Saturday, March 14, 2009
The Other Queen by Phillipa Gregory
Vixens by Betrice Small
Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk
Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder by Gyles Brandreth
I haven't gotten around to Oscar Wilde yet, but I saw that it is one of a series and since the protagonist is Oscar Wilde himself, thrown into a Sherlock Holmes-type role...well, colour me intrigued.
Vixens is traditional historical romance, from one my first favorite romance authors Betrice Small, but I have to say... the memory is serving better than the actual reading. I guess I've just outgrown this type of trashy romance, either that or it's just not well written. I have a feeling it's a combination of both. After all, the highly descriptive sex scenes peppered with the usual "Then he dropped a kiss upon the curve of her delicate neck. 'Your scent is intoxicating. What is it?'" and "virgin shields" being thrust through with "love organs".
Following the path of the historical novel is The Other Queen which I was really looking forward to reading. I really enjoyed The Other Bolyen Girl and The Virgin's Lover, but this book was written as from the secret diaries of the three MCs (Bess, George and Mary). Now, I've read epistlatory novels before and enjoyed them, so it isn't the style that I find problemsome. It's the fact that Gregory keeps repeating herself! The characters are developed so one dimensionally it's infuriating! Bess constantly talks about her fortunes and how her husband taught her to keep account books and that she's afraid the rebellion will take her lands and treasures and return them to the church. George is always talking about his honor and how he's torn between his duty to Elizabeth and his love for Mary. Mary is always talking her revenge. It's always the same. I mean it's like Gregory just cut and paste sentences from earlier chapters to pad the length of the novel. Boo. I cry foul. It's a struggle to get through it because I am so angry at what I consider to be a cop out. FOUL!
Finally, Snuff. This is my first Palahniuk read. My roommate in LA was a big fan and I guess I always thought that Palahniuk was a "man's" writer. But I really enjoyed this. It was fun, interesting, told from 4 different perspectives, but unlike Gregory, Palahniuk found a connection and flow between the chapters. I just devoured this during the first legs of my flight. Some may not like the subject matter, an aging porn star that is trying to set the world record for multiple partners (600 men), but it went deeper than that (no pun intended). Dealing with the reasons behind 3 of the men waiting their turn and the porn star's assistant and her role in the creation of the evening and the events that unfold, it's graphic in an almost clinical description of the sex. No romance, no "love organs" or "virgin shields", which is only right since the porn industry is a business, the people that make money off it aren't doing it purely for pleasure.
So there you have it, and another hour is wasted from my studying. Or is it? Were theses effective booktalks? :)
Saturday, March 7, 2009
So I am a leo and a sheep. Could that maybe be whittled to a lion and a lamb? Somehow, although I'd like to say I'm not a sheep, that I am a goat, I follow my own path and refuse to be shepherded (for lack of a better term) in with the rest of the mutton, I like the idea of being part lion, part lamb.
It matches my personality, loving and gentle and kind but don't piss me off because I have been known to rage and roar.
Sigh, or maybe it's just the lack of sleep. I'm writing from a hotel room in El Paso, where I am spending about $ 500 this weekend on travel expenses alone to see my boyfriend/unofficial fiance. He's stationed here at Fort Bliss, named after a soldier, not the state of mind. But getting in around 9:30 last night and walking out into the 70 degree breezy weather? Well, after a winter in Buffalo, it did seem blissful. And palm trees! I almost feel like I'm back in the cradled warmth of my SoCal winter. Ah how I miss that weather.
And the weather is especially nice because after shaving my head earlier this week I truly feel it! Now, it's not shaved bald, but there's not a lot left to it. And so I wear headscarves and am figuring out fun and funky ways of styling them. I think, that even after my hair grows back I am going to continue to wear the head scarf. It's very new bohemian chic if I do say so myself and I expect this to become the newest retro trend within the next 3-5 years. Mark my words people. And it all started with cancer research.
