Thursday, September 30, 2010

banned books week #speakloudly

this week is banned books week. i have posted about this before, so you probably know that i think banning books is ridiculous. the most recent incident of this that made the news (at least the news that i pay attention to) was in missouri. a man wrote a 20-something page letter to the school board of his county about any number of things, including the history and science curriculum, but what was most talked about was his accusations that the english teachers that were assigning their kids to read speak by laurie halse anderson were promoting pornography and teenage drunkeness etc.

(this next paragraph prolly contains spoilers)

first, the book (also a lifetime movie featuring none other than everyone's favorite vampire lover kristin stewart) is about a girl who is at a party with her firend at the end of junior year and is raped by a popular guy. she calls the cops who bust up the party, but never tells anyone about the rape. everyone hates her because they think she randomly called the police. she goes through senior year as an outcast, and finally works up the courage to express herself through art and speak up about what happened to her.

that is the super simplified version - the book is absolutely amazing. seriously, go read it (or anythign else by laurie halse anderson for that matter). bascially this dude in missouri thinks that by having a scene in the book where teenagers are at a party drinking that it will cause teenagers to go party and drink. now i wasnt into that at all in high school but i know plenty of people  are/were. and i highly doubt that any of them got the idea to do a keg stand or whatever from reading a book. just a thought. also, equating rape with porn is messed up. although i know that some people have strange and out there fantasies, including the rape of a teenage girl in the same category is just wrong.

so what does it all mean?

well, if you are a parent, you have the right to watch over your kids and keep tabs on them. i think that if the kid wants to read, let them, but that's me the voracious reader talking. if a kid wants to read something that a parent objects to, maybe the parent should (shocker!) have a conversation with their kid about what is in the book (or movie or tv show or wahtever) that they disagree with. i think open and honest conversations are a lot more likely to prevent kids from partying or doing drugs or having sex or doing whatever the objectionable thing is. keeping them from reading a book that mentions it probably isnt going to do the trick.

what do you think?

do you think keeping kids from reading stuff is important?

just a side note - i dont disagree with making grade level appropriate choices for kids in general. obviously you arent going to give a copy of speak to a first grader. however, some kids are more mature than others. i read gone with ithe wind in fifth grade and that book has all kinds of adult themes and potentially objectionable things in it, but it was handled appropriately. i didnt go buy a slave or start using the "n word" just because i read that book. in middle school i read a christian series of books where the main characters held hands and (gasp) kissed and i think she might have even snuck out of the house and ran away. did i do any of those things? no. (well, obviously i have held hands and kissed a boy now, duh, but i didnt do it in middle school!)

anyways, take it for what you will, but if youve read twilight, youve read a banned book. or to kill a mockingbird. or huckleberry finn. or a separate peace (required reading at trinity in my day). so go read another one.

better yet, go buy a banned book. use your purchasing power to show that you think banning books is as silly as i do. go buy speak. you wont regret it.

check out these articles for other's take on banned books week and the debacle in missouri.

book review: warrior by zoe archer

Zoe Archer

from the back:
To most people, the realm of magic is the stuff of nursery rhymes and dusty libraries. But for the Blades of the Rose, it's quite rael, and in danger of being misused by a powerful enemy...
In Hot Pursuit...
The vicious attack Capt. Gabriel Huntley witnesses in a dark alley sparks a chain of events that will take him to the ends of the earth and beyond - where what is real and what is imagined become terribly confused. Intrigue, danger, and a beautiful woman in distress - just what he needs.
In Hotter Water...
Raised thousands of miles from England, Thalia Burgess is no typical Victorian lady. A good thing, since as a Blade, she's trying to protect a priceless magical artifact. Huntley's assistance might come in handy, though she has to keep him in the dark. But this distractingly handsome soldier isn't easy to decieve...

my review:
as you can tell my the cover, this hero is indiana jones-esque. and as you know (if you know me at all) indiana jones is the best. well, harrison ford really, but i digress. this book had lots of adventure and several interesting side characters. it was set in the wilds of mongolia, which is an usual setting for lots of fiction books of this type so it was fun to read something different. there are three more books to follow in this series, each featuring one member of the blades trying to save an artifact and presumably falling in love. the "magic" elements of this books werent like witches and spells, but also similar to the temple of doom stuff. lots of folklore mixed with physical danger and drama. i liked it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

close encounters of the sea kind

we spent the day at the mystic aquarium. the groton library has these great passes that i checked out with my library card that got us a great deal on the entrance fee. so it was a thrifty and educational outing. im feeling smarter already!

the first thing we did was head to the theater for the sea lion show. there were four sea lions performing and they did all kinds of fun tricks. we also learned the difference between seals and sea lions which is a question that has surprisingly arisen more than once in our marriage. one of the outdoor exhibits had even more sea lions and this guy saw me with my camera and hopped up on a rock and posed. then he waited for me to throw him a piece of squid. unfortunately, all i had in my purse were boiled peanuts from our trip to kittery yesterday. not exactly sea lion fare.

we walked around many mroe exhibits, including penguins, swamps and deep sea exploration (with stuff from the titanic).

my favorite stop of the day had nothing to do with the ocean, or really even water. we got to go in the aviary and hang out with 300 birds from down under. they gave us millet on a popsicle stick to feed to them. they were quite tame and hopped right on us to eat. different birds even got into fights over who got to eat off my stick. there were bigger birds that looked like parrots that would tear a huge chunk off the stick then hold it in their claws and eat it from there. it was really cool to watch.
the jelly fish exhibit and the beluga whales were very cool also. i had never seen a beluga whale in real life before and they had jellys that i had never seen. there were ones that lived upside down on the ocean floor and their tentacles stream upwards. crabs will pick them up and carry them on their backs to protect themselves. cool, huh? there were rescued loggerhead turtles and sea lion pups too. great day (and it threatened to rain all day but held off while we were outside!) at the aquarium!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

yalies for the day

jeremy and i drove to new haven for the day on monday. we spent some time exploring the yale campus. it was gorgeous! it was everything i dreamt ivy league and new england meant. the residence halls were gorgeous - even the dining hall seemed like it could be a theatre or something. beautiful. if i had an extra 50k laying around i would totally go to school there. there were mysterious looking gates and doors everywhere. everyone on campus seemed focused and studious, even though it was a holiday!

after lunch we went to the peabody museum of natural history. there were dinosaur bones and stuffed wildlife everywhere we looked. i felt like i was in the land before time. :) there was a whole section on connecticut wildlife with glass cases containing stuffed birds, pinned insects and other examples of animals found here. very cool to learn more about this state too.
it was only about 45 minutes away so i would love to go again, maybe in the fall or winter when the campus will look different. there were other things we didnt get to do while there too - the rare book museum was closed - we both really wanted to see the gutenberg bible that resides there but maybe next time!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

my green thumb (or lack thereof)

i got this african violet about a month and a half ago. i have been watering it and talking to it faithfully and it is blooming. beautiful. you can also see the cat hairs where crickey and rumper have helped me talk to it and love it. thanks guys! she doesnt have a name yet. violet is what i named my first african violet that gma koci gave me. she didnt last long. i have become a better plant mother since then though. or maybe not...

remember fred the bonsai? jeremy bought him for me when i was in new hampshire and he was in california and it was one of the best gifts he has ever gotten me. fred hasn't adapted too well to all the stress of moving jobs and states and our hours. he looks it too. jeremy thinks it is time to just throw him away but i have a hard time with that. i want to bring him back to life. bonsai require lots of patience and i think i can wait him out. although patience isnt normally my strong suit, i think we can make this work. at least that's what mr. gunn told me to do.