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2007-06-16 01:10:23
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[Kiddalee]'s BBC Overflow #2

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August - March 2006


The flower that follows the sun does so even on cloudy days.
~ Robert Leighton
Taken from a box of chamomile tea.

Hop On Pop by Dr. Seuss
  I should say I barely read this. It's just so simple to me. The pictures are what really make it fun. You can tell that the child is meant to look at the pictures first, and then take a hint on the words. From what I remember, this differs from Dick, Jane, and Spot in that their readers are supposed to look at the words first, and only use the pictures to help them figure the words out.
  I helped Mom pick this out for her friend's 3-year-old foster-son. She also picked Dr. Seuss's ABCs. I forgot the page count, because she'd wrapped it by the time I remembered to check.

Holy Bible, Book of Acts, NASB
  It sure ended abruptly. When I got to the end, I was worried that a page had been torn out of my Bible. Then I checked on and found out it wasn't. No, I wasn't expecting it to end gracefully as a piece of literature. Considering how it started, though, I would have expected it to end with "that's it" or "and now you know what the apostles did, Theophilus" or something. It was a letter, as far as I can tell.

Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville, 148 pages
  I like Bruce's authorial voice better when he writes in third person, as he does here. The book also has a nicely well arranged plot, in my opinion. I found Miss Priest annoying, but all the other characters were believable to me, even Mr. Elives.
  Bruce makes a confession right in the book. You see, he seems to enjoy making recommendations to his readers for other books. Yes, he talks about them in ways that don't bog down the stories. In this case, Jeremy liked to read a lot. No, he didn't waste all his time reading, but among the possible names he dug up to give his baby dragon, he alluded Heart's Blood. Has anybody read the Pit Dragon Trilogy? I have. And that seems to be where he got the dragon's telepathy. It is still a nice idea, mind you.
  Is this book a keeper? Well... no. I wanted it to be, but I can't see myself missing this book more terribly than other books I've given up. At least I still have Oddly Enough (RR.Oddly Enough).

The Dream Scene by Alison Bell, 80 pages
  I decided to do one last read of this before letting it go, but was surprised by how fresh it felt. Because it touches on relevant historical figures, and psychoanalysis (to what little extent an 11 year old can grasp them), it has a different effect on me every time I read it. In this case, I had touched on Jung, Freud, and a lot of the quoted authors, in between the last time I read it and this time.
  The changing impressions make it hard to let go of, but I know I've got to some day. Hmm...
  And FYI, this book is my primary source of information on how to interpret dreams, and perhaps influenced a lot of my thinking on psychoanalysis and psychology (I was psychoanalyzing myself by the time I was 11, which is around the time I got the book; I do remember that). It even encourages finding personal meaning over using textbook definitions. Although it has a super-mini dream dictionary, it asks readers not to take the definitions within as their primary source of information, and reinforces this throughout with the workshops it asks the reader to go through. Now you have an idea why I wrote post [4900] in thread [4898].

Our Voice, Volume 3, Issue 1 (Summer Edition); the Nipissing University Women's Centre newsletter/paper
  I presume the summer newsletter is shorter than the ones they normally release, and perhaps not a perfect example of what to expect from them. Either way, I got a mixed impression of the writing quality in the newsletter.
  The nonfiction and essays were alright.
  The creative writing was terrible. It makes me want to start a school litmag. Seeing as most of the contributions are by major figures in the Women's Centre, I wonder if they're lacking submissions for the summer.

QUESTION: Might reading the last two books improve a child's cultural sensitivity or critical thinking skills?

Wierd But True: A Cartoon Encyclopedia of Incredibly Strange Things by Janet Goldenberg and P. Gloeckner (ill.), 90 pages
  This took longer to read than I expected. I've had it since I was 11, and read it one last time today before slating it to be given away. Things like raining frogs, people with super-hairy genes, and food from other countries are described.

The Great Book of Optical Illusions by Gyles Brandreth, 96 pages
  I've had this one since I was 11. First, it explains the difference between reality and perception, and then it walks you through some very interesting and funny pictures. It's time to let it go.