I raised almost $ 800 in two weeks and still counting, because you can STILL make donations to help me reach my goal of $ 1,000. Visit www.goinbaldforbucks.org and look up me, Melissa Seifert, and donate under my webpage. It's a great cause, cancer research and patient care. Like I said when Roswell interviewed me, I know I'm not smart enough to be the person to find the cure, but I can help raise the money to fund that person!
Monday, February 9, 2009
Today, I found the following article from the Washington Times(it's a little long):
Claim violation of rights as they crossed his land
Jerry Seper (Contact)
Monday, February 9, 2009
An Arizona man who has waged a 10-year campaign to stop a flood of illegal immigrants from crossing his property is being sued by 16 Mexican nationals who accuse him of conspiring to violate their civil rights when he stopped them at gunpoint on his ranch on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Roger Barnett, 64, began rounding up illegal immigrants in 1998 and turning them over to the U.S. Border Patrol, he said, after they destroyed his property, killed his calves and broke into his home.
His Cross Rail Ranch near Douglas, Ariz., is known by federal and county law enforcement authorities as "the avenue of choice" for immigrants seeking to enter the United States illegally.
Trial continues Monday in the federal lawsuit, which seeks $32 million in actual and punitive damages for civil rights violations, the infliction of emotional distress and other crimes. Also named are Mr. Barnett's wife, Barbara, his brother, Donald, and Larry Dever, sheriff in Cochise County, Ariz., where the Barnetts live. The civil trial is expected to continue until Friday.
The lawsuit is based on a March 7, 2004, incident in a dry wash on the 22,000-acre ranch, when he approached a group of illegal immigrants while carrying a gun and accompanied by a large dog.
Attorneys for the immigrants - five women and 11 men who were trying to cross illegally into the United States - have accused Mr. Barnett of holding the group captive at gunpoint, threatening to turn his dog loose on them and saying he would shoot anyone who tried to escape.
The immigrants are represented at trial by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), which also charged that Sheriff Dever did nothing to prevent Mr. Barnett from holding their clients at "gunpoint, yelling obscenities at them and kicking one of the women."
In the lawsuit, MALDEF said Mr. Barnett approached the group as the immigrants moved through his property, and that he was carrying a pistol and threatening them in English and Spanish. At one point, it said, Mr. Barnett's dog barked at several of the women and he yelled at them in Spanish, "My dog is hungry and he's hungry for buttocks."
The lawsuit said he then called his wife and two Border Patrol agents arrived at the site. It also said Mr. Barnett acknowledged that he had turned over 12,000 illegal immigrants to the Border Patrol since 1998.
In March, U.S. District Judge John Roll rejected a motion by Mr. Barnett to have the charges dropped, ruling there was sufficient evidence to allow the matter to be presented to a jury. Mr. Barnett's attorney, David Hardy, had argued that illegal immigrants did not have the same rights as U.S. citizens.
Mr. Barnett told The Washington Times in a 2002 interview that he began rounding up illegal immigrants after they started to vandalize his property, northeast of Douglas along Arizona Highway 80. He said the immigrants tore up water pumps, killed calves, destroyed fences and gates, stole trucks and broke into his home.
Some of his cattle died from ingesting the plastic bottles left behind by the immigrants, he said, adding that he installed a faucet on an 8,000-gallon water tank so the immigrants would stop damaging the tank to get water.
Mr. Barnett said some of the ranch´s established immigrant trails were littered with trash 10 inches deep, including human waste, used toilet paper, soiled diapers, cigarette packs, clothes, backpacks, empty 1-gallon water bottles, chewing-gum wrappers and aluminum foil - which supposedly is used to pack the drugs the immigrant smugglers give their "clients" to keep them running.
He said he carried a pistol during his searches for the immigrants and had a rifle in his truck "for protection" against immigrant and drug smugglers, who often are armed.
