Archive for November, 2012

It’s another lovely Sunday and that means another book review to inform and entertain you.

This week’s review may surprise some of you, because it has a twist ending. Okay, not so much a twist ending as a “is this the same book you were on about earlier?” kind of deal.

But enough about that. If you are at all interested in my opinion of What Kings Ate And Wizards Drank by Krista D. Ball, head on over to Book In The Bag!

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One of my favourite movies under the subheading “Cheesy Guilty Pleasure” is the original Red Dawn. The Red Menace invades the Good Ol’ USA and locks up good people in re-education camps, so it’s up to a roving band of kids to fight back. They do, and America is saved. Back in the 80s the idea of America-imperiled was big because there was also the miniseries Amerika on TV; I don’t remember it very well, but I do know I liked it enough to buy the paperback novelisation. That was the first time I saw an upside-down flag, on the cover of that book.*

When I think of the upside-down flag, that’s what I think of. Invaders with guns parachuting into Kansas and locking my parents up in a drive-in theatre to watch Castro Indoctrination Films 24/7.

I have at least five friends who this morning changed their social media avatars to upside down flags to reflect their feelings about the outcome of the election, and it befuddles me. The UDF* is a symbol of distress, not petulance. It’s a call to arms, not a method of pouting.

Here’s the thing, folks. If you think that the America You Love® is doomed or in trouble, this is a peculiar time to declare it. Perhaps a better time would have been during the early days of the Patriot Act when it became obvious that we were losing liberty in great handfuls so that The Terrorists could be stopped. Or maybe you should have pitched a fit about it when airports were paramilitarised and flying to Disney World became indistinguishable from crossing the border into Hungary. (Now that I think about it, I crossed the border into Hungary in 1986 with more ease than I was able to get on that Southwest flight a year ago.) The America You Love® has been fading away for a good while now.

But it hasn’t entirely gone, you see. You can tell that by the fact that you GET to have a picture of an UDF on your Twitter or Facebook without hulking armed forces knocking down your door and locking you in the repurposed basement of an old Sears downtown. You got to go to the polls yesterday and have your say. The thing is, so did everybody else. I’m betting that there was not one person who cast a vote in this election that doesn’t love America. So when you start being distressed over the fact that free people get to be free and make the choices that free people make you really look like maybe you don’t love the America That Is, but only love the America As You Personally Think It Should Be. Because this vote–like it or not–was one of the parts of the America You Love® which is still around. It’s kind of turning your back on the thing you purport to believe in to protest the outcome of that freedom.

I’m a libertarian. I’m very open about the fact that I believe America isn’t living up to all of its ideals or potential. But I’m not about to sit here and look at my friends, coworkers and neighbours and tell them that because we have different ideas about how the country should be that we must go to war. That is the gravest disrespect of America that I can imagine. It’s also a bit ironic that so many of my UDF friends are both upset over the ongoing legality of abortion on demand AND saying things like “we get what we deserve” as they hope for the country to enter a period of suffering. Because all the people you want to suffer are just as human as the babies you hope to save.

Is America in distress? I don’t think so. I think America is still here and still being America. You can rehang your flags right-side-up.

*Actually, it’s possible the novel came before the show. I don’t know for sure.
**I’ve got to abbreviate this sucker because I don’t want to spend my word count on the same three words repeated endlessly, even though this is NaNoWriMo and word-padded writing is de rigeur.

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The Good Days

Pardon this digression from book discussions, et. al. Today I’m talking about The Good Days and why I am coming to hate them.

Today is not a good day. Today follows hard on the heels of yesterday and last night, both of which were lived around pain that set my mind screaming. (I’ve gotten very adept at screaming only internally. It works for me at all times other than when I’m seeing a doctor. At that point I come off as better than I am because I have the practised stoicism of the person who was raised to not speak out of turn in class. I know how to keep my mouth shut.) Today I’m full of pain and chemotherapy designed to keep me from being in more pain later on. No. It’s not a good day.

But there are good days where I feel normal. I feel well, creative and competent. I feel like I’ve not got anything wrong with me.

On the good days I often find myself thinking that I’m malingering and that I’ve blown this whole “illness” thing way out of proportion. So I’ll make plans, accept job offers and begin projects. Somewhere in the back of my mind is the idea that I am not really sick or that one day I’ll not be sick anymore and things will go on as I had fantasized. On the good days I often think my bad-days self is a weaksauce sister who needs to just grow a pair.

