SARcasm











More 101 books in 1001 days reading list love! This past week (or so) I have completed both The Hunger Games, and Catching Fire in Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” trilogy, and am working on “Mockingjay”, so you will be able to read that review shortly as well. πŸ™‚

1. Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris

2. The Last Week – Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian – Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning – Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase – Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God – Karen Armstrong
6. jPod – Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved – Toni Morrison
8. β€˜Tis – Frank McCourt
9. We Need to Talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess – Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked – Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th – Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine – Alison Weir
14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
<s>22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula – Bram Stoker
24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno – Dante
26. Towelhead – Alicia Erian
27. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England – W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith – Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
36. The Holy Bible – Various
37. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
38. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point – Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress – Dan Brown
43. The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
44. Lolita – Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement – Ian McEwan
46. All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
47. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise – Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
55. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
56. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
58. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
59. The Trial – Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlasser
61. The Man Who Made Us – Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs – Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil – Romeo d’Allaire
64. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. Nation Maker – Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History – Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
73. Committed – Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore – Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders – Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys – James Reaney
77. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage – Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
82. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential – Laurel Zuckerman
87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland
90. The Girl who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire – Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls – Damon Runyon
98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson
99. He’s Just Not that Into You – Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious – John Shelby Spong

What I love about these books is they are readable – easy, accessible – without being dumb. They are actually a really smart commentary on society that can be taken a number of ways (on the ‘fakeness’ of teen culture/interaction/relating; politics/dictatorship/control; post-apocalyptica; reality TV and how far it dare go … etc. etc. etc.), but it’s not a difficult or overwhelming read, and you can access it on whatever level you’re at. It’s taken me about 2-3 days to complete each book, and yet they are far smarter than, for example, the (LITERALLY, if not figuratively) weighty Twilight novels, or what have you. It’s brilliant young adult literature that even us not-so-young adults can enjoy. πŸ™‚ I recommend this series wholeheartedly. If for nothing else than the presence of a strong, self-directed heroine in Katniss Everdeen who demands her own agency at all times – a much better role model than oh, say, Bella Swan. Someone your teenage girls can honestly look up to, despite the horrible world that she (and sometimes we) live in.

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I can’t even begin to process my thoughts on this tragedy today, in which a gunman left 26 people – 20 grade school students – dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT. There’s not much I know. There’s not much I can even imagine.

I can’t imagine, first and foremost, as a parent, getting that horrific phonecall.

I can’t imagine, as a teacher, having to face that situation and remain calm, despite having participated in numerous lockdown drills over the years.

I can’t imagine those whose first priority is heading into defensive mode over the ‘gun rights’ that have gone way too far in the United States.

As un-politically correct as this might sound, I can’t fathom, when the gunman ultimately killed himself, why on Earth he had to take 26 others with him on this death spiral. I know this lacks such depths of the Christian empathy and compassion I struggle to embrace, but I have no patience for people who insist on dragging others – innocent others, completely uninvolved in their own personal tragedy – down with them. I have tried to consider and pray for compassion today -for understanding that for this person to commit such inhumane acts his own pain, his own derangement, must have been so great … I am not there. I’m not sure if the world is there.

I do, however, know a few things.

I do know that the discussion about guns in the United States needs to change. Period. That is not politicizing a tragedy. That is ensuring a tragedy does not occur in vain. If this is not ‘the time to discuss it’, then when? And on this day of all days, when in stark contrast to this mass murder, there was a similar mass attack at an elementary school in China. Similar numbers of casualties come up in that case – 22. However, the weapon in the China incident was a knife. The number of casualties actually dead as opposed to wounded? Zero. These are cold hard facts in regards to gun violence. Yes, “guns don’t kill people, crazy people kill people”, in the tactful and tasteful words of Richard Dawkins today. However, crazy people with guns kill more people than crazy people with knives. Those kids in China will no doubt be traumatized by their experiences; but they at least get to go home and hug their parents, have some hope of working through it. They get to live. And anyone who thinks their right to own a gun trumps a kindergartener’s right to attend school safely is themselves in some serious need of introspection in terms of their values.