The Official Koosh Book by John Cassidy and Koosh Ball inventor Scott Stillinger, 68 pages
  Featuring some rather funny games to play and other interesting uses for Koosh balls. Actually, I didn't read it today, but years ago. I'm letting it go now.
  The last time I saw Koosh balls in stores, they were in soft, bland colours. What happened?! Geez!

352.The Disciple's Prayer by [dmeredith]
A religious kitsune woman calls on her peoples' god as a last resort to save them from harsh conquest.

Holy Bible, Epistle of Paul to the Romans, NASB
  It's really interesting that I got through Romans 14 at the right time to do so. There's a guy I know who has an inflated persona that bothers me. He has admirable qualities tainted with pride. I was talking to God about it, and got to thinking that maybe I shouldn't try to change that about him because he's God's (yes, he is Christian). Later I read Romans 14:4 and thought, Well, no wonder I'm reading that. That's what we've been talking about, isn't it? So God will fix him. I still struggle with pride, though. It's so fun to tease the guy, because he acts like he's 40.
  I have not come to grips with chapter 9. It sounds like God is letting more people go than He ought to. It really bothers me.

Holy Bible, Gospel of Mark, NASB

An essay on why Linux isn't popular:
  I can relate to this guy, and I agree with a lot of what he says. I personally believe that the reason why so many people are using Windows is simply because Windows is the most available. It is also doing a good job of keeping people from being informed (re: empowered) consumers. I love being an empowered consumer so much, that I've switched to thrift shopping, making clothing, cooking from scratch, Opera for my web browser, herbal medicine, and preferring the freedom of the internet over the force-feeding of TV; it was only natural that I had to switch to Linux some day.

Skills For Success; a set of 12 ebooklets by the Student Services of Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada; available on a CD; probably over 150 pages in total
  Subject matter includes using your learning style to your advantage, surviving dorm life, many chapters on academic skills, and links to more resources. The book's editing quality felt a bit rushed, but it does its job.
  I got this CD by touring Laurentian, as one of my possible choices for a University, over March Break. It contains 3 other sections, but only Skills For Success is really useful for people going to schools other than Laurentian. The same disc also contains a Français Quebecois version.
  By the way, I didn't choose Laurentian.

Article justifying the singular their in English language, by Henry Churchyard:
  I find it offensive that 19th century British scholars would decry a use of the word their as a gender ambiguous alternative just because it is not used in Latin. This is trendiness of thinking taking the place of logic. English is not a Latin language. It gained some Latin influence from the Norman conquest, but is still more Germanic than Latin, and I have heard it argued that it should rather be called conglomerate than even German.
  I found this while looking at some of [Veltzeh]'s old language + gender links on eir Elfwood page (ey insists that I refer to em using this experimental pronoun).
  I enjoyed this article. I found it quite interesting. I'd be happy to read more by this guy.

