Laurie Halse Anderson

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Don't Nibble on My Gingerbread House

After hearing a friend lament abut the horrors of gingerbread home construction in the company of her children, I happened to see a kit in the grocery store the other day. I don't have any children to "help" me, I'm reasonably creative and educated, and I've got a lot of time on my hands at the moment. So I bought one. How hard can it really be? Ha, ha. You know what's coming next, of course. What is the saying? Oh, I know, "Pride goeth before a fall." Right.

So here is my rant/review/how-to guide for those among you brave enough to tackle a similar project.  Or those of you who just need a good laugh at someone else's expense. 

First, the kit.
I purchased a kit made by Orbit Cookies & Kwik Build for about $15 at my local Safeway. Everything needed was included in the kit, though I am positive that whoever made the model in the photo did not do it only using the one frosting bag included in the kit. I'm pretty sure it's not even possible to create the same level of detail without different-sized pastry tips for the frosting. Or maybe I simply suck at this stuff. Anyway...

Step one: Lay out cookie pieces.
The instructions on the box were laid out step-by-step and were easy to follow, but I did hit one snag right away that made this project extremely difficult. Several of the pieces were broken. I glued them together with the frosting, with limited success, as you will see.

Step two: Prepare the base by filling the openings with frosting.
Notice my LOVELY patch job.

Step three: Begin assembly by squirting a thick line of frosting on the vertical sides of the front and back house pieces. Frosting goes on the back, FYI.
As you can see, the roof pieces were both broken diagonally right down the middle. Shown here is the first patch, which probably would have been successful had I waited longer before attempting to attach to roof. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Step four: Insert front and (one) side panel into the frosting-filled slot in the base. Easy. No, really, it was easy.

Step five: Insert the other side piece, making sure it lines up against the icing on the front piece. Then, slide the back piece into place and squoosh everything together.
Again, easy.

Step six: Squirt frosting all around the top edges to prepare for the roof.
Now, here comes a hard part.

Step seven:   Squirt frosting along the straight edge of one roof piece. Pick up both pieces AT THE SAME TIME and squoosh them into place, forming a peaked roof.
I think this might be difficult even with both pieces unbroken. Of course, my frosting glue didn't hold while I struggled to ease the roof into place and my house appears to have just survived a hurricane or a very large tree falling on it.

Step seven and a half:  Remove roof pieces, scrape off extra frosting and reglue broken pieces with more frosting.  Stand there and hold them for several minutes.  (Swearing might happen at this point, if it hasn't before.  A few choice words made me feel better, even if it did nothing to hold the roof together.)  Let the pieces sit for at least thirty minutes before attempting further construction.  Just walk away.  Trust me.

Step eight:  Repeat step seven with your (hopefully) solid roof pieces.  Once the roof is in place, leave the house alone for at least thirty minutes before decorating.
It looks like crap, but no cave-ins, so we're making progress.

On to the decorating.  This is where this kit fell short, in my opinion.  There were no directions included about how to decorate and only one bag of frosting.  I don't know about you, but I have never used fondant before and had no idea what to do with it.  Thankfully, Auntie Internet gave me some tips.

I started by warming the fondant for 10 seconds in the microwave to soften it.  Then I rolled it out into a very thin layer with a rolling pin.  I cut out the door and window shapes, pictured below.
I dotted just enough frosting on the back of the door to hold it in place while I piped frosting around the edges.  This was extra challenging, as the frosting was cooling and the hole at the tip of the frosting bag was too large for delicate work. 

Adding the windows was even more frustrating, as the frosting kept sticking to itself, especially on the perpendicular lines inside the window. 
The perfectionist in me was screaming, "Throw the whole effing thing out!" at this point.  And any hopes I had entertained about a new career as a pastry chef were pretty much dashed. 

Luckily, decorating the rest was pretty easy (mostly because I completely gave up on trying to make my house look like the one on box).  I had some left over frosting in the fridge, so I used that to cover up the roof, with all its shattered glory.  The rest was more or less glopping frosting around and squishing the candy bits into it.  With my lack of control over the frosting, I skipped the finer details and kind of did my own thing.  Here's the final result of several hours of effort.

Upon reflection, I realize that it is very hard for me to follow the advice that I am constantly giving my students:  Stretch out of your comfort zone, be unafraid of trying new things, and don't beat yourself up if you make a mistake or things don't turn out quite as planned.  In the end, this gingerbread house is quite like me--colorful, a bit random, and messy around the edges.  And, no, I won't be working for that Ace of Cakes guy anytime soon (ever!), but I tried something well out of my comfort zone and it turned out, in the words of my loving husband, "Not that bad."

