Saturday, September 29, 2012

Read a Banned Book

"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all." - Oscar Wilde

September 30-October 6 is Banned Book Week.  Celebrate by reading one of these frequently banned  young adult and juvenile books:
  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.  This one's got something for everyone who likes banning books:  homosexuality, suicide, profanity, drugs, teen sex.
  2. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson.  This is the true story of two gay penguins who hatch an egg in New York's Central Park Zoo.  Enough said?
  3. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.  Banned for racism.  Ironic, given that it was one of the first books to raise the question of race inequity.
  4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.  Language, sexual content, violence, high school gangs.
  5. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.  Among its sins is the promotion of witchcraft.
  6. The House on Mango Street.  This one's a cornucopia for book banners: poverty, ethnicity, violence, and abuse.
  7. Where's Wally? by Martin Handford.  A sunbather in one scene partially exposes her breast.
  8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.  Witchcraft, crystal balls, and anti-religious subtext landed this one in hot water.
  9. Goosebumps by R. L. Stine.  Too scary for kids.
  10. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein.  One of the poem's encourages children to be messy and disobedient.  Others deal with the supernatural, i.e. demons and ghosts. 
For more banned juvenile and young adult books, click here

To purchase these books at Amazon, click on links below:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
And Tango Makes Three
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The Chocolate War Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1)
Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)
The House on Mango Street
Where's Wally?
Where's Waldo? The Complete Collection
A Wrinkle in Time: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition
Goosebumps HorrorLand Boxed Set #1-4
A Light in the Attic Special Edition

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Simple Pleasure of Riding a Bike

"Get a bicycle.  You will certainly not regret it.  If you live."--Mark Twain

When the weather's good, like it is in September, I love to ride my bike to and from work.  It's good exercise, it's economical, it's fun, and it's conducive to thinking.  (Einstein came up with the Theory of Relativity while riding his bike.)  My bike's a bit big for me, so I've been looking for a new one.  But, now that gas is so expensive, bicycling is hot; as a result bicycles are expensive, ranging from $400 to $700.  The beauty pictured above costs $649.  It was love at first sight for me when I saw it in our local bike shop, but I just can't justify that kind of money.  Not yet anyway.  A few more near misses on the bike I'm riding now, and I just might plunk down the cash.

Here's a list of seven movies that feature--or star--the humble bicycle.
  1. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).  Features Paul Newman and Katherine Ross on a bicycle with Burt Bacharach singing "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head."
  2. Breaking Away (1979).  A coming of age story about an Indiana youth obsessed with the Italian cycling team.
  3. E.T. (1982).  An alien makes his escape on a flying bicycle.
  4. Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985).  O.k. I've never seen this one, but, given its plot, I can't not include it on this list.  Pee-wee loves his bike, which is stolen from him, so he goes on a cross-country adventure to retrieve it.
  5. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989).  A Japanese animated film about a young witch who makes her way in the world running a delivery service--by bike, of course.
  6. One Day (2011).  A bicycle figures in a pivotal scene in this love story starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess.
  7. Premium Rush (2012).  This action thriller, considered by some to be the best movie of the year, pits a bicycle messenger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) against a dirty cop (Michael Shannon).

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Grimm Disappointment

Grimm was my favorite new show last year, and I couldn't wait for its return.  Alas, so far it's been a bit of a disappointment, and NBC couldn't kill off the series any better if it were trying.  For starters the opening credits changed from a subdued, eerie tone to a harsher opening that includes Hitler as a werewolf (what?!) and a voice-over narrative.  Secondly, Grimm began in mid-August the day after the Olympic closing ceremonies on a new day (Monday instead of Friday).  Did anyone besides me even know the second season had begun?  Finally--and most importantly--not enough Monroe.  Let's face it, Monroe is everybody's favorite Grimm character, certainly everybody's favorite Blutbad.  The reformed big bad wolf makes cuckoo clocks, drives a pristine old VW bug--if you've been reading my blog, you know how much I love old VW bugs--and has fallen in love with Rosalee, a Fuchsbau.  Ironic since Monroe earlier had warned Nick to "count your fingers after shaking hands with a Fuchsbau," as these cunning fox-like creatures are prone to cheating and theft.  (Talk about star-crossed lovers.)

Grimm did not disappoint.  They've toned down the credits, too:  no more Hitler and no more voice over.  Lastly, they're moving Grimm back to Fridays starting September 28, which would have made a more logical date for the second season premiere.  What is it with these networks always mucking up what works?  Why change what works?  It wasn't that long ago that NBIC killed Harry's Law with their "improvements."