I also know that I believe in the words of Fred Rogers:Β  “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster’, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” I look forward to the stories of those who saved lives, those who helped, those who are reaching out to these families. Through all this, may we recognize those who deserve to be recognized, and may their names stay with us long after that of the perpetrator of this evil act.

Lastly – and this might seem small in the wake of all the tragedy, but it bears remembering – let’s remember that the most vulnerable victims here are small children, most not even in the double digits of age. To see, just hours after what I am assuming is the most traumatic experience any (most) have faced in their young lives, reporters interviewing third graders about the tragedy at their school just makes my stomach turn a little. Again … I know it seems small … but please. Let’s not buy into whatever media hype and spin is about to come of this. Let’s let these kids process this and heal in peace, while we focus on the important issues here – comforting the families directly affected while taking a big picture view on issues like gun control, mental health, school security, etc., to at least ensure SOMETHING can come of this, as cold comfort as it might be. And that does not come in the form of the sensation a frightened little 8-year-old might cause with her firsthand eyewitness account of this shooting.

May God provide comfort and healing to all those affected by this tragedy, and may those mere mortals among us – particularly those who make our laws – who are actually in a position to do something about it here and now, please do so.

Hug your children close tonight. XO



{December 13, 2012}   Happy Chanukah
Our boys wish you a Safe & Happy Chanukah.

Our boys wish you a Safe & Happy Chanukah.

Hi all,

So amidst the busy-ness of finishing a course, Holiday shopping, preparing for the Christmas pageant at church etc., it is also Chanukah time in our mixed-faith home. We light the candles to commemorate the miracle of the day’s worth of oil that burned for 8 days, we sing silly songs, play dreidl, exchange gifts, and eat potato latkes. It’s all good fun.

From our house to yours – we wish you and yours a very Happy Chanukah.

XOXO,

S, A, L, J



{December 6, 2012}   A Photo Worth Dying For?

On Monday, Ki-Suck Han, 58, was pushed onto a subway track and killed by an oncoming train during a confrontation with a clearly-deranged homeless man (who has since been arrested). Photographer R. Umar Abbasi – a freelance paparazzo for the New York Post – snapped the scene before submitting the photos to the Post. An incredibly clear shot, which looks to be from reasonably up close, was splashed across yesterday’s Post cover with a tacky, almost jubilantly morbid headline that I will not repeat here (nor will I republish the photo).

Now I try to be cautious about judging – especially in situations I’m not aware of (although I suppose my nasty little piece on Nicole Kidman awhile back might demonstrate to the contrary … but I was careful to base that on her public behaviour and comments, not assumptions about her private life to which I bear no witness). Especially a gruesome scenario like this – a man on a track in the face of an oncoming train, with the madman who pushed him there still lurking around (and clearly willing to hurt/kill), I know that I, for one, am a panicker and am all too familiar with the inartful habit of freezing in urgent moments (ask my husband about my (non-)reaction to our dining table going up in flames several Chanukahs ago). But it flabbergasts me that in this picture, there is not one hand reaching out to help this man, no evidence of anyone even trying, although the photographer, Abbasi, stated there were others around. Reports suggest there were 22-60 seconds between Han’s landing on the tracks and the train making impact; honestly, no one in that time could have reached in, hit an alarm button, screamed for help, something? Plausible I suppose – and not something I can really get on my high horse about, as I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do or how to help myself and probably would have panicked and shut down – but every last person on the platform? Perhaps not evil or worthy of rage, but … perhaps a sad and disappointing commentary on our coping and survival skills, our compassion and willingness to help our fellow man, etc.