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Oh, goody! Another book to shuffle up to the top of my TBR pile. Sherman Alexie's award-winning novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, has just been banned by a school district in Georgia.

Here is a quote from an article about the incident that really gets to the heart of why banning books is not only misguided, but also potentially harmful.

"The idea that what is inside a book -- offensive language, sexual references, thematic material, violence, witchcraft, etc. -- should determine its availability to students is a direct challenge to freedom of choice and educational mission.

Discussion of sensitive or weighty topics in a school setting can promote intellectual growth and maturity. Banning a book, conversely, can deprive students of the opportunity to broaden their understanding of the world." Read the full article here

Parents certainly have the right to limit their own children's access to materials that they find offensive or otherwise inappropriate. But making that decision for EVERYONE'S children is simply wrong. Rather than banning books, perhaps it would be smarter to read along with our children and then TALK ABOUT the ideas. What a great opportunity to clarify the moral values that we want to pass along to our children! It's called a teachable moment, folks. Use it.

Review to follow. Feel free to add yours, too.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Adventures in Fruit, Part 2

Another fruit that is in season right now is the mythical pomegranate. Fans of Hades, Demeter, and Persephone will remember that the reason we have six months of winter is because of the six pomegranate seeds that Persephone ate after being kidnapped by Hades and held captive in the underworld. Her mother, Demeter, managed to bring her home, but because of those tricky pomegranate seeds, Persephone must return to the underworld to live with Hades for six months out of every year. While Persephone languishes in the underworld, Demeter misses her daughter. And while Demeter mourns, the land dies. When Persephone returns to her mother, Demeter rejoices and the land blooms. It sure is lucky for us that Persephone didn't like pomegranates as much as I do or we'd have winter all year.

As delicious as the pomegranate tastes, it is not the easiest fruit to peel and eat. And it makes a big mess. Follow the steps below to eat a pomegranate, but whatever you do, be sure to wear dark-colored clothing or an apron because the juice is likely to spray exactly where you don't want it.

This is a pomegranate. For best results, look for a deep red colored fruit that is not too squishy:

Step one:

Cut off the top of the pomegranate.

Step two:

Score the peel so the fruit can be divided into quarters. Try not to cut into the seeds. Pull the fruit apart with your hands.

Step three:

I've seen some instructions that say you have to soak the fruit, but I simply put a colander in the sink and direct the seeds into it as they come out of the peel. This is very messy however you do it. Take a section of the pomegranate and pull the peel side toward you while pushing the seed side toward the colander. Some seeds will pop right out; others you'll need to kind of ease out. Use the pads of you fingers or thumb. If you use your fingernails, the juice squirts out EVERYWHERE.

Repeat this process with each section. When all the seeds are separated, the peel looks like this:

Step four:

Clean up your mess! Discard this stuff.

Run water over the seeds in the colander, shake it around, and pick out any white bits you missed. Rinse out the sink (notice how the juice gets all over). If you do this like I do, you'll also be wiping down random juice splatters from the counters, walls, floor, and miniblinds. If you wear glasses, chances are you'll need to rinse them, too, especially the first time.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Wow. This is amazing book had me enthralled from the very first sentence. The writing is beautiful and the different perspectives of each character ( Laura, Henry, Jamie, Ronsel, Hap, and Florence) dovetail neatly together in this meticulously crafted story.

The book opens with the digging of a grave. Then we meet the characters. Laura, a teacher resigned to spinsterhood, who marries steady, dependable Henry, mainly because he's the only man who ever asked. Henry isn't a bad guy, but he's not very aware of his wife's needs. He buys a farm in Mississippi and springs it on Laura. Not pleased, city-born and raised Laura dubs the farm "Mudbound." Despite the fact that Henry's crotchety father comes to live with them, Laura makes peace with her lot in life, only occasionally letting herself acknowledge her wish for something more.

Hap is one of the sharecroppers who lives and works on Henry's farm. His wife, Florence, is a midwife. Both are strong, hardworking people who have struggled to make a better life for themselves and their children.

The real heart of the story, however, revolves around the friendship of two soldiers recently returned to Mississippi after WWII. Both are heroes tortured by their memories of the war; both feel like strangers in the place they once called home. Jamie is Henry's charismatic younger brother. He deals with his demons by drinking. Ronsel is the son of Hap and Florence. A gifted student, he was the first in his family to learn to read. He served in the 761st Black Panther Battalion, the only colored tank unit in the US army. It is especially difficult for him to get a taste of being treated like a human being, only to return to his "boy" status when he comes home.