I strongly suspect that most people I know agree with my Good Days’ persona’s assessment of myself. And I understand why they’d think that way because I think that way about myself. “Oh, shut up. It can’t be that bad. You’re being dramatic. Etc.”

Then the bad days come. This one started Sunday evening when I ended up having to pull off all my clothes and lay whimpering under the sheet. When I start to flare up it hurts to have things binding, pressing on nerves and tumors and scar tissue that all press on other nerves. Nudity is the only option. So I’ll lie there under the sheet and watch the ceiling fan rotate while I try to focus my mind on a plane that doesn’t have physical limitations and think to myself just how much I hate the Good Days and just how bad the Good Days really are. Because they’re the lie–this idea that I’m fine and okay and don’t need help.

You know, I honestly did NOT think of this when I started writing this post but it came to me in the middle of typing that paragraph there that this is as good an explanation for my Christianity as anything else. Because while I have those isolated days where I can convince myself that I’m a good person and everything’s going ok the reality is that those are a myth and the truth is that I am broken and badly in need of repair. So my body has pills and my soul has Christ and when I strip naked before the Cross in the full realilsation of just exactly what I am I know that my body will eventually travel to that plane that doesn’t have physical limitations.

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My mom doesn’t believe in rereading books that aren’t the Bible or Bible-adjacent (eg. Mere Christianity). On this we disagree as I reread anything I like. No book is ever the same each time because you’re never the same each time. Right now I’m rereading Harry Potter, as I do when the weather turns chilly and the leaves turn orange. As of now I am halfway through Goblet of Fire and I’ve had quite a few random thoughts that I want to get off my chest.

• I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve re-read books 1-4.  It’s wild to go through them now and know that 5-7 and the story therein is no longer a void.   I like having all of the books, but if I’m totally honest I must admit that there is a small part of me that misses the analysis and conjecture that went into each re-read when those other books were still unbaked.

• I think maybe I’m at the place where Philosopher’s Stone & Chamber Of Secrets just don’t thrill me as they used to. They’re great books, but they’re also the ones I’ve read the most and they’re also the ones which are most juvenile in tone. I find myself having less patience with them. I’m not as much of a fan of Midgrade stories as I once was.

• I love how things get real in Prisoner of Azkaban; that’s the point each time when I realise we’re going from fun little pastimes into Grand Mythos.

• I try so hard to not corrupt my reading with movie memories. I want to go to MY Hogwarts when I read the stories–not the Warner Bros.’ HogwartsTM ® of the movies. As much as the books get real with Azkaban, the films become literally darker. The colourful castle of the books was more accurately depicted in the first film. All the black and gray and brown that pervades the later movies really makes one wonder which books the set designer was reading. I like that I’ve finally, several years later, been able to lock up my movie memories.

• Speaking of “movie memories”…how WEIRD is that scene in the film version of Goblet where Barty Crouch supervises the drawing of dragons before the first task and the filmmakers decided to cut back on the tech budget by not showing the miniature dragons and just having that old man go “OOOOOOOOOOH!” while making that goofy face?

• Hermione, Hermione, Hermione…your house-elf business is just really tedious. I get bored with you badgering everyone about it but then when you start knitting the stuff so the house-elves will accidentally free themselves I lose all respect for you as a character. The libertarian in me really wants to belt you for thinking you know better than someone else’s personal and repeatedly expressed desires.

• I can’t ever read these books without being famished. I need a trip down to Rocket Fizz for my Crunchie and Curly Wurly bars.

• I know that Cho Chang is important so that Harry has some experience of love other than Ginny. But I just really don’t like Cho Chang. Not because she dates Harry and Harry belongs to a character I love. She’s just an annoying character, period. And I haven’t even gotten to the Puddifoot Tea Room scene.

• There are a lot of my Christian friends who won’t read these books. I understand but I still feel very sorry for them. Never more so than I do on re-reads because I can’t help but think how sad I am that they’re missing some of the greatest fables of our time because of a misunderstanding about the books’ nature.

• It struck me this morning that as much as I love the first four books I find that I spend them missing Luna. If I had to pick a character most like myself it would be either Neville or Luna–leaning more towards Luna because I’m not so forgetful as Neville. I really like the latter books when those two are more prominent.


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Today’s review is, surprisingly, of a relatively new release! Hooray! I’m not reviewing a three-year-old novel today.

Hop on over to see what I thought of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.


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