Saturday, October 22, 2005

Dickens, Austen, Bronte, Hemingway

Well I believe I have found Roald Dahl’s must read book list. I picked up Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” from the library the other day to reread it. If you are not familiar with the story, Matilda is a brilliant little girl with nasty parents who know nothing of her talent. They don’t understand why she would want to read when there are perfectly good programs on the “telly” every night. I like how Dahl makes nasty parents TV lovers. That cracks me up. He must have really disliked television. I guess he saw life before TV and life after so maybe he’s got the best perspective. Anyway, she’s a child genius who does a few things that make you feel like justice was done.

Matilda is a five year old who can read practically anything. So after she finished reading all of the children’s books in the library she asks the librarian what she should read next. The librarian gives her Great Expectations by Charles Dickens to start then as she completes each book the librarian gives her another. Eventually Dahl lists all of the books Matilda has read. This is what I’m guessing are some of his favorite books. So for anyone else interested here’s the list. I picked up great Expectations and The Secret Garden to start with. I think I’ll try to read through most of this list over the coming months.

I’d love to know of any favorites from the list that I should pick up next.


The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
Pride And Prejudice – Jane Austen
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
Gone To Earth – Mary Webb
Kim – Rudyard Kipling
The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
The Good Companions – JB Priestley
Brighton Rock – Graham Greene
Animal Farm – George Orwell
Red Pony – John Steinbeck


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Factory Work and Swearing

I just spent the last two days working in a factory. I didn’t have the worst job in the world but it was pretty bad. The whole time I was working I couldn’t help but think how unnecessary this job was. Without trying to explain what I did, it just seemed to me that the job they were paying three of us to do could have somehow been avoided altogether. Then again, I’m a musician who plays in a band. I know nothing about the process of plating steel.

I stood in one place doing one motion over and over in a very noisy and dusty environment. This meant I had earplugs and earmuffs on my head as well as a full facemask to keep out the polluted air. It made my head feel heavy. So with all that gear on, there is no way you could communicate with anyone around you. You could stop and yell whenever you wanted though, as well as sing as loud as you want and make all the weird sounds that you normally stop yourself from making. Well maybe that last one is just me. Fortunately for me I only had to endure two days of it.

While I was there I forgot about the bubble I live my life in. I was in the change room and a guy came in, walked up to his locker, sighed and while exhaling simply said f#%k. I have to admit, it made me laugh. Then once conversation got rolling, so many F-bombs were dropped that if this scene of my life were a movie it would certainly have received an R rating. Most people in school or working outside of churches deal with this all the time, but like I said, I live in a bubble, playing Christian events, going from church to church, constantly with likeminded people. The Bible makes it clear that we shouldn’t use God’s name lightly or meaninglessly, so when that happens I often wince, but any of the other standard North American swears often make me laugh more than anything. I think it’s just because I rarely hear swears. Is it bad that I find some swearing funny? (At least the dumb pointless swearing.) Am I way off here? I figure that some words that we use everyday are considered nasty elsewhere and in other places in the world some of our nasty words are acceptable.

So as a Christian how do I respond to swearing? How about this from Col. 3:8.

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

What is filthy language? I mean, there are some pretty obvious things that fit into this category but is saying a$$ filthy? Is saying poop filthy? Real poop is filthy but is the word filthy? I don’t know. I normally just try to avoid the grey areas as much as possible. If it’s questionable, then I avoid it. That’s the easy answer. Certainly saying any of the well-known four letter words doesn’t make me sound smarter.



Thursday, October 13, 2005

ipod, itunes and downloading TV

Well the day has arrived! Of course it was Apple that it made it happen. I’m telling you, those guys have a direct feed from my brain and know how to create everything I want. As my friend’s young nephew said while opening birthday gifts “I didn’t even know I wanted that.” That’s how I feel every time a new Apple product is released.

So yes of course I want an ipod but I just haven’t got one yet and like anything else as soon as you get one they release a new one. Well the new one they just announced is groundbreaking. Well maybe it’s not the ipod that is groundbreaking but the technology that feeds it, namely itunes. The fact that the new ipod plays video has caused Apple to create the relationships to make it possible to buy TV shows and music videos and even some short films through itunes. You can buy an episode of Lost for $2!! That is crazy! I’m guessing that movies should be able to be bought online shortly now that the infrastructure is there. It’s too bad that the downloading lesson had to be learned the hard way by both the music industry and the film industry. Even with just a little bit of vision for the future I think we can all see that this will change the future of television and movies.

In keeping with Apple’s ability to tap into my brain they had Wynton Marsalis play at the end of Steve Job’s last keynote address where he announced all of this new stuff. If you don’t want to watch the whole address (1hr35m) skip to the last quarter of it to catch Wynton. He just keeps getting better. I didn’t think it was possible. He creates some sounds from his trumpet that I have never heard before.



Harry Potter Has Me In His Spell

You haven’t heard me talk about what book I’ve been reading lately because I’ve been on a Harry Potter vacation for the past month and a bit. My sister Tracy is a big fan and has all of the books. I had seen the movies but not read any of the books so I thought it was time to start. Well I’ve read the first four books and only have two left. The good thing is the books are great. The bad thing is that they are so addicting that it’s all I’ve been reading. Is too much fiction bad?

It’s an interesting thing reading a book after seeing the movie. My brain didn’t have to do any of the work of creating mental pictures of characters or buildings or much really. It’s kind of nice to have an exact picture of what Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry looks like from the movie but I wonder if my mind would have created something else. At least I’ve got book four read before that movie comes out next month.

This is why reading is so much better for our minds than watching videos. That is if you want to work your mind. With video the images are all presented to us immediately. We don’t have to create pictures in our mind. We don’t have to picture a short plump little girl with a blue ribbon tied to her ponytail chewing bubble gum while walking to school with her pink Pocahontas backpack on. She just walks across our screen and it’s done. I think I may be just regurgitating this from something I read about children and TV. Makes perfect sense to me though.

Maybe I will have to reread The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe before that arrives in theaters so I have my own mental image first. That made Charlie and the Chocolate Factory extra enjoyable. That was a book I knew quite well and read right before the movie was released.

So all that to say, no I haven’t stopped reading, it's just that the greatest wizard in the world has a spell on me that I can't escape! And why not, Halloween is just around the corner.




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