And what about photographer Abbasi? I’m willing to acknowledge he might have been too far away to actually be able to reach this guy in time to save his life. However, in that time, Abbasi had the opportunity to take several pictures (with a flash, clear enough to merit front page placement in the NY Post) – granted photo technology can be an amazing thing at all, but I guess … in this case, I’m just thinking that here is someone whoΒ  didn’t panic and freeze, who had the presence of mind enough to pull out his camera and take several (in)decent shots … who took them to the NY Post and sold them thereafter … while he speaks to taking the photos being almost instinctive, to it happening oh so fast, he didn’t realize how well they’d turned out, he hadn’t even looked at them … I’m just having a hard time reconciling these two realities; the panicked journalist almost nervously taking flash photos either because ‘that’s what he does’ or because he was trying to get the subway driver’s attention to see if he could stop quickly enough (two stories the photographer has told), who didn’t even look through his viewfinder while taking these pictures, with the quick presence of mind he demonstrated to get those pictures – perfectly framed, zoomed in and clear –Β  back to his newspaper, and sold in time for the next day’s edition, with no editorial say over the use or placement of said picture. Someone that shrewd was alert enough to do SOMETHING … or at least try … I can’t help but think.

And as for the New York Post … I’m not even going to try to get in your head or mitigate this or justify it. The photographer and other bystanders may or may not have had a story, a reason for panicked ‘in the moment’ behaviour, decisions good and bad in a crisis. I doubt it in some cases, believe it in others, but that’s at least a discussino with two sides. You, on the other hand, made an insensitive, greedy, cold, calculated choice to sensationalize that which needed no sensationalizing; to put on the front page a huge, provocative picture with little journalistic value (the story has been told well elsewhere simply with pictures of the subway station itself) and an almost snearing-gloating headline. Those who were there witnessed and went through a harrowing ordeal and to the extent anyone could have done anything more, I think the memories of that day and the conversations they will inevitably be having with their God – or conscience – is more than enough punishment to mitigate that guilt. You, on the other hand, have no excuse. The real tragedy here is and will always be the (possibly needless) death of a New York City commuter at the hands of a violently ill individual; the tragedy for the news media is that you, NY Post, continue to be referred to as anything other than a tabloid rag.



{December 2, 2012}   Another Book off the Reading List

Well I am back with my apologies – a week of birthday festivities for Little T and Ari, and then a week of illness in our household knocked us all on our butts, but I did manage to kill off another book on my reading list for 101 books in 1001 days. Check it out – I completed BELOVED by TONI MORRISON. In the full disclosure file – I did begin this one in my last go-round for the 101 in 1001, so semi-cheat?

1. Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris

2. The Last Week – Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian – Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning – Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase – Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God – Karen Armstrong
6. jPod – Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved – Toni Morrison
8. ‘Tis – Frank McCourt
9. We Need to Talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess – Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked – Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th – Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine – Alison Weir
14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
<s>22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula – Bram Stoker
24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno – Dante
26. Towelhead – Alicia Erian
27. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England – W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith – Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
36. The Holy Bible – Various
37. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
38. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point – Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress – Dan Brown
43. The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
44. Lolita – Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement – Ian McEwan
46. All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
47. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise – Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
55. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
56. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
58. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
59. The Trial – Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlasser
61. The Man Who Made Us – Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs – Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil – Romeo d’Allaire
64. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. Nation Maker – Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History – Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
73. Committed – Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore – Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders – Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys – James Reaney
77. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage – Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
82. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential – Laurel Zuckerman
87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland
90. The Girl who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire – Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls – Damon Runyon
98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson
99. He’s Just Not that Into You – Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious – John Shelby Spong

This is one of those books that comes under ‘Glad I’ve read it, even if it was a bit of a slog at times’. This is a classic of African-American literature, and honestly, of American literature generally, and I respect the heck out of it. It’s beautifully told, an important story of an important historical age, with wonderful prose, poetry and imagery. It can be a bit hard to follow at times, and I think a bit more interested in the ‘art’ than the narrative – and there’s a place for that. It’s enjoyable and heavy and the plot IS there and it is a strong, heartbreaking one. And perhaps that’s just it – this book is so achingly beautiful, so chilling, so … hard … that once done with it you know you’ve read something important, you’ve had a part of your mind and soul opened up, even if it wasn’t always a ‘pleasant’ experience. I’m not sure it was supposed to be. So on that score this is well worth a read … but it is not light, not in terms of the writing itself nor of the subject matter … so I would not put it on a list of beach reads, particularly. But for someone really looking to understand a unique perspective in a unique voice, it is an experience.



et cetera