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Monthly Archives: April 2009

The Hunger Games

imagesI just finished reading this book this evening.  It’s a Young Adult (YA) novel that I’d been hearing about for awhile.  I can fairly say I devoured it.

It seems like there are way cooler books being published for YA than when I was that age.  I’m sure that it has to do with the Harry Potter craze and now Twilight insanity.  And a lot of it looks like I would be way into it:  Fantasy, Scifi, secret agents, etc.

The thing is: I figure most of it is crap.  How can it not be?  Harry Potter was so huge and now there is just SO MANY books…  I can’t believe much if any of it will be remembered in 20-30 years.    It is so hard to find something like Harry Potter, or Ender’s Game or the Outsiders, Childhood’s End, Of Mice and Men, The Giver(notice I didn’t mention Twilight…) that school aged kids will be falling in love with generation after generation.

The Hunger Games was good.  I am mostly impressed.  Fairly well drawn, likeable characters without being so in depth as to get boring.  Lot’s of action, but again: not enough to be boring.  Interesting premise that leaves me wanting to know more about the universe in which it’s set, but leaves out enough detail that middle school students could probably be easily bogged down with.  So, like I said: I read it fast. I was into it and entertained.

And then it went south.

I kind of saw it coming.  The main protagonist is a female.  In the midst of all the good stuff, what has to be injected?  Of course: a love story.  Oh, and it has to be a conflicted triangle as well.  Oh and this book is actually just a setup for the sequal that is to come where the REAL conflicted love triangle can commence.  GROSS!  So, without giving anything away, about the last chapter combined with the looming sequal (coming September 1st…That’s right: We’ll crank out a new one every year for ya!  Just keep buying…)  very nearly ruined the whole thing for me.  I’ll let you know if I get over it or not.

How about, on the back cover you just write something like this: “Whatever good writing and hard work went into this novel, be rest assured, dear consumer, we know there are not enough girls out there reading the Twilight series or even Harry Potter.  We’re coming after you girls! We know you’ve got money to spend and fanaticism to be unleashed!  We have our own quality assurance department to make sure that every book we put out will appeal to simplest of urges and desires.  We know you’ll enjoy this book because it has been manufactured to make sure that you do.  And it’s designed to make sure you keep coming back for more!  We’ve even created our own new genre: Novel Crack!   It get’s you hooked, but doesn’t nourish and only makes you want some more.  Read it now!  Because nobody will care about it later!”

Where’s my copy of Ender’s Game…?

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Posted by on April 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

I’m blogging about this so maybe I can stop thinking about it…

So, we took the girl and the maniac dog for a walk with the girl’s wagon.  (It was really fun because I tied rhubarb’s leash to the wagon.  If I would have had another leash to keep Rhubarb from taking off with my daughter, I would have left it.  Ivy thought it was hysterical.)

We just walked on on our street and ended up at the elderly couple’s house at the end of our street who have a nice big, inviting porch.  It’s funny how everybody hunkers down for the winter and then get caught up at their porch in the spring…

So, Rhubarb’s on a leash, they have a dog, another kid from next door comes over with his little dog on a leash, there are lots of adults and lots of kids.  Rhubarb is insane, especially when there are other people or dogs around (and here are both…)  She’s got a big bark and when I’m not physically holding her down, she’s going nuts.  I go back and forth between trying to keep her calm and then just letting her play on the leash with the other dogs.

Next thing I know, a lady pulls up in her white mini-van and gets out.  She’s probably in her 40’s or 50’s.  Here are snippets of what I remember that she said:

“I’m from the next street over.  I’ve been driving around the neighborhood for awhile trying to figure out what’s going on with the terrible barking going on.”

me: “oh there’s no problem, the dogs are just playing.”

her: “well, I work all day and when I come home I really need to relax and that dog’s bark is just so loud…”

me: “oh.  Well, we’re from down the street and we’ll be heading home soon.”

her: “I just want you to know that I’m not trying to be an ugly person or anything.  I have had dogs and I love dogs.  It’s just that bark is terrible.”

me: “Well…” (internal voice:  If you’re not trying to be an ugly person, you must just be a natural…”

her: “you know I’m a census taker and I deal with people with dogs and you can get them to stop barking.”

me: “Oh believe me.  I tell her to stop all the time.  She just get’s riled up around other people.  If you knew a trick to make her stop, that’d be great…”

her: “oh, I’ve got something here in the car.  Let me get it and show you.”  (she proceeds to go get a little water bottle.  Much like the water bottle we use to try to deter Rhubarb all the time.  It’s just that usually, it makes Rhubarb bark more…)

So, this just proceeded with her trying to tell me how to train the dog.  Nothing I don’t know and nothing I haven’t tried.  And then proceeds to tell me that I “can’t ever give in.” because “you’re the master. You just need to say no.  Otherwise, you know, they become spoiled like children…”

I stayed nice and smiled and tried to listen and tell let her know that I’ve owned a dog and I have some experience and she’s not impressing me with her know-how or expertise we’re going to be going back down the street and she’ll probably never hear my dog again.  Until my beautiful, awesome daughter came up to me and said, “I need to go home now.”

But, since this is my blog, I can say it now:

WHAT A BITCH!!  She had been driving around the neighborhood from the next street over!  There are at least a dozen dogs residing within a 6 house radius of where I was standing with Rhubarb.

I think that I am actually overly conscious and mindful of other people.  I think this is a quickly dying characteristic in our society. I’m careful about playing my music too loud outside.  I get irked when others play music loud in the neighborhood after a certain hour.  I had a hold of Rhubarb’s leash THE WHOLE TIME and holding her close to me so that she wouldn’t jump on or annoy anybody or crush the little dogs or kids that were around.  GET A FREAKING LIFE, LADY!