A former Cochise County sheriff´s deputy who later was successful in the towing and propane business, Mr. Barnett spent $30,000 on electronic sensors, which he has hidden along established trails on his ranch. He searches the ranch for illegal immigrants in a pickup truck, dressed in a green shirt and camouflage hat, with his handgun and rifle, high-powered binoculars and a walkie-talkie.
His sprawling ranch became an illegal-immigration highway when the Border Patrol diverted its attention to several border towns in an effort to take control of the established ports of entry. That effort moved the illegal immigrants to the remote areas of the border, including the Cross Rail Ranch.
"This is my land. I´m the victim here," Mr. Barnett said. "When someone´s home and loved ones are in jeopardy and the government seemingly can´t do anything about it, I feel justified in taking matters into my own hands. And I always watch my back."
And my first thought was that this is a joke. What is wrong with this country? How is this even possible? How can ILLEGAL immigrants be suing this man when THEY WERE TRESPASSING ON HIS PROPERTY??? Words can not express the anger that I feel at the judicial system of Arizona that this case even made it to trial. Give me a break. Seriously people? Seriously. I am ashamed for Mr. Barnett. I hope those illegal immigrants get nothing, are forced to go back to Mexico and pay all of the defendents legal fees.
Now, I have no problem with immigrants, or immigration, after all we are the "Melting Pot" country. Immigration, in the past is part of what has made this country great. And knowing someone whose parents are illegal immigrants when I lived in L.A. I have a better understanding and compassion for their struggle to come to America, to want a better life for their families. So, in moderation, fine, I don't really have this huge huge problem with it. BUT...in what world is it right to vandalize someone's property, kill their livestock, etc.? I mean, Mr. Barnett realized some immigrants were still getting across and he INSTALLED A SPIGOT for them. But for those 16 and their obvious "get rich quick off whitey" scheme I say, "Fuck you, Senors y Senoras." But then again, maybe they're more American than I give them credit for. Trying to make money by suing someone? Seems to be the new American Way these days. It makes me sick.
Friday, February 6, 2009
For my Children's Services and Resources class I have to put together a reading log of 40 books/articles. The first 2 sections are due the first week of March. I thought I'd post them in case anyone sees anything of interest, maybe you can get them from your local library if you don't have them already!
For the most part, when given a choice, I tried to find books that I haven't yet read. I figured it was a slight cop out to do an annotation and personal response on stuff I've already read and know. After all, part of being a good librarian of any kind is to continually read and know your audience, especially as that audience changes. What I've found is that many great books are just really dated. I'm not talking picture books so much as juvenile fiction. Summer of the Swans for instance, it just seems to me that while kids today can relate emotionally to Sara's mood swings and exasperation with her sister and her Aunt Willie, the parental figure in her life, a fair amount wouldn't be able to relate to a summer spent outdoors playing, with the TV only briefly featured, no cell phones, and no video games. Maybe it doesn't matter all that much, maybe I am out of touch with what kids are interested in these days. But in a world with Twlight and Harry Potter I'm not too sure. But then you can look at Beverly Cleary and her Ramona books and Ralph, the motorcycle riding mouse (I think that was his name) and those books don't seem as dated to me. I'm sure they are, I haven't re-read any of them in many years. But even The Chronicles of Narnia....well maybe because those didn't seem dated to me when I first read them (because they already were). Hmmm, it seems like I may be onto something that requires further development hear....more to be discussed in Part 2 of Children's Books. For now I leave you with my reading log as thus far completed.
Picture Book - Historical
Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building
Schwartz & Wade Books, NY, 2006, 48 pgs.
Main Character: A young boy
Annotation: Makes reference of the Great Depression and the problems that were associated with it. Uplifting story, full of factual information presented in free verse and full of engaging watercolors. The color palette of the pictures present a subdued tone, unconsciously suggesting struggle and hard work as well as giving the book an "antique" feel, the idea that these events occurred some time in the past.