Completed Rod Allbright's Alien Adventures by Bruce Coville
  I found them pretty fun and interesting. Still, as with a few other YA sci-fis I've read, I feel sad that the author was unable to take his work beyond a certain level of depth for fear of losing the young reader's interest.
  I'll get the villain out of the way. BKR is nasty, crafty, and manipulative. He is just plain evil. I guess I should see it as a problem that he is evil for evilness's sake, but I didn't mind as a kid, and don't really mind now. He's just the villain, you know. I guess he's a catalyst, but he's not really the point of the series.
  Throughout the series, the reader is introduced to tidbits of extraterrestrial society. While it is not completely realistic - it is almost a utopia - it gives interesting insight into Bruce's opinions on what humanity ought to work towards.
  However, there is more to explore than idealism. Bruce delves into intersting concepts that are just plain fun to write about for being so unknown. For instance, trans-dimensional existence, advanced technology, the principles behind telepathy, and diversity to an extreme we just don't get on Earth.
  There are sentient plants, genderless fighters (are you reading, [Veltzeh]?), and unusual pets. Not to mention that humans are the wierdos of the galaxy for being twice as tall as most other creatures in the series. Bruce has some very interesting and humourous ways of teaching kids a thing or two about diversity, or at least open mindedness.
  I saw a lot techniques in Coville's writing for sneaking in lessons for the reader without appearing to talk down at them. On the more discreet level, he shows, does not tell, of times when Rod realized there was more to something than he thought, or just learned something. A much meatier method he uses is giving Rod a mentor to learn from. In the second and third books, he is the disciple of the ship's martial artist. In the fourth, he learns from a master of the mental arts. Bruce can use Rod's teachers to tell him things bluntly, thus making it easier to sneak lessons at the kids.
  A series overview:
  Aliens Ate My Homework is just plain fun. So much happens, and there is such a variety of settings... and Rod hasn't even left Earth yet! Admittedly, this one is a bit quick for older readers, but just awesome for kids.
  I Left My Sneakers In Dimension X has some very interesting concepts. The reality in Dimension X is different, so Rod sees things there that are truly impossible in this universe (as opposed to things that merely seem impossible due to humanity's low technology). It also explains the physics of the different dimensions, how they can exist side by side, and how they are useful for space travel. Rod begins his discipleship under the martial artist in this book, and about using the body well, philosophy, and positive thinking. This was my least favourite in the series when I was a kid, but my favourite now.
  The Search For Snout was the least impressive book in this series. Although there are some interesting concepts regarding mental power, and events keep moving, the book lacks any pizzaz that would make it truly memorable (I am having trouble both remembering what distinguishes the book and describing what it lacks). It is mostly just an account of, well, the search for Snout.
  Aliens Stole My Body (it's 218 pages, seeing as I haven't listed the page count for this one yet) explores the different concepts relating to the mental arts, and different types of telepathy. Not only does this book speculate on the abilities of a mental master; it exposes the workings of the mind in general. The beautiful natural forests where most of the story takes place help this, as well as the previously undiscovered sentient native life there. The climax shows BKR exercising mental torture on all the characters. It's nothing too nasty for a kid to read, but still pretty frightening when you get right down to it.
  My favourite books in the series were the second, then the fourth, for their exploration of rather interesting concepts. The first isn't bad. It's definately not boring, though the third is. So there you have it. Have some fun.
  Note: After some deliberation, I have decided to let this series go from my bookshelf. Book 2 is the only thing that would keep me from doing so, but I won't give away all but one book in a series, as that would be irony for the receiver.

298.Meditations.Nature by [RiddleRose]
She records her thoughts on humanity's relationship to nature, and how it differs from the animals'.

The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, 17 pages, from Points of View
  This is my first taste of Poe. He is very good with description. One unique thing I've noticed about his description is that he's not afraid to leave certain aspects of his scenery in mystery; and let's face it, you do not see all there is in a place, although most writers' descriptions feel just a bit too complete for their character's perception to be human.
  In using his talent for description, Poe lays out this story within a descriptive overview of the Usher Mansion and Family. I do admit that it was very popular for older writers to place long descriptions in high regard compared to story. That said, I don't find the eloquent language overbearing.
  Poe writes in an older style, and not as frank as some of Wordsworth's more humbly-voiced poems, but he doesn't sound to me like someone who's been spending way too much time in school. It could just be that I've recently become a little more resilient before rich language than I had been earlier this summer. Who knows what brought that out of me. A rest from high school social life, perhaps?
  I ought to talk about genre. Poe is lucky to have lived in a time in which genre wasn't as strictly emphasized as it is in today's legalistic market. One may call this story suspense, or horror, as it contains such elements... but it was really quite beautiful, contemplative, and self-sufficient - not relying on its genre to pull it through. The point of this story was not the obvious horror of the events in the climax, but the lonely agony which caused and predicted these events (conveyed, of course, in description).
  I said this was a taste of Poe. I say, he is smooth.

