Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer Excuses: The heat and the Heat

Summer has arrived and even the dog wonders why we're moving.

Cold drinks, hot air and lazy afternoons that beg to become lazy weeks.

At night, the modern heroes do the battling for us. Even the Muses turn to ABC.

Summer reading feels like a fool's errand. My beach reading is seaweed on the sand, tossed beer cans in the dunes, wrinkled smiles in the crowds.

The keyboard covers in sweat, giving a false sense of progress.

But the heat also reminds of childhood, when the Muses were less fickle. The blogs, the words, the work get done, because some better aspect of the soul knows that summer ends. The journey feels slow, but summer forgives the languid.

Another year will pass, but maybe this time we'll have created something worth remembering, something to rival the memories, margaritas and Mavericks. Summer allows for those dreams. That is sweat, not tears, my friends.

What does summer mean to you? Do the endless days lead to endless productivity, or endless excuses?

*I recently joined Google Friend Connect, and I'd love for you to follow along. Perhaps we can get each other through the dog days :).

Friday, June 3, 2011

The World Keeps Getting Better, but the Kids Keep Getting Worse

One hears a lot of talk these days about how the youth can’t read/don’t read; can’t think/don’t think; can’t act/don’t act.

This complaint is not a new one. From The Odyssey:
Few are the children who turn out to be equals of their fathers, and the greater number are worse.
And history has rarely proven it correct.

The Odyssey: The Fitzgerald Translation  Fathers and Sons

Agree? Disagree?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

New Site Alert: Fantasy Matters

at Fantasy Matters, we are dedicated to one very basic idea—fantasy literature matters.
That's from the blog's About Us page. Kat Howard explains the origins at her Strange Ink blog.

Regular contributors include Jen Miller, Kat Howard, and Adam Miller. Guest contributors include Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear.

Worth keeping an eye on.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Songs, Songs, Songs

Rosie Connolly at East for Green Eyes is running a What's the Score Blogfest, so I've put together a playlist for a sci-fi novel set a few decades in the future.

Since I spend a lot of time reading, writing, blogging and listening to podcasts, I no longer listen to a lot a music, so I apologize if these selections are not mind-blowingly original. (Consider this a request for recommendations!) I've included a line from each song to give a taste.

1. "Rebellion," Arcade Fire.  Sleeping is giving in, no matter what the time is.

2. "Stranger Song," Leonard Cohen. It's hard to hold the hand of anyone who's reaching for the sky just to surrender. YouTube.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ten Cities Where Readers and Runners Live in Harmony

Last week we talked about Amazon's list of the 20 most well-read cities in America. This week, the American College of Sports Medicine released a list of the 50 fittest cities.  (Spoiler Alert: Minneapolis-St. Paul is #1.)

Since I know a lot of you are both readers and runners, I created a super-secret formula to rank the ten cities that best combine reading and fitness. To qualify, the city had to be on both lists. The lower the score, the better the ranking.*

The 2011 HK Reader-Runner Rankings   

1. Washington, D.C. (16)
2. Seattle, WA (17)
3. Salt Lake City, UT (22)
4. Portland, OR (23)
5. Pittsburgh, PA (30)
6. Cincinnati, OH (32)
7. Atlanta, GA (38)
8. (tie) Miami/Orlando, FL (41)
10. St. Louis, MO (43)

A Day for Memory and Poetry

The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova

The holiday is American, but I've gone global for my lines. They are from Anna Akhmatova's Requiem, in the D.M. Thomas translation.
Again the hands of the clock are nearing
The unforgettable hour. I see, hear, touch
All of you...
I should like to call you all by name,
But they have lost the lists...

I have woven for them a great shroud
Out of the poor words I overheard them speak.
I remember them always and everywhere,
And if they shut my tormented mouth,
Through which a hundred million of my people cry,
Let them remember me also...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Three Great Lessons from High School

I'm too young to look back on high school with nostalgia, but too old to have fresh memories. So I tend not to think about it. But Sommer Leigh has issued a challenge, which means honor is on the line. I don't have much honor, but I make an exception for holidays. (I'm told today is Memorial Day.)

Thus I present: Anecdotes from high school and lessons we can extract from them:

Sometimes 'Less is More' in Storytelling

The day after I got my driver's license, I went on a first date. After dinner and a movie, we were supposed to meet up with friends for some harmless activity like bowling or sitting around a diner. I missed the exit (I'd probably driven for six hours total in my life -- the driving test was not rigorous in NJ) and we never did meet up with the friends.

When people asked what happened, I shrugged and mumbled the truth. "I got lost." They decided I was holding back and filled in the blanks with details of debauchery, assuming I'd gotten "lost," not lost. I told no lies, but the imagination (especially among teenagers) requires little.

We'll Endure A Lot for the Chance to Talk About Books

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Stuff I've Been Reading

I'm hoping that posting about what I'm reading will inspire me to read more. Perhaps it'll also provide someone with a useful recommendation. (And I love receiving recommendations in return.) So here are my recent reads:
  1. The Iliad - Homer (Fitzgerald translation). I re-read this in preparation for a blog post that never came together. But Homer is never time wasted.
  2. Chronicles, Volume One - Bob Dylan. Great voice. Great prose. Brilliant. And I did get a blog post out of this one. I may tackle Keith Richard's Life this week, as I've heard good things.
  3. Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress. A Hugo and Nebula nominated near-future sci-fi novel from 1993 that still holds interest.
  4. Transfection - David Gaughran. Discussed in last week's recommendation post.
  5. Dis - Margo Lerwill. An excellent short urban fantasy based on Norse myth. Brutal gangs, mythic blades, and fateful choices.
  6. The Illumination - Kevin Brockmeier. "[P]ain manifests itself as visible light after a mysterious event called the Illumination." Fascinating so far, though I haven't yet finished it.
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