So, as we were leaving, we decided with our elderly friends (who’s house we were visiting) that we’re going to have a block party and I’ll bring my PA and we’ll play music really loud and get all the dogs together for a real rip-snortin good time… I’ll keep you posted.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

book suggestions

So, I’m teaching 8th grade reading next year.  I just found out that I have about $700 to buy books for my classroom.  The only problem is that I’m supposed to spend it by FRIDAY!

I want to buy some class sets of books that we all read together and then Lit Circles that small groups will read together.

I remember that we read The Old Man and the Sea in 7th grade and Animal House in the 8th grade…  Obviously, I need some help.

Any life-changing book possibilities?  Let me know ASAP.  Can anybody remember what novels you read anywhere from 7th-9th grade?

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

bullets…

  • FINALLY received my Praxis III scores last night.  I passed.
  • Survived Benchmark testing.  Still hate it, but at least I don’t have to worry about it for another year.
  • At this point, the plan is for me to teach 7th Math and 8th Reading next year.  Have been thinking about teaching reading to 8th graders and thinking of books that I’d like to read with them.  Have been over the top excited since realizing I could buy a class set of Ender’s Game and read it with them!
  • Spent $200 of the last of my mentoring money at Barnes and Noble on books for my classroom.  Finally got a copy of The Hunger Games which I’m half way through right now.  It’s pretty good.  It’s definitely got my attention.
  • Currently teaching a chapter in Social Studies on the Rise of Christianity.  And I thought I was teaching Sunday school when we did the chapter on the Israelites….
  • Signed up for ATT Uverse.  If everything comes out as planned, we won’t be paying any more money, but will have all the same services with faster internet + TV+DVR.  I’m certain that ATT will figure out some way to screw us over so that I have to spend another hour or two on the phone for less than satisfying results.
  • Remembered a SciFi novel that I read around Jr. High.  It has little to nothing to do with the movies, but it’s called The Beastmaster by Andre Norton.  My friend, Tim was way into Native Americans and he turned me onto the book because the protagonist is a Native American/commando stationed on a newly colonized planet following the destruction of Terra and a war with an alien race.  I just got a copy of Beast Master’s Planet which is the first two books combined.  I’m way into The Hunger Games right now, but I’m anxious to revisit The Beast Master.
  • It’s late.  The Hunger Games is calling and I have 5 Mondays left till summer break.
 
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Posted by on April 27, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Mclaren does it again. (a response to my own last blog)

So, I know this is a long time since the last post and this won’t have near the impact on you, dear reader, as it did me simply because of timing.  When I wrote the last blog (Happy Easter), I finished, shut down the computer, and got into bed to read before going to sleep.  Since I was between novels that interested me at the time, I decided to get caught up on The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian McLaren that the Elders at NS are reading.  The serendipity will also be lost if you don’t know what I posted in the last blog.  I’ll pause here for you to go back and read the previous entry because I’m not going to rehash what I said…

Right where I pick up reading, McLaren explains and basically rejects both ideas that I just put forth in that blog, and if didn’t address them specifically, they are the basis for the things that I did say about questioning how much God intervenes in our everyday lives.  McLaren is talking specifically about signs and wonders and says this:

“Some scholars see stories of signs and wonders as fictions– parables, if you will composed by the early church.  Although i respect their differing viewpoint, I am not among them.  I believe that signs and wonders actually, factually clustered around jesus and his secret message of the kingdom of God–just as we might expect if Jesus and his message were truly from God. (this is the interesting part) But I don’t believe  they occurred in the way of a billiard player reading in to flick a few balls on the table with his finger.  Rather, I have become convinced that Jesus’ worldview is better than ours.  It’s not that an external intruder is fiddling with the laws of nature.  Rather, it’s that the universe isn’t a machine at all; it’s more like a family, a community, or a kingdom.  And God isn’t positioned outside of the universe, reaching in occasionally, but rather God is here, in it with us, present, near.” (McLaren, 2006)

I really dislike labels and being labeled.  I don’t like to group myself completely with any group or ideology.  But, as much as I’d like to claim skepticism in spite of occasional agreement, I’m a McLarenite.  I’ve read things from him that challenge me and my thinking.  But, I have hard time coming up with anything I’ve read that I don’t end up agreeing with.  Here is an example of him deconstructing my modernist trappings and providing a new way to frame my own dilemma.

I’m still grappling with this.  I’m not sure get it or buy it or can understand the repercussions of accepting it.  But, it is easily a better idea of God and the way he works than the conflicting strictures I was using before.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Happy Easter

I’ve said it before.  I struggle with prayer.  Specifically: asking for stuff.  I don’t mean stuff like a new computer or a raise or something, but even for healing for others, for relationships to be mended, etc.

I really have a hard time with “Praise Jesus!” type people who pray for inanities like a close parking space.  I think that God moves in our lives, but I’m not sure how much.  I know all the arguments for and have been enlightened on occasion as to how God moves in mysterious ways and yet “all things work for good.”  But,  I think that if God were to intervene too much, it would be messing with what I think about free will.  But, if I think he’s could intervene (according to the limits he’s placed on himself according to free will-duh of course he’s capable), then there’s simply more opportunity for me to be mad at God.

These are issues that are from from being settled for me. (I know The Shack meant well, but it TOTALLY didn’t get me there.)

It is not hard for me to be thankful.  I am blessed beyond measure.

I am so thankful for my wife, my daughter, their health, my family, my friends, my job, my co-workers, my church.

And this weekend, along with Easter, I’m thankful that I never have to go to an NTL module again.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2009 in Uncategorized