María Conceptión by Katherine Anne Porter, 18 pages; from the anthology Points of View ed. James Moffett and Kenneth R. McElheny (1966)
  About a woman living in South or Central America in a town with mostly pre-industrial technology, though there are signs that other countries are well industrialized by that time. There is Catholicism and native influence in the culture.
  By this story, I don't see Porter as an annoyingly feminist writer like Atwood (this is the first of Porter's works I've read, so I don't know her scope). I really like this work.
  However, the illogical sexism of the characters in this story is disturbing. It makes me sad how Maria C, in all her apparent power and assertiveness, is somehow too weak to see how irresponsible and unfair her husband is. When he cheats and runs away with Maria Rosa, she blames her, not him, and later gets away with murdering her. Somehow that community sees an adulterous woman as worse than her killer, and yet an adulterous man is merely following "the way of men."
  It is still true that women who don't examine themselves can be too caught up in competing for men to make sure the men in question are really worth it. I find it quite intersting that I have gleaned that from a story in which the setting's gender culture is yet so different.

A list of WritersCo writings I remember, roughly in order of my reading them. Who knows why I didn't list them before.

207.Human-People.Everyday Lies by [iippo]
June 2006's selection for the Featured Writings. A collection of anecdotes from an assortment of characters' hearts. They'd make good monologues, if you can get [iippo]'s permission.

416.Short Stories.Temptation by [Child of God]
A Christian college girl converses with Yahweh after masturbating.

479.Unlazy Poets' Contest. The Cruel World by [Sabrina Catherine]
In trying out some iambic pentameter, the author bares her face with imagery.

79.A Man Called Dream by [Mister Saint]
A story begins in an historical Western setting.

Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater, 139 pages
  An American children's modern classic (1938). I read this today to see whether I wanted to keep it any more, and I still do. I'll compare it to Stuart Little since they are basically the same type of book (this one lacks obvious fantasy elements, but is still fantastic in nature; they are also written in similar voices around a similar time period).
  This is much better than Stuart Little, so it's unfortunate that it's overlooked. For one thing, its plot is strong, despite having enough separate events to keep a child's attention. The prose is pretty, but not purple. The events are interesting and exciting. They are a bit fantastical, but much more believable than those in Stuart Little. And the ending is an ending. Stuart Little had no ending, and was too episodic to have any real plot.
  This book ought to be made into a movie. It might be a little hard to work around certain things like the suddenness with which the ending became happy, and the penguins' ability to slide down ladders without getting bruised (and drag Mr. Popper with them without breaking his neck), and maybe with the confusion between the settings of the 1930s and 2000s societies, but it has great action and a really fun story. It makes me want to learn to write movie screenplays, seeing as I can't see that anyone else has adapted this one so far.

Link to my completed 50 Book Challenge List from June 25, 2005:

Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, 187 pages
  I've been busy with exams, and a part of the assignments I've been doing is an ISU on this book. More detailed than my usual commentaries, here are the very basics of the project: Kidda's Mere Christianity ISU

The Holy Bible (NASB), Gospel of Matthew, 28 pages
  I read this weeks ago and forgot to include it on this list at that time because I had homework to do.

The Search For Snout by Bruce Coville, 212 pages
  More of Rod Allbright's Alien Adventures, but I'm getting kind of tired of them now. Maybe I should move on to something deeper.

The Unexplained Angel by Crista Whyte,
  It was a bit hard to understand, but high quality overall. I recommend it. A more detailed commentary by me is in her comments box.

Walking by Henry David Thoreau, 53 pages
  An essay on the many things one can discover about himself and nature simply by walking through it; an attempt at letting folk too caught up in business and society know that they're missing out. Did I enjoy it? Well, it had some gems of quotes and paragraphs, but overall, I was having trouble staying on track as I read it. It could be the writing style, but sometimes Thoreau switches subjects without transitioning gracefully, so I have to tell my brain to switch instead of the writing doing it for me. So it could use a little editing. It is a little slower to read. In spite of being short, I think it took me slightly longer than the previous entry, due to the richer vocabulary and older style.