Personal Opinion: Having lived in Manhattan I was drawn to a book that told the story of one my favorite buildings in the City. I enjoyed reading how the Empire State Building was built. I thought the watercolor pictures that accompanied the text were wonderfully suited and helped to tell the story visually. Given the state of the country's economics at this time I find it appropriate material, as part of the story deals with the problems of unemployment which many families are currently dealing with.
Picture Book - Caldecott Award from 1960s
Ezra Jack Keats
The Snowy Day
The Viking Press, NY, 1962, 32 pages.
Main Character: Peter
Annotation: Based on it's time of publication, during the Civil Rights movement , this book was groundbreaking for introducing an African American main character. It helps the African American child relate to story as they can imagine being Peter. The illustrations are simple with bold colors that draw a person into the scene. They move the story forward, sometimes literally, as when Peter makes various tracks in the snow.
Personal Opinion: I enjoyed the simplicity of the story. It reminded me of being a child and longing for the days when there was enough snow on the ground to play. I think this is a wonderful winter book for children just learning to read.
Picture Book - Personal Choice
Where the Wild Things Are
Harper Collins, 1963, 48 pages
Main Character: Max
Annotation: There is a reason that this book is a must read for every child. The Wild Things are lovable, frightening, and hysterical at the same time, like lovable monsters living under the bed. Sent to bed without his supper after sassing his mother, Max escapes the confine of his prison, as so many children wish they could do when being punished! Max is happy to be free of a world of parental rules especially when he subdues all the Wild Things and is crowned King. What child does not participate in a wild rumpus when they can? But Max soon finds that being King of Wild Things is a lonely job and decides that being home with his Mom is where he really wants to be. This book encourages children to use their imagination and shows that after all the imagining is done there is truly "no place like home", where your mother will have dinner waiting. And still hot.
Personal Opinion: I only vaguely recall reading this book as child. The illustrations are more vivid in my memory than the story. I used my imagination to visit the land of the Wild Things. I love everything about this book, the story, the illustrations, the warm feelings it invokes.
Picture Book - Caldecott Award from the 1990s
Clarion Books, NY, 1991, 32 pages
Ages 5 and up
Main Character: Flying Frogs
Annotation: A magical wordless romp that allows the reader to create their own text to the story. How are the frogs flying? What other sort of mischief might they get it? What were they watching on the old woman's television? While picture books are generally geared for new readers this book can be used as an exercise in creative writing for older children, and to encourage story telling in younger children.
Personal Opinion: I found this book absolutely delightful. The lack of a texted story helps to promote the reader to create their own story. The story I created involved an invisible alien force that gave all the frogs the ability to fly on their lilypads. It has a feel of a Twilight Zone episode. I have never read any of David Wiesner's books prior to this and look forward to reading the rest of his works.
Picture Book - Personal Choice
Harper Collins, 1972, 32 pages
Main Character: William
Annotation: William wants a doll, more than anything in the world. He still enjoys the "traditional" hobbies of a young boy (playing basketball and with a train set). The idea that a boy can still like typical boy activities while wanting to develop a sensitive and nurturing side is something that society still struggles with. This book encourages children to understand each other and also encourages parents to look at the positive consequences of shaking up the stereotypical gender identifications.
Personal Opinion: This was a great book! It reminded me very much of my boyfriend who told me when he was a boy all he wanted to be when he grew up was a father. I thought that the way it handled the subject material, and the message it shares with its reader was beautifully told. As women have become purveyors of "equal rights" it makes sense to encourage boys to develop their nurturing abilities. I think it's important for this to be developed early in life. If more men had dolls to love as children instead of soldiers and monster trucks the world would be a gentler place.
