Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ban censorship, not BOOKS!

 it's banned books week.  being a book lover, avid reader, and general appreciator of civil liberties like free speech, i feel it necessary to stand up for books, especially this week.

john milton, a very complex man with a lot of influence in puritan-ruled england wrote what i consider to be one of the best tracts against the censorship of text that i have ever read.  it was quite revolutionary in its day, especially considering that he was basically speaking out against his best friend, leader, and fellow puritan oliver cromwell.  milton's aereopagitica can best be summed up in these simple lines from it:

"And yet on the other hand, unlesse warinesse be us'd, as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image; but hee who destroyes a good Booke, kills reason it selfe, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the Earth; but a good Booke is the pretious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm'd and treasur'd up on purpose to a life beyond life."

ironically, milton's text was censored.  go figure.

so i consider this a shout out to all of those writers whom i thoroughly admire, who have and who continue to produce art for art's sake in spite of those irrational few who seek its destruction because they disagree with its meaning or what they consider its meaning.  milton, solzhenitsyn, zola, balzac, nabokov, lee, whitman, and especially bradbury:  thank you for the contributions you have made to our world.  we will read them happily.

just for kicks, here's a very brief and not at all inclusive list of books that have been banned both here in the US and abroad at some point in time:

1984 by George Orwell
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis   
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
Areopagitica by John Milton
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Blubber by Judy Blume
Bless me, Ultima - Rudolfo Anaya
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Candide by Voltaire
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
Dick and Jane        William S. Gray
Doctor Zhivago        Boris Pasternak
Droll Stories       Honore de Balzac
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
It's Okay if You Don't Love Me by Norma Klein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
Night Chills by Dean Koontz
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bastard by John Jakes
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Ulysses by James Joyce    
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth

Monday, September 13, 2010

when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie...

...that's amore.

but that's a story for another day.  today the topic is pizza.  weird pizza to be exact.

i have developed a penchant for making odd pizzas.

"pizzas with regular flavors are so banal..." i thought to myself one afternoon while ruby, my trusty bread machine, kneaded my pizza dough, "i want something new!"

a quick trip to the grocery store later revealed my newest creation: breakfast pizza.  not the most earth-shattering revelation i know, but it's the spin i put on the breakfast pizza that i think is unique: maple-sage sausage, sharp cheddar, gravy instead of sauce, and eggs cracked directly on top.

i wasn't sure if the eggs would cook.  i wasn't sure if the eggs would stay put and not make the crust runny.  i wasn't sure about the gravy.  a million little doubts flitted through my head as i popped the pizza in the oven.

20 minutes later i had my answer:  breakfast pizza was GOOD.

the next pizza making session brought with it another trial, this one a little weirder: chicken dinner pizza.

again using gravy for sauce, this time i added mashed potatoes, shredded roasted chicken, a light sprinkling of cheese and plenty of thyme.  again, i doubted.  again, i was amazed.

tonight made my third oddball pizza experiment: turkey and dressing pizza.

this time i used turkey gravy for sauce, then topped the pie with turkey stuffing, diced roasted turkey and the slightest little sprinkling of cheese.  one word: AWESOME!  it was like thanksgiving in a slice.  you could even add a little cranberry sauce on the side if you're into that kind of thing.

so apparently strange pizza is my thing now.  i'm sure i'll give it another go in a couple weeks.  i'm thinking meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  or mac and cheese.  or something else....any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the birthday vacay.

i took my best bud to austin this past weekend to celebrate his birthday.  here is the trip in pictures:

on the way down, we stopped at a cavern to go spelunking/exploring.  it was cool.  we saw tons of formations and even some petrified bat guano. 
we also had our picture taken in front of the balcones fault line.

then we loaded up in the car again and made a detour through hutto and pfuegerville, where we encountered an odd species of hippo:

we each had a run in with these rare creatures:
we finally made it into austin and checked into our hotel.  the view from our room was awesome!
the next day, we began our adventure at the university of texas memorial museum where we saw assorted beasties (in their skeletal forms):
then we headed down south congress to do a little shopping:
after shopping and a nap, we had a drink at the hotel bar
then it was off to a sunset boat tour of the city and to watch the bats emerge from the south congress bridge.
the next morning was his proper birthday, and he was served breakfast in bed (king style):
from there we checked out and headed south to new braunfels to see about some alligator/snake/exotic animal action.
at the animal farm i was forced to feed this goat:
and we were stared at by this rooster:
we then began our trek back north, stopping to shop and eat along the way.

it was truly a great little adventure!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

steve jobs sucks at his...

so i am totally underwhelmed by apple's newest lineup.  i get it--touch screens are cool.  they look neat.  but you know what's a whole lot cooler or neater?  massive storage for an epic music collection.

i've never been the biggest apple fan.  i'm not in a necessarily creative industry so the need for an apple computer escapes me.  i don't like being tethered to a cell phone anyway, so the thought of being endlessly entertained by my leash has kept me from purchasing an iphone. 

i have always been a fan of my ipod classic, though.  

initially i was against the ipod--against buying into the trendy thing.  i had an mp3 player that worked just fine for me.  until it didn't.  it died and i was forced out into the world, musicless.

my best bud bought me an ipod shuffle for my birthday one year.  i loved it.  it was cute, convenient, and seemingly quirk-free.  

i eventually made the decision to buy a new mp3 player and opted, based on the pleasant shuffle experience, to purchase an ipod classic 80GB.  

i've yet to regret that purchase.  it has plenty of room for my ever expanding collection and is easy to use.  no problems in my book.  i've resisted the multitude of newer devices that have come out since my purchase, each with smaller and smaller capacities.  why would i downgrade and risk running out of room?

now steve jobs announces a new line and the largest amount of memory possible is 64GB?  what gives?

what ever happened to improving on a product, not just fancying it up and pimping it out.  is a touch screen really worth losing so much space?  

not in my book.  but what do i know, i'm just a music lover.