Hauntingly beautiful and tragic. A must read.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Adventures in Fruit

The theme of this week has been "Adventures in Fruit." After having a positive, if messy, experience with a pomegranate, (and because the berries I normally love are out of season and not looking especially delicious right now) I decided to sample a few unfamiliar fruits this week. Well, two, actually. That is, I daresay, quite enough fruit adventure when it involves watching You Tube videos to figure out how to peel and eat said fruit.

Fruit number one was a persimmon. The preparation was quick and easy, but the gustatory experience was, shall we say, less than optimum. YUCK! I know now that I had a hachiya persimmon, which tastes bitter and leaves your mouth feeling "furry" if you eat it before it's ripe. Which I, unfortunately, did. I may try one again sometime, but not soon.

Understandably, the huge, impressive looking pomelos sat on the counter for several days while my taste buds and my sense of adventure recovered from the persimmon fiasco. Today was the day to peel the pomelos. They are about twice the size of a grapefruit and the taste is similar, although milder. Normally, I have to add sugar to enjoy grapefruit; these I could eat with no added sugar. The pith is quite spongy and pillowy. I found the texture entrancing and spent more time than I'd like to admit poking at it. If you've got kids, I can pretty much guarantee that they'll want to touch the peels. The verdict is: time-consuming and somewhat messy to peel (though not nearly as messy as a pomegranate), but delicious.

The following pictures will show how to peel a pomelo:

Step One:

Cut off the top and score all the way around so that the peel can be divided into quarters.

Step Two:

Sort of like peeling a grapefruit--slide fingers between the fruit and the peel on each quarter until you've got something that resembles a blooming flower. Then, and this is crucial, be sure to stop and take a picture.

Step Three:

Remove fruit from the peel.

Step Four:

This is the messy and time-consuming part of the process. Divide into sections as you would a grapefruit or an orange. Peel off the white stuff. Toss the large pile of pith and peel that's left over.

Step Five:


For me, the downside of being (mostly) unemployed is mainly about the whole having no money thing, and also the isolation that comes from living in a new city AND having no job, and thus no co-workers and potential friendships. Surprisingly, though, to a person who has not gone for more than a couple of weeks between jobs since around 1984, this time off has been a blessing. I'm not gonna lie--I've had some truly epics naps and my fair share of pajama days. But I'm also refining my career focus and developing some skills that will help me be a better teacher. Between naps, I'm making serious progress through my tottering TBR pile (including all those teaching books that I buy but never find time to read while I'm actually teaching), studying Spanish, and finding out without a doubt that I make a much better teacher than a housewife. My part-time tutoring jobs are letting me keep a toe in the water until I can get back in the classroom. And I miss teaching, most days, anyway. But I'm also learning to appreciate the freedom to do the things that require a little extra time. Like peeling a pomelo.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Alliterative Haiku by Calvin

Perhaps it's an indication of deep levels of immaturity, but I (truly, madly, deeply) love Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin is such a perfect combination of endearing and annoying, and a little too smart and imaginative to have an easy life ahead of him.

I have never been able to pick a favorite strip, but I am partial to the snowmen series. I found this page where the comics inspired some real-life snowman mayhem based on Calvin's outdoor antics. Hilarious.

What could be better than homicidal snowmen and snow shark attacks? Well, how about this Calvin and Hobbes haiku that shows some love to the letter t. What's not to love about a meeting of the minds that includes Calvin, haiku, and alliteration? Enjoy.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sarah Kay and an inspiring TED Talk on spoken word poetry

I'm busily stockpiling resources to enrich my teaching once I'm back in the classroom again. This TED Talk by Sarah Kay starts with her poem "B." The poem itself is marvelous and very much what I try to pass on to my students. She goes on to talk about her empowering early experiences at New York City's Bowery Poetry Club and her work with Project V.O.I.C.E. She ends with the performance of another poem, "Hiroshima." Inspiring!

Monday, October 17, 2011

RIP Jamey Rodemeyer

Yet another gay teenager has taken his own life after being mercilessly bullied by classmates. We all know that being a teenager is difficult. How many of us can imagine how much more difficult it is to be an LGBT teenager, isolated and at the mercy of the cruel and ignorant?

In many ways, Jamey was lucky. His parents loved him and he could rely on his close friends to accept and care for him. He wasn't completely alone and marginalized as are so many teens coming to terms with their sexual identities. Nonetheless, he is dead.

The fact is, we are born the way we are born. Why should someone have to suffer and die because of who they love? I believe that the world needs more love, whatever form that love takes. I dare you to look into Jamey Rodemeyer's face and listen to his words of love and encouragement in his "It Gets Better" video and to remain unmoved.