I Left My Sneakers In Dimension X by Bruce Coville, 180 pages
  When I read this as a kid, it was my least favourite in its series (the Rod Allbright Alien Adventures). Now that I'm older, I think it's my favourite. It uses a slightly darker writing style than Aliens Ate My Homework. This could be an attempt on Coville's part to grow with his audience. It also makes some interesting remarks on the concept of reality. Since most of it takes place in a different dimension, the whole of reality is different, and Rod witnesses things that are literally impossible in his own dimension (as opposed to things he assumes aren't possible but really are through higher technology).
  This is very quick. I chose it because I had a craving for a story, but really didn't want to do a lot of work. I read it in one night while waiting for some files to finish downloading.

Night by Elie Wiesel, 109 pages
  A Holocaust survivor recounts his experience in the labour camps in this moving volume. The voice is neither flowery nor too quick.
  Of course it's horrifying, but through most of my reading I took note that the human body can take a lot more than I thought it could.
  The greatest way in which this book affected me is by increasing my opposition to violence in North American media. We don't seem to get enough real violence, so we make our own little displays of it. What I have in mind here aren't merely slasher movies or machismo action movies with no real plot. My biggest problem is with very dark humour.
  People need to realize that this is real. There are folks sick enough to laugh at the idea of truckloads of live babies being poured into hell; they need to realize that this actually happened in Auschwitz, and it's not just an idea after all. Folks may laugh at the stupidity of a sick little alien who has just consumed select entrails of a group of children without killing them immediately; they need to realize that Mengele actually took peoples' organs, stitched them back up, and pseudo-scientifically monitored their agony, just to see how long they'd survive without them.
  Hmm. I don't feel like closing this review gracefully.

64 Ways To Beat The Blues by Yolanda Nave, 95 pages
A cute picture book for women. It's supposed to be funny, and I think it's funny, but I don't know if everyone would, especially since I think it's supposed to appeal to older women (think of the intended audiences for My Big Fat Greek Wedding as opposed to Along Came Polly). For some reason, I get older women's humour.

I've recently read various poems by William Wordsworth (from an anthology in the same series as the one for Blake). Some of his work is absolutely wonderful. However, I can't stand his most famous, Tintern Abbey. I don't even think he wanted it to be considered his greatest work. I mean, he named it Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey (etc etc)..., or in modern English, Stuff I Wrote While Hanging Around Tintern Abbey, which isn't very impressive in my opinion. This, and the excerpts of his Preface that I read (from a text book), only encouraged me to nickname the poor guy Wordy Willie.
Mind you, I love his shorter poems. I now have the one about the rainbow saved on my computer.

Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience by William Blake (ed. Stanley Appelbaum), 48 pages
The lines are short and the rhythm appears too whimsical at first glance. Luckily, I had the book on tape, which I listened to before reading the poems, and it increased my enjoyment of them a great deal. Another thing: they didn't publish the illustrations, only the poems.

Random Zits by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, 246 pages
These artists have a great sense of humour. I even like it better than Garfield.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (English translation by Hilda Rosner), 152 pages
The translation is beautiful. I can also see where this book has philosophical value. However, everyone in the book was a stock character, especially the women. There is also a scene that the writer did a very poor job of grafting into the middle of the story, just to make a point. This is worth reading, but not as impressive as scholars say it is.

Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales, ed. Frederick Warne? 400 pages
Although these are all children's stories, by today's standards, they have creepy undertones. You see, the animals are like people, as they can walk and talk and work, but they still bear the low social status of an animal, so we have pigs that can talk like people worrying about being butchered (honestly, it feels like cannibalism), and other odd illustrations of class separation.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner, missing chapters 6 and 7 of 8, read 103 of 149 pages
I read this for school, and it is actually an illegal copy in a duotang, lacking the aforementioned chapters. I didn't enter it before now because I was hoping to track down the original book and finish it, but now I'm just too lazy to bother.
I'll tell you one thing, though. The guy's logic is faulty. Just because the Judeo-Christian God can do everything, doesn't mean He will.
In general, this is really a book for whiners.

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