Author: C.S. Lewis
Title: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Publisher, date, pages: Harper Collins Publishers, 1950, 189 pages
Ages 9 and up
Main Character(s): Lucy, Peter, Susan, Edmund
Personal Opinion: This is one of my favorite books ever. My 3rd grade teacher read it to our class. I read all The Chronicles of Narnia when I was 12. I loved the idea of talking animals, and a lion that always appear when needed most. He does not save the day himself, but provides the tools necessary for the humans to persevere. I didn't realize that it was an allegory of Christianity until I re-read them after graduating college. I think that is the reason I am so enthralled with this story to this day. C.S. Lewis presents a morality story in such an accessible way that the child reading it doesn't even realize it. He writes so simply and vividly that the reader is immediately drawn into the fantastical world of Narnia. Because of the ease with which the story is told I was able to become involved in the world of the book, and the joyful feeling that accompanied this encouraged me to keep reading ever since.
Author: Susan Cooper
Title: The Dark Is Rising
Publisher, date, pages: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 1973, 244 pages
Main Character: Will Stanton
Annotation: Will Stanton is an ordinary boy in rural England until his eleventh birthday. It is then he discovers that he has special abilities and finds that he is the last born of the Old Ones, immortal beings of the Light that continually battle against the Dark. Aided by fellow Old Ones, a number of whom are neighbors, Will must complete the task assigned to him long before he was even born. Will is the Sign-Seeker and he alone will be able to defend his world from the powers of the Dark.
While the theme of good versus evil and the struggle to save humanity is age old, The Dark Is Rising tries to put its own stamp on it by choosing an eleven year old boy as it's protagonist. It involves the reader who is the same age as Will, and anyone with brothers and/or sisters can related to family dynamics Susan Cooper so vividly captures.
Personal Opinion: When I first started reading this story I was immediately drawn into the family picture that was drawn. Coming from a large family myself where I, like Will, am the youngest, I was able to relate to seeming mayhem in Will's house. I thought I would be hooked into the story for the long haul, as I love fantasy novels written for all ages. However, I found as the novel progressed there were times that I felt less than enthralled. There is so much that happens in the climax that I felt many ideas weren't fully developed. However, knowing it to be the second book in a series I can't help but wonder if the Norse ship has something to do with the first book. Certainly for the age level I feel that this is a good book to use to encourage boys to read, even if it is slightly outdated. I really enjoyed story of The Walker, so much so that his character was my favorite in the book. Certainly for the age level recommended I feel that this is a good book to use to encourage boys to read, even if it is slightly outdated.
Fiction-Newbery Award Winner from the 1960s/1970s
Author: Betsy Byars
Title: The Summer of the Swans
Publisher, date, pages: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, 1970, 142 pages
Main Character: Sara, CharlieAnnotation: Many children in today's technologically savvy world may not relate to how Sara spends her summer days. They may not relate to living with a mentally handicapped brother, or having lost their mother early in life. But most pre-teen and early teenage girls will relate to the constantly changing and conflicting emotions that Sara experiences. The frustration of life, family, and friends is one constant that supercedes the Generation Gap. This novel may also help children relate to their parents, since the time the novel was set in will relate to the parent's young adulthood. This is a novel that is juvenile bordering on the cusp of young adulthood. Sara's rapidly changing emotions are certainly the onset of puberty and help the reader empathize with her.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Case in point: Homework. I am entering my 4th week of Grad School, taking a full load of classes. And instead of doing my reading, researching for my major papers and projects, what am I doing? Writing this first blog. When I know, I know I shouldn't be.
So, suffice to say that posts will be made when I am under the most stress. I've written blogs in the past, first on AOL, chronicling my time in Los Angeles, and then on myspace, which I still occasionally use, continuing my chronicles in Los Angeles, New York City, and finally, once again, Buffalo.
My past blogs were titled in reference to my "Fairy Princess" alter-ego, she that is too young to be called a Fag Hag. However the last few years has seen my Gay-dar become rusty, and the number of gays I could call my own dwindle. Yes, it seems that life after a theatre degree has led me to mix with the hetero- world. Don't get me wrong, I love my gays, but we've gone our separate ways for the most part. A little sad, but such is growing up.
So, now my procrastination has taken an evil turn; if I continue writing I will totally screw myself with the amount of work I have to get done tomorrow.
And when it turns evil is when I must sign off.