Jamey Rodemeyer

Here are some links for more information and support:

It Gets Better Project
The Trevor Project

Friday, October 14, 2011

For Those With Vaginas

As the economy stagnates, the GOP continues its assault on women's heath. The GOP-controlled House refuses to even bring the jobs bill up for debate because it is too busy proposing legislation that will make it legal for hospitals to refuse to perform abortions.

Of course, this goes hand in hand with ridiculously ineffective abstinence-only sex education and attempts to restrict access to birth control. It is my personal opinion that sometimes abortions are necessary and that women, along with their families and their doctors, should have the freedom to choose for themselves. Abortion is a personal, moral decision, not a legal one. If you don't believe in abortion, DON'T HAVE ONE! Rather than spending so much time and energy on sneaky ways to make abortions unavailable, perhaps we should focus that energy on educating people who are (or will be) sexually active to make informed decisions about their personal health and safety. While it's true that the only way to be 100% safe from unplanned pregnancy and STI's is to not engage in sexual activity, that is just not a realistic solution for a large majority of people. If so many Catholic priests can't keep it in their pants, what hope is there for your average horny teenager?

I'm including a couple of videos that address this issue and have inspired me to get involved in some political activism to advocate for women's sexual health. The first video is from the Rachel Maddow Show and features several congresswomen and men speaking out against the GOP's attack on women. The second video is from Second City and is a satirical response to GOP plans to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. "Vagina havers: Does your sexual partner support vaginas? If not, tell him how he can go get f@*ked. Alone."

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Angry Management by Chris Crutcher, challenged in South Carolina

I just ran across a story about the most recent attempt to ban a book written by one of my favorite YA authors, Chris Crutcher.

The challenge to Angry Management comes from a parent in South Carolina, who, after reading 24 pages, decided that the book was unfit for his 14 year old son (and every child in the Kershaw County School District) because of "language." The parent, Douglas Berry, used Facebook to harangue the district's superintendent to remove the book from the summer reading list, as well as from the district's library shelves. The book seems to have been removed, perhaps pending a resolution, and then replaced once a committee was able to meet and discuss the challenge. It bothers me that that the district, at least initially, caved in so willingly and put the needs of one vocal complainer above the needs of everyone else.

As much as I do not agree with Mr. Berry, we live in a country where he has every right to not like this book, read this book, or buy this book. The school's summer reading list had at least 39 other books for his son to choose from. Surely, at least one of those would have been appropriate summer reading. He also is well within his rights to forbid his son from reading this book. Although I suspect that his son, along with many people who had never heard of Angry Management or Chris Crutcher before, has already read it, if only to find out what all of the fuss is about. It's certainly been moved to the top of my TBR pile.

The following is an excerpt from the letter that Chris Crutcher wrote to the students of Kershaw County in response to the challenge:

"Listen, if you pick up a copy of Angry Management and read the first twenty-four pages, as Douglas Berry says he did, and you don’t like it, put it down. The right to read also includes the right not to read. But remember it’s your right, not anyone else’s. If your education doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t take you out of your comfort zone and even scare you a little, you are being cheated."

So here's my suggestion. Go buy or borrow a copy of this book, read it, and start a conversation. Challenge ignorance and think for yourself.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lucy's New Blog

Apparently, my cat is blogging now, too. I suppose there are worse things she could be doing when I'm not looking.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Turning Classic Literature into Artwork

Now a thousand words (and more) can MAKE a picture. uses the words from classic literature to create posters that represent each book. So far, choices are limited, but what a great idea!

Now Wuthering Heights (and other books) can grace your walls. Check out the link to see all of the available posters:

Wuthering Heights poster | Book posters for reading enthusiasts - Postertext

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sometimes Lazy = Good

You know how some days, even when the to-do list is piling up to the ceiling, you just want to spend a whole day checking nothing off of the list? Well, today is one of those days for me. A hard workout, paired with several hours of gardening (sans sunscreen--oops) left me feeling sore and sunburned. Time to enjoy a day of doing a whole lot of nothing with my new friend, Bruno Mars. Ahhh...

Roller Derby in a mainstream music video

Check out this music video by Halestorm, "It's Not You," featuring roller derby. Love it!

Taylor Mali on "What Teachers Make"

It's not a great time to be a teacher. I get so fed up with people who see education as a second rate profession and who assume that, because they went to school once upon a time, they understand what it's like to be a teacher. I make a goddamn difference. What do YOU make?

"Miracle Workers" by Taylor Mali

Taylor Mali, teacher and poet, talks about giving students what they need before they know they need it. Funny and though-provoking at the same time.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Derby Art by Maggie Gosselar

This is a drawing done by Maggie Gosselar, one of the newest skaters with the Rock River Rollers. Though I've never been a rockstar skater, I certainly enjoy feeling like one!

Maggie's drawing